1) In just one sentence, what is your purpose in life? To create a culture of recognition and shine the spotlight on people who are making a difference.
2) Describe a moment that helped you gain clarity about your purpose? Back in 2002, I was ready to give up on the whole public relations gig. I disliked the work and resented being viewed as a "flak" and a "spin doctor." One crisp autumn afternoon, as I overlooked Lake Waban at Wellesley College, I had this epiphany that it wasn't the work that I disliked, but the environment in which I was working (at a large agency in the imploding tech sector). So I rebooted. I started my own small shop called Louder Than Words, dedicated to telling the inspiring stories of clients doing good in the world. I've never looked back.
3) What is a belief that is core to your being? Joy and fulfillment are found in the day-to-day struggle, not by reaching some arbitrary finish line. It's true in business, in marriage, and on the bike.
4) Who is a living hero and what would you ask them if given the chance? 10 years ago, I would have said Lance Armstrong without a doubt. Today, not so much. What I find heroic are the people who turn personal defeats into victories, not only for themselves but for their communities. People like Joe Jones, Susan Retik, and Augie Nieto. I'm lucky because, by virtue of my work, I meet heroic people almost every single day. My question for them all is the same: Describe a moment that helped you gain clarity about your purpose?
5) Tell me something you rarely share in public? I shared this for the first time several years ago in a blog post. "Earlier in my career, I had a fear that people would think I was a fraud. I was struggling with what I later would learn was a very mild version of the phobia known as Imposter Syndrome." I don't actually feel like a fraud these days, but I definitely struggle to internalize my accomplishments.
6) What is your favorite inspirational saying? It's by Edith Wharton -- "There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."
7) What question do you wish I had asked and what is the answer? QUESTION: Favorite concert? ANSWER: Metallica, Guns & Roses, Faith no More -- RFK Stadium, July 1992 (Metallica stole the show).
Rich Polt, principal of Communicate Good, LLC, is an accomplished marketing specialist, a seasoned business manager, and a practitioner of values-based public relations. As a consultant to nonprofits, foundations, and for-profit social enterprises, he helps clients build and implement successful PR programs, hinged on clear messaging and solid strategy. Rich believes that communications should be used as a force for good – inspiring audiences, advancing causes, and driving organizational performance.
Rich launched the blog Talking GOOD in early 2012 as a way to publicly acknowledge and generate awareness for the many inspiring people he’d meet in the course of work and life. Less than two years into the program, interviewees were being regularly showcased in regional and national online news outlets. With more and more people, businesses, and organizations wanting to recognize “good,” and ever-increasing demand for compelling and inspirational content, the idea for the new Talking GOOD platform was born.
Earlier in his career, Rich launched Louder Than Words. The award-winning agency quickly established itself as a leader in values-based PR, through its quality of service, caliber of results, and ability to layer communications strategy with organizational purpose. Rich managed and actively participated in all aspects of the agency, until 2010 when it was acquired by a Baltimore-based, full-service marketing firm. In addition to his consulting work, Rich writes and blogs on the topics of communications, doing good in the world, and the intersection of the two.
Rich’s attitudes about communications and the workplace were forged in the cauldrons of the technology bubble. Frustrated with corporate America’s emphasis on image over substance and the abounding notion that PR was a job for spin-doctors and flacks, Rich wanted to build a PR agency where clients and team members would all share a commitment to improving the world. Instead of focusing on why clients were “better” than the competition, Rich believed that optimal results would be generated by showcasing clients’ contributions to society and industry: in other words, communicating the good.
Outside of his consulting practice, Rich is a passionate road cyclist. He has ridden tens of thousands of miles in support of charitable causes, including a 600-mile ride from Fairbanks to Anchorage, Alaska, funding AIDS vaccine research. In 2009, Rich helped organize and promote a 1,500-mile ride from Atlanta to Boston for the CEO of a major baking company, raising awareness for family homelessness. Today, Rich organizes and leads an annual 300-mile cycling tour of the mid-Atlantic region. Rich loves yoga, skiing, crossword puzzles, and his family (though not necessarily in that order). He lives in Baltimore County with his wife, Jennifer, and sons, Samuel and Ethan.
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