Week 3: A Conversation with Guest Speaker Dan Portnoy

By UCLA X425 Student Kaci Bacher

Kaci Bacher

Once upon a time, there was a man named Dan Portnoy who was and is to this day a “Head Honcho.”  I’m not really sure I can fully recall all of the details of his professional background (no offense but I think this drives my point).  You see, like most Americans, I am dealing with a case of information overload coupled with a slight case of ADD.  What I DO recall about Mr. Portnoy is that he is a really great STORY TELLER.

To quote Mr. Portnoy from his book, The Non-Profit Narrativethat he so graciously provided our class, “Tell your story and tell it well. Help your audience know your struggles and triumphs in a multi-channel approach with multiple entry points”…and he did just that. He captured my attention with details of his Work Place Hero campaign for the United Way.  At first glance, what seemed to be just a regular ad campaign with some pretty pictures suddenly became real to me.  It wasn’t just a picture but a picture of a “real” family benefiting from contributions to the United Way. I began to let down my guard. I wasn’t just being “sold,” but now emotionally involved. Suddenly, these guys at the United Way became heroes and they have the red capes to prove it!

I don’t want to be sold, I don’t want you to provide me with information, I don’t even want you to show me a picture of a cat…I want to be INSPIRED! Dan Portnoy did just that by telling his stories.  He built a community of super-heroes so strong that both city officials and pro-athletes were inspired to wear the campaign’s red cape.

I too want to be a hero. I want to wear a red cape.  I want to go to the Arclight Theaters (one of Dan’s clients), not for the comfortable seating but because I know Frank is “Behind the Curtain.”  And at my next party, you can bet there will be a photo booth for guests to post and talk about for years to come.

My only issue with Mr. Portnoy is that I really thought I had perfectly mapped out my career path,  but now I’m starting to wonder… “Is there really a way for me to be Batman (or at least Super Girl)?!? ;)  Thanks for telling us your story… THE END

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