Rapp Strategies Rundown – August 2018

What we’re reading, listening to and thinking about this month.

Todd R.: I look forward to reading Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear: Trump in the White House, when it comes out in September. I am gearing up for the Wild season and enjoying listening to Michael Russo and Jim Souhan on “Talk North.” I have also been anxiously awaiting “Better Call Saul” – Season 4.

Todd S.: If time allows, I hope to get to the book Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy, who is a journalist and best-selling author. In her latest work, Macy is exploring the epicenter of America's struggle with opioid addiction – from distressed small communities to Central Appalachia to wealthy suburbs. The opioid crisis isn’t going away. It’s time to learn more about it.

Sarah: I’ve recently discovered the delightful podcast “Cabinet of Curiosities” by Aaron Mahnke. Based on German Kunstkammer – or rooms of intriguing items – each quick episode highlights stories of coincidence, unexplainable moments or just downright strange tales. My binge quickly sent me down a click-hole of Aaron’s other podcast, “Lore.” I highly recommend Episode 89: “Fanning the Flames” which spotlights some of Chicago’s strangest stories and tragedies. On a much less supernatural front, I love when good journalism incorporates elements that makes my visual-learner brain excited. “Here’s How American Uses Its Land” from Dave Merrill and Lauren Leatherby at Bloomberg did exactly that.

Aaron: It’s never too early to get in the mood for Halloween. I’ll be reading Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in preparation for my favorite holiday. 

Anna: I have been binge watching the series “Jamestown,” a PBS drama focusing on the first women who arrived at the Virginia settlement in 1619. I’m also listening to The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See, a novel that parallels the lives of a Chinese woman named Li-yan in the mountains of Yunnan and her daughter Haley, who has been adopted by a Californian couple.

Andrea: The most recent movie that I've seen in theaters is "Sorry to Bother You," a brutally honest and dramatized piece that unashamedly brings forward the topics of race and class, specifically the stereotypes viewed by white America.

RSI Staff
Staff Spotlight: Aaron Roundtree
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Assistant Account Executive Aaron Roundtree enjoys delving into research and data analysis for a variety of clients at Rapp Strategies.

“Good research is important,” says Aaron. “It provides a critical foundation for how we can better understand and engage community members to achieve client goals.”

Prior to joining Rapp Strategies, Aaron sharpened his data skills through his work for the City of Minneapolis and internships at the Governor’s Office and Minnesota Senate.

"My collective experience has served me well as part of the Rapp Strategies team," says Aaron. "It's motivating to know the work I do here makes a significant impact on how clients shape their communications strategies.”

How have you grown as a professional since you started working at Rapp Strategies?

Working for clients at Rapp Strategies has exposed me to issues that affect greater Minnesota populations. Interacting with voices different from your own is always thought-provoking and helps put Minnesota’s socioeconomic diversity into perspective.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?

Research, data and survey analysis. The meticulous work is similar to a treasure hunt in the sense that there's always something valuable to find.

What is one habit that makes you more successful?

I take time to listen.   

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Many things, but inspired by the film The Fugitive, I most wanted to be a U.S. Marshall.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Playing Big Ten football.

What is one thing about you few people know?

I was ambidextrous throughout my childhood and into my teenage years.  

What is the best advice you have ever received?

A quote by Shirley Chisholm that my family and close friends abide by: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair."

What is one piece of wisdom you would give your younger self?

Don’t stress yourself out. There’s more important things in life than 10th grade geometry.   

RSI Staff
Rapp Strategies Rundown – July 2018

What we’re reading, listening to and thinking about this month.

Todd R.: I am a sucker for Wimbledon (unbelievable number of upsets in the Ladies’ Draw this year). One of my sons gave me Finding God in the Waves by Mike McHargue. If he thinks I should read it, I’m in! Cabin listening over the July 4th week was “70’s on 7” on SiriusXM.  We all need a little Poco tossed into our barbecues. 

Todd S.: I'm going to make a point to see the movie, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" about the life and career of Fred Rogers, the host and creator of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Beyond his legacy for teaching children love, tolerance and understanding, Rogers was a remarkable communicator. He sharply focused on his key themes and messages, then creatively and poignantly delivered them in ways that engaged generations of young people. His messaging approach – personal engagement, simplified points, anecdotes, imagery – is textbook communications work, and a good lesson for serious communications specialists.

Sarah: After being pestered by friends for over a year to watch “Man in the High Castle,” I finally did. I have zero regrets about binging this fantastic show set in a dystopian alternative version of the 1960’s where Germany and Japan won WWII. Knox and Jamie of “The Popcast” often accompany me on my daily walk to and from work. A podcast that’s “dedicated to delightful idiocy and committed to educating on things that entertain, but do not matter,” they offer hilarious takes on everything from slang via Urban Dictionary to seasonal movie previews.

Aaron: Ian Fleming’s original James Bond series will keep me preoccupied throughout July. The three titles on the docket are Dr. No, Thunderball, and Diamonds are Forever.  

Anna: I recently finished A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner, an evocative novel that moves between the perspective of a nurse on Ellis Island in 1911 and a single mom in New York City ten years after 9/11. I have also started to receive afternoon updates from The Star Tribune, which has been a helpful way to catch up on news before the end of the work day.

Andrea: Sometimes, I find myself binge watching fitness videos on YouTube. A favorite channel is “Athlean-X,” where physical therapist and strength coach Jeff Cavaliere takes you beyond ordinary fitness and into the science behind nutrition, the muscular system and overall athleticism.

RSI Staff
Staff Spotlight: Sarah Oliver
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Account Executive Sarah Oliver works with clients to formulate and execute a broad range of digital strategies and tactics that best serve their communications goals.

“I appreciate getting to flex my creative muscles and learn new skills to help clients,” Sarah says. “Whether I’m assisting clients with websites, social media or other digital communications, seeing their visions come to life never gets old.”

After graduating from the University of Northwestern – St. Paul, Sarah worked as a press assistant on a 2014 U.S. Senate campaign. She then worked as a legislative assistant at the Minnesota Senate during the 2015 session.

“I landed at Rapp Strategies a bit serendipitously in December 2015 after catching up with an old colleague that had connections here,” Sarah explains. “I’m very happy I did!”

How have you grown as a professional since you started working at Rapp Strategies?

Todd has afforded me a space to expand the skills I’m most interested in developing while learning more about the profession as a whole. He lets me tackle big projects and use my problem-solving skills more independently. Working with the Rapp Strategies team has been a great experience to learn and grow with people who have different skills and experiences than I do. 

What is your favorite aspect of your job?

I love that each day is different and I’m never working on just one client or topic each day. The variety keeps things exciting!

What is one habit that makes you more successful?

I love learning. If no one in the office knows how to do something a client needs or how to use a certain program, I’m your girl. Having to learn something new and challenge myself to solve problems is exciting!

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A lawyer, and I still think about it occasionally. Then I remember the extra $120K+ in student loans and am grateful I really like my current job.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Graduating college in three years and landing a job right away.

What is one thing about you few people know?

I love genealogy and history.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

To celebrate the process – taking the right steps, making big decisions – not just the results or accomplishing a goal.

What is one piece of wisdom you would give your younger self?

Learn to let go of expectations you have because life will surprise you, and it’ll be better than you had planned.

Rapp Strategies Rundown – June 2018

What we’re reading, listening to and thinking about this month.

Todd R.: I'm starting Katy Tur's book Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History on the 2016 campaign, and the challenges of covering a presidential election while Donald Trump was re-writing the rules of campaigning. Preet Bharara's podcast "Stay Tuned" is in the middle of a four-part series about how the federal criminal justice system works from the inside. Great stuff. I've put my iPhone on "shuffle" this week - had a back-to-back of Arcade Fire’s “Modern Man,” Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man.” Thankfully, no one can hear me sing in my car.

Todd S.: June seems like the perfect month to revisit a favorite book – Fantasyland by Sam Walker. The story is about Walker’s attempt to win America’s top fantasy baseball expert competition with no experience playing fantasy baseball. This, he writes, is "like trying to learn the cello by joining the London Philharmonic." It’s a fun, sharply written book with quirky characters and great insights into America’s pastime and how it’s evolved. Walker is currently the WSJ’s deputy editor for enterprise, the unit that oversees the paper’s in-depth page-one features and investigative reporting projects.

Rita: My summer reading list has to include best-selling titles that no longer have long waitlists at the library. On the summer stack: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.

Sarah: One of my favorite follows on Twitter is @FiveThirtyEight – they deliver data-driven stories in an easily digestible format. I’m a sucker for a good historical fiction novel and just finished The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Up next is At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen.

Aaron: I am currently reading Paul Strathern’s novel The Medici: Power, Money, and Ambition in the Italian Renaissance. A very readable history of the Medici family and their influence on the renaissance.

Anna: I enjoy the advice and insight of contributors to Fairygodboss, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of women professionals. I am also reading To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, a stunning and atmospheric summer novel. And my day always begins with Blois Olson's Morning Take, a tip sheet of top Minnesota news stories.

Andrea: I was recently introduced to “tiny desk,” an NPR video series of intimate music performances by artists in all genres. It’s an awesome and creative introduction to new music.