Rapp Strategies Rundown – May 2019

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

Todd R.: I completed the eighth season of Game of Thrones. I can’t say I understood what was going on, but the dragon was cool. I also finished John Sandford’s book Neon Prey, a great summer read. The whole Rapp household is mesmerized by the Stanley Cup playoffs – go Bruins! And we’re also looking for unique Old Fashioned recipes.

Alyssa: One of the most entertaining interviews I’ve ever listened to was when Joan Rivers was on Howard Stern’s Sirius XM show a few years ago. So, I was an easy sell for Howard’s new book, Howard Stern Comes Again, which is a collection of his best interviews. I also just finished reading the story of Suzi Weiss Fischmann, the co-founder of O.P.I. nail polish. I’m Not Really A Waitress is both the title of Fischmann’s autobiography and the name of one of the best-selling colors in the O.P.I. line of memorably named “luxury nail lacquers.” She’s got a great story of how she and her family escaped Communist Hungary, immigrated to America, and eventually transformed the dental supply company she worked for into a global nail polish empire.

Todd S.: I attended my first Minnesota United FC soccer game at Allianz Field. The new facility is a terrific venue for the sport, and the game was a lot of fun – a thrilling 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo.

Rich: I’ve enjoyed several Twins games at Target Field, where a lot of fair-weather fans are starting to show up. I took a family trip to New York City for my daughter’s birthday, and visited Brooklyn for the first time while I was there. I also watched my first Game of Thrones episode (the Battle of Winterfell) and have been checking in with friends to see if they survived legislative session.

Sarah: Like many Minnesotans, the Oliver family made the obligatory stop at the Judy Garland museum on one of our family vacations when I was young. Years later I’d see the ruby slippers in the Smithsonian. “The Case of the Stolen Ruby Slippers” gave me a new respect for the history and mystery behind them. Now that Game of Thrones is over, my weekly TV watching void has been filled with the new takes-no-BS Bachelorette, Alabama Hannah. She’s my favorite since Kaitlin Bristowe and makes this show finally fun to watch again (sorry, Minnesota Becca). “Dead to Me” on Netflix was a one-weekend binge and I highly recommend it.  

Anna: I finished The Ragged Edge of Night by Olivia Hawker, which was a surprisingly relatable and yet chilling read from the perspective of a German friar struggling to both protect his family and stand up to the Nazis during World War II. I also watched my first soccer game at Allianz Field, where the Loons were victorious over the Houston Dynamo and the hotdogs did not disappoint.

Andrea: One of my all-time favorite podcasts is the NPR’s TED Radio Hour. This past month I listened to many episodes. Three of my favorites were one on Keeping Secrets, Jumpstarting Creativity and Setbacks. One of the tips that I took away from the creativity episode was the power of walking while brainstorming. People who brainstorm while they walk come up with a substantially higher number of creative ideas than those who brainstorm while they sit. A grand reason for an afternoon stroll.

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Rapp Strategies Rundown – April 2019

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

Todd R.: The new John Sandford book, Neon Prey, is out — that will be part of my weekend reading in the coming weeks. Now that the last season of Game of Thrones has started, I am watching it with my family and am quite confused (although I think Jon Snow is supposed to be a good guy, right?).  And there is word that a new Springsteen album is on the way, but without a concert tour, it is like a bacon cheeseburger without the bacon.

Alyssa: Although I’m only halfway through it, I’m loving Arthur Brooks new book, Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt – full of good perspectives as we get into the tense last weeks of legislative negotiations.  I’ve also been on a Deepak Chopra kick lately – re-reading some of his old books and listening to his new podcast, Infinite Potential – the one with Dr. Michio Kaku talking about the theory of everything is really good.

Todd S.: With all the debating over what the Mueller Report says or doesn’t say, I am investing the time to read it, so I can decide for myself.

Rich: I continue to read several newspapers to keep up with politics and government, including the Star Tribune and New York Times. I’ve also been watching golf (and playing too). Lately I’ve been impressed with golfer Justin Rose (except in the Masters).

Sarah: I, like seemingly everyone else on the internet, am heavily emotionally invested in the final season of Game of Thrones. I was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief that (SPOILER) Ghost survived the Battle of Winterfell. Earlier in April I was cheering on Minnesota Hero/Rockstar Maggie Nichols as she claimed a back-to-back all-around win after not competing AA since early January.

Anna: Imagine if your cells were taken without your knowledge and became one of the most important tools in medicine, used for historic breakthroughs like cloning and the polio vaccine – and then your children found out, decades later. It’s a fascinating and true story, which is why I’m reading Rebecca Skloot's book about it: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I’ve also been in a poetry mood, so I’ve been circulating between Emily Dickinson and John Keats.

Andrea: Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, aka mcDJ, aka a creative prodigy, is known for his success in…well, practically everything he touches, including acting, music, comedy, rapping, and production. This month, I watched Guava Island, a great, short musical film featuring both Donald Glover and Rihanna. The film touches on the topics of systematic oppression, the idea of “America,” bravery and hope. To top it off, the visuals were truly remarkable. If you’re looking for a short, visually stunning film, check it out.



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Contact:  Todd Rapp


MINNEAPOLIS, April 8, 2019 — Rapp Strategies, Inc., a Minneapolis-based public affairs firm specializing in strategic communications, issue management and reputation management, today announced that Alyssa Schlander will join the firm as its Vice President of Public Affairs and General Counsel, beginning April 29.

“Rapp Strategies is very fortunate to add a senior leader with the talent and experience that Alyssa brings,” said Todd Rapp, CEO and President of Rapp Strategies. “Alyssa has served in government, advocated on behalf of a major state trade association and successfully led significant strategic initiatives for a Minnesota Fortune 500 company.  Her vast background in public affairs makes her a great fit for our team and our mission.”

Most recently, Schlander led state and federal government affairs for Securian Financial in St. Paul. During that time, she also led the group insurance legal team and chaired the company’s million-dollar fundraising campaign for the Greater Twin Cities United Way.  Prior to her work at Securian Financial, Schlander led government affairs and external communications for the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association, and began her public affairs work as a Committee Administrator in the Minnesota Senate.

Alyssa is a past president of the Minnesota Governmental Relations Council, a member of the board of the Minnesota Insurance and Financial Services Council, and a Junior Achievement volunteer. Alyssa received her law degree from William Mitchell College of Law, her undergraduate degree from the College of St. Benedict and is a graduate of Nashwauk-Keewatin High School on Minnesota’s Iron Range.

"Alyssa will join our senior leadership team and counsel clients in the areas of complex issue management, strategic communications, assessing risk and protecting reputation assets," Rapp said. “In the past year, the firm has added three dynamic leaders in Todd Stone, Rich Forschler and Alyssa Schlander. Rapp Strategies is uniquely positioned to provide clients with high-level senior service as they tackle their ongoing business opportunities and challenges.” 

Rapp Strategies Inc., formerly known as Himle Horner and Himle Rapp, provides strategic counsel and communications services to business, non-profit and government clients. Its mission is to help clients shape understanding, strengthen reputation, manage risk and advance good ideas. More information can be found at rappstrategies.com.



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

Todd R.: Billions – a show about two middle class families struggling with the problems of daily life in 2019 – is back on Showtime. I just started Preet Bharara's book Doing Justice about a young and struggling artist trying to break through. I saw First Man, which was fine but not great. It made me want to see the Apollo 11 documentary that was just released. I only got 10 of 16 right in my NCAA pool, too.

Todd S.: This month, my wife and I decided we could use a good laugh, so we saw comedian Jim Gaffigan perform at the State Theatre in downtown Minneapolis. There were too many funny lines to pick a favorite, but his story about a close encounter with a bear was a classic. And, Gaffigan said, it was mostly true – “except that there was no bear,” he whispered.

Rich: Everyone else is reading about Hamilton, but I’m reading a biography of John Adams by David McCullough. I’ve always been fascinated with Adams – he was never as prominent as other leaders like Washington, but played an important role in the history of our country. I’m also watching NCAA basketball and hoping North Carolina comes out on top.

Sarah: My spring fever has hit in full force and I’ve been buying house plants left and right. I’ve truly got the millennial plant fever, but I like to think I come by it honestly as my mom and grandmother have green thumbs. Jenna Marbles dropped a half-hour long houseplant tour and that led to a click-hole of houseplant videos – Betsy Begonia, Kaylee Ellen, Summer Rayne Oakes and many others. I’m also working on planning and planting a veggie garden with my best friend and have been watching a lot of One Yard Revolution to get beginner tips. To top off the plant-obsessed month I’ve been listening to Bloom and Grow Radio with Maria Failla. Her episode with Chris Stach on plant Latin was super informative and something ever plant-lover should listen to.

Anna: I returned to one of my favorite authors, Susan Meissner, and enjoyed her beautifully written novel As Bright As Heaven, which gives a poignant glimpse of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic through the eyes of a mortician’s three daughters. I also read The Round House by Minnesota’s own Louise Erdrich about a boy coming of age on a Native American reservation and his quest to avenge a brutal attack on his mother – gritty, arresting and devastating. I also listened to The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker, where I could escape from the unending winter to a love story in the mountains of Burma.

Andrea: Latino USA is one of my favorite podcasts to listen to when I’m cleaning or cooking. This month I listened to “You Are Cordially Invited to Hailey’s Quinceañera,” an episode that walks through the cultural and social impact of having a Quinceañera, what it means to take the next step in womanhood and what it takes to have “a really fun party.” It reminded me of my Quinceañera, and how everyone I love pitched in to make my Quince the most extravagant birthday I’ve ever had.

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Staff Spotlight: Todd Stone
Todd Stone.jpg

As Senior Director at Rapp Strategies, Inc., Todd Stone provides strategic counsel in the areas of media strategy, public affairs, risk management and strategic communications. He oversees the day-to-day tactical work of the Rapp Strategies team, emphasizing collaboration and creative thinking.

Todd joined the Rapp Strategies team in May 2018 after working almost three years in Texas as a senior leader at the Houston Chronicle, where he helped lead new content and product initiatives for its digital and print operations. From 2010 to 2015, Todd was the Star Tribune's Business Editor, directing news coverage of the Twin Cities' most celebrated companies, major developments, business innovations and trends.

“My wife and I loved our time in Minnesota, and we decided that this was the place to raise our kids,” Todd said.

After working 20 years in management positions with various news organizations, Todd offers strong knowledge of traditional media, social media and digital news reporting. He is an accomplished editor and writing coach. He earned his BA in journalism and MBA at Texas A&M University.

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

I have come to appreciate the deep process and the hard work that goes into strategic planning and problem solving. There’s no single playbook to follow. You have to embrace that process and be willing to start from scratch every day to find the best approach for each of your clients. It’s challenging, but it’s also incredibly satisfying.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?

It’s probably no surprise given my previous answer, but I enjoy working on the strategic elements of our work – assessing the challenges and opportunities that our clients face, then working with them to accomplish their goals. Over time, there’s a satisfying camaraderie that can build between your team and the client. That has been a nice surprise.

What is one habit that makes you more successful?

I’m naturally curious, which, of course, is what steered me toward journalism. I’m not always satisfied with the first good idea or first interesting thing that I find in my research. I want to know what else is out there.

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

When I was five years old, I wanted to be the “Six Million Dollar Man.” Lee Majors was a big star, and his character had the most awesome name, “Steve Austin” (unlike “Health Barkley” from “The Big Valley” days). But soon it occurred to me that you had to crash in a jet and be dismembered to get the cool skills and powers that come with being the Six Million Dollar Man … I finally wised up and moved on. 

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Well, that’s a no-brainer: My wonderful marriage with my wife, Kim, and our two goofy sons. Beyond my family, I would say it was simply the opportunity to work as a journalist for more than 20 years. Journalism is an important form of community service. We need a free and vibrant press to help sustain American democracy.

What is one thing about you few people know?

That’s between me and those “few people” who better keep quiet.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

If you decide a rule is worth bending, you might as well break it.

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

Slow down … The journey is just as interesting as the destination.

Rapp Strategies, Inc.