Mark Grimm


About themarkgrimm

Former TV news anchor and small biz owner Mark Grimm offers thought-provoking insights on communication and political issues that will enhance your understanding and improve the way you communicate. Mark is a dynamic entrepreneur, professional speaker, award-winning trainer, elected official, author, radio host and on-camera/voiceover performer. Mark was chosen "Trainer of the Year" in a 20-county region by the American Society for Training & Development and "Entrepreneur of the Year" by the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce.

The Secrets to Embracing Change

A Labor Department study estimates about 65% of current children in grade school will work in a job that does not yet exist. Change is a constant and resisting it is futile and often damaging.

So how do we make change work for us and our company or organization?

The right formula begins with thoughtful management that has a “change strategy.” Managers must include the following:

  • Authorship
    Allow employees to have authorship of the change, instead of imposing it on them. There’s a big difference between “this is what you have to do” versus “these are our goals, how can you make them happen?”
  • Clarity
    The need for the change must be made clear and there can’t be anything vague about the answer to this employee question? “How does this benefit me?” Provide an ongoing dialogue on how the change is working.
  • Benchmark Proof
    Share evidence along the way the change is working. Proof trumps promises every time.
  • Message & Compensation Match
    It is one thing to say this is important, it’s another to back it up with employee compensation. Nothing undercuts change more than a failure to put your money where your mouth is.

The Risk of No Change

For those who feel the status quo serves their interests, understand the risks in not changing. Just 61 companies in the Fortune 500 in 2014 were on the list in 1955, nearly 90% are no longer there. Kodak had about 62,000 employees in the Rochester area in 1982. It filed for bankruptcy in 2012 with just over 2,000 employees there. Though it invented digital photography back in 1976, it got shelved because Kodak film was the standard. As one writer put it, Kodak’s unraveling was “not because the company didn’t have the technology to compete in the new era, but because it lacked the vision to use it.”

You Have A Choice

There is no excuse for a poor attitude. You have a choice on how to respond to work conditions. You can close your mind or you can make the most of the cards you’re dealt, often turning anxiety into opportunity.

The founder of Minds at Work, Jason Clarke, says, “You can keep things the same or you can make a difference, but you cannot do both.” Though change may bring anxiety, never underestimate what you are capable of. After all, Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team.

You’re more amazing than you think.

The writer conducts keynotes and seminars on more than 20 business organizational and communication topics. Don’t hesitate to contact him for help: 518.650.5096.


Ex-TV Anchor: How to Deal with Media Leaks

As a former reporter, I can say some of my best stories came from leaks. Yes, leaks to the media drive presidents crazy. But, Mr. Trump is not the first to be frustrated by them. And he won’t be the last.

So, what causes leaks and what should be done about them? Every person who leaks information to the press has an agenda. It’s the journalist’s job to be aware of what it is.

What Causes Leaks?

There are many reasons for the behavior. Those leaking:

  • Want to undercut the administration’s agenda because they do not agree with it.
  • Hope to gain political advantage by harming the people they are leaking about.
  • Have personal animus toward someone (I once got a leak from the ex-wife of a well known figure).
  • Wish to curry favor with the media with the hope of some future benefit.
  • Hope to educate the media without their name attached
  • Are good people who simply want to right a wrong.

The last two reasons are why leaks are needed. Otherwise, too much government incompetence, deceit and corruption would go unnoticed. The same can be said for corporate misbehavior, too.

But, not all leakers are created equal. If someone consistently tries to undercut administration policy simply because he/she doesn’t agree with it, they deserve to be disciplined. Of course, they have a right, and obligation, to register dissent. But once policy is set, they should make a good faith effort to comply. Policy must be set by the elected officials, not by unelected bureaucrats. Too many bureaucrats think they have earned the right to set policy. They haven’t. That’s why elections matters. The same applies to leakers with personal axes to grind.

How Do You Deal with Leaks?

Checking staffers’ cell phones is not the answer. It sends the wrong message: you don’t trust your own staff. Better approaches include:

  1. Leadership
    The best way to minimize leaks is with leadership. The leader’s job is to convince those working for him/her that they are part of a noble cause and everyone there plays a role in that mission. I know that sounds naive these days, but true leaders are capable of such an impact. Leadership requires a consistent and persistent message that resonates with employees.
  2. Fire People
    If you inherit political appointees who will never agree to support your goals, you should fire them….quickly. They are poison to the rank-and-file whose respect the leaders must earn.
  3. Tranparency
    The more transparent you are, the less there is to reveal through leaks. Transparency is a culture and it will no doubt produce some embarrassments. But, the alternative is more damaging leaks.
  4. Hold the Media Accountable
    Does the media use the leaks to reveal truth and create more justice, or are they used to get back at a politician they don’t like? That’s a fair question.
  5. Acceptance
    We live in a free society. Organizations are going to have leaks. Have a plan in place for dealing with the next crisis.

For the public, they should remember government and the media each has their own agenda, too. Seek information from multiple sources, pay more attention and speak up.

Mark Grimm spent 12 years as a TV journalist, 11 years as a media professor and hosted a popular radio show for 14 years.













































































  1. Fire People:
    You also have to fire people. If you inherit political appointees who will never support your goals, they need to go…quickly. They are poison to the rank-and-file whose respect the leaders must earn.







Trump and Journalism’s Death Spiral

Mainstream American network and print journalism is in a death spiral (First though, this caveat. Journalism is a thousand voices and each voice should be judged individually on its merits). That said, come on people. How can anyone watch the nightly network news, or CNN or read the NY Times and not concede they have declared war on President Donald Trump.

They have reason to be defensive. Trump has launched an all-out assault on their credibility. But their response — to wage a battle to the death attempting to destroy him — makes them even less credible. They should answer President Trump the old fashion way, by being as fair and objective as possible (even if they can’t stand the guy). That is the only way they will restore their tattered credibility.

CNN reporter Jake Tapper looked into the camera and told the president to “stop whining” and get to work. The NY Times printed an opinion piece with a headline questioning if Trump was “a threat to democracy.” Yes, Mr. Trump’s biting personality is unprecedented in the Internet age, but so too is the media coverage. It’s never the media’s job to get back at anyone. At least, it shouldn’t be.

Let’s be clear, I’ve never been blind to the President’s flaws. The adolescent side of Mr. Trump, who spent his first full day in office complaining about crowd size estimates, or spent a week feuding with the parents of a dead war hero, has added a match to the burning hatred that consumes his critics. They have the right to protest from now to doomsday if they wish. But the press should not be part of the chorus. My own local newspaper actually did an editorial asking duly elected Trump delegates not to vote for him.

Media managers used to hide behind the “we have reporting and we have opinion pieces” defense. That line has been obliterated. Reporters routinely opine on the very stories they cover. Many major media outlets have now decided to cater to the audiences that agree with them. For example, imagine the difference in viewership between Fox News and MSNBC. News networks and major papers have become opinion news more than journalism. Mr. Trump has accelerated this death spiral but he did not start it.

Journalism has morphed into something else. The profession’s declining credibility could not have come at a worse time for it. In the 21st century, people are increasingly getting their news from each other, often from friends they agree with on most issues. The truth is nearly every network and every major newspaper has an agenda and none of them is truly objective (C-Span remains a rare exception).

There’s a silver lining. There are still many people in journalism who remain dedicated to the pursuit of the truth. I’ve worked with many of them. They must operate in this difficult environment. It is up to us to get our news from as many sources as possible and reward the ones that do the best job at being fair and objective. We can provide this badly-needed incentive. They are the ones that must survive.

Mark Grimm is a former TV news anchor/reporter, media professor and radio host who runs a public communication business.

How to Choose a Speaking Coach

JointCUMtg1Many would like to improve their speaking, but often don’t know where to start. Here’s some straightforward advice: How to Choose a Public Speaking Coach

We all know public speaking can be nerve-wracking, yet it’s difficult to find the time in the schedule to prepare effectively. You’re not a communications expert, so why put yourself through the stress of preparing and delivering crucial talks or presentations without support?

Instead of the nerves and chaos surrounding public speaking, what if you just got support? We do. Ginger Founder Sarah Lloyd-Hughes says she never does a big talk without getting help from one of the team. ‘However good you are, a coach is always better,’ she says, ‘they have the distance needed to make the right choices about your speech.’

So, we’ve got you. You just need to drop us a line and we’ll fix you up with the right coach to help you succeed.

5 Tips for Hiring the Right Public Speaking Coach

Now Identify the coach’s style.
Does the coach practice tough love when your executive needs a gentler approach? Or would your executive respond best to a Jillian Michaels-type, while this coach is more of a Richard Simmons? In order to achieve real, lasting results, it’s critical to identify the approach your executive will respond best to, and identify a public speaking coach who embodies that approach.
Have them explain their process.
A truly successful public speaking coach will have a tried and true method, perfected through years of experience. If your candidate is vague or uncertain about the process, that’s a red flag. But if the coach can walk you through a step-by-step plan for initial diagnostics, customized action plans, and ongoing evaluations, you have a contender.
Test their knowledge of your field.
A football coach and a baseball coach both improve athletes’ performance, but you wouldn’t hire a football expert to train your pitchers. And the same is true for a public speaking coach: you need someone who knows the game. Look for someone who understands the specific pressures of the industry and the needs of the audiences your CEO engages with. Your public speaking coach doesn’t need to have the personal experience of leading a Fortune 500 company, but a strong understanding of the corporate world will be immensely helpful.
Check their references.
Who has this coach worked with in the past? Do you consider those former clients to be skilled public speakers? Call the coach’s references: are they able to concretely articulate all the ways the candidate helped their executives improve? If you’re getting lukewarm responses or hazy answers, you may need to look elsewhere.
Look for chemistry.
Finally, perhaps most importantly, find a public speaking coach your executive will respect and enjoy working with. They don’t need to be best friends but, if coach and client don’t at least get along, your executive won’t be motivated to improve, and you’ll be wasting your budget.

Speaking Coach Previews GOP Debate

GOPDebateGraphicThe first GOP presidential debate tomorrow night is unpredictable. That’s why such a big audience is expected.

A New Hampshire focus group conducted by pollster Frank Luntz produced “an explosion of passion” that Luntz labeled “one of the best focus groups I’ve ever done.”

As a speaking coach and former elected GOP official, here’s what to watch for:

1- Can Donald Trump appear both brash and thoughtful? Trump’s lead in the polls can be attributed to his striking a nerve on illegal immigration and his anti-establishment persona. But knocking over the apple cart isn’t enough. Presidential candidates have to be capable of fixing what’s wrong. He must convince people he has the right temperament to handle the most sensitive, and dangerous, situations. Personally attacking people will harm him with voters in the middle, the ones he would need to be a viable general election candidate.

2- Jeb Bush is in the opposite position. He’s a thoughtful, serious man who can put people to sleep. He has to show passion and convince primary voters he’s got the fight to take on Hillary. He has to be more than Bush Three.

3- Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has to show he’s up to the task on foreign policy. Iran, Moscow, North Korea — they are a long way from Madison, Wisconsin.

4 – Each of the remaining candidates needs to carve out some niche that resonates with primary voters. Clarity counts.

How well the three Fox News moderators handle the 10-candidate showdown is anyone’s guess. It won’t be easy, especially with The Donald.

Like I said — unpredictable.

Mark Grimm is a professional speaker, speaking coach and former GOP Town Board member who has made hundreds of media appearances as an analyst. More on his political consulting can be found here.


Companies Are Burning Money: Are You?

Burning Money 3

Ever been to a boring business dinner — a night of one uninspiring speech after another? Are you nodding your head? Though someone’s time and attention are valuable commodities, these “commodities” are routinely wasted. For corporate America, this is burning money.

Companies and nonprofits too often fail to capitalize on the value of better speaking. Top executives routinely overrate their speaking skill and no subordinate is about to tell them otherwise. A fortune has been invested in high-priced, brand-name firms who deliver cookie-cutter presentation training that has left us with the same problem — boring dinners and boring meetings.

Being interesting is a skill and that skill will make you more money. Too often, speakers focus on what they care about instead of what their audience cares about. They provide too much detail and too little relevance. They read too often when their approach should be conversational. We get far too much blah, blah, blah instead of passion and enthusiasm. The result is lost opportunity and lost business. It’s burning money.

Mark Grimm is a former TV news anchor who has conducted hundreds of seminars and does one-on-one coaching. He will share the secret of being interesting with you….or you can keep burning money. 

Five Quick Tips to Improve Biz Communication

Ever work at a place that could use better communication? Why do most people chuckle when I ask that at seminars?

Better communication offers huge potential for enhanced productivity and morale, but it often remains an untapped resource.

Here’s five ways to ensure your company/organization isn’t missing out:

1- Accept its importance.
Management must place a high priority on its value and think about creating a strong culture, not applying band aid solutions.

2- Get into the Heads of Audiences.
Communication isn’t about telling your employees stuff. It’s about engagement, about learning from each other. Make clear what is in it for them.

3- Feedback
Ask your audiences what they think, frequently, and allow them to give anonymous feedback. Share the results with them.

4- Practice
Being interesting is a skill, work at it. Set benchmarks for progress.

5- Passion
Bill Gates once said, “The thing I do best is share my enthusiasm.” Of all his skills, he points to enthusiasm as a core business asset. You must believe in your mission, and live it. Others are noticing.

The writer is a former TV news anchor who has conducted business seminars and one-on-one-coaching for the past 13 years. Don’t hesitate to contact him for help.

Syracuse’s University Chancellor Is Unique


Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud

Would you hold 30 events at your home to meet the staff? Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud (SIV-uh-rude) did. Convinced he should mostly listen in his first year (his tenure began January 2014), he invited 6,000 university employees to his home. About half, he said, took him up on the offer.

Syverud appeared before the Capital Region alumni chapter last week in Albany. He’s a warm, genuine person with a sense of humor. His eye-popping resume includes a time as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and he is a trustee of the $20 billion fund created by BP to pay claims arising from the Gulf oil spill.

“I’ve never been to a university that had so many niches,” Syverud said. He quizzed the audience on how many radio stations the university had (the answer is five). He pointed out 10,000 high school students took classes at S-U this past year, from all around the world. If you are interested in that school go to He underscored the school’s close ties with veterans. It has produced more generals and admirals than other university, except the service academies.

Syverud is candid about the high tuition (about $40,000/year) and the need to address it with savings. He discovered S-U had 11 different mobile phone contracts. It saved a quarter-million dollars by consolidating. Purchasing and travel practices needed updating. Organizational change must occur and technology must be better utilized to become more education savvy.

He didn’t skip over the scandal with the basketball program. Academic support for athletes is now under the Provost, not the athletic department.

Focused squarely on a “collective willingness” to meet the challenges posed, Syverud wants S-U to be a “student-powered’ university with wide scale collaboration.

I want us “to be the university that does change right,” he said. Those interested in providing tutoring services to those who go to this university should check out Huntington Learning Center. if you’re really interested in finding out more about Huntington Learning Center, you can find their website here.

Big task ahead. Big talent in charge.

The writer received a master’s degree in public communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.

The Capital Region’s Unity Problem

June 9, 2015

Albany Hospitality Summit

A wonderful “Hospitality Summit” in Albany made it clear our region will finally get its convention center, with an opening likely in early 2017. Our “space capacity is going to be amazing” when combined with the current Empire Sate Plaza, according to OGS’s Sue Cleary.

But will we make the most of it? Municipal boundary lines have prevented us from acting as a region since the lines were drawn. We have a deeply-seated parochial culture. I grew up in Troy. Schenectady might as well have been a foreign country. It’s just the way we thought.

Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo all have Triple-A stadiums for their regions. We have Single-A….for Troy.

No single city or county holds the lion share of population here and the four cities have consistently carved their own paths. Civic pride is a wonderful thing, but so too is collaboration. Today’s economy demands it.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan told summit attendees that visitors to our region don’t see municipal boundaries. They are just looking to enjoy themselves. There’s nothing small about our region. More than 1.2 million boardings took place last year at our airport and our train station is the ninth busiest in the U.S. We have the brainpower, access to markets, natural resources, arts, a world-class racetrack and the medical facilities to run with the big dogs, although sometimes there are issues that happen in medical facilities and that’s why the use of a Queens NY Medical Malpractice Lawyer could be really helpful for this.

I’d love to see a single website that explains what all our places have to offer, the “what you can do here” site whose website name would be on every hotel reception desk, in every library, in every town and city hall and in every cab in the region. And every municipality would play a role in promoting it.

We’ve seen some cracks in the parochial armor. The Albany-Colonie and Schenectady chambers are merging. Municipalities are doing more with shared services. Our convention and visitors bureau works hard at collaboration.

The biggest challenge is designing a collaborative approach where everyone on board sees the benefit to themselves. This is tricky. This is difficult. But it is in our mutual interest to make it happen.

Unity is a beautiful thing. And it adds to our quality of life.

The writer is a Capital Region native, longtime small business owner and one-time Town Board member.