Remembering Adrienne

It was an astonishingly ugly shirt. “It cost one dollar at a thrift shop,” Adrienne told me excitedly and with a big smile on her face.  She held it up with both hands so that all I could see of her face were two dancing eyes peeking above it.  The shirt was bright red and had multi-colored, Christmas lights dancing all around it.  Green, yellow, and blue bulbs with an occasional splash of holly in between, spinning round the fabric from top to bottom.  Truly ghastly.

47311_10151322629025552_2132598393_nAdrienne had run out to buy this shirt for me so I could wear it to our company lunch.  Everyone in the Atlanta office would be wearing holiday clothes to pose for a photo.  I had just flown in from St. Louis so she knew I hadn’t anything Christmassy to wear.  She did this so I could fit in and join in the fun.  It was such a sweet and unexpected gesture!

That was Adrienne.  Thoughtful and disarmingly enthusiastic.  You always knew when Adrienne came into the room.  She made an effort to say hello, to see how you were doing, and to connect in some small way.  And, her laugh made you laugh, every time.

Adrienne passed away on February 2, 2013.  One year ago.  It was a shock…devastating to her son, her family and friends, and all her colleagues. She touched so many people in the world around her.  She purposefully made an effort to reach out…to help anyone who needed it.   Gone too soon.

563267_10151447930640552_509499249_n-300x282Today, with the snow and ice storm in Atlanta having shut the city down, I think of all the things she would have done to help people if she were here.  A joke to make us all forget our troubles.  An infectious laugh to get our minds off ourselves.  A hot meal to help out a friend.  And, that infectious laugh…You are missed, dear Adrienne.  But, you are not forgotten.


One of my favorite things about my work with Banyan is the connection to the amazing violence prevention work that goes on throughout our country and the incredibly dedicated people who champion that work day to day.

This was again realized with a recent opportunity to spend the day with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grantees.STRYVEGranteesCollage

These STRYVE grantees—who hail from Boston, Houston, Portland and Salinas—work to prevent youth violence in their communities.  They were in town for a meeting and I, along with several of my Banyan colleagues, had the opportunity to hear about their violence prevention efforts.  Part of their visit included interviews with our film crew that will be included on the redesigned STRYVE Online website.

Banyan’s goal is to develop STRYVE Online to be a place where local health departments and youth violence prevention coalitions can create a prevention plan for their community.  The individuals dedicated to youth violence prevention are the heroes of STRYVE Online, and have helped build the foundation to provide a web-based tool to support all local health departments and youth violence prevention coalitions.

Youth violence prevention champions are so important in our communities.   They recognize that when surrounded by violence a child never gets to experience childhood.  They don’t get to play outside, run to their friend’s house, be silly and carefree.  Families don’t get to go on picnics, play outdoor sports, or meet their neighbors.  All of this is overshadowed by the danger and chaos in their community, their neighborhoods, and their homes.  So, these champions work tirelessly to change the norm to support communities in being violence-free.

Working to prevent violence should be everyone’s job, not just a dedicated few.  But, thank goodness we have those dedicated few to show us all how to get the work done in our communities, our neighborhoods, and our homes.

5 Reasons the Internet Loves Numbered Lists!

Why are there so many emails and blog posts out there with numbered lists? Everywhere you turn, it’s the 10 most, 3 ways to, 6 things you didn’t know, and so on. It’s a question as old as the blogosphere (so actually not that old).

Banyan took a look around to get some insight into this popular way to share information.

  1. “Whatever this article is about, at least it won’t be long.”

    Part of the appeal is that these are usually short, easy reads. The satisfaction of completing something is in reach, and even if you stop before the end, you’ll likely walk away with some new info. Julie Zhuo has 10 total reasons on her own blog, “The Year of the Looking Glass,” but this one’s our favorite.

  2. “[I]t makes a very specific promise of what’s in store for the reader.”

    Not only do you know it will be short, but you’ve been told exactly how many items will be on the list when you click through. Plus we like the promise in the Brian Clark’s headline “7 reasons why list posts will always work.”

  3. A 2009 study “found that people preferred headlines that were both creative and uninformative…List-style headlines often provide that optimal balance of information and ambivalence.”

    According to Maria Konnikova, author of Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes,” numbered headlines tell us enough to peak our interest but keep us in the dark enough that we’re curious and willing to take a chance it’s something we’ll want to know.

  4. [A]ll else being equal, a headline with numbers in it will yield more traffic than a headline without.

    This was a great point made by Brandon Cox at Social Media Today. Numbers break up text and suggest that you’ll find an organized post on the other end of that click. People find numbers appealing. Bloggers like getting traffic. Everyone’s happy!

  5. “[O]dd numbers of facts suggest the content of the list has been dictated by the nuggets of information available…”

    Even numbered list may make us suspect that something has been added just to round it out. We also couldn’t resist the “powerful” in Steve Davis’ Marketing Minds Blog headline either- “3 powerful reasons for using odd numbered lists in your blog post titles.”

Why do you click on numbered list posts? Do too many on a blog make you think the blogger is lazy? Connect with us on Facebook and let us know what you think!

p.s. Now that we’ve figured out this list thing, here’s another one!

Blogs referenced in ours:

  1. Julie Zhou in The Year of the Looking Glass “10 Reasons People Love Numbered Lists
  2. Brian Clark at copyblogger “7 reasons why list posts will always work
  3. Maria Konnikova “A list of reasons why our brains love lists
  4. Brandon Cox at Social Media Today
  5. Steve Davis “3 powerful reasons for using odd numbered lists in your blog post titles



As we usher in a new year, we’re taking stock of everything that made 2013 fantastic (as well as those lessons learned)—and all we have to look forward to in 2014.Banyan_NewYears2_Holiday-300x300


Just the idea of making them is associated with lofty ambitions and then weeks or months (or days) later, unfulfilled goals, the “I’ll start tomorrows.” In fact, Time Healthland recently tweeted “The New Year’s resolutions you will keep and the ones you will break”—you can check out their list here. Appears they already know what the rest of us can’t seem to figure out.

But here at Banyan—well, we’re an optimistic bunch. Many of us have already thought about our personal aspirations for 2014:


And also: make Banyan a cool place to work.

I think I can make a strong argument for that resolution having already been successfully accomplished. Our internal Change for Good covered a wide range in 2013:

With dynamic teams in ATL and STL, we:

  • Produced some incredible work,
  • Developed more effective internal processes,
  • Identified what we can do better in 2014,
  • Joined forces on two wellness challenges,
  • Bought one fabulous orange couch, and
  • Welcomed two new beautiful babies into Banyan’s extended family.

We also mourned the loss of one of own.


With Adrienne’s vivacious spirit in mind—and a resolve to make Banyan an even cooler place to work next year—we’re poised to do some great things in 2014. And I can NOT wait.


Cheers to a wonderful New Year!