Permanent impermanence

What does it mean to be “home?”

An old ’60s style rotary telephone… black, of course. Yes, it works and when my network quits recognizing pulse dialing, there are tech solutions.
An old ’60s style rotary telephone… black, of course. Yes, it works and when my network quits recognizing pulse dialing, there are tech solutions.

I bought an old ’60s rotary telephone last year. I don’t really know why, but I think I do. It is a physical object that at one point defined the concept of “home,” a place where your life was a permanent thing. You lived where you could plug in a phone and people could call you at. It only rang at one place.

I know, this concept did not exist at some point in human existence, but the phone then was something else, maybe the place where you could stable your horse. But it was always a “physical” place of some sort. Even nomads had a “place” where they could rest, repair, belong.

I’m thinking lately about the concept of permanent impermanence. I’m not quite sure what to do with these thoughts or what they mean in a larger concept of capitalism and the human need for certainty. I’m not looking for answers or solutions on how to find stability in a world that changes faster than our ability to control our destiny. I’m just ruminating.

I watched Nomadland and what it means for Fern and all of us who are living in a culture that has expectations of a stable home vs our need to explore. On the one hand, we’re encouraged to seek out new experiences, but when we try, we’re bum-rushed out of spaces that feed this need. We can’t just park a van any place we are; we have to pay for the space. Even what looks like a stretch of desert in the middle of nowhere, someone owns it. Someone is going to bang on your van door and tell you to move along unless you shell out some money.

We should have a job, a house, a family around us.

I hesitate buying a new book because I will have to place it on a bookshelf in a place that feels less and less permanent. I feel the same as my finger hovers over the “Buy Now” button on Amazon or various websites when I feel like I need a new trinket or gadget. If I buy this thing, I get to hold it but I also need to put it somewhere, a somewhere that feels increasingly like a place that is not mine.

I was given a theater-sized popcorn popper a few years back as a birthday gift. It gave me a lot of joy being able to pop popcorn anytime I wanted. After a few months, the popcorn popper went from something that sparked joy to something that just stunk up the house and probably attracted mice. I reluctantly moved it from the house into the garage where it now sits. I am allowed to make a batch of popcorn when the house is empty. It’s been several months since I’ve made popcorn as my house is hardly ever my space lately. Besides, I want to make sure my current pant size is either permanent or reduced and massive amounts of buttered popcorn work against that goal.

My dad was a philosopher when he was sober. I carry an image burned into my brain of him sitting alone at the head of the dining room table in the house I grew up. It was the middle of the day, but the room was dark because the black bomb curtains were drawn. The room was filled with smoke from the pack of cigarettes he was finishing off and the cherry of his lit cigarette glowed as he inhaled.

“Like footsteps on a sandy dune,” he said, holding his arms out and slowly bringing them back in to take another drag of his cigarette. “All of this — of me — will be blown away in the wind, like footsteps on a sandy dune.” He seemed profoundly sad and broken. I remember thinking that should be the title of his book. Years later when it became apparent he would never write it, I thought it should be the title of my book.

He died at 85, not written that book. I still haven’t years later.

I want what Hester Pryne had at the end of The Scarlet Letter — a small home, the quiet of stability… (oops, spoiler alert for every high school student who never got past the “A” in the novel and wrote song lyrics without the proper context… sorry Taylor, I love ya, but the reference is … confused…) But even the house you paid off is never quite yours because you have to pay the property taxes and the threat of a shifting “free market” makes a house not really yours.

Maybe the permanence is now the glowing screens of my MacBookPro and my iPhone, found at the address of and @gerardmclean at various points on the interwebs and not at the terminated end of a phone wire.

See you on down the road.


Gerard McLean, Résumé

Contact Info:
Social: @gerardmclean everywhere | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Medium 
Phone: +(937) 239–75XX (M), +(937) 836–6255 (O)
Locations: Dayton, OH; Kingston, NY; NYC; Viborg, Denmark

I’m remote, re-locatable and mobile, but love to hang around in the Eastern Time Zone of the United States, mostly.

Short Rundown

Employment History:
• 11/95–Present Rivershark Inc. Englewood OH, President/CEO
• 7/98–3/02 Dayton Daily News, NIE, Dayton, OH NIE/Marketing
• 2/96–7/98 Electrologic of America, Inc, Dayton, OH, Sales/Marketing
• 7/94–11/95 Spar Marketing, Minneapolis, MN, Vice-President HR
• 5/87–7/94 Huffy Service First, Dayton, OH, Manager, Training and Development
• 2/82–5/87 Target Stores, St. Paul, MN, Team Specialist

BA, English, University of Minnesota

Industries I’ve transformed
•Defined how soccer tournaments are managed/marketed on the internet (TourneyCentral, 2000)
• Created on-line retail service labor sourcing (NARMS, 1996)
• Re-define and position the merchandising industry (SPAR, 1994)
• Created training for a decentralized workforce (Huffy, 1986)

Deep Dive

Major Accomplishments:

  • Wrote a short book that captures this boring, dry CV into a narrative story, A Face for Radio and a Voice for Twitter
  • Wrote and published a personal history of The ACA (Obamacare) as a series of letters, a publication and a book. Dear Hillary; One Hundred Letters about Health Care to Hillary Clinton
  • Wrote and published the definitive guide (c. 2017) for incorporating social media into youth sporting events; The Game Through Glass.
  • Published a book, Monkey with a loaded typewriter, Mostly true essays An essay from the book was featured on the Medium home page under the Potterhead tab on Oct 28, 2016.
  • Created, grew and maintained reader-engaging character-based social media accounts (@dogwalkblog as an example. Many of these are anonymous, but details can be released to legitimate parties.)
  • Created an integrated Web-based work-flow system for event management including marketing, registration, sponsor ad sales and tracking, application management, hotel booking, travel and entertainment management and branded product sales. Currently being implemented in youth soccer tournaments, Special Olympics Games in softball and basketball.
  • Successful implementation of a materials design and production workflow for a Newspapers In Education department.
  • Designed and delivered two workshops (2002, 2003) for the US Youth Soccer Association on Integrating Tournament Operations and the Internet.
  • Designed and developed the Theraquine brand and product for ELA
  • Designed and executed the marketing position and brand identity for the StimMaster for ELA. Secured the endorsement by Christopher Reeve for the StimMaster.
  • Created and implemented a comprehensive HR program for Spar Marketing.
  • Developed and implemented an IVR solution for collecting daily data from 5,000+ field reps for Spar Marketing
  • Created and implemented an inter/intranet solution for NARMS to include a revenue-generating job board and search.
  • Created and implemented a comprehensive, university-type training program for Huffy Service First.
  • Designed and implemented a week-long leadership seminar for all internal managers at Huffy Service First.
  • Established and currently operating Rivershark, Inc.
  • Established as an expert and speaker within the retail merchandising industry. Designed and deliver two seminars per year at the semi-annual educational conferences hosted by NARMS.
  • I made Lizz Winstead LOL on Twitter once. (25 Nov 2012)
  • I’ve been captured by the Google car for street view.

General Skills:

  • Digital native, fluent in all major social platforms. (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, etc)
  • The ability to communicate clearly, organization, capacity for teamwork, punctuality, critical thinking, social savviness, creativity and adaptability.
  • Copywriting.
  • Project management with multi-priority projects; Agile.
  • Reader engagement and conversation-based traffic building using social media channels.
  • Identify viral and potentially viral memes quickly from media streams and sources.
  • General business management, including P/L responsibility, all aspects of staffing including employee selection, training, career development and corrective action, setting and executing corporate objectives from a mission statement to strategic implementation, staff leadership and task management.
  • Brand development and promotion
  • Product/service design and development
  • Marketing research and strategic entry
  • Multimedia project development
  • Website design, implementation and maintenance
  • Proposal preparation and delivery to internal and external clients
  • Public speaking, i.e., seminar and speech delivery to large and small groups

Technical Skills:

  • Video/audio creation and editing.
  • Website design and development.
  • Graphic design from creative concept to file construction
  • Newspaper page design, instructional design, multimedia production Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, Audition, QuarkXPress.
  • Perl and PHP
  • Database design (MySQL)
  • UNIX/LINUX sysadmin

Speaking History (highlights)
2015 SXSW Inanimate Character Redefine Authenticity
2012 NARMS Social Media in Retail Services
2011 NARMS Member Services Online
2002/04 US Youth Soccer Websites for soccer tournaments
2000 Newspapers in Education for Teachers
1996 NARMS Why websites are necessary in retail services

Podcasts (partial)

Dad Was Right (2020 –current)
A dad gets a book “Dad Was Right” as a gift and tortures his two adult kids years later with stories — in their own voices — about why he was right.

Old Man Stink (2013-current)
A tongue-in-cheek play on ageism, short conversations with older people about how they embrace and use technology in their lives, either at home or on the job.

Tournament Review (2007–2010)
A companion podcast to the blog at that gives voice to the experts in the soccer tournament industry or ancillary industries that contribute to the success of soccer tournaments.

Web Site Portfolio (partial):
Rivershark Inc
Soccer Tournament Sites
NARMS International (defunct, but check out the Wayback Machine)

My skills and attributes can be summed up into one experience: I used to sell exercise bikes to people with paralysis. I was very good at it. That is a true story.

Just Google me; the internet thinks I’m wonderful.

#100HRC: HRC 18/100

15 August, 2016 | Index

Dear Hillary Clinton,

My name is Gerard Mclean, living in Englewood, Montgomery County, Ohio. I’m writing you 100 letters, one for each day between your nomination and election. This is the eighteenth. The others can be found in your USPS mailbox or online at

Are you getting my letters? I hope you are and I hope it lends some insight into the nation you are seeking to lead. Being in the Middle of the Middle is a weird sort of stasis for me, but understanding it will be key to winning the election this time around.

Your opponent is a lot of things nobody ever wants to be, but one thing he is adept at is whipsawing the media into reporting what he wants.

Wanna have some fun?

Tweet #100HRC to @gerardmclean if you are reading my letters. You and I, and those who follow me on my various social media channels, will know what it means, but the media will not. It will drive them crazy!

I get why you would not want to embark upon such a silly antic. You are a serious person, running a serious campaign. We need more serious people in government.

But even if you wanted to do this and the thought of the fun you would have with one little hashtag makes you smile in the quiet of a 3am moment, that will be enough for me.

Oh, yes. Can we work on UniversalCare? That is the ultimate point of all of this.


Gerard McLean

cc: Sen. Sherrod Brown


Seth Godin isn’t dead wrong on social media, but he is semi-comatose

A few weeks ago, I watched this video hosted at the Open Forum. You have to go to the Web site as they don’t have an option to embed the video, I don’t know why. Please watch it now and come back or very little of what I say next will have the correct context.

Seth Godin on Social networking. Is it good for small business?
Seth Godin on Social networking. Is it good for small business?

What Seth got right
Social media and business is not about “keeping score” or making “fake friends.” He is right that these “friends” won’t be around to sign the $100,000 contract when you need it. Business is built on real relationships that people have forged by doing things for each other.

What Seth got wrong
He answered the question with all the arrogance of a geezer who had already made up his mind about what something was. He assumed that the objective of social media was a race to collect friends. He assumed that Facebook was a collection of people who are “not really your friends” even if in some cases, they are. He ignored the operational parts of Facebook and Twitter that enabled small companies to reach deeper into an audience that they may not otherwise have the resources to tap.

In short, he did Michael Silverman and the entire audience a grave disservice by being dismissive of Facebook and Twitter. It is true some people keep score on Facebook and Twitter, but it is also true that there are folks out there who are figuring out how Facebook and Twitter are helping their small business be more competitive; folks like the retail marketing trade association NARMS and a CPG brand like VitaminWater10.

Watching Seth and a cut-away to Tom Peters sneering at a snarky comment Seth made on the video reminded me of a blog post Seth wrote in 2007 about the Dip. In his post, he said:

But the real takeaway for me is how small-minded, snarky and downright mean the three judges are.

But then I read something like this at Seth’s blog and ask myself, how can man who is obviously incredibly smart say such dumb and irresponsible things to an audience who sees him as a rock star?

Perhaps Seth would have been more effective by encouraging the audience to look at social media tools beyond their book jackets and into their operational value. For example, Twitter is a powerful, cheap tool for gauging opinion trending, measuring social winds as it were. It effectively replaces the focus group. Or, a twitter stream is the 2009 equivalent of a police scanner or an AP feed for journalists. Want to get their attention in your local community? They are listening and they still want to scoop everyone else. How can a small business use that bit of thinking?

Seth, you should have done what you do best. You fling out some ideas and jump start people’s minds to get them thinking in new and different ways. Instead, what you did was snark out the same veneer viewpoint that every local newscaster parrots on a slow news day. And you convinced a room full of people that social media tools are truly a waste of resources and they were right all along about their lack of value.

Only I think Michael Silverman and Duo Consulting may not have entirely drunk your brand of Kool-Aid. Apparently, they are still hedging their bets on their “fake friends.”


After posting this, I came across a video found at Maria Reyes-Davis’ blog. This is the part he is right about. However, to be able to give advice more fully, he needs to explore the other “hidden” hooks and tails of social media that helps small business operationally. Worth watching, but it would have been nice to see this delivered on the main stage.