Scaling Forward

I’m a Libra. Some of you may have already guessed as much. One of our best qualities is indecision. Our symbol is the scales because we try to be fair and just.

I was happy to share indecision Thursday with my colleagues at the Pfister as we looked at the six finalists for the Narrator position to begin in May.

Choosing your replacement is a difficult task. Many of us would choose…well, medicine us.

But I’ve heard, and believe it’s true, that “if you’re not replaceable, you’re not promotable.” But of course, this is where our debate formed. Who is promotable? All of the candidates were writers, storytellers and engaging people, illness in a word, all could narrate. Who should get promoted to Narrator, however, was the big question.

There were so many amazing things to see and read. I loved the videos of the candidates, not just for their film quality (thanks April and Pete; and by the way candidates, they made you look fantastic) but because for weeks, we’ve only known these people on paper. We’ve conjured images of them in the lobby, we’ve envisioned them drinking one of Val’s bloody Marys, retelling (or trying to) her amazing recipe. We’ve seen them on the threshold of a summer wedding gala, documenting it all.

But we never saw them in person. Here they were, up close, chattering, nervous, excited and to their credit…bursting with ideas. That alone became a fantastic qualifier for each of them. Do we choose based on who is bringing profile-writing experience, literary experience or pure unadulterated energy to the position? Or should we evaluate based on how they talked about the hotel? Do they like the art, the history, the beauty or the things it houses?

I think the committee members should each be responsible for a blog too, or we should have been filmed (I’m cringing as I say this… unsure if I’ll keep my new friends when this gets published). Facial reactions, oohs and ahhs, “great idea” “I didn’t think of that” “oh, I like her” and more resonated from our select corner of the newly remodeled café where Starbucks flowed among us but the really energy came from drinking in the vibrant options before us.

We just couldn’t choose.

That’s a compliment, candidates.

For me, listening to their plans and ideas was rejuvenating and hard—there’s so much left to tell and my time is growing short. That’s the beauty of it though, there’s no shortage of stories. The Pfister provides: in every guest a novel, in every event a sense of scene.

We did choose. We chose well; and we considered the charming smile, the great colors, the wonderfully themed sample piece, the pictures, the youth, the wisdom, the experience, the salesmanship, the recommendations, the effervescence, the technology, the reading list, the Pfister favorites, the drive, the energy…the embodiment of a Narrator.

This Libra is proud to say her scales of indecision, out of balance all afternoon, finally teetered into agreement. Soon, you too will meet our Narrator and see just how decisively she will compliment the hotel and document its story.

Staying on the Ride

It’s such a surreal feeling to interview your replacement. Sure, try I’m being a bit dramatic—I’m not interviewing them and when I took the job, I knew I’d eventually be replaced but there’s nothing I have to like about it.

Well, I do like the tension I felt walking into the meeting room at the Pfister as I was about to comment on and discuss the many applicants for the next Narrator position knowing the same discussions had included me just months ago. My vow was to say very little (you should know, that’s always my vow, it rarely works) and listen long, but I found I was so excited to talk about what I liked, the ideas that circulated among the applicants and to carefully detect how it worked last time with me on the table in a pile of paper instead of in the chair casting votes that I’m sure I reached “vehement” at certain points.  

Most of the applications covered the required bases, but I did learn something from the unique portions of each. I learned that there’s so much I’m taking with me and so much I’m leaving out. I was interviewed for a video blog piece as part of the process and when asked what advice I would give the next Narrator and the words flew from my mouth. Have no expectations.  All the narrators proposed a plan, had ideas for how they’d get people to talk, which stories they were in search of and I realized my plan has already been shattered—for the better.

For every person I do approach or who sits down next to me, many times, there were three behind them with tales just as interesting. Every blog I’ve written about dancing daughters and Santa lap-sitting grandmothers and celebrities was reduced to 400 words and I’m walking away with the rest of the story. What I’ve given here and what I’m taking with me differ vastly and that’s one of the only parts of my proposal that has stuck.

They asked me what I hoped to get. I told them I wanted to be talking about this experience forever. Mission accomplished. I know I understood the undertaking and I’m here to tell you, our top six finalists for the job understand it too. They all wrote about what they hope to find in the guests they share space with at the Pfister. They all had an eagerness and openness about how they’d capture it and report it. Most of all, they each seemed to want it for themselves. They all (myself included) wanted to seek out the people, seek out the histories, the feelings, the human connection that comes with just sharing a moment with people.

Just the other day, leaving the hotel, I was on the elevator with a pair of women who didn’t get off when the door opened at what I thought was their floor. I smiled toward them and shuffled aside to give them room to exit when one in the pair begrudgingly said “No, sorry. We don’t know where we’re headed; we just like to ride the elevator.” Without even thinking that it was just a polite joke that people make to be social (a lot like the “I’m doing well, thank you” standard answer to “Hello, how are you?”) I instantly replied, completely seriously “Oh, I know! I love riding the elevator. I’ve met some fun people here! Stay on, you’ll like it!”

And as the doors closed after my exit, I wondered…did the pair think I was nuts or did they get it?

Be excited…any one of the six finalists for narrator gets it. I rest assured of that.

The Pfister Hotel Announces Search for Next In-House Journalist/Storyteller

The historic Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee is helping another talented local writer develop his or her passion for writing, while enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The hotel has announced the search for its second-ever in-house storyteller, known as the Pfister Narrator. He or she will spend time in the hotel’s lobby, interviewing visitors and guests and sharing their stories through a blog on the Pfister’s Web site.

“The Pfister has displayed its dedication to the arts for many years,” says Joe Kurth, general manager of The Pfister Hotel. “The addition of the narrator program is an extension of that commitment, which also is exhibited in our expansive collection of Victorian art, as well as our celebrated artist-in-residence program.”

The person chosen for the position will be replacing current narrator, Julie Ferris. She has been blogging from the hotel since November 2010. Her stories can be found at blog.thepfisterhotel.com.

The idea of having the opportunity to share the tales and experiences of people as they wondered and wandered through Milwaukee’s historic Pfister Hotel appealed to me in many ways,” explains Ferris. “The idea of capturing in words the experiences of people breathes life into not simply the hotel, but the city as well.”

The Pfister Narrator will work a minimum of 10 hours per week over the course of a six-month period and will publish a minimum of two blog posts per week. In return he or she will receive his or her choice of a $1,000 monthly stipend, scholarship for continuing education or donation to a charity of his or her choice in his or her honor, in addition to complimentary parking and meals within the hotel’s cafeteria.

To be considered, applicants will need to submit an application form, current resume, 2-3 writing samples of recent work, a 200-word proposal, cover letter and two professional references to pfisternarratorapps@thepfisterhotel.com. Deadline for submissions is March 1, 2011. The Pfister Narrator will take his or her post May 1, 2011, and will remain the hotel’s storyteller through October 2011.

A review panel will evaluate the applications and ultimately choose the Pfister Narrator. More information and the application form can be found at ThePfisterHotel.com/Pfister-Narrator.

Meet Julie Ferris: The Pfister Narrator

The Pfister Hotel is proud to introduce Julie Ferris as our first-ever Pfister Narrator. Julie is a wonderful talent and we are glad to have her capture some of the wonderful stories that take place within our hotel each day. So if you see Julie in the lobby, search please say hi and start up a conversation. Julie will be posting her stories on the Pfister blog twice-per-week over the next six-months. Check back often and see what exciting and unique experiences she shares with the rest of Milwaukee and beyond.

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Meet Julie Ferris: The Pfister Narrator from PfisterHotel on Vimeo.

The Pfister Narrator: Historic Hotel Selects First-Ever In-House Journalist

The historic Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee has named Julie Ferris as its first-ever Pfister Narrator. In the role, she will spend time in the hotel’s lobby, interviewing visitors and guests and sharing their stories on the Pfister’s blog. As Pfister Narrator, she will be posting blog entries twice-per-week over a six-month period.

“I am truly honored to have been chosen for the position and am very eager to begin,” Ferris says. “I look forward to all the meaningful opportunities before me to really experience both visitors and natives of our city, all linked to this one iconic space. I know everyone has a story to share and I’m ready to grow from each and every one of them.”

An established blogger, Ferris also has experience in teaching, management, public relations and media writing. She holds a Ph.D. in mass communications and journalism from The University of Iowa.

Ferris was chosen to serve as narrator from a significant pool of qualified applicants by a review panel, which included Jeff Sherman, president of OnMilwaukee.com; Judith Moriarty, a longtime local writer; and several representatives from the hotel.

“The success we’ve seen with our Artist-In-Residence program has encouraged us to focus even more on the interactive experiences guests enjoy at our hotel,” says Joe Kurth, general manager of The Pfister Hotel. “Our guests have a special connection to The Pfister and interesting stories to tell—we’re excited to share their unique experiences and backgrounds with the rest of Milwaukee and beyond.

“We’re confident the narrator program will be a huge success,” adds Kurth. “In fact, we’ve already received interest from writers from across the country who are interested in duplicating the concept of the Pfister Narrator in their hometowns.”

More information about the Pfister Narrator program and an application form for the next narrator position—due March 1, 2011—can be found at ThePfisterHotel.com/Pfister-Narrator.

The Pfister Narrator: Historic Hotel Selects First-Ever In-House Journalist from PfisterHotel on Vimeo.

Pfister Narrator: The entries are in!

Wow.

We are speechless. Just…Wow!

Thank you everyone for the overwhelming response to the Pfister Narrator program. We have a binder bursting full of entries.

Seriously, we do!

Furthermore, thank you to The Writer magazine, Poets & Writers magazine and ThirdCoast Digest for spreading the word about the program and preaching the Pfister’s commitment to the arts.

A review panel is currently evaluating all the applications and we will have our Pfister Narrator selected in the next couple of weeks.

Stay tuned to the Pfister Blog to find out who will be the first Pfister Narrator.

The Pfister Narrator Program 2010-2011

Do you consider yourself the next Ernest Hemmingway, Virginia Woolf or Oscar Wilde? Or are you an aspiring reporter who wants to someday be compared to the likes of Barbara Walters, Walter Cronkite or Katie Couric? Or maybe you just love interacting with people and have a passion for writing? Here’s your opportunity to gain experience and meet new people, while enjoying one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.

The Pfister Hotel is in search of the first ever Pfister Narrator, an individual who will spend time in the hotel’s lobby, interviewing visitors and guests and sharing their stories on the Pfister’s blog. The chosen applicant will have the opportunity to open new doors, gain experience and meet new people, while enjoying one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.

“There are so many interesting people who pass through our doors each day,” says Joe Kurth, general manager of The Pfister Hotel. “We’d love to share their unique stories with the rest of Milwaukee and beyond. The Pfister Narrator will be responsible for helping us achieve that goal, while gaining valuable personal and professional skills along the way.”

The Pfister Narrator will be expected to work a minimum of 10 hours per week over the course of a six-month period and will publish a minimum of two blog posts per week. In return, the Narrator will receive his/her choice of a $1,000 monthly stipend, scholarship for continuing education or donation to a charity in his/her honor, complimentary parking and meals within the hotel’s cafeteria.

How to Apply

To be considered, applicants will need to submit an application form, current resume, 2-3 writing samples of recent work, a 200-word proposal, cover letter and two professional references. Deadline for submissions is Oct. 1, 2010.

A review panel will evaluate the applications and ultimately choose the Pfister Narrator.

Don’t miss your chance to become the first ever Pfister Narrator! Download the application form and submit it, along with the additional required materials, to info@thepfisterhotel.com by Oct. 1, 2010.