Monday, April 21, 2014

Failure Coach XLII

Circumstance, Scholarship and Ambition

AEFFSF scholar Johnny Appleseed is getting into a groove as a Sociology Major at the University of Miami. Andrew Valentine is as home on the Ohio campus of Oberlin College. The latest scholar to be named, Alicia Apricot, is the first female winner of the unique and irrevocable award. Jan Abbeshire insisted that the Alan Edgewater Failure First Scholarship Fund (AEFFSF) diversify. Coach Robert Siena agreed. Jan was also shaping the mission of the program to include documentary style coverage of the winners. Daniel Bluestone enjoyed being executive producer and found emerging filmmakers. Abbeshire & Bluestone was becoming something more than an advertising and public relations firm. They were becoming somewhat expert at working with nonprofits. They still dabbled with new product launches and occasional sales promotions for Sazerac brands but they were quickly gaining a reputation for full service support and  management of 501(c) entities. They owed much of their success to the visibility of AEFFSF from fundraising to the well crafted transparency of its regular reporting. The AEFFSF scholars were becoming celebrities but it was Coach Siena who was becoming more comfortable with the legacy he was building. Abbeshire & Bluestone was always able to leverage the Alan Edgewater connection too.

The first female winner of the AEFFSF award was from a small town in Kansas. Alicia Apricot was determined to study construction management at Pittsburg State. Her father, a concrete laborer had been injured on a job site when she was a little girl. Dad received some compensation from contractor and the real estate development firm to return to school and a desk job. He worked his way into project management. Along the way, Alicia learned a lot about the peculiar business of managing sub-contractors and approving working drawings from architects and engineers. Bubba Apricot quickly became a well loved project manager because he was approachable and sensitive to crews on his jobsites. He was older than most college boys who were often in charge inside a typical job trailer and his battle scars and the noticeable limp added to his status. He was given to sayings like, “I’m not going to ask anything of you that I wouldn’t do myself.” He was fair and friendly. Alicia wanted to follow her old man on this career path that to her seemed honest, rewarding work. Her dad was divorced, only slightly disabled and capable enough but hardly a rich man. He started reading Alan Edgewater books in the hospital where he spent the better part of six months working through surgeries and rehabilitation. He was quickly drawn to the failure fans. In a sense, Alicia and Bubba Apricot were learning together when she was still in High School. She wanted to be there for her dad, a non-traditional learner, who at 40 was still working his way through college. They were both surprised by her affinity for construction management and simultaneously concluded that she needed to get an education at Pittsburg State. Go Gorillas.

So when Bubba found himself reading about the AEFFSF in a print publication produced by the Association of General Contractors (AGC), he decided to tell his story and make a case for Alicia. Were it not for Jan Abbeshire behind-the-scenes the two paragraphs in the ACG publication would not have appeared. It was Jan who persuaded the freelance writer to include the AEFFSF in the context of the larger story about a wide variety of scholarship and financial aid for students. It was serendipitous that he caught the article. It was almost fate that caused him to respond almost immediately after putting the AGC publication down. He wrote for an hour composing an e-mail that read like stream of consciousness. Fortunately he included enough for a junior account manager at Abbeshire & Bluestone to research the construction accident and Bubba Apricot. Once Coach Robert Siena became aware of Bubba and his daughter, he enthusiastically supported this prospective scholar.

So the AEFFSF scholars seemed destined to study sociology, music engineering and construction management respectively at the University of Miami (FL), Oberlin College (OH) and Pittsburg State (KS) from the towns of Red Bud (IL), Arlington (OH), and Galena ( KS). Abbeshire & Bluestone crafted tight bios on Johnny Appleseed, Andrew Valentine and Alicia Apricot.   

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