Action Required This Day -2024 New Year’s Resolution #3

How to Have a Happier Life
Use Barbara’s 5 Daily Happiness Habits Plus
The Platinum Rule

This essay attempts to answer what is probably the most frequently asked question for Barbara and I through much of our married life: “How did you work together and yet maintain and project such devotion, love, and happiness for so many years?” Hope Barbara’s ideas help you change your life. We met in high school and were married for 56 magical years. We worked the last 32 years of her life together.   Jim (Jim for Barbara)

  1. Always find and say nice things about and to each other in private and publicly every day, everywhere. Insist on a continuously positive tone. Just start doing it and keep doing it.
  2. Avoid saying those two or three tired, corrosive, divisive things we might love to mention some days. Suck it up, swallow it, and let it go.
  3. Always be positive or blah rather than negative or inflammatory.
  4. Ditch the downers. Keep negative, irritating, needlessly, and intentionally abrasive individuals and organizations out of our lives. Over the years we did lose a number of friends. Their irritating and argumentative behaviors didn’t fit our lives. We could not change them, so we simply dumped them. Happiness broke out immediately.
  5. Happiness is intentional. Get in the habit of subjecting everything you do or plan to do to these happiness-building tests, is it simple, sensible, satisfying, positive, helpful, useful, and truthful every hour of every day? Skip anything that fails even one of these tests. Give yourself the gift of happiness. No’s are always remembered, and are permanent.

Corollaries to Barbara’s 5 Habits

  1. Find things to verbally compliment each other daily, especially in front of family and other people.
  2. Happiness habits practiced every day become easier. Continued, they strengthen your relationship, your love, and your trust in each other.
  3. When in doubt, say yes. Say yes, a lot! Start with yes, end with yes.

This document, initially published on August 23, 2020, the first anniversary of Barbara’s death, was a way for us to answer the happiness questions which are still asked quite frequently. It is shared here because it seems to have had such a positive impact on so many lives. I, we, hope these thoughts are meaningful and helpful to you.

The Platinum Rule*
Help Others Who Want And Need Assistance
Helping Others Achieve Their Goals And Aspirations
Many Of Those You Help Will Thank You.

  1. This rule is 10 times more powerful than the Golden Rule which only says, “ do unto others. . .
  2. The Platinum Rule says help those who need help to help yet others do what the others want or need by providing the necessary assistance to help others who can’t, by themselves, complete what they seek to achieve.
  3. The Ethical and Practical principles I follow support both rules. Share your own version of these approaches with others who work with you, people you’d like to work with, and people you will seek to work with.
  4. Find ways to discuss these ideas, explain them, and ask and answer questions about them.
  5. Everyone you care about or those who care about you should be aware of ideas like The Platinum Rule. Help them live and learn to form their own principles.
  6. Practice The Platinum Rule helping those you help to help others. All will remember and thank you.
  • PLEASE NOTE: This idea has many advocates. When I first began mentioning it I was directed to Amazon which lists more than a dozen currently available books by prominent authors with absolutely the same idea.

Good luck.

The Enormous Power of Thank You

Thank, Applaud, Congratulate, Recognize,
or Honor One Person Every Day.
Just Do It.

Each Recipient Will Remember You
and What You Did For Them and For Others.

Why Do This?

If you are one of the many waiting around for the spontaneous recognition for the good things you have done for others and maybe larger groups, the wait could be longer. Only a handful of us, a very tiny number will experience these magical events in their lives. If you want people to remember you, there are some powerful realities:

  1. Remember others first.
  2. Take some time every day to find people you know you need to thank and do it.
  3. As you develop this habit, you will find that each recipient of your gratitude will remember you, what you did for them, and perhaps what you did for others, then tell you and tell others.  
  4. My personal belief is that every supervisor, senior manager, and leader has an obligation to look for others who do outstanding things, and then take the trouble to personally recognize their accomplishments. These powerful communications often have lifelong impact. Recipients gain what so many of us would like to have, happiness.
  5. Do things that are memorable, that you know are special or above and beyond the call of duty. Sometimes you have to force people to remember you.
  6. Bottom line: Being remembered is a very intentional personal behavior. No thank you, no gratitude, no memory…no happiness. 

Remember, Thank You are the two most powerful words in any culture, any language, and any relationship. Be specific about what you are thanking for will make those two words more powerful, memorable, and actionable.

An Introduction to the Power of Thank You

The first thank you note that came my way occurred shortly after the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) published a couple of my short essays in 1974. The notes came from people I didn’t even know, Chester Burger and Rob8ert Dillionsnider of New York City, for example. Just brief short notes on special thank you stationery they had which said essentially, “Dear Jim, liked your piece, especially A, B, and C. You need to write more about these things. Thank you, sincerely.”

In almost every month of my career from those days to these, I receive thank you notes from people.

Two powerful experiences really illustrate the power of recognizing what you like about how other people have helped you. That read them, enjoy them, and use the lessons they teach.

Handkerchief warning, have some tissues ready as you read these two articles.

The Power of a Note, My First Lesson – A Personal Story

I was 26 years old and a junior manager in a Minneapolis retail music store. The way they went about teaching management was to put junior managers in charge of something real. One of my first “real” management jobs was to oversee the stereo components department in the company’s downtown store. I had a pretty tough, old-fashioned supervisor who had only a few requirements for my first month as manager: conduct a sales meeting on Tuesdays at 7:30 AM, present a new selling idea to the group of five, and write at least one complimentary note to a sales staff member during the month. More than one note was encouraged.

One day, one of the long-time salesmen passed away. It wasn’t my fault. My manager came down and asked me to go through his desk to make sure there was nothing embarrassing to him or the company. The family was coming in to spend some time in the department where the salesman had spent most of his working life.

I went through his desk, an old-fashioned World War II surplus desk with deep drawers. In the back there was a big box of papers; I couldn’t make heads or tails of it, but I soon noticed that everything inside the box was in chronological order, with the youngest documents first. As I was trying to figure out what it was all about, I noticed that on every piece of paper, going back more than 30 years, there was a handwritten note from somebody making a nice comment about this gentleman’s work.

There were even several notes from more than 30 years ago, from the company’s founder. Some were just scribbles, “Great job with the Wilsons, we couldn’t crack them, you sold them”, “Thanks”, “You really did a great job resolving the concerns of the Olsons, they kept the merchandise after all. Nice going.” Then it struck me that he had likely saved every positive piece of paper he received. There, on top, was my recent handwritten compliment. I kind of teared up.

When the family came, I put the box on the top of his desk, and his family members began going through it and talking about how many of these notes they knew about. Seems he talked about them at the dinner table whenever he got one. As I think back over that dramatic day, in the context of my career, something I could have done a lot more would have been to consistently and constantly thank people, compliment people, and to congratulate people. The lesson and perhaps the moral is if you want to be remembered, remember others.

The Mark Eklund Story, “All the Good Things”
By Helen P. Mrosla

Courtesy of Reader’s Digest, Copyright © 1991,
Reprinted with Permission of Trusted Media Brands, Inc., Copyright © 2020

He was in the first third-grade class I taught at Saint Mary’s School in Morris, Minn. All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one in a million. Very neat in appearance but had that happy-to-be-alive attitude that made even his occasional mischievousness delightful.

Mark talked incessantly. I had to remind him again and again that talking without permission was not acceptable. What impressed me so much, though, was his sincere response every time I had to correct him for misbehaving – “Thank you for correcting me, Sister!” I didn’t know what to make of it at first, but before long I became accustomed to hearing it many times a day.

One morning my patience was growing thin when Mark talked once too often, and then I made a novice teacher’s mistake. I looked at Mark and said, If you say one more word, I am going to tape your mouth shut!” It wasn’t ten seconds later when Chuck blurted out, “Mark is talking again.” I hadn’t asked any of the students to help me watch Mark, but since I had stated the punishment in front of the class, I had to act on it.

I remember the scene as if it had occurred this morning. I walked to my desk, very deliberately opened my drawer and took out a roll of masking tape. Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark’s desk, tore off two pieces of tape and made a big X with them over his mouth. I then returned to the front of the room. As I glanced at Mark to see how he was doing, he winked at me. That did it! I started laughing. The class cheered as I walked back to Mark’s desk, removed the tape, and shrugged my shoulders. His first words were, “Thank you for correcting me, Sister.”

At the end of the year, I was asked to teach junior-high math. The years flew by, and before I knew it Mark was in my classroom again. He was more handsome than ever and just as polite. Since he had to listen carefully to my instruction in the “new math,” he did not talk as much in ninth grade as he had in third. One Friday, things just didn’t feel right. We had worked hard on a new concept all week, and I sensed that the students were frowning, frustrated with themselves and edgy with one another.

I had to stop this crankiness before it got out of hand. So I asked them to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed me the papers. Charlie smiled. Mark said, “Thank you for teaching me, Sister. Have a good weekend.” That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and I listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

On Monday I gave each student his or her list Before long, entire class was smiling. Really?” I heard whispered. “I never knew that meant anything to anyone!” I didn’t know others liked me so much.” No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. I never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another again.

That group of students moved on. Several years later, after I returned from vacation, my parents met me at the airport. As we were driving home, Mother asked me the usual questions about the trip, the weather, my experiences in general. There was a lull in the conversation. Mother gave Dad a sideways glance and simply says, “Dad?” My father cleared his throat as he usually did before something important. “The Eklunds called last night,” he began “Really?” I said. “I haven’t heard from them in years. I wonder how Mark is.” Dad responded quietly. “Mark was killed in Vietnam,” he said. “The funeral is tomorrow, and his parents would like it if you could attend.” To this day I can still point to the exact spot on I-494 where Dad told me about Mark.

I had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. Mark looked so handsome, so mature. All I could think at that moment was, “Mark, I would give all the masking tape in the world if only you would talk to me.” The church was packed with Mark’s friends Chuck’s sister sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Why did it have to rain on the day of the funeral? It was difficult enough at the graveside. The pastor said the usual prayers, and the bugler played taps. One by one those who loved Mark took a last walk by the coffin and sprinkled it with holy water. I was the last one to bless the coffin. As I stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to me. Were you Mark’s math teacher?” he asked. I nodded as I continued to stare at the coffin. “Mark talked about you a lot,” he said.

After the funeral, most of Mark’s former classmates headed to Chuck’s farmhouse for lunch. Mark’s mother and father were there, obviously waiting for me. “We want to show you something, his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. “They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.” Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. I knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which I had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said about him. “Thank you so much for doing that,” Mark’s mother said. “As you can see, Mark treasured it.” Mark’s classmates started to gather around us.

Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, “I still have my list. I keep it in the top drawer of my desk at home.” Chuck’s wife said, “Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.””I have mine too,” Marilyn said. “It’s in my diary.” Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. I carry this with me at all times,” Vicki said without batting an eyelash. “I think we all saved our lists.” That’s when I finally sat down and cried. I cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don’t know when that one day will be. So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.

How to Write a Good Thank You Note

  1. A one-sentence positive explanation of what specifically got your attention or triggered a productive thought or learning moment.
  2. A general complimentary comment about the person you are writing to: Their generosity, their wisdom, their helpfulness.
  3. A specific suggestion, request, or observation. (Something like, “I really like the part about your joining a small family agency, please write more about your experiences in the future.”)
  4. Closing compliment. “You really are a contributor to our profession. Thank you.”
  5. A useful close, i.e. “Hope to hear more from you”.
  6. Sentimental close (if you really know the recipient). These are two of my favorites of all time, from Chester Burger, one of the very prominent practitioners of his day. A sincere and motivational closing: “With admiration and anticipation, Your Name,” or a more personal close for someone you know rather well, “With Respect and Affection, Your Name”.

Special note: The most powerful format is handwritten and of course, sent through the mail. Compliments sent through email are appreciated but have only a small percentage of impact compared to a personally signed note.

The best time to write a note like this is right now, you are likely to be at your most eloquent, important, and memorable at the moment of your inspiration and gratitude.   

Thank, applaud, congratulate, recognize, or honor someone every day.

Be Remembered.

Be Happy.

Can I Share Some of Your Thank You Notes From Admirers?

In the coming months and years, I will be sharing thank you notes. I very much would like to publish communications like these that came to you and how they affected your life. Email them to with the Subject Line “Powerful Thank You Notes”.

New Year’s Resolutions 2024

Action #1 Required This Day

Your Personal Daily Ethics Audit

By James E. Lukaszewski,
ABC, Fellow IABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus

Resolve today to get in the habit of regularly assessing your personal daily ethics exposure. It’s likely that your exposures will be a surprise. This paper presents a simple series of response options. In my crisis work the appearance of ethical questions was pretty frequent and I found that I needed a way to quickly assess these situations and determine what, if any, action might be needed.

We start with the first signs…the queasy stomach that tells you something is out of order or going there, perhaps soon. Then the remaining steps in the process are designed to help you move into a response mode if necessary, even a deeply responsive mode if extremely necessary.

Click on Moral Questions link to review a blog post for deeper penetration of more serious situations.

Step One:
Respond to First Signs or Concerns

The moment your stomach gets that twinge about what you are doing or planning to do, or someone else in your company is starting or plans to start doing, stop and ask yourself:

    1. What is the ideal ethical behavior here?
    2. How are ethical questions being surfaced and addressed?
    3. What is remaining unsaid, ignored, actually covered up?
    4. When will leaders address the ethical expectations of others?
    5. Is the profit or personal gain motive in balance with The PRSA Code of Ethics and your own ethical expectations?
  2. First mentioned to me eons ago by Emmanuel Tchividjian former PRSA BEPS member, Principal –  The Markus Gabriel Group – US Phone Number: 646-209-0711, Norwegian Phone Number: 983-555-63,    Email:, Website:

Step Two:
Ethical Decision-Making Guide to
Help Resolve Ethical Dilemmas

By Kathy R. Fitzpatrick, JD, APR, Former Member BEPS

*Kathy R. Fitzpatrick, J.D., APR – Former Member of BEPS   Director and Professor, The Zimmerman School at University of South Florida   Email:   Website:

For public relations and other professionals, ethical dilemmas arise when responsibilities and loyalties conflict and a decision about the appropriate – i.e., ethical – course of action must be made. Often, a choice is required among actions that meet competing obligations. For example, when might the obligation to serve the public interest override loyalty to clients? When does a particular stakeholder’s interest take priority over an employer’s interest? In other words, just exactly what is “responsible advocacy”? Apply these questions to sort things out:

    1. Define the specific ethical malpractice issue/conflict.
    2. Identify internal/external factors (e.g., legal, political, social, economic) that may influence the decision.
    3. Identify key values.
    4. Identify the parties who will be affected by the decision and define the public relations professional’s obligation to each.
    5. Select ethical principles to guide the decision-making process.
    6. Make a decision and justify it.
  2. Step Three:
    Use The Lexicon Of Unethical
    Public Relations Behavior

Every Code provision in the PRSA Code of Ethics, as well as every Professional Standards Advisory (PSA) contains examples of improper conduct. As subsequent Professional Standards Advisories are developed by the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS), approved and deployed, additional terms to describe improper conduct will be further explained, and examples provided.

The current PRSA Code lexicon of improper conduct includes:

    • Unethical conduct – Clear conduct that goes against the Code.

    • Improper conduct – Conduct that should be questioned.

    • Malpractice – Obviously, poor or flawed judgment and behavior.

    • Inappropriate behavior – Feels wrong, needs to be stopped.

    • Inconsistent with the Code

    • Disruptive to or can undermine ethical practice – Behavior that should stop, may require remedial action.

    • Destructive to the reputation of practitioners, our profession, or our Society – You’ll know it when you see it, stand up, speak out, and stop it.

a. Voluntary Societies Have,
Established Inspirational Codes Of Conduct.

Journalism, public relations, advertising, Word of Mouth (WOM), The Global Alliance, and many other voluntary professional or trade associations, failing to have a legal basis for using enforceable regulatory oversight, have focused on inspiration and education of their members. Lawyers, doctors, accountants, police officers, dentists, hairdressers, barbers, and other services that are licensed by a state, county or government authority, can and do impose penalties and sanction violations. The PRSA Code is an aspirational document designed to facilitate, educate, and inspire ethical behavior and also to call out malpractice and unethical conduct.  

b. Using the PRSA Code of Conduct (From
With Examples of Improper Conduct

Conduct #1 – Free Flow of Information

Core Principle:

Protecting and advancing the free flow of accurate and truthful information is essential to serving the public interest and contributing to informed decision-making in a democratic society.


  • To maintain the integrity of relationships with the media, government officials, and the public.

  • To aid informed decision-making.


A member shall:

  • Preserve the integrity of the process of communication.

  • Be honest and accurate in all communications.

  • Act promptly to correct erroneous communications for which the practitioner is responsible.

  • Preserve the free flow of unprejudiced information when giving or receiving gifts by ensuring that gifts are nominal, legal, and infrequent.

Examples of Improper Conduct Under this Provision:

  • A member representing a ski manufacturer gives a pair of expensive racing skis to a sports magazine columnist, to influence the columnist to write favorable articles about the product.

  • A member entertains a government official beyond legal limits and/or in violation of government reporting requirements.

Conduct #2 – Competition

Core Principle:

Promoting healthy and fair competition among professionals preserves an ethical climate while fostering a robust business environment.


  • To promote respect and fair competition among public relations professionals.

  • To serve the public interest by providing the widest choice of practitioner options.


A member shall:

  • Follow ethical hiring practices designed to respect free and open competition without deliberately undermining a competitor.

  • Preserve intellectual property rights in the marketplace.

Examples of Improper Conduct Under This Provision:

  • A member employed by a “client organization” shares helpful information with a counseling firm that is competing with others for the organization’s business.

  • A member spreads malicious and unfounded rumors about a competitor in order to alienate the competitor’s clients and employees in a ploy to recruit people and business.

Conduct #3 – Disclosure of Information

Core Principle:

Open communication fosters informed decision-making in a democratic society.


To build trust with the public by revealing all information needed for responsible decision-making.


A member shall:

  • Be honest and accurate in all communications.

  • Act promptly to correct erroneous communications for which the member is responsible.

  • Investigate the truthfulness and accuracy of information released on behalf of those represented.

  • Reveal the sponsors for causes and interests represented.

  • Disclose financial interest (such as stock ownership) in a client’s organization.

  • Avoid deceptive practices.

Examples of Improper Conduct Under this Provision:

  • Front groups: A member implements “grassroots” campaigns or letter-writing campaigns to legislators on behalf of undisclosed interest groups.

  • Lying by omission: A practitioner for a corporation knowingly fails to release financial information, giving a misleading impression of the corporation’s performance.

  • A member discovers inaccurate information disseminated via a website or media kit and does not correct the information.

  • A member deceives the public by employing people to pose as volunteers to speak at public hearings and participate in “grassroots” campaigns.

Conduct #4 – Safeguarding Confidences

Core Principle:

Client trust requires appropriate protection of confidential and private information.


To protect the privacy rights of clients, organizations, and individuals by safeguarding confidential information.


  • A member shall: Safeguard the confidences and privacy rights of present, former, and prospective clients and employees.

  • Protect privileged, confidential, or insider information gained from a client or organization.

  • Immediately advise an appropriate authority if a member discovers that confidential information is being divulged by an employee of a client company or organization.

Examples of Improper Conduct Under This Provision:

  • A member changes jobs, takes confidential information, and uses that information in the new position to the detriment of the former employer.

  • A member intentionally leaks proprietary information to the detriment of some other party.

Conduct #5 – Conflicts of Interest

Core Principle:

Avoiding real, potential or perceived conflicts of interest builds the trust of clients, employers, and the publics.


  • To earn trust and mutual respect with clients or employers.

  • To build trust with the public by avoiding or ending situations that put one’s personal or professional interests in conflict with society’s interests.


A member shall:

  • Act in the best interests of the client or employer, even subordinating the member’s personal interests.

  • Avoid actions and circumstances that may appear to compromise good business judgment or create a conflict between personal and professional interests.

  • Disclose promptly any existing or potential conflict of interest to affected clients or organizations.

  • Encourage clients and customers to determine if a conflict exists after notifying all affected parties.

Examples of Improper Conduct Under This Provision:

  • The member fails to disclose that he or she has a strong financial interest in a client’s chief competitor.

  • The member represents a “competitor company” or a “conflicting interest” without informing a prospective client.

Conduct #6 – Enhancing the Profession

Core Principle:

Public relations professionals work constantly to strengthen the public’s trust in the profession.


  • To build respect and credibility with the public for the profession of public relations.

  • To improve, adapt and expand professional practices.


A member shall:

  • Acknowledge that there is an obligation to protect and enhance the profession.

  • Keep informed and educated about practices in the profession to ensure ethical conduct.

  • Actively pursue Personal Professional Development.

  • Decline representation of clients or organizations that urge or require actions contrary to this Code.

  • Accurately define what public relations activities can accomplish.

  • Counsel subordinates in proper ethical decision-making.

  • Require that subordinates adhere to the ethical requirements of the Code.

  • Report practices that fail to comply with the Code, whether committed by PRSA members or not, to the appropriate authority.

Examples of Improper Conduct Under This Provision:

  • A PRSA member declares publicly that a product the client sells is safe, without disclosing evidence to the contrary.

  • A member initially assigns some questionable client work to a non-member practitioner to avoid the ethical obligation of PRSA membership.

A Days End Assessment

When those days come along where your stomach is queasy at the very beginning, you know you’re going to have a long day and you will want to have a sensible process for wrapping things up at the end of the day. Just take a few moments to review what happened during the day from an ethical point of view on the things you need to be concerned about and take action on. Create a simple to-do list to get these things done before they fall through a crack.

If you have any questions at all, contact your Chapter Ethics Officer who is ready and waiting to be of assistance. Good luck and remember, working through these ethical issues and questions is one of the most important things we can do as practitioners.

I, too, am available 24/7 to answer questions and to be of service in these important matters at any time. Besides, I’ve committed my life to working these areas of importance and really do love talking about them and helping others have better days.

James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, Fellow IABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus, is the longest-serving member of BEPS, 35 years. In 2015, the PRSA Board of Directors conferred Emeritus status. So far, Jim is the only Emeritus BEPS board member. He publishes a wide variety of commentaries, lexicons, manifestos, and analyses of ethics practices and malpractices in public relations, business, and society every year.