P100 Podcast

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Ep. 2 - Pittsburgh’s Future, 100 Things, Aliens

September 10, 2019

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For this episode of the P100 Podcast, we have a full house! Joining our regular hosts Logan, Dan and Paul are The Incline Director and author, Rossilynne Culgan who has just published the book 100 Things to do in Pittsburgh Before You Die. WordWriter Hollie Geitner stops by to review a new list of top hated business jargon buzzwords. Let's see how many you use regularly. Stick around to the end, as Dan and Logan discuss . . . aliens.

This episode is sponsored by WordWrite

Centuries before cellphones and social media, human connections were made around fires, as we shared the stories that shaped our world. Today, stories are still the most powerful way to move hearts, minds and inspire action.

At WordWrite, Pittsburgh’s largest independent public relations agency, we understand that before you had a brand before you sold any product or service, you had a story.

WordWrite helps clients to uncover their own Capital S Story – the reason someone would want to buy, work, invest or partner with you through our patented StoryCrafting process. Visit wordwritepr.com to uncover your Capital S story.

Enjoy the full transcript from this episode below:

Logan Armstrong:
You are listening to the P100 podcast, the biweekly companion piece to the Pittsburgh 100, bringing Pittsburgh news, culture and more, because sometimes 100 words just aren't enough for a great story.

Dan Stefano:
Hello everyone. It's Dan Stefano, back with another episode of the P100 podcast. I'm alongside my co-hosts here, Logan Armstrong and Paul. Good to see you guys yet again.

Logan Armstrong:
Yeah, good to be here.

Paul Furiga:
Thanks, Dan. Really looking forward to this episode. Let's get to it guys.

Dan Stefano:
Yeah, we got a lot of interesting topics here for you today. We're going to talk a little bit about why it's great to see Pittsburgh on some of these "best of" lists, but some of the reasons behind why you know they —

Logan Armstrong:
Might not continue forever.

Dan Stefano:
Exactly. We're also going to talk with Rossilynne Culgan, she's director of The Incline and the author of the second edition of 100 Things To Do In Pittsburgh Before You Die. Lovely title. We're also going to be talking with Hollie Geitner of WordWrite. We're going to discuss business jargon that we hate. And there's some of that stuff that we hate, we actually use so that'll be fun. And then we're going to end it with a conversation about aliens and I'll just leave it right there.

Paul Furiga:
All right, so one of the other things you want to talk about in today's episode is what a great place Pittsburgh is: Check out all the rankings, and what the future looks like. A couple of years ago, the Allegheny conference did a report on the population trends in the Pittsburgh region. It's a report called Inflection Point. It's on the Allegheny Conference website if you want to check out all the details. Very interesting.

Paul Furiga:
So here's Pittsburgh today, Dan and Logan. It's a place that's really great for millennials and Gen Z. It's like little Brooklyn, lots of guys with man buns, and curated pickle shops, and really hot restaurants, and that's all really great and cool. Oh, we got autonomous cars driving around on the streets and we love it, right? This is all really, really good stuff. What's interesting to me is how did that happen? And a part of the way that happened is because of the collapse of the steel industry. Essentially an entire generation of people left Pittsburgh.

Paul Furiga:
You know, I always love it when the national sportscasters say, Oh, those Steelers fans, they travel really well.

Dan Stefano:
They're not traveling. They just live there.

Paul Furiga:
Exactly. Dan, they're not traveling. Those Steeler fans are in Houston because in the 1980s, their entire family lost their jobs and they moved to Houston.

Dan Stefano:
Right.

Paul Furiga:
So, you know, that is what it is. How it matters, in terms of what's happening today, is that that generation is gone. My generation, the baby boomers, they're retiring and Logan's generation, your generation, there just ain't enough of you to fill all the retiring jobs in the region. The Allegheny conference report said something like 80,000 people are going to retire in the next five years, and there are not enough people to fill those jobs, and because all those people left and became great Steeler fans elsewhere, there's not a big enough talent pool to fill the jobs that we have today.

Dan Stefano:
Right. And I think where you'd think about getting some of that talent pool from the universities and colleges, which we have a ton of in this city. In this same survey, it said 50% of our 40,000 annual college graduates will leave the region, citing an inability to find a job as their number one reason. And I think that's maybe the crux of the problem here is how do you keep people in this city? You know a lot of these great amenities that you talk about are geared for people who are in college or just recent graduates. How do you keep them in place after that? And I think that's the really the big problem right here and we need to discover industries that are going to keep people.

Paul Furiga:
Exactly.

Dan Stefano:
You know right now it's a lot of, kind of niche industries or you know, just places that don't, quite ... types of industries that don't quite have the skills that people might be developing in high schools here or there just aren't enough of those positions available for them.

Paul Furiga:
Right. It is great that there are autonomous car companies here. How many of them could there be?

Dan Stefano:
Right.

Paul Furiga:
And you're not going to learn in high school, at least not today, how to program the software on an autonomous vehicle. That takes some additional training. Now, Logan, I thought it'd be interesting to get your perspective on this. I mean, you're a recent grad, you're in the demographic. You went to Pitt. You went to school with people from outside the region. What Dan shared about people getting a great education here at CMU, Pitt, some of our other schools, and then leaving. What have you seen?

Logan Armstrong:
What that survey said kind of hits the nail on the head. The inability to find jobs here. I think a lot of the majors that kids are picking aren't necessarily optimal for Pittsburgh, but I also think it's a more generalized problem now that I just think too many kids are forced into choosing college or university as a career path and that it's just overpopulated in general. I mean, I think we've gotten too far away from trade schools and things like that and actually crafts and trades that — you're not going to be able to find all these degree-level jobs in a city as small as Pittsburgh.

And it's not small, but it's by no means like a Dallas or an Austin or New York or San Francisco or things like that. And so I think the problem is that it's a combination of things, that there is just truly an inability to find a job, and I also think that with so many options there are today, that kids kind of get overwhelmed as to what they're going to do. I mean, there's so many job paths and job options that you can take, and so many avenues online and everything that you can try to find a job, that it's much more accessible to a kid in Pittsburgh that wants to move to San Francisco, or wants to move to Brooklyn where they can look online, and get a job remotely, which that was impossible really 30 years ago.

Paul Furiga:
That's really an interesting perspective. And what you shared about maybe college isn't the right path for everybody is a national issue. In this report that I referenced and in a lot of the reporting, this is a big issue. The jobs that are wanting are not necessarily the jobs that require a college degree and you know, our audience, the people who are listening, we've got a lot of business leaders listening and one of the things that this study found is that as business leaders, and I'll include myself in this, frequently we might be pushing people in a particular direction that doesn't actually meet, you know, what's needed. There are certain professions that don't require a four-year degree that are, you know, pretty well-paying jobs, right? And those are always wanting, you know? It's a skills mismatch.

Dan Stefano:
Right. That's an interesting phrase to use there because on a national level we talk about a skills gap and the lack of people getting into, say, these technical biz industries. A big part of it is how culturally we think about education post-high school. The paradigm is shifting with the amount of student loan debt people are getting as Logan, you put it, it's overpopulated. I think, you know, within the next decade here, we're going to have to see a shift. That's going to be what changes the workforce around the country. Not only Pittsburgh but you know, especially here, this type of, you know, a change in education is probably what's going to drive it if we're going to continue to stay on these "best of" lists.

Paul Furiga:
I think that's, that's absolutely crucial. You know, one of the reasons why we wanted to discuss it on the podcast today is you know, we'd like to know what you, the listeners, think about these issues. You know, we want to hear from you on social and we want you to comment on the show.

And I mean this is an issue that all of us can play a part in. You know, recently WordWrite moved to a new office. We got a new sophisticated office phone system, and it takes a long time for the owner of the growing small business that installed our phones to get to our office. And the reason for that is he cannot find a reliable 20-year-old, or 21-year-old employee who's not interested in college education but has technical aptitude, and is willing to work with him to learn the skills to help him maintain high tech phone systems and grow his business.

And so, as a business leader myself, the way I would look at this is I would ask folks who are listening to do a little reflective thought and think about this and you know, we'd like to know what you folks think about this. I mean, I think we all want Pittsburgh to be at the top of these lists. Oh, maybe even we could win a sports championship again, once in a while. That might be nice.

Dan Stefano:
We are better.

Paul Furiga:
We are better, I know. Expectations, but you know, this is kind of like beyond the 100. Some of the issues behind the news that are driving what's happening.

Dan Stefano:
Okay. We're here with Rossilynne Culgan, the director of The Incline and the author of the second edition of 100 Things to do in Pittsburgh Before You Die, which is just a great title for a bucket list, I think so. It's perfect. Rossilynne, thanks for being here.

Rossilynne Culgan:
Thanks for having me. I'm glad to be here.

Dan Stefano:
Absolutely. Yeah. You know, before we get going here, we could talk a little bit about The Incline itself. You know, it's really a unique news outlet in the city, and especially with a lot of different types of outlets beginning. So can you tell us a little bit about The Incline?

Rossilynne Culgan:
Yes. So the first thing is we are theincline.com, not the incline on Mount Washington, which is a common misconception that Pittsburghers tend to have. But we are a local news website. We deliver a morning newsletter every day and it is a roundup of everything you need to know in Pittsburgh for your day. So it's everything from the heavy serious news, to a little bit more lighthearted news. But we really like to think of it as the Pittsburghers' guide to their day and we do original reporting as well as share the reporting of other outlets.

Dan Stefano:
And what does your job involve as a director here? Do you find yourself wearing a lot of hats or ... ?

Rossilynne Culgan:
Yes, definitely many hats. I do write as much as I can as well as editing articles and then sort of charting the vision for what The Incline's voice and tone will be, the kinds of stories that we'll be telling. So definitely a lot of hats.

Dan Stefano:
That sounds great. I know you spent some of your career working in traditional news at a newspaper. How do you find this different and what do you enjoy about it?

Rossilynne Culgan:
Oh, good question. I did work in traditional newspapers for a while and I think I spent a lot of time sort of being the newspaper of record for a lot of communities. And The Incline is a very small staff, but we had the luxury of not being a newspaper of record. So essentially that means we don't have to tell every single story, you know? We can't and we don't make that a part of our mission either. So we really get to pick and choose, and our goal is to find the stories that are in the gaps, and it might be a that someone else has told, but we're going to approach it from a new angle or highlight a new voice. And that's really our goal.

Dan Stefano:
Well, you know, we talked about you wearing a lot of hats and another hat that you can put on now is the author of a book.

Rossilynne Culgan:
That's right.

Dan Stefano:
And that's pretty impressive. One day I'd like to be the author of a book, but I just have to figure out a subject to write about. Now, this is actually the second edition of this book. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got involved in writing this?

Rossilynne Culgan:
Yes. So the first edition was not mine. It was actually by a different author. And the publisher likes to keep these books really fresh and up to date. And Pittsburgh is changing so rapidly that there were many, many additions and deletions actually. So this is completely my take. The publisher was looking for an author and found me. I like to say it's a combination of good search engine optimization and a lot of luck, and it all worked out from there.

Dan Stefano:
All right. Well, Logan, we are all about 100, so I think, you know, it's exciting to see that there are 100 things in this book, but you know yourself.

Logan Armstrong:
Yeah, no, I love to see the hundred theme. Obviously we're all about the-

Rossilynne Culgan:
That's right.

Logan Armstrong:
Pittsburgh 100 and so you said there were some deletions and it's kind of your take to keep it at 100 exactly. I'm sure there are some things you probably had to delete out of there.

Rossilynne Culgan:
Yeah. Really with the deletions, it was mostly things that had closed, believe it or not, or things that had changed, but there were things that it pained me to leave out. So I started the process by asking friends and family and anyone on the internet for recommendations and then tried to pare down the list. And it was not easy at all.

Logan Armstrong:
Is there any particular experience that you remember? The first time you visited someplace and you were like, wow, I can't, I believe I haven't been here before?

Rossilynne Culgan:
Yes, so many experiences like that actually. I thought I knew a lot about Pittsburgh and I found out that I was wrong. But one, in particular, I'll talk about, is the Photo Antiquities Museum, which is on the North Side, and I used to work on the North Side. I walked past this place every single day and never ventured inside, but it is so worth it.

It's a museum with photos of Pittsburgh from sort of its industrial heyday as well as photos from across Europe. There are photos of the Eiffel Tower. It was absolutely fascinating and old cameras, which was so cool to see. I mean thinking that we all have a camera in our pocket, you know, with our phones all the time. To see these old gigantic cameras is so cool. Highly recommend.

Logan Armstrong:
That's awesome. Back when cameras were a real feat of technology and kind of taken for granted now just walking around with that in our pockets. That's great.

Dan Stefano:
No one's seen my mom try to use a phone these days, so it's still a feat of technology.

Rossilynne Culgan:
It is, it is true. Dean Stefano: Switching gears a little, but what does the future of The Incline look like then? You know, as we go forward here, you know, everything has to stay fresh, including the 100 things we have to do about Pittsburgh, but for yourself, you know, looking as the director of The Incline, what do you see as the future there?

We're a startup. We're a scrappy young startup. So for us, I hope that the future is growth. I hope that we're able to tell more stories because there are many stories that I know are not being told at this point. I have a Google doc going of 18 pages of story ideas. That's not a joke. So there are a lot of stories that I want us to be able to tell. So I think the future for us is, is growing.

Logan Armstrong:
Yeah. Great. Well, thank you so much, Rosalyn. Once again, we're with Rossilynne Culgan and the director at The Incline and recent author. Where can we follow in subscribe to The Incline and where can we find your book?

Rossilynne Culgan:
The Incline is at theincline.com, and then the book is at 100thingspittsburgh.com.

Logan Armstrong:
Great. Well, thanks so much again. Glad to have you here, Roz.

Rossilynne Culgan:
Thank you.

Dan Stefano:
Thank you.

Logan Armstrong:
Centuries before cell phones and social media, human connections are made around fires, as we shared the stories as shaped our world. Today, stories are still the most powerful way to move hearts and minds and inspire action. At WordWrite, Pittsburgh's largest independent public relations agency, we understand that before you had a brand before you sold any product or service, you had a story. WordWrite helps clients to uncover their own capitalist story: the reason someone would want to buy, work, invest or partner with you through our patented story-crafting process. Visit wordwritepr.com to uncover your capitalist story.

Dan Stefano:
Right for our next segment here, we brought in Hollie Geitner. She's one of our vice presidents here at WordWrite, and we're talking about business jargon in particular. It's an article. It's a recent survey from GetResponse online. The title of the survey is The Business Jargon And Buzzwords You Love To Hate.

And this one I think hits close to home for what we do here at WordWrite as a public relations agency, but sometimes I've seen some of these buzzwords that I love to hate here. But Hollie, for yourself, you know, you were the one who brought this up in our work Slack channel. And what stood out to you for this survey here?

Hollie Geitner:
Well, I think, you know, when you see these surveys and you're like, "Oh right, cool, I'm going to read this. You know, like I love these lists." You're like laughing when you start reading it and you're like, "Oh, Oh wait, Oh I use that one and that one. What? Why is this one on here?" And you know, so we got a little bit of a laugh, but then I think we were all like, "Hmm, all right. Maybe we need to rethink how we communicate here." So it certainly generated a lot of back and forth discussion amongst our team, which was kind of fun.

Dan Stefano:
It made me pretty self-conscious for like the next week and then I got right back to using some of these things in my email. So I'd like to go through some of these topics here, some of these survey questions, and just see what we use.

And maybe you at home too, you can find you maybe some of these, you see and you realize, “Oh God, I use some of that too.” But first and foremost, the one that really stood out to me is because I send a lot of emails every day and this is the most passive-aggressive email lines. And there are about two phrases here that finished with about a quarter of the responses each. One was "as per my last email" and the other was "just a friendly reminder." I use both of these. I tell people I am friendly all the time online, and I didn't realize how passive-aggressive I'm being.

Logan. Do you?

Logan Armstrong:
Yeah, I'm a big user of "as per my last email," and then it looks like the next one was, "please let me know if I misunderstood." I've probably at least used that once. Some of these, as Hollie said, I was finding it harder to believe that these were passive-aggressive. I had to kind of think about it for a second.

Dan Stefano:
Well I think the fun thing about, "please let me know if I've misunderstood," is generally you have misunderstood. You're just trying to tell the other person on the other line you sent me a complicated email, how do I understand this? And so maybe you're trying to help their feelings, but I guess you know, people can read between the lines pretty easily too, would you agree with that Hollie?

Hollie Geitner:
Oh yeah. I think, you know, in these instances usually you're sending these because somebody hasn't responded to you or you know, done what they said they would and the certain time frame. And I think those kinds of follow-ups are sort of that like that poke. “Hey, you know, pay attention to me. You didn't do what you said you were going to do,” and you know, I generally think that instead of using those, today we need to really break through the clutter, so say what you mean.

Dan Stefano:
I think that takes us into another really interesting question that people asked here. And this is the worst jargon to describe an ideal candidate. So this is discussing, say if you write a job description, what a company is looking for. And some of these I really agree with for some of the worst jargon. Number one on the list of the worst jargon was the word badass. Number two was rockstar, and number three was ninja. I'm none of those things. All right. You know, maybe I'm creative? I try to pretend that I am and that's also on the list. But Hollie, have you ever used any of these words in a job description?

Hollie Geitner:
No, we have never used those. But it is interesting I think with a lot of the startups that you're seeing here in Pittsburgh, sometimes you'll see those job descriptions and they will use those. And these might be the companies that have the cereal bar in the break room, you know? But it's difficult when you think of a ninja. I have a picture in my mind and I'm thinking someone, you know, like ziplining through the office or something.

Dan Stefano:
If we had a ninja in the office I would notice, you know? That'd be a strange thing to ask for.

Logan Armstrong:
Or would you if he's a good ninja?

Dan Stefano:
All right that's a fair point. Hollie Geitner: That's true.

Secretly we've had a ninja at WordWrite for the last 10 years and nobody knows. Last thing we can talk about here is there is a giant list of least favorite business jargon terms and there's a list of 30 here. So I'll just read off the first five.

Number one, synergy. Number two, teamwork. Number three, touch base. Number four, raising the bar. Number five, think outside the box. I use the phrase "touch base" every day of my life, because I like to touch base with people and I think-

Logan Armstrong:
I use all five of those.

Dan Stefano:
You use all five? I've never heard you say the word synergy before.

Logan Armstrong:
I definitely have used the word synergy. Yeah.

Dan Stefano:
We have bad synergy then, because I don't notice that.

Logan Armstrong:
I still can't believe that teamwork is the top five least favorite. I mean, it's teamwork.

Dan Stefano:
Right? I mean, I think, I guess part of these come down to is you just hear them all the time, so maybe people get exhausted by it. Hollie, whenever you see some of these names, some of these things on the list, what do you see? And I mean-

Hollie Geitner:
You know, teamwork and synergy. Those don't bother me as much. Touch base. The other one I hear often is let's talk offline. I don't know if that's on there, but that's another one I hear a lot.

Dan Stefano:
I don't see it. And I don't think I've ever used that, because I think I'm always online. As a former newsman, I used, "let's talk off the record" quite a bit. You know, I think that's kind of fun in a cheap little, a nice short cut there.

All right, Logan, and I don't want to hear it, because I want to talk about this.

Logan Armstrong:
Okay.

Dan Stefano:
We're going to talk about aliens.

Logan Armstrong:
Okay. I can get into aliens.

Dan Stefano:
All right. Well, I'm a little disappointed because originally this was going to come just shortly before that there was going to be an event where people were going to actually not attack area 51, but they were going to basically kind of storm the Gates and say, "Hey, we want to know what's in there."

Logan Armstrong:
They want some answers.

Dan Stefano:
Yeah, hey, the truth is out there. That's what I know. Somewhere out there.

Logan Armstrong:
Yeah.

Dan Stefano:
And apparently it's somewhere in the Nevada desert, but now they've actually decided to change that event to two festivals that are going to be out in Nevada, so maybe we won't learn what's actually inside area 51, but you know, someday hopefully.

Logan Armstrong:
Yeah. I mean, I had seen that for sure. I think there was something like a million people that had signed up for the Facebook event, which I can't even imagine that site. But I mean, Hey, you know, you make it make a friendly event out of something that really started off as just a little meme that gained a lot of traction and went viral. I mean, you know, it's cool to see these things in the internet age, but you know, maybe, hopefully, they can crack an ice-cold beer in the Nevada desert now.

Dan Stefano:
I'm sure. Yeah.

Well, okay. To be honest, though, I'm not actually ... I don't know if I totally believe in aliens. I think it'd be kind of neat if they existed. But what it did get me thinking about was what kind of sightings and what was going on in the Pittsburgh area, and I think one of the more famous sightings in the Pittsburgh area came in Kecksburg, which is a small community. It's unincorporated. I think it's part of Mount Pleasant and Westmoreland County. This was way back in 1965, when it seemed like a lot of people were seeing UFOs and you know, just kind of checking the stars, but a big fireball went across the sky, I think it was seen from, you know, a lot of the areas in the Great Lakes states down toward us. And it crashed and a lot of people said, you know, they may have seen a different hieroglyphics on this object. They saw different —

Logan Armstrong:
From the sky? They must have had some pretty killer sight.

Dan Stefano:
Ok after it crashed. Okay. That's the important part here. But you know, it was supposedly a large metallic object. There were a lot of different things that occurred with this Kecksburg incident, which since became known as Pennsylvania's Roswell. And it's just one of those, you know, legendary things. You know, one of those things that, you know, that probably built like a legend over the years. Ufologists and everything were very interested in it. I think the government line came that it may have been a satellite. There's a lot of-

Logan Armstrong:
Sure.

Dan Stefano:
Different theories. It's something we're never going to know. Sure. Yes. Exactly. Yeah. You know, what happened was an alien probably popped out there and you know, he became a Yinzer and nobody knows any different now.

Logan Armstrong:
Right.

Dan Stefano:
You know, he's acclimated to society. I've seen some people on my block that looked like aliens, so possible. We don't know. They could be out there. But you know, it also got me thinking too, you know, like what else has happened in Pennsylvania and it took me to the National UFO Reporting Center, which if you're looking for it online, you can find it at www.nuforc.org, and actually it lists a bunch of different sightings. People can just go, you know, but whatever they saw in the sky, a bunch of different UFO sightings. They're unverified of course, but there's been almost 4,000 in Pennsylvania, which is pretty cool.

Logan Armstrong:
Yeah. I mean you, you know, you always hear about them every once in a while and, and as you said, you know, it's kind of questionable to the validity of all of them. But there have been some pretty crazy sightings, you know? Not just in PA and Pittsburgh, but you know, some that, I could think there are aliens out there somewhere.

Dan Stefano:
I sometimes, I think people just forget what airplanes look like, especially that they have blinking lights. They have solid lights. I don't know, just reading a few of these here. This was just on August 12th of this year, happened down in Waynesboro. It was a duration of 45 seconds. This is the exact summary. It says large bright light that became stationary, then moved at a very high rate of speed, in parentheses here, many times faster than a plane.

Logan Armstrong:
Yeah, I mean, Hey, you know, you can never rule it out. That sounds like a UFO. Maybe, maybe a meteor or something like that. But yeah, I think out of, I mean I was looking at these too. 

Dan Stefano:
Is this yours Logan? Were you ... ? You posted this didn't you?

Logan Armstrong:
Yeah. Where was I on the night of August 12th, 2019.

Dan Stefano:
You saw this alien. Where you abducted?

Logan Armstrong:
You know, I can neither confirm nor deny my alien abduction experiences.

And we are well beyond 100 words today. Thank you for listening to the P100 podcast. This has been Dan Stefano, Logan Armstrong, and Paul Furiga. If you haven't yet, please subscribe to P100podcast.Com, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and follow us on Twitter at pittsburgh100_ for all the latest news, updates, and more, from the Pittsburgh 100.