Revisiting #MallWriter – 25 Reasons to Rethink the Selection – Mall of America

April 13, 2017

I am not the Mall Writer. A perfect assignment for me, but I missed. Actually, I didn’t miss…the judges and/or selection committee didn’t select me. And it stings.

When I got notification that I was not chosen – and the notification was simply no ‘selection’ email from the mall – I was tempted write a manifesto on the 520 reasons I’d have been a good choice. The two issues with this are that 520 is an awfully large number (it’s the number of stores at the Mall of America according to various sources). Second, it made much more sense to write about the 25 reasons I would have been a great finalist and eventual winner.

The number 25 is perfect because the Mall of America turns 25 this year. The hashtag for the contest and for their social updates in 2017 is #MOATurns25. Further, it’s a much easier task than coming up with more than 500 reasons.

If you’re not familiar – for #MOATurns25 – the Mall is going to jail…err constrain…a creative person in a common area of the Mall. That person would then have to write three missives/blog posts per day over the course of five days while on public display.

According to the contest site…

“In 2017, Mall of America® celebrates its 25th birthday. As part of this special celebration, we think it’s crucial to capture how much we’ve evolved over the course of the last 25 years. Rather than do it ourselves, we’re giving that job to a gifted writer.

The Writer-in-Residence Contest will give a special scribe the chance to spend five days deeply immersed in the Mall atmosphere while writing on-the-fly impressions in their own words. The contest winner will stay in an attached hotel for four nights, receive a $400 gift card to buy food and drinks and collect a generous honorarium for the sweat and tears they’ll put into their prose.”

The only sweat you’ll see from me regarding this contest is in the posts I do related to the event and posted on And the only tears you’ll see are the ones I shed because I felt that this wasn’t so much a contest as a pre-ordained assignment.

That said, let’s list out the 25 reasons I feel I should be in Bloomington, MN this summer.

25 – This is coincidentally the number of years I’ve been running my writing business. Synergy and a supreme coincidence.

24 – I’ve perfected my training skills to that point that speaking to crowds, entertaining them during interactions, and conducting photowalks and other social-capture excursions within the Mall of America would be second nature.

23 – This assignment is almost exactly like the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Without the loss of life or damaging environmental effects, I was hired to cover the oil spill in much the same way the eventual #MOATurns25 #MallWriter would have to. I’m a proven commodity.

22 – My journalism degree prepares me perfectly for researching stories behind the stories in the Mall of America. I assume there will many simultaneous events happening during #MOATurns25 and as a seasoned journalist I’ll be able to balance the workload and write on deadline.

21 – I wrote a story onsite and on-demand for a class of hyped up second-grade students earlier in my career. As a guest speaker (talking about writing) I used their contributions to craft a story about dinosaurs and leprechauns on the spot. It’s this pressure and my superior response that makes me ideal for the #MOATurns25 #MallWriter gig.

20 – My schedule is flexible enough to actually commit to this project. In today’s information age, there have been untold social-media and content stunts that failed because people involved were not able to be successful. Along with and some other domain names, I had already cleared my calendar to participate.

19 – Positive attitude See 20 above. I was so sure of my abilities and the common sense of the selection committee that I already put the adventure in my calendar.

18 – This truly is an adventure. If folks who eventually get chosen don’t see this as the adventure of a lifetime – or more specifically of the quarter-century – they are selling the Mall and the assignment short.

17 – I was a cheerleader for my college NCAA-competing basketball team. I have the energy, drive and other traits necessary to interact with, engage and entertain visitors to the Mall during #MOATurns25.

16 – My client list for writing services reads like a who’s who of big and small brands. Writing to energize and inform an audience is what I do for a living…but it goes beyond that. Writing is my life and therefore my candidacy as the MallWriter should never have been in doubt.

15 – New prowess. In the past four years I have concentrated on the visual arts and photography as a way to communicate with audiences. These skills have been so well received that my work has been commissioned by hotels, businesses, and homes. I’ve also won awards for these images. One of the cool planned events (that I wanted to do a couple times during my assignment) was going to be a photowalk through the Mall. How could people not want to participate in that?

14 – Following around the world. An assignment I had for the Society of Professional Journalists was teaching entire newsrooms how to use social-media tools. This experience and the following I’ve built on various channels is custom-made for sharing my storytelling while at the Mall of America.

13 – Insight and perspective. With so much writing experience and a load of travel experience (I have actually been to the Mall of America), my insight and storytelling would be in high demand. I could do profiles of staff at various stores; FitBit features on the amount of walking done at Mall of America; vlogs of the rides; and taste testing food within the Mall.

12 – I was formerly the cohost of a food and restaurant review show. In that role I regularly ate at different restaurants and provided talking points and lively conversation while dining on food from the venues. This is yet another #MOATurns25 idea – specifically ‘how has food changed in the Mall over 25 years?’

11 – I’m regularly a host of Twitter chats online for products ranging from IT to food to consumer and customer service issues. This skill – and the related chats I would host as the #MallWriter could drive business to the Mall and its stores. Using social media to reach influential audiences is nothing new to me. At one time I had Oprah and Ashton Kutcher following me on Twitter because of my insightful tweets.

10 – Going mobile is a way of life for me. When I’m writing, it’s on a laptop and it’s often in a location other than my formal office. I’ve written product reviews while in a press conference at CES; I’ve written columns on automotive experiences while riding on a Fung Wah bus from NY to Boston; I’ve done so much writing in flight that JetBlue was approached with an idea to make my office on one of their planes ( I’m what people call a backpack journalist and it’s likely that’s all I’ll need when taking up my post for #MOATurns25 and #MallWriter.

9 – My mom thinks this would a great project for me. She’s very supportive and all good writers are required to mention their significant others and parents in their writing or acknowledgements. Now I can cross that off.

8 – I don’t take myself too seriously. While I’m deadly serious about any and all assignments I am awarded, I go about my business with a lightness of being that brings joy to folks who work with me and makes it easy to get stuff done. I’m assuming that the social and event staff is excited for this project and will be working their tail off to make it a success. My involvement would only sweeten the experience.

7 – Misunderstanding. During the whittling process my sites were all hacked. Therefore all my sites were down making it difficult for the #MOATurns25 committee to see my writing and the breadth of my skills. These sites are now up again and I urge you to take another look.

6 – Variety of topics. I mentioned businesses earlier, but the variety of topics on which I’ve written is also remarkable. At one point I had 25 blogs all being updated regularly. The coincidence of 25 appearing again isn’t lost on me. Now I keep about six or seven blogs current and the majority of them are accessible at my main site. The topics include: Cycling; Food and Travel; Technology; Social Media; Paranoia; and Commentary.

5 – I’m a shopper. I love to spend money and a lot of my purchases are done in-person at brick and mortar stores. The parameters of the contest make it unlikely that other finalists are much more than social-media gurus and mommy bloggers. There’s nothing inherently wrong with those foci, but having a full tool-kit of skills and experiences would serve me well.

4 – I’ve been on TV regularly as a social media and technology expert. I’m frequently asked to appear on the local news to explain the latest technology to a wide audience. I believe this experience would be perfect for interacting with press and Mall of America marketing folks who might want to leverage my appearances (and experiences as the #MallWriter) in future efforts.

3 – We have cats at home who are pretty self-sufficient. This might seem irrelevant, but if there were children or dogs at home, I might not be able to apply for assignments like this. The cats – Ducky and Merrie – have given me their blessing to go forward with this project.

2 – It’s one of the most creative ideas I’ve seen online in a long time. I give props to the Mall of America team for coming up with this (or the agency for the Mall). To be part of this would be historic and fun. And for that alone I want to be involved.

1 – I was so stunned when I found out today that I hadn’t been selected as a finalist that I used that as motivation to craft this blog post. Similar to what I’d be doing onsite, I have been able – in less than 40 minutes – craft a coherent, informative and fun article. I can do this hour after hour, day after day. And five days onsite doing this would be a walk in the park.

Ultimately, if reading this has swayed you to adjust your decision, please slot me in as an alternate for the #MOATurns25 #MallWriter promotion. Thanks for reading!

What stands out the most for you in this blog post? Leave a comment below!