For an old pro like Jack O'Dwyer, head of Odwyerpr.com, toward the top of the his bucket list might be this: Resolving to his total satisfaction his feud with the PRSA. The first line in his obituary in The New York Times might read, "Jack Odwyer, Preet Bahararaish in his pursuit of adversaries, won over PRSA leadership."
For others it might be becoming press secretary in the White House, having clients in demand on pop television shows, heading Hill & Knowlton, and/or owning a sprawling mansion in the Hamptons. Those will be the lucky ones. They will die with just about everything crossed off on their bucket list.
The tragedies are the growing number of public relations folks already in the game or trying to get in the game and finding they can't transform their fantasy of what should be into operational reality. For example, there is the lion in winter, a sort of Denny Crane from "Boston Legal." He longs to retire. But can only do that if he can end with the big bang. Instead he loses accounts. Advice to him? Change your bucket list. Make it an altruistic one. He can make it his business to teach the fundamentals of advocacy to those in subsidized senior housing in New England. The funny thing is that will probably cement his place in communications history.
Then there is the woman in her mid-20s. She put in multiple internships in glam fields including broadcast. She can't get a job in communications. That has become so elusive a goal that it's on her bucket list. Meanwhile she is training to be an assistant manager in a discount food chain. Might she also re-think what's on her bucket list? Could the first item become: "Make it big in food-store management."
Last April I took my bucket list seriously. Since age 11 I wanted to flee the pressure cooker of working and living in the New York Metro area. I didn't quite make it to Tahiti. But the Southwest has proved good enough. Still on my bucket list is to ghostwrite a book for the kind of thought leader who does TED Talks. My psychic instructed me to light a green candle and implore St. Jude (like Danny Thomas did) on that one. My obit must read, "She simplified the thinking of X. Children of tribesmen in New Guinea read his books."