#121 civil engineering

My personal mission statement could be the same as the American Society of Civil Engineers:  “[We] conceive, design and build the infrastructure that supports our community and its economic prosperity.”

I hope that my work accomplishes what the ASCE purports as their mantra, and I think that we would be better off if most people routinely took two of its main elements to heart:

1.  “and build”  I like the concept of not just coming up with the idea, but delivering on it.  This isn’t a lofty thinking exercise; ASCE gets things done.  Execution is important to them, and to me.

2.  “supports our community  The work isn’t about individual gain or internal purposes;  this phrase advocates thinking about the impact on others and how you can help. 

If you build in ways that support your community, we would all prosper.  Building bridges of civility.  Building partnerships and networks.  Building alliances and friendships.  Building physical buildings and tangible programs that foster economic health.

Who knew that civil engineers had so much to teach us, but I believe that they do.  Engineering civil societies is a great goal for all of us.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com




#120 legacy

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that reruns of I Love Lucy — a show that has not aired a new episode in over 50 years — are still contributing about $20 million in revenue to CBS each year. Wow!

I wonder who the agents and executives were that first handled the logistics for this show.  I am sure that they had no idea that they would be benefiting their network five decades later, but clearly they are.

The timing seemed ironic to me as today is our Homecoming, where we are honoring the golden reunion class of 1962.  Over five decades ago some admissions counselor recruited those students, a faculty member taught them and countless others made an impact on their lives.  I am sure those staff members did not think of the benefits these alums would be having on the institution half a century later, but they are.  One alumnae announced a $1 million gift this weekend, and who knows what other influences class members have made throughout their time since graduation.

We never know the meaning of our work or our time with others.  Whether it is playing a role in orchestrating one of the most successful shows of all time, or shaping a young co-ed’s future, or even offering a simple gesture of kindness at a pivotal moment, we are making more of a difference than we know.  All of us are leaving a legacy.  Try today to make it a golden one.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com



As reported in the Telegraph Herald 9/22/12; LA Times article by Joe Flint


#119 the prize inside

Today, my admissions staff will spend their lunch hour eating personal pizzas and playing board games in the Board Room.  They achieved one of their interim goals, and this was the reward of their choosing.

I learned a long time ago that the best incentives are the ones people pick for themselves.  NEVER would I have thought little pizzas and Apples to Apples would motivate Millennials, but apparently it does.  Other incremental goals reap rewards for them such as breakfast, a Starbucks run, two hours off, coming in one hour late or Dairy Queen treats.  Who knew?

When the ultimate goal is achieved at the end of a long road (annually), it is especially important to have those middle milestones that give more timely praise.  It’s fine to celebrate at the end, but the ultimate achievement is much more likely if the motivation is stoked throughout.  

The timing and meaning are more important than the monetary value of any acknowledgment.  Pick a measure that’s important to you and let your staff pick a reward that’s important to them.  You may be surprised by the result of what they choose — and the results of what they accomplish.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


#118 energy efficient

I’m a morning person.  Always have been, too.  Even in college I would be the one who got up at 4 a.m. to study before the test instead of staying up until 4 a.m. pulling the proverbial all-nighter.  Once the sun goes down, I am like a bear wanting to hibernate.

What is your best time of day?  Hopefully you can answer instantaneously — you’re aware of your peak functioning and you schedule around it.  If not, I encourage you to pay close attention for a week or so and undoubtedly a pattern will emerge.

One of my “rules” of time management is to Acknowledge Your Energy Level.  If you are dragging and mentally drained — no matter what time of day that is — try really hard not to have to do your more demanding tasks at that time.  It will just be counterproductive.  If you are wiped out after a rough morning, don’t do your serious thinking that afternoon.  There are always low demand tasks that need to be done; paying attention to your energy level will signal when it is most effective for you to do them.  And the converse is true — if you’re at your best in the morning like me, then it is worthwhile to head to the office an hour early and do the paperwork and serious tasks with full energy and uninterrupted time.  Others are much better off staying late or even working from home after the kids have gone to bed.

By establishing your natural preference and building a routine to maximize it, as well as making interim adjustments based upon the tasks and energy of the day, I believe that you will be able to accomplish more in empirically less time.  I rarely do paperwork at home or in the office on weekends because I have learned how to capitalize on my time in the office vs. just being present there.

You’ve got a natural rhythm.  Listen to what it is telling you.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com




#117 tweet tweet

Remember when “tweet tweet” was something only the Rockin’ Robin said?  Not any more. After my entry about our tree planting tradition and the #Tree (see #104), a former colleague offered to give me a full lesson on Twitter.  Since he lives six hours away from me, I got my own tutorial — via the joinme.com site that allowed me to see his computer screen from my desk by just clicking on a link that he sent me.  I was impressed (intimidated?!) before we ever got started.

From my own chair, I could see his cursor whiz across the screen, opening up multiple windows and sites, from SocialBro to HootSuite to Tweetdeck to Bitmark. He showed me how he can post tweets from his multiple accounts — Facebook for home, work, hockey league, dad’s golf league, etc. and Twitter accounts from another dozen sources.  There is a wonderful dashboard system to keep track of your multiple accounts (as if I needed to know how to do that!), sites that show how you rank in your town as far as influence goes — or whether your lack of retweeting makes fun of you on Klout. It struck me as ironic that a simple communication vehicle — designed to boil the essence of a message down to 140 characters — has spawned such an elaborate empire around it.  
I am all for instant communication, but when the estimated life cycle of a tweet is 18 minutes, it seems that something is getting lost in the process.  In contrast, when cleaning out my Mom’s house, we found a whole box of letters that my dad had written her 60 years ago.  The shoebox of treasures for future generations will be virtual, if it’s even there at all.

There are times when tweeting is the perfect thing to do [Happy Yom Kippur @Stacey77 and to all my Jewish friends #Jewish #holidays], but there are other times when the 140 characters on paper makes all the difference [a thank you from a candidate].   Choose your communication method with intentionality #advice.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com





#116 it works for me

The pace of work has been a bit hectic lately, so I rely more and more on my written to-do list to keep track of the details.  My to-do list actually is several lists, and has evolved into a system that works for me.  Perhaps you can adopt some elements to work for you:

1) the main list — written on a small index card and kept at-the-ready of all things that I need to do today.  I try to avoid any small pieces of paper; if I need to do something (return a call, deliver something to someone or work on a major task) — if I am to do it today it makes the list.

2) a do later list — actually a separate place where I keep track of all the things that I need to do later (ie: not today). It helps me to have them written down so I don’t forget them.  Once each day I look at this list to see what needs to migrate to the Today list, but otherwise it doesn’t divert my focus.

3) a pending list.  This for me has been one of the key elements to my organizational success.  So many times people do one step in a process and cross the item off the list, even though it is not truly complete.  (Examples:  something is ordered, but not yet here.  Someone else is asked to provide information, and even has agreed to do so, but has not yet given it to you.)  This is a place where I can write the things where the ball is not currently in my court, but where the accountability remains.  If the person/company does not follow through, it will be back on my to-do list as an action item later.  I don’t want it on my list now since the action is “pending” and there is nothing I can do at the moment, but I don’t want it off my radar screen either.

4) a do-at-home list — which is a 5×7 index card folded in half that I keep in my purse.  One half lists all the things to do at home (eg: wrap birthday present, winterize garden, iron) and the other side tracks all the errands I have to run outside the home (eg: buy dog food, deposit check, buy birthday card).  When I am out I can easily glance at the list and see if there are things I need to do without making another trip.

Keeping track of all the tasks in your home and organizational life is no small chore.  But it’s worth the time and attention to develop a system that facilitates your productivity and preserves your sanity.  Five minutes a day spent floundering = 30 hours/year in lost time!  Think of the other wonderful things you could do with that gift.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


#115 freedom

About a block from my house is a park-in-progress; right now it is a road leading up to an undeveloped giant field.  I am sure when the park is “open” one of the first permanent fixtures there will be a “No Dogs Allowed” sign (as is the case in all the other parks), but for now my fine city doesn’t officially mind that I bring the pooches there.

So I did.  And, oops, I happened to have dropped the leashes.  I wish that you could experience even for a moment the unabashed glee that these two dogs had being totally free to run.  And I do mean RUN.  They were furry bullets whizzing by, making gargantuan circles.  The sound made me feel as if I was at a horse track as they raced past me.  It was the rush of adrenaline from true freedom. The whole romp lasted five minutes or so, but I am sure that it was the highlight of their weekend.  

I understand the need for parameters, boundaries and rules.  I get that we need to create “fences” of protocol for our employees to operate within.  But I also wonder if we wouldn’t be better off if we let go of the leashes once in awhile. 

Some companies do this with “skunkworks” or allowing their staff to have projects of their choosing for a small percent of their time.  Others allow flex schedules or free reign on dress codes.  Others just let employees take that risk and do something as seemingly crazy as running sans leash.  However you do it, a little freedom is a good thing.  Try to let go every once in awhile and see what happens without the fences.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com