I sent an email message to our copywriter last week and got an out-of-office message that read: “I am in Las Vegas until July X. If I don’t return your call after that time, you can assume that I hit the jackpot and am a millionaire.” It made me smile…
…and it reminded me of her message for last year’s vacation: “I am in Denver until XX date. If I don’t return your message after that time, you can assume I was eaten by a bear.” Why do the rest of us have to take ourselves so seriously? Oftentimes we think that professional levity is an oxymoron. I think it should be a goal. — beth triplett leadershipdots.blogspot.com @leadershipdots email@example.com
A friend had a Best Buy reward certificate that was near the expiration date, so he decided to use it on line to purchase an iTunes card. Unlike transactions at the iTunes store where all business is done electronically, Best Buy sent the card in the mail.
The $15 gift card came in a padded envelope, with a printed/personalized invoice and one little piece of promotional material. Instead of being instantaneous, it took a week to complete. And then my friend took one look at the card, punched the number into the iTunes store for credit, and threw the card and whole package away. I have ranted about gift cards before*, but now in addition to just environmental waste, think about the time and money that could have been saved if Best Buy had chosen another process to use for gift card fulfillment. Do you have a similar practice in your organization — something that could be modified to save time and money (not to mention make your customers happier)? Do you have manual transactions that could be put on-line? Or two stages of the process that could be combined into one? Or steps that could be eliminated without negative impact? Look at your organization through the eyes of your customer and see if you can make your rewards actually rewarding. — beth triplett and Brian Gardner leadershipdots.blogspot.com @leadershipdots
firstname.lastname@example.org *see #190, December 8, 2012
I recently had a tour of newly developed space that was being utilized for commercial and non-profit use. Someone asked if a particular company was going to open a facility in this district. “Their board wants to have a thumbprint, not a footprint” was the answer. What a great way to consider the options. You don’t need to think of moves or major projects in terms of an all-or-nothing proposition. You can have a branch office, an express version of your service, or a kiosk-like storefront. Testing the waters is a prudent strategy and one that may preserve options for you down the road. Think of making just a thumbprint next time you are asked for your time or resources in support of a new venture. It’s a way to signal that you give the project a “thumbs up” without over committing on the unknown. — beth triplett leadershipdots.blogspot.com @leadershipdots email@example.com
There was an article in the latest Harvard Business Review reporting the results of a study that aimed to describe the ideal organization. Authors Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones spent three years asking executives what characteristics the best company on earth to work for would possess. They arrived at a list of six: > You can be yourself. > You’re told what’s really going on. > Your strengths are magnified. > The company stands for something meaningful. > Your daily work is rewarding. > Stupid rules don’t exist. This list didn’t seem lofty or unreachable, and it seemed like most organizations could make strides toward infusing these elements into their culture and routines. Think about your own situation. How would you rate your organization on each of these characteristics? If you are a supervisor, what do you think you do best and where do you need to devote more attention? Would your employees agree? You don’t need three years for an elaborate study, but it would be worth the time to gather some feedback on where you stand in these areas. Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours at work. It’s worth some time on reflection and redirection to try and make it the best we can be. — beth triplett leadershipdots.blogspot.com @leadershipdots firstname.lastname@example.org * “Creating the Best Workplace on Earth”, Harvard Business Review, May 2013
I am a big fan of the Solitaire game that is on my phone. I can complete a round in under three minutes, and it has provided numerous moments of mindless fun while waiting in line or for appointments. Somehow I get lost in it and the time seems to go by much faster.
I have noticed that often there are times when I feel completely stuck, then I discover one more move, and it triggers a whole series of additional moves. Frequently, it makes the difference between winning a round and losing it.
I wonder if there are moments like that at work when I am ready to give up, but if I looked a little harder I could find that next step which leads to a solution.
As Kenny Rogers said: “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.” You also have to know when to avoid the temptation to fold ’em too fast and re-deal. Take a second look at your problem and see if you can’t find the one more move you can make.
For my birthday, my colleague and his brother-the-chef created a wonderful watermelon cheesecake, especially for me. It was an original recipe and a labor of love that was delicious.
From my sister, I also received a package of Watermelon Oreos. (Do you see a theme here?) When I was growing up, Oreos came in one style only, but, like with everything else, the brand extension has exploded and now there are many versions: watermelon, Neapolitan, Berry Burst ice cream, sherbet, colored versions for holidays, golden, mega, double stuff, etc. Instead of a mainstream brand, Oreos have practically become a niche product with each variation appealing to a limited crowd.
What was interesting to me is how willing, even eager, my staff was to sample the two new products. The chefs themselves hadn’t even tasted the cheesecake, but I think everyone wanted to have a try. When I passed the cookies around today, even those that weren’t crazy about watermelon took one “just to see.”
I am sure no one else even noticed this, but it made me feel good to know that my staff was willing experimenters. It was a symbol to me that they are comfortable “trying” things — not just cheesecake and cookies, but I believe that mentality and mindset translate over to processes and tactics. We have been very successful this year, and I attribute part of that to the environment where we embrace change — even if it is Oreo flavors.
How do you introduce small new experiments into your organization? Bring in new food (example: we had the holiday flavored Twizzlers last week and spice-coated nuts). Rearrange the offices or even location of computers/things on the desk. Share new apps for your technology. Spread the word about a new restaurant. Try new flavors in the Keurig. There are more options than Oreo flavors.
Once again, it’s an example that the little things that really do add up to make a difference.
At a staff meeting last week, we spent some time brainstorming how to promote the new lacrosse program that we are adding to our athletics offerings. I had given this assignment in advance, since I suspected that people knew very little about the sport and would just stare at me in the meeting if I did not give proper warning. And do their homework they did. We had people share links of videos of how the game is played; they had terminology dictionaries so we could “talk lacrosse”, and they researched on line (of course!) I talked to a colleague who coaches club lacrosse; others referred to their high school where it was played; others investigated the local club sport and still others related lessons we learned when we added bowling as a collegiate sport that could apply to promoting lacrosse. We came up with a pretty decent list to get us started, and, as it is with most cases, once our minds got focused on the topic, other things keep popping up that we can add to it. Don’t shy away from working on projects or topics about which you have absolutely no idea how to contribute. Often the best perspective is one that comes from the outside and can add new connections to the mix. — beth triplett leadershipdots.blogspot.com @leadershipdots email@example.com
In the book Falling Upward, author Richard Rohr contends that you spend the first half of your life building your vessel, and the second half of your life filling it up. He was referring to spirituality, but I think it applies to many aspects of living. It can apply to your work in your organization too. You spend the first months or even years building the infrastructure, policies and staffing that are necessary to implement the vision in the second phase. It is a good metaphor to keep in mind whenever you start something new. The enthusiasm about filling up the vessel may keep you going, but it’s the building part that will get you there. — beth triplett leadershipdots.blogspot.com @leadershipdots firstname.lastname@example.org
In my days of temporary office work — before, during and just after college — I could run a mean IBM Selectric typewriter, making it sing with flawless corrections, lined up “just so” with the little plastic tab. Corrections were important in the pre-computer era where an imperfect change would mean retyping the whole page, so someone like me who could professionally correct had a very valuable talent. I was good with the Selectric, so much so that it gave me comfort to know that if college didn’t pan out, I would always have a career to fall back on as a secretary. My, how things have changed. My secretary — oops, administrative professional — may as well have a degree in computer programming. Different assistants have been able to do things with Excel, Access, Power Point, Jing and programs I have never heard of. I find my secretarial skills about as obsolete as the revered Selectric — good for the times, but irrelevant for today. Do you have a skill that is like that — it had value at one time, but is a non-factor today? Making professional typewriter corrections. Running the ditto machine. Utilizing a dictaphone machine. Taking down shorthand. Threading the microfiche machine. Running an adding machine. Filing in cabinets. And those are just a few things in the office. Think of all the obsolete skills in the greater workplace and at home. To remain relevant, you need to be on a trajectory of continual learning. Don’t rely on your present skills to serve you in the future. They may become as desirable as the once-coveted Selectric. — beth triplett leadershipdots.blogspot.com @leadershipdots email@example.com
Today is the first day of summer — my favorite season! To many, it feels “late” that summer is just now arriving. For weeks, people have been lamenting the fact that it isn’t as warm as they expected it to be. I think the seasons all came “early” for a few years and now everyone thinks the nice weather and good fruit should be here by the first of June instead of near the end of it.
Regardless of when it arrives, I welcome summer with open arms. I love the bask-in-the-sun kind of days; the watermelon and the festivals. I love getting in a hot car and just soaking in the warmth. I love the fresh fruits, picked-today sweet corn, ice cream, eating outside and just about everything about this season.
The best part to me though is having daylight for almost all of my waking hours. It is great to have sunshine by the time the alarm goes off (even at 5am) and to be able to walk in the evenings before dark. I wish the whole year was like this. Today is as good as it comes in the “daylight” department. It is the longest day of the year for light. After today, each day loses an incremental few moments of daylight until December 21 when the cycle reverses. But don’t let that thought depress you on this unofficial holiday!
Someone made the observation today that younger people don’t like the outdoors. She commented that they seem to be more comfortable inside in front of their technology with climate-controlled weather.
Don’t be like that — especially today. Eat a meal on the patio. Attend a Little League game. Go to an outdoor concert. Outsmart the ants and have a picnic. Jump in a fountain or pool. Lay in the hammock and read a novel. Whatever your pleasure, take advantage of the light and do something fun to properly welcome summer.