#387 vessels

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
leadershipdots@gmail.com

#386 Kelly Girl

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
leadershipdots@gmail.com

#385 solstice

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.  

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


#384 specificity

There is currently a lot of hype and promotion surrounding the new Man of Steel (Superman) movie.  Every time I see the iconic “S” logo, I have to smile.  It is my personal belief that S does not stand for Superman, but rather super power comes when S stands for specificity.

Specificity is the golden elixir of getting things done.  If you frame a decision, strategy or question in a specific way, it is immensely more likely to be answered than if something is left nebulous or vague.

Think of the difference between saying:
> “Let’s get together” vs. “How about dinner Tuesday night at 6pm at Panera?”
> “We need more help” vs.  “Here is a proposal to hire a XX position at XX salary to do XX”
> “Call some prospective students” vs. “Tonight call this list of students who have not yet done X in the admissions process”
> “Meeting adjourned” vs. “For the next meeting, you do X and I’ll do Y and we’ll meet again next week at the same time”
> “Please go to the store and get something for dinner” vs. “Can you stop at the market and buy 1# of beef and 4 ears of corn?”
> “Can you help if you have time?” vs. “Would it be possible for you to edit this report by the end of the day today?”

A lack of specificity impedes action by leaving the call to question open.  If there is no specific action requested, it is easy to bypass a decision.  Time is spent in followup or translation and much more time is wasted while the process remains in limbo.

If you remember that the “S” stands for specificity, you won’t need a leotard or cape to possess super powers.  

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

#383 mobile

Before last Friday, I had never heard of the Scratch bakery.  If you read Monday’s blog (#381), you know that I devoured their cupcake over the weekend and was wowed.  Imagine my surprise yesterday when I found out that their cakery-on-wheels was in my town for the day! 

Word spread like wildfire across my blog readers on campus!  I know that several people made a trip out to where the truck was parked and came home with a coveted dozen.  This was nothing more than a van with fancy painting rigged up to hold racks and racks of cupcake trays. They sold cupcakes out of the side panel, rang up sales on an adapted iPhone and delighted a long line of customers.  

The trend to operate a small business out of a van or truck gives a whole new meaning to mobile commerce.  Our town has a food truck, cleverly named “Beauty and the Beef”, that travels to sites around town selling gourmet beef sandwiches during the lunch hour.  Other businesses have taken to the streets as well.

USA Today reported* that entrepreneurs are using a mobile vehicle in increasing numbers — for hair stylists, florists, clothing stores, handbag vendors and school supplies.  These businesspeople rely on social media (like Scratch did) for inexpensive promotion and the mobile unit as a way to reduce overhead costs.  Customers like the convenience of having the store/service come to them.

What aspect of your organization could go mobile?  A financial aid advisor or admissions office on wheels?  A design truck that comes to you with all the trimmings a home builder must choose?  A miniature pet store that you could enter with your pooch instead of getting them all riled up in a big box store?  A pediatrician or children’s dentist that could operate out of a van with a playland theme and do business in the park?  A government services van that would go to the senior citizens or veterans homes instead of making the customers navigate traffic to get there?

The possibilities are endless.  Next time your organization considers going mobile, don’t limit your thinking to the e-commerce functions.  Perhaps your real opportunities lie on wheels.

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

*Entrepreneurs keep on truckin’ by Hadley Malcom, USA Today, June 27, 2012

#382 stretch

An article in the paper over the weekend said that two of the most desirable traits of employees are flexibility and adaptability.  As a result, author Diane Stafford labeled them as “rubber band qualifications.”

The rubber band qualifications of my staff have been tested over the last four days while we have been doing new student registrations.  We had a great game plan and everyone had their assignments, but what we end up actually doing during the day can look quite different from what was expected. 

Students don’t show up for their appointment.  One student left early — just walked out — leaving her crying mom behind.  Several have changed days or majors, reeking havoc with the advising appointments.  Others have brought along more guests or less guests, again throwing the best laid plans out the window.

And people here have just rolled with it nicely.  Everyone jumps in to do what is needed, when it is needed.  The chef cooks more food or less.  The dean juggles the faculty assignments for registration.  We Skype appointments with the international students via iPad when the computer doesn’t work.  Staff members escort families to see financial aid, coaches, health services or the bookstore as the need arises.  It all works out well.

Starting with the hiring process we look for employees who want to work for the betterment of the entire university, not just do a narrow job.  We preach that during training, retreats and on numerous occasions throughout the year.  

A real rubber band, if it isn’t stretched and used with regularity, will dry out and be useless.  The same is true for rubber band qualifications.  Look for flexibility and adaptability in the hiring process, and then be sure to create opportunities for staff to frequently “stretch” their skills.

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

“Bosses want ‘rubber band’ workers” by Diane Stafford for the Kansas City Star in the Telegraph Herald 6-16-13



#381 yum

Over the weekend, I made a little day trip out of town to attend an arts festival.  When a colleague heard I was going, his immediate comment was: “Visit the Scratch bakery.  There will be a line out the door, but you’ll thank me on Monday.”  

A line out the door?  How many businesses have a line out the door these days?  We did not get to the bakery until mid-afternoon, and there wasn’t a line out the door, but there certainly was a line.  It was interesting that this wasn’t a grumbly “why is the line so long” kind of line, but customers were more giddy with anticipation, as if we were waiting in line for coveted concert tickets.

We purchased two of the Lemon Love delicacies (a June special), and after we devoured them, we totally understood what the fuss was about.  My friend went back in line and purchased a to-go box of Dulche de Leche, Blue Prince, another Lemon Love and O Happy Day (very appropriately named!).  I am surprised they made it home.

Everyone we saw walking downtown was carrying a Scratch bakery box.  Mind you, these tasty treats aren’t cheap, but that didn’t seem to have any impact on business.  I am sure that they aren’t low calorie/organic/good for you either, but that seemed irrelevant as well.

Scratch temptations are small enough to be affordable and, although sinful, one is not enough to increase your waist size.  I think Scratch has found the right amount of decadence to be palatable to the average customer — who can eat one and feel treated without too much financial or health guilt.

How can your organization take a lesson from Scratch?  What can you provide that is in limited supply, but of the finest quality — and in limited amounts so the average customer can partake in your brand of luxury without changing their lifestyle?  There is definitely a sweet spot out there (no pun intended), and this little bakery seems to have found it.

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

See http://www.scratchcupcakery.com