Tomorrow is one of the busiest days of the year at the gym; many people include “losing weight” in their new year’s resolutions. The revelry is over, and it’s time to get serious about shedding those holiday pounds (and then some.) In the OMagazine, I was surprised to find a 2-page spread advertising Weight Watchers through a handwritten letter from Oprah and an invitation “Come join me.” The letter explained why Oprah joined Weight Watchers and concluded by asking “Are you ready? Let’s do this together.” I thought it was quite the endorsement. Then I read in the Wall Street Journal that Oprah had invested $43 million in the company and secured a seat on their board. Yes, she lost 20 pounds, but somehow the ownership makes her claims seem disingenuous. There was no mention of her corporate involvement in her ad. It makes me wonder if she is promoting the plan because she truly believes in it, or whether she is protecting her stake in it. If Oprah can help Americans lose weight through her endorsement I am all for it. She has used her influence for good before, and there are many more readers due to Oprah’s promotion of book clubs… …but she did that without a seat on the board of the publishing company. There could be more to lose in her latest efforts.
— beth triplett leadershipdots.blogspot.com
Ad in O Magazine, January 2016, p.10-11 Weight Watchers’ Plan: Don’t Call it a ‘Diet’ by Ellen Brown in the Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2015, p. B1 & B6.
For those of us lucky enough to be in higher education, and for the many others on vacation at this time of year, it has been a week of no alarms. I wrote before* about the unabashed glee that my dogs felt when I allowed them a brief respite off leash. I feel the same way about a week that is not regulated by the clock. In this post-holiday bliss, I have had exactly one scheduled appointment. Normally I am in back-to-back meetings, and on the whole I like a structured schedule, but the unregulated time is like an off-leash romp for me. If your time off looks remarkably similar to your time on, I suggest you change up your routine. Allow yourself a day or two of being clock-less and see if you can savor the minutes and seconds more when you don’t know precisely when they are.
One of the things I treasure is autographed copies of books. Writing a book is the one big thing remaining on my bucket list, and I think it would be an unbelievable thrill to be asked to inscribe a copy. So I was disappointed to learn that Debbie Macomber, author of light romantic tales, is offering a “signed copy” for sale — at Target. Somehow my notion of having an author’s signature does not involve mass production. I have written before about the proliferation of goods that used to have meaning: items from desirable destinations are now available on-line to everyone, celebrity photographs are for sale and there are few items that are reserved for those who were there “in person.” Don’t add autographed books to the list. If you (or someone you know) didn’t wait in line to get an original penned for you, it’s not a signed copy. Don’t delude yourself or dilute your organization’s value by pretending that it is.
One of our recent graduates asked me for some advice regarding his job search. He had been seeking a position for several months, and, as luck would have it, he interviewed for two different positions within the same timeframe. Of course, the job he wanted most was on a later timeline for making a decision, so he was asking for strategies of how to manage delaying one while waiting for the other. It brought to mind the job searching advice that I outlined in Blog #80. While choosing a new job is one of the most important decisions you can make, it is essential to remember that you are not in the driver’s seat until an offer is in your hand. Until that point, you are at the mercy of the process and scheduling of your prospective employer. You can be candid — to a point. But no employer wants to be your #2 choice, just as no candidate wants to feel like they were hired because the person the company really wanted said no. Both parties want to begin a new relationship feeling like winners and you need to do your part to contribute to that feeling. Taking a new job is like speed dating that ends in marriage. Be truthful and be yourself in the brief courtship to keep your relationship healthy in the long term.
Sometimes we get paralyzed with inaction because we try to make lofty solutions that impact a large number of people. There are occasions when serving a small niche might make a big difference for a small group. One example of this is in the Milwaukee airport. They realized that nursing mothers would have a difficult time while traveling — there aren’t exactly many private spaces in an airport terminal — so they created some. General Mitchell Airport offers Lactation Suites, a small but secure destination for nursing mothers to use. They aren’t elaborate, but for a new mother, they would feel palatial. What population do you serve that could use some extra attention? Is there a need that you could meet for a segment of your customers? Can you take this idea an apply it in your organization? Make it your goal to find a pocket of people that you could delight by providing a service that says “I understand you.”
If you are out shopping today for post-holiday bargains, perhaps you want to capture a bit of nostalgia and head to Kmart! Kmart is not usually my destination of choice, but I may have to stop by, simply because they have brought back the Blue Light Special. For those of you too young to know about this, from 1965-1991, Kmart had a flashing blue light that was placed at various locations in the store. At random times, the public address system would alert you: “Attention Kmart shoppers…” and then list a special sale only at the Blue Light for the next 10 minutes or so. It was a frenzy to get there and have your item marked down to the special rate. Management apparently thought the Blue Light ran its course and ended it, but now it is back in an attempt to resurrect the lagging chain. The Blue Light may be too little too late, but it does provide a thought for you to ponder. Is there an iconic symbol from your past that you could re-purpose for use again today? Everything retro seems to be popular; perhaps you could utilize an older logo or provide a throwback look on one of your publications. Maybe you have some vintage materials lingering in your archives that could be brought out for a new display. Or perhaps you have an older event or activity that could be done again. Everything old is new again. What is the equivalent of your Blue Light Special waiting to return?
— beth triplett leadershipdots.blogspot.com
Source: Kmart resurrects Blue Light Special by Suzette Parmley for The Philadelphia Inquirer in the Telegraph Herald, November 29, 2015, p. 2D.
A friend of mine just adopted a rescue dog. She lives in Connecticut and picked up her pooch in New York. Sadie Mae arrived there from Texas, traveling the country via a series of coordinated relay drivers. What a great service these volunteers provide to aid in the pet adoption network. Rideboard.com is a clearinghouse for people/things that need transportation. Today’s viewing highlights people who have a trailer and need freight from San Diego to Seattle, a plea from someone in Southern Illinois who “gota c my girl in Oxford Ohio”, a request to bring boxed clothing from Cincinnati to Denver, a volunteer to ‘drive Ur vehicle cross country” from LA to New York, “two poor chicks KC to Denver” and “a microwave that needs a ride” from Baltimore to New Mexico. I am traveling many miles over this holiday, and I would gladly give someone else a ride. I wish that picking up hitchhikers was a safe thing to do, or that I trusted Rideboard enough to participate! I have taken students back and forth from campus to Chicagoland, but the occasions where my calendar aligns with theirs is few and far between. The pet rescue organizations have created a relay team to move their animals around the country. Perhaps your organization can organize a transportation network too. Could you have alumni bring students to your college? People to take foster children to new locations? Volunteers to help people get to medical facilities or rehabilitation centers? Think of all the vehicles on the road with empty space inside — just waiting for you to capitalize on it. As you travel over the river and through the woods this holiday season, ponder how you could benefit from having someone/something along for the ride.
Still have holiday shopping to do? An easy way to check things off your list is by giving subscription boxes — the gift that keeps on giving month after month. It used to be that subscriptions meant magazines, but now boxes can be delivered with themed content in almost any area imaginable. Coffee lovers would appreciate the Mustache Coffee Club or MistoBox subscriptions. Dog lovers (and their pooches!) can sample gourmet treats through Barkbox. Fans of Etsy can have similar handmade goods delivered via Umba Box. Sock Fancy sends socks for men, women or children. Birch box allows you to sample cosmetics each month. And fans of television and movies can revel in the Geek Subscription Box. You name it, there is a subscription service for it. Think of how this can apply to your organization. What can you offer on an ongoing basis? Maybe it is a monthly training exercise you can send your clientele. Perhaps it is a new tool and a video on how to use it. Maybe it is a daily blog with leadership lessons (ha ha!) Thanks to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook people are used to on-going subscription feeds. Don’t let your organization lose out with a one-and-done approach.
I was recently featured in the Best Christmas Gift Ever story in our local paper. Readers were asked to contribute reflections on what constituted their best gift, and I wrote in about a nativity set my family made me during my senior year in college. The family worked on it while I was away at school, and presented it to me “for all the Christmases to come”, knowing this would likely be the last year I lived at home. It is truly a treasure. The figures, animals and manger were wrapped in a giant box, and everyone anxiously gathered around when I opened it. They had strategically wrapped it so that all I saw when I opened the box was the star. As you can tell by the photo below, the star does not look like a star out of context, and I was quite worried that my reaction would not be as positive as they were anticipating. Of course, once I saw the full contents, that was not the case. I think the irregular star could be a metaphor for many other gifts that will be given this holiday. If you look at what is literally there in front of you, it may not be thrilling. Try to look past that and be warmed by the love and thoughtfulness that emanates from the giver.