leadership dot #1633: excessive

The “Manager, Shipping Department” for Leadership Dots, LLC received a 700 page catalog in the mail. This was a full-color glossy publication that could not have been cheap to print or deliver. And it went straight from my mailbox into the recycle bin.

Leadership Dots doesn’t need an industrial pallet truck or wooden crates that can ship up to 7,000 pounds. Nor do I need a spill containment drum shed or rolling scaffolding. In fact, I don’t even need (or have) a shipping department, let alone a manager.

Wouldn’t it have been more efficient (and environmentally friendly) to send a postcard to the names on the new business list and direct people to a website? Or offer a $25 discount if you requested a catalog? Or do something besides send an unsolicited 700 page publication?

Just because you can afford to send something like this, doesn’t mean you should.  When you consider the ROI of your marketing efforts, factor in the environmental costs as well. Your initial outreach to unsolicited potential customers does not need to be so landfill laden.

beth triplett

leadership dot #1632: traditional treat

I imagine that the grocery stores will be crowded today as many people need to buy the ingredients to make that signature Thanksgiving dish.

There are so many recipes that have become traditions; just the smell or taste of the food brings on a flood of memories of all the previous years when the treat was served. Many dishes, like stuffing and green been casserole, are only served at holidays in many homes, making their appearance even more special.

My Thanksgiving staple is Cranberry Jello. It is simple to make, yet instantly connotes “special” as I think of all the years and places I have served this treat. Yum!

Not everything needs to be served every day. In your organization as well as your home, it good to save a few things for times when you want to create a moment beyond the ordinary.

beth triplett

Cranberry Jello Salad
1 large box sugar-free cherry Jello
2 cups boiling water
Make Jello first with no cold water

1 #2 can crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup chopped celery
1 chopped red apple
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 can whole cranberry sauce

“Dump stuff in,” stir, let sit overnight

leadership dot #1631: censored

Yesterday I wrote about the American Library Association list of banned and challenged books and how I think it misleads people into thinking that somehow the ALA is part of the effort to ban them (which is not the case!)

In my research for that dot, I was surprised at all the books that someone has challenged:

> Where’s Waldo — for having a defined breast of one of the people on a beach

> Little Red Riding Hood — for having a bottle of wine in the basket she was carrying to Grandma’s house (not for having a wolf try to eat people!)

> Dr. Seuss’ Hop on Pop — one of the best selling children’s books of all time, from 1963, that apparently encourages children to use violence against their fathers

> Dr. Seuss’ If I Ran the Zoo — for its line about slanted eyes

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, the entire Harry Potter Series, Moby Dick, Gone with the Wind, the Diary of Anne Frank, Where the Wild Things Are — all these are classics that have both been enjoyed by millions and requested to be removed from libraries by others.

I think that banned books are a good illustration of the different perspectives that people bring to an issue. Some see it as positive for literature to expose diverse viewpoints, provide realistic portrayals of unpleasant issues and include often marginalized characters. Others feel those exact same things are negative, and want to keep the materials out of public consumption.

We are likely never to agree on what makes a “good” book or what should be a banned one. What becomes important is that we have the option to choose. The act of censorship is always worse than whatever is being censored. We may not choose to read everything, but isn’t it nice to know that we can.

beth triplett

leadership dot #1630: banned

Two parents expressed objections to a book being used in an optional high school literature class and the story has taken on a life of its own. For two days, coverage has landed on the front page of the paper and several sets of parents voiced their concerns at the school board meeting.

The paper reported: “The 1999 novel is on the American Library Association’s list of the top 100 banned and challenged books for 2000-2009, according to the group’s website.”
When I first read that, it raised my eyebrows as I thought that the book must be bad if it on the top of the banned book list. But then I paused for a moment and wondered who decides what is on the banned book list and what criteria they use.
As it turns out, the American Library Association compiles the list of books that have been banned or challenged BY OTHERS and distributes it “in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular…[it] draws national attention to the harms of censorship.”
In other words, being on the list means that someone else, not the American Library Association, raised objections about it, and in fact, the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom is actually trying to minimize what is banned, rather than being used as support to challenge the availability of books.
There seems to be a big disconnect here, and by maintaining such a list the ALA may be impeding its efforts instead of helping them. I think they could benefit greatly by renaming their list (eg: Attempts at Censorship) and being more clear about their intent and position. It’s not as sexy as “Banned Books Week” but could be more powerful.
The media can make its argument in any way that suits them. It’s up to you to communicate your position as clearly as you can as an organization, and to dig a layer deeper than what lands on page one as a reader.
beth triplet

leadership dot #1629: two turkeys

With Thanksgiving approaching, many people have turkey on their mind. May I suggest that you consider adding a different kind of turkey to your thinking.

During a webinar sponsored by LinkedIn Publishing, the presenters used the analogy of preparing a Thanksgiving meal: you only prepare one meal on the holiday, but from there you have enough leftovers to provide food for several other meals.
They suggested that leaders should develop one topic to which they devote considerable time and effort (the Thanksgiving turkey), but then repurpose and repackage the content to use in multiple other formats such as blogs, posts or webinars (the additional meals). It is impractical to dedicate substantial energy to every topic, but going deep with one has residual benefits.
Think about the “LinkedIn Turkey” when you are considering your content strategy for the coming year. What is your area of expertise? Where do you have robust material that can be shared through a variety of media? Have you considered packaging your ‘turkey’ around a full meal to make it truly special?
Plan to put as much time into developing your content turkey as you do preparing the bird for the holiday meal, and then bon appetite!
— beth triplett

Linked In Content Marketing webinar presented by Ira Amilhussen, June 28, 2016

leadership dot #1628: singles or home runs

Yesterday we hit “send” for a $1.8 million grant application. I was the one to coordinate the process and write the narrative, but it really did take a village to get it completed. I worked with one person for the content, another for the data, yet another for budget information, outside partners and finally senior leadership for approval and support. The grant was on a topic about which I knew little, but I know how to read and follow directions and with Federal grants that is enough direction.

A tremendous amount of time went into this project, not only from me, but from others throughout the organization. And now we wait — for months — and then hear that it is all or nothing. They either are awarded the grant, or they aren’t; there is no honorable mention.
It reminds me of the elections, where candidates pour their heart and soul (and savings) into a competition and then they are either voted in or they aren’t. Close doesn’t get you anything.
I imagine it is like this in many other endeavors. You win the game or you lose. You close the merger or it falls through. You seal the deal or walk away.
On a limited basis, this all or nothing mentality is palatable for me, but I would not want it to define the majority of my work. I am more comfortable when my work leads to progress, rather than a dichotomy. I can savor creating small changes that eventually lead to employee or organizational growth, and I am even content with never knowing the impact my work created.
Take a moment to consider your work temperament. Have you aligned your projects or profession to be congruent with it? In other words, do you gain motivation from hitting singles or are you happiest swinging for home runs?
beth triplett

leadership dot #1627: five miles

Sometimes I write these dots one at a time, and other times, when the planets align, I write them a week at a time. Almost all of my favorites have been done during the extended sessions, as I seem to become a better writer when I am “in the zone” and not rushing to finish.

Television writer/producer Shonda Rhimes experiences a similar phenomenon. In her book Year of Yes, Shonda writes about writing and the high she gets from doing it, and what keeps her from that.

Writing is the hum. Writing is laying track. Writing is the high. Now imagine that hum, that high, that track to be laid is behind a door. And that door is five miles away. Those five miles are just…writing crap and doodling and trying to have an idea and surfing the internet and hoping like hell not to get so distracted that you give up…Every time I sit down to write, I have to mentally run those five miles past all of that to get to that door. It’s a long, hard five-mile run…

So when I reach for the door and open it — that’s when my creativity clicks in and that special spot in my brain starts working and I go from exertion to exultation and suddenly I can write forever and ever and ever and eve—

And then someone opens the door and asks me if I want coffee or water and I AM FIVE MILES AWAY all over again.

I think that we all experience our own version of being five miles away. Behind your door may not be writing, but everyone has some activity that would benefit from uninterrupted attention and dedication.

Yet we all leave ourselves open to distractions — pings on the incoming email, social media alerts, open doors when we need to be truly concentrating, cubicles with no protection from drop-in visitors, phone calls, cute dogs at our feet and a host of other attention-diverting activities.

Think about what you allow in your environment that requires you to make that five mile run over and over again. Maybe you are tired from just getting to the door, rather than from the work you’re doing behind it.

beth triplett

Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes, 2015

leadership dot #1626: two cookies

I was out to dinner on Friday night with a friend in a Marine Corps sweatshirt. It was Veterans’ Day, and he showed his military ID at the counter to receive a free meal, but the interaction in line was very low key.

As we were sitting at the table waiting for our food, a young boy came up to our table and brought my friend a bag with two cookies. “Thank you for your service,” he said.

That brief interaction meant more to my friend than the free meal itself. A mother had seen Curt’s USMC sweatshirt, purchased the cookies in line after we ordered and sent her son to deliver them with thanks. It was heartwarming.

Think of what simple act of kindness you can do today. Thank a veteran for her/his service even though it’s not Veterans’ Day? Wait that extra minute to hold open the door for someone? Let someone with just a few items ahead of you in line? Smile at the cashier and have an exceptionally positive interaction?

It doesn’t take a whole meal to make someone’s day. Just two cookies will do the trick.

Happy World Kindness Day!

beth triplett

leadership dot #1625: what is the point?

There are many regulations out there that puzzle me, and I wonder why they are requirements at all.

> Why is suicide illegal? If you are successful, it is a moot point, and does anyone think someone who is trying to kill themselves would be deterred by breaking the law?

> Why do candidates need to gather names on a petition to get their names on the ballot? Most of the writing is illegible so I doubt anyone verifies it, and it seems to be pretty easy to do. My ballot included names for 9 presidential candidates including those from the Libertarian Party, New Independent Party, Iowa Green Party, Legal Marijuana Now Party and the Party for Socialism and Liberation so it isn’t keeping unknowns off the ballot and seems like a worthless hoop that the election officials make prospective candidates jump through.

> Speaking of ballots, why do we need to register for Democratic or Republican affiliation? Is it only for marketing efforts, which also makes no sense since I voted a mixed ballot even though I only received mailings from one party. Do we have to foster this divide right from the start?

> What is the purpose of a Dog Tax? I think it is just another way to get money from citizens since the dog doesn’t use any city services, isn’t allowed in parks and doesn’t receive any city benefits. Why do I need to register them and get a license?

These are just some observations of practices in place that make no sense to me. Take a look around your organization and ask yourself: “what is the point of this?” If you can’t come up with a compelling answer, perhaps it is time to rethink your process and simplify what you require yourself and others to do.

beth triplett

leadership dot #1624: ready to serve

Today is Veteran’s Day, a time to honor those who have served. For those of us who haven’t served, it is hard to imagine what that really means.

This article describes what it was like escorting President George W. Bush on 9-11. It’s a long one, but I think a good one to get a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes work of our military, even when they are serving in the homeland.

There are times when the president is in charge, and other times when military protocol dictates what happens. Even in the time of chaos, it was clear when those times were.

Dave Wilkinson assistant agent-in-charge, U.S. Secret Service: He [the president] fought with us tooth and nail all day to go back to Washington. We basically refused to take him back. The way we look at is that by federal law, the Secret Service has to protect the president. The wishes of that person that day are secondary to what the law expects of us. Theoretically it’s not his call, it’s our call.

On the day of 9-11 or in a foxhole is not the time to determine who can make the ultimate decision. Are your procedures clear? Do you know who really is in command?

Take a moment today to thank a veteran or others who have served our country. We are glad they are there at the ready, for whatever needs arise.

beth triplett