leadership dot #1674: new year

If you are interested in marking the end 2016, but not interested in doing so at midnight, Vimeo has just the thing for you. King Julien from the Madagascar movie series is at-the-ready to count down to the new year — at any hour of your choosing.

If you have young children and you want to send them to bed early — or just want to slumber yourself, this application is for you. King Julien counts down from 10 so you or the kids can yell “Happy New Year” without burning the midnight oil.

Whether you decide to celebrate with Madagascar or watch the New York ball in real time, I hope you take a moment to note the passage of the year and to resolve to make 2017 the best it can be for you.

Thanks Julie!

leadership dot #1673: spotlight the right

In a recent teleclass, author Michelle Gielan of Broadcasting Happiness shared several strategies on how to help infuse our lives with more positivity. A caller asked her how to deal with people who don’t share this aim and are themselves full of negativity.

Her suggestion: “Spotlight the Right.” By this Gielan means that for one week you should only share with them what they are doing right. Comment on all the little, positive moves that they make, being as specific as you can. Let the negative things pass by without mention. Your goal is to help them see the positive that they are doing/contributing/being. “We want to be pulled to the best of our self concept,” Gielan said. “The more we can remind people of what that is, the better.”

The new year affords us a metaphorical clean slate. Use the opportunity to “spotlight the right” in a relationship that has been challenging for you, either at home or at work. One week might make all the difference for both of you.

leadership dot #1672: philanthropy

The media often reports large philanthropic gifts given by the Buffets, Gates Foundation or Zuckerbergs, and it may cause you to think that your donation does not matter. But charitable giving is one of the most powerful thing you can do, no matter the size of your gift. “Philanthropy is quite democratic and always has been — more people give than vote in the U.S. — and $20, $10, and $1 gifts do make a cumulative difference,” reports Patrick Rooney, associate dean at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

The Giving USA Foundation reported that last year, $373.3 billion was donated in the U.S., comprising 2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Religious organizations, education, human services and foundations were the largest beneficiaries of those funds. (The report provides a much more detailed breakdown of giving if you are interested in more detail.)  You may think that large foundations or the companies supply all the funds to keep services flowing, but many organizations depend on the generosity of individuals to survive: individuals provided 70% of all charitable giving last year ($264.5 billion.)

As you wind up this year, grab your checkbook and be that individual who makes a difference for an organization. In addition to your regular charities, think about an unusual suspect* to be the recipient of your generosity as well. This podcast by Malcolm Gladwell is a great illustration of how your gift can make a disproportionately large impact to lesser known organizations.

Wishing you much success in 2017 so that your contributions may increase, too!

*Need a great cause to support? My sister’s 501(c)3 Alia is doing powerful work in transforming child welfare systems! 



leadership dot #1671: famous

Last week, Zsa Zsa Gabor passed away at age 99. It seems like everyone has heard of her, but no one really knew what made her famous. Turns out, she was the original “hall-of-mirrors celebrity, famous for being famous.”* Long before social media and tabloid magazines could amplify her fame, Gabor made a career out of her eccentricity, riches (from husband Conrad Hilton) and jewels. She flaunted her accent and wealth, and made herself into a personality.

Today, others have followed her. Great niece Paris Hilton has had a few lessons in trumped up fame. The Kardashians have made being famous for being famous an art form. The tabloids are full of faces who are known only because they are known, not for any substance behind the style.

In an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, character Dr. Cristina Yang interviews a candidate who says his goal is to win a prestigious research award. “You’ll probably never win,” she says. “I have known people who have won and others who have deserved to win, and the thing they all have in common is the work. They all focus on the work and the patient — on making someone better or someone whole or someone live — that’s their goal. So, no, you specifically will never win [the award] if that’s what you’re after.”

As you assess and make plans for the new year, don’t make fame your goal. Set out to do something that makes you worthy of being famous instead.

*Source: Zsa Zsa Gabor dies at age 99 by the Associated Press in the Telegraph Herald, December 19 2016, p. 6B

Grey’s Anatomy, Season 10, episode 23: “Everything I Try to Do, Nothing Seems to Turn Out Right”

leadership dot #1670: augmentation

It used to be that people did not like their picture taken, let alone shared, but those inhibitions seem to be lessening. What is growing, however, is the interest by young people in plastic surgery. According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, more Millennials are electing to have cosmetic procedures, and the Academy attributes social media for this trend. Nearly two-thirds of facial plastic surgeon members reported an increase in business by patients under age 30.

Do women in their 20s really need Botox? Apparently they think so. Patients under 30 are choosing surgery to permanently alter noses, lips, eyes and cheekbones — all this in a quest to look like the latest supermodel or to provide a glamorized impression on their social media accounts.

What they don’t realize is that it takes more than surgery to achieve the look they desire. It takes PhotoShop or a similar design program to make the real look surreal. I think the original Dove Real Beauty video “evolution” should be required viewing in every plastic surgeon’s office before a knife or needle is picked up.

Whether it is with your cheekbones or your organization, you need to make the most out of what you have. Stop comparing yourself to others and be the best you that you can be. I doubt that Botox is required.

Thanks again bg!

leadership dot #1669: fleeting

Undoubtedly some of those photos you took yesterday ended up on your Facebook or Instagram account. It doesn’t even need to be a holiday for that to happen: there are now close to 2 billion photos posted to social media every day!

I think about all the pictures that are taken and shared, but then lost forever. A Millennial friend of mine told me about how his wife doesn’t like him to send photos via Snapchat because she can’t print them and make scrapbooks, but he knows she is the last generation to care about that. Printing has become passe’.

With photos, quantity has become more important than quality. We share without regard to composition or permanence, and the meaningful shots get lost among the billions. Don’t let that happen to you. Take that extra moment to truly capture a few key images and let them speak more than a fleeting word to you.

Thanks bg!

leadership dot #1668: everybody smile

We live in a visual world, and undoubtedly today the cameras (phones) will be put to good use capturing the images of the holiday. People tend to take shots of individuals or pairs, but rarely do they go through the effort to get the whole gang together in one shot.

Give yourself a Christmas present for years to come and do precisely that. Find a friend or neighbor to take a photo of the whole tribe together. Put on those smiles and say “cheese” for the camera, even if they are fake grins. You’ll be glad to have the photo as part of your holiday memories.

Merry Christmas!


leadership dot #1667: wishes

Our local paper featured a section where Santa shared some of the letters he had received from children this year.

Reading them made me feel old, or at least out of touch with children, as I had no idea what many of the wishes entailed. Imaginext toys, bubble bracelets, damage cards, a level 40 indomiums Rex, a bumble bee transformer, a Palace Pet and Pony Prize set, a bunch of Beanie Boos and a Tsuma hedgehog all made the list. Quite different from the lists I would have mentioned at their age!

But my favorite wish is from Shaelyn, age 7 who asked Santa for: “A puppy so I can hug it. I have one now but it is too big and it bites.”

May you wake up tomorrow morning with all that you wish for under the tree.

Source: Santa share some of his favorite letters with the Telegraph Herald readers, December 18, 2016, p. 10-11F

leadership dot #1666: postal

Yesterday I wrote about the serious role that the postal service has played in America, but today I will share some fun facts about the mail.

> To service all its customers, including those who live in remote areas, the postal service delivers via planes, trains, boats, trucks and even mules.
> Today they deliver letters and packages, but in the early days, they also delivered children on occasion!
> Mailboxes were not all blue until the color was standardized in 1971.

I was also fascinated to learn that the USPS has a Remote Encoding Center (REC) whose job it is to decipher bad handwriting and partial addresses and see if they can somehow route the mail anyway. (I wonder what the qualifications are for that job, and what kind of success rate they have?!)

Think about more lessons for your organization from the USPS. Do you need to do some of your service delivery by mule rather than leaving out a segment of customers? Does your organization need a central encoding center to enhance your completion rate? Are there things you have done that you should stop doing?

The USPS often gets a bad rap, but when you really think about it, they are doing an amazing job of delivering on a very complex mission. Give them a stamp of approval and learn from them for your organization.

Thanks Meg!


leadership dot #1665: delivery

I recently learned that the US Postal Service delivers 47% of the world’s mail, which is surprising since the U.S. accounts for less than 5% of the world’s population. Sure, the $1.4 trillion mailing industry includes a fair share of  “junk mail”, but a the post office brings more than bills and ads to your doorstep.

In a new book How the Post Office Created America, author Winifred Gallagher argues that a national mail service is a core component of democracy. The postal service contributes to the free exchange of ideas by providing equal access to the 154 million addresses regardless of location, and provides a network of commerce that reaches to every corner of the country. Initially, the post office allowed for a robust political and civic culture and now has embedded itself as an essential public service.

Gallagher also acknowledges that the USPS missed a leadership opportunity to transform their role and remain a central communication hub after the digital revolution. She wonders what would it have been like if the USPS had coordinated equal access to broadband and email for everyone, just as they have provided access to mail delivery. If the USPS had evolved to service “mail” as it moved away from paper, would they have remained as relevant as they had been in the pony express days?

Think about your organization as it parallels the postal service. Are you focusing on the core service that you provide, regardless of the form it takes, or are you stuck in creating efficiencies for an outdated model? Have you become so embedded that you risk becoming invisible, and you need to do more to demonstrate your impact and value? Think about what you deliver now and how you will deliver it in the future.

Source: How the Post Office Created America by Winifred Gallagher, 2016 as reviewed in the (Minnesota) Star Tribune, August 14, 2016, p. E10.