leadership dot #2414: hyperbole

The word “emergency” has lost its impact and become a commonplace occurrence.

Our city declared a Snow Emergency which just means that cars can’t park on the street so the plows can clear the few inches of snow that was predicted to fall.

The president claims a national emergency for a caravan of migrants on foot at the border.

The hospital Emergency Room treats as many sprains and viruses as it does true life-threatening illnesses.

With each overuse of the word emergency, it lessens the impact for when a true calamity is occurring. Emergency should mean dire, urgent or immediate. Keep your language free of hyperbole to avoid “crying wolf” one too many times.

leadership dot #2413: for now

It’s hard to handle emotions when they rotate between positive and negative as if on a roller coaster:

  • A loss is harder to deal with if you had been pulling off an upset for the majority of the game.
  • It’s worse to hear that your car needs major repairs a month after an accident if you thought you had escaped with only minor damage.
  • A serious diagnosis is harder to accept if the doctor recently told you that your health was fine.
  • Getting fired is gut-wrenching if your last quarter’s results were positive.

You can’t prepare for all the negative situations but try to keep your emotions grounded in short time periods rather than assuming the current status reflects the permanent state. It’s better to internalize that “We’re winning – for now” or that “The car appears to be running well – at this time”. The roller coaster still might take a dip, but at least you’ll be holding on to the handlebars and be better able to absorb it.


leadership dot #2412: most

Most is an overrated designation.

Most people may like you at work, but if your boss doesn’t, you have a serious problem.

Most people voted for Hillary Clinton in the election, yet she did not become president.

Most people may think you are talented, but if the coach doesn’t want you, you won’t make the team.

Don’t waste your energy trying to get the “most” people to do anything. Focus your energy on convincing the right people of your value and the rest will take care of itself.

leadership dot #2411: urgency

Martin Luther King gave his famous I Have a Dream” speech over 50 years ago, and sadly, he could repeat his oration today and it would still be relevant:

…We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy; now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice; now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood; now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment…

 Dr. King was only 34 years old when he delivered one of the most iconic speeches in our country’s history. I fervently hope that his legacy gives a young person today the courage necessary to become the next great orator and that all of us use our voices to champion democracy with the fierce urgency of now.

leadership dot #2410: engagement

My new bathroom scale came with a package of temporary tattoos – and a thank you for “making the world a better place today.” The company, Greater Goods, donates a portion of my purchase to a charity to help end child trafficking and is willing to do even more if I use their tattoos to engage with their brand.

Each week, they give a prize to someone who posts their tattoo on social media. Each month, they donate $1000 to a cause nominated by a tattoo-wearer. And each year, one lucky “inked” person receives an all-expense-paid “adventure for two.” Remember, this is from wearing the temporary tattoo of a bathroom scale company.

As Greater Goods has shown, it’s no longer enough to just ask people to take a picture of themselves using your product. Engagement has become the name of the game in marketing.


leadership dot #2409: disincentivized

A large number of buyers may be incentivized to a buy a product because of the rebate but will never complete the arduous forms required to receive it. Of those who do send in the rebate, only a percentage of them will realize it is their check when it arrives in a plain, innocuous envelope in the mail. An even smaller portion of people will cash the check and claim their due.

Rebates are designed to stimulate purchases, but unlike a sale, their default rate is factored into the equation. It’s much more profitable for a store to offer 11% off everything, knowing full well that the reduction in cost won’t be realized by many buyers. The more complicated the rebate – for example, requiring people to complete a paper form, write in UPC codes and mail it –the more it is intentionally designed to discourage use.

Whether it is through a literal refund of money or a metaphorical rebate that returns value to your customer, be intentional about the kind of incentive you offer. Do you truly want to offer your clients a discount – thus reducing upfront pricing on everything or creating a package deal that automatically delivers extras – or are you just creating the illusion of a sale, hoping that they buy without any true desire to discount the price? And as a consumer, if you aren’t willing to pay full price for it, leave it behind. The system is designed for you to drop the ball somewhere in the process and pay the full rate anyway.

leadership dot #2408: 3 questions

A student in my class shared a simple three-question format that her employer uses to allow employees to give feedback to their bosses. People provide answers to these prompts:

What would you like your boss to start doing?

What would you like your boss to stop doing?

What would you like your boss to continue doing?

The format could be adapted to so many other settings: the boss to the employee, colleague to colleague, parent to child, spouse to spouse, etc. It could also have broader applications as to what task a person would like to start/stop/continue doing in their current role, what facet of vacation was resonating with the traveler or how effectively a class was being taught.

With the younger generations asking for more frequent feedback at work, this is an easy yet effective way to provide it. Don’t wait for an annual review process or require lofty forms – just answer these three questions to begin a conversation that quickly gets at the essence of desired behavior.

Thanks, Britini!