leadership dot #2502: modern milkman

You may feel good about forgoing the use of a disposable straw but a new company called Loop wants to completely change your thinking about disposability and single-use items. Loop aims to change the way consumer products are sold by eliminating disposable containers entirely and replacing them with reusable packaging.

They have support from some major companies for their effort: Proctor & Gamble will be testing reusable containers for Pantene shampoo, Tide, Cascade and Crest and companies such as Unilever, Coca-Cola and Haagen-Dazs are experimenting with them as well. Loop likens their plans to the 1950’s milkman model, where you buy the product but return the container which can be used over and over again. They’ll be testing the concept with 300 products in selected markets this Spring.

With so much purchasing happening through online orders and home delivery, the time might be right for reusable packaging to make a comeback. Until it makes its way to your hometown, use this Earth Day as a reminder to reduce your plastic consumption as much as possible and start your own movement to eliminate much as disposability as you can.

Source: Loop brings back ‘The milkman model’, by Katherine Roth for the Associated Press in the Telegraph Herald, January 29, 2019, p. 8A

 

leadership dot #2501: simple pleasures

A picture of an ordinary egg reached 53 million “Likes” on Instagram. It became the most-liked picture on the platform.

Over 17 million people participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge where they were doused with freezing water in the name of charity.

Movember – a moment challenging men to forgo shaving in November – has become one of the world’s top 100 non-government organizations.

Instead of spending your Easter getting caught up posting a picture of a plain egg or participating in one of the other crazy social media challenges, use your time today to enjoy the simple pleasures of the holiday. Roll a colored egg down a trough. Go hunting for golden nuggets. Bite off a chocolate bunny’s ears. Eat Peeps with your peeps.

Millions of people don’t have to post about it for it to be enjoyable.

 

leadership dot #2500: tourist

In the movie Columbus, where I first learned of the intentional architectural plan of Columbus, Indiana, one of the characters remarked on how thousands of tourists come to tour the buildings but many of the residents have not done so. “If you grow up around something, it feels like nothing,” he said.

I have witnessed the phenomenon in many places. Those in our river town don’t gasp in awe at the mighty Mississippi River each time they cross it. In St. Louis, many natives have never been up in the Gateway Arch. I grew up less than an hour from Chicago but have never been to the top of the Sears (Willis) Tower or to Navy Pier.

This weekend spend some time as a tourist in your own community. See the natural wonder with fresh eyes. Visit an attraction that others seek out yet you have not. Look up your city’s Visitor’s Bureau on the web and try out one of the places they recommend to play, shop or dine.

Actually see something that you have taken for granted for too long.

leadership dot #2499: vision

If you need an example of the difference one person can make, look no further than the story of J. Irwin Miller. Mr. Miller was a businessman, philanthropist and lover of architecture and he dedicated his passion toward transforming his hometown of Columbus, Indiana. Through his vision and with support of his foundation, Columbus has become a “global mecca of architectural achievement.” The town of 45,000 has 7 national historic landmarks and over 90 buildings and works of public art by America’s most celebrated architects including I. M. Pei and Eero Saarinen.

Miller was a businessman who knew that his community needed to recruit and retain workers, and he believed that architecture helped make a town more desirable as a place to live. “I would like to see this community come to be the very best community of its size in the country,” he said. Backing up his words, the Cummins Foundation that he ran would pay the fees of the notable architects on its list for any community building project. Thus, over 60 buildings — the post office, churches, library, schools, shopping mall and more — came to be designed by some of the industry’s greats. In turn, Columbus has become a tourist destination, attracting thousands of visitors each year to tour the collection of modern architecture throughout the town.

It was said of Mr. Miller that “he could, and he did.” He led by example in striving for excellence and became a role model for others who saw his vision and invested in the community. Take a lesson from him and think big about the role you can play in your small world.

Learn more about Columbus here.

leadership dot #2498: invited

If you’ve ever planned a wedding, you’ll know that the hardest part about it is determining the guest list. If you invite your favorite Aunt Mabel, then you have to invite Aunt Daisy – even though you haven’t seen her in years. And if Mabel’s kids are invited, too, then there are all sorts of unspoken expectations that other guests’ children will be on the invitation list as well. You either opt for very small or bigger-than-you-expected because hitting the golden middle is extremely difficult.

I think that the “Goldilocks” expectation of being “just right” is the stuff of fairy tales most of the time. It’s hard to craft an important document that conveys detail and maintains brevity, so you opt for one direction or the other. It is challenging to deliver a speech that comes in exactly on timing – you often have too much to say in a short period or too little for the allotted timeframe. Determining the sweet spot of a budget takes some practice as well – after scrimping all year there seems to always be a mad dash to get a few more expenditures in before the fiscal year closes.

I think we falsely expect to hit any type of projection target with exact precision. Even a bullseye is, in essence, a range – the center circle affords several options as to where the dart may go within it. The key is knowing up front which end of the spectrum you are aiming for so when your later decisions are predicated on parameters set by your initial choices, you’re still able to hit your mark. Before you send out that first invitation, know if it’s more important to include everyone in the wedding or to keep it small.

leadership dot #2497: magnetic

In Tom Preston-Werner’s keynote, he spoke with glee about how he has been fascinated by magnets since he was a child. He used that curiosity to learn the application of magnetic fields in science experiments, motors, floppy drives, college physics and beyond.

I never really thought of magnets as “the coolest thing” but when you stop to ponder, they are pretty amazing. What other components do you know that can both repel and attract each other as well as draw in other objects from afar? Magnets are a litany of paradoxes: they hold things together and release freely, stay in place and are easily moved, as well as exerting attraction or repulsion to other surfaces like it.

Preston-Werner’s fascination with magnets was of the physical sense: the “inexplicable magic” of their properties. But think of how you can adopt some of the traits that a metaphorical magnet possesses. In your organizational setting, can you draw in others just as magnets pull in other metal objects from afar? Can you create ways to connect others together in a cohesive way? Do you serve in a role that repels forces working against you but attracts those in alignment? Can you hold things together but retain the ability to let go when the situation warrants?

Adopt some of the properties of the magnet and allow others in your organization to see your role as magical.

leadership dot #2496: threads

“Imagine all the world’s knowledge – known and unknown – as a huge, colorful and beautiful sweater…This super sweater has thousands, no billions of threads that aren’t fully weaved in and stick out at odd angles. The ends of these little threads are answers to questions. When you get curious about something and go looking for answers, you start pulling the thread. The more you pull, the more answers you get.”

So began the keynote by GitHub co-founder Tom Preston-Werner at an address to the local school district foundation. He went on to describe the delight he had as a child in pulling these “threads”, feeding his curiosity and learning about how things worked. His desire eventually led him to take classes, tinker with building, fall in love with computer science and start a company that was recently sold to Microsoft for $7.5 billion.

“Young children with a desire to pull on the thread of knowledge is the most powerful force in the universe,” Preston-Werner said. I would take that further and expand the power to anyone who has the thirst for knowledge. If you have a curiosity about any topic, you have resources at your disposal to learn about it – through online tutorials, classes or connections, via books, or by experimentation and old-fashion trial and error. Think of the liberation that occurs when you realize that you literally can learn anything that interests you.

What threads are tempting you as they dangle before you? The next time one catches your fancy, do more than just Google the surface-level response. Really pull on the thread to see what other discoveries it unravels and where it leads you. Finding more questions is often more powerful than stopping at easy answers.