leadership dot #2648: referral

Sometimes it makes good business sense to refer your customers to another, similar business. I was recently in a boutique market that sells coffee in beans and she sent customers looking for brewed coffee across the street. But rarely do you see one business advertise for another offering a very similar service.

Such is the case at the Celebrity Car Wash in Oakville, MO. At the end of their wash bay, they have a sign advertising another car wash less than a mile away. At their core, they are the same business providing the same service, but Celebrity uses this advertisement to highlight the distinctions between the two operations. Those seeing the sign should register that if they want a normal outside wash, Celebrity is the right place; if they want the inside down or detailing, then AutoSpa down the street should be their choice.

Celebrity uses the sign to gain advertising revenue and differentiate themselves from others. It owns its traditional express service model and is happy to refer those who want more than just an outside wash to go elsewhere. How may you be as confident about who you are – and aren’t?

Thanks, Brian!

leadership dot #2647: safe deposit

A group of friends started talking about area banks vs. credit unions and the pros/cons of using one over the other. One of my hesitations to fully transfer all my business to the credit union is the availability of a safe deposit box at the bank. I was the only one at the table who had one.

Apparently, the safe deposit box is going to be yet another relic of days gone by. Instead of keeping titles, important papers and the family jewels in an off-site location the Millennials I was dining with keep them all at home in a firebox, a lockbox or personal-size safe. Like everything else, it gives them instantaneous 24/7 access to whatever they need, whenever they want it.

My family has had a safe deposit box for my entire life. I never even thought twice about not having one but I’ll admit they have me questioning that choice. For the equivalent of a few years of rent I could own a safe – ostensibly to protect from fire or flood as much to keep the bad guys away. And maybe if I had easy access, I would wear the heirloom jewelry instead of only looking at it every year or so!

Some things are so much a part of our fabric that we don’t even think about them, and for me, renting a safe deposit box was one of those things. Look around your house or organization with new eyes and see if there is an expenditure on automatic pilot that would be safe to discontinue.


leadership dot #2646: in your head

There are so many situations where we have the ideas in our head but don’t create the time to write them down. Tomorrow’s blog has not been started. My class for Tuesday is ready, but good luck to you if I’m unable to prep for the following week because there is no concrete plan that will make sense to anyone else. People plan to write down their passwords and dying wishes but too often leave this Earth with information only they know. Organizational history, precedents, protocols and nuances often walk out the door with exiting employees.

In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott encourages people to put something down on paper every day. It’s great advice. What you write may turn into bits of a story, a legacy for your executor, a how-to manual for the next person to have your job or a brain dump to use on your next assignment. “In your head” leaves little margin for the unexpected and makes it difficult for your idea to live on without your direct involvement. Commit to committing something “out of your head” each day.

leadership dot #2645: intellectual humility

In a brilliant Pinkcast, author Dan Pink provides some of the most powerful two minutes of content that I have seen in a long while. Pink shares four questions that help people to develop the skill of intellectual humility — the willingness to accept that what you believe may be wrong. These key questions allow you to question your own cognitive blind spots in search of greater understanding.

What I liked about how Pink framed the issue was that he turned “being wrong” into a virtue instead of a failure. He gave intellectual humility a positive spin and linked it to an identity that people would want to take on for themselves.

Atomic Habits author James Clear writes that “the ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something different to say I’m the type of person who is this.”* The Pinkcast video helps people take on the identity of being open-minded, inquisitive, and yes, sometimes wrong.

I’d suggest using this video as a quick but potent way for facilitators to begin group work or for leaders to frame discussions that could prove to be contentious. It can give your team language to aid in constructive conflict with civility – something that every organization can use more of today!

*Atomic Habits by James Clear, 2018, p. 33


leadership dot #2644: not ordinary

One year ago today, I was at a meeting with several participants from out-of-town. As they prepared to leave for the airport I was struck by the ordinariness of their departures – they casually said goodbye and left with the business-as-usual confidence that they would board their planes and reach their destination as they had always done. Fortunately, they were right, but it provided a stark contrast to those who boarded the ill-fated planes on this date in 2001. I’m sure they, too, left for the airport with carefree indifference and anticipation of a safe journey.

I see signs of this clash of expectations throughout the year. The crosses on the side of the road, especially the one at a local intersection that I pass through daily, that mark where someone lost their life. The girl in the emergency room wearing brand new shoes – not expecting that it would be the only day she wore them. Those who were just shopping, praying, dancing or driving who were shot down as part of another mass attack. All people doing ordinary things that ended up in a fateful way.

One of the lyrics from Come From Away* says: “It’s like any of us could have died on Tuesday, and we’re dared to see things differently today.” Don’t take your today for granted. Dare to see your life with new eyes and possibilities that capitalizes on all the “Tuesdays” you are given.

And mostly, don’t ever forget those who lost lives and made sacrifices on September 11, 2001. Today is not just another day.

*Quote from “Costume Party” on Come From Away Original Broadway Soundtrack, lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein




leadership dot #2643: what matters

A sign on a semi-truck trying to recruit drivers boasted: “No East Coast Driving.” Think about that. The number one perk the company boasts about does not involve money at all — rather it outlines a distinction that matters to their clientele.

Too often we think that money is the key driver (ha ha) of what recruits and motivates an employee. It isn’t. Reassess what you have to offer through the lens of non-financial benefits. You may find that what is important to others already exists in your organization.

leadership dot #2642: coins and towels

A local college just held their inaugural football game and the coach was quoted as saying: “What keeps me up right now is the one critical thing I might have forgotten about. It’s the little stuff. The coin for the coin flip. The towels for the balls…There were basic things that I didn’t even think about…I’m almost not even worried about the football yet.”

His comments underscore the importance of that foundational infrastructure that is so second nature everyone takes it for granted. It’s only when an event happens for the first time or in a different environment that people become conscious of the details: when a meeting is held off-site, a meal is planned for the park instead of the kitchen, sleeping involves a tent instead of hotel, etc. Suddenly, people realize that they need to plan to have enough chairs, to bring the forks, and to remember the pillow and flashlight.

Doing something for the first time or doing it in a new location triggers another dimension of planning. Don’t overlook the complexity that “new” brings. You need to have the coin and towels before you can kick off.

Source: Miguel Regalado as quoted in “Pride primed for 1st game in program history” by Brenden West in the Telegraph Herald, August 31, 2019, p. 1B.