leadership dot #3486: mental health

A growing number of organizations are offering mental health days in addition to the vacation and sick time provided as benefits. This year, several colleges provided a serendipitous day off — canceling classes and closing offices to allow people time to rejuvenate. Some organizations provide a “wellness day” — closing business early on Fridays or pledging not to schedule meetings on a certain day of the week. One church I know offers staff “retreat days” once a quarter where they are able to take time to reflect and refresh.

Being proactive about your wellness is as important as prevention is to your physical health. Whether you are lucky enough to have mental health time provided or whether you need to find ways to squirrel away some time on your own, resolve to make time for this important aspect of your wellbeing in the coming year.

leadership dot #3485: broker

In a business model that takes into account the aging population, a local firm provides “transition” services for seniors. Translated, this means they come to your home and handle the removal of all of your possessions, either when you are downsizing or after you have passed on.

And then, once a month, the company holds an “estate sale” — a storefront full of everything you could imagine: mounted deer heads, furniture, tools, a vintage Coke machine, jewelry, and every kind of knick knack ever made. They leave out the clothes and the food, but anything else that someone owned is laid out on tables for purchase. And boy, the crowds it draws to buy it!

This firm is strictly the middleman — they clean out and sell, but have no product of their own. Maybe there is a middle role for you in the new year. How could you broker services or monetize your knowledge to the benefit of others? Serving as a bridge can be a lucrative way to benefit both parties.

leadership dot #3484: lights

It has long been my pet peeve that cars don’t let you know when a headlight or brake light is out. It seems crazy that the car flashes my miles per gallon but fails to alert me when I am driving in the dark.

How refreshing it was to drive a loaner car and see that Acura has rectified that — at least on their newer models. On the spaceship-like dashboard is an icon of the car that lights up when the headlights, turn signals, or brake lights are applied. Hurrah! Hopefully, all cars will follow their lead.

Don’t spend so much time adding bells and whistles to things that you forget about the fundamentals. Sometimes the simple things excel in functionality.

leadership dot #3483: overcharged

I rarely eat at McDonald’s, but they have really been pushing the deals on their app and I fell for it. I did my order with one of their BOGO specials and headed to the drive-thru to pick it up. The app calculated the right amount, but the restaurant wouldn’t acknowledge that the deal had been applied so they made me pay the difference before they would give me my food. Not a great start to app use!

So, I took the survey on the receipt and shared my dismay. I received an email reply, telling me to call their customer service number to receive my refund. Not the kind of resolution I had hoped for, but I called.

I talked to the agent for seven minutes and had to provide more documentation than it takes to buy a plane ticket. Name, address, phone, email, type of phone the app is on, receipt number, items purchased, the difference in cost, etc., etc. The end result was that she forwarded my information to the restaurant manager. Good grief!

The manager called me, “wanting to make everything right” – which involved leaving my refund in an envelope at the restaurant – so I could come to pick it up! Not a credit card refund, not mailed – no, I had to go there, wait in line, talk with three people before anyone knew anything about it, and pick up my refund in a piece of paper stapled together to hold it. No coupons, no note, no “sorry for the inconvenienceS” – just the $4.27 they overcharged me in the first place. Guess who deleted their app?

So many things went wrong in this scenario that it’s hard to believe I’m not exaggerating. This wasn’t a gray area – I had a screenshot of the order and a receipt with the extra amount. It was a ridiculously tiny amount of money. I share this story for you to use as a case study with your customer service staff: Eliminate the bureaucracy, go overboard with apologies and compensation and MAKE THE CUSTOMER HAPPY. Right now, Ronald is the only one smiling.

Photo credit: @Gabehabash 8/25/18

leadership dot #3482: allocation

During my visit to an out-of-town Target, I was directed to the pickup area. The space had been the former cafe, now converted into a bustling distribution center that saw more activity than the eating area ever did.

Target hasn’t made it a permanent change but instead has recognized that needs have evolved (if only temporarily) and made adjustments accordingly.

As you prepare to start the new year, make a critical assessment of how you are allocating your resources. Is there unused office space that could be rented out or shared with community groups? Do you still have a playroom at home even though the kids have outgrown it? Could you rethink your entranceway in light of likely ongoing distancing recommendations?

Many times our space fades into the background and we never see it with a critical eye. The new year is a good time to change that — and perhaps to alter how you use what you see.

leadership dot #3481: pick now

We’ve all heard or been a part of drawing names to exchange holiday gifts but most name-picking occurs in late fall when there is time pressure to select something in the short term. It doesn’t have to be that way.

I recently learned of a great holiday tradition that you may wish to consider for your family. Why not draw the names now? This allows the giver a full year to find — or even better, to make — that perfect something for their recipient. You can spend the year crafting a one-of-a-kind present, or purchasing the ideal gift you find on your summer vacation, or even just listening more closely to what would make the receiver’s heart sing.

So before everyone goes their separate ways from holiday gatherings, throw those names into the hat and start a new tradition of planning ahead.

leadership dot #3480: Jerry

Last Christmas Eve, the man behind me in line was buying six boxes of Fannie Mae Mint Meltaways. (For those of you non-Midwesterners, they are delicious chocolate candies that melt in your mouth). I commented to him about all the memories those candies had for me — my Aunt Ruth would bring a box to our holiday festivities every year, the only time we could enjoy such a delicacy.

He insisted that I take a box home.

I had never met Jerry before and the Meltaways are not cheap. He had six of several other items in his cart, so obviously there was intentionality about his purchase. Yet, he sent me home with the box of candies and a heaping helping of Christmas spirit. I saved the box and will savor the memories long after the mints are gone.

I hope you find — or give — some of that same holiday cheer today. Happy Christmas to you and yours.

leadership dot #3479: pro

Lowe’s has a “Pro” parking lot — a section designated for contractors and other professionals to give them quick access to the lumber and hardware section of the store. I got a chuckle when I was there — seeing the unmistakable white blob of a spilled can of paint on the asphalt.

Even the pros make mistakes and lead an imperfect life.

Remember this as you engage in your last-minute Christmas scurry. Not everything will go smoothly. It won’t all be as you had envisioned or hoped for in your mind. You’ll drop that can of paint. As Elsa sings in Frozen, “Let it go.” The holidays are about mindset as much as material things. Enjoy the thrills as well as the spills and make it a merry one regardless of what gets thrown your way.

leadership dot #3478: rentals

There has always been a market for renting items but lately, the scope of what you can borrow seems to have exploded. Here are three examples:

— In the United Kingdom, you can rent a Christmas tree from Rental Claus. Trees come in pots and you take them home for three weeks before returning them for future reuse. You may even elect to rent the same tree the following year — as many have done — becoming so attached to it that you give it a name and make it part of your holiday tradition.

— In the summer, you can rent someone’s personal pool. No need to worry about crowds at the public swimming hole, with Swimply you can pay by the hour to have a private dip in your neighborhood. Much cheaper than dealing with chemicals and buying your own!

Sniffspot allows you to rent a backyard or acreage for your pet to play. It’s a personal dog park that allows Fido to get his exercise without fear of aggressive dogs or overbearing humans.

Rentals help everyone: the environment as you reduce consumption, the renter who gains income from something they possess already, and those who rent who don’t have the burden of long-term maintenance. As you think about how to allocate your funds in the coming year, consider rentals to fulfill your needs. The freedom from ownership may provide you with the extra time to truly enjoy the experience.

Thanks Amy, Amy, and Meg!

leadership dot #3477: right?

I’ve noticed a growing use of “right?” as a filler in conversations. People pepper their dialogues with “right?” and while it is less prevalent than “um” or “huh” it still serves as a verbal tic.

Beyond that, “right?” almost begs for agreement instead of inviting further dialogue. It serves as a rhetorical question as if the speaker expects agreement, rather than a true inquiry that welcomes debate. In fact, it may make it harder to disagree as the speaker almost assumes alignment, saying “right” as a substitute for “of course.”

Maybe the use of the term is intentional — as a way to foster agreement — but maybe not. Pay attention to the words you use, even the filler ones, and consider whether what you use in conversation is the “right” message you’re trying to convey. Makes sense, right?