leadership dot #3758: cocktails

When you think of Girl Scout cookies, you likely think of a young girl selling Thin Mints. The Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts realized that it is important to get the adults excited about cookie sales as well. So, to launch their drive they are hosting “Cookies and Cocktails” where local chefs create treats from the cookies (as if they aren’t delicious enough on their own) and signature cocktails with cookie themes. Of course, there are categories and prizes — the whole evening sounds like a wonderful way to kick off the selling season and raise some funds in the process.

We often limit ourselves by thinking of only one audience for our product or service. Follow the example of the Girl Scouts and think broadly about who might have an affinity to what you offer. Cookies and Cocktails is a 21+ only event so the Scouts themselves are not even involved, but It’s never a bad idea to spread your awareness and enthusiasm to tangential audiences.

leadership dot #3757: rental

Our mall, like so many others, is a shell of what it used to be. Several of the anchor stores have gone and all that remains is a smattering of boutique shops that don’t really amount to much. It seems that the majority of people who go there are those who use it as an indoor walking track.

So, I was surprised to see this sign — indicating that they still charge $5/day for stroller rental and $7/day for double stroller rental. Why do they bother? First of all, nobody uses a stroller for a whole day in the mall, and secondly, they should be doing everything they can to encourage people to come inside. The rental process is no doubt left over from decades ago when strollers may have actually been at a premium, but it certainly is not the case today.

If you see a practice in your organization that is as irrelevant as this, have the fortitude to speak up and get it changed. You may not eliminate any work but you’ll align your integrity by having only policies that really matter.

leadership dot #3756: reuse

People are conscious of the environmental mantra to reduce and recycle, but often they forget about the “third R — reuse.” The Visitor’s Bureau in St. Petersburg, Florida has made it easier to do just that by providing bags that are designed to be repurposed as a cleaning cloth. It’s biodegradable, soft, and sturdy — great for packing souvenirs in a suitcase, but then it can take on a second life.

Before you go out shopping this weekend — or especially when you begin your holiday frenzy — first take a look around your house and see what you can press into service without buying new. Maybe you have a gift basket, gift bags, or bows that can work well for another season — and if not, take steps this year to save things for reuse in 2023.

The St. Pete’s cleaning cloth makes the way to repurpose obvious but I’m sure you can challenge yourself to find other ways to have items in your home or office deployed in new ways.

leadership dot #3755: engaging

I participated in a virtual event that was the most well-run session I have had on Zoom. Courtney Lynch, one of the co-authors of the new Bet on You book, facilitated an “Author’s Circle” that came as close as it could to replicating an in-person book club discussion. Here’s how:

  • When we signed up, we were told that this would be a “cameras on, engaging event”
  • She asked for several replies in the chat, then actually called on people to unmute and expound on their answers
  • They utilized Otter.ai and provided a link to live transcription so if you missed something you could easily check the transcript and catch up
  • There were several occasions when she said: “I’ll go quiet” and allowed the participants time to either reflect, read a screen, or write in the chat
  • She utilized the Padlet tool instead of chat to allow people to see all the responses to a more in-depth prompt
  • The first half of the hour was predominantly participants sharing their reflections to prompts — only at the end did she highlight what the authors felt were the core themes of the book. It was definitely a conversation, not a one-way presentation
  • She began by sharing “roles she’s had” vs. positions she’s held — allowing her introduction to make connections with many more participants
  • She used the warm-up question to start the conversation among the participants — asking for follow-up vs. having it be a frivolous question with no content value (The question: “If the pandemic happened to teach you an important lesson, what do you believe that lesson is?”)

Think about your next virtual event or meeting and see if you can incorporate some of the techniques from the “Author’s Circle.” It wasn’t the same as being there, but it certainly added more value than the typical webinar that is mostly just on in the background.

Bet on You: How to Win with Risk by Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch, 2022

P. S. I have an extra invitation to another Author’s Circle (which includes a free book) — if you’re interested, let me know.

leadership dot #3754: rockets and feathers

At a recent rally, Senate candidate Admiral Mike Franken noted that gas prices follow the “rocket and feather” theory — they shoot up like a rocket and fall down like a feather. It was an interesting analogy that got me thinking about other things that have similar trajectories:

  • Expenses — that seem to go up quickly, but fall slowly when trying to make cuts or reduce costs
  • Debt — loans that are paid out all at once, but require years of chipping away at the principal
  • Weight — not that it really goes up like a rocket, but it seems to surely come off like a feather
  • Your to-do list — which can fill up quickly when presented with a new project or event yet feel like it never gets completed
  • Grief and its attending condolences — is initially fierce and intense and then well-wishers fade off like feathers

Acknowledging the flow of a rocket and feather situation can help align your mindset with the inevitable reality. Expecting a linear flow can cause you to give up or retreat too soon when the results are slow in coming. Have the patience of that feather and wait it out.

leadership dot #3753: leaving

I’ve watched with interest as the British Prime Ministers have rotated in relatively quick succession. It’s another example of the trend to cut ties instead of trying to do the hard work of compromise or reconciliation.

I think about people who get a divorce rather than working through counseling. People leave their jobs instead of trying to influence the culture. Voters frequently use the midterms to switch parties in power rather than urging those in office to work together to fix things. Families surrender their pets because it is too time-consuming to train them properly. Companies jump from one software program or vendor to another rather than learning how to fully utilize the resources they have.

The proverbial “grass may be greener” but it is often possible to have green on your side of the fence too — if you put in the work. It’s not always in your best interest to keep what you have, but sometimes it is. Make sure you ascertain which situation you’re in before you leave it too soon.

leadership dot #3752: attributions

A carpenter was working on an outdoor project and lamenting about how the work had been pushed into the colder months. “We had all summer to do this; I don’t know why he didn’t get it scheduled,” he grumbled. Yet, the same person also had his own home improvement project that had languished. “You had all summer to do it,” I said. He replied with a litany of reasons that have kept him from the task.

Legitimate as those reasons may be, it is a classic example of external attribution — where when someone else attributes other people’s negative behavior to their character (not scheduling the job was the fault of the person) but attributes their own negative behavior to their environment.

Another example comes from Patrick Lencioni In The Five Dysfunctions where he contrasts seeing someone scold their kids in the grocery store and thinking the dad is a “mean, angry man” — vs. when Patrick scolds his own kids and thinks “I have some unruly children.”

It’s easy to have empathy for the extenuating circumstances that impact our own performance, and much harder to give that grace to others. Raise your consciousness on both sides of the coin — taking greater responsibility for your own actions and acknowledging that the environment may be affecting the behaviors of others.

leadership dot #3751: stimuli

After my niece stayed at my house for a week, her mom asked her what she learned about me. Her answer: “she really doesn’t like music.” Let me correct the record and say that I like music a lot — just not playing during every waking moment!

It’s because I like quiet a lot and find the lack of input restorative. I don’t turn the television on the second I walk into a hotel room. I only have my TV on at home when I am watching something specific. I prefer not to wear my AirPods when I’m out walking. I don’t need to have podcasts playing whenever I’m free. Quiet is a calming reset and it’s the best background “noise” for me.

Before you automatically switch on the next audio source, take a moment to appreciate the lack of external stimuli. There is a time for music, media, and all the rest but quiet should be on your playlist too.

leadership dot #3750: comedian

I’ve seen several comedians lately and was struck by their differences in styles. One guy was seemingly 100% ad-lib, bantering with the audience and making fun of their responses. One comedian had a guitar and strummed songs with humorous lyrics interspersed between jokes. One performer was timid in his set, and yet another told stories as if he was having a conversation with you at a bar — then hit you with a punchline.

Being a professional comedian can’t be an easy job — finding your style/niche to distinguish yourself from others, writing the material, memorizing an hour’s worth of content, and nailing the timing. All of these men did that in very different ways, reminding me that just as there is no one way to be a comedian, there is no one way to do your job either. It’s no joke that being authentic really is the key to success.

I highly recommend Nate Bargatze — watch his special The Greatest Average American on Netflix.

leadership dot #3749: directory

The SOWA neighborhood of Boston is an art and design district with several art studios and galleries in reclaimed warehouses. You would expect these buildings to have a creative vibe but the thing that really caught my eye was their directory.

Instead of the typical and stale alphabetical listing of tenants, the SOWA directory provides a visual for each studio along with their suite number. It made for an attractive piece of art by itself, but also served as a handy reference for visitors to know which studios may be most appealing to them.

I think about the adaptation of this idea in other settings. Could you make your directory more visually appealing by including symbols or icons of the service provided in each office (I think of colleges that could have a $ sign for financial aid, a picture of a transcript for the registrar, etc.)? Maybe you would want to include pictures (perhaps at a medical center so patients could recognize their doctors)? Or larger stores could have a visual directory of what is available in each department (saving customers from guessing what is considered a soft good)?

Visuals help reduce language barriers and make it more aesthetically pleasing for everyone. Direct your energy to your directory and find ways to incorporate the SOWA concept in your organization.