blog

leadership dot #2535: while waiting

For many people, time spent waiting is time “wasted” — but not for the Gardner family. Every day, instead of being irritated by the time spent in the school drop off or pick-up lines, they would read books. The goal was to complete the A to Z Mystery Series this year and this week they accomplished it – with even a few days in the school year to spare!

Reading while in line is a great habit to instill in children (and yourself!). We all know that inevitable waits will occur yet we tend to treat them as unexpected. As a result, we fail to prepare for them – or to use the minutes to actually do something besides “wait”.

There is no one I know that doesn’t wish they had more time. Take a lesson from these children and be more effective in using the time you do have.

Thanks, Jeni!

leadership dot #2534: higher calling

Clif Bar believes so strongly in the value of going organic that they offered to share their expertise to help their largest competitor (Mars’ brand Kind Bars) transition to using more organic materials. In the New York Times, Clif challenged Kind to “make an investment in the future of the planet and our children’s children by going organic.” Clif offered to give away not just their knowledge about how to go organic but added in 10 tons of organic ingredients as an incentive. Talk about living your values!

Clif made this offer because they see their purpose as bigger than making energy bars. Their aim is higher than making any one product; their goal is to impact the food system and increase the use of organic throughout the country. As part of this effort, they are not only challenging Kind but also serve as the largest private funder of organic research in the country.

For Clif, the goal of organic is bigger than sales, and they have recognized that they need to inspire partners to work with them to achieve it. It reminded me of that old adage about the bricklayer not just laying bricks or even building a wall, but as someone who saw his job as helping to build a cathedral.

How high is your organization’s vision? Have you inspired people to work for a cause or are you mired down in making products? You may know the answer to that if you’re willing to share your knowledge with a competitor in order to achieve it.

leadership dot #2533: finance-phobia

I recently facilitated a workshop about finances that was part of a series for nonprofit leaders and board members. The guest speaker asked participants to raise their hand if they normally would avoid such a topic – and most of the hands went up!

I, too, once had finance-phobia and avoided any in-depth discussions that involved budgeting, income statements, balance sheets and the like. That is until I rose in the ranks and suddenly needed to know these things and more. I became responsible for multi-million-dollar budgets, working with lenders on bond issues for construction and serving as a leader on a board where I carried the fiduciary responsibility, even if it wasn’t accompanied by adequate knowledge. Suddenly, those Finance 101 workshops seemed relevant, but now I wanted them to go even deeper.

I shared this story with participants and let them know that I eventually spent a lot of time and money to earn an MBA (after my doctorate) because I had to have that level of knowledge on the subject to be successful at my job. I encouraged them – and now, you – to pay attention when exposed to financial matters, or even better, to seek them out through training, volunteer experiences or asking as many questions as you can when given the opportunity.

Money is the universal language through which business is conducted – no matter if that business is a booster club, lemonade stand, side hustle, nonprofit board or a major corporation. The more you can understand what to pay attention to and pitfalls to watch for, the better equipped you are to have power in this critical area.

Cure yourself of finance-phobia one line-item at a time. You don’t have to become an accountant, but ignorance will eventually limit you.

leadership dot #2532: reimagined

Even if you’re not an athlete, I’ll bet you have seen Nike shoes and Nike shoeboxes hundreds of times in your life. You’ll never look at them the same way again after seeing some of the art that Stephen Signa-Aviles created using just those items.

Signa-Aviles sculpted shoes and boxes into elaborate chickens and birds (and many other items seen here) thus turning an ordinary object into beautiful art – or at least that is how it appears to me. For him, it’s a deeper statement about hip-hop, consumerism and masculinity.

Think about the message that you’re trying to convey. Instead of traditional methods, is there a way to reimagine something that is around you every day? An art exhibit with creative sneakers is much more powerful than another tweet about consumerism. What is a novel way to share your story?

 

leadership dot #2531: curator

Think of the influence that the person has who determines what stories show up on the newsfeed of your smartphone. There are usually only five or six articles that make the list and somewhere there is a human that either makes the selections or programmed the algorithm to do so. Such power they hold.

So many decisions go into what makes it onto the feed: which stories, whether they are serious news or novel, which source to use for the story, etc. You may have some choice in which topics you check as preferences, but someone else is still curating the content and shaping the views of millions. In the U.S. alone there are over 90 million iPhones – quite the audience for Apple News.

Whether we consciously read all of the selections or just unconsciously absorb the headlines, the content from this feed serves to populate our brain and perspectives. Don’t rely on a stranger’s limited actions as the only source of your information. Pick at least one source of journalism to read deeper and make your own choice about what is relevant.

leadership dot #2530: frames

When people think about how to get their message across to others, they often solely concentrate on the words that will be used to convey their meaning. A recent webinar by the FrameWorks Institute encouraged communicators to expand their planning to encompass the entire frame of the message.

According to FrameWorks, framing is about what to say, what to emphasize and what not to say in order to shape people’s understanding of an issue. To achieve this, the communicator can intentionally craft components in twelve different areas including tone, messenger, numbers, the order of messaging, examples, context, visuals and explanatory metaphors. It’s not just what you say, but how you combine all the components of the entire messaging process in order to maximize its effectiveness.

The next time you need to communicate something of importance, take the time to consider not just the words, but the frame of the whole picture that you are trying to convey. The subtle choices you make beforehand will determine the overall impact of what you share.

FrameWorks framing choices

leadership dot #2529: testing

Retailers and service providers make many efforts to get their product in the hands of the consumer: taste testing in the grocery store, free samples, trial size packaging and liberal return policies that reduce the risk of a purchase.

The goal of all these is to allow people to see what the product is really like – something that’s easy to do with a bite-size sample or by trying on clothes. One area that has been challenging is household paint: how can you tell from a 2×2 chip of paper what the color will look like on your wall? Retailers have tried offering small bottles of paint, but in order to try them you need to commit to repainting – like it or not – or you’ll have a swath of different colors streaking your room.

A new solution comes from Magnolia (Joanna Gaines) that offers peel ‘n stick options for multiple colors. You can place a large piece on your wall, assess it in the existing light, and then make a decision as to whether to proceed with painting. Either way, the color sample peels right off and allows you a substantially-sized color chip to take with you for accessory or furniture shopping.

Time is the most precious currency in this hectic world. If you can find a way to save someone time (in this case, by providing ways to evaluate options without any paint involved), people will pay you to save them moments. Think about how you can peel away barriers in your testing process easier and make it stick with your clientele.