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leadership dot #2576: undeveloped

We’ve all been asked to contribute to a development campaign to build this or that but a volunteer organization in Michigan has adopted a different approach. Chikaming Township is raising funds for an UNdevelopment campaign – to buy an undeveloped portion of Lake Michigan’s shoreline precisely to leave it in its natural state.

With the beach within an hour or two from Chicago’s population, lakefront property is in high demand. With the purchases come fences, removal of the tree line and some of nature’s finest offerings restricted to just a few. The Cherry Beach Project needs $4 million to buy just 400 feet of beachfront but they are working diligently to raise private funds and matching grants. I hope they succeed!

Not all of your appeals need to be to build or to buy or to add. Sometimes the most important work you can do is to ensure that well enough is left alone.

leadership dot #2575: pledge

We’ve all heard the Pledge of Allegiance hundreds of times and often say the words by rote memory. On this Independence Day, take a few minutes to listen to Red Skelton explain the meaning of each word and make the Pledge come to life. I challenge you to listen to his monologue and not be moved by it.

Skelton adds power to something by making the familiar unfamiliar. Instead of just using words that we recite without thinking, he challenges us to pause and consider why the words were chosen. Can you adopt a similar technique for an important message in your organization? Perhaps you can have a founder shed light on the thought behind the mission statement. Elders could each share the meaning behind the organization’s values. The board chair or president could describe what the name of the organization or its slogan was trying to achieve. Instead of just sharing words, aim to share meaning.

Happy Independence Day!

leadership dot #2574: bandwagon

There’s nothing like a holiday to create a bandwagon for marketers to jump on and the Fourth of July is no exception. It seems that the weeks between Memorial Day and Independence Day have become one big promotional marathon with stores and their products decked out in red, white and blue – hoping that it makes consumers spend green.

It’s one thing to promote the blueberries and strawberries that would be sold anyway but this year I was struck at the number of pre-packaged products that came out with a holiday edition. Cereals, chips, candies, cookies, beverages and snacks offered their foods dyed with the colors of our nation. Paper products, clothing, decorations and flowers all feature stars or stripes. If there was a way to tie something to the holiday retailers have done it.

On a personal level, you still have today to rush out and deck your halls and buffet table with red, white and blue. Organizationally, take a moment to process the frenzy around you. Did you waste time and energy by participating, or did your additional efforts pay off? If you sat out, could you have benefitted from being part of the wave?

The calendar is packed with mass merchandising opportunities: back-to-school, Pumpkin Spice, Halloween, Dia de los Muertos are all on deck. Jump on the bandwagon or stay off – but do either with intentionality.

leadership dot #2573: today

If you’re having a hard time focusing on work this week, here’s an excuse to start celebrating early: The official motion that severed the colonies from England actually occurred on July 2, not the fourth. The proclamation telling of this split, the Declaration of Independence, was approved on the fourth, but by then it was just a formality. The real business had occurred two days earlier.

There are other facts about Independence Day that don’t align with how history is told: most did not sign the Declaration until August as the document was still being revised and the Founding Fathers anticipated that July 2 would be the day of grand celebrations.

Any major change occurs over an extended period of time. There is no “one day” when the change is finished so it is left to the leaders to pick one of many options for when to celebrate and to commemorate. It’s important to pick “a date” and coalesce around it for maximum impact, but if you’d like, you can follow the lead of John Adams and celebrate today instead!

You can read more trivia about the Fourth of July here.

Thanks, Meg!

 

leadership dot #2572: mood elevator

In this world of constant change, we often feel like circumstances are happening to us but one thing we can control is our emotional reaction to events. To help people calibrate their various emotions, Dr. Larry Senn has developed a Mood Elevator tool. He notes that everyone “rides the elevator” up and down throughout the days, but encourages people to intentionally “start from curiosity” before reacting.

Curiosity is the dividing point on the Mood Elevator that allows people to keep their negative emotions in check. Instead of getting upset by a behavior, if it is approached with curiosity it often allows the person to move “up” the elevator toward humor, understanding and insight instead of “down” the elevator toward frustration, irritation or judgment.

By keeping the Mood Elevator in a prominent location, people can use it as a reminder that their moods are within their control and consciously work toward expressing moods that are positive, instead of instinctively revealing a negative reaction.

Naturally, everyone goes up and down depending upon the situation, but like in skyscrapers, the view is better from the top! Perhaps the Mood Elevator can help you stay on the upper floors more often.

Thanks, Bekki!

 

leadership dot #2571: exit process

I have experienced some really poor service lately but was pleasantly surprised as I left the United Center. There, at all the entrances, were employees holding up a “Thank you for attending” sign. It served a dual purpose: a) to offer a moment of appreciation in an industry usually devoid of it and b) to easily identify the staff members who could answer questions, provide directions, etc. It seemed to work beautifully.

Kudos to the person who thought through the fan experience and took the small step to make the exit process just that much easier.

Take a moment to see your organization’s service from the consumer perspective – start to finish – and see if you can provide a few small enhancements to the experience. Often all the attention goes to the main event, but it’s what happens on the way out that leaves a lasting impression.

 

leadership dot #2570: local

I recently attended an event at the United Center in Chicago and was delighted to be surrounded by all local brands. Instead of the usual generic stadium offerings, the arena prominently featured area favorites: Vienna Beef hotdogs, Giordano’s pizza, Sweet Baby Ray’s ribs, Goose Island Beer, Garrett’s popcorn, Nuts on Clark and more. I could have spent the evening eating!

The shift to local foods is an intentional one as the management seeks to banish “soulless food” and replace it with dining delights. It is an effective way to brand the arena more closely to its home city and to instill a bit more pride in the hometown fans.

Think of what you can do to tie your physical space to the culture that you are attempting to create. Is there a way to offer furniture, food or art that reflects your desired audience? Can you add touches to anchor your space to your mission instead of opting for the easy and generic fare?

Everything in your environment sends a message. Be intentional about what your surroundings are saying about you and your brand.