leadership dot #2273: kindling

Yesterday I advocated keeping reflective notes to aid in your ability to see situations from a broad perspective. Today I encourage you to capture not just your emotions or commentary about your experiences, but to also develop a method of saving and collecting as many of your ideas as you can. Even if they have no apparent use at the moment, old ideas have a way of morphing into something valuable – maybe even years later.

Lin Manuel Miranda recently shared that he wrote the melody to one of Hamilton’s hit songs when he was 16 and another when he was 10 years old. He tweeted: “Learning to pilfer your own thoughts and doodles for something later is another tool in your toolbox.”*

I keep a notebook of potential leadership dot ideas. Sometimes items sit on the list for ages as incomplete thoughts, but then later connect with a new reflection to give the lesson clarity and depth. I have files (ok, files and files and files and files) of articles, handouts, and reference materials that often lay dormant – until they become perfect resources at the right moment.

A colleague recently called me a “repository of information” – quite the high compliment for me – and indicative of my pack-rat nature of clipping out articles, screen-shotting tweets, making notes and hoarding them all to create a matrix of ideas that can coalesce to provide the perfect training tool or analogy almost on demand.

A blank page is a productivity and creativity drag for almost everyone. It is far, far easier to start with something, even if it is rough, old and not quite on target. Keep track of those nuggets and ideas that cross your path. One day you can use them like kindling and assemble a few tiny twigs to get your creative fires blazing.

*Lin-Manuel Miranda, @Lin_Manuel, 8/29/18


leadership dot #2249: axed

I have seen a lot of unusual team-building activities in my day, but this was a new one to me: axe-throwing seems to be an actual thing! In little areas reminiscent of batting cages, participants throw an honest-to-goodness real axe at the wall in hopes of hitting near a target (and not the person throwing next to them!).

When I saw the first facility, I thought it was a fluke, but there were at least two locations in downtown St. Louis that offer the experience. It is billed as a “corporate team-builder” although I can see many subliminal emotions that could be expressed by people’s inner Paul Bunyan.

When you are choosing a team builder for your organization, take into account the temperament and characteristics of those in your group. Some may love the physical challenge of axe throwing, while others may be more suited to the mental stimulation of an escape room or scavenger hunt. It’s one thing to take your team outside its comfort level and another push the boundaries so far that it does more harm than good. Assess whether you would want to ax this activity for your organization or determine that it could be ax-actly what your team needs!

leadership dot #2248: rangers

The Gateway Arch grounds cover 192 acres, making it difficult for the Park Rangers to be visible and present at all times. To help expand their presence, the National Park Service instituted a Bark Ranger program where trained volunteers and their canine companions can walk the grounds provide service and observations when the official Rangers are unavailable. At the Arch, Bark Rangers monitor the ground and answer questions for tourists. At Glacier National Park, the Bark Rangers keep visitors away from the goats!

Apparently, many downtown residents routinely walk their dogs throughout the park, and this is an ingenious way to capitalize on their willingness to be a resource. For the price of a bandana and t-shirt, the Park Service unleashed dedicated fans to help them. Who is using your service already that you could more formally deploy to assist your organization?

leadership dot #2199: gone to the dogs

People in the United States are crazy about their dogs – all 90 million of them — so it is no surprise that companies and organizations try to capitalize on that to earn their piece of the multi-billion-dollar pet industry.

One of the most clever events in this category is the Bark at the Park promotion at Safeco Field in Seattle. On four special nights this season, you can purchase a $50 Dog Pack which includes “a human ticket, dog ticket, Mariners dog giveaway and postgame walk around the bases”. Giveaways include a Mariners dog food bowl, tennis ball launcher and water bowl. If I lived in Seattle, I would be there!

Except for the giveaways (which undoubtedly have a sponsor) and the “waste disposable management team”, this event costs them nothing, yet I would guess that it will go a long way to boost attendance on otherwise uneventful weekday nights.

What can your organization do to earn the goodwill and greenbacks of the many dog lovers that you serve? It doesn’t have to be every day but creating a special occasion that includes the pups will have you wagging all the way to the bank.

Thanks, Meg!

leadership dot #2173: corny

Memorial Day is often the first cookout weekend, and for many, that means sweet corn along with the grilling. Most corn is served boiled or grilled but a restaurant in California puts those traditional methods to shame.

Why stop at butter when you can have an ear rolled in Flaming Hot Cheetos or lemon juice and chili powder? My favorite was the Uni-Corn featuring rainbow-colored cotija cheese. From Mexican to Doritos to Cheetos to queso fresca, this sweet corn was definitely not served straight from the farm.

All around you, there are items that have been cooked or done in a traditional way for years. Think about the crazy flavors of corn when you are serving up your picnic or even when you are heading into the office tomorrow. Pledge to step out of the box to take something ordinary and make it extraordinary.

leadership dot #2171: celestial

Another stop on my California visit was the Griffith Observatory, an imposing architectural structure that towers above Los Angeles. The Observatory contains exhibits that you would expect – a planetarium, telescopes, moon rocks, and solar system exhibits – but the most eye-catching display was that of jewelry.

Kudos to the curator who expanded his/her view of what could or should be featured in an observatory. Because of their openness and vision, one very long hallway is enhanced with 2200 pieces of jewelry representing variations of celestial objects and astronomy. The collection was amassed over 25 years and donated by a long-time board member – who obviously had an affinity for the stars. It provided a beautiful diversion from the geodes and rugged items on display and illustrated the expansiveness of both the universe and interpretation of it.

The next time you need to communicate a message or emotion, think beyond the usual ways of doing so. The sky’s the limit for ways you can effectively tell your story!

leadership dot #2157: art

Public art has become a popular component of urban renewal and in cities who wish to increase their creative vibrancy. Our town recently commissioned art for the sides of about a dozen buildings downtown and infused tired brick with murals that are several stories high. It transformed the landscape with color and thought-provoking images and made many people a fan of big art that adorns public spaces.

I am also a fan of little art that enhances personal spaces. I think that color and artistic expression in small ways can add a flourish to an otherwise plain platform and bring some positive energy into our lives. There are many ways to infuse your world with art beyond the obvious photos or paintings on your wall.

Think about the personal expression you can add to your checks, wardrobe, outgoing mail, table settings or gift giving.

As sandal-wearing weather approaches in much of the country, another way to add original art to your life is to find yourself a pedicure artist. The right talent can create mini-masterpieces out of nail polish to make art a part of your daily presence.

Art doesn’t have to be expensive, lofty or formal. Whether it be on a multi-story canvas or a big toe, find ways to incorporate color and original expression in your day.