leadership dot #2502: modern milkman

You may feel good about forgoing the use of a disposable straw but a new company called Loop wants to completely change your thinking about disposability and single-use items. Loop aims to change the way consumer products are sold by eliminating disposable containers entirely and replacing them with reusable packaging.

They have support from some major companies for their effort: Proctor & Gamble will be testing reusable containers for Pantene shampoo, Tide, Cascade and Crest and companies such as Unilever, Coca-Cola and Haagen-Dazs are experimenting with them as well. Loop likens their plans to the 1950’s milkman model, where you buy the product but return the container which can be used over and over again. They’ll be testing the concept with 300 products in selected markets this Spring.

With so much purchasing happening through online orders and home delivery, the time might be right for reusable packaging to make a comeback. Until it makes its way to your hometown, use this Earth Day as a reminder to reduce your plastic consumption as much as possible and start your own movement to eliminate much as disposability as you can.

Source: Loop brings back ‘The milkman model’, by Katherine Roth for the Associated Press in the Telegraph Herald, January 29, 2019, p. 8A


leadership dot #2497: magnetic

In Tom Preston-Werner’s keynote, he spoke with glee about how he has been fascinated by magnets since he was a child. He used that curiosity to learn the application of magnetic fields in science experiments, motors, floppy drives, college physics and beyond.

I never really thought of magnets as “the coolest thing” but when you stop to ponder, they are pretty amazing. What other components do you know that can both repel and attract each other as well as draw in other objects from afar? Magnets are a litany of paradoxes: they hold things together and release freely, stay in place and are easily moved, as well as exerting attraction or repulsion to other surfaces like it.

Preston-Werner’s fascination with magnets was of the physical sense: the “inexplicable magic” of their properties. But think of how you can adopt some of the traits that a metaphorical magnet possesses. In your organizational setting, can you draw in others just as magnets pull in other metal objects from afar? Can you create ways to connect others together in a cohesive way? Do you serve in a role that repels forces working against you but attracts those in alignment? Can you hold things together but retain the ability to let go when the situation warrants?

Adopt some of the properties of the magnet and allow others in your organization to see your role as magical.

leadership dot #2496: threads

“Imagine all the world’s knowledge – known and unknown – as a huge, colorful and beautiful sweater…This super sweater has thousands, no billions of threads that aren’t fully weaved in and stick out at odd angles. The ends of these little threads are answers to questions. When you get curious about something and go looking for answers, you start pulling the thread. The more you pull, the more answers you get.”

So began the keynote by GitHub co-founder Tom Preston-Werner at an address to the local school district foundation. He went on to describe the delight he had as a child in pulling these “threads”, feeding his curiosity and learning about how things worked. His desire eventually led him to take classes, tinker with building, fall in love with computer science and start a company that was recently sold to Microsoft for $7.5 billion.

“Young children with a desire to pull on the thread of knowledge is the most powerful force in the universe,” Preston-Werner said. I would take that further and expand the power to anyone who has the thirst for knowledge. If you have a curiosity about any topic, you have resources at your disposal to learn about it – through online tutorials, classes or connections, via books, or by experimentation and old-fashion trial and error. Think of the liberation that occurs when you realize that you literally can learn anything that interests you.

What threads are tempting you as they dangle before you? The next time one catches your fancy, do more than just Google the surface-level response. Really pull on the thread to see what other discoveries it unravels and where it leads you. Finding more questions is often more powerful than stopping at easy answers.

leadership dot #2492: motion or action

One more concept that I loved from Atomic Habits by James Clear: the difference between being in motion and taking action. Being in motion suggests that you are doing something, but what you are doing is planning or preparing or thinking about what needs to be done. Taking action is the behavior that actually produces an outcome.

If I read Marie Kondo’s book about tidying up, that’s motion. If I actually take everything out of my closet and purge things, that’s action. If I determine the topics for all the dots I will write next week, that’s motion but it’s not action until I actually sit down at the computer and compose them.

We have all personally been guilty of being in motion while giving ourselves credit for being in action, and organizations are even more culpable. They create committees, task forces, project teams and a host of motion-inducing tactics to appear that something is being accomplished without any viable outcomes to show for it.

Clear suggests that motion allows us to feel like we’re making progress without running the risk of failure. If we don’t actually take action and try something or put a product out there into the world, we avoid any criticism or chance that it will be less than the perfection we are planning. But for results to occur, we must put in the work.

Where are you fooling yourself – thinking that you’re taking action but really you’re just in motion? Stop the ruse today and get in action on what matters to you or your organization.

Atomic Habits by James Clear, 2018

leadership dot #2491: atomic habits

In the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, he writes that to change a habit you must first change your identity and frame your habits in light of the person you wish to become. For example, if you wish to quit smoking, instead of saying “No thanks. I’m trying to quit.”, Clear recommends saying “No thanks. I’m not a smoker.”

When declaring a new identity, all of our habits and behaviors serve to “cast a vote” to either confirm or counteract that identity. If we claim an identity of being healthy (rather than losing weight), each time we make a healthy food choice or walk by the treats in the break room we’re casting a vote to show that we are healthy. The positive actions compound to become a habit that solidifies the identity we have chosen.

Clear writes that, as in election, you don’t need to be perfect or to accumulate all the votes to win, you just need a majority. If you do something counter to your identity, you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it, rather just change your behavior to cast more votes in the other direction.

Think about the identity that you wish to become and claim that persona for yourself. Are you an artist? An entrepreneur? A fit person? A life-long learner? A writer? Own the vision of your future self and start casting votes today to help you achieve long-term victory.

Source: Atomic Habits by James Clear, 2018

leadership dot #2490: investment

Two of our most valuable resources are time and money.

A quick way to assess how someone approaches their life is by paying attention to the words they use to describe these two measures. Do they “spend” their time or do they “invest” it in something that will have a long-term impact? Do they “spend” their money or “invest” it in something that will pay dividends back to them later?

Time is finite, and for most of us, money is too. The next time you’re tempted to waste time or money, pause to consider how you might act instead. Your life will be much fuller if you invest these riches in ways that benefit you beyond the moment.

What does that investment look like for you?


leadership dot #2482: inspired

I have needle phobia – can’t look at them in person or even watch someone receive a shot on film…

yet over the weekend, I donated my 100th pint of blood.

I think this is an analogy of how powerful a compelling purpose can be for an individual or an organization. I am aware there is a great need for blood, and I believe in the life-saving treatment that donations provide. So, I sit strategically facing away from other donors, bring a book to divert my attention away from my own arm and in general avoid even thinking about what I am doing – and have kept doing it every eight weeks for almost two decades.

If people buy into the aspiration, they can overcome all kinds of barriers to achieve it. Focus on the inspiration and the logistics will often take care of themselves.