leadership dot #2390: throwback

While going through old family slides, I found this picture from New Year’s Eve 1969. It was a party that my parents attended, and I’m sure that like those in this photo, my mom wore a dress with nylons and heels and dad wore a suit and tie – to play silly games at someone’s home.

There was no technology involved or big money spent going out for a night “on the town.” All that was necessary was a group of good friends, a few straws and marshmallows and a lot of laughter.

This New Year’s Eve, think about how you want to celebrate. Maybe a throwback party where you make your own fun is the best way to ring in 2019.

 

leadership dot #2380: can’t wait

There was a video circulating on social media showing a child opening “the only present he wanted for Christmas.” My heart sank as I wondered why the gift wasn’t saved to create a joyous Christmas morning when the surprise and wonder could await under the tree.

It used to be that Christmas presents weren’t opened until December 25 and the clearance sales began on December 26. There were many years that we set out in Black-Friday-Style shopping mode on the day after Christmas to capitalize on the half-price decorations or cards, but now items are at that price a full week before the holiday and gifts are given early as well.

What happened to the value of waiting?

Convenience has stripped a generation of its ability to be patient. No one wants to wait for anything anymore and I fear that the accelerated timetable of just about everything condenses the emotion and obliterates the joy that comes when anticipation is fulfilled. We want everything now and have lost the ability to defer gratification and come to a crescendo.

As you ponder your New Year’s Resolutions, consider including “waiting” on your list. Waiting to speak up so you truly listen to what others say. Waiting before jumping in to fix a problem before someone has the opportunity to problem solve for themselves. Waiting to eat that cookie after dinner until you determine you are truly still hungry. Waiting to spend money until you see if the impulse passes.

Ignore all the impulses of this season and get great at the wait. Patience is a gift that keeps giving.

leadership dot #2354: potato

It used to be that people were admonished for being a “couch potato” – someone who sat around on their couch watching television. In today’s world, I think that could be changed to “chair potato” as a moniker to describe someone who sits in their chair for hours playing computer games.

In order to provide the best angle and competitive advantage, stores now sell specialized gaming chairs. Gone are the days of sitting in a beanbag or just laying down on the floor, now there must be a custom piece of equipment for play.

I can see why “sitting is the new smoking.” It goes far beyond the office worker at their computer all day and begins with kids now sitting in their fancy chairs instead of playing kickball in the street or shooting hoops in the driveway.

There were enough potatoes as part of the Thanksgiving feast. Get outside and leave the chair behind for today!

leadership dot #2333: if the shoe fits

Have you noticed the growing number of options in men’s shoes? It used to be dress shoes or athletic shoes, with few categories in between, but now men’s casual shoes have taken on a life of their own. There are full-page ads in many magazines that highlight the multitude of colors and patterns in the new styles.

The introduction of variety in male shoe styles has opened up a new market, not just for shoes, but it has expanded the casual fashion category. Relaxed dress codes can now be expressed with relaxed shoe options to make a suit seem less formal or jeans to become more so.

Women have always known that the right shoe can make or break an outfit, thus the accumulation of “so many” pairs. I predict that men will soon be needing more space in their closets if the adaptation of colors catches on.

Think of whether the implications of this should cause you to change your steps. Do you need to be more clear on attire expectations at work or events? Can you capitalize on the trend and provide storage options or spirit-themed shoes in team colors? Will we see a resurgence in the shoe shine stations beyond airports?

Colorful, patterned, casual shoes are one more way people can express their personality. Look for men’s shoes to start to do more talking, not just walking.

leadership dot #2283: prize

In its literal form, “crackerjack” means exceptionally good, but most people think of the snack product when they hear that term. I wanted some Cracker Jack for a baseball-themed meeting and had to resort to ordering it online since I could not find it in a store. Cracker Jack – a staple of every Christmas stocking, camping trip and of course baseball game of my childhood, has become very difficult to find.

It may not be prevalent in stores, but it’s still available, as it has been since 1896. Some consider it to be the original junk food! What has kept Cracker Jack around this long, in my opinion, is the famous line in the “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” song that first came out in 1908. For over a decade, this immortal tune has kept Cracker Jack in the public consciousness.

When I was a frequent consumer, Cracker Jack consisted of “candy-coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize” (sung to a catchy jingle), but today it is caramel-coated popcorn and a download to a free game. Since 2016, there has been no prize inside. Maybe it isn’t nostalgia or its links to baseball that have created its longevity, rather a willingness to evolve with the times.

A plastic ring used to be coveted, but now would be tossed aside as trivial. Better to engage consumers with a link to a digital experience and foster ongoing engagement with the brand. So today, after finishing your snack, you can “blipp a surprise” and play any of several augmented reality games that appear in the app after you scan the Cracker Jack icon.

How can you take a lesson from Cracker Jack and keep your eye on the real prize? Their aim is 120 more years of making popcorn snacks, not of distributing plastic tokens. You can let go of anything, even something as integral to your product as the “prize inside.” Don’t let the past prevent you from having a future.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cracker_Jack

leadership dot #2269: unbox

As a prize for winning a golf tournament, a local teen received a Wheaties box with his picture on the front. “Back in the day”, having your picture on that box of cereal was just about the ultimate recognition in sports. It was reserved for Olympians, MVPs and All-Stars. It meant something.

But that was in an era before everyone had computers with desktop publishing software. It was time-consuming and expensive to do a mock-up so it was even hard to imagine what your image would look like under the famous Wheaties logo. Today amateurs can put their picture on cereal boxes, magazine covers and movie posters with a green screen or a click of a few computer keys. It takes something away from the specialness of it all.

Take a look at your recognition programs. Are you still offering something that had great meaning at one point but has lost its luster now? Does your demographic truly value the prize that you are providing? It might be time to think outside the box for your rewards.

leadership dot #2207: develop

It used to be that there was a photo developer on every corner. Drug stores, department stores, drive up kiosks, separate one-hour photo stores – everyone had a substantial amount of space and equipment dedicated to processing pictures.

And then came the camera phone and sharing took place digitally instead of through print. Approximately 52 million photos are uploaded onto Instagram each day, and none of them need a developer for processing.

Some stores still offer photo developing, but I wonder how long they will continue to utilize prime retail space for such functions. Target, for example, has a large photo center in the front of one of its stores – it was virtually empty while I was waiting to meet someone. It seems that they could be more profitable by offering other goods or services instead of having a large, unused area showing signs of entropy. While I am sure these centers were quite profitable in their day, I believe their time has come to an end for most retailers.

Think of whether you have services in your organization that are past their prime and should be reimagined – in other words, how to capitalize on the growth in picture taking while acknowledging the decline in photo developing.

Are you dedicating space and assets toward something that once provided you with benefits but no longer does? Maybe it’s time to develop a new plan about how you picture your future.