Friday, January 31, 2014

#609 meow meow

Yesterday I wrote about the $100 million advertising budget to turn Halo oranges into a brand.  I have to admire the singular approach and focus on one product.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is the recent marketing of Hello Kitty.  The company in charge of this brand seems to believe that if they slap the logo on a product it will sell.  There have been entire displays of Hello Kitty items, targeted as much at adults as kids:  fans, duct tape, gumball machines, hair straightening irons, Snuggies, eyeglasses and hooks to name just a few of the hundreds of things out there.

It used to be that if I saw something featuring Hello Kitty I would buy it for my sister.  Now I am overwhelmed by the volume of merchandise featuring that logo.  I think they have gone too far.  There is a fine distinction between abundance and saturation, and Miss Kitty has her paws over the line.

Are you guilty of trying to exploit a good thing?  If you have a successful program or product, do you focus on it (like Halo oranges) or go overboard with exposure (like Hello Kitty)?  In many cases, less is more.  Don't overexpose your clientele to such a point that they ignore you instead of being delighted by your presence.

-- beth triplett


Thursday, January 30, 2014

#608 orange

I recently read an article in Fortune that Roll-Global, the company that owns POM and Fiji Water, is now looking to market mandarin oranges under the Halo brand.  So far, they have invested $220 million in a packaging facility and another $100 million in an ad campaign.  If the strategy they used with POM pomegranates is any indication, we'll be seeing Halos and the little oranges everywhere in the near future.  

I wonder what possesses someone to have the vision to brand an obscure type of produce. The plant can box 19 million mandarins, each day!  Is there really that much demand out there for tiny oranges?  The investors obviously think so.  The goal for Roll-Global is to "transform a piece of fruit from a commodity to a premium brand."  

I am reminded of a training exercise I do where I hand participants (ironically) an orange.  At first glance, all the oranges look alike, but the attendees need to write a story about their orange and share it with the others.  Some create a tale about how the orange received its dimple or spot.  Others give super powers to the coloring on the orange peel.  By the time the exercise is over, most people could match the specific orange to its owner.

Think about your organization in the context of oranges.  Whether it be on a multi-million dollar scale like Roll-Global or in a modest way like my basket of oranges at a workshop, the objective is to give the oranges a brand.  How can you tell the story of your organization to set it apart from others that are seemingly like you at first glance?

-- beth triplett

Source:  The Big Rollout by Anne Vandermey, Fortune, February 3, 2014, p. 12

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

#607 organizational winter

Last week, the schools in Houston were closed because it was 28 degrees and snow was forecast.  That story made the rounds at work, since in Iowa it was -1 degrees, with feet of snow on the ground, and, of course, we were having business as usual.

I think about the infrastructure that we have in Iowa to basically allow us to persevere through these harsh Midwest winters.  Individuals, businesses and communities own the tools, equipment and clothes to deal with the snow and move on.  People own four-wheel drive vehicles or put Blizzak tires on their cars.  Cities own salt trucks and it seems that every pickup truck in the city has a plow to clean the parking lots of area businesses.  Most people don't like the winter, but they have the capacity to deal with it and move on.

Cities like Houston, or even as far north as St. Louis, have minimal equipment and are paralyzed with much less snow or frigid air.

In your organizational world, what is the equivalent of five inches of snow?  Do you have contingency plans, equipment and infrastructure to allow you to continue operating when "winter" hits?  Or maybe you are in a zone where "snow" occurs with such infrequency that you have chosen to accept the consequences rather than prepare for a rare event.

Maybe "five inches of snow" for you is a deadline, when you know you need extra staff and computing capacity to handle the excessive loads.  Maybe your "winter" is a home sporting event, where tourism demands and parking issues double when the team is in town.  Maybe you need to be prepared for when new technology changes are rolled out and everything must be updated.

Everyone is assessing their risks and taking action accordingly.  Iowa is betting that their investment in multiple plows and mountains of salt will be a wise use of community resources; Houston is prepared to cancel school and lose some productivity if the temperature makes an extraordinary dip.  

Think about the threats you face and evaluate the cost of being prepared -- or not.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

#606 integrity

I saw the movie Saving Mr. Banks over the weekend -- a mostly true account of Walt Disney's attempts to gain the rights to produce Mary Poppins from author P. L. Travers -- a task that took him nearly 20 years.

Disney is quoted as saying that he remained persistent with the curmudgeonly woman because he made a promise to his daughters to make their beloved Mary Poppins character into a movie -- and a promise is something that he "never ever" breaks.

Most people don't go to the lengths that Disney did to honor their word.  Many do not even fulfill their promises for simple tasks in the short term.  I have been listening to Fred Kaufman's Conscious Business, a course about consciously creating integrity between what you say and what you do.

Take a lesson from Kaufman and Disney and be more intentional about honoring your word.  If you say you will send some information to a colleague by the end of the day, make every attempt to do it.  If you say you will call, be sure to pick up the phone.  If you promise yourself that you will go to the gym after work, mean what you say.

And if you say you will do something that doesn't work out as planned and takes a decade or two to fulfill, don't give up easily.  It's not just Mr. Banks that was saved by Disney's persistence; it was Walt's integrity with his daughters.

-- beth triplett

Monday, January 27, 2014

#605 in volleyball and in life

Our new volleyball coach was quoted in an article about the new system of play that he has instituted for the men on his team.  "We talk a lot about how discipline is freedom," he said.  "Because we remained so disciplined in our system, we had the freedom to make good choices and create lots of scoring opportunities."

Think about how discipline is freedom in many other settings.

If you have the discipline to regularly eat healthy and routinely work out, you have the freedom to indulge on a treat without guilt.

If you have the discipline to write your week of blogs in advance, you have the freedom to go to a basketball game without worrying about how you are going to fit in an entry.

If you have the discipline to save on a continual basis, you have the freedom to make choices about where you live and work.

If you have the discipline to analyze your data, even when you are ahead, you have the freedom to experiment and learn new things.

Discipline is freedom in so many ways.  In what one area do you need to increase your discipline to provide you with more opportunities in the future?

-- beth triplett

Quote by Dan Mathews in article Men's volleyball squad takes pair at Park Tournament by Tyler Oehmen posted online January 18, 2014.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

#604 banding together

I learn a lot of new things in my staff meeting "nuggets" including having a window into some of the latest trends.  I learned about 3D printing in this forum, but last week I saw a glimpse into the hot new product of Rainbow Loom.

For those of you not exposed to anyone under age 16, it is quite fashionable to make bracelets out of multi-colored rubber bands.  (Note: the bands are also glow-in-the-dark, neon, glitter, etc. -- not just any color.)  Kids are buying the kits and bands like crazy and spending hours making "jewelry" or following intricate directions to create patterns.

Unlike the previous fad of Silly Bands, Rainbow Loom actually seems to be welcomed at school and in daycare (presumably because it mesmerizes young ones as they are deep in concentration!).  

Maybe you should consider bringing a Rainbow Loom to your next staff meeting so that your team can gain these lessons from its use:

> Persistence: you need practice to get the hang of it!
> Patience:  especially if you move beyond the elementary styles
> Following direction:  who doesn't want their staff to have some of this?
> Visualization: taking an idea into implementation
> Creativity: the combinations are endless!
> Building self-esteem: after you practice patience and get good at it!
> Working together: a perfect team-building option

All the lessons you teach your staff don't have to be lofty!  Take advantage of a fun new trend and let Rainbow Loom serve as a training exercise for you.

-- beth triplett

Source:  Why Rainbow Loom Can Be Good for Kids' Development by Katherine Lee
Thanks to Amy and Leah for introducing this to us

Saturday, January 25, 2014

#603 best day

There is a catchy song out with the line "This is gonna be the best day of my life."  I wonder what that would look like.

I tried to think of what I would identify as the best day of my life so far.  I was stumped.  Should it be the day that had the biggest consequences (e.g.: I started college) even though that first day itself was pretty scary?  Should it be the day where something was completed (e.g.: I got my doctorate) even though sitting through another graduation ceremony probably wasn't the most fun I've ever had?  Should it be a day of leisure (e.g.: on vacation in Punta Cana) or a day of exhilaration at work (e.g. passage of the strategic plan)?  

I was reminded of a quote I have seen on cards:  "We don't remember days, we remember moments."  How true that is for me.

So even though I am tempted to sing along with American Authors and have hope that today is gonna be the best day, I think I will settle for creating some great moments.  How about you -- can you create one of your best moments today?

-- beth triplett

Friday, January 24, 2014

#602 sandwiched

Last week I facilitated a workshop about effective leadership.  One of the comments I shared was a concept from Warren Bennis that often people are leaders in one situation, but not in another.   For example, you may not be a leader at work, but be president of your neighborhood association, or you may be a supervisor in the office but a concession volunteer for your booster club.  

I think this goes beyond holding a leadership position or not.  I may serve in a leadership role for one item at a meeting, and someone else may act in that capacity for another topic.  I am no less of a leader in scenario two, but I may exercise my leadership traits by comments I make or conclusions that I draw rather than in how I present the material.

Leadership happens in the middle, not at the top.  Almost everyone has someone above them.  Vice presidents have presidents.  Presidents have boards.  Boards have shareholders and government officials.  And so on.

Don't worry about where you fall in the hierarchy.  Act like an Oreo -- with the good stuff in the middle -- and lead from where you are.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, January 23, 2014

#601 dimensional

It seems that buzz about 3D printing is everywhere.  In the last month, I have seen articles touting the process to make bionic ears, prosthetic hands, plastic guns, discontinued parts for classic cars, jewelry and even wedding cakes.

Apparently we are on the brink of a 3D revolution.  While Santa didn't deliver too many of the $1,000+ printers this year, but by next year it is forecast that the sleigh will be overflowing with them.  

I had a hard time getting my arms around this process.  "Printing" sounds so two-dimensional, and an image of paper pops into my head, when in reality multiple materials can be used to create the object in 3D.  (I think of the wax animals that were formed by a monstrous machine at the zoo when I was a kid.)  Now the material may be plastics, wax, rubber, or even sugar to make confectionery treats.

There are some obvious uses for this technology -- architects making 3D models of buildings and floor plans; engineers making prototypes and parts, or artists using it to bring dimension to their creations.  

But how can you go beyond this and deploy 3D printing for your organization?  Creating personalized giveaway products on site for visitors or trade show participants?  Crafting a fresh toy to be printed out for each sick child that comes into a doctor's waiting room (so the germs are not spread)?  Making a new cup or plate for patrons at a restaurant?  Utilizing 3D to bring chemistry to life in a classroom?  

Ready or not, accessible 3D is coming.  Think now of how you can effectively capitalize on the extra dimension of benefits.

-- beth triplett


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

#600 one

Just as less is more with ingredients in Cheerios, it appears that less is more in print as well.  The best selling cereal in the United States has adopted a new strategy when it comes to the design of its boxes.  

The latest versions are beautiful examples of being clear about your brand.  Instead of filling every square inch of space with copy, the new boxes communicate one simple message:


Their tagline:  The One and Only.  Can you learn a lesson from Cheerios and boil your message down to a single word to communicate the essence of your message?

--- beth triplett

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

#599 duped

A few weeks ago, Menards, our regional hardware chain, ran a store-wide sale offering an 11% discount.  I went and bought a few things because of the sale.

The next week, the sale was "extended" -- obviously planned in advance given the advertising and print support of the offer.  I was lured to the store yet again.  I even made a special trip on the last night of the sale so a friend could purchase a large gift card (also discounted).

When the sale was extended once again for week #3, I shook my head.  

But today, I feel like I have been had.  Instead of an extension for week #4, now Menards is offering a 14% discount on everything.  Grr.  After all the purchases and all the hype over the 11% extravaganza, they increase the deal.  Instead of rewarding the customers who came to one of the first three sales, now they are giving the best deal to the latecomers.

Does your organization have practices that actually dis-incentivize those whom you are trying to please?  Think about your perks or special offers and take care that in the quest to get "more" participants you don't irritate those who respond to your initial invitation.

-- beth triplett

Monday, January 20, 2014

#598 why

In Simon Sinek's TED talk entitled "How Great Leaders Inspire Action", he references the man whose birthday we commemorate today.  "Why is it that Martin Luther King led the civil rights movement?," Sinek asks.  "He wasn't the only man who suffered in a pre-Civil Rights America, and he certainly wasn't the only great orator of the day."

Sinek's answer: because Martin Luther King, like other great leaders, was able to inspire others because his message focused on the WHY of his cause instead of the WHAT or HOW.  King became an inspirational leader because he thought, acted and communicated from the inside out (starting with why) instead of focusing on the how or what.

Sinek believes that people will follow people who believe what you believe.  King was masterful at sharing what he believed and focusing his efforts on the purpose of the cause. He focused on what could be, not what needed to change, and it resonated with hundreds of thousands of others who made his cause their own.

Dr. King gave the "I Have a Dream speech, not the I Have a Plan speech," notes Sinek -- a perfect way of delineating the difference in approach.

On this holiday, take a lesson from both Dr. King and Simon Sinek.  Spend 20 minutes watching Sinek's TED talk and then reflect on how you can articulate the purpose of what you're about and the meaning of the cause that earns your energy.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, January 19, 2014

#597 your part

The only way to change our world is to take responsibility for our part in it.  -- Rachel Bermingham

Think about the applications for this -- from recycling to the work you do to how you interact with your family.  What is your part in the greater whole?  

It reminds me of Stephen Covey's Circle of Influence -- focusing on the portion of things that you can influence, rather than airing your concerns.  If everyone paid attention and took ownership for the part of life that they touched, think of what a better place it could be.

Even if just for today, do your part in making the planet better because you accepted responsibility for your time on it.

-- beth triplett

Source:  quote from the LeaderShape daily subscription, Thursday, January 16, 2014.  Thanks Amy for sharing!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

#596 repackaging

Whether or not you have seen Despicable Me, you likely know of the Minions -- the cute little characters that are really the star of the show.

A genius at Hostess saw the world through new eyes and recognized that the Twinkies looked amazingly similar to the Minons.  Thus, the "Twinkie Makeover" was born and just through new packaging (no alteration to the Twinkie itself), a whole new marketing campaign blossomed.  What a great way to capitalize on the latest trend for reasonably little cost.

Is there something in your organization that could be altered to make it more contemporary or appealing?  Can you link something you do to a current social cause or trend?  You don't need a wholesale overhaul of your product, just a more intentional way to package it or position it linked to something of current interest.  Look around and see what opportunities are out there for you.

-- beth triplett

Friday, January 17, 2014

#595 tribute

It seems to me that the flags are flown at half-mast much more frequently than in previous years.  It used to be that you knew why the flag was lowered (presidential death, 9/11, etc.), but more often than not I see a half-staff flag and what what is being commemorated.  

Flags in Iowa have been at half-mast not only for the national tributes in memory of Pearl Harbor, Nelson Mandela and the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's death, but for Iowans who were killed in Afghanistan, the passing of a State Senator and the death of a fire-fighter in the line of duty.   In addition to the Federal mandates, Iowa lowered its flag an additional eight times last year, so approximately once a month.  Does this frequency lower the significance of it?

I also wondered how the flag-flyers know to lower the flag.  It turns out that those notifications, like everything else, can be found through an app or through a Facebook and Twitter site.  (Of course!)  But if you don't subscribe, it seems like there should be another way for the casual observer to know the reason for the tribute.

Is there a ritual in your organization that is known to you, but could benefit from wider understanding?  If it is worthy of paying tribute, could you do more to share the reasons behind it? 

The next time you see a flag lowered, take a moment to pause in remembrance.  Even if you don't know why it is at half-staff, you can be assured that someone has made a huge sacrifice or contribution for it to be that way.

-- beth triplett



Thursday, January 16, 2014

#594 questions

As our consultant was leaving, he told me how much he enjoys working with my staff.  "They are so comfortable with each other," he said.  "And so they help each other understand the questions."  

His comment and our sessions reminded me of an article* I read this summer about analytical thinking vs. innovative thinking.  Claude Legrand believes for complex problems innovative thinking is required, a strategy that challenges the very definition of the problem itself.

Some examples of the difference between Analytical Thinking and Innovative Thinking:
> Analytical focuses on the right answer -- Innovative focuses on the right question
> Analytical eliminates uncertainties -- Innovative embraces uncertainties
> Analytical believes the boss knows best -- Innovative finds people who have parts of the question and parts of the answer
> Analytical promotes one best way -- Innovative has no presumed best way
> Analytical has a to-do list -- Innovative has a priorities list

What can you do to create an environment where innovative thinking is allowed to flourish?  How can you model the engagement of others and embrace the ambiguity that comes with difficult issues?  The answer may lie in the questions you ask.

While it is tempting to do things in isolation and check things off the list, in the long run it's worth the time to involve others in first determining what question you are trying to answer.

-- beth triplett

*Source:  Does our brain operating system need an upgrade? by Claude Legrand at
As quoted in Bright ideas by Ann Pace, T&D journal, April 2013 p. 42+

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

#593 debate

Our consultant was in town again (my, how fast the last quarter flew!).  As always, we spent a day crunching numbers, uncovering problems, brainstorming solutions and generating options of proactive strategies we could use to bolster our enrollment.

A lot of the conversations revolve around a debate between what is good in the short term vs. what is better in the long run.  Examples:

> We have seen inquiries from a new area, but they haven't resulted in more applications (aka: sales) -- yet.  Do we try to cultivate interest from this market or dump it because it isn't producing revenue?

> How much latitude do I give my staff in determining how to manage their own territory?  Our consultant thinks I should step in and give more orders or do reassignments -- because the aim is to get the job done.  I tend to allow my staff more autonomy in their work -- but should I?  Does the long term benefit of staff development outweigh the short term increase in results that we could possibly see from some changes?

> Our price point is always a point of contention.  When is it better to forgo some short term revenue for long term gain?

For these, and most questions, there are no clear cut answers.  I think the best balance of addressing long and short term needs is to engage others in the conversation about them.  If you are the one that ultimately makes the decision, you will benefit from opposing counsel and the choice will likely be more accepted if it is understood by others.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

#592 disconnect

Recently* I wrote about the slow clerk at the car wash who impacted the whole system.  A similar thing happened on a more elaborate scale with on-line shopping and delivery over the holiday season.

Eager retailers welcomed last minute orders, but failed to coordinate with the infrastructure that was supposed to deliver the packages.  In the third week in December alone, more than one million people signed up for Amazon Prime, placing additional demand on air shipping and two-day delivery expectations.   As a result, both UPS and FedEx had overloaded systems, aggravated by bad weather across the country.  For many people, the holiday came and went before the trucks did.

You are more likely to fault the company for not delivering than UPS, so the disconnect between operations and marketing will likely have a more negative impact on the the company than the shipper.  Of course this isn't good for anyone.

In your organization, take a lesson from this holiday and pay extra attention to the supply chain.  A sale or a great idea is only a concept unless you can actually deliver it to your clients.

-- beth triplett

*Blog #581, January 3, 2014

Source:  Online shopping grows, with growing pains by Mae Anderson and Scott Mayerowitz Associated Press, in the Telegraph Herald, December 27, 2013,p. 1-2A
and Santa's sleigh delayed by snags at UPS, FedEx by the Associated Press in the Telegraph Herald, December 26, 2013 p. 6A

Monday, January 13, 2014

#591 you've got mail

Barely an hour passes when my inbox at work doesn't receive a message from a vendor promising me the magic elixir to enrollment growth.  Most of them come with enticing subject lines such as these actual samples:
> Increase your applicant pool
> Get the class you want
> Reduce your discount rate
> Improve your yield
> Best practices for improving enrollments
> Search trends you need to know
> GRE test takers ready to hear from you
> Gain valuable insight
> Contacts to meet your needs

I am sure every industry has a similar lineup.

The problem is that there is no silver bullet to grow enrollment.  It involves a lot of intentionality and grunt work over time.

What these email do deliver, however, is that they help model the inbox of the prospective students that we are trying to reach.  We learn firsthand what it's like to be bombarded with messages and see how few we actually even open.  To the prospective student, the mail from our university is akin to how I feel about mail from these vendors.  

What can you to do make your message relevant instead of annoying?

-- beth triplett

Sunday, January 12, 2014

#590 brown chip

Yesterday I wrote about all the variety in our lives -- today I will counter that argument.  

Chocolate chip cookies, one of the most traditional desserts out there, make up half of all the cookies baked in American households each year.  So much for experimentation and assortment!

And it's not just that we love the cookies from home.  Each year, Americans eat an estimated seven billion of the beloved chocolate chip classics.  Have you ever noticed how people often pass by an unknown (but elaborate and delicious) dessert on the pot luck line in favor of old trusty Toll Houses?  

The lesson for your organization is that you don't have to have a gimmick, something new or be fancy -- if you have the right quality mix to begin with.  

Know who you are serving and what they need.  Maybe it's the comfort of the familiar, delivered well.

-- beth triplett

Source:  In Style, February 2014, p. 246

Saturday, January 11, 2014

#589 plain

My sister has a mantra "Why be plain?" and it seems that the retail industry has embraced it too.  

Why have a plain black crock pot when you can have one with a multi-colored pattern?  Why have just silver duct tape when it can come in dozens of colors and themes?  Why have lint rollers that are white when you can have ones with pink geometric shapes or purple animal prints?  Why have solid colored diapers when you can have tie-dyed ones or patterns?  Why just a flesh-colored bandage when you can have super heroes or neon?

The list goes on and on.  Once you are attuned to this phenomenon, you'll see the world in different ways.  You may relish the options and color that the anti-plain movement has ushered into our lives.  Or you may lament the overwhelming number of choices it requires, as well as the space it requires to stock them.

Pay attention to the number of things that now come in a "variety" or with a flourish were previously there was only one.  Henry Ford said that his car came in any color you wanted, as long as it was black.  He must be rolling over in his grave.

All this vibrancy has a cost.  Make your foray into the "why be plain" universe with intentionality.  If your message is powerful, may work just as well in a plain white envelope.

-- beth triplett

Friday, January 10, 2014

#588 the intersection

I just received a letter in the mail notifying me that my credit card was one of the ones that was breached in the Target debacle.  I knew that I had shopped at Target during the affected period, but it seemed hypothetical when I heard it on the news.  When I read the letter from the bank, suddenly the general interest news story that was out there hit home and became personal to me.  

I was reminded of a quote from master teacher Parker Palmer that we often referenced in my student affairs days: our work was "the intersection of the big picture and the little story." One of the roles of a teacher is to connect the news of the world to something that students can relate to.  Student life lectures and educational programming attempts to do the same thing.

Poverty seems theoretical until students actually serve homeless people at the soup kitchen or in Ecuador.  The war seems remote until a classmate's brother is killed in action.  Bullying is something that happens elsewhere until you hear a first-hand account of the impact it had on someone's life.  AIDS was a California disease until the AIDS Quilt gave a personality and humanness to hundreds of its victims and took it on tour across the country.  My dad ignored the perils of smoking until he had a piece cut out of his lung.  

All of us in some way are teachers.  Think about Parker Palmer's wisdom when you are trying to help those in your organization understand change efforts or your children to understand why philanthropy is a good thing.  We need to connect the implications to the actual and make it personal if we want behavior or thought to be impacted.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, January 9, 2014

#587 your turn

If you actually go to and view these blog entries on a computer, it has a very different appearance than what you see if the blogs are emailed to you.  I, myself, never read them on the web and more often than not review them via email on my phone.  I suspect that I am not alone.

One of the most fascinating things to me about writing this blog is the number of comments that I have received, via email, from friends and colleagues.  Seems like something resonates with someone almost every day (which is great.)  

If you read on the actual site, it is very easy for you to make comments and send them.  
This is not the case if you are an email subscriber.  And if you are a friend, you know my email address so it is easy to comment as well.

So, in the spirit of good customer service, I am now including an email address with entries so you can share your reactions/ideas/input with me regardless of how you read these.  I would love to hear how you connect these dots to dots in your own life to and if any of the blogs have triggered new thoughts for you and your work.  

I've been writing for over a year.  Now it's your turn!

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

#586 bright

We had a mid (academic) year division-wide gathering yesterday to help us refocus before starting a new semester.  One of the concepts that I shared was from Chip and Dan Heath's book Switch.  

The Heath's advocate for a practice of cloning "bright spots" in your work.  Just as Tom Rath's Strengths Finder encourages people (and managers) to focus on the positives of performance, Switch follows the same principle for accomplishing goals and tasks.

They relate a stories about people who wanted to change their behaviors and instead of focusing on what was wrong, they tried to do more of what was right.  A dissertation student who wrote a lot on some days tried to figure out what made those days better and replicate it.  A relief worker saw that some babies were healthy instead of malnourished and tried to learn what the mothers of those children were doing differently.  A hospital administrator inspired his staff to do the small things that kept patients healthy.

We tried to develop examples of bright spots in our own work.  One person is an Excel expert -- how can her knowledge be tapped to help others?  We have made great strides in infusing our school colors throughout campus -- how can we replicate this in future design projects?  We have great communication throughout the division -- how can that story be told and promoted as an advantage for families?  We have a front line employee that develops great rapport with students -- how can she aid in retention and rumor control efforts?

Think about your own work and the goals that you are trying to achieve.  What are some bright spots that you can replicate to help advance your aim vs. struggling to try and overcome the negatives.  Let your sun shine more brightly instead!

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

#585 Likeable Me

I watched both of the Despicable Me movies again over the weekend, and by seeing them in such close proximity it was easier to notice the differences between them.  

Two key distinctions:
1) The Minions have a much more prominent role in DM2, and are even the solo stars of three mini-movies that are included as bonus features.  They have a fairly minor role in the original film, and it seems to have been a surprise to the producers that they would be so popular. 

2) In the second film, there really is nothing despicable about Gru.  The title implies that the villainous nature of the main character is the central theme, but in addition to his role as a doting dad, Gru actually works for the Anti-Villain League in the second feature.

The producers showed great flexibility and adaptability as they prepared the sequel.  Had they insisted on leaving Gru as the only star or focusing on his despicable ways, they may not have had such a mega hit in Round 2.  They also seemed to have learned more about merchandising -- as DM2 was featured in many point-of-purchase displays and had prominent advertising for the holiday push.

Whatever your venture -- be in Hollywood films or something more down to earth, you'll come out ahead if you remain open to new ideas and modified strategies.  There's nothing despicable about grossing $961 million (just in the theatre!) on a $76 million production!!

-- beth triplett


Monday, January 6, 2014

#584 Ion

Our campus is closed today so that employees may take shelter from the Arctic blast of air that it is delivering to the Midwest.  It's a first in anyone's memory that we closed due to temperature instead of snowfall (that just happened a few weeks ago.)

It's not just a cold spell; this is Winter Storm Ion -- so named by The Weather Channel as part of their new strategy to name "strong winter storms".  The naming began last year as a way to "efficiently and systematically convey storm information" -- specifically in the social media realm.  The use of #Ion allows for a quick way to share information.  As if we needed a name to say #-50windchill!  But last year's Winter Storm Nemo received a billion-plus Twitter impressions, so people seem to like to share about these things.

Most of the names for the 2013-14 winter season are from Greek mythology or ancient Rome -- which makes sense since the list was developed with the help of a Latin class at Bozeman High School in Bozeman, MT.  What a fun assignment -- I'll bet the kid that came up with Ion is enjoying the day off even more!

Two takeaways for you to think about as you try to stay warm today:
> How can you modify your practices to meet the demands of social media or other communication channels?
> In what ways can you partner with unlikely suspects and allow others to help you in ways that also benefit them?

Hopefully the names of Janus, Kronos, Leon, Maximus, Nika, Orion, Pax, Quintus, Rex, Seneca, Titan, Ulysses, Vulcan, Wiley, Xenia, Yona and Zephyr will go unused!

-- beth triplett

Source:  Winter Storm Names 2013-14:  What They Are and What They Mean, published October 2, 2013