Friday, February 28, 2014

#637 overcoming hurdles

What can you do with a degree in economics and a minor in Spanish?  Apparently compete in the Olympics! 

That is what Lolo Jones has done with her degree, and not just once, but twice. Jones is one of the few athletes who competed in both Winter and Summer Olympics -- hurdles in London and now the bobsled in Sochi.

In Sochi, there were only 2850 athletes participating.  In London, there were approximately 10,500.  Think about what it takes to be among the best in the world at one sport, let alone two distinctly different ones.

We put so much pressure on young people to select a major in college, yet except for a few specialized professions, the specific degree doesn't matter so much. The collegiate educational experience has value because it teaches students persistence, tenacity, critical thinking, time management, prioritization, group dynamics and a host of other skills beyond the facts.  Often, it also helps people find their passion -- or passions -- and gives them the drive to pursue them.  

Kudos to Lolo for getting the degree and the Olympic rings.  Think about her when you don't believe you have the time to go to the gym!

-- beth triplett

Thursday, February 27, 2014

#636 balls and bulls

One of our sociology professors shared information about a study that sung the praises of female athletes and those in FHA or 4-H type organizations.  What do these two groups of students have in common?  

The research suggests that people involved in these pursuits have high levels of internal motivation and need very little external praise.  They put in tremendous amounts of work in pursuit of their goals, yet rarely have an audience to see the results of their efforts.  Few people attend women's sporting events or agricultural judging, so those involved do most of the work for their own satisfaction and pleasure. 

Our professor suggested that if we had candidates with women's sports or 4-H as a background, they should be given serious consideration for employment, especially in jobs  that involve a lot of independent time and self-motivation (like admissions counselor).

Since hiring the right people is so important to an organization, maybe this variable can help you find your next blue ribbon employee.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

#635 just in case

I was at a gathering yesterday with several baseball coaches and former players.  The conversation turned to superstitions and the quirky things they did in conjunction with the game.  One pays attention to the color ink in the pen he uses to fill out the lineup card.  Another wore a cut-off sock on his pitching arm.  One spits into his glove after every pitch.  They knew of players who wore the same socks all season (without washing them!).  And on it went.  It seemed that everyone did something on the off chance it would matter.

Then someone wondered what it would be like if we had superstitious rituals in every profession as there seem to be in baseball.  The teacher would tap the marker on the white board three times before writing with it.  The office worker could rub their mouse before turning on the computer.  A nurse could stand with her feet in a specified position before drawing blood.  We had a lot of fun with the possibilities.

Maybe you can do something with this idea:  use it as an icebreaker at your next party, develop a superstition of your own to help you get in the right frame of mind to start your work day or have everyone do it in your group to create some good laughs and team bonding?

If you were to develop the equivalent of a baseball player ritual for yourself, what would it be? 

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

#634 doing

There are days when I need to do things at work that I really don't want to do, or I need to write a blog on an evening when I would much rather play, or I have a chore at home that I would prefer to do "tomorrow" instead of now.  I think everyone feels this way at some point.

Often when I am approaching procrastination, I am reminded of a quote by Thomas Huxley that I heard while in college.  It has stuck with me over the years:

Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the things you have to do when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.  It is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man's training begins, it is probably the last lesson he learns thoroughly.

I believe that Huxley was spot-on.  It's part of why a college degree is so valuable, regardless of the chosen major or to some extent even what school it is from.  It's why a doctorate (like my friend Wendy just earned!) is even more rare -- because no one is standing over you telling you to go to class or do your dissertation.  You have to do the things you have to do because you are motivated to do them.

Think about these words of wisdom next time your brain is saying "I don't wanna ____." Often, it is the doing, not the wanting to do that is important.

-- beth triplett


Monday, February 24, 2014

#633 strong suite

When we conduct analysis regarding our enrollment situation (or about any problem), the true strategy decision isn't in deciding what tactic to use.  The toughest question to answer is whether we are going to try to capitalize on our strengths or attempt to address our weaknesses.  (e.g.:  If our applications are ahead in a certain territory, do we put more effort there or do we do extra mailings to the places we are behind?)  

Focusing on where we are ahead is contrary to what usually occurs.  Inertia and history certainly beckon to fix the problem.  If a child brings home a report card with all Bs and a D, it is likely that the parents will focus on the D.  If an athlete is great at passing, but consistently misses free throws, it is likely she will spend some extra practice time at the line.  If you are a talented artist but overweight, you're just as apt to join Weight Watchers as an arts society. 

It is a scary thing to focus on your strengths, knowing that others are more likely to call you on your weaknesses rather than sing your praises.  But as Jim Collins wrote in Good to Great, "managing your problems can only make you good, whereas building your opportunities is the only way to become great."

--- beth triplett

Source:  Good to Great by Jim Collins, p. 59

Sunday, February 23, 2014

#632 seeing clearly

For most people, buying a car is one of the largest investments that they make.  People spend tens of thousands of dollars to buy one, and another hefty sum to maintain it and keep it road-worthy over the years.

One of the basic features of a car that is often overlooked is the windshield.  ABC News reports that approximately 11 million windshield replacements are done per year.  That figure surprised me, since the only one I have had replaced in my decades of driving has been the one smashed in by the bat of hoodlum one evening.  Put apparently others are not so fortunate.

What is equivalent to a windshield in your line of work?  Are the sidewalks in front of your store so icy that people have a difficult time getting to your place of business? Does a brilliant doctor lose patients because of his scheduling practices?  Does a dirty restroom in a restaurant repel the customers?  Does a loose button on a new garment color the impression of the whole brand?

People make judgments about the whole based on experiences with the parts.  Can you see clearly out the windshield of your organization or is there a crack that needs repair?

-- beth triplett

Saturday, February 22, 2014

#631 frozen

When is the last day you didn't talk about the weather?  Someone asked that question to our lunch table, and no one could remember that far back; it seems we have been complaining for weeks now.

In reality, there is nothing we can do to alter what Mother Nature sends our way.  The only thing we have control of is how we respond to the weather -- complaining about it, ignoring it or even embracing it.  

Lots of people who live in Northern states love the winter (or at least they did before this year's Polar Vortex).  In a previous blog, I described the infrastructure cities have to handle large amounts of snow.  Similarly, people who embrace the snow have prepared themselves for recreational activities like skating and cross country skiing; they own snowmobiles, go ice fishing, play hockey and, in general, relish the sports that can only occur in the tundra.

Another place that has welcomed Mother Nature is Breckenridge, Colorado.  As if their skiing wasn't enough of an attraction, they host an annual Snow Sculpting Contest.  The artists who worked on these creations clearly have learned to make the most of the season: 

You can fight the weather and fall into that winter funk, or you can celebrate all the things it allows you to do.  On that matter, you do have control.

-- beth triplett

Friday, February 21, 2014

#630 be yourself

Were she still alive, today would have been my godmother's birthday.  Even though she has been gone for 15 years, she profoundly influenced my formative years.  She remained single, but far from being an old maid, Aunt Ruth was cool.  She was a "career girl" when it was fashionable to be a stay-at-home mom.  She had her own turquoise convertible with a white top, and drove her nieces around for rides around town -- in the style of an innocent Thelma and Louise.  She went on cruises and trips to Hawaii in the 1960s when such travel was far from common.  She was an unabashed Elvis fan even when his moves were scandalous to Grandma.

I thought of all this when I met with the advisors that work with students who are undecided about their college major.  They use several tools to help students learn about themselves -- some confirm their choices and some discover characteristics about themselves that may lead to a career.  The advisors said that many students leave with more confidence and an affirmation that the path they have chosen is good for them.

Aunt Ruth didn't have any career assessments or psychological tools to tell her that she could flourish independently.  But by her example, Aunt Ruth taught us that it was ok to be yourself.  It was acceptable to choose a different path, as long as you went down that path with gusto and confidence.

Whether you learn from formal resources or informal observation, I hope that you believe in the path you are traveling.  Your authenticity gives others the courage to be themselves too.

-- beth triplett


Thursday, February 20, 2014

#629 slumber

There is nothing worse than lying in bed and being unable to sleep.  Fortunately, it doesn't happen to me often, but when it does this little trick works wonders.

Think of a broad subject (cities, high school, something to do with vacations, food, stores, etc.)  Then try to think of an item that corresponds with the subject you have chosen -- that starts with A, then B, then C, etc.  It is a rare night when I get through half of the alphabet before falling into a deep slumber.

Example:  School:  A=apple, B=books, C=calculus, D=detention, E=economics, F=flag pole, etc.

Next time, forget the sheep and play this little mind game.  My guess is that you will get to zzzz long before you reach Z in the alphabet.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

#628 fever pitch

Amazingly, the phone/Internet repair man came yesterday as scheduled, didn't require me to be there for him, fixed the problem and there was no charge!  I should have purchased a lottery ticket because it is rare that those kind of stars align, especially with service calls.

But even more surprising than my pleasant experience was his explanation for what happened.  Apparently the technician has been doing a lot of repair work lately caused by destructive dogs -- resulting from a high pitch sound that has been emitting from the phone box.  We can't hear it, but apparently Fidos throughout the area can and it's making them crazy.  (Maybe there is hope that I have lived through puppyhood!)

I wonder if there is an equivalent of a high pitched sound in my environment at work.  Is something going on that my employees can sense that I don't even know about?  Am I blaming them for unproductive behavior when they are just acting in ways that are consistent with being driven crazy?  Am I oblivious to an on-going issue that is going to blow up one day and result in a metaphorical chewed wire?

People can talk, whereas dogs can't.  Utilize that to your advantage and ask questions about culture, climate and the environment in general.  If you wait until you need a 'repair call', the fix may not be as easy as mine was.

--- beth triplett

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

#627 disconnected

Last night I went to write today’s blog entry and found that I couldn’t access the Internet on my computer.  I thought it was just incredibly slow.  Meanwhile, a friend was trying to pull up Downton Abbey on his computer so we could watch it when I was finished.  No luck there either.  We did some diagnostics and realized that it was because the outdoor incoming phone lines (aka incoming data service) had been shredded!  Guess who was at it again?

For golden retrievers, two years old has always been the magic benchmark – if you could make it until two, you had survived puppyhood and could now enjoy your dog.  I have been subjected to many misfortunes with these two beasts, and I thought their antics were over since one of my dogs is now 2-1/2 years old and the other is three weeks shy of being two.  But guess that Iris had one last fling before her birthday and held a shredding party in the snow.  Grrr.

So no computer work.  No television.  No streaming.  No emails.  No blog publishing.  Who knew how much I relied on something so invisible yet ubiquitous?  The Internet has become like electricity – we don’t even think about it until it isn’t there.  It functions as a conduit for us to do so many other things and we rely on it more than we realize.

What else is out there in your organization that you take for granted but need to function properly?  Is it a specific person who always does X and you don’t even know she does it?  Is it an outside vendor whose interface is seamless, and you assume it still will be if you switch systems?  Is it the collaboration you have with a neighboring tenant that results in positive traffic generated as much by them as by you?

Be intentional today about all the invisible support you have.  Thank those who provide it if you can and develop a plan for what to do should you be without it.  You never know when wire-shredding dogs may cross your path.

--- beth triplett

Monday, February 17, 2014

#626 sunshine

The term "dog days of summer" refers to the hardest part of the season; the sun is hot and the summer is long and dog days marks a period of lethargy.  I wonder what the equivalent is for the "dog days of winter", when the cold and snowy conditions continue and it seems hard to think of being active and thriving, especially in the outdoors.  I think we are in this period now!

One way to get through the winter blues is to actively commemorate Random Acts of Kindness Day today.  The act of doing for others and infusing their day with a pleasant surprise is sure to shine some sunshine onto your world. 

Random Acts of Kindness need not be elaborate or costly, in fact many are simple to do and cost nothing.  For a list of 101 ideas see  Pick one and commit to doing it today.  Regardless of the weather, it's a sure way you can bring some delight into the otherwise dreary landscape.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, February 16, 2014

#625 out of the box

I was at the mall yesterday and saw the usual assortment of stores: clothing, jewelry, greeting cards and sporting goods.  Those in Los Angeles have a new addition to their shopping repertoire: casket stores.  

Recently several malls in Southern California have opened Til We Meet Again casket stores and funeral planning services in their retail space.  Owners are trying to "reach people where they are" and overcome the stigma of walking into a funeral parlor before absolutely necessary.  "Planning for death will not be as intimidating if it takes place in a lively, happy place like a mall rather than the more somber confines of a cremation home," their spokesperson said.  It certainly is an out of the box (ha ha) way of connecting with their audience.  

Think about your delivery system and ways to reach your prospective clientele.  Maybe it's not the mall, but are there other places where people are that you may be well served to have a presence?  Several services and restaurants are open inside big box stores.  Walgreens added a health practitioner.  Stores have post offices, dry cleaners and banks.  I'll be there is an audience out there waiting for you to find them. 

--- beth triplett

Source:  Funeral, casket outlets are heading to the mall by John Rogers for The Associated Press in the Telegraph Herald, February 4, 2014.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Did you get any conversation hearts for Valentine's Day yesterday?  The little candies with printed messages have always been one of my favorites...not so much to eat, but to read!  

The sayings are symbolic of the times and have evolved over the years.  This year's new entries:  TXT ME and #LOVE.  I enjoy the irony that candies using the same recipe from 1902 are featuring hashtag symbols.  

Some original sayings are still included:  Be Mine, Kiss Me, Sweet Talk, but others have come and gone:  Fax Me, email me, page me.  Other more recent additions:  BFF, Sup Babe?,  Got Luv?, URA QT.  The hearts have also added a touch of Spanish with Mi Amor.

There are 45 different sayings on this year's batch of hearts -- and with 8 billion of them produced, there are a lot of romantic suggestions floating around out there.   You can see them all, and, as with so many things these days, you can provide your own suggestions for next year's hearts at

The little hearts are an amusing way to share messages of flirtation.  Think about the fun thoughts your organization could impart to its customers.  Maybe it's not by way of wafer candies, but is there another way to share your 45 words?  Put together, they can paint a picture of a bigger message you want to convey.

-- beth triplett

Friday, February 14, 2014

#623 timing

There are many ways to show your love to people.  On days like today, the traditional way is to exchange candy and valentines.  On the birth of a baby, people often deliver dishes of food.  When someone dies, people generally send flowers to the family.  All are wonderful, loving ways to show you care.

I challenge you to think about ways that you can express your love on a non-traditional timetable.  Instead of sending flowers to the funeral (when they are lost among the others), send flowers on the deceased's birthday or on Mother's/Father's day to let the bereaved know you are thinking of them.  We sent flowers to my mom on her first anniversary without my dad and included a simple "We miss him too" card.  A local funeral home is doing a free lunch today for widows as a way to provide companionship on a day that could be lonely.

A colleague is sending Girl Scout cookies to a couple with a child in the hospital.  "I'm sure this isn't on their mind, but I didn't want them to miss out on Thin Mints this year," she said.   Another colleague cooks the post-baby meal several weeks after the arrival, when all the other dinner deliveries have stopped.  We delivered a get-well basket three weeks after surgery when boredom trumps pain, but our colleague still can't return to work.

Small gestures often mean more than lofty bouquets or decadent chocolates:  Cleaning off someone's snowy car and icy windshield.  Raking your neighbor's lawn or shoveling their snow.  Offering to babysit.  Volunteering to help a colleague with a project.  Letting staff go home an hour early.

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day, but save that last arrow to shoot a little bit later.  It likely will mean more to the recipient.

--- beth triplett

Thursday, February 13, 2014

#622 microscope

I have been fascinated lately with how much people pay attention to details about me.  In the last two weeks, people have commented that I am wearing a new bracelet, that I got a new pen, that I am wearing a Fitbit and that I wore boots under my jeans.  From my perspective, all of these things were understated and didn't warrant a comment as something like wearing a new outfit does.  These were things I would have likely not even noticed about others.

It gives me pause and causes me to extrapolate that if people notice what I write with, they probably are paying attention to how I act.  My integrity, manners, commentary, analysis and participation are probably on the radar screen.  People are watching even when I don't think they are.

This phenomenon calls to mind a line from educator David Ambler in his Guidelines for Working with Students:  "Never underestimate the power of your influence on a student.  Your conduct and conversation are what you are -- a model for others."  I think you can take out the word "student" and substitute "people" and have the same meaning.

It will serve you well to pay as much attention to how you carry yourself as you pay to what you carry your things in.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

#621 being there

The good news: I was selected as one of 20 people to participate in a year-long, national professional development program.  The "executive leadership academy" involves mentoring, hands-on experiences and two in-person seminars.  The bad news:  one of those mandatory gatherings falls during two days of our summer registration in 2015.

Our summer programs are a really big deal for us.  They are the culminating events in a whole series of enrollment activities, and it's our last chance to make students and parents feel confident about their decision to attend college here.  I have played a substantial role in these programs and so I had a lot of angst about whether I should miss them next year.

So I asked my staff.  I received an enthusiastic "go to the program!"  I asked my boss and got the same response.  (Is it a good thing or bad that I am apparently quite dispensable?!) I sent in the confirmation.

To be clear, I have absolutely no doubt that my staff can do the job effectively.  I am not needed to do.  I wonder though about the intangible impact of my non-attendance.  I feel like it is important to be there.

I heard it described beautifully yesterday by our director of campus ministry. She talked about the importance of the "ministry of presence"; that by being present for students, we enhance their experience and help them grow.  Sometimes I don't do anything at events or when working late, but by being there it helps others know they are supported and valued.  I think it was the loss of presence I was lamenting, rather than worrying about any function I performed.   My reflection about whether I should attend has proved this to be an insightful experience already.  

Your impact is far greater than your tasks.  Don't forget to account for your 'ministry of presence' as part of the contribution you are making to your organization.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

#620 sweet

Our men's volleyball team beat our conference rival last week in a heated match.  To add to the victory, we handed them their first loss of the season and did so on their home court (something we have not done since 2006).  It makes me smile just to think about it!

I sent our new coach a note to congratulate him on the victory.  "Some wins are sweeter than others," I said, "and this is one of them."

I received an interesting reply back from him.  "Thanks," he wrote.  "Now let's see how quickly we can forget about it and focus on what's next."

It is difficult to know the ideal amount of time to allow for basking in success.  When you're in the middle of a long season, focusing on "what's next" now and saving the celebrations until the end of the year is a prudent strategy.  But some cycles seem to be on-going.  

We had a great visit event last weekend, but we need to get back on the phones today to fill the next program so there is little time to reflect.  A student aces a test, but can only celebrate for a brief moment before needing to study for the next class.  As soon as one project is done, there is pressure to start on the next project rather than toast the completion of the first.  And for good reason, since the next match or quota or task awaits.

I am not sure what the proper interval is between glee and what's next, but I know there is gap there.  I hope you make time to allow at least a bit of sweet satisfaction to soak in before moving on. 

-- beth triplett

Monday, February 10, 2014

#619 theme

Last week, I went to the district American Advertising Awards ceremony and dinner. The sponsors took the show's theme "Take Flight" to new heights (ha ha) and held the event in an airplane hangar!

The execution of the theme was excellent.  In addition to the location, which featured a real jet in the corner, the emcee was dressed as a pilot, those handing out the awards were in vintage stewardess dresses, we all received wings from AAF Airlines, and the script used language such as "fasten your seat belts so we can begin."  When we left, the "stewardesses" were even at the door cooing the traditional "bye bye".  

Seemingly forgotten amidst planning the theme-based hoopla was the fact that the dinner and program were in an airplane hangar -- in February -- in the middle of one of the coldest winters on record.  Most people in the audience were wearing coats over their little black dresses by the end of the show.  People had to shuttle to the jet center and wait outside for the bus to take them back and forth.  We were on folding chairs for the four hour gala.  It was a lot like flying -- full of conditions that are less than ideal.

I am sure that there was debate about whether to continue to host the event in a generic hotel ballroom or whether to break out of the box and try the hangar.  This is the Advertising Federation after all; they have more motivation than other groups to embrace the creative. Yet it is February after all; there are climate issues to consider.

An interesting indicator will be what people say about the event next year.  Will it be: "thank goodness we're in a warm ballroom again" or will it be: "we're back to boring"?  Going outside of the box is often uncomfortable, and sometimes it's even chilly.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, February 9, 2014

#618 welcome back

I faithfully give blood every 56 days (the required interval between donations).  Yet every eight weeks when I arrive, I am treated in the same way as the person who is donating for the very first time.

They require that I read a booklet of instructions and disclaimers.  They ask me the same 30 questions on the computer questionnaire.  They inspect both my arms (to check that I have not become a needle junkie since my last visit?) and give me the same instructions for post-donation care.  

I wish there was some acknowledgement that I am a multi-gallon giver, such as a streamlined intake process and an easy pass like they do for frequent travelers over border crossings.  Even if they asked a simple question like "have you or any member of your family been diagnosed with any serious diseases in the last eight weeks?" instead of asking individually about a multitude of them, it would do more to honor my time.

Do you have mechanisms in place to provide expedited service or ways to acknowledge that your customers have been there before?  Texas Roadhouse does.  As you are being seated, the greeters ask if you have been there before.  If the answer is yes, you are spared the detail about how the menu is structured.  

Think about the processes that you use for repeat clients.  Your best customers don't want special treatment to involve 'more'; they want it to require 'less'.

-- beth triplett

Saturday, February 8, 2014

#617 frame of reference

Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life and pastor of the Saddleback mega-church, recently went suffered a personal tragedy in his family.  When he was asked how he could remain thankful to God, he replied: "God doesn't expect me to be thankful FOR all circumstance, but IN all circumstances.  There's a huge difference."

I think you can expand this concept beyond the religious sentiment and apply the meaning in other settings.

> My staff doesn't need to be excited FOR the need to work a scholarship event today and tomorrow, but they do need to be excited IN the execution of the event when they are there.

> My boss doesn't expect me to be grateful FOR all circumstance, but IN all circumstances (overall).  I don't need to come to work giddy every day or happy about some of the problems that I encounter, but I need to have a fundamental appreciation that I am employed at this place.  

We often find ourselves in situations that are less than ideal.  Keep Pastor Warren's thought in mind and realize that we can be thankful for the totality of our experiences, even if we grieve over aspects of our reality.

--- beth triplett

Briefing -- Rick Warren,  Time magazine, December 9, 2013, p. 21

Friday, February 7, 2014

#616 decimated

I recently finished reading the book Five Days at Memorial -- a riveting account of the five days people were stranded at Baptist/Memorial Medical Center during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  It was hard to fathom how people could function in those conditions, let alone care for seriously ill patients, but for the most part they did.

The hurricane happened in August in New Orleans so I can only imagine the stifling heat.  Add to that no electricity -- which equals no air conditioning, fans, ice, etc. -- but it also means no ventilators or suction pumps or automated IVs.  Nurses and volunteers bagged patients by hand to provide air intake and manually fanned people who were ailing under the oppressive heat. No electricity also means no elevators, so patients were carried in sheets by teams who maneuvered them down sets of stairs and through a window opening to the awaiting row boats and military helicopters.  

The hospital had an emergency plan, but it never took into account that most of the city would be under water and that the hospital would be unreachable by land.  Standby generators were not anticipated to be needed for multiple days.  No one counted on all communication with outside resources being disabled or the need for security to keep people out of the hospital who were desperately trying to reach food and high ground.  In short, the city was like a war zone where plans were tossed aside and survival instincts took over.

For the most part it is good to have emergency plans and drills, but there is no way to predict or prepare for scenarios like Katrina.  At the end of the day, hiring good people with sound judgment is what matters the most.  Think about who you would want tending to your organization if the next Katrina hit, and then try to have those people on your staff.  Even if your organization never encounters Mother Nature's wrath, you'll be in a much better place with them on your team.

-- beth triplett

Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink, 2013

Thursday, February 6, 2014

#615 Mr. Chips

I recently was at an event where a master teacher was recognized for his work in the classroom and was thanked for establishing a scholarship to continue his legacy.  He was described as "an informal educator who never needed a classroom to teach."  What a great tribute.

When Thom Determan came to the podium to comment, he summed up his educational philosophy in two points:

1.  Teachers don't teach what teachers don't know.  As a result, he believed in travel, global experiences and continual learning to expand his capacity to teach.

2.  Follow the 50-50 principle in the classroom:
50% of the time answer the questions
50% of the time question the answers

Determan obviously had an impact on his generations of students, but if you follow his philosophy he can teach you as well.  Whether you are a teacher or a supervisor, both ideas provide lessons for how we structure meetings, coaching sessions or our own professional development.

It's not enough to know the answers; we need to question the answers as well.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

#614 tame

It is easy for people to say that "it can't be done" or that certain things are the way they are. Kevin Richardson didn't listen to those excuses.

Richardson is a South African zoologist who has spent his life working with animals on the African Savanna.  Through his decades of experience, he has become accepted by wild animals to the extent that certain lions now treat him as a member of their pride.

I encourage you to watch the first two minutes of the amazing video where a wild lion runs out of the plains and gives Richardson a hug.  Literally a hug like it was a puppy greeting its owner.  It is remarkable footage:

The next time you think a task is impossible, pull up this video and watch it.  If Richardson can befriend these lions, surely you can learn to tame the beast working in the next office.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

#613 supply and demand

Yesterday I wrote about the unavailability of L.L. Bean's "cute red boots" and received an interesting reply from a colleague and L.L. Bean loyalist.  You can read her remarks following today's entry -- some food for thought as she shares a different perspective.

In a parallel situation, finance software company Intuit (makers of TurboTax, Quicken, QuickBooks) sponsored a competition for a small company to receive a 30 second commercial to be aired during last weekend's Super Bowl.  The winner was GoldieBlox, maker of construction toys targeted to girls.  

As part of their entry, GoldieBlox needed to show evidence of how they planned to handle the anticipated spike in demand that could follow such a commercial.  GoldieBlox contracted with a second factory to make the toys and hired a separate firm to assist with shipping.  I hope they are both inundated with orders.

Intuit realized that demand without delivery infrastructure would actually be a disservice to the winner instead of a reward.  It's a lesson that many other organizations could learn.  Is yours one of them?

-- beth triplett

Source:  Toy company wins 30 seconds of fame by Joyce Rosenberg for the Associated Press in the Telegraph Herald, February 2, 2014, p. 2B


The comment I received regarding yesterday's blog:

I felt compelled to comment on this post, as I have been an online customer of L.L. Bean for slightly over a year.  While I agree that it seems they tend to advertise an item that they can’t keep in stock (I too, looked up the red Bean boots after seeing them in an ad a few weeks ago), it still seems to work for them!  When you have some time, do some browsing on their site, and you will notice the reviews that comment on buying before they sell out.  It seems that every season, certain items will sell out!!  In the fall, it is the fleece lined flannel.  Spring, the flip-flops.  Around the holidays, the best colors of their famous boat and tote will sell out very quickly, never to return!  They re-stock, but in different fun colors to make you want to buy another!  The thing is, along with the comments about selling out, you will see comments about the best customer service ever!  I can vouch for that, as I have received some of their WONDERFUL customer service!  No matter what hour of the day you call them, you will receive a stateside customer service rep, although the eastern dialect may be a bit difficult at times, it always feels as if you are talking with someone you know rather than an online customer service rep. who doesn’t understand the inquiry.  (This is how I have felt with Amazon customer service, and they have been credited with great customer service).  So, despite the fact that they don’t always have the right color or size in stock, I know I will be a return customer because of their guarantee and the wonderful customer service! 

I guess I just felt compelled to point out that the company that appears to be doing something wrong, can also be doing many more things right. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

#612 the boot

Yesterday morning I checked Google and was depressed to learn that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and we were in for six more weeks of winter.  I was wondering what I could do to get myself through another two months of bleak and frigid weather when I saw these really cute red boots in the Oprah magazine.  When I saw the same boots again in the Parade insert in the Sunday paper, I took it as a sign.  These red boots would be like my Ruby Slippers and get me home to Spring.

So I went to L.L. Bean to order a pair, and was even more depressed that they were out of my size.  A few more mouse clicks told me that they were out of every size, both on line and in every store, but they would be available for shipment on April 24!  Cute winter boots will (surely?) be of no use to me in almost three months and I suspect the same is true for most of their customers.

Once again, a great product and great marketing are useless without a distribution system to get it there.  I understand that the "boots are hand sewn in Maine -- one pair at a time -- by expert craftspeople" but someone should have mentioned this to the fashion editors when they called about this product.  L.L. Bean prominently mentions on their website that these boots were featured in Parade and the Oprah Magazine, meaning they knew hundreds (thousands?) of customers were likely to come calling and they would have demand that exceeded their production by a quarter of the year.  Grr.

I am sure it is ultra tempting to jump into the spotlight and get the unbelievable free publicity that a product endorsement by either of these publications can bring.  But in this case, it brought far more frustration than goodwill, and I suspect I am not alone in that feeling.

Behind the scenes is just as important as the front of the house.  Your organization can benefit greatly by aligning your infrastructure with your sales team; in fact it's the only way to create a happy client.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, February 2, 2014

#611 first down

We had a board meeting last week and a trustee was asking me how we managed to have a significant increase in our undergraduate population last year.  I thought of the many things we have done, and things that people all throughout campus have done, and I didn't have one "silver bullet" answer for her.

I was thinking about this in relation to the Super Bowl game today.  I don't know much more about the game than the teams who are playing, but I'll bet that one team will favor a running game and the other a passing game when given the chance.  The passes are exciting and even sexy, but the running game can also move a team down the field.

I think our work in enrollment is more of a running game.  We move the ball down the field only a few yards at a time, but have done so continuously for several years now.  As a result we are scoring, even scoring big at times.  When things aren't going so well the temptation is to try the passing game, but if we remain disciplined runners it will likely work out well for us in the end.

Think about your strategies:  Are you a running organization or do you have a plan and personnel to be in the passing game?  Either can have "super" results, as long as you are intentional and persistent in the strategy that you follow.

Happy commercial watching!

-- beth triplett

Saturday, February 1, 2014

#610 forgotten

It's February 1 -- do you know where your gift cards are that you received for Christmas?  Hopefully you have redeemed them and enjoyed the merriment your giver intended.  But if you are like many, you have gift cards sitting in your drawer or purse (or worse, lost) and the only jolly one is the retailer who has the cash.

A previous blog* already ranted about the lost value and environmental impact of these type of cards, but still 80% of shoppers were reported to give at least one gift card over the recent holiday season.  Yet, according to researchers at CEB TowerGroup, about $1 billion in gift-card value goes unused each year!  

Do a mental inventory of the cards or certificates you received from Santa and friends.  It has been over a month now; it's time to dig them out and put them to good use.  Or you can claim some of their value in cash through sites like Gift Card Granny and CardCash…even a reduced something is better than a plastic card that is worthless to you.

Stop ho-ho-holding on to the potential for enjoyment and spend your weekend cashing in on any gift cards that still remain.

-- beth triplett

*Blog #190 12/8/12

Source:  Get the most out of that gift card by David Lazarus for the Los Angeles Times in the Telegraph Herald, December 29, 2013 p. 2B