Monday, March 31, 2014

#668 worth the wait

On Friday, my "cute little red boots" that I ordered from L.L. Bean arrived in the mail.  Regular readers will remember that I ordered these on February 3*, 63 days ago.

At the time, I was quite aggravated that they were backordered for two months and almost decided to forgo them.  But at the urging of a L.L. Bean loving colleague, I placed the order and waited.

I knew that Friday was THE day of delivery because L.L. Bean sent me an email to build the anticipation.  In addition to the boots, the box also contained a signed card telling me that Tiffany and the Bean Boot team "handcrafted these" for me.  It even contained a QR code so I could personally thank my bootmaker!  There was also a note reminding me that "the sale isn't complete until you are 100% satisfied.  Feel free to return or exchange anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise.  We don't want you to have anything from L.L. Bean that is not completely satisfactory."

I won't be using their return policy.  The boots are as cute in person as they are in the picture.  I wore them all day Sunday, even though it was finally no-boots-required weather.  
While I am not quite the rabid L.L. Bean fan that others are, I will say that on Day 1 the boots were so cozy and comfy that I almost forgot that I was irritated about them two months ago.  

Almost.  I think the lesson is that a great product is the trump card.  A great product can cause people to overlook other transgressions.  But if your great product has very limited supply or takes two months to make, don't do things (like a feature in the Oprah magazine and Parade) to exacerbate the delay by escalating demand.  If I'm this happy in March, just think of my glee had they come on a reasonable time frame.

-- beth triplett

*See blog #612  2/3/14

Sunday, March 30, 2014

#667 sharp

Currently I own enough Sharpie markers to write continuously for several years.  I am a pen lover in general, but Sharpies are the creme de la creme -- if you are only writing on one side of the page, they are perfect.  I almost always have one within arm's reach.

In addition to the dozens of "regular" Sharpies that I have, there are two that have special significance:  one, I used to sign a beam that is now in the World Trade Center and another was used for autographs at Cardinals spring training.

I don't know why I have such a fetish for this particular brand, but I do.  I can barely walk by them in a store without wanting more.  

Apparently I am not the only Sharpie groupie out there.  At you can "join the Sharpie community" and upload pictures of your Sharpie creations.  People have decorated entire rooms only using Sharpies; they have made music videos about them and done outdoor murals.  There are Sharpie blogs, a Sharpie Squad and more ideas than you can imagine.  Their tagline:  "you can do anything with a Sharpie."

Maybe that is true, but I adore this product in an apparently boring and conventional way -- I use them to write!  

But how can you take a lesson from Sharpie and use the web and social media to foster a community with your brand?  Is there a product or service associated with your organization that you can encourage people to use in novel and even outlandish ways?  I'm sure you could whip out a Sharpie and be inspired to create a wonderful plan on how to do so!

-- beth triplett

Saturday, March 29, 2014

#666 messages

Whenever I see the number 666 (as in this blog title), I am reminded of an incoming student we had several years ago.  She was from a conservative religious background and the email address of her first roommate-to-be was something like devil666.  It did not go over well.  We had tears and parental involvement with lots of drama and trauma before she enrolled (in a different living situation).  I wonder if she ever met "the devil" and if the impression that girl was giving off was authentic or put out there for shock value.

In the admissions world, we see email addresses every day that I hope never make it to a resume: teddybear, bubblygirl, babycakes, froggy, squireprince, grossy, hogeybear, anklebreaker, or cheetahgirl.  It may sound cute when you are a 16 year old high school student, but it doesn't go far in impressing an admissions counselor or prospective boss.

Email addresses have become the personalized license plate of this decade.  Most people have their name and a number which is equivalent to the state-issued plates that have no personal character.  But those who venture out to have nicknames or team names or favorite things can be equated to those who put coded messages or not-so-subtle designations on their licenses.

Which way do you fall -- trying to blend in or stand out?  Either works, but take a minute to see if your 666 is unintentionally sending a message you didn't mean to send.

-- beth triplett

Friday, March 28, 2014

#665 drive by

I was talking with one of my former employees yesterday and she recalled the time I said that she was doing "drive-by supervision" -- managing staff in fleeting moments as if in driving by to check on a business without taking the time to go in and inspect the details.  It works if you have great employees and you want to continue the status quo, but more is needed if you want to impact true professional development or plant the seeds to create significant change.

One thing that is difficult for new supervisors to grasp is how much time it truly takes to supervise staff well.  It is a continual, almost daily process in which information needs to be shared, context given, projects monitored in global terms, new challenges outlined, praise dispensed and questions answered.  And that is when staff is all hired, trained and doing well!

Supervision is also a hard skill to learn before you supervise someone.  If you are mentoring new employees, do what you can to help them understand the process and have some components of the process: conducting the search for new employees, doing evaluations of interns, having 1:1 sessions with you even if they are not direct reports, taking a management class or attending a workshop or whatever you can develop.  

It has been said that people don't leave jobs, they leave bosses.  Do your part as a leader to train the future bosses so they can attract talent instead of repel it.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, March 27, 2014

#664 ignored

Twice this year, I have waited in the exam room for a doctor who did not come after an hour had passed.  No one else came either, to tell me that there was a delay or to say anything about the situation.  Why is this seen as acceptable in the medical community?

Both times I have left the doctor's office instead of having an appointment.  When I told the nurse I was leaving, I heard an excuse that was intended to justify the delay.  It makes me think of a lesson I learned in a workshop on responsibility:

Not doing something plus a good reason does NOT equal doing something.

If you're late because of traffic, you are still late.  If you bounce your check because your spouse didn't write the last check in the register you are still overdrawn.  If you come to work tired because your child was sick last night you are still unproductive.  A good reason does not make things OK.

I totally understand one doctor's delay because he spent a lot of time with a patient.  Today's doctor had to tend to a situation that arose.  If I am in need of physical or mental attention, I hope my doctor is there to provide it, even past my normal appointment time.  But I do wish that the physicians would practice a bit of customer service with their medicine and tend to the other patients who are affected by their behaviors.  I don't begrudge their time with needy patients; I resent their disrespect of me.

If someone is more than an hour behind, couldn't they have told me this before I got there -- or at least before I got undressed?  If they didn't tell me of the delay ahead of time, could they respect my time enough to let me get my walk in or do something besides sit only covered with a sheet on a metal table?  Why not let me in the waiting room where there is a television, comfy chairs and heat?  Even the airlines -- never known for stellar service -- keep you updated on the delays and ETA; couldn't someone have told me something?

Being a doctor plus a good reason does NOT equal acceptable behavior.  Is your organization operating like these doctors?  If so, I prescribe a dose of service to all the scheduled patients administered daily.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

#663 normal

Last night I went to a lecture by Mark Zupan, a gold medalist on the U.S. Paralympics rugby team.  He wasn't invited to speak because of his athletic pursuits, rather because he shares his story in order to help dispel myths about people with disabilities.  At age 18, Zupan was involved in an accident after a night of drinking and ended up paralyzed.

Rather than wallow in pity, Zupan claims that the accident was the best thing that ever happened to him.  It allowed him to travel internationally with the rugby team, star in the movie Murderball that won the Sundance Film Festival award and landed him at the Oscars and have a host of experiences that would not have come his way otherwise.  

Zupan's message wasn't heroic or preachy -- he was showing by example that people in wheelchairs can live.  When asked what the biggest barrier was that he faced, he instantly answered in a loud voice: "HAVING PEOPLE TALK TO ME LIKE THIS!  I'm short; I'm not deaf."  Zupan encouraged people to have normal conversations with people who are in wheelchairs and not treat them with kid gloves.  He told stories of his friends who always made him drive because he got the best parking places, who borrowed his wheelchair to "get a better view" of the ladies, and who went with him at airports because they got to go to the head of the line.  

Zupan also spoke of his friend who was driving during the accident.  "My dad took him aside and said 'You are not at fault, but you are responsible.'"  Zupan acknowledged that his friend had to deal with his own demons caused by not breaking his neck and seeing that Mark had.

Whether you have faced visible adversity or are dealing with internal challenges, Zupan would say that the choice is yours whether or not you choose to live.  Normal is what you make it.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

#662 high touch

In 2005, visionary thinker Dan Pink wrote a wonderful book about what characteristics will be necessary and valued as the economy moves to a Conceptual Age.  A Whole New Mind is as relevant now as it was then as we have more information than we can process and exponentially greater demands on our time and attention.

Pink's thesis is that as we move from the Information Age (knowledge workers) to the Conceptual Age (creators and empathizers), high tech is no longer enough.  He maintains that we need high touch too.

Specifically, Pink believes that to be in demand in these times we need six characteristics:

1.  Design -- what we create needs to go beyond function to have "utility enhanced by significance."

2.  Story -- to construct a compelling narrative enhanced by emotion instead of just the raw data that is so abundantly available.

3.  Symphony -- his word synthesis -- making connections between the information that exists.  (Can you say connecting the dots?!)

4.  Empathy -- understanding the personal side of the human connections

5.  Play -- something that computers can't do but humans can -- so Pink relishes humor, laughter and lightheartedness

6.   Meaning -- significance and purpose -- working toward something bigger than yourself.

As I head into my employee "evaluation season" I am reminded that those who contribute most add attributes that go far beyond the tasks that they accomplish.   Pink's book may serve as a primer for you to think about how you are touching your organizational environment and the people in it. 

-- beth triplett

A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink, 2005, Riverhead Books

Monday, March 24, 2014

#661 toot your horn

I saw That Tree photographer Mark Hirsch in yet another magazine.  He has been on CBS and NBC News, NPR, in the Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Denver Post and theguardian.  He just had a feature in Midwest Living magazine and he has 33,000 followers on Facebook.  Two years ago he was an ordinary freelance photographer in Wisconsin and now he has national exposure.  And an agent.

How would things be different for you if you had an agent or campaign manager? Do you have a talent or niche skill that would benefit from additional exposure?  If someone had the task of promoting you or your work, what material would they have to work with?  

I think that all of us are doing great things for some aspect of our lives, but we often share these talents with only a limited circle.  Don't wait for someone else to be a cheerleader for you.  Be your own "agent" until you establish yourself enough to warrant someone else to do that job.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, March 23, 2014

#660 small world

More than a billion people have ridden Disney's It's a Small World ride...and I would bet that all of them left with that maddening little theme song stuck in their head at least for awhile!  

It's a Small World debuted 50 years ago, first at the 1964 World's Fair in New York.  It opened at Disneyland in 1966 and has been a park favorite ever since.  People sing along to the song during the ride and, whether they like it or not, after they exit the attraction.  

In celebration of the ride's 50th anniversary, Disney is providing an opportunity for people to sing it on camera and join in a "global chorus".  At you can also make your very own Small World doll and join with celebrities who are celebrating this anniversary.  

In addition to being fun, your participation will also benefit UNICEF.  So take a minute this Sunday to check out the site, create a doll of your own and sing along with the world.  

-- beth triplett

Saturday, March 22, 2014

#659 champion

I was in a meeting this week where we were talking about a project that needs a champion, and it soon became clear that taking an idea from concept to implementation requires a special skill set that not everyone has.

We identified several people who would be great behind the scenes, but did not possess the vision to develop something different and noteworthy.  Several others were mentioned who had potential, but not the stature or credibility to make change happen.  Others were seen as too confrontational or too meek to pull off the task.  

When we got to the short list of potential leaders, we realized that they were already busy with several other new projects that they had either initiated or they had been given.  We were preparing to ask them again, just as they had been asked several times before.

As we think of professional development programs for people or individual skill building for ourselves, we should add "how to champion a project" to the list.  It requires the ability to straddle vision with pragmatism so that the idea actually materializes.  It necessitates excellent human relation skills -- both to empower those who are open to the idea and to manage those who oppose it.  A champion has to be an articulate cheerleader who can share context and rationale with facts as well as emotion, and provide enough structure to make a lofty idea become doable.  They need political savvy, street cred and the ability to look past the naysayers to see the possible.

If you know someone with those skills, pay close attention to what they do and how they do it.  It is a talent that will have great value if you can add it to your repertoire.

-- beth triplett

Friday, March 21, 2014

#658 welcome

About a month ago, I made a reservation at the St. Regis hotel in Washington DC.  They gave me the conference rate for the two nights during the event, but due to limited airline schedules, I need to arrive the night before.  The rate for that night was not included in the conference discount so it cost more.

Amy, my "reservation consultant", suggested we contact the conference organizer and see if they would hold a block for the night before.  They would not.  Amy emailed me back after several weeks telling me that the rate still had not been included in the block price.  I was impressed by her follow up, but thought the story was over.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive another email from her yesterday telling me that she has still been working on finding me a lower rate. She discovered that the AAA rate would actually be $50 less than the original quote so "did take the liberty for changing the rate for you."  

It's one thing for people to give good customer service when they are face to face with the client, but it's another thing when the customer and service are separated by both time and distance. 

Amy wrote that "we look forward to welcoming you!!"  With advance service like this, I feel welcomed already.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, March 20, 2014

#657 rite of spring

Yesterday, our local Dairy Queen opened for the season.  It's an independent store in an old residential neighborhood, not one of those fancy Brazier restaurants that stays open all year.  This Dairy Queen is exclusively walk-up window and is only open from March until September.

You wouldn't think this was noteworthy, but it is.  In addition to offering the best ice cream in town -- don't ask me why they are different, but they are -- the opening of this DQ has a tradition that signifies the start of Spring.  Each year on their Opening Day, they provide free ice cream cones to everyone who comes to the store.

So, of course, I drove for 10 miles, past two other DQ restaurants, to get my free treat. And even though it was 29 degrees, there was a line of other crazies doing the same thing.  I believe it is a ritual of hope more so than wanting a $1.59 cone for free; if DQ is open, then there is some promise for warmer weather.  For me, it is more reliable than Phil's shadow.

This tiny old storefront has to do something to generate business with the locals since only those who are residents would ever find them to patronize the place.  So they run one little ad and give away free cones.  The word of mouth it generates is good old fashioned social media -- people talk about this DQ being open and many frequented there last night.  One bite reaffirms what they have known all winter, that this DQ really is better and worth the trek across town to get it.

How can you establish your presence in a crowded marketplace by doing something that generates buzz and good will?  What can you do in your organization that becomes an anticipated tradition?  Perhaps giving away ice cream cones could work as a strategy for you too?  Everyone loves a free smile!

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

#656 take 2

We have the ability to re-do so much in our world.  Everyone uses the "undo" button on the computer.  People take advantage of the "replay this game" feature on computer games.  We have the ability to move items out of the trash.  Students are often able to repeat courses or redo assignments to improve their grades.  We can reverse DVDs and record things again, or delete pictures in favor of a better pose.  So much is fleeting instead of permanent.

I think the pervasiveness of flexibility causes us to become more careless and less concerned about doing it right the first time.  I can sit at a computer and ramble, because I have the confidence that I can cut and paste and move things around.  When things were done in long-hand, this was a luxury that did not exist.  When things were typeset and printed on presses, I suspect more care was given to the document than is now when you can hit "print" and fix something in a second if you don't like the alignment.  If you truly were saying "I do" for life, you may think harder than if you approach marriage as something you'll try out.

As consumer goods become more disposable and permanence more fleeting, I think we are losing a spirit that comes with putting down roots and saying forever.  Instead of undoing things, think for an extra moment about doing them as you want them in the first round.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

#655 super

I was grocery shopping with a friend and asked which flavors he wanted.  "The same one as before," was his answer.  "If I was a Super Hero, I would be Rut-man."

His comment got me thinking about an exercise we do at our leadership day where we ask students to select a super power they would like to have and draw a picture of it.  We have had a wide range of answers, from being able to speak every language, to the ability to turn the weather to Spring, to being able to be able to see through walls.  It is both fun and a good way for students to learn something new about each other.

A more serious application of the super power question is used by my sister in interviews.  She asks the candidates in advance to come prepared to tell her what super hero trait they would bring to the organization -- in other words what can they do better than anybody.  

Some of the answers she has received:  Statafficiency:  a combination of strategy and efficiency that allowed the candidate to think clearly and get stuff done; Logic Motion: can rapidly hold complexity; or Seeing the Matrix: sees the big picture and connect it to the day-to-day.

These exercises are really two sides of the same coin: the power that you would like to have vs. the power you do have.  While one is fantasy, in reality everyone does something better than most.  Think about how you can be a super hero for your organization and in what trait you excel.  Even Rut-man aces predictability and can be a source of stability in his world.  You don't need a cape to contribute in super ways.

-- beth triplett

Monday, March 17, 2014

#654 balls

"You'll always be juggling 30 balls.  The key is figuring out which are glass and which are rubber."*  

I think the ability to do so is one of the key traits of a leader.  Things are thrown your way every day, and sometimes you need to focus on the new or urgent instead of doing the work on the long-term project as you planned.  And sometimes that is fine, because you know which balls are rubber.

I see people everyday who are challenged in trying to hold on to all balls, instead of handing some over to someone else or in letting the right ones drop.  Their hands become so full of balls that they have a hard time being effective with any of them.  

It is an art to know when you can let some things go.  Rubber balls bounce so you can pick them up again later.  Assess the balls you are juggling and focus on the glass ones -- even if just for today.

-- beth triplett

*Source:  @jbobbysyb, 7/25/13

Sunday, March 16, 2014

#653 open wide

I was dreading the trip to the dentist last week since I needed to get a crown.  For those of you who have been spared this misery, it usually involves several trays of Play Dough-like substance being squished between your teeth to make molds for the porcelain tooth cap and digging into your gum lines with a metal form to be sure the crown fits correctly.  It is as unpleasant as it sounds.

I was delighted to learn that high-tech has made it to dentistry and the forms are now a thing of the past.  Until my visit, 3-D had been hypothetical to me, but I was a first-hand beneficiary of its marvels.  Instead of forms and goo, the technician scanned my teeth and the machine instantaneously made a 3-D picture of my upper jaw.  After the work on the tooth getting a crown, she scanned the lower jawline and then the dentist was able to show me the pictures of how they fit together.

The 3-D image is then sent to the lab where they make a perfect crown for me.  The printer even color-codes the gap to ensure there is enough room for the crown to fit or it alerts the dentist where and how much more to drill down.  I was fascinated at how he could pull the top and bottom teeth apart; rotate it to see from any angle and even have views looking down (like through the skull) or up (from below the chin).  If my dentist had wanted to invest another $100K, he could have "printed" my crown right there and skipped the temporary crown stage.  

It's not often that I go to the dentist and come back fascinated, but it happened this time.  I am glad that he invested in this new technology and that I could experience it as a patient and a curious observer.  If you have the chance to see 3-D in action, take it.  When sci-fi meets the ordinary, extraordinary things can happen.

-- beth triplett

Saturday, March 15, 2014

#652 TMI

There are many fitness devices available to measure steps, calories burned and other types of activity.  These all make sense to me as a way to promote a healthy lifestyle -- for people.  Now someone has taken this one step further and is promoting an activity tracker -- for dogs.  

"Whistle is an on-collar device that measures your dog's activity and rest, giving you a new perspective on day-to-day behavior and long-term health trends."  I don't need to spend $129 to know that my dogs have about 10 minutes of craziness for every three hours that they sleep.

Whistle also makes a WiFi Video Pet Monitor Camera that you can access from your smart phone -- so no matter where you are, you can see the urchins shredding your furniture or snoozing away in their crate.  I am not sure what you are supposed to do with this additional information, but for those who can't bear to be separated from their dog, but who can part with $199, this is for you.

The Whistle collar is just another example of the trend toward measuring and quantifying more and more of our life.  Our carbon footprint, miles walked, energy usage of appliances, miles per gallon, fat grams, sleep patterns and heart rate are all tracked and even shared with "friends".  

Do you really need to know how much activity your dog had today?  For some things, you are better off relying on hunches and common sense vs. empirical data.  Think about what you are going to do with information before you spend the time and money to collect it.

-- beth triplett

Friday, March 14, 2014

#651 misery

Whether you were a sports fan or not, all the talk around the office yesterday was about the controversial call in the boy's basketball state tournament game.  Our local team, a favorite to win the title, lost the game on a called foul.

Nothing unusual about that, except that the foul was called with 0.5 (one-half of a second) left in the game after the opponent just made a basket.  It wasn't called in the act of shooting, so the basket counted and the free throw counted. Thus, our boys lost by one when they were ahead by three with literally one second left on the clock.  In the state tournament semifinals.  It was heartbreaking.  Even the winning coach said he had only seen that call one time in his career.  

This isn't the first time that an obscure, but existing, rule was enforced in a high-stakes game.  The Cardinals benefited from it in October*, but it impacted one game, not the entire season.  

Why did the official make the judgment to call that play at that moment?  He certainly could have given the game a chance to go into overtime and let a winner emerge without question.  One of the players said it best: "It's not that Valley didn't deserve to win, just not that way."

When you are in a position to make judgments, you certainly can do what it "right".  But before you come down with the heavy hand, ask yourself what cost your decision will have.  There is the letter of the law, and then there is the spirit of the law.  And there are dreams of 
15/16/17 year olds that were either shattered or realized under a cloud of doubt because of one whistle with a half-second remaining.

-- beth triplett

*Blog #514, rule 7.06, 10/28/13  

Source:  .5 seconds of misery, by Andy Piper, Telegraph Herald, March 13, 2014

Thursday, March 13, 2014

#650 reinvented

I think our town has the most Mexican restaurants per capita of any small city, but I was nonetheless sad to see my favorite place close last month.  Suddenly all the windows were covered with brown paper and the doors were locked.  I thought they were out of business for good.

But I was wrong!

They closed to convert their interior from a sit-down/server restaurant into a "Burrito Express" make-it-as-you-watch kind of place (think Chipotle).  It was a genius idea.  They are located downtown so I am sure they have a heavy lunch crowd and they are next to a community college center with high grab-and-go traffic.

I went earlier this week and the place was packed.  A long line, but served quickly as only an assembly process can do.  They had more customers simultaneously in the time I was there than they had combined in all my previous visits.

Kudos to them for acknowledging that they were struggling in a crowded market and reinventing themselves into something that made more sense for their clientele and location.  Sure, it would have been great had they recognized the market from the get-go, but it still took courage to give themselves a new life.

If you or your organization is struggling, don't throw in the towel.  Think instead about throwing up the brown paper and emerging as something new inside.

-- beth triplett

For the locals:  It's Adobos Burrito Express, 756 Main

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

#649 press one

A friend called yesterday and asked if I had read something in the morning paper.  Unfortunately, I never received yesterday's paper to have that opportunity.  I have had issues with delivery for about a week -- but I was hoping that it was just my wonderful carrier on vacation.  

I finally called circulation today and the receptionist said that they had been getting a lot of calls from my route and that I needed to talk to the manager.  In two hours when he came in.  So I called and talked to Ron who begrudgingly gave me a month's free delivery* -- and a bucketful of excuses.  Yes, I have a new carrier.  Yes, he has some challenges.  Yes, Ron was working with him daily to try and improve.  I suggested that the carrier could improve by setting his alarm for an hour earlier so we got the morning paper in the morning, but Ron didn't seem to think that was a valid solution.  

Instead he said that he was going to "work with the carrier for a couple more weeks" to see how it goes and if that doesn't work he will consider splitting the route or finding a new delivery person.  And a new subscriber because my tolerance won't last that long.

My friend related similar woes with his internet provider as he tries to move.  He spent literally hours on the phone with multiple people until he got to the "escalation team manager."  Why is such a position even necessary?

His father-in-law also did battle, during which he learned he was a "two star" (never mind 12-year) customer with the provider, thus not eligible for the "five star" rate given my friend.  Until, of course, he spent hours and spoke to various levels of people and ultimately got the better deal.

If you are looking for a sweet spot in which to wow your clientele, invest in true customer service over the phone.  Don't put people on hold or make them jump through multiple managerial hoops.  Don't give excuses for why you can't help them.  Don't spend hours haggling and then ultimately provide what they wanted in the first place.  Wow 'em when they are least expecting it and I'm sure they will talk about you for days -- in the good way, instead of how they are doing now!

-- beth triplett

*I do monthly autopay and he said he had to do a month's credit because of that!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

#648 heat

It seems that Bitcoin is making the news beyond the county political convention.  After a series of mergers and sales, Newsweek is returning as a print publication.  What story did they use for their first feature?  The revelation of the identity of the Bitcoin founder.

Previously the creator had been known only by a pseudonym, but Newsweek claims to have uncovered the man's identity.  Likely on purpose, the story has created quite a stir and is the hot topic on morning talk shows.  Newsweek even had to hire a bodyguard for the author who was facing threats against her.

Newsweek editor in chief Jim Impoco said that he was prepared for the controversy.  "Go large or go home," he said.  "This is Newsweek.  We are raising the dead here.  And you know what?  People are aware of it now."

It is possible that the founder of Bitcoin remained anonymous because he did not want to face the media storm that would come with such visibility.  The Newsweek editor seems comfortable with the limelight whereby Bitcoin's creator prefers to predominately be an entrepreneur rather than leader.

Not everyone is willing to own the leadership role and all that comes with it.  Former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice offers this explanation as to why: "Leadership is hard because everybody who doesn't actually want to do it wants to tell you how to do it.  You'd better have thick skin."

There is a fine line between caring what others think and caring more about the big picture and outcome. You would do well to assess your mettle before stepping out into the fray.  It does little good to go home after you're out there.

-- beth triplett

Sources:  Bitcoin controversy marks Newsweek's comeback by David Bauder for the Associated Press in the Telegraph Herald, March 9, 2014

Leading by example by Lynn Sherr in Parade Magazine, March 9, 2014

Monday, March 10, 2014

#647 two bits

A friend was a delegate to the county political convention over the weekend.  The key purpose of this gathering is to determine elements of the political platform that the county wishes to support and move forward.

My friend asked me to guess what the two contentious issues were.  I was correct in assuming that same sex marriage was debated, but wrong about item number two.  I incorrectly guessed the usual suspects of the Affordable Care Act, minimum wage and budget priorities.  But the second "hot topic" I would have never imagined: whether or not a plank should be to support an alternate currency (e.g.:Bitcoin).

A digital currency is an online transaction that allows people to convert dollars (euros, etc.) into bitcoins which can be used to complete transactions.  The bitcoin economy is currently unregulated so the value of coins can increase or decrease, leaving opportunity for speculation and risk (like stocks).  Delegates debating the currency wavered (largely based upon age demographics) on whether to embrace the new technology or whether it was the first step in abandoning the gold standard in the US and moving us to a carbon-based economy with credits being the unit of value in trades.

It struck me that this is indicative of the political process and change efforts in general -- decisions are made in early parts of the process that go unnoticed.  People don't get involved early and thus they forfeit their ability to shape an issue.  Once it becomes publicly known there may be an uproar by constituents, but by then it has been voted on and moved along with affirmation, making change harder.

Would I think of not voting in an election? Never.  But that ballot does less to shape the issues on the table than the one cast in a small town community center on a Saturday afternoon in March.  Think of what matters to you -- politically, in your community or in your organization and lend your voice to it from the start.

--- beth triplett

Sunday, March 9, 2014

#646 give life

I received a mailing from the American Red Cross thanking me for being a blood donor.  They told me where my latest donation went and how I made a difference in saving lives.  It had emotional stories and made me glad that I had given.

But what gave me the most pause from their mailing was this statistic:  an estimated 38% of the population is eligible to give blood, and only about 8% of those eligible actually donate.      

Think about what you would do to motivate people to do something that they obviously are not doing naturally -- and to do it for free -- ideally every eight weeks.  No wonder they are so appreciative and attentive to those who have given.

Even if you don't become a multi-gallon donor, I encourage you to consider giving once if you are able to do so.  In this season of Lent, giving may be more important than giving up.  The need is great, the process painless and the results truly are life-changing. 

Schedule your appointment here:

-- beth triplett

Saturday, March 8, 2014

#645 sizzle

If you ever question the power of marketing, just think about bacon.  There is a proliferation of bacon-mania -- and it is all with the same product that has been around for centuries.  The bacon craze isn't even focused on one brand of bacon, rather the product itself.

Despite a more health-conscious environment, bacon sales in the U.S. have increased in each of the last four years.  In 2013, bacon sales climbed 9.5% to an all-time high of nearly $4 billion.  

It seems that bacon-themed products and events are everywhere:  bacon-flavored vodka or ice cream, Baconfests, a bacon bowl, bacon film festival and even a bacon wallet*.  Not to be outdone, the "Oscar Mayer Institute for the Advancement of Bacon" is now promoting a contest that will "transform your iPhone into a Bacon Scent Alarm Clock."  (Upon hearing this, I think people fall into two camps:  one group says "seriously?!" while the other says "where do I sign up?!")

For the bacon lovers out there, watch

One author speculates that people are turning to bacon because it is a comfort food from their childhood.  Others think that it is because of that "distinctive smell."  I think it is because of great marketing that has created a cult-type loyalty and made it cool to be weird with strips fried pork.

-- beth triplett

*Source:  Bacon sales sizzle to all-time high by Charles Passy, Wall Street Journal Market Watch, February 12, 2014, 7:26a.m. EST, 

Friday, March 7, 2014

#644 speak up

At a recent workshop in preparation for visiting legislators, the speaker shared this quote:  "You are not truly dangerous until you can speak powerfully."  Sam Daley-Harris 

Think about this profound statement.  If you can't articulate your value, you miss out.  If you become mute or emotionally choked up when trying to tell your story, the impact is hidden.  If you remain meek and mild and never speak up, it is hard to advocate for your cause.  If you are scattered or speak with many "ums" or "likes", the message is lost.

If you wish to create change -- and what leader doesn't -- you need to be able to articulate your purpose and inspire those around you.  You may not have a speech writer to craft elegant prose, but practice, practice, practice sharing your message until the red danger light starts to glow.

-- beth triplett


Thanks to Emily for sharing.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

#643 because

British mountaineer George Mallory was famous for his expeditions to climb Mount Everest in the 1920s.  At the time, he was striving to be the first to reach the summit.  This is no small feat even today, but with the equipment and knowledge available at the time, it was an even more arduous task.  Mallory died on the mountain without ever achieving his goal.

In addition to his climbing accomplishments, Mallory achieved notoriety from one of his quotes.  Asked "Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?", he replied "Because it's there."

I heard this story last week at a faculty lecture where our professor posed a question about obstacles: do we respond differently to challenges when we go in search of them (like climbing Everest) vs. when they are given to us (such as fighting cancer)?  His premise was that conquering obstacles of either type gives our lives a sense of worth.  It is "because they are hard", not in spite of the fact that they are.

It puts challenges into a new light -- changing the paradigm to welcome obstacles rather than fearing them; perhaps even creating a few of our own.

Think about what metaphorical mountain is out there for you to climb.  Taking that first step may be the challenge you need to add deeper meaning to your existence.

-- beth triplett

Sources:  George Mallory, Wikipedia
"Small Obstacles: Opportunities for Big Growth" Mackin-Mailander Faculty Lecture by Dr. Bryan Zygmont, 2/25/14