Saturday, May 31, 2014

#729 in sync

Someone once said that the more you value something, the more precisely you measure it. The example given:  you account for lettuce using a general term of "heads", yet you weigh diamonds to the precise carat.

I think about measuring when it comes to time.  Apparently the staff at a local elementary school value time a great deal as they sent out this email to parents:
"I am writing to let you know that we have recently had our school building clocks reset to match the U.S. Official Time.  Our clocks were running 3-4 minutes slow.  The school bells were ringing 3-4 minutes late.  The kids were dismissing 3-4 minutes late.  Please allow a few extra minutes to get to school safely on time."

Contrast that with this display in the Florida Visitor's Center:

Not only are there two time zones to contend with, but one (erroneously) is only 50 minutes ahead of the other instead of an hour.  Apparently "vacation time" is much more lax!  

Whether you follow U.S. Official Time or approximate like Florida does, time is your most valuable resource.  Try to ensure that your whole organization is synced to one method of calculating it.  Those 3-4 (or 10) lost minutes can really add up over time.

-- beth triplett

Thanks to Emily for the Bryant email.

Friday, May 30, 2014

#728 a trail

A colleague told me about a college president who went to a post-graduation party with students and got so drunk that he was dancing on the tables.  You know the rest: people took pictures and posted them on Facebook and his credibility, if not his job, is lost forever.  What was he thinking?

He was about as smart as the bookstore manager in Missouri who was caught with $80,000 cash in his desk -- discovered by someone when they opened a drawer to borrow a pencil.  His total embezzlement turned out to be much greater.

Locally, we just heard tales of the city librarian who stole more than $70,000 in fines that were paid in cash.  Fines are twenty cents/day -- so it would take 250,000 fines to pilfer that much.  That is a long time of tossing the coins in a pocket instead of a cash drawer.

And last week's gem -- a Connecticut student called in a bomb threat in an attempt to cancel her college graduation -- rather than face her mother and confess that she had been using the tuition money from her for other pursuits besides attending class.  She had gotten away with dropping out, that is until graduation came and her family wanted to attend the ceremony.

Fortunately, most of us never attempt anything like these examples.  We don't dance on tables, steal money or phone in bomb threats.  But many do smaller things that defy common sense and have the potential to tarnish a reputation.

Your actions are archived, never deleted, especially in this era of cell phones and social media.  Take care that your small actions don't compound themselves or hound you in the long term.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, May 29, 2014

#727 words


A colleague just had a baby and so I sent the family my favorite baby gift:  Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever.  Apparently I am not the only one who likes this gem as the book has been in print for over fifty years and sold over a half million copies.  Amazon estimates that children all over the world have learned over a billion words through Scarry's books.

The Best Word Book Ever is really just that -- no story, rather pages with critters and objects and shapes that Scarry labels.  I spent hours and hours with the book and a sibling in my lap:  "find a car", "find an ear of corn", "find a bottle of milk".  And on it went.

Scarry's formula is way outside the mold of the typical children's book.  There is no linear narrative, no page with one large illustration on it, no dumbed down words that children might not know.  And it worked for him, as he has a whole series of books in the same style:  Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, What People Do All Day, A Day at the Airport and Busy, Busy Town.

Think about the message that you want to express, and then think of how you can convey it in your unique way.  As Scarry proved, there is no template for what works.  Sometimes what people are craving is what isn't there now, not more of what is.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

#726 special

I just read an article about University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban's strategy of using special teams.  Most football coaches focus on offense or defense, but Saban focuses on the men who come in to perform a specific task.  Instead of filling teams with second string players, he puts some of his stars on these short-term units.  

All of the greats, including Alabama, have strong offense and defense.  The special teams provide them the margin of success to gain advantage in the critical moments.  

In your organization, do you only focus on the offense and defense -- paying attention to the usual suspects while neglecting to develop and motivate the occasional player?  As a coach, do you provide attention and opportunities for all the members on your team?  Do you think about ways to capitalize on the margins instead of competing head to head in the same ways that your competitors do?

Think about your support staff, your night shift, the student employees or the people your guests meet on the way to meet you.  Are they winning you points or detracting from your game?

Saban sets a good example of where he invests his time and resources.  For Alabama, the special teams are, well, indeed special.  Try to make them important in your organization too.

-- beth triplett

Source:   by Matt Bloomingdale

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

#725 step right up

There is a new issue of postage stamps out that feature reproductions of vintage circus posters from the 1900s.  Marketers today could take a lesson from them.

The posters have vivid colors and few words so they stood out when plastered about a town.  The circus had to rely on these and word of mouth to generate a crowd in every town.  No mass advertising.  No social media.  No web.  So posters it was.  

In 1911, Ringling Brothers printed 123,000 posters to promote 143 shows -- allowing them to cover entire walls with their announcements.  The posters were big (usually 42 x 28 inches) and full of vibrant colors and beautiful sketches.  

The circus poster is credited with being the earliest form of outdoor advertising, eventually evolving into billboards as we know them today.  Until I read the background description about the stamps, I had not thought of the evolution from poster to billboard, but it puts them in a new light.

Promoters today would cringe at the idea of filling an arena using only posters.  The fact that P. T. Barnum and Ringling Brothers did it night after night as they traversed the country may have been the greatest part of their show.

Learn from them that pictures really do have more power than words.

-- beth triplett

Vintage Circus Posters Stamps

Sources:  Circus poster stamps by Steven High, Executive Director, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, in USA Philatelic magazine, 2014/Volume 19/Quarter 2

and information from the back of the Vintage Circus Posters stamps, United States Post Office

Monday, May 26, 2014

#724 huh?

When people first hear that my vacation this year was to Montgomery, Alabama and Tallahassee, Florida, they give me either a puzzled look or a nod that implies "I'm sorry."

Then they learn that the cities were chosen because I vacation with my sister and she is on a quest to see all the state capitals.  These will make #47 and #48.*  Suddenly, my odd selections for time away make sense and actually sound like a cool idea.

If someone around you makes choices that are outside the norm, seize it as an opportunity to ask questions and discover a new way of thinking.  In the end, it may not be for you, but it most likely will be for a reason you hadn't thought about.  That alone is a prize.

-- beth triplett

*Next year's hot spots:  Frankfurt, KY or Columbia, SC

Sunday, May 25, 2014

#723 oink, oink

I love to hear stories about how products or companies were named (like DAR Racing in Blog #703).  The latest brand that caught my attention is Wild Pig wines.  

My friend bought the bottle of chardonnay simply because the name intrigued her.  (Later she discovered that it is actually very good!).  I was looking at the bottle and the label tells the story of Gretta, the famous Wild Pig:

"The shrewd and sneaky swine that descends from the Cevennes mountains to pillage the finest grapes of our vineyards!  Such a smart and gluttonous pig deserved a special cuvee in her honor, a way for us to remind her:  "You didn't get all the best grapes!".

It directed me to learn more about the Gretta story on

There I read about their "piglosophy", took a quiz to discover "what kind of wild pig wine are you?" and could download screensavers and wallpaper.  

Pigs and wines aren't usually associated with each other, but this combination works.  Take some lessons from Wild Pig:
-- turn a nemesis or distraction into a positive as they did with Gretta
-- inject some levity and even quirkiness into your branding
-- and be sure to share your story to give your brand a personality that extends far beyond the literal product.


-- beth triplett

Saturday, May 24, 2014

#722 the write way

Is the handwritten thank you note another practice that is as outdated as film and flash cubes?  

For the last three weddings I have been at I have received:
> a picture postcard that said thank you and was just hand-signed

> a picture postcard with a pre-printed thank you message and even a pre-printed address that was bulk mailed (to Ms. E  TH TRIPLETT & GUEST -- how's that for warm and fuzzy?)

> a note that had fill in the blanks like MadLibs:  We sincerely thank you and your _____ for sharing joy and ____ with us by ____ the thoughtful _____.  I am sure it took more time to come up with the innovative words to write in the blanks than it would have taken to do a more traditional note.

Beyond gifts, I have interviewed a dozen or so people in the past month and received only two follow up notes from anyone. 

Technology has certainly increased the acceptable level of informality in our society, but that only makes it easier to make a good impression by taking a little extra step.  Pull out your pen and dig out some notecards.  Appreciation is expressed more profoundly in cursive.

-- beth triplett

Friday, May 23, 2014

#721 the buck starts here

When I was in New York last week, I facilitated a session at the leadership retreat about responsibility.  The audience was college student leaders, but I used the Target CEO as an example for discussion.

Gregg Steinhafel, Target CEO since 2008, "resigned" in light of the data breach that has plagued Target since Thanksgiving.  He had a 35-year career with the company and had overseen its expansion into fresh groceries and branded credit cards.  He was the top dog, not the IT director or VP over that area.  It led to an interesting discussion about where the buck stops.  

With increasing pressure on CEOs to be on top of operational situations, it would be easy for leaders to become micromanagers and insist on knowing all the details.  The temptation is there for boards to do the same.  This is a worrisome trend.

I believe that leaders will be most effective if they devote their energy to thinking big instead of thinking small.  The details can be handled by others whereas the vision is only left to them.  

-- beth triplett

Thursday, May 22, 2014

#720 adaptation

The web has brought a world of information to our fingertips.  With a few taps, you can have access to almost anything.  This was great in the beginning, only now there is so much information and so many sites that a few taps here and a few clicks there can devour hours if you are really searching for something.

Thus the trend of consolidation -- a whole new range of sites and apps that bring together a variety of websites in a single category.  

One of the newest examples is -- first known for household good products and apparel, they have now launched a site to bring together a national pet adoption agency.  Why search at the Humane Societies in your area when one stop will lead you to thousands of animals available for your love:

Why go all around town looking for the right school supplies?  Amazon modified their wish list technology and now encourages teachers to share their back-to-school lists on their website, making it easy for parents to complete their supply shopping in just a few clicks.  

Kayak is an app that consolidates information for travel alerts, bookings, trip trackings and even packing lists all in one place instead of requiring travelers to have separate apps for each.

These are all examples of businesses who took one technology and applied it in other areas.  What resource does your organization have that could be applied in new ways -- even very different ways like Overstock's involvement with pets.  Think broadly of how to adapt your resources to provide a new service or to bring information about similar services together under your search engine.

-- beth triplett

Thanks Amy for the Overstock info!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

#719 investments

I had to have a conversation with my broker a few weeks ago as I made a contribution to my IRA before the tax deadline.  He is a nice guy, but I hate when I have to call him.  Even though I have an MBA, he speaks a foreign language.

"Do you want a traditional IRA or SEP?"  "I think we should invest in the S&P ETF -- maybe a few shares in mid-cap and ishares in small cap or international."  "We could buy DWM or DEM."  And on it goes.

There is something to be said for the old-fashioned bank passbook savings.  You give them $1000 and the balance goes up by $1000.  The rewards certainly have less potential than by investing in the stock market, but the numbers never go in reverse and it is math that can be understood.

Be intentional about your trade-offs between reward and complexity.  Sometimes, like when investing, it may be worth it to muddle through the alphabet soup or to pay a broker to invest for you.  But QuickBooks may work just fine for your personal finances vs. hiring an accountant.  A cake mix may suffice instead of baking a masterpiece by hand.  Throwing down some grass seed might do the trick instead of researching landscapers.  Asking for a wine recommendation may be better than testing a multitude yourself.

Your time is a valuable commodity.  Be conscious of how you invest it.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

#718 first pick

Forbes recently ran an an article speculating "What if congressional elections were run like the NFL Draft?"   (

It got me wondering about other selection processes.  Should the worst performing team be rewarded in order to level out the playing field in other arenas?  The business with the worst ROI gets first pick at the new technology superstars.  The school with the worst freshmen class can have the valedictorians or the college with the worst record can enroll the top high school player.  The city with the highest crime rate gets first dibbs on the police academy graduates or the medical center with the highest mortality rates gets first choice of doctors.  

None of those scenarios make any sense to me.

Most of us operate in a world where the best results are rewarded instead of penalized in the following year.  Good results often set the bar higher for future goals, but they don't have a downside like getting the last pick in the draft.  

Think about it: you have all first round picks.  Use the opportunity to attract and hire all the superstars you can by making your organization and product attractive to the winners.

-- beth triplett

Monday, May 19, 2014

#717 destiny

Think of what a thrill it must be to have your name called as one of the draft picks for the National Football League.  Only 256 men had that honor this year.  Everyone involved must be over the moon with excitement.

Being chosen as a member of the NFL is an elusive goal.  In the U.S., 3 million kids play youth football.  I am sure several of them believe they will be the next Payton Manning or Tom Brady, but in reality only about one-third (1.1 million) even make it to play high school ball.  After that, the roster truly dwindles and only about 73,000 play in college** and less than 2,000 play pro ball.  The odds are daunting that even the college player will be drafted.

The NFL Draft makes the odds and competition neatly quantifiable.  But I wonder how many kids want to be veterinarians, but never make it into vet school.  How many want to be astronauts but never fly.  Or want to be president, but never run for office.

It is probably a good thing for our dreams that we spend little time calculating how minuscule our chances are to achieve them.  You only need one spot to be drafted and you've got 250+ chances each year.  Act as if you are destined rather than doomed.

More on the draft tomorrow...

-- beth triplett

Sources:  *NFL Draft Results 2014, Bleacher Report, May 12, 2014
** Football participation in the USA, USA Today Snapshots, July 17, 2012

Sunday, May 18, 2014

#716 hot dog

As a native Chicagoan, I admit to my love of hot dogs.  Just thinking about the Chicago Dog, with its Vienna Beef dog, sesame seed bun, celery salt, neon green relish, tomatoes (but no ketchup!), sport peppers and dill pickle spear -- well, it makes my mouth water.  

Vienna Beef estimates that 200,000 hot dogs are sold in the Chicago area per week!* Although I love Portillos and the dogs they sell, I don't think I would ever get a tattoo with their name inked into my skin.  Some people feel otherwise.  

A local hot dog restaurant, Hot Doug's in Chicago, offers free hot dogs for life if a patron has a Hot Doug tattoo.  Or at least they did.  Doug's announced that they are permanently closing on October 3 -- creating a void for those who bought the 700-800 sausages they sold on a daily basis.    

Is there a business out there that you love so much you would get their tattoo?  And how would you feel if the owner retired, rendering your tattoo worthless?

Think about how you can provide something that makes your clients want to be an ambassador for you instead of being a walking billboard.  I am all for brand/business loyalty, but would recommend cultivating it in a way that does not involve body art!  

-- beth triplett

Sources:  *Despite closures, Chicago still relishes its hot dogs by Don Babwin for the Associated Press in the Telegraph Herald, May 9, 2014


Thanks to Andy for the idea.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

#715 solidarity

Sounds like a perfect partnership: an organization for young women and a product targeted toward girls team up together.  In reality, these two groups are the Girl Scouts and Barbie -- and not everyone thought it was a match made in heaven.

Two consumer advocacy groups are lobbying the Girl Scouts to disband the relationship because "Barbie is a flawed role model for little girls". They have started a petition drive and criticized the organization for turning girls into "walking advertisements." 

To their credit, the scouts have said the partnership stands.  Both sides had to have anticipated this type of feedback before signing on the dotted line.  I am glad that they are not letting the squeaky wheels dictate their actions.  

Too often, organizational leaders react to public commentary by changing their policies or practice.  Not that feedback isn't good or welcome, but one-sided commentary does not always need to garner the dominant vote.  

The focus of the Mattel/Girl Scout activities is on career exploration to show girls, that like Barbie, they can have a wide range of careers.  Yes, Barbie does sport an "impossible body type", but hopefully scouts teach the Brownies some critical thinking so they can distinguish between what is a toy and what is a realistic option for their future.  The girls don't need the child advocates to do that for them.

-- beth triplett

Source:  Girl Scouts stick with Barbie by David Crary for the Associated Press in the Telegraph Herald, March 7, 2014, p. 8A.

Friday, May 16, 2014

#714 yes

Broadcaster Jane Pauley has just written a book* to give baby boomers motivation and encouragement for their "next chapter" in life.  I haven't read it, but I did read an article about the story.  

The thought that stuck with me wasn't something that Pauley said, rather a quote she attributes to actor Michael J. Fox.  "Say 'yes' as often as you can,"  Fox told her.  "'No' doesn't move you."

I think "saying yes" is a good mantra for supervision as well as for life.  I try to say "yes" as often as I can to my employees -- to encourage their new ideas, to provide the kind of rewards that are meaningful, to agree to tackle barriers and address issues, and to allow for changes that make sense. 

Try to go through today saying "yes" to as many requests as you can.  While I can only imagine what outlandish proposals will cross my desk at work today because of that statement, we'll all benefit from giving new things a go.

-- beth triplett

*Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life by Jane Pauley

Thursday, May 15, 2014

#713 connections

It is ironic that I was in Buffalo doing a leadership session at a friend's campus on the topic of "connections".   That theme was appropriate to characterize my trip to New York, when my flight was delayed out of Chicago due to a snowstorm in Denver.  The plane had to be de-iced there, thus was late into O'Hare, so I was late in leaving.   Snow a thousand miles away impacted my connection.

On the return trip, a faulty bathroom fan caused smoke in a building 50 miles from O'Hare, and in turn caused a thousand flights to be cancelled.  The building was the air traffic radar system for O'Hare and Midway, so both airports were closed for a few hours in the middle of the day.  While I was flying over Michigan en route to Chicago.  

My plane was diverted to Grand Rapids, where after a few hours of flying in a holding pattern, then sitting on the tarmac, we were allowed to deplane -- only to be told our fight was cancelled and we were stuck there for the next 30 hours!  Instead, I made a connection with a delightful stranger and we drove four hours to Chicago, where my brother rescued me and loaned me his extra car to drive the additional three hours to Iowa.  Despite the drive, and the impending six hours to return the car next week, I was grateful to have made it home that evening.

I didn't think that the weather in Denver would impact my flight into New York or that smoke in Elgin would derail my plans to come home, but it did.  The world is interrelated -- some consequences are unintentional like airline delays, but other actions can have intentional effects that can enhance connections.  Become conscious of the web you are a part of and how it can subsequently help strengthen your organization.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

#712 slowly

"Science is about the slow accumulation of evidence and the gradual evolution of understanding..."

So writes Stacey Colino in her book Disease Proof.  I think you could take out the word "science" and substitute the words "wisdom" or "life".  

The image of the light bulb going off over our head proliferates the media and perceptions about creativity.  In reality, that earned knowledge and new thought comes slowly, after an often tedious process of knowledge-gathering.  We take a class, read (or write!) a blog, have a conversation, learn something new -- and then make the connections to other things we know.

Especially as you work with young people or new professionals in your organization, help them to internalize that the acquisition of true wisdom evolves at the speed of snail mail, not the Internet.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

#711 cheers

Blog #711 of course reminds me of the 7-11 convenience store -- a place I frequented when I lived in St. Louis.  I think they were the innovators of the big cups of pop (aka Big Gulps), and I often started my morning with some cold caffeine. 

Mike was the attendant there.  I knew his name because he knew mine -- and the names of everyone who had ever come in on his shift.  He would ask your name the first time and then remember it forever after that.  Unlike some places that give a hollow promise of friendliness, Mike lived it in the minute or two you were in his workplace "home".

I contrast that to other businesses that purport to be friendly, but do not provide any personal service or distinction between one customer and other.  You can walk through the store and do your shopping without any acknowledgement or interaction except from the person who robotically takes your money.

There are advantages to being known, and sometimes perks to anonymity.  Often it is comfortable to go where "everyone knows your name", yet it is also freeing to be totally invisible and on your own for a spell.  

People can thrive under either scenario; just don't be disingenuous about which you provide.  If you preach "small, friendly, caring", be prepared to hire the Mikes of the world and deliver it.

-- beth triplett

Monday, May 12, 2014

#710 savvy surveys

Survey Monkey and other similar software programs have made it easy to develop a feedback form.  It seems like every receipt I get these days has a special code and an extra three inches of the toxic paper in order for me to "share my opinion", "let us know", or "help us improve".  I wonder if the results ever lead to real changes.

Leave it to Zappos to develop a survey that is a bit more out of the ordinary than the generic "rate us" from 1-10 format.  Some of the questions their "Loyalty Team" asks:

> If you started your own service-based company, how likely would you be to hire the team member who assisted you?

> If there was an All-Star team of customer service representatives, would the team member who helped you be on it?

> Did the team member make a genuine attempt to build a connection?

> If you had to name one thing that we could improve upon, what would that be?

It ends with: "We understand that your time is precious, so we really appreciate you taking some of it to write us."

Zappos makes me feel that by utilizing these creative ways to get a more meaningful answer, they actually care about what I have to say.  

No one says that a feedback survey has to be boring.  Help your clients know you are genuine in your desire to improve, and I'll bet they share treasures with you on how to excel.

-- beth triplett


Sunday, May 11, 2014

#709 boxcar branding

A train passed by that was full of gang graffiti.  It seems that gangs are attracted to railroad cars -- I guess because they're there, often unattended, big and available -- but it seems like such a low-tech way to get your brand out.

That's what gang symbols are really, a unique kind of brand and trademark, complete with color identity and visual standards.  They are a quick identifier of the gang, their territory and their message.

I certainly don't recommend plastering your brand with spray paint on railroad cars, but you can take a lesson from those who do.  Having a identity that means more than the name of your product -- something that symbolizes who you are and engenders pride for those who wear it -- that is something you can strive for in your organization, too.  You shouldn't shed blood for your "gang", but having loyalty run in the blood of your members is a good goal.

-- beth triplett

Saturday, May 10, 2014

#708 dear graduates,

Even though my college graduation was a few years, ahem, decades, ago, I still remember the day.  We were on a football field, wearing black robes, sitting in the unfiltered sun, ready to expire from heat stroke!

Of course we had a speaker, although I could not tell you who or what he/she said.  Undoubtedly the person put great thought and effort into their oratory, but it wasn't memorable.  Nor was the speaker at the other three graduations I have attended for advanced degrees.

Today is commencement on our campus and I wouldn't be surprised if our graduates have the same experience with the speaker.  But what a thrill it would be to be asked to deliver the address.

Chicago Tribune workplace columnist Rex Huppke had these three wise nuggets to share:
1.  Don't hold out for a dream job; just find someone who will pay you to do stuff.  That's how you learn; that's how you build.

2.  Be a decent human being.  Be nice, hard working, willing to chip in when needed and pleasant to be around.

3.  Be humble.  It's a long game and you're just getting started.

What would you say if you were asked to be the graduation speaker at a college?  What words of wisdom would you want to impart to the young leadership descending upon the work world?   

Don't wait until you're behind a podium to help a new graduate grow.  Chances are, they'll remember what you say one-to-one much more anyway.

-- beth triplett

Source:  Words of wisdom for recent graduates by Rex Huppke for the Chicago Tribune in the Telegraph Herald, July 21, 2013

Friday, May 9, 2014

#707 taboo

Over the weekend, our town held a city-wide garage sale.  I may not fit the profile of a typical garage sale shopper, but I too, was among the many who scanned the tables and racks. 

Another one of my mom's sayings was that "someone's trash is someone else's treasure." It applies not only to garage sales, but to the whole reused industry.  Whether it is due to the economy forcing people to be more price conscious, the thrill of finding great deals or the environmental pragmatism of reusing goods, people of all income levels are shopping i the second hand market.

In the past three years, Goodwill's retail sales have increased 75% and their stores are setting record levels of sales.  Studies show that about 20% of people shop in thrift stores regularly.  "It's not a taboo thing for a lot of people anymore," said one of the store owners.

Has there been something related to your organization that had a stigma that is now lifting?  Perhaps you work with mental health, once an unspeakable topic.  Or maybe you serve gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender issues that have mostly come "out of the closet".  Or perhaps you work with diseases that are now more widely known thanks to the host of commercials promoting prescriptions to cure them.  And, of course, the civil rights movement has changed the landscape of what is current practice.

Many things that are acceptable and even commonplace today were once frowned upon or left unsaid.  Like the stigma that used to accompany second hand shopping, can you do something to make other behaviors socially acceptable?  Does there really need to be a taboo about the choices people make of how they shop, live or work? 

-- beth triplett


Goodwill proves to be retail juggernaut by Martin Moylan for Minnesota Public Radio in the Telegraph Herald, April 26, 2014, p. 4D

The thrift economy by Erin Murphy, Telegraph Herald, January 12, 2014, p. 1B/3B

Thursday, May 8, 2014

#706 strongest suit

I know there is a movement toward more casual dressing, but I remain a fan of dressing up.    I look at my calendar before determining what to wear to work each day, as some days warrant "better" than others.

Some people put on their game face; I put on my game clothes.

Today is our board of trustees meeting, and I can guarantee that I will not be wearing the same outfit that I will wear on a summer Friday.  A former colleague of mine donned cuff links for such occasions.  Others have different suits or some accessory that helps them feel just a little bit more confident.

In a past life, I insisted that one of my youngest hires wear a tie, daily, to help him transition from student to staff.  He hated it, but I still maintain that it served him well. 

Casual is akin to email; it certainly is pervasive and totally accepted in the work environment.  It is also why dressing up -- the contemporary equivalent of a handwritten note -- distinguishes you in a most positive way.  

The next time you want to be more on top of your game -- or you want to make an impression on others -- tailor your attire to the occasion.  Call me old fashioned, but I do believe that dress does make a difference.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

#705 in the present

Last week, the father of a teenager who drowned on the South Korea ferry released a video of his son's final moments.  The recording was preserved on a cell phone that was found in the wreckage.  It showed the final 15 minutes of a group of teenagers on the ill-fated trip.  If you were the father, would you want to watch the movie?

There is little in this world, save for the flight path of Malaysian Air 370, that is not recorded in some fashion.  The proliferation of camera phones -- and the hundreds of apps that make sharing pictures a "snap" -- have moved our primary form of communication into the visual realm.

Instead of going "back to the future", instant replays in sports, the use of traffic cameras, nanny cams and dog monitors, coupled with surveillance cameras everywhere, allow us to go "back to the past" to live moments over and over again.  

I wonder if this is a good thing.  

I know there are some things that have happened in my life that I wouldn't want to watch again.  There are some moments that should remain private and cherished for what they were when they happened.  

Does our reliance on recording mechanisms dull our attention in the present?  Do we pay less attention to "live" because we know we will have the opportunity to see almost everything again later?  

Try to live your life like there was no "record" button.  Be present in the present and experience your life live.

-- beth triplett

Source:  Video shows students' plight on sinking ferry by Foster Klug and Hyung-Jin Kim for the Associated Press in the Telegraph Herald, May 2, 2014, p. 8A

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

#704 imitation

'Tis the season for local elections and primary races.  In our city, there are several yard signs touting "Hancock for Supervisor" or similarly generic slogans for other candidates.  I think they could all be mass produced with an "Insert Name Here" format.

Not so in Texas. 

Driving through one of the Fort Worth suburbs, I saw that they have taken the city council election to a whole new level.  Signs were four-color with photos and even mini-biographies on them.  One is a doctor; another candidate is a CPA, while still others are "experienced", "capable" and even "caring".

I wonder who the candidate was that started all this.  Surely someone was first to deviate from the traditional small sign to come forward with a large sign and pictures.  That candidate raised the bar for everyone.  It elevated the stakes (and cost), but also heightened awareness about the election and hopefully created some voter interest.

Whoever went first probably thought they would really stand out, but now they are indistinguishable in the sea of similar signs.  It reminded me of when my younger sisters would annoy me by copying my actions.  At those times, my mother always said:  "Imitation is the highest form of flattery."  

When your competitors copy the great idea you had, be flattered that they stole it, then spend your energy on coming up with yet another new thought rather than lamenting how they have copied you.  

-- beth triplett