Monday, June 30, 2014

#759 too late

My sister gave me several promotional buttons that she picked up at a conference -- one of them was to encourage people to "Visit Malaysia 2014".  

When I say "Malaysia" what instantly pops into your head?  I'll bet if you are like most, the answer is "missing Malaysian Flight 370".  Being the head of the Malaysian tourism bureau is one job I would not want right now.

The jetliner disappeared on March 8 and the search is still underway.  Apparently the promotional campaign has been launched as well.  My hunch is that saying that Malaysia is "Truly Asia" is not going to be enough to entice droves of tourists to head there.  If the plane had crashed and been recovered as in previous air disasters, it would have little impact on future travel.  But the sensationalism caused by the mysterious disappearance and the negative response attributed to Malaysian officials will take more than a booth at a conference to overcome.

The time to think about your image and promotion is before a disaster befalls you.  Have you established relationships with key members of the media?  Do you have a strong social media presence that can communicate updates and messages in real time?  Are your internal organizational members aware of who is (and is not) the spokesperson for your group?  Have you earned trust and loyalty from your clients by treating them well along the way?

I'll bet if you asked the head of the Malaysian tourism industry what he wishes he would have done differently before the disappearance, he'd have a list of ways he could have been more proactive that would assist him now.  Don't wait for your plane to disappear before you put a messaging strategy on your radar.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, June 29, 2014

#758 L

It's coming up on a big year for the Super Bowl -- Number 50.  And since hardly anyone knows that "L" is 50 in Roman numerals, the NFL has decided to break their traditional way of numbering the big event in time for #50 in 2016.  

I think it's a wise move.  A half-century of Super Bowls is an event to commemorate and using natural numbers instead will lead to greater understanding (ok, and hype and branding -- but what would the game be without that?!).

Is there something in your organization that has outlived its value?  Are you still holding on to a more traditional way of naming something?  (Think of Blockbuster Video changing their name only after years of renting DVDs.)  Could you achieve greater impact with a different name?

Just because you've always done it doesn't mean you should always do it.  Look at your nomenclature with new eyes and see if there aren't some L's lurking in your organization.

-- beth triplett


Saturday, June 28, 2014

#757 pay a premium

Unfortunately, my car requires premium gas.  It was something I never thought to ask when I bought it, and by the time I found out I was already in love with it.  "How much can it matter?", I asked.  The answer is: "A LOT!"

What I did not realize about the premium gas market is the wide variance in price between station to station.  Whereas all the regular unleaded prices are virtually identical between national brands, regional chains and even independent dealers, the price of premium has no such consistency.  Why?  My theory is because the prices for regular are posted.

Each station has the basic price on giant electronic signs, but often the only way to know the premium price is to pull up to the pump.  Thus the owner takes advantage of the premium user and figures they don't compare.

My example:
Where just the regular price is posted:  $3.69/gal for unleaded; $4.23/gal for premium

Where all the prices are posted:  $3.69/gal for unleaded; $3.94 for premium -- 29 cents a gallon cheaper!

How does your organization operate?  Are you like Dealer 1 who keeps information hidden and uses the lack of transparency to your advantage?  Or are you more like Dealer 2 that posts the facts for all to see and decide?

There is an honorable way to conduct business -- and then there is the other way.  Don't make your clients pay a premium for your lack of transparency.

-- beth triplett

Friday, June 27, 2014

#756 every day

My mom has never heard of Facebook; couldn't even comprehend Snapchat and more often than not the phone goes to voice mail instead of her.  So I write her a postcard -- every day.

I am sure she enjoys the mail and tidbits of my life, but I think that I am the one to benefit most from the exercise.  Since I already wrote about what I did yesterday and I can't write about tomorrow (or what will I say then?!), the daily nature of the activity keeps me focused on the present.  Writing the postcard gives me five minutes each day to reflect on what I did today and time to consider whether it made an impact.

Think about what you do daily that can give you cause to pause.  A gratitude journal.  A thank you note.  A yoga position.  A diary.  Or a postcard -- to your mom, a service member, a senior citizens home or just about anyone you want to make feel lucky.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, June 26, 2014

#755 alphabet actions

Many people work best in stages A to G -- as in Gee Whiz!  Once the idea is defined, they are ready to move on and let someone else do the implementation.  That would be fine, but often that stage involves a lot of grunt work and figuring out the details of how to make something happen.  Everyone likes the glory and the excitement that is created when something is new, but not everyone has the talent or temperament to see it to completion.

Then there are others (like me) that derive great satisfaction from finishing.  I have a necklace with a charm of a manual typewriter key.  I chose the letter "Z" -- as in A to Z -- to symbolize finishing.

I like the idea of checking something off the list and having it be complete.  I like having a strategic plan that is measurable; a target that is met or not, or a project that is thought through enough that it can be delegated to others and become part of the institutional fabric.

A to G is the question mark phase; H to Y is the comma that can go on forever and Z is the period that makes it a sentence.  Don't leave your ideas dangling like a grammar lesson modifier.  Push through until the end and earn that Z.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

#754 the middle

At an outdoor concert, there was a man circulating a petition to keep dogs out of the city parks and off of city trails.  Those signing his request were of an advanced age such that it was unlikely they would be out hiking with Rover.  

I declined to sign and he moved on without any conversation.  His goal that evening:  quantity instead of quality.

If he had engaged in a conversation, I would have shared that I am a huge dog lover and someone who would be delighted to have the ability to take my four-legged friends more places with me.  However, I agree with the arguments about having dogs in city parks.  The irresponsible owners create hazards that could impact children, and I can understand why the canines are prohibited.  Why they can't go on trails makes absolutely no sense to me, but the petition did not allow a means of splitting the question.

I think politics and many organizations have devolved to a point where there is no discussion.  Everything is reduced to a "yes" or "no"; an "us" or "them" vote that puts people on opposite sides instead of common ground.

At a workshop I attended, Sr. Margaret Carney advised us to "always first create conditions for conversation."  That is often harder to do than it sounds, but it is where true leadership emerges.  The next time you encounter another person's view, seek to expand rather than limit your understanding before you decide.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

#753 soap

I was cleaning my makeup brushes this weekend and rinsed them well with water.  All the color appeared to have been washed out.

Then I applied a dab of soap and suddenly the water was a solid flow of flesh colored water.  Whereas moments before the brushes seemed clean, with one tiny addition they proved to be otherwise.

You can replicate this rudimentary science experiment when talking about change.  A catalyst in an organization is equivalent to soap acting as a catalyst for the brushes.  It doesn't take much, but the right someone/something can have a major impact on what the outcome is.

Maybe your catalyst is a consultant, a new employee, someone empowered, a new task force or strategic plan, or just the leader's new emphasis on a process.  Whichever way the  extra influence is added, it's certain to change what happens in the end.

-- beth triplett

Monday, June 23, 2014

#752 modern hieroglyphics

It seems that it is becoming increasingly important to "digitize" materials in order to be part of today's conversation.  More and more, success and creativity are being defined (or measured) by how much of your content is digitized. 

It's not enough to write a great column; you have to publish it as a blog.  You can only get so far by doing that, so in addition to writing a blog, you have to tweet it and generate a virtual conversation that way.  People who follow you may look you up on Facebook or Linked In and then expect you to have a website.

Digitization has become equated with the ability to share.  It is the modern day equivalent to the cave paintings for how people transmit stories and ideas to others.

For those who wish to get ahead, your mantra should be "digitize daily".  And I do mean digitizing more than selfies or updates on the mundane.  Invest the time to put your ideas out there -- a proposal via email, a blog, a comment on someone else's blog, or sharing an article with your connections.  Do something to paint your message on today's caves.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, June 22, 2014

#751 start

"The motivation is in the doing."  Susan Power

It is a simple, but very true statement.  I may not be motivated to go exercise, but become so once I actually walk into the gym and get started.  There are days when I am certainly not motivated to write a blog, but always feel better once I actually sit down at the keyboard.  I may not want to tackle that big project at work, but become motivated once I dig into it.  We have to muster energy in advance of big programs, but never seem to be lacking it during the event.

As you look at your yard this weekend or consider other projects that need your attention, don't try to get motivated to do it.  Start doing, and the motivation is sure to follow.

--- beth triplett

Saturday, June 21, 2014

#750 bulletproof

There are many times that I wonder about the impact of my work.  I know I see results on a daily basis, but I wish there was a way to know what changes I am having on a long term basis.

I suspect that Stephanie Kwolek felt the same way.

Ms. Kwolek died this week at age 90.  She was the inventor of Kelvar, the bulletproof fiber used in protective vests.  Ironically, on the day she died, DuPont announced that the one-millionth vest made with Kevlar was sold.  I wonder how many lives she saved from her invention.  

More than the lives she saved from the direct impact of her work, Ms. Kwolek likely changed the career path for many women.  She was a scientist in the 1960s, when women in the laboratory were rare.  She is still the only female employee of DuPont to be awarded the medal for outstanding technical achievement.  And after her retirement, she tutored high school students in chemistry and encouraged women to pursue a career in the sciences.

Stephanie Kwolek wanted to be a doctor but couldn't afford medical school, so she went into research instead.  She spent 15 years in the lab without a promotion before her "failed" experiments to find a new material to replace steel in tires led to Kevlar.  She never benefited financially from the development of Kevlar, but we all benefited immeasurably from her.

Even if you can't see it today, keep sharing the gifts and talents you have.  You never know the lives you are influencing.

-- beth triplett

Sources:  Woman who invented Kevlar fiber dies at 90, Associated Press in Telegraph Herald, 6-21-14
Stephanie L. Kwolek, Inventor of Kelvar, Is Dead at 90, Jeremy Pearce, New York Times, 6-20-14

Friday, June 20, 2014

#749 hazy

We're nearing that glorious time in the summer when school seems long ago and also far in the future.  Students forget about the books, and the routine even changes for many employees.  People are on vacation, leaving offices with less than full staff, and the pace slows somewhat.  The "lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer" is more than a song title.

It seems that the "hazy" part isn't just referring to the weather either.  Today is National Summer Learning Day, created to remind parents to engage their children in activities that counteract the summer learning loss that occurs.  The "summer slide" creates significant achievement gaps, causing students to lose months of math and reading skills.  The day aims to motivate families and communities to provide "stimulating activities" to keep children's brains engaged during breaks.

I think Summer Learning Day is something that all of us could benefit from.  What have you done this summer -- or what can you do today -- to fill your brain with a "stimulating activity."  Travel, visiting new places locally, engaging in something for the first time, reading, conversing with someone who has a different background or putting pen to paper (fingers to keys?) all are examples of things that you can do.

Most of us are taking in new information every day, but make the commitment to consciously experience something for the sake of learning.  Devour more than watermelon at your next picnic; feed your mind with new knowledge.  You'll be better in the long run if your summer is a little less lazy.

-- beth triplett

Learning more fun than a summer slide by Eric Dregne, Telegraph Herald, 6-23-13, p. 15A.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

#748 another dimension

In addition to the content that was shared at the TEDx conference, I was fascinated by the logistics of the event.  

The national TED sponsors are very specific about the requirements that must occur for a program to carry the TEDx name.  TEDx events have a mentor from, rely on volunteers to run it and specify details such as the attendance limits, signage, stage set up and format.

It was interesting to note that the speakers all had their speeches memorized (another requirement).  Apparently people had been working on their talks for a year (!) and were able to deliver them without notes.  TED's advice:  start first with the people who move you and then tie them in with a theme.  I think their wisdom applies to almost any event you are assembling!

The speakers came on stage and started -- no thank yous, welcomes, introductory comments -- within the first two lines they were into content.  Often the initial words were a question: "Have you ever felt..." and then they had you drawn in.  With very few visual aids, no podium and a bare stage, the words and ideas were the focus and source of power.  

I think everyone in the audience applauded the courage of the speakers to share oftentimes very personal stories and to put themselves out there in a vulnerable position.  The time they dedicated to their craft and their bravery in agreeing to speak was inspirational.  

I took as much away from the logistics as I did from the content.  How can I use TED as a model to use my voice and tell my story more boldly?  How can I volunteer to make something happen that benefits the social culture of my community in entrepreneurial ways?  What opportunity do I have to be publicly brave?  How can I foster connections between very different types of people to create something special?  

Even if you weren't in the audience, TED can spread ideas in your thinking too.

-- beth triplett


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

#747 stimulation

Last week I was one of the lucky 100 people able to attend the inaugural TEDx event held in our town.  For those of you who don't know, TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a forum for spreading ideas.  TEDx is the local version of the national phenomenon that hosts thousands of TED Talks on the internet (

We spent five hours in a window-less black box theatre on a sunny Friday afternoon listening to nine people share their thoughts.  For some, this would have been punishment.  For those in attendance, it was a treat.  There was a palpable energy in the room as it was populated by people who wanted to be at this event.  

Each presenter shared their story for about 20 minutes, loosely based on the theme "connection".  We heard from a cemetery counselor who collects biographies of the deceased at the time of burial so that future genealogists or ancestors can know more about the person than birth/death dates.  Another speaker shared her experiences as a child with cancer and how that led her to create a foundation to help others with medical transportation expenses.  Someone else shared her story of how being connected to who you are -- being in your "own lane" vs. the "fear lane" -- will help you tap into the energy of life. We heard how sports have transformative powers to tackle social barriers and how practicing four practical commitments can lead to personal change.

The common experience had little other commonalities -- among the speakers or the participants.  Yet everyone felt that they were part of something important -- the kind of energy and momentum that comes from being in on the ground floor.  We felt connected -- not just to each other, but to the larger TED community with its millions of viewers and potential to stimulate thinking on a global scale.

What exists already that your organization can tie into?  How can you create connections to a community larger than your own -- tapping into a national or international movement that can give you resources and meaning?  So often we do our work in isolation and overlook the power that comes from thinking bigger; don't lose that opportunity to generate energy.

More on TED tomorrow...

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

#746 fold and spindle

A mentor once said that the role of the leader is to "fold, spindle and mutilate"* rules.  In contrast to keeping policies and rules in rigid, unaltered form, the lesson was that the leader was paid to make exceptions.  If that is the case, I feel like I am really doing my job this month!  In the past few days I have been asked to make exceptions to our financial aid awards, to our tuition remission eligibility requirements, to our vacation policy, and to our dress code.  

Most of the requests I receive have valid and logical reasons for the alteration and would result in an easy answer if I considered them on their own merit.  But before I grant any change, I try to think of how this decision fits into the greater scheme of things and how it would look if I considered it across the area rather than in a linear fashion.  I also try to understand the unspoken element that is driving the request.

An example: We have registration days this week and the counselors do a lot of running around so want to wear shorts (not allowed in our policy).  The unspoken rationale is that our registration days are very draining and if wearing shorts can add a bit of spunk and energy, then it's worth it.  Fold and spindle that policy for these days and put on those shorts!  

As you make requests or are in the position to decide on them, always listen for the unspoken driver that warrants the exception.  It helps to know what you are really addressing when you chose to temporarily mutilate those rules.

-- beth triplett

*This is a reference to the old keypunch cards which had to be kept in pristine condition in order to be processed by the giant reader; often they were imprinted with "do not fold, spindle or mutilate." The closest contemporary reference would be ballots with hanging "chads" often left when election votes are punched.

Monday, June 16, 2014

#745 shhh

One of the more challenging things for some leaders is the ability to work on things behind the scenes -- and to be comfortable not talking about it.  Oftentimes strategic moves require confidential planning and private meetings.  As much as we'd like to have full transparency, there are times when this just isn't possible.

It is hard to stay quiet when the temptation is to say: "YES!  I am working on something!" even though there is nothing that can publicly be shown.  This happens in cases with a merger or acquisition, the purchase of property, a personnel move or other similar matters.  

After you have been working on something for so long, you become comfortable with it and that's when spilling the beans can accidentally occur.  You know after the first meeting that things are "hush hush", but after meeting 20 that same clandestine sense isn't there -- even though for the sake of the project it should be.  A premature sharing can often jeopardize the whole thing.

Abraham Lincoln faced this when trying to quietly delay negotiations with the Confederacy long enough to garner support for the Emancipation Proclamation.  I've seen leaders face this as they attempted to switch athletic conferences or procure a large gift.  I've been there myself as I worked on an organizational restructuring and the strategic plan.

There are times to share openly and times to be patient.  Whether you're the one who has the information or just the one who is curious, take care to bide your time and your tongue. Sometimes being "in the know" means keeping "in the dark".

-- beth triplett

Sunday, June 15, 2014

#744 RPMs

If you could afford to own a warehouse, you would be well served to keep everything you have ever owned.  Things that go out of style once tend to come back into favor after a decade or so, and things that once were uncool are suddenly back in fashion.

My latest example:  records.  The bookstore in the mall (in other words: mainstream shopping vs. a niche store) is now selling turntables and a whole selection of vinyl records. And those little plastic 45 adaptors that once cost about a quarter: they are now $2 each.  Think of how many albums were sold at garage sales for a song and now they are back in circulation at full price.

The sign on the display says: Old School, New Cool.  Same for long dresses that were once out, but now are back in.  The 1970s/1980s neon colors that are back in mass merchandising.  Superman and Batman have taken on a new life.  Just take a quick look through Pinterest to see how popular "vintage" has become.  Mason jars are trendy.  Chalk is the hot medium.  Classic board games are experiencing a revival.  

I recently visited an antiques store and it was like stepping back into my mother's kitchen.  We once owned about a quarter of the merchandise, and, given the current prices, I wish we still did!

It may seem old-fashioned or unnecessary to hold on to pieces of your organization's present, but it appears that tangible tokens will increase in value as time goes by.  Take your archiving and preserving as seriously as space allows.  The historical display you roll out in a decade or two may be the emotional connection your client or donor needs to endear themselves to you.

-- beth triplett

Saturday, June 14, 2014

#743 essentials

One of my mentor's mantras is to "travel light."  She may carry a phone and a car key, but never a purse.  She may bring along an iPad or a pen to a meeting, but never files or anything bulky.  She is very intentional about keeping her hands free to greet people and being unburdened with "stuff" that may detract from her ability to converse.  She makes a good point that men carry what they need in their pocket, and women should do the same.

Contrast that with Queen Elizabeth II.  She could certainly leave the palace with nothing in tow, but she has chosen to carry a purse.  Craig Wilson in USA Today* observed that she: "once again carried her now-famous and mysterious purse to all her Diamond Jubilee events...She's been carrying that purse for 60 years now, and so far, no one has ever seen her open it."  Obviously Queen Elizabeth has chosen to make a statement, fashion or otherwise, and the purse is part of that story.

The premise extends beyond just purses and applies to both genders.  There is no "right" way to make an entrance or to approach a meeting.  Bring it all and be prepared.  Bring just essentials and travel light.  Carry paper if it works for you.  Make a statement and be high tech.  

The choice is yours to make.  Just spend a minute thinking about it and opt for a decision instead of the default.

-- beth triplett

*Source:  Fumblers of the world: Organize yourselves!  The Final Word by Craig Wilson, USAToday, 6/13/12

Friday, June 13, 2014

#742 Geronimo!

Yesterday was former president George H. W. Bush's 90th birthday.  And how did he spend it?  Parachuting out of a plane!  It is sort of a birthday tradition with him -- he's done it for his 75th, 80th and 85th milestones.  

What is even more notable is that Bush is suffering from a form of Parkinson's disease that limits the use of his legs.  So he hitched a ride on the back of a Golden Knight and kept the streak going.

How many excuses could he have legitimately made that would have kept him from keeping his promise to himself?  He's 90 years old. He can't walk.  It's dangerous.  He's done it before so no need to risk it again.  The forecast called for clouds and showers.  Secret Service can't protect him.  The list could go on and on.

But he accomplished his goal and descended from the sky to get the adrenaline rush he wanted to celebrate his special day.

It's not often that I say this, but take a lesson from the man. Lead your life with gusto.  Don't wait until you are 90 to do some of the things that give you a thrill or made it to your bucket list.  Take the jump today.

--- beth triplett



Thanks to Amy for the timely tip.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

#741 lens

Lucky for you (?!), I will refrain from any more blogs from my vacation.  I limited myself to 11, but truly I could have used the trip as inspiration for a dozen more.  I did not set out to fill a week with observations, but it is becoming instinctive that I see the world through "blog eyes."  Everything I experience, read or ponder somehow triggers the thought in my brain that "this could be a blog."  I also receive regular ideas from friends with the same sentiment: "I think there is a blog in here somewhere."  (Suggestions are always welcome!)

This is another example of the power of focusing.  I didn't set out to find fashion examples, new recipes, cultural symbols, vacation tips or any other observations from my journey.  My lens is what can provide a leadership lesson for myself and readers.

Think about the glasses through which you view the world.  Are you focused on finding areas that need help, ways to motivate others, examples of great advertising, market opportunities, decorating ideas or construction nuances?  Whatever you focus on, you will see more of.  Be intentional about how you direct your laser.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

#740 heroes

One more observation from my visit to Montgomery: the amount of danger that people who advocated for civil rights faced.  Even today, 50 years later, the National Civil Rights Memorial Center has 24/7 armed security guards both inside and out, a metal detector, gates and controlled access because of the violence and threats that have been made toward the facility.

Those who participated in the Movement were often unsung heroes.  For every Rosa Parks that we know, there are hundreds of others who participated in the struggle and endured personal sacrifice.  Some of the most courageous were the college students who came from across the nation to be Freedom Riders.  Even though the initial group was met by violent mobs, others continued to volunteer to keep the cause alive.

In the Freedom Riders Museum, there is a display of current reflections from those who rode the buses or trains as a college student.  Peter Sterling writes: "Before I left, I called my father.  He had certainly seen those photos in the newspapers and on TV.  Years later I asked him if he had realized, in 1961, when I called to tell him I was going that we were replaying Abraham and Isaac where Abraham risked everything with his son for his commitment.  There was a moment of silence and then a choked 'yes'.  That was when I felt the story's full power -- a man must have values; he must teach them to his son -- but then he must live with their terrifying consequences."

A PBS documentary about the Freedom Riders asks: "Could you get on the bus?"  My answer would have been no.  I was not that brave.  Are you willing to pay the price for what you believe in? 

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

#739 an illusion

Inside the Alabama State Capitol are beautiful walls that appear to be painted in between crown moulding.  The colors just pop off the walls and they certainly appear to be three-dimensional.  I hope you can see them here:


In reality, the walls and ceilings are nothing but one-dimensional paint.  Regular paint, just like you and I would use, only in the hands of a master muralist who made the decor come to life.  The whole interior is an illusion.

I wonder about the city of Montgomery itself, and whether or not civil rights and racial equality are an illusion too.  Taped into the window of an abandoned downtown business was this sign:

How long has that sign been there -- and does it represent the sentiment of today?  Has racial tolerance been replaced with bias against another group of people or is this closed-minded behavior what caused the business to close in the first place?  Maybe it is a reminder from a long ago time, but the city officials trying to revitalize the area would be well served to take it down promptly.

Does a cue from one area of your organization send mixed signals from what you are trying to achieve in another area?  Are you guilty of painting the walls to appear 3-D when in reality your commitment is only surface deep?  We are always looking for clues for what is authentic and real.  Look to the little signs to see how your true message is coming across.

-- beth triplett

Monday, June 9, 2014

#738 historical connections

Montgomery, Alabama was just named the Most Historical City by USA Today's Readers Choice Poll.  It certainly should be on the short list if not the winner.  They have played a central role in the "Civil War to Civil Rights."

I was surprised to see all the places in the city that had national significance.  The first White House of the Confederacy where Jefferson Davis lived.  The Greyhound Bus Terminal that was the site of the Freedom Rides. The church where Martin Luther King, Jr. was pastor.  The steps of the capitol where Governor George C. Wallace preached his "I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" litany.  The bridge site of Bloody Sunday in the voter registration march to Selma.

And, of course, where Rosa Parks refused to get off the bus which became the motivation for the Montgomery Bus Boycotts.  The site where Rosa got on the bus is marked with a plaque, and fortunately where she chose not to yield her seat is also publicly noted.  

Troy University purchased the land on that famous corner, with the intent of making into a parking garage.  Fortunately, the leadership realized that it would be far better utilized as a Rosa Parks Museum, and that is what it is today.  The Greyhound Bus Depot was set for demolition but instead became a Freedom Riders Museum.  

Is there hallowed ground in your community that you should work to preserve?  Public places that have played a role in making your organization, your city or you what you are today?  Sometimes just having people stand in the same place as history can shape the future.  Think about how you can influence tomorrow by the decisions you make about yesterday.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, June 8, 2014

#737 pursuit

After California Chrome came in fourth in the Belmont Stakes yesterday, its owner Steve Coburn spoke to reporters.  "There will never be another Triple Crown Winner in my lifetime," he said.  "The way owners hold back their horses so they have fresh legs is the coward's way out."

He was referring to the fact that California Chrome (and any other potential Triple Crown winners) ran in the Kentucky Derby and then the Preakness before coming to Belmont.  Tonalist, who won the race, did not run in either precursor.  Wicked Strong was another Belmont runner who skipped the Preakness in order to save strength for this race.

Coburn certainly has a point that those who run all three races are at a disadvantage.  But isn't life like that?  Sometimes you are working on projects or attempting things where you are more fatigued than the competition or when the field isn't even.  You may not win all the races, but attempting them all will earn you more glory than those who take an easier path. 

We'll remember California Chrome longer than anyone can recall Tonalist, because he tried for the gusto.  Keep going for your Triple Crown, even when the race you're running doesn't seem fair.

-- beth triplett

Saturday, June 7, 2014

#736 easy living

When I lived in West Virginia, my house had a porch swing.  I think a large portion of why I purchased that particular home was because of that swing; that it remained with the house became a condition of my purchase.

I spent many hours on the swing; somehow all my cares seemed to vanish with the peaceful swaying of the seat.  You couldn't be stressed out as you swung back and forth at the leisurely pace, and it was physically impossible to traverse at any other speed.

It seems that the Tallahassee, Florida is trying to add a similar element of charm and relaxation to their community.  The city is attempting to make the porch swing a "signature symbol" as they place them in parks, at the lake, downtown and gardens.  The city is encouraging residents to add them to homes, high schools and other public places.

You don't need a community decree to add a swing to your yard or neighborhood.  Far cheaper than therapy, and more fun too, think about bringing a relaxing addition into your life.  Elements of community, conversation and casual enjoyment all await at the end of a few chains.

-- beth triplett

Source:  (Porch) Swing City by Byron Dobson, Tallahassee Democrat, 5/26/14, p. 1A

Friday, June 6, 2014

#735 in a decade

Yesterday I wrote about the pitiful state of downtown Montgomery.  Apparently a group of investors can see beyond that and has formed the Montgomery Market District in an attempt to bring commercial, retail and residential vibrancy back to the central city.

They have just started their work and are in the initial stages of encouraging brave tenants to join them.  A new sidewalk and beautification program is underway:

And they have an incredibly clever advertising firm with signs and billboards such as:
> Visit
> Turning the lights back on
> Bad time to be a cobweb!
> On your Market, get set...
> Teach an old building new tricks

But Montgomery will need more than catchy slogans to motivate people to dream this big. They need strong leaders with a compelling story before many will invest here:

The work of the Montgomery Market District is possible, perhaps backed by believers and funders in the RSA.  It will take a decade to truly transform the city, but people are actively starting that task today.  

How are you as a leader helping your people see what their organization could be like for the next generation instead of just for the next quarter?

--- beth triplett


Thursday, June 5, 2014

#734 envision

In 1993, when the Retirement System of Alabama* purchased the building at 55 Water Street in New York, it cost them $203 million.  Today it is worth $1.4 billion, is paid off and generated $70 million net profit last year alone.  

At the time, the building was full of asbestos and devoid of clients, but RSA's head David Bronner saw the potential and made the acquisition.  "When something is very bleak, we've often had great success with it," said Dr. Bronner.

I believe that the City of Montgomery is hoping for a similar scenario with its downtown. The central city is in serious need of revitalization.  Calling it a ghost town would be kind.  In reality, parts of it are more than vacant, they are dilapidated and in need of great repair.  Example:
(note the presence of sunshine inside the building!)
Is having a vision enough?  Where does reality come in that says having a dream should remain just an idea and not be pursued?  The right answer to this question is what separates the leaders from the managers, and the wrong answer is what gets them fired!

More on this tomorrow...

-- beth triplett

*See Blog #733, June 4, 2014

Source:  2013 Annual Report