Sunday, November 30, 2014

#912 it's noon

No time during the week goes faster for me than Sunday morning.  It seems that on Sunday, it is always noon.

If I wake early, then I feel like I have time to go out to breakfast, which often leads to errands, and before I know it it is noon.

If my dogs let me sleep, then I leisurely read the paper and putz around the house, and before I know it, it is noon.

If I have obligations in the afternoon, they are upon me before the day really gets started because I feel like those morning hours somehow evaporate.

Do you have an equivalent to Sunday morning?  If a block of hours seem to fly by, could you do something less desirable during that period and get it out of the way?  Could you utilize the time in a different way and become more intentional about its use?  Or do you allow it to be your recreational respite and do more productive things at other hours?

Like with money, becoming conscious of how you are using you time is the first step in becoming intentional about how you spend it.  

-- beth triplett

Saturday, November 29, 2014

#911 automatic

I recently attempted to call my sister Meg via the voice recognition software in my car.  

"Call Meg," I said.  "Calling Susan," the auto-voice responded.  

"No, call MEG," I said again.  "Calling Miron," the computer said.

"No, call M-E-G," I barked.  "Calling 9-1-1," it said as ringing began.  

N-O !!

A minute later, I had a call from Sgt. Mike at the Jo Daviess Sheriff's Department wanting to know if everything was alright.  

I think about the things that were automated in the name of efficiency that often require more energy than the manual version of the same thing.

> Voice recognition software that never did call M-E-G and instead involved the sheriff.

> Auto-flush toilets that often flush two or three times while you are in the stall.

> Motion sensitive lights that come on when a plastic bag flies through the yard.

Automated does not necessarily mean better.  Sometimes the old fashioned way really does have its merits.  Just ask Sergeant Mike!

-- beth triplett

Friday, November 28, 2014

#910 talking

How did Tom Turkey make a presentation yesterday?  Though the wonders of technology, of course.

Thanks to a fun app MyTalkingPet, you can make a recording and it appears that any animal is speaking.  I received a version from my dog, asking if she could have a treat, and then another one from my other dog who wanted me to come home and play.  

In addition to amusing emails, the app can be used to make inanimate animals talk.  We have plans to deliver a message from our mascot; it was used to have an inflatable snowman deliver a holiday greeting, and it's how Tom Turkey could describe a cooking contest entry.

If you want to have your dog tell your kids that Santa is watching or tug on someone's heart strings with an "I love you" message from their pet, this app is a winner.  Think about adding a whole new dimension to your communication messages through its use.

-- beth triplett

MyTalkingPet at the App Store 
or see

Thursday, November 27, 2014

#909 tradition

For most families, the only competition that occurs today is on the gridiron.  Not so for the Cirks' clan.  For the past 7 years, the siblings and siblings-in-laws have tried to best each other to win the coveted ceramic turkey award for the best entry in the family cooking competition.

Each year, a different category is designated and a rubric developed for judging.  Last year, a dessert had to include instant mashed potatoes, pomegranate, cottage cheese and chocolate.  This year, contestants will display their candy or cookies and be scored on the following: representative of Thanksgiving, taste, creativity, appearance.  Even the family members who are unable to attend are expected to participate via Skype.

Two bonus points are allowed, so grandiose presentations usually accompany the dish.  Last year, the winner built a fire so others could roast homemade marshmallows as part of the dessert.  I believe Tom Turkey himself may be making a presentation this year.

The traveling turkey must be be displayed prominently in the winner's home during the year.  It comes with a host of bragging rights and a gold marker to permanently record the name of the champion.

The cooking competition has become an important tradition and a highlight of the holiday.  How can you use this as an example to create something special for your family or organization?  For essentially no cost, you can infuse spirit, laughter and get the creative juices flowing.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

-- beth triplett

Thanks to Julie for sharing the tradition and the samples!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

#908 exclusions apply

The Bon-Ton chain of department stores recently sponsored a "Community Days" promotion where non-profit organizations sold their coupon books.  A donor paid $5 which the organization kept, and in exchange received a $10 coupon good at the Bon-Ton stores.  

In theory, it was a win-win for everyone.  Except that the list of exclusions on the coupon could fill the rest of this blog.  

I tried to use it for 3 pair of socks.  No, a single item had to be $10.  I tried it on pajamas; no, they were clearance.  I wanted to buy cosmetics, but couldn't use it.  It didn't work on the Columbia brand I liked nor the Incredible Value sweater.  By the time I found a t-shirt that actually worked with the coupon, I was so frustrated that I gave all the other discount coupons in the book to another shopper rather than spend the time to try and use them myself.

Because there were so many restrictions, the line backed up, giving customers plenty of time to grumble amongst each other.  One shopper left her items at the counter and told the clerk: "This is why I shop at Kohl's" (where the coupons work on everything.)

There is a reason that "the fine print" gets a bad rap.  Instead of making the "community days" so much about making money, Younkers and its related stores would have had much better PR if they delighted the donors with their coupon instead of frustrated them with it. 

Don't just pretend to be generous.  If you position yourself to be benevolent through a "community days" promotion, take steps to actually be generous instead of just using it as ploy for others to do your marketing for you.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

#907 diminished

In a recent "Ask Amy" column, a reader was in a relationship with someone who was verbally abusive.  She was asking Amy how to toughen up to walk away.

Amy's reply (in part): "The longer you wait, the tougher your recovery will be, because the more abuse you take, the more diminished you will feel."

I think this is true not only in personal relationships, but in all kinds of interactions.  If much of your time at work is spent hearing about all the things you or your staff did wrong, you will start to believe what is said, making it harder to have the confidence to interview.  If you tell yourself over and over that you are fat, soon you will be.  If you continually hear from a family member that you aren't living up to your potential, you will build a resistance to risk and the prediction will come true.

Whatever is put into your head on a repeated basis wears ruts in your memory.  It becomes easier to operate in that rut, rather than trying to climb out of it. 

If you hear people or the environment around you feeding you negative information, find ways to change that channel quickly.  As hard as that may be to do, it is so much easier to switch after a few bad songs or soon it will be the only soundtrack you know.

-- beth triplett

"Ask Amy: When is it time to leave abusive relationship?"  by Amy Dickinson in the Telegraph Herald, November 20, 2014, p.2D

Monday, November 24, 2014

#906 creep

It used to be that Christmas did not appear on the retail scene until after Thanksgiving; the "day after" became the shopping kickoff and start of the seasonal sales.  A few years ago, the frenzy crept into the holiday itself, and stores were open for several hours on Thursday. Somehow this year, the mania has expanded and now numerous stores are advertising "Black Friday Prices Before Black Friday", "Black Friday Week" or even "Black November."

I understand the desire to capitalize on the largess of holiday spending, but the diffusion eliminates all of the impulse buying that true Black Friday used to generate.  

Where will it end?

It reminds me of my birthday and how it was celebrated as a kid.  All of the hoopla was on the day itself.  I had cake, presents, a party and singing on the actual date.  Now, in addition the natural nonchalance that comes with adult birthdays, also comes commemoration over several days.  The cake is shared at work at a convenient time; presents arrive in the mail approximately near the date; I may go to dinner on the weekend vs. on the day itself if it falls during the week.  While the intent is still good, the span of time dilutes the impact of the celebration.

Think about the power of concentration the next time you're tempted to spread something out.  Whether planning a retail sales campaign or a birthday soiree, you'll get a bigger bang if you shoot off all the fireworks on the same day.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, November 23, 2014

#905 hang on

At least in the education world, it seems that we all crawl to Thanksgiving.  The semester has taken its toll; the weather has turned dreary, and there seems to be less energy by the day.

Fortunately a holiday is just around the corner and many will have off for at least part of the holiday and be able to take some time to refresh.  It seems that the break is perfectly timed.

Or is it?

Maybe we need the break because we know it is coming.  Like the tired marathoner who gets new energy to make that final mile, our brain can compensate and hold on when the end is in sight.

Do you have similar feelings or cycles in your work where you seem to be crawling instead of sprinting?  Maybe you can build in a break point so that the anticipation will be enough to fuel you toward reaching it.

-- beth triplett

Saturday, November 22, 2014

#904 bytes

A few months after I purchased my previous car, someone hit my door as they were trying to go around me when I was waiting to turn.  The driver didn't stop, and even though I got his license, he had no insurance and I was out the deductible.  It was quite aggravating at the time, but the minor damage was repaired to the point of being imperceptible and I forgot all about it.

Fast forward nine years to when I went to sell the car, and the dealer wanted to give me less for it because it "had an accident report."  Yes, it had been in an accident.  Yes, I reported it to the police and insurance because it was a hit and run.  No, it did not impact the car's current appearance or what it should have been worth.

I imagine that the same is true with credit reports, risk assessments, on-line applications and a host of other functions that have been reduced to X's and O's in boxes.  Gone is the personal interaction or human judgment that can evaluate whether the issue at hand is something that matters.  

We gained through automation and electronic record keeping, but we also lost.  I suspect that a conversation with a real banker could have a different outcome than a chart that uses a calculated score off of a questionnaire.  Or the employer may look twice at someone after a face-to-face interview rather than reading about candidates via a report.  Maybe admissions counselors would feel differently about admitting someone if there had been a personal interaction instead of only a credential file.

If you are in the position to make decisions, take care that you are looking beyond the data that a machine provides you.  Information that fits into bytes may make for good sound bites, but not always for good judgments.

-- beth triplett

Friday, November 21, 2014

#903 button down

What do you do with all those extra buttons that come with garments?  I have a container of them at home, and can't recall ever needing to use one as a replacement.  Maybe it makes sense to include them if the buttons are a key feature of the apparel or if they are particularly distinctive, but I think a lot of resources are wasted by including generic buttons with almost everything. 

Think about other items that would be better served by having a spare included.  Pens could come with extra refills.  Gizmos could have a space for extra batteries to be on hand, allowing you to do a quick replacement when the originals ran out.  Ornaments could come with hooks.  Expensive shoes could have extra heel pads that you could snap on at home when the others wore down.  Dog collars could have a compartment for a spare "pooh bag."  

It seems to me that there are many items more frequently needed than a replacement button.  Maybe you can anticipate when your clientele will need "another" and plan in advance to include it.  But to automatically make an "extra" available seems to be a vestige of the past when replacements were not easily located and resources were a plenty. 

Take a good look at what you provide in duplicate and pilot an experiment instead.  Make it incredibly easy to ask for another, and see how many actually do.  My guess is that requests will happen about as often as you have sewn on your spare buttons.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, November 20, 2014

#902 rut

I recently had a house guest (which was wonderful), but the evening after she left I found myself yawning at 8pm.  I was tired.

It occurred to me that I had experienced the "mental stimulation" that I wrote about with my dogs.  It also struck me that part of the tiredness came from being out of a routine that was ingrained in me far more than I realized.

You don't really realize how much of a routine you are in until you are out of that routine.  Just as you don't realize how you have an accent or have become part of your culture until you experience life in a different setting.  

I think it does everyone good to alter their daily habits and schedule every now and then.  You see things you have taken for granted and you become much more conscious of your ways.  

But build a little nap time in when you shake things up as exploration requires far more energy than rote.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

#901 query

"You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers.
You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions."
  Naguib Mahfouz, Nobel Prize winner

This quote came to mind as I reflected on a fund-raising workshop I attended.  The presenter said that good fund-raising was 80% either listening or asking questions to get the prospective donor to talk about his passions and values.  

A well-placed question can go far in many settings:  interviews, meetings, early stages of relationships, discipline hearings or a classroom.  We focus so much energy on having people answer the questions, that I think the value of asking the questions is often overlooked. 

How can you infuse more questions into your work?  Maybe an assignment for my next class will be to write out the questions the readings raised instead of answering the prompts I give them!  Interview coaching and candidate prep could focus on the questions to ask instead of rehearsing answers.  Your next meeting agenda could be to generate questions about strategic direction instead of answers.

Try to make your ask to answer ratio a bit more in the direction of asking this week and practice embracing your Qs.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

#900 shuffle

An incredibly simple yet effective way of sorting groups is to utilize playing cards.  In my class, I hand each student a card when they walk in and then use them to break the students into groups.

On one occasion, the students sit by suit.  On another they sit by numbers.  Or by odds/evens.  Or reds/blacks.  Or they form a straight.  Or numbers are paired together.  

It is an instantaneous way of breaking students into groups without the drama of having to "choose" partners like on the playground or having the same people sit together all the time.  The students turn the cards in at the end of class and I shuffle then redistribute them at the start of the next.

How can you use this economical method of matching partners in other settings?  Use it to form brainstorming groups at a meeting.  Develop seating assignments at Thanksgiving.  Determine who works on a new assignment.  Or use it for household chores:  this week, the reds set the table while the blacks clean up.

Shuffle up your repertoire of how you divide people or tasks and let the playing cards do the work for you.

-- beth triplett

Monday, November 17, 2014

#899 stimulation

Each week, a different member of the faculty or staff brings their dog onto campus for a "Pet Therapy" session -- an hour where the dogs hang out with the students.  It is relaxation for the students; a way for those far from home to get their "pet fix", and a wonderful way for faculty and staff to meet the four legged members of their colleagues' families.

Last week, my dogs spent the afternoon on campus and had a thoroughly wonderful time.  Then they came home and absolutely c-r-a-s-h-e-d.  They were so sound asleep that I don't think a steak would have roused them.

I am reminded of the advice of a dog trainer:  pets need mental stimulation.  It's not enough to play with them in the back yard or rumpus around the house; they need to have new experiences to truly expend energy.

I think the same holds true for people.  It's easy to get restless when you are doing the same things over and over.  Even though you may be busy and find it hard to fathom doing something more/different, I think it is important to make time to add some mental stimulation to the mix.  

You may come home exhausted at the end of the day, but it might be because you spent so much time wagging with glee.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, November 16, 2014

#898 unfortunate

The Dallas Cowboys are playing exhibition football in London so their social media department decided to tweet about it to keep fans abreast of the trip.  The hashtag chosen:  CowboysUK.  

Which sounds perfect, except when shown in all lowercase.  Then Cowboysuk has a whole new meaning.  And, in this day and age, a whole new life through retweets and fan commentary about the unfortunate innuendo.

A few of my favorites:
> #cowboysuk so hard it's like having eleven vacuums on the field
> Looking for a job in Dallas?  The Cowboys likely have an opening in the social media department

While it is a humorous anecdote to the non-Cowboys fans, it does provide a good reminder that mistakes are not private anymore.  If you slip up, either at work or off the job, it becomes instantaneous fodder for the social media networks.  The Cowboys stuck with their hashtag (presumably because it got them more coverage), and just let it all play out in stride.  Soon it will be replaced with the next gaffe and the Dallas hashtag will be forgotten.

Do you have a policy or strategy to deal with a social media blunder?  It is not a matter of if, rather more likely when, you will need it.  You might take a few moments to consider how you will (or won't) respond if it's your moniker that suks.

-- beth triplett


Thanks to Emily for sharing

Saturday, November 15, 2014

#897 sixth

For her birthday, my sister in Boston wanted tickets to a New England Patriots game to see Tom Brady play before he retires.  As someone who still regrets not seeing Michael Jordan play, I tried to help her in this quest.

Tom Brady has been a starting quarterback for 14 seasons and taken the Patriots to the Super Bowl five times.  He is one of only two players to win the NFL Most Valuable Player and the Super Bowl MVP award multiple times.  Brady has been in nine Pro Bowls and his playoff win total is the highest in NFL history.  

You would think that he was a highly coveted first round draft pick.  You would be wrong.

Tom Brady was drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, the 199th player to be chosen.

The first pick that year was Courtney Brown (who?) -- a player who was plagued by injury and finished his professional career in 2005 after playing for Cleveland and then Denver.

Everyone wants to be chosen in the first round.  Everyone wants to have the #1 draft pick to do the choosing.  The trick is to play like you are #1 and work hard enough to become #1, even if you aren't chosen until 199th.

-- beth triplett


Stats from Wikipedia

Friday, November 14, 2014

#896 unwanted

I wrote yesterday about fostering connections with other people.  The premise of that thought was to link mutual needs in a way that benefited both parties.

Today think about a different perspective; rather than linking people and needs think about who wants what you don't.

Some examples: 
> We have a box by our printer to collect all the unwanted paper with one side blank.  It seems that there are always excess pages on the printing from the Internet or misaligned copies when trying to do reductions, etc.  These pages are collected in a box then given to the local day care center for children's projects/scribbles

> We received a year's supply of folders without a slit cut for business cards.  The printer reprinted for free, but what to do with excess inventory?  We gave them to guidance counselors who use them to distribute financial aid and college planning information to high schoolers.  (We may "misprint" next year on purpose!)

> In an effort to reduce consumption of helium, we stopped using balloons for our special events.  What to do with two bags of printed balloons?  The student activities group sponsored a water balloon fight during opening weekend.

> When cleaning out the garage after my father's death, we donated all the lumber scraps to a high school trade skills class.

The flea market, antiquing business and garage sales operate on the premise that "someone's trash is someone else's treasure."  Think about who would want your excess before you store it or dispose of it.  I'll bet there is someone out there to take most anything.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, November 13, 2014

#895 fostering connections

Here is a match made in heaven:  teenagers in Brazil who want to improve their English are having regular web chats with elders in a Chicago retirement home.  The Speaking Exchange pairs the two groups for regular long-distance conversations in a brilliant alignment.  Retirees have lots of time and stories and Brazilian teens have a desire to hear informal English.  It is a genius, low cost idea that is benefiting both groups.

Often we think about sharing things, but not people. 

How can your organization follow their example and think broadly about a way to meet your needs by pairing with the human resources another group has to offer?  When you get to the core of what you are seeking, is there someone out there who may be able to partner with you to provide it?  

Could empty-nesters who are sending their last child off to college become foster parents (as my sister has suggested)?  Maybe there is a group of people willing to help those with mobility issues be able to travel the globe?  Perhaps you could match "web pals" instead of pen pals for classrooms to adopt a member of the military?

Have your group brainstorm how to emulate the Speaking Exchange.  There are over 7 billion people on Earth.  Surely you can partner with a few of them for mutual benefit.

-- beth triplett


Thanks Meg for sharing

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

#894 wall

Last weekend marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  The wall was a barrier between East and West Berlin that existed from 1961 to 1989 and served to restrict movement of East German citizens to Western Europe.

The physical wall stretched for nearly 100 miles and was a 12 ft block of concrete, wire mesh fences, trenches and bunkers.  It was serious business, designed to keep people on their designated side of the border, and keep people from fleeing from communism.  Over 5,000 tried to escape and several hundred died during their attempt.

Today, only about three miles of the wall remains as a memorial, not a blockade.

Think about the walls you have in your organization.  While they are unlikely to be as fortified as the Berlin Wall or engender heroics to scale them, invisible walls do exist.  Are there other departments isolated by a virtual wall?  Are there barriers to free exchange between certain offices or positions?  Does your organization have policies or practices that serve as fences to inhibit flow of communication or information?

The Berlin Wall was a true presence in Germany and its barriers were clear.  Take care that your organization doesn't have walls that are as impenetrable, even if they are invisible to the eye.

-- beth triplett

Source of stats:  Wikipedia

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

#893 stockpile

I was at Walmart over the weekend and the entire stock of Halloween merchandise was 90% off.  Three aisles of leftovers were yours for a song if you had the time to go through it and the space to store it for a year.

I was not interested in costumes, plastic buckets or tubes of blood, but what did grab my attention were the boxes of ribbons.  A small selection had pumpkins or witches hats, but most of it was plain fabric ribbon in solid colors -- just like the ribbon I use all year to tie bows on packages.  And here it was, for 10 cents/spool!

Given that I had the time and have the space, I purchased a generous amount of the ribbon.  As I was putting them in my cart, it seemed like a great idea.  But as I was managing the logistics at home, I began to wonder.  They didn't fit with my other ribbons, so I had to determine a new way to store my treasures to make them visible and accessible throughout the coming months when I needed them.

It took a lot of time at the store to sort through the piles to find "normal" colors.  It took even more time for the cashier to ring up each separately, and hit about 8 other keys to override the price and provide the discount.  It took still longer for the manager to approve the transaction since it included so many price overrides.  Then it took more time to rearrange the closet and stack my purchases there in a functional way.

In the end, I wonder if my bargain was really a good deal after all.    

Think about this lesson if you are tempted to get carried away to stockpile something.  There is more of a cost to ownership than what you pay during the initial transaction.  Time, handling, storage and just overall "digging through to find it" frustrations may not outweigh what you save in currency.  But if you need a bow for anything in the next few years, I've got you covered!

-- beth triplett

Monday, November 10, 2014

#892 goal tending

Basketball season started this weekend, so I spent most of Friday evening and Saturday afternoon watching games.  Our men's team starts three freshmen this year, and we have a new coach, so at the first game everyone was trying to assess how the season would look.

We lost on Friday, but the team played hard and showed a lot of grit.  They looked liked they had played together before, and even though it didn't show up in the final score, we thought it was a win given the circumstances.  

I talked to the coach before Saturday's game and told him that we were encouraged by what we saw.  He said that he tried to take his wife's words to heart.  She said to him: "Progress, not perfection."  It proved to be true as we beat a tough team on Saturday.

Think about these words when you are facing a challenge or a daunting task.  Most things involve a long season and you don't have to get it all right from the start.  Making progress with each step is a manageable path to success.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, November 9, 2014

#891 stalked

I am a regular Kohl's shopper and so when they offered a new loyalty program (Yes2You), I signed up.  They encouraged people to link their Yes2You reward card to the new Kohl's app, and I had planned to do that, too.

Then I read an article that said that Kohl's new strategy is to use "personalized marketing" via beacons installed in their stores to respond to the Kohl's app on the customer's smartphone.  The beacons will deliver digital offers, directed to where the customer is in the store, and based on past buying habits.  The company has invested $1 billion on technology to do this.

Think of all the blouses and towels they need to sell to recoup $1 billion and just break even.  I decided I did not need to be part of this buying frenzy.  Nor did I need Kohl's computer to know where I was in their store, so I will take my chances that I am missing out on the deal of a lifetime!

As technology becomes more and more pervasive, it also becomes increasingly intrusive.  Think about whether the dollars you could save outweigh the dollars you might be tempted to spend, not to mention the cost of your lost privacy.  There's no such thing as free.

-- beth triplett

Source:  Kohl's eyes personalized marketing by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in the Telegraph Herald, November 2, 2014, p. 3B

Saturday, November 8, 2014

#890 eaten

"If you're not at the table, you'll find yourself on the menu."

These words of caution were shared at our board retreat as part of the discussion regarding the board's role in external relations.  Our consultant advised that board members needed to be continually keeping the organization's story alive and advocating for its mission in the community.

What table do you or your board members need to be present at?  Spend more time thinking about that today than your spend planning what is on the dinner menu tonight.

-- beth triplett

Source:  Dr. Zeddie Bowen

Friday, November 7, 2014

#889 style

I am teaching a class this semester on assessing and developing leadership styles.  It is part of our masters of organizational leadership curriculum, so to be true to my style and the expectations I have of graduate students, I gave the assignments without any format parameters.

I developed my course requirements the same way I would give projects to my staff: "Here is what I am trying to accomplish; here is your part in this; here is the day it is due; see me if you have any questions."  I never tell my staff that I want 500 words or a minimum of 10 pages or to use Times New Roman 12 point font, so I left those parts off my syllabus as well.

And I was amazed at how uncomfortable some students were with this ambiguity.  They had most recently been in a class with someone on the other side of the spectrum -- who outlined his requirements with great detail -- and it made for a hard adjustment for them.

It also made for a great class lesson for me.  Should the staff (i.e.: class) adjust their style to meet the preferences of the leader (i.e.; teacher), or should it be the other way around? Is your style as a leader different than your style as a follower?  

Hum...there are no right answers to the above.  Hopefully these questions gave the students fodder for their next journal entry and maybe they are thought provoking for you too.  

It's not enough to just know your style; you need to know when and how to use it. 

-- beth triplett

Thursday, November 6, 2014

#888 swoosh

Have you ever heard of Carolyn Davidson?  Probably not, but I am positive you know her work.

While a graphic design student in 1971, Carolyn designed the Nike swoosh, one of the most widely recognized brands in the world.

She was paid $35 for her work.*  

I am sure there are many graphic designers out there who were paid much, much more for their work to design a logo, but the artwork is invisible to us.  Agencies have received millions to develop brands, campaigns and logos that have a fleeting life cycle and never make an impact on our consciousness.

Which would you rather have: to be paid $35 but have your work be ubiquitous and lasting, or have riches without a legacy?

Sometimes we put so much effort into making the money that we forget about doing something for the sheer joy of it.  Next time you're tempted to sell out, think about Carolyn Davidson and let simplicity rule.

-- beth triplett

*Note: In 1983, Carolyn did receive a diamond ring with the swoosh and an undisclosed amount of Nike stock for her efforts.

Source:  Wikipedia: Carolyn Davidson

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

#887 sleep on it

In the frenzy of the NFL draft during the movie Draft Day, managers are on the phone with each other attempting to make a deal.  Typically they give each other an extremely limited amount of time in which to make a decision.

In one scene, manager Sonny Weaver (Kevin Costner) calls back a bit after the stated deadline.  The terms of the deal have become much less favorable for Sonny.  When he asks why the original deal isn't being honored, the other manager replies: "Because the world is different than it was 30 minutes ago." 

True, in the case of the NFL draft, but for most decisions you make there is time to make them.  Many studies have shown that "sleeping on it" is actually good advice.  Your brain accesses information during the night and you often find new solutions to problems during the night.

The next time you have a decision to make, try to make the terms such that they allow you an overnight period for incubation.  The draft may make for good movie material, but sleep makes for good decisions.

-- beth triplett

Source: Eat, Move, Sleep by Tom Rath, 2013, p. 171-172.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

#886 propaganda

The election is almost over -- and hopefully we can reclaim the ad space for something besides the annoying political ads.  Iowa's Senator Tom Harkin is retiring -- after 40 years in the Senate -- so the battle has been raging to claim the seat.

From mid-September to mid-October, nearly 30,000 ads were aired on television.  In that time period, the Des Moines Register reported that over $13.9 million was spent trying to woo the state's 1.9 million registered voters.  An additional $13.8 million was spent in the five weeks prior to that.  Before it's over, there will be nearly 60,000 television ads in Iowa just for the Senate campaign. Ugh.

What is even more disturbing is that a majority of the ads are paid for by outside sponsors rather than the candidates themselves.  Political action groups, the parties, and super-PACs have polluted the airwaves with radical messages and slams of the their opponent.  

It is also interesting to me that spending continues to escalate even though early absentee voter turnout has set records.  Over 370,000 Iowans have already cast their ballots -- making the ads even more annoying and pointless for them.

After all this negativity and outside influence, I find it hard to believe that the winner will be magnanimous and easily reach across the aisle to cooperate.  Our political system sets itself up for rancor and divisiveness before candidate is even elected.

I think everyone could take lessons from a local county supervisor race.  Two Democratic supervisors endorsed the incumbent Republican supervisor who is up for re-election.  They were chastised by their party for doing so, but continue to speak openly about their support.  It is refreshing to hear a message about the best person for the job, regardless of party or PAC affiliation.

No matter where you live -- but especially if it is in Iowa -- I hope you exercise your right to vote today, and that you vote for who you believe is best, not just who had the best hype.

-- beth triplett


Source:  Senate race TV spending doubles in Iowa, by Jason Noble and Jeffrey C. Kummer, The Des Moines Register, October 26, 2014,

Iowa Dems may hold thin edge in early voting by Jason Noble, The Des Moines Register, October 31, 2014,

Monday, November 3, 2014

#885 six hours

On Saturday night, I stayed up a bit later than usual because I knew I would get an extra hour of sleep due to the end of Daylight Savings Time.  I figured that watching a movie was a great use of my "extra hour."

Sunday morning, I woke up at the usual body time, which was really an hour earlier than usual, so I decided to go out to breakfast.

And when I came home, it was still early, so I thought I would use the bonus time to walk the dogs.

After that, it was still morning, so I winterized my front gardens and clipped all the plants in preparation for the long frost that is to come.  Another extra hour!

Then I decided to make chili for dinner -- something that takes two hours instead of the usual pop-it-into-the-microwave meal -- and even that was done by the time I would normally be heading home from work.  Bonus!

And after dinner, it was still "early" so I was able to do some additional things around the house that normally I wouldn't have time to do.  Extra hour number six!

I am not sure why the time change has this impact on me, but it does.  Finding one free hour is almost magical -- it turns into several more.  The same is true during the week when a meeting is cancelled and my schedule suddenly has an opening.  One found hour becomes much more productive than normal.

What can you do to psych yourself out so that you feel like you have "found time" at random times during your week?  Or could you adjust your sleep schedule so that you actually do have an extra hour in the morning?  Or alter work times so that you have time alone in the office?  

Daylight Savings Time truly is like saving -- at the end, it pays you back with interest.

-- beth triplett