Wednesday, December 31, 2014

#943 bitten

Over the holidays, relatives spent a fair amount of time challenging each other on Trivia Crack, an (apparently addictive) app of random questions.  One of the queries was about shark bites.

The media has done much to portray sharks as fierce, deadly creatures.  But in the United States, there are only about 16 attacks annually, which result in one death every other year. We hear about them because when put in perspective with the number of people who encounter sharks, they are rather rare.

Contrast that with bees.  They seem like innocuous little insects, but in actuality 54 deaths were attributed to bee stings in the U.S. in 2000 (actually to allergic reactions to the toxins in the sting).  Still, the bees are more of a menace to most than the Great Whites.

It seems that overall sharks get a bad rap and all the attention, when in reality, we would be wise to pay more attention to the bees.

It is like that in much of life.  As I have written about repeatedly, it really is the small things that make the difference.

-- beth triplett


Shark information from Wikipedia
Bee information from

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

#942 orphaned

The gloves I wrote about yesterday were an especially welcome present because I recently lost a pair of my gloves.  I am a very responsible adult, but somewhere in that warm spell when I had them shoved in my pocket instead of protecting my hands, they fell out.  I did not realize it until the weather turned cold again, and by then, I had traversed too many places to retrace my steps.

Even though I hold out no hope of finding them, I still instinctively look for them.  And what I have found is that a lot of people lose gloves.  Almost every parking lot or store entrance has one glove lying there or sitting on a ledge hoping to be reclaimed.

I wonder, if the chance of loss is so prevalent, why gloves don't come with a natural place to write contact information so that they may be reunited with their owner.  Why doesn't every glove have a strip inside that could contain a phone number, so when one is found the store or Good Samaritan could easily place a call?  This could apply to adults, as I can attest, as well as to children's gloves and winter accessories.

It seems that lost gloves are a problem that everyone accepts instead of trying to solve.  Do you have things in your organization that are like that -- annoyances or issues that are "just the way it is"?  Most times, like with gloves, there is a better way, if only someone would take a little time to implement it.

Try to be that someone today.

-- beth triplett

Monday, December 29, 2014

#941 seriously?

I received a pair of Isotoner gloves for Christmas.  They are cozy and warm and I think I will love them.

I was reading the packaging (as only marketers do) and noticed their Quality Guarantee.  It touted that their product "should be of the highest quality" and offered to replace it if it proved to be defective within one year.

But then, the kicker:  "Please return the defective product along with $5.00 for shipping and handling to..."

What?!  Who thought it would be a good idea to make the customer pay for replacement of a defective item?  It's bad enough that a) the product was of poor quality and b) the customer has to ship the gloves back to the company, but now they want you to pay a third time to have them returned to you.  Unbelievable.  I hope their gloves are better than their guarantee.

Is your organization doing something similarly stupid without even realizing it?  Have an outside party give your customer service promise the "Isotoner test", and hope you don't fail it like they did.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, December 28, 2014

#940 wonder

Over the holidays, I watched the classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas cartoon.  I think I have seen it every year since it debuted in 1966, and hope to see it again for all my Christmases to come.

I was particularly struck this time at how rudimentary the drawings are.  Dr. Seuss's magic was in telling stories, not in fancy art.  

I think of people out there who limit themselves as to what they can do.  If someone would have looked at Ted Geisel's drawings at face value, they may have discouraged him from becoming a children's book author/illustrator because he may not have had the most sophisticated or commercially viable production in his art class.

But his gift was in telling stories, and creating language, and crafting them in such a way that has taught children to read and warmed hearts for decades.

Don't limit your own possibilities.  Take your passions and create wonder around them.  

-- beth triplett


Saturday, December 27, 2014

#939 annual

One of the presents I received for Christmas was a farmer's almanac.  The original Robert B. Thomas Farmer's Almanac was founded in 1792, and though Robert is obviously long gone, he still receives credit on the 2015 version as the author.

The Farmer's Almanac #223 contains data that is "calculated on a new and improved plan for the Year of Our Lord 2015, being the 3rd after Leap Year and (until July 4) the 239th year of American Independence."

In addition to the weather calculations, it claims to contain "new, useful and entertaining matter."  And that it does.  It is sort of like surfing the internet, only on paper.

I learned:
> how to use coffee grounds to diminish cellulite and varicose veins

> that if we work a 40 hour work week from age 22 to 65 with 2 weeks vacation each year, we will have only spent 9 years, 10 months actually on the job!  (where does the other time go!)

> to watch on September 27-28 for the total eclipse of the Moon; the only one of four eclipses that will be seen from Iowa this year

> that a trend is more residential developments with farms on the property.  "Farms are the new golf courses."

Take a stroll back to 1792 and pretend you are on the farm porch devouring all the interesting tidbits in the annual publication.  Everything doesn't have to be high tech to be enjoyable.

-- beth triplett


Friday, December 26, 2014

#938 out to pasture

Christmas is over, and for the first time in 30 years something was not part of your holiday.  Did you miss it?

If you're wondering what was not included in this year's holiday tradition, the answer is the iconic Budweiser ad with the beautiful Clydesdales pulling the wagon through the snow.  

In their attempt to reach a younger demographic, Budweiser opted instead to have JZ and zombies promote their beer this holiday.  I don't know if rappers or aliens have any more impact on purchasing, but I would bet that they don't have the same staying power as the majestic horses.

I know we have wrestled with similar situations when considering our marketing plan.  How long do you continue to do something that doesn't have an instant return?  If you pull something after a cycle, it could be the timing rather than the message.  If you continue for too long you're crazy, but you could be equally foolish for changing things too often.

Apparently, I wasn't the only ones sad to see the Clydesdales go.  Budweiser promises they will return for the Super Bowl after an outcry on social media.  I'll bet they got more impact from pulling the holiday ad than they would have received had they run it.  

Maybe the trick is to stop doing something and see if anyone misses it!

-- beth triplett

Source:  Budweiser's Clydesdales get the holiday heave-ho by Matthew Diebel, USA Today, November 24, 2014

Watch some of the famous commercials with the Clydesdales at:

Thursday, December 25, 2014

#937 home

It is fitting to me that today's blog is #937, as that was the house number of the place where my family lived for all but the past three years of my life.  I referred to it as "937" when making plans to go home, and it is where I spent all the Christmases of my childhood.  

I think of all the traditions that were started at 937, and those that we have carried with us even though we now celebrate at a different place: opening stockings as soon as you wake up; that specific coffeecake from the local bakery; Mitch Miller's Must Be Santa to start the festivities, and chocolate gold coins in every stocking (now kept in the freezer from Christmas to Christmas since no one likes to eat them!)

The memories of 937 live on, and always will, regardless of what the house number is where we gather.  I hope you have a day filled with similar joy and traditions.

Merry Christmas!

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

#936 tied up

At this time of year, people do crazy things in the process of getting their tasks accomplished.  Here is one example -- a van using their rear windshield wiper to secure the large boxes on their roof!  I am not sure in what way they thought the wiper would be helpful.

I know it is Christmas Eve. I know you may have a lot yet to do.  But don't let common sense take a holiday for the sake of the poor driver behind you!

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

#935 perspective

This time of year can often cause extra stress, so it is important to keep things in perspective.

I am reminded of that adage with this cartoon:

If a member of the family is driving you bonkers, instead have compassion for their awkward social skills.  If you are trying to do too much, think of those who would be grateful for the bounty you are organizing.  Instead of being frustrated by the crowds, people watch and soak in the season.

You can be mad at the dog, or be like the dog and be grateful that you are in time to help the fainted tree.  Try to take the jolly perspective this holiday.

-- beth triplett

Monday, December 22, 2014

#934 sick

I was scheduled to have a routine physical exam last week.  I almost did not listen to the message when the doctor's office called, because I figured they were just calling to remind me of my appointment.  

Instead, they were calling to reschedule because the doctor called in sick!

I know that doctors are humans, and obviously get ill, but it struck me as funny that I was going for a wellness exam and she was too sick to give it to me.

Kudos to her for waving the flag though, especially at this time of year when people are burning the candle at both ends.  It is easy to overdo.

Take a lesson from my doctor and don't try to be a superhero.  If you can't do something at 100%, don't pretend like you can.  

-- beth triplett

Sunday, December 21, 2014

#933 dated

I was at a mall over the weekend and while many stores were bustling, there was one that looked bare.  That store was Radio Shack.  It seemed odd to me, given the proliferation of electronic goods and their desirability as a holiday gift, but Radio Shack was not the beneficiary of this coalescence.

I wonder if it is because of its name.  "Radio" is about as dated as they come.  

I think about all the businesses that have had to officially change their name to remain relevant.  Blockbuster Video dropped the "video" part.  Apple Computer became Apple, Inc.  Standard Oil Company became Exxon.  International Business Machines became IBM.  New York and New England Telephone became Verizon.  State teachers colleges became universities.

Is your name limiting your scope or holding you back from the market you want to serve today?  Is it time for a rebranding to allow you to remain current going forward?  Good or bad, your name communicates a lot about you.  Take care to ensure that your message is still relevant.

-- beth triplett

Saturday, December 20, 2014

#932 merge

At a stoplight near my home, two lanes merge into one shortly after cars pass through the intersection.  The left lane becomes the thoroughfare and the right lane ends after 300 feet.

Oftentimes, I go through the intersection in the right lane and merge into the left.  It seems the efficient method of traffic flow, to alternate drivers and to fill in gaps in traffic.  But from some of the drivers in the left lane, I get the evil eye as if I am doing something wrong.

I got in the practice of doing this when I lived in another city that was experiencing congestion.  Their DOT actually had signs to encourage people to use the merge lane and alternate traffic.  It made perfect sense.

My question: if the traffic gods here did not want cars in the right lane -- to do exactly as I am doing -- why is that lane there?  If, before the intersection, everyone is expected to be only in the left lane, why did they pay thousands to install an "extra" lane? (There is already a right and left turn lane as well.)

Do you have the equivalent of an extra lane in your organization?  Is there a policy or practice that you have on the books, but don't want people to use -- or few people are using?  Is there something that exists already in your organization that could be promoted -- expanding your capacity at little expense?  

Take a new look at your resources and see if you can't pave the way to greater efficiency in their use.

-- beth triplett

Friday, December 19, 2014

#931 leave it alone

Yesterday we had the staff holiday potluck.  Usually people sign up to bring a certain item, but this year they left it open ended.  No signups.  No elaborate distribution of what to bring.  No assignments of any kind, just "come with a dish to share."

And come they did!  We had approximately 50 dishes of wonderful food -- and a great balance of choices.  There were decadent desserts and quasi-healthy ones.  Salads, dips, hot sides and veggie trays.  From shrimp to hummus to an authentic Mexican cookie dessert, we had all the variety and excess that you could hope for in a potluck.

Even the ever-popular cheesy potatoes, of which we had several, all had their own recipe nuances and did not seem like direct duplications.  Cheese lovers tried multiple versions and seemed to enjoy.

For years, I have been hosting potlucks and never do I worry about who brings what.  It always works out in the end.  

On most occasions, it is important to pay attention to details.  But not with potlucks.  Let the inherent balance of the universe work its magic instead of wasting your time on orchestrating the logistics.  Trust me: it will turn out ok without your intervention.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, December 18, 2014

#930 hidden

When all the leaves fall from the trees, I am fascinated at the big squirrel nests that remain. I think of what was involved in making the shelter as it is usually in the highest part of the branches.  I think about the babies that lived there and wonder why I have never seen a truly tiny little squirrel: do they have to be big just to get down from the nest?  I wonder how many squirrels lived there and where they go when the leaves disappear.

But mostly I am struck by how something so large was totally hidden from my view until the seasons changed.  

I wonder what else I pass every day without seeing it.  Are there good deeds occurring that I don't notice?  Is someone lonely and I can't tell that they are hurting?  Is someone in need but pretending that everything is fine?  Or maybe someone is interested in another, but hasn't shown it.

We don't have the luxury of seasons in relationships where things that were hidden become obvious.  During this hectic holiday season, make some time to go beyond the small talk.  Pull back the leaves and see if there is a nest in your family tree or among your friends.  

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#929 killing time

One only has to spend a little bit of time in an airport to realize the impact of time.  Some people are sprinting to their connection -- imitating the famous Hertz commercial with OJ Simpson leaping over suitcases as he ran through the terminal.  Others are lamenting that they have several hours "to kill" as if time were something that could be altered.

It strikes me as such an odd thought to want to kill something as valuable as time.  We kill unwanted things:  weeds, rats, viruses and infections.  We should embrace the extra free minutes, no matter where we find them.  Take a moment to do nothing.  To people watch.  To savor a book or magazine.  To write a letter and make someone's day.  To get in your 10,000 steps before lunch.

I wonder how the world would be different if we could share units of time, such as: "I'll give you an hour so you have less rush and I have less wait."  Would we share?  Would we give an extra hour of sleep to a new mother and take away an hour of our day?  Maybe, if the hour was while we were waiting, but probably not if it meant time way from work or play. 

If time is that precious, take steps to use it wisely -- even in an airport.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

#928 recognition

Shazam is one of my favorite applications on the web.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with this gem, you can "Shazam" any music you hear playing, and the app will instantly identify the song, the artist and often the lyrics and other helpful information.  I have used it at concerts, on my car radio, for background music at restaurants or stores, and during basketball game introductions.  It is amazing.

But what I really need is an app that allows me to stealthily point my phone at a face and have it identify who the person is -- and my connection to them.  Wouldn't it be great to have a method to instantaneously know -- that's who the person is.  I could use it to link the face and name of a parent from a visit day long ago; know the person in line ahead of me is my vet's receptionist, or be able to act as if I remember the friend of a friend I met once.  Wa-la! No more racking my brain as to how I know someone.

I know that such a personalized database is next to impossible, but I can continue to hope. Many technological advances that seemed like dreams are now a reality.  Maybe a "Wa-la" is in my future.  Until then, forgive me if I ask: "Do I know you from somewhere?"

-- beth triplett