Thursday, December 31, 2015

#1308 to lose

Tomorrow is one of the busiest days of the year at the gym; many people include "losing weight" in their new year's resolutions.  The revelry is over, and it's time to get serious about shedding those holiday pounds (and then some.)

In the O Magazine, I was surprised to find a 2-page spread advertising Weight Watchers through a handwritten letter from Oprah and an invitation "Come join me."  The letter explained why Oprah joined Weight Watchers and concluded by asking "Are you ready?  Let's do this together."  

I thought it was quite the endorsement.

Then I read in the Wall Street Journal that Oprah had invested $43 million in the company and secured a seat on their board.  Yes, she lost 20 pounds, but somehow the ownership makes her claims seem disingenuous. There was no mention of her corporate involvement in her ad. It makes me wonder if she is promoting the plan because she truly believes in it, or whether she is protecting her stake in it.

If Oprah can help Americans lose weight through her endorsement I am all for it.  She has used her influence for good before, and there are many more readers due to Oprah's promotion of book clubs...

...but she did that without a seat on the board of the publishing company.  There could be more to lose in her latest efforts.

-- beth triplett

Ad in O Magazine, January 2016, p.10-11

Weight Watchers' Plan: Don't Call it a 'Diet' by Ellen Brown in the Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2015, p. B1 & B6.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

#1307 respite

For those of us lucky enough to be in higher education, and for the many others on vacation at this time of year, it has been a week of no alarms.  

wrote before* about the unabashed glee that my dogs felt when I allowed them a brief respite off leash. I feel the same way about a week that is not regulated by the clock.  In this post-holiday bliss, I have had exactly one scheduled appointment. Normally I am in back-to-back meetings, and on the whole I like a structured schedule, but the unregulated time is like an off-leash romp for me.  

If your time off looks remarkably similar to your time on, I suggest you change up your routine.  Allow yourself a day or two of being clock-less and see if you can savor the minutes and seconds more when you don't know precisely when they are.  

-- beth triplett

*Blog #115 freedom, published 9/24/12

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

#1306 diluted

One of the things I treasure is autographed copies of books.  Writing a book is the one big thing remaining on my bucket list, and I think it would be an unbelievable thrill to be asked to inscribe a copy.

So I was disappointed to learn that Debbie Macomber, author of light romantic tales, is offering a "signed copy" for sale -- at Target.  Somehow my notion of having an author's signature does not involve mass production.  

I have written before about the proliferation of goods that used to have meaning: items from desirable destinations are now available on-line to everyone, celebrity photographs are for sale and there are few items that are reserved for those who were there "in person."

Don't add autographed books to the list. If you (or someone you know) didn't wait in line to get an original penned for you, it's not a signed copy.  Don't delude yourself or dilute your organization's value by pretending that it is.

-- beth triplett


Monday, December 28, 2015

#1305 courting

One of our recent graduates asked me for some advice regarding his job search.  He had been seeking a position for several months, and, as luck would have it, he interviewed for two different positions within the same timeframe.  Of course, the job he wanted most was on a later timeline for making a decision, so he was asking for strategies of how to manage delaying one while waiting for the other.

It brought to mind the job searching advice that I outlined in Blog #80. While choosing a new job is one of the most important decisions you can make, it is essential to remember that you are not in the driver's seat until an offer is in your hand. Until that point, you are at the mercy of the process and scheduling of your prospective employer.  

You can be candid -- to a point. But no employer wants to be your #2 choice, just as no candidate wants to feel like they were hired because the person the company really wanted said no.  Both parties want to begin a new relationship feeling like winners and you need to do your part to contribute to that feeling. 

Taking a new job is like speed dating that ends in marriage. Be truthful and be yourself in the brief courtship to keep your relationship healthy in the long term.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, December 27, 2015

#1304 milk

Sometimes we get paralyzed with inaction because we try to make lofty solutions that impact a large number of people. There are occasions when serving a small niche might make a big difference for a small group.

One example of this is in the Milwaukee airport. They realized that nursing mothers would have a difficult time while traveling -- there aren't exactly many private spaces in an airport terminal -- so they created some. General Mitchell Airport offers Lactation Suites, a small but secure destination for nursing mothers to use. They aren't elaborate, but for a new mother, they would feel palatial.

What population do you serve that could use some extra attention? Is there a need that you could meet for a segment of your customers?  Can you take this idea an apply it in your organization?

Make it your goal to find a pocket of people that you could delight by providing a service that says "I understand you."

-- beth triplett


Thanks Amy for sending the pictures!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

#1303 retro

If you are out shopping today for post-holiday bargains, perhaps you want to capture a bit of nostalgia and head to Kmart!

Kmart is not usually my destination of choice, but I may have to stop by, simply because they have brought back the Blue Light Special.  For those of you too young to know about this, from 1965-1991, Kmart had a flashing blue light that was placed at various locations in the store. At random times, the public address system would alert you: "Attention Kmart shoppers..." and then list a special sale only at the Blue Light for the next 10 minutes or so.  It was a frenzy to get there and have your item marked down to the special rate.  

Management apparently thought the Blue Light ran its course and ended it, but now it is back in an attempt to resurrect the lagging chain. The Blue Light may be too little too late, but it does provide a thought for you to ponder.

Is there an iconic symbol from your past that you could re-purpose for use again today?  Everything retro seems to be popular; perhaps you could utilize an older logo or provide a throwback look on one of your publications.  Maybe you have some vintage materials lingering in your archives that could be brought out for a new display.  Or perhaps you have an older event or activity that could be done again.

Everything old is new again.  What is the equivalent of your Blue Light Special waiting to return?

-- beth triplett

Source:  Kmart resurrects Blue Light Special by Suzette Parmley for The Philadelphia Inquirer in the Telegraph Herald, November 29, 2015, p. 2D.

Friday, December 25, 2015

#1302 tidings of joy

Whether you believe in Santa Claus or not, hopefully the spirit of Santa still lives within you. 

This particular Santa went all out in bringing smiles to drivers along his morning run.

May you be as unabashed in spreading your good tidings during this holiday season.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, December 24, 2015

#1301 going my way?

A friend of mine just adopted a rescue dog.  She lives in Connecticut and picked up her pooch in New York.  Sadie Mae arrived there from Texas, traveling the country via a series of coordinated relay drivers.  What a great service these volunteers provide to aid in the pet adoption network. is a clearinghouse for people/things that need transportation. Today's viewing highlights people who have a trailer and need freight from San Diego to Seattle, a plea from someone in Southern Illinois who "gota c my girl in Oxford Ohio", a request to bring boxed clothing from Cincinnati to Denver, a volunteer to 'drive Ur vehicle cross country" from LA to New York, "two poor chicks KC to Denver" and "a microwave that needs a ride" from Baltimore to New Mexico.

I am traveling many miles over this holiday, and I would gladly give someone else a ride. I wish that picking up hitchhikers was a safe thing to do, or that I trusted Rideboard enough to participate!  I have taken students back and forth from campus to Chicagoland, but the occasions where my calendar aligns with theirs is few and far between.

The pet rescue organizations have created a relay team to move their animals around the country.  Perhaps your organization can organize a transportation network too.  Could you have alumni bring students to your college?  People to take foster children to new locations? Volunteers to help people get to medical facilities or rehabilitation centers?  

Think of all the vehicles on the road with empty space inside -- just waiting for you to capitalize on it.  As you travel over the river and through the woods this holiday season, ponder how you could benefit from having someone/something along for the ride.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

#1300 subscription

Still have holiday shopping to do? An easy way to check things off your list is by giving subscription boxes -- the gift that keeps on giving month after month.

It used to be that subscriptions meant magazines, but now boxes can be delivered with themed content in almost any area imaginable. Coffee lovers would appreciate the Mustache Coffee Club or MistoBox subscriptions. Dog lovers (and their pooches!) can sample gourmet treats through Barkbox.  Fans of Etsy can have similar handmade goods delivered via Umba Box. Sock Fancy sends socks for men, women or children.  Birch box allows you to sample cosmetics each month.  And fans of television and movies can revel in the Geek Subscription Box.  You name it, there is a subscription service for it.

Think of how this can apply to your organization. What can you offer on an ongoing basis? Maybe it is a monthly training exercise you can send your clientele.  Perhaps it is a new tool and a video on how to use it.  Maybe it is a daily blog with leadership lessons (ha ha!) 

Thanks to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook people are used to on-going subscription feeds.  Don't let your organization lose out with a one-and-done approach.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

#1299 best gift ever

I was recently featured in the Best Christmas Gift Ever story in our local paper.  Readers were asked to contribute reflections on what constituted their best gift, and I wrote in about a nativity set my family made me during my senior year in college.

The family worked on it while I was away at school, and presented it to me "for all the Christmases to come", knowing this would likely be the last year I lived at home. It is truly a treasure.

The figures, animals and manger were wrapped in a giant box, and everyone anxiously gathered around when I opened it. They had strategically wrapped it so that all I saw when I opened the box was the star.  As you can tell by the photo below, the star does not look like a star out of context, and I was quite worried that my reaction would not be as positive as they were anticipating.  Of course, once I saw the full contents, that was not the case.

I think the irregular star could be a metaphor for many other gifts that will be given this holiday. If you look at what is literally there in front of you, it may not be thrilling.  Try to look past that and be warmed by the love and thoughtfulness that emanates from the giver.  

-- beth triplett

Monday, December 21, 2015

#1298 night & day

Today has the least amount of daylight of any day during the year.  

I know this because my dad's birthday was today, and every year he would say: "today is the shortest day of the year" and lament in such a way that implied that the clock only struck for 20 hours instead of the usual 24. My dad was the biggest night owl I ever met and I think he missed the opportunity to boast that there were more nighttime hours on this day as a special tribute to him!

Almost everything has two perspectives, and it is up to you to choose which one you adopt for your attitude. Some people hate the snow; others are bemoaning the fact that we have had only one accumulation this winter. Some find snow shoveling tedious; others rely on it for income.  

Some are overwhelmed by the holiday chaos; others revel in it. Those who have recently lost a loved one would give anything to have their departed around to add to the revelry; others long for a certain someone to be absent from the festivities.

In this season where you may find yourself stressed to your limit, remember the attitude you adopt is the one thing you can control. May you experience not just peace on earth and joy to the world, but peace in your demeanor and joy in your outlook.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, December 20, 2015

#1297 first hand

Yesterday I was out shopping with the masses, more for sport than necessity.  Because I was not in a time crunch, I went with my friend to Menards, a regional hardware chain.  

As we were walking the aisles, a man in the traditional Menards employee vest came up to us and asked if we needed any assistance. "You look very familiar," my friend said to him.  "You look like John Menard (the president whose caricature appears in all their advertising.)" 

"I am John Menard!" replied the man.

Here it was, one of the busiest weekends of the year, and the man who owns the place (and 280 more just like it) is helping customers find things in the aisles.  What a great role model of service for his employees.

What can you do to emulate Mr. Menard's example?  Have you spent time on the front lines of your organization or assumed the role of some of your staff?  There are many lessons to be learned by leaving your office and going to where the business truly takes place.  

-- beth triplett


Saturday, December 19, 2015

#1296 absorbed

At this time of year, it is easy to get lost in the moment.  

When I am out shopping, I am absorbed in finding the perfect gift. I don't cut my trip short because I am not thinking of all the wrapping I could/should be doing at home.

Then I get caught up in the wrapping -- and finding boxes, making bows, putting on tags, etc., and I take more time than I would if I was thinking about the blogs I had to write.

Eventually I get immersed in writing and the clock ticks by; I get on a roll with blogging and I don't realize that it is past time for bed.

If you can be fully present to what you are doing, it often can make that activity more enjoyable.  But keep in mind that holiday time tends to go by at warp speed because there are so many activities to get lost in.  

So prepare to lose yourself -- or to schedule a bell to signal when it's time to move on to the next merriment.

-- beth triplett

Friday, December 18, 2015

#1295 stolen

I've recently heard some sad tales about people who have had packages stolen from their porches.  I think about the economic losses, the time lost in trying to verify the theft and reorder the missing pieces, as well as the emotional toll of privacy and property being violated.

I also think about the greater impact this will have if package thefts become rampant.  The entire delivery system is based on a premise of trust. If that's out the window, think of the changes that will follow.  Newspapers won't be tossed on the door steps any longer.  The cost of shipping will dramatically increase if signatures are required for all deliveries.  Workloads of corporate mailrooms will soar as employees send their packages to work where there is a human to claim them.  Mail will be delivered in anonymous lock boxes at the end of every street instead of allowing for personal delivery in unsecured mailboxes at people's homes. Many will be inconvenienced by having to go to some remote freight center to claim their parcels.

There are dozens of points of trust in the current supply chain.  I hope that you do your part to be vigilant in monitoring and reporting any violations of that pact so that the actions of a few don't steal the freedom ingrained in the system as we know it.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, December 17, 2015

#1294 Best Blog in the U.S.

It is near the end of the year so 'tis the season for rankings.  The Top 10 lists; the "Year's Best..." and similar subjective opinions fill content for a variety of news media.  The same idea proliferates the rating and rankings of more serious topics such as major purchases and now, even schools.

Colleges have been subjected to USNews rankings for years, but now our state is rating elementary and secondary schools in a new School Report Card.  The intentions behind it, and many other rankings, are laudable -- they aim to provide consumers with transparency, comparative data and the ability to assess one option over another.  But in reality, they often fail to achieve their intent.

Ranking anything often falls prey to unintended subjectivity.  Even deciding what to measure has value judgments attached to it.  Weighing one thing more than another component reflects the bias of what is deemed important.  One-size-fits-all metrics don't work for complex systems such as school districts or employers.  

In the end, the best ____ is determined by what you value.  The best car for one person may not be the best car for another.  Knowing that Car A earns 22mpg and Car B averages 32 mpg may be important to you, whereas knowing that Car A goes from 0 to 60 in less time than Car B may be more essential to me. 

The next time you see a list that rates anything vs. another, ask yourself what complexities it is overshadowing.  Is one measure really providing any meaningful data for comparing large schools vs. small or deep dish pizzas vs. thin crust or comedies vs. dramas?  

It's like rating whether this blog better than the others being written. It may not have as many words as another or as many followers, but those are not measures I value.  I rank high on the ability to take a lunch topic and turn it into a blog, so give me an A on the analogy rating on the Blog Score Card and let me claim the title of Best Blog in the U.S.  Ludicrous, yes, but keep that in mind before you give too much merit to the next set of rankings you read.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

#1293 merry

Yesterday I wrote about the short term focus of American Airlines (or at least the one agent in Charlotte who represents them.)  Today, I will tell the tale of another employee, only this one who gets it.

I was Christmas shopping at Target over the weekend, and I wanted multiple items that were the same.  They were one short of my needs, so I checked at customer service to see if they had any more in stock.  Caitlin said that there was a yet-to-be-unpacked shipment, and I should check back the next morning...

...but, if they did not have any more in this supply, a store an hour away had 30 in stock.  Caitlin lived in that city, and she would happily go to that Target and buy one for me if need be!  It turned out that there was not one at my store, and yes, Caitlin did make a trip to the other store and brought me one the next day.  

This is a $3 item we were talking about, and yet she was willing to go far above and beyond to make a customer happy. I was impressed.

In this season that is supposed to be full of joy, many people are stressed out and grumpy. How can you emulate Caitlin and take the extra time to do something special for someone else?  Giving unexpectedly really does make the holiday merry.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

#1292 shaking my head

A traveler was delayed on his arrival to Charlotte and missed his connecting flight to Chicago.  He was desperately trying to catch the next flight in order for him to arrive on time for an important business meeting, but the flight he wanted was full.

A friend of mine had a seat on that flight -- and a four hour connection in Chicago.  He offered to take a later flight and allow this man to reach his destination, while still having plenty of time to make his own connection. "Sure," said American. "That will cost you each $200."

Obviously the switch did not happen and no one won in a situation that would have cost American n.o.t.h.i.n.g.  They could have garnered lots of good will by embracing the spirit of cooperation that my friend exhibited.  He was willing to give a little, and if American had done the same, the man would have been happy and all would have been well.  No revenue lost; client satisfaction gained.

Does your organization have rules like this in place that may have some basis, but are not grounded in common sense?  Are you losing customers, employee morale or referrals because you make others mad with your bureaucracy or rigidity?  Have you defined the company's core values that would prevent such a situation and allow employees to override rules under extenuating circumstances like this?

The next time a customer wants to help you out and make you look good, I hope you are smart enough to let him.

-- beth triplett

Monday, December 14, 2015

#1291 longevity

I caught an episode of Shark Tank last week, and watched a family make a pitch for a new product that went on the bridge of your eyeglasses to keep them from slipping down your nose.  It was a waxy substance that came in a tube like lip balm and cost $9.99.  They said that it would last for a year or two.

One of the recommendations that the 'sharks' had for the entrepreneurs was to make their product smaller: an infrequent buying cycle was not good for cash flow, return customers and the overall health of the company.  The suggestion was to cut the product and the price in half and rely more on repeat volume.

Ironically I had a similar conversation when I was with a friend buying "Kank-a", a cold sore remedy.  This, too, cost $10 and would last through a year.  He remarked on the desire for the product to be half as much volume and cost -- apparently Kank-a did not appear on Shark Tank!

These examples reminded me of a eyebrow shaping powder that I have literally had for 15 years. I use this original purchase regularly, love it, and protect the remaining supply because they no longer make it.  I wonder if Clinique was victim of making their product last too long; they saw that sales were low and they took it as a sign of non-interest rather than wrong sizing.

Think about what you are offering in your organization and whether the price, product and life cycle are at an optimum level.  Do you want frequent users or are you in it for longevity?  Have you actually used your product or service so you know how long it lasts?  More is not always better.  

-- beth triplett

Sunday, December 13, 2015

#1290 breathe

It's the weekend before the weekend before Christmas, and if you are like me, your to-do list is much longer than the time available to do it.

A handy habit that you can start now can not only see you through the holiday hecticness, but could have lasting health benefits in the new year and beyond.  What is it?  Slow breathing.

"We've shown that this simple thing has a fantastic series of effects," said Dr. Luciano Bernardi in Time.  You can reduce stress, blood pressure, insomnia and anxiety by consciously slowing your breathing and performing this simple exercise:

1.  Sit down
2.  Plug one nostril and inhale through the other; hold for 4 seconds
3.  Release and slowly exhale
4.  Repeat on the other side
5.  Do about 4 rounds on each side

Taking slow breaths through one nostril may seem crazy, but it's worth a try to stave off deep breaths of exasperation this holiday season.

-- beth triplett

Source:  Save your breath by Mandy Oaklander in Time, November 16, 2015, p. 30.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

#1289 green holiday

I'm sure that lots of wrapping and holiday preparations are happening this weekend.  When you are getting your boxes and bows together, consider these facts that were shared in our campus' Green News sustainability newsletter:

> Americans throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Years than any other time of the year...about 1 million extra tons per week.

> If every American family wrapped just three presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

> If we reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.

This year as you are showering your love upon family and friends, remember Mother Nature by being eco-friendly in your gift-giving.  

Consciously ho ho hold back on your waste this season with these tips.

-- beth triplett


Friday, December 11, 2015

#1288 lasting

As I went through the TSA security lines at the airport and had to remove my shoes, I thought about the "shoe bomber" and how his unsuccessful little stunt has changed the way millions need to go through screening.

Same with those who caused my regular-size tube of toothpaste to become contraband and bottle of perfume to be considered a hazardous material on the plane.  The action of one has ramifications far beyond what was anticipated.

The world is full of one-time events that trigger regulations or practices that live on for years.  The sinking of the Titanic in 1912 resulted in requirements for one life vest per person on vessels, something that is still part of maritime law today.  The fire in the Cocoanut Grove night club fire in 1942 is the impetus for crash bars on all commercial doors and led to establishment of numerous other building codes and standards.

One person and one event can make a lasting difference.  Use your power to make change for the good instead of waiting for a tragedy to compel people to act.

-- beth triplett

Thanks Curt!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

#1287 make lemonade

I have always felt a special sense of admiration for brides who call off their wedding.  By the time the big day draws near, there is so much momentum and pressure that I think it would be an incredibly difficult thing to do.

Instead of wallowing in pity or sadness, one bride who cancelled her festivities made the most of it.  She held her reception anyway -- complete with a catered meal in a fancy hotel -- but instead of inviting the original guests, she invited the area homeless to enjoy.  The ex-bride and her mother also went on the trip originally booked as the honeymoon.

While you hopefully won't find yourself in the position of calling off your wedding, it is likely that you will encounter a dilemma where there is a pull to continue and a significant downside to altering your path.  Instead of staying the course rather than lose the money, remember this bride and think of a way to create a positive outcome both in the short and long run.

-- beth triplett


Source: Canceled California Wedding Leads to Feast for Homeless

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

#1286 hives

Most people know that honey bees use a hexagon (six-sided) shape to create their hives, but have you ever asked yourself why.

It turns out that while a circle is the most efficient space in isolation, a hexagon is the best when you are putting them all together.  A hexagon creates the most space for bees to store their nectar as well as making their hive a secure fortress in which the bees can live.

A short video about "if bees went to architectural school" simply illustrates the logic and math behind this.

Think about what shape you are: a circle, who operates wonderfully on your own, or a hexagon, who works best when part of a larger effort.  Like the bees, being most efficient independently may not be your goal.

-- beth triplett

Original source:  Great Work Provocations by Box of Crayons, July 30, 2015

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

#1285 one page

Yesterday, in blog #1284, I wrote about the power of specificity, amplified by the brevity of specificity small enough to fit on a post-it note. I believe this concept can be taken further for more formal communications, specifically a one-page strategic plan.

I have seen strategic plans take many formats, and many of them are so lofty they end up on a shelf.  By boiling down the essence of the plan into a one-page document, it forces the committee developing it and those implementing it to be specific about priorities.  It also provides an easy format to communicate progress in the designated areas.

Here is are some examples:  Dubuque Community Schools and Clarke University.

I think the one-page plan is a metaphor for how you can do all of your work: it's pragmatic and not lofty; designed to get the job done without a lot of fanfare.

If you find yourself involved in creating a plan or working on a project, whether for your organization or yourself, make it your goal to cut out all the fluff and wiggle words.  You may not achieve all of your goals, but I'll bet you come much closer if you articulate them with specificity and brevity.

-- beth triplett

Monday, December 7, 2015

#1284 3x3

According to an infographic in the Southwest Airlines magazine, you are "58% more likely to get a favor if you ask via sticky note."

Regardless of my skepticism as to how they calculated this, I must admit that I believe it.  Maybe not the precision of the 58%, but the general principle.  

Why?  Because a request written on a sticky note has two things going for it.  One, it is informal, so you likely know the person you are asking.  And secondly, the request is likely to be specific.  

I have written before about the magical power of specificity, and this is yet another example.  Saying "could you proof this for me?" is much more likely to be done than "Let me know if you need help."  

Whether or not you actually make your request through this medium, think of the sticky note the next time you need a favor.  If your desired action isn't specific enough to fit on a 3x3 square, perhaps you need to rethink what you are asking.

-- beth triplett

Thanks bg for sharing!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

#1283 the price is...

Like most people, I have done a fair amount of shopping in recent weeks.  During this journey, I have had several surprises regarding pricing.

> A $50 necklace was marked $15. I debated whether to buy it, and decided that I liked it enough to buy for myself.  At the register, it rang up $5.  I would have bought it without question at that price, and wonder if others passed it up not knowing its true cost.

> I took a $60 blouse to the register, intending to use a coupon to buy it.  The blouse was on sale for $40, so the coupon (which would have made it cheaper) did not work.  Who knew it was on sale?

> I intended to use another coupon on some buttons, but they too were on sale, this time for the same price the coupon would have given me.  I could have used the coupon for something else, but did not want to wait in line again to buy the other item I considered but did not want at full price.

Is your organization like those above that are offering discounts without properly telling others about them?  Sales are meant to be incentives to drive purchases, not surprises once someone decides to buy. 

-- beth triplett

Saturday, December 5, 2015

#1282 unplugged

When I was a kid, if you had asked me what I wanted for Christmas, chances are good that I  would have said "a Barbie."  I could have sat on Santa's lap and given that request, and he would have known what I hoped was under the tree.

Life is not that simple any more.

According to the Barbie ad in O Magazine, Barbie is now sold in eight skin tones, 14 different facial sculpts (whatever that is!), 18 eye colors, 20 hair styles, and 23 hair colors.  

While I applaud the ability for girls to have a doll that resembles them, what is lost is the universal nature of the toy.  When I was growing up, my Barbie looked just like my friends' Barbies and we created our personalization through clothes, accessories or just the stories we made up about them.  One Barbie was enough, because who needed two of the same toy?  Now you could replicate a whole classroom or office with different Barbie dolls.

Barbie still has a host of critics who lash out against her unrealistic figure and ability to stand on ridiculously disproportionate high heels.  But at least, even with her myriad options, she is still non-electronic and powered only by imagination.

This holiday, whether it is Barbie or other toys, be a doll and give the kids on your list gifts that have no plugs.

-- beth triplett

Friday, December 4, 2015

#1281 out of the closet

I recently volunteered for a United Way project to assist with a clothes closet, resume critiquing and interview preparation for those in need.  We had our introductory meeting last week, and it gave me a whole new perspective on the level of assistance those we would be working with will require.

As we discussed the clothes closet, my mind automatically went to "suits."  If not a full suit, at least professional dress and office-worthy attire.  While that is part of the need, the most in-demand item: a white shirt and black pants for temporary catering work.  Other requests:  steel-toe boots, black/plain hoodies for working outdoors or in refrigerated areas, and a red shirt to work at Target.  Never did I even consider that a wearing a sweatshirt would be dressing for success, but learned that success requires different dress depending on the job!

How can you get outside your comfort zone and walk the proverbial mile in another man's shoes?  You may quickly learn those coveted stilettos get kicked to the curb by a steel-toe boot, and all your pre-conceived notions go with them.

-- beth triplett