Saturday, October 31, 2015

#1247 masked

So what will you be for trick-or-treating or Halloween partying tonight?

If you want to be like everyone else, here are the three costumes predicted to be most popular:
> Donald Trump
> Left Shark (from the Katy Perry video)
> Jon Snow (Game of Thrones)

What happened to Spiderman and princesses?  

Apparently Halloween is appealing to a much older demographic as time goes on.  In 1993, the most popular costumes were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Barney the Dinosaur.  In 1997, it was Batman and Catwoman.  In 2004, Spongebob Squarepants was the favorite.  Even last year, Elsa and Olaf from Frozen were seen on more doorsteps.  But this year, the adult themes rule.

Whether it is costumes, music genres, technology use or food preferences, themes change.  You need to make a conscious effort to stay abreast of how your demographic is shifting and what is popular for them today.  

Don't get scared by something that jumps out at you in the night because you weren't paying attention.  There are lots of tricks on how to provide treats to your audience.

-- beth triplett

Thanks to Megan for sharing the costume history in her nugget!

Friday, October 30, 2015

#1246 behind the curtain

Sometimes I read the headlines of the newspaper and wonder how they could have chosen the topic as a front page story.  How did that make it "above the fold?" I ask...

...and then I remember it is because the purpose of the media is to make money, not to report the news.  What will sell gets top billing; not what will inform.

I think it's a similar situation with professional sports teams.  When I lived in St. Louis, there was a public uproar when they traded Albert Pujols.  He was beloved in the city, not only for his athletic talents, but for his civic involvement and generosity.  People couldn't believe that the front office wouldn't keep him in town...

...because they felt like the Cardinals were a community trust, not a business.  In reality, sports teams are out to make a profit, not be a charity in the towns where they reside.

Newspapers and athletic franchises remind me of for-profit universities (like Phoenix and Kaplan) who tout their on-line conveniences and accelerated pathways for adults to finally finish their degrees...

...only their true motive is generating revenue, not learning.  They are not altruistically providing people with a meaningful college education, rather using access to federal funding to fill their coffers in exchange for credentials.

If you want to understand the motivations of other people or organizations, spend some thought considering the underlying "why" behind their behavior.  Most people will act consistent with their values, even if they do so by pretending to value what they think you do.

-- beth triplett

with influences from Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Thursday, October 29, 2015

#1245 graupel

In Blog #1095, I wrote about the plethora of special weather statements.  We received another such alert yesterday.  It read: "Windy conditions and rain mixed with graupel this afternoon."  

Graupel?  What the heck is graupel? The Washington Post called it "the wintry precipitation you've never heard of."

It turns out that graupel is formed when snow starts high in the atmosphere, but then melts. Graupel is "snow pellets that form when supercooled droplets of water are collected and freeze on a falling snowflake.*" It comes to the ground as "soft hail."

I think graupel can be a metaphor for organizational culture.  What influences an institution's culture is happening beyond the cloud cover, and is different than what presents itself in everyday life.  If leaders aren't paying attention to the conditions high up in the atmosphere, they may miss cues that the situation is worse than the morale they see everyday.  Warning signs could be there that the rain will become snow or hail, but those only looking out the window may be oblivious to it.

It may sound counter intuitive, but like the meteorologists, leaders need to pay attention to the unseen.  Use your instruments to examine what is in the clouds before your graupel becomes hail or your culture experiences a storm.

-- beth triplett

Blog #1095 "alert" June 1, 2015

Graupel: The wintry precipitation you've never heard of by Don Lipman, Washington Post, December 5, 2014

*Wikipedia: Graupel

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

#1244 found

I was going through my email and found a message from a former employee who had sent me her address to "keep in touch."  It came during the opening-of-school craziness and I did not have much more than a minute to reply.  So I waited until I had time to compose a more thorough update...

...and here we are, almost two months later.  I am sorry to say that I have not made time to be any better of correspondent than I would have been when I first received the email.

Note the choice of words:  made the time vs. found the time.  There is no such thing as found time -- you consciously dedicate your minutes to something or it passes without intention.  There is no time to be found.

The next time you have a task that you believe to be important, commit right then to a time to complete it.  Your chances of finding extra hours are about as good as finding that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

#1243 good deed

The pin recently fell out of my watchband, so I took it to the local jeweler to be repaired.  I was expecting to drop it off, come back to get it in a few days and pay to have the work done.

Instead, the jeweler handed it back to me in about five minutes.  When I asked him how much, he looked at his watch and said: "Well, it's 4:30 and I haven't done my good deed for the day yet, so I guess this is it."  

I was ecstatic!  Not only did I love that I had no waiting, no return trip and not even any payment, but I was especially taken with his phrasing.  

Have you done your good deed for the day yet?  Don't let 4:30 pass you by without making the day brighter for someone else.

-- beth triplett

Monday, October 26, 2015

#1242 litter lessons

Over the weekend I had the good fortune to play with an 8-week old retriever puppy.  I was in love!

The owner talked about the possibility of getting another pup from a later litter (as retrievers really are pack animals and do better in pairs.)  Her comment caused an immediate flashback to when I acquired my dogs.  

I, too, got one from one litter and another later -- and essentially endured three years of puppy antics because of it.  I often lamented about not just getting two from the first litter and being done with it...

...but then I would not have my Iris (don't tell, but she's my favorite!)  I'm sure puppy #2 would have been wonderful, but she wouldn't be the same.

The bottom line lesson for me in all of this is to accept your circumstances as they are.  Yes, there would have been distinct benefits of having a shortened puppy-training period, but there would have been losses from that as well.  

Keep your speculation to events you have control over instead of playing "what if" while looking in the past. Yesterday's bone is buried.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, October 25, 2015

#1241 thorns

I love fresh flowers, and almost always have a bouquet on my kitchen counter.  I buy them at the farmer's market or at the grocery store; nothing fancy, but they make me smile.

Over Labor Day, the whole display of flowers at Walmart was decrepit.  I figured that someone forgot to water them over the holiday weekend and didn't think much of it.  But then it happened again, and again for a third weekend.  The flowers on prime display -- what you see when you first walk in -- were a carousel of d.e.a.d. blooms.

Obviously Walmart's procedures didn't evolve to accommodate a product that requires more attention than the stocking of tissues or garbage bags. There are times when it is wiser to stick with a narrow offering and do what you do well.  This was one of those times.  

The next time you are tempted to expand into areas that require a different type of expertise than what you currently master, head into the garden with caution.  Roses have blooms, but they also have thorns -- which live much longer than the blossoms do.

-- beth triplett

Saturday, October 24, 2015

#1240 middle man

I remember when selling a house involved using a realtor and selling other items meant running a classified ad in the local paper.  Now there are hundreds of ways to move your merchandise and to learn about what is available from other sellers.

A new company coordinates selling real estate with texting and serves as a central hub for showcasing property and connecting interested parties. It still uses the same low-tech signs in the window, but instead of a phone number, it gives an option to text to a third party line.

Think about how you can marry new technology with traditional from of communication.  Is there a way for your organization to serve as a clearinghouse for other transactions or for you to be a beneficiary of this type of exchange?

Consider whether a buffer of privacy and security is desired before you put yourself out there directly.  There are still benefits to a middle man, even if that is really just a server or the cloud.  

-- beth triplett

Friday, October 23, 2015

#1239 well-oiled machine

Technology allows today's machines to run with so little effort that we become complacent:

> we do other things while we drive instead of staying 100% focused on the road
> we leave the washer or dryer running when we leave the house
> we forget to change the filter on the furnace or keep the area around it clean
> we leave space heaters running when we're not in the room

Equipment works so well...

...until it doesn't.

Those hours of boredom while driving can become terror in an instant.  The laundry can turn into a flood and heaters into a fire.  Suddenly, things that we take for granted are that way no longer.

Is this true in your organization as well?  Do you treat it like a well-oiled machine and let it hum along without your intervention?  Perhaps there are processes and procedures that should proactively merit your attention.  Best to tend to them in the maintenance mode rather than when you have a blow out.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, October 22, 2015

#1238 remedy

I recently attended a workshop on Title IX, the federal regulation that outlines, among many other things, how college campuses must deal with cases of reported sexual harassment and sexual violence.  It is a complicated regulation, and workshops can often get laden with legalese.

The speaker, Dr. Tanya Lowery, Title IX Officer for Oklahoma State University, boiled the essence of the regulation down to four key steps:

1.  Investigate
2.  Stop it
3.  Prevent it
4.  Remedy it 

I think she provided a workable model for handling almost all complaints that come forward, no matter what the setting.  I referenced this when a staff member told me about a missed deadline on a project.  Without thinking about the Title IX session explicitly, I told her to try and figure out why it happened, to learn what could be done to stop it from happening again, take those steps long term, but short term figure out how to readjust the timeline to accommodate the delay. 

Think about the above framework the next time you have an issue to address. Hopefully you'll never have to deal with a complaint in the Title IX context, rather can use it to work through the ordinary problems that find their way to your desk.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

#1237 declined

I recently had a conversation with someone who told about a situation when he was asked to do a project by a senior member of the organization.  The time frame to prepare was unrealistic, so he respectfully declined.  

Others in the organization watched carefully to see how this would play out.  There weren't many people that said no to this person.

How it unfolded ended up being quite positive.  She respected my colleague for setting boundaries and for being clear about what he could/could not do.  The relationship actually improved with the declined invitation.

Think about your limits and where they are being pushed beyond what is reasonable.  Is there something that you should be passing on or rethinking? Saying no is not an automatic career-buster if it is done with good reason and respect.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

#1236 fade

In addition to writing this blog, I also often write a long-hand journal as a place to sort out thoughts and emotions.  

The other day, I was writing along and the pen died.  Most times, the ink slowly fades and there are signs that the end is approaching.  But this time, it went from legible to invisible on the same word without any notice.

I think that the ink in pens can be a metaphor for life. Most times, there are indications that things are slowing down, but other times, life just stops.  You never know.

There is only so much ink in your barrel, and when you run out, it's done.  Use your ink wisely.

-- beth triplett

Monday, October 19, 2015

#1235 best interest

I think about all the things that are out there that provide incentives for people to do things that don't seem to be in the company's best interest.

> Regional airlines have gate-to-gate valet checking of luggage -- with no lines to check and less waiting time to pick up -- for free -- while they charge you to wait in line to check a bag that you have to wait for again at the carousel.  Shouldn't it be the other way around?

> Banks often assess service charges for use of ATM machines, but allow you to have one-to-one service with a teller for free.  Is in-person really more cost-effective for them?

> The government spends millions promoting healthy eating, but fresh foods often cost a premium.  Couldn't they design a food stamp program that gives additional benefits to those who purchase healthy foods and charge a premium for junk food choices?

> Instead of giving days off for people who are sick (and perhaps inadvertently creating a few "mental health days"), could employers reward those who are well?

Consider whether your policies and practices align with your desired intent.  Could it be possible that you are mixing your message about what you value or giving others reasons to do things contrary to what you desire? 

Your customer will likely do what they perceive to be in their best interest.  Try to have that be the same as your interest too.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, October 18, 2015

#1234 combinations

I recently needed to pack for a four-day trip out of town.  I pre-pack in my head before I actually assemble the clothes to take because for me, packing is like working a Rubik's Cube.

It is very easy for me to pick out four different outfits, but that is like getting only one side of the Cube to have the same color.  Just as all the sides of the Cube don't automatically align, I take it as a challenge to get the right combination that efficiently uses clothes multiple times. I need to keep switching out options in my head until it all comes together.

Think about other situations that have layers of solutions. Don't quit when you solve just one side; keep going until your whole Cube is aligned.

-- beth triplett

Saturday, October 17, 2015

#1233 target

I was helping an organization work on its marketing and outreach plan.  For one of our exercises, I asked the group to identify who should hear their message.  

They came up with a list that included such things as legislators, area employers, board members, community leaders, etc. A list that was way too broad to be effective.  It would have been easier to say "everyone."

We started to talk about what they really meant.  It wasn't all legislators; it was members of certain committees on the federal level and representatives from certain counties in the state.  Area employers meant the CEOs and human resource directors for employers in selected industries within a limited geography.  Community leaders meant the heads of a category of non-profits, etc.

Once the influencers were identified, it was much easier to get a grasp on how to influence them. You could see certain patterns, overlapping channels of communication and paths that organization leaders may cross with the people on the list.

When you are trying to make an impact, it is often better to go deep than to go broad.  Spend the time to identify the bulls eye. It's not as easy to hit, but the results are much more on target.

-- beth triplett


Friday, October 16, 2015

#1232 absorption

I recently came upon a horrific accident.  The front of the van was smashed flat and half of the side was missing.  As I recounted the scene to a friend, I speculated that there must have been serious injuries involved.

He told me not to be so sure because the front engine of cars is intentionally built with several air pockets to absorb any impact.  It does more damage to the vehicle, but it is designed to protect the people. The outside of the car may look worse than the inside.

I think that supervisors play a similar role as the car engine.  Each layer of supervisor absorbs some of the stress, politics and worry to protect the people in their care.  The supervisor can serve as a buffer between the outside and the inside. They help people absorb only what they can handle and in a way that protects them from stressors they don't need to have.

Think about your balance between unfiltered transparency and effective distribution of impact.  A little space may be a very good thing.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, October 15, 2015

#1231 verb

Here's a time management tip that is easy to do and could really help get you going:  make everything on your to-do list start with a verb.

It sounds simple, but it can be the difference between creating specificity about your actions so you get started vs. having something daunting and nebulous remain there for ages.

Think about the distinction between:

> Budget and prepare quarterly report
> Workshop and develop outline for training workshop
> Taxes and categorize receipts for taxes
> Consultant's report and read consultant's report
> Joe and see Joe about project
> Task force and convene task force meeting
> Vacation and book flights for vacation
> Groceries and make list for grocery shopping

If you add that action and element of specificity, it is much more likely that you'll add "cross things off to-do list" to your list of tasks for the day.  

-- beth triplett

Per Amy from Justin Draeger speech at IAFSAA

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

#1230 be alert

It goes a long way when something is acknowledged that is usually taken for granted: 

> the proofreader receives kudos from the writer
> the main manager gives a compliment to someone at the branch office
> the leader thanks the person who routinely runs all the reports
> the front of the house staff shares appreciation with the back of the house staff
> the back of the house staff tells the front of the house staff they did a good job
> the doctor thanks the receptionist 

and on it goes.  

We are usually conscious about thanking certain people for certain things they do, but acknowledging what is not always acknowledged can be a powerful motivator.  Look around today and see what is going right that you can comment on, especially if you haven't noticed it before.

Recognition (consciousness) that leads to recognition (appreciation) is golden.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

#1229 to scale

One of the banks in town just installed a new sign which includes a rotating LED display.  To be effective, this space should be treated as a mini-billboard, but it seems that they are using it as an electronic brochure.  There are pictures, headlines and copy, even though the headlines are barely large enough to be legible.  To me, it is totally ineffective.

Around town, there are always examples of static billboards with the same problem.  They may have looked great up close and personal on a computer screen and or when printed out on a sheet of paper, but when they are enlarged and moved several hundred feet away from the reader the message is lost.

Think about how you can take a lesson from these two challenges. Are you reviewing your message in the context which it is most likely to be read?  Have you boiled your point down to its essence and cut away all the extraneous components?  If you review your output to scale is it still workable, whether that be on a billboard or on a mobile phone?

One size does not fit all for most things, and certainly not for messaging.  Don't review things once on your computer and assume it speaks with clarity everywhere else.

-- beth triplett

Monday, October 12, 2015

#1228 sacrifices

In a recent Dear Amy advice column, a parent was resentful about the sacrifices she was making for her daughter.  Amy's reply: "...this is what it means to be a parent.  When you're a parent, sometimes it seems that everyone else is on the dance floor, while you are left to guard their purses."

I think that feeling is true in other settings as well.  Sometimes it seems that way when you are a supervisor and are called to do the extra while others are able to go home.  I'm sure coaches feel that way when the players are out celebrating a win and the coaches are watching videos of the competition in preparation for the next game.  Teachers could resent the need to be doing lesson plans and syllabi while the students are enjoying their weekend or breaks. 

Being the one responsible for others is a delight -- and a burden.  As you assume a leadership role, remember that it's not all glory.  Sometimes your job will be to guard the purses -- or worse.

-- beth triplett

Source:  Mom conflicted over financial support for child by Amy Dickinson for the Tribune News Service in the Telegraph Herald, August 2, 2015, p. 7B

Sunday, October 11, 2015

#1227 break time

A colleague just came back from a recent conference and shared a quote from a speaker*: "You can't sprint forever."  This reminded me of a saying that one of my mentors continually preached: "The horses need to rest."  

Whether you apply this to your personal life or keep it in mind as you supervise staff, the essence is the same. Neither the human body or spirit can continually go at full throttle.  There are times, and maybe even frequent times, for pushing, but there has to be a break in between the pressure.

Think about how your life is structured.  Are you trying to sprint non-stop?  Are you urging your staff to relentlessly keep at it?  Maybe you should use this Sunday to take a breather and get yourself rested for the next lap.

-- beth triplett

 * Justin Draeger, NAFSAA president

Saturday, October 10, 2015

#1226 invested

At the end of the day, what really distinguishes your organization from any other in your industry?  The answer, of course, is your people.  

Anyone with any human resources responsibility knows that it is far better to retain good employees than to replace them.  Oftentimes, organizations recognize service milestones with a certificate or plaque, but the University of Louisville acknowledges their people in a big way.  Literally.

Celebrating 40+ Years of Service at the University of Louisville

What can you do to give special attention to those who have made a substantial commitment to you?  Can you recognize people in a creative or unique way, and in a way that lasts beyond a momentary presentation of a service award?  You may have to invest a bit of time or money to do so, but it is clearly worth it to celebrate those who have invested so much in you.

-- beth triplett

Thanks Tracy for the photo!

Friday, October 9, 2015

#1225 make a splash

It's one thing to say that safety is your priority; it's another thing to show it.  The Great Wolf Lodge in Michigan has gone to great lengths to show that they take water safety seriously.

Some examples:
> They have a mannequin in a display case with a sign "don't be alarmed if you see me in the pool; I'm used in lifeguard training."

> The lifeguards all have certifications above and beyond the basics.  The Great Wolf lifeguard program is known as "top notch."

> Children are measured for height, and held to it through use of a corresponding wristband that allows them in certain areas of the pool

> The lifeguards are actually attuned to what is happening in the water, following a certain cadence of looking one way and then back to the next

Not only does all this effort result in a safe experience for the guests, it is an outward sign of living their values and furthering the Great Wolf brand.  Not only are they good at safety, they are great at telling their story about safety.  I am sure many other businesses take safety seriously and do many things behind the scenes, but through several symbols and visuals, Great Wolf makes the intangible training tangible.  It becomes a visual part of the value proposition for why guests should stay at this resort over others.

Think about what values your organization holds and how you can let others know that you are living them.  

-- beth triplett

Thanks Mike!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

#1224 believe

I recently attended the lecture of someone I had never heard of.  I went because it was part of our speaker series for the semester, and usually I enjoy those programs even if the topic is seemingly not of interest before I go.

This is a lesson I learned from my student activities days: you don't have to know the performer for the performance to be good.  For the most part, it's a safe bet to trust the committee that picked it.  They know far more about the engagement than you do, and are more invested in the program's success than you are.  Thus, they have done their due diligence, seen or heard as much as they can about the artist and made their best judgment as to what will please the audience.

More often than not, unknown performers have a small crowd -- that loves the show -- and then tells all their friends that they should have gone! On college campuses, the same acts are brought back for multiple years and the crowd grows, because now there is someone others trust to vouch for the performer.  

You believe your friend when they say "this act is good; you should go."  Take that risk and believe the sponsor when they say: "this act is good; you should come."  Chances are they are right.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

#1223 essence

I have always enjoyed the USA Today feature which provides the list of best-selling books and a succinct summary of them.  By succinct, I mean a few words, not even the Cliff Notes of the Cliff Notes.  

For example:

To Kill a Mockingbird/Harper Lee (#12) "1960 coming-of-age classic about racism"

A Walk in the Woods/Bill Bryson (#21) "An attempt to hike the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail"

StrengthsFinder 2.0/Tom Rath (#37) "Lifetime strategies for using your talents"

I have always admired the person who boils down 200 pages to its essence. I'll bet that the person excels at writing tweets too.

Think about how you can use the USA Today book list or Twitter as a measuring gauge for your message. Can you summarize your value proposition in a precise way that would fit the limitations of these media?  Does the reader of your proposal know exactly what action you want them to take?  Is your staff clear on what you value?

While pages and paragraphs have their place to convey wonderful prose, getting to the point has its virtues as well.  Don't let your message get lost in the words.

-- beth triplett

Source:  USA Today Best-Selling Books,, September 17, 2015, p. 4D

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

#1222 distorted

In blog #962, I wrote how the further away from something we get, the more affinity we feel toward it.  I will amend that thesis to add time as another element that influences our fondness for a particular event or person.

We just finished homecoming and it reminded me of this variation.  The more time between encounters the less closeness that is required to be glad about the reunion.  People who hadn't seen each other in decades -- and may not have been particularly close when they did -- were embracing like long lost sisters. I received hugs from previous students who barely said hello when they saw me every day, but because years had passed since our encounter, the warmness increased.  

This phenomenon happens with things too.  My dogs totally ignore a certain toy -- until it has been lost under the couch for weeks -- and then it becomes their favorite bone when they are reunited.  Items that I saw every day in my mother's cupboard meant little, but now when I see that same pattern of dishes in the antique store I want to buy it "just to have." 

This perception distortion is perfectly natural, but it is something of which to be aware.  Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder, so make your decisions with that bias in mind.

-- beth triplett

Monday, October 5, 2015

#1221 frame

It always gives me pause when I encounter someone who questions a fact that I think is totally obvious.  If I assume something is commonly held knowledge but come to discover that it isn't, I try to reflect on what other assumptions I am making about how I communicate.

An example of this was recently brought home when a student was having trouble finding a frame to fit a piece of art he had been given.  The picture was 28 x 22, but he asked for help because all he could find were frames that were 22 x 28.

I know that the generic frame he was considering could just be hung the other way, but to him, those were two different sizes.  It occurred to me that he had no experience in buying a frame and the only thing he ever measured in two dimensions was probably pants -- and a 32 x 34 men's slacks is definitely different than a 34 x 32.  If pant sizes aren't interchangeable, why would frame dimensions be?

The next time you encounter someone who sees the world from an entirely different frame of reference, take a moment to consider the view.  You just might learn something from the new perspective.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, October 4, 2015

#1220 signature

As part of the spiel in our admissions presentation, we always joke with the parents that we love cookies and that they should bring us some when they come back.  I've been saying this for a long time and no one ever took us up on the offer... one that is except for Mrs. Heidler.  She brought us cookies when her son moved in.  She brought us cookies every single time she came to visit.  She sent cookies back after holiday breaks and summer vacation.  Every year, for four years, until her son graduated.  For many reasons, we were very sad to see him go.

He graduated two years ago, but was back this weekend for homecoming.  And guess what he brought along with him?  Yes, his dear mother sent admissions yet another plate of cookies.

It may be a little thing, but a small gesture becomes magnified when done with such consistency.  How can you take a lesson from Mrs. Heidler and act on your thoughts of kindness, over and over again?  Regardless if it is a plate of cookies, a flower from your garden or a craft that you make, saying 'I'm thinking of you' with a tangible item is the ticket to endearment.  What generous gesture can become your signature?  

-- beth triplett

Saturday, October 3, 2015

#1219 gone mad

At first I thought it was just Target, but once I started paying attention I realized that many retailers have gone mad for plaid.  I haven't seen so much tartan since the preppy days of the 1980s.

But if you roam the aisles of any retailer, you'll find that plaid packaging abounds.  I am not sure why businesses think that plaid sells more mouthwash or lip balm or make up than plain wrappers, but they seemingly do.

Plaid is everywhere these days. It's the hot new trend which leaves you faced with a choice:  do you jump on the bandwagon or ignore it?  Only you can decide if you want to create your own pattern or be woven in with the others. 

-- beth triplett

Friday, October 2, 2015

#1218 the bug

A new car dealer just opened in town after months of teaser billboards preparing us for their arrival.  First it was a peace sign, then a heart was added, then a shamrock and finally the VW logo.  All this to announce a new dealership grand opening on September 14.  I'm sure they were riding high to be the only provider in town of the world's top automaker.

And then September 18 came.  If you have paid attention to the news lately, you no doubt heard about the trouble at Volkswagen.  On the 18th, the EPA accused VW of installing software on its cars specifically to circumvent the emission testing.  The CEO has been fired, production halted, legal battles initiated, global investigations started and fines levied.  It is a mess.

Talk about bad luck or timing!

I do not know the people at this dealership, but I feel for them.  Circumstances far beyond their control have upended their business plan, dreams and perhaps even livelihood.  

This scenario helps me keep things in perspective. While my world is clearly not problem-free, at least I'm not charged with reducing 15 tons of waste as I wrote about yesterday or opening a dealership for a brand involved in an international scandal.  

Someone always has it harder than you do.  Remember the new VW dealer the next time you've got the woe-is-me bug.

-- beth triplett

A diesel deception at WV shows new curves ahead for carmakers by Matt Vella in Time magazine, October 5, 2015, p. 9-10

Volkswagen facing 'tsunami' of legal trouble by the Associated Press in the Telegraph Herald, September 28, 2015

Volkswagen betrayal hurts everybody.  Editorial in the Telegraph Herald, September 28, 2015, p. 4A