Sunday, January 31, 2016

#1339 childhood

The other day I had a crazy craving for Macaroni and Cheese.  I am not sure why, but it was a staple of my childhood, and perhaps I just wanted to capture some of the good feelings from that time. So I went to the store and bought a box to prepare for dinner.

I was surprised to find the copy on the box acknowledged that I wasn't the only adult who bought this product as comfort food. It read: "imported from your childhood." I'm sure back in the day, we didn't read the (un)nutrition label or worry about the fat and calories it contained. It was just "gooey, cheesy goodness" and it tasted great (just as it did now.)

What elements of your childhood can you bring forward to provide peace and connectedness in your adult world? Are there toys or treasures that can be displayed in your home? Perhaps an article of clothing from when you were a tot? Maybe it is a song that reminds you of carefree days?

The good 'ole days weren't all good, but parts of them were. See if you can't intentionally carry a piece of the good forward into your life today.

-- beth triplett

Saturday, January 30, 2016

#1338 confetti

Birthdays have always been a big deal in my family, and apparently they are quite important for Stephanie Frazier Grimm's family too. But Stephanie took her thoughts a step further and considered all the children who are in the hospital for their birthdays.  She wanted to be the one who brought celebrations to these children.

So Stephanie started The Confetti Foundation, an organization that provides birthday party kits to children in the hospital. Each kit consists of partyware, coloring pages, crayons, a banner and handmade birthday cards, all packaged in a wrapped box like a present.  The foundation is always seeking volunteers to make cards or provide party kits for distribution*.  

The Confetti Foundation was started by one person with an idea.  Now it serves 95 hospitals around the country and has given 845 party boxes to sick children.

What idea do you have that you can scale to help others? Is there a way you can translate "thinking good" into "doing good?" Foundations are often at the intersection of passion and need.  Think about what resides on that corner in your life.

-- beth triplett

*see FAQs for more details on how to help

Friday, January 29, 2016

#1337 comparing

Last weekend, I was on the hunt for a new copier/printer/scanner. This was no easy task as there are many models that all appear to be equal. The price for the exact same item ranged from $79 to $104 and there were many different all-in-ones that were for substantially less. 

I was ready to buy one of the cheaper versions, until I read an on-line review that claimed "it drinks ink for breakfast, lunch and dinner."  Suddenly, paying more up front seemed like a better deal than paying over and over again. There is so much information available on line these days that it is easy to price shop and compare -- but only on the initial purchase. The real cost comes in after you buy an item, and that is hard to know.

There are many items that have a lower up-front cost than the price of overall ownership: A blouse that needs to be dry-cleaned after each wearing. A free puppy that still requires a decade of food and expensive vet bills even if they remain healthy. A first car, which can seem manageable on a teenager's income, until they factor in gas, insurance and repair. And this printer, which ended up costing me $79, but one round of new ink was $134. (Hopefully, this model isn't thirsty and I don't need to double my investment with regularity!) 

When you are "price matching" or looking for the latest bargain, remember that the cost is on the lifetime of the product, not just the initial outlay. Savings for the long term is more prudent than a deal at the start.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, January 28, 2016

#1336 be challenged

Thirty years ago today (January 28, 1986) the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded 74 seconds after lift off. If you are old enough to have seen it, you undoubtedly remember exactly where you were when you heard the news. It was one of those moments that dumbfounded the nation and caused people to be glued to their television screens. (Thirty years ago there was no wide-spread Internet; I got a phone call to tell me about it and subsequently called others.)

As was discovered later, the cause of the explosion is likely the "O-rings" that were not meant to withstand the unusually cool temperatures of that day. Much has been written about the failed chain of communication and many fingers have been pointed in blame. The bottom line is that seven people died because the pressures to launch -- given the hype of having "the first ordinary citizen in space" -- outweighed the precautions to wait. 

We make decisions every day that are based on incomplete data and unknown risks. Usually a billion dollars and lives are not at stake, but the choices we make often have far-reaching implications for our organizations. Before you act too quickly to launch the rocket, be prudent about having enough information to make an informed decision. And if you are the one providing the information, share with confidence and not timidity, even if the pressures are high to fade into the background.   

The legacy of the Challenger is that it should challenge all of us to have the perseverance to influence a decision and the patience to wait when the uncertainty warrants.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

#1335 too

About this time last year, I wrote about the drop in gas prices to a low, low $1.89 vs. the $3.19 that it had been just a year earlier.  Here we are, now looking at an even greater drop (to $1.69 in this area) and the lowest prices for crude oil since 2004.

The cost of oil is dropping so precipitously that it is having a more negative impact than positive when taken as a whole.  While consumers may be enjoying the decrease, they will also be adversely affected as stocks decline, businesses have difficulty and the market as a whole suffers.

It seems that there is a balance point for everything.  Too low of oil prices are a problem as are those which are too high.  A weather pattern that brings too hot of temperatures is no better than one that ushers in too cold. While we all know the perils of obesity, I just read that runway models will now be required to have a certain Body Mass Index because they have been deemed to be too thin.  Parents can be too aloof or too protective of their children; too strict or too lenient.  

And on it goes. Most decisions in life occur on a spectrum. There is a time for passion and a time for moderation. Take a moment to assess whether you are at your desirable level or whether your scales are "too" one way or the other. 

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

#1334 big top

An article in Time reported that Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey will retire elephants from its circus shows beginning this spring. I was stunned.

The elephant is the animal associated with the circus. They used to parade down Main Street when the circus came to town.  Dumbo is all about elephants under the Big Top.  Legions of kids have watched elephants perform stunts, spray water, toss peanuts and give rides. The circus just won't be the same.

And yet, the show will go on. I am sure that Ringling Bros. will come up with a new act that uses technology or something else to wow the crowds. It won't be the same, but it will survive.

What is your signature element and have you thought of how you would move forward without it? Has your "elephant" run its course and should be retired?  Never forget that progress involves change, and that nothing, not even the iconic elephants, can last forever.

-- beth triplett

Monday, January 25, 2016

#1333 the day after

A bad experience is like having to file a huge pile of papers.  

After being dumbfounded by the daunting nature of it all, you open a drawer and get distracted in the task. This allows you to think about other things, but then as soon as you close the drawer, the big stack of papers is in front of you and you instantly remember all over again.

You know the pile will diminish over time, but in the beginning it is hard to imagine.  So the best thing you can do is keep your nose in the drawer.  Pick up the papers and file them, one by one...

-- beth triplett

Sunday, January 24, 2016

#1332 scan

I recently helped someone use a scanner for the first time, and it caused me to consider the tool in a new light. What an amazing invention!

We took a book, scanned a page of it, which automatically emailed it to me, and I emailed it to her, and she posted it on our course management system -- all in a nanosecond and all without one piece of paper. When you see it through new eyes, you can really be impressed by something that most of us take for granted.

I know that when computers first came out, there was talk of a "paperless society."  People felt that everything would be digitized and hard copies would go away. That obviously did not happen, but I think a scanner gives us a better shot at that than the computer itself.  

The next time you watch that light sweep across your document and magically turn it into electronic signals, pause for a second and marvel. It may not be 'beam me up Scotty', but it's coming close.

-- beth triplett

Saturday, January 23, 2016

#1331 niche

A waterbed is like a stick shift car.

Both of them appeal to a small segment of the population, and for that niche, they offer benefits that can't be found in the more mainstream variation of the item. While it may have taken some getting used to, after a while the users become not only comfortable, but almost evangelical about the items. It's worth the premium price or difficulty in locating them.

These specialty niche items are harder to share. (And, as it turns out, harder to steal. A carjacking was just thwarted because the thief did not know how to drive a stick!) But you can't toss your car keys to just everyone and your visitors never want to sleep in the waterbed.

Everyone probably uses an item or two that makes sense for them: A manual typewriter. A slide rule. A mug and brush for shaving with a straight edge razor. A phonograph. A wind-up clock. We all have our own definition of quality.

Embrace that which makes you comfortable, even if it isn't the most common version on the market. Maybe that is precisely why you love it.

-- beth triplett

Friday, January 22, 2016

#1330 outlook

I recently went to a luncheon sponsored by our Chamber of Commerce where leaders in six industries gave the outlook for their segment in the coming year. For many, the theme was governmental regulation and overall uncertainty, punctuated by a host of industry-specific challenges as well as a few opportunities.

I was particularly struck by the speaker for the finance segment, who spoke of rising loan rates, data security and other factors. Then he ended with saying that while there are many things out of the industry's control, the one thing that his credit union can control is how they treat their employees and customers. "Relationships matter," he said.

It was interesting to me that the finance industry forecast had a focus on its people and not just numbers. It is true that the key differentiator in many settings is the employee, and then in turn how the employee makes the customer feel about the business.  The small business speaker also spoke of how "great employees want a company with a purpose" and many are finding that in the "Mom & Pop" businesses.

What is the forecast for your employees? In times of challenge and uncertainty, have you made efforts to link your work to your purpose and to help employees understand the overriding reason for why you exist? Have you included goals that address employee development and client satisfaction? Even in the finance industry, there is more to an organization than what can fit on a spreadsheet.

-- beth triplett


Speakers: Finance/Joe Hearn CEO Dupaco Credit Union; Small Business/Tom Rauen, Envision Sports Design
Forecast Luncheon January 14, 2016

Thursday, January 21, 2016

#1329 chips

I received my new EMV chip-embedded credit card in the mail yesterday, preparing me for the mandated shift that was to occur by last October.  It got me thinking about the massive scale logistics involved in converting a credit-card-happy country to a new payment system.

How would you like to be the one in charge of getting an estimated 1.2 billion credit cards upgraded and delivered?  Worse yet, you could be stuck with the bill which is estimated to be $3.50/card. You can do the math.

As I cut up my old card and tossed it, I was also struck by the amount of non-biodegradable waste that this conversion is going to cost.  Several landfills could be at capacity with just the 1.2 billion outdated cards, let alone all the envelopes and instructions and accompanying literature to distribute them.  

It reminds me of the slow but eventual conversion from 8-tracks to cassettes to CDs and from VHS to DVD to BlueRay, and all the media and accompanying players that are filling trash dumps across the globe. Now so many outlets won't accept televisions or computers for donations as the technology changes so quickly as to make the previous models undesirable.

Without a doubt, the advances in credit card security, music quality, television picture clarity and word processing are all monumental, and maybe even worth the massive cost that they entailed to enact. Just keep the picture of 1.2 billion cards in your head the next time you advocate for a system-wide change. There are implications far down the line that you may not initially consider that are worth a second thought.

-- beth triplett

Source: 8 FAQs about EMV credit cards by Sienna Kossman on

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

#1328 leverage

Yesterday I wrote about Joy Mangano and the entrepreneurial empire that she built. Her success is going to expand even more after the Joy movie as they have done a terrific job in leveraging her products after the fact.

I can't recall ever seeing the "Huggable Hangers" anywhere, and now they have prime retail space in all of the major stores.  Not only does it fit in well with the movie, but after the be-tidy craze spurred by Marie Kondo's book, there are people organizing their closets all across the land.

Merchandising not only increases profits, it goes a long way in leveraging the impact of a message. It is content used exponentially to garner increased exposure, to create a lasting impression and to solidify a space in mass consciousness.  A movie or book is "one and done" if left on its own, but follow up merchandising allows the message to be lived again and again.

You don't need to limit your leveraging to books, movies or products. Think of the content you are creating and ways to develop subsequent tie-ins to that material: A recording of a lecture posted on line. Tweets following blog posts. Imprinted party favors at an event.  Distribution of written copies of a speech. A follow-up email with a link to related content. Pictures of an event tagged on social media. A hand written thank you note that reinforces your message.

On the West Wing television series, President Jed Bartlet was always asking: "What's next?"  It's a good question to ask yourself whenever original content is involved.

-- beth triplett


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

#1327 entrepreneurial

Over the weekend, I went to see the movie Joy, a story about the down-on-her-luck housewife turned entrepreneur turned QVC sensation. Joy Mangano started her career with the self-wringing Miracle Mop and later added Huggable Hangers to her portfolio.

The movie depicts how Joy got inspiration for the mop as she cut her hand while cleaning up broken glass, and follows her trials through drawing a sketch with her daughter's crayons, creating a prototype by hand and talking her way onto the QVC stage to demonstrate the product herself. There were many, many stages in the story where the weak hearted would have given up, but Joy persisted and believed in herself. Ultimately, great success followed.

All of us have had product ideas -- something that we wished was available or we thought we could improve what existed -- but most of us do not act on these ideas. The same is true for ideas at work or simple changes that we could make in our personal life. It can be easier to leave the closet as it is or continue to utilize the same process at work.  As Joy makes clear, creating something new is not for the meek.

Millions of people bought a Powerball ticket last week hoping for an easy way to strike it rich. Except for the few lucky winners, the path to fame and fortune may look like Joy Mangano's and require a lot more work. Best to pick up the crayon and get started.

-- beth triplett

Monday, January 18, 2016

#1326 spreading the word

Today, of course, is the day we celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday.  In his long legacy of achievements, the one that stands out most is his leadership during the 1963 March on Washington.  Here, Dr. King helped the nation see that they were part of a larger dream and the discussion about race relations was elevated to a higher purpose than black vs. white.

I think about what it took to assemble 200,000 people on the Mall in 1963. There was no social media to put out the word. No email or internet. No cell phones or texting.  The phones required toll charges to call long distance. Air travel was not nearly as popular or accessible as it is today.  Just for that many people to know about the event, let alone have the means to attend it, is astounding.

It reminded me of a story someone once shared with me when I was protesting that I had to have my phone with me in case of emergency.  "If it is a true emergency, people will find you in the deepest part of the jungle," she said. "There are always ways to get you the message if it is truly important."

I believe the same was true with the March on Washington.  Despite the limitations in communication and the hardships in travel, people heard about the event because it was that important.  

Take a moment today to reflect on the message of Dr. King and use the many easy forms of communication at your fingertips to share it from the mountaintops.  Our country needs to hear it as much now as it did those 40+ years ago.
-- beth triplett


Sunday, January 17, 2016

#1325 sock it is me

I wonder what it's like to be famous.  I mean really famous.  How do you know when you are?  

Maybe it is when people recognize you in public or ask for a selfie with you.  Perhaps it is when you appear on the cover of a national magazine or are asked to be a guest on a talk show.  Or it could be when the media report your name without a descriptor behind it.

But I saw something the other day that proves that these people are undeniable legends:  they have socks with their picture on it for sale in a national chain.  Ozzie Smith, Julius Erving, Larry Bird and others have their image emblazoned on basketball socks for all to wear.  Now that is being famous, especially when it happens decades after their last professional game.

I doubt that you will be tempted to market socks with pictures of the key members of your organization anytime soon, but think of how you can craft something that keeps their legacy afoot.

-- beth triplett

Saturday, January 16, 2016

#1324 buy one

When did the concept of buy one, get one discounted/free -- or BOGO -- come into favor?  I see the promotional strategy used in so many places, but I am not a fan.  If I want two, then I want to buy two, both at 50% off instead of being manipulated by the pricing model.  Worst of all is buy one, get one 50% off, which makes me feel like I should buy the second one or I am missing out on a deal.  That, of course, is the point, yet I hate it.

The variation on this is when companies do BOGO but instead of getting one, they are giving one.  Tom's Shoes is a leader in this arena, having given away over 10 million pairs of shoes to children throughout the world.  The company now donates eye glasses "one for one" and other companies have followed their lead.  WeWood plants a tree for every watch you buy and Smile Squared donates toothbrushes for each one they sell.  Yoobi stationery products also donates "an item" to a U.S. classroom in need for every notebook or office supply you purchase. I wonder how much it is truly driving purchasing behavior or making a dent in poverty.

If you stop buying item #2, I'll bet the price on the One will start to change. Or if you don't overpay for products so they can give, I'll speculate that you'll have more to give yourself.

Let's start a movement: Just Say NOGO to BOGO.  

-- beth triplett

Friday, January 15, 2016

#1323 major

I recently heard an analogy that I think is apt for anyone in a leadership role:

The leader is like a drum major.  Everyone they are leading has their instruments and knows how to play them.  Everyone knows their steps.  But when you lead down the field, it is wise to turn around and make sure the band is with you. 

In other words, you can't march down the field without the band behind you.

I think it is a wonderful reminder to leaders that they can't just move ahead and implement ideas without generating the support of those they are leading.  Keep this metaphor in mind the next time you have a great plan and are ready to go.  Be sure the band is ready to go too.

-- beth triplett

Thanks Cynthia!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

#1322 gallon

Motivation is like gasoline.  If you only have a few drops of it, there isn't much combustion. A trail of gasoline drops doesn't fuel anything.

If you have sporadic motivation, it doesn't get you far either.  You need to have a concentration of dedication -- time on task long enough to get into it -- for the energy to grow exponentially.

Don't put just a little effort into something and expect your brain to rev up any more than a drop of gas would propel a motor.  Motivation and gasoline come by the gallon.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

#1321 canvass

The Iowa presidential caucuses are in a few weeks, and the political machine is in full frenzy.  This weekend, in -22 below wind chill, a canvasser came to my door to solicit my support for a candidate.

I was initially impressed with the dedication that the candidate engendered to inspire someone to go out in that kind of weather.  Then the person opened their mouth.  

She asked whether I was going to go to the caucus.  Yes.  

She asked if I was going to support her candidate.  When I said that I wasn't sure because of X concern, she retorted with a fact that I positively know is empirically wrong.

I expressed another concern and she said: "Well, it's only for four years."  Seriously?  

Before departing, she was going to give me literature out of her bag, but then realized she had run out and had nothing to leave with me.  She is out in the Arctic freeze, with the express purpose of soliciting support, and comes with an empty bag?

I know that the ineptitude of this volunteer has no bearing whatsoever on whether the person she supports would be an effective president. But it still feels like it does.

Is your front line helping you or harming you?  As you rise in leadership, it become more frequent that the majority of your clientele sees your staff instead of you. Take steps to ensure that they cast you in a positive light instead of in a cloud.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

#1320 tolls

I spent a fair amount of time over the holidays on the Illinois toll roads.  

When I was growing up, we paid for tolls with cash. A jar of coins stayed in the glove box so you had "exact change" to toss in the bucket as you entered the ramp. It caused me to be very conscious about what the tolls cost. Then, tolls were 15 cents or so whereas now they are over a dollar, but thanks to credit card auto-transfer and iPass it feels like less of a burden today. Open road toll plazas help you to forget that you are actually paying money, even though it is, in fact, a hefty surcharge.

But it seems to me that all roads are toll roads; it's just that we pay for some with actual toll booths and all the others with gas taxes.  We are deluding ourselves if we believe that we drive on some roads for "free."

I wonder if our behavior would be any different if all roads had the explicit tolls attached to them.  And if not, should we use more toll roads to fund the aging infrastructure that has such great need, but also such critical importance to our economy. 

Think about the hidden cost of driving. You are paying for roads in one way or another.  Infrastructure drives our economy; don't pay the price of neglect.

-- beth triplett

Monday, January 11, 2016

#1319 stop sprinting

A colleague attended a speech entitled "You Can't Sprint Forever" and shared some of the nuggets with me.  In this season of resolutions, perhaps you can resonate with some of Justin Draeger's thought-provoking suggestions:

> Consider when "good" is "good enough."  He called it "survival of the adequate" and advocates prioritizing when (and when not) a project warrants the extra effort.  Not every task does.

> Everything on your to-do list should be a verb.  Fit your actions with the time likely to be available. 

> Utilize technology to assist in your productivity.  His suggestions include email manager, the Slack team communication app and Evernote.

> "Stop glamorizing."  We are not all crazy busy all the time (nor do we need to be).  You can have enjoyment without sprinting all the time.

Consider these suggestions as you seek to have greater work/life balance or increased productivity in the new year.  We're all in a marathon and we'll have a better outcome if we run the race that way.

-- beth triplett

Draeger is the President of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NAFSAA)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

#1318 non-verbal

In Amy Cuddy's TED Talk about presence, she shares observations about non-verbal communication.  Most people translate that to be body language, posture, facial expressions, etc. and all of that is included. 

What fascinated me is that non-verbal communication also includes emojis.  We know these little symbols communicate meaning beyond words when you add them to your texts or emails, but they also help others form impressions about you.  Whether you add them or you don't they are transmitting a message just like your facial expressions.

We communicate intentionally or unintentionally, by what we say or don't say, and by what we add in non-verbals or don't add. Take care that those embellishments in your texts are transmitting the message you wish to send. (-:

-- beth triplett

Saturday, January 9, 2016

#1317 type

Before there were iPhones and emojis as we know them today, we added symbols and icons to our first computer-generated messages through the Zapf Dingbats font. This was one of the first ways that the average everyday user could put smiley faces, clocks or arrows in their text and it added a whole new dimension that distinguished the computer from the typewriter.

Zapf Dingbats was named after Hermann Zapf, a legendary type designer.  He is one of the many who left his mark on the world in ways that most don't appreciate or recognize -- one of those who invented something so ubiquitous that we don't stop to think that someone had to create it.

In addition to Dingbats, Mr. Zapf designed the Palatino font and Optima, used as the default in Microsoft Word and for the etchings on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall.  How incredible would that be if you were a type designer to see your (!) work in such public places?

Mr. Zapf died last summer, but his work will continue to live on for decades. What contribution can you make to the world that may end up taking on a life of its own?

-- beth triplett

Man of Letters by Lee Gardner in the Chronicle of Higher Education, June 26, 2015, p. A3

Friday, January 8, 2016

#1316 a tip

In addition to the conversation/debate/protests about raising the minimum wage, another element of employee pay is coming into question.  Some, including mega-restaurateur Danny Meyer, are stopping the long-time practice of tipping.  It would radically change how food items are priced, restaurant employees are paid and income disparity among staff in the food and beverage industry. Tips began as a way to reward good service, but now 15-20% has become a standard expectation rather than a bonus.

Tips are closely aligned with some positions and completely foreign to others. Danny Meyer told Time*: "The responsibility of creating income should not fall to the whim of people who are patronizing the restaurant, which is completely antithetical to a profession.  You don't tip your doctor if she cures you, and you don't tip your architect if the house doesn't fall down."  

Think of how your organization would function differently if people were paid by tips that truly did differentiate based upon service provided.  Would you work harder or sweeter if your clients were able to directly increase your earnings?  Would you develop a different system so that the support personnel (i.e.: cooks) could somehow be rewarded for their contributions instead of the tips only going to front-line personnel (i.e.: waitstaff)?  Does a tipping system favor only short-term performance instead of long-term innovation?

Here's a tip for you: whether your staff earns tips, minimum wage, commissions or bonus incentives, the whole notion of how employees are paid is undergoing a paradigm shift.  You would be wise to review your compensation to ensure that your pay structure works for you.

-- beth triplett

Why some restaurants have declared war on tipping by Ben Goldberger in Time, November 2, 2015, p. 23-24

Thursday, January 7, 2016

#1315 short sighted

Over break, I was able to read The Big Short, an account of the economic factors that resulted in the 2008 crash of the stock market and real estate values.  Written by the brilliant Michael Lewis, it reads like fiction even though the events were perilously real.

A key reason the crash did happen is because so many money managers were oblivious to the thought that it could not happen. I received my MBA in 2008, and even though I studied under a tough economist, the notion of selling short on sub-prime mortgages wasn't on our syllabus. Until it happened, only a tiny few believed that it was possible, never mind likely.

I was struck by the quote that opens the book -- an apt observation from Leo Tolstoy in 1897 that applied over a century later:

"The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him."

Resolve in this new year to become curious -- about what you don't know, but especially about what you think you do.  It is far more dangerous to be certain than to be ignorant.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

#1314 classification

I am in awe of the powerful simplicity of the Dewey Decimal system.  In ten* general categories, Dewey developed a way to organize all the books in a library.  There is a code and platform whereby any librarian can find you any book -- or you can even find it yourself  -- by following a few numbers.

I think Dewey was the precursor to Google.  Both systems took vast amounts of data and organized it in such a way that people could find things; they could determine a topic and then see what was included in that subject. Dewey did it with the first level of classification; technology allowed Google to take it deeper into the content level.

If libraries would have organized by author or title, researchers would have been running all over looking for books. With Dewey, I can go to one section of the library and see all that there is to offer on that subject. I found books to use with the class I am teaching by looking in that section even though I did not start out by searching them. 

I think it is this beautiful intersection of organized yet spontaneous that makes the Dewey Decimal system work. We don't want to have to specify everything we are looking for, yet we want to find everything we have identified. 

Try to organize your life like Dewey: with some core pillars that are unchanging, but allowing for a little bit of exploration as well.

-- beth triplett

*The 10 Dewey Decimal System Categories:
000   Computers, Information and General Works
100   Philosophy & Psychology
200   Religion
300   Social Sciences
400   Language
500   Science
600   Technology
700   Arts
800   Literature
900   History & Geography

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

#1313 preparations

In a recent Time article, journalist Ted Koppel shared his thoughts about being a "prepper." A prepper is someone who is making preparations for a disaster, and Mr. Koppel is among them.  He has a generator, freeze-dried food that will last his family three months and encourages other to do the same.  

He believes that a cyberattack is not only possible, but likely, quoting former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano as saying the chances are 80%-90%.  Attacking "the grid" would paralyze the economy and reek havoc in many, many ways.

Time asked Koppel if we should panic over this, and I loved his response:  "No, it's time to prepare. The time to panic is if we wait until it happens."

What disaster has a possibility of happening in your organization? There are undoubtedly threats more localized to your operation than a global cyberattack; have you made any preparations for them?  Do you have redundancies in your processes that would allow you to remain functional?

The Boy Scouts had it right with their "Be Prepared" motto.  Maybe 2016 is the year you become a prepper too.

-- beth triplett

9 questions with Ted Koppel by Michael Scherer, Time, November 2, 2015, p. 60

Monday, January 4, 2016

#1312 deep or shallow

Author Cal Newport commented on the difference between shallow work and deep work. Shallow work is the "little administrative and logistical stuff" that will keep you from getting fired. Deep work is "using your skills to create something of value", and, according to Newport, what gets you promoted.  

I think about the shallow vs. deep dichotomy in other settings as well. I have characterized the performance of some employees as shallow, meaning that they do many things at a surface level, but don't delve deep into any issue to really resolve it. They are able to keep many balls in the air, but don't really make an impact with anything.

In the sports arena, there is deep passion vs. shallow support. Bowl games bring out shallow fans; those who suddenly favor a certain team that they have not followed all year. Contrast that with true fans, who know the nuances of the team and have rooted for them through thick and thin.  These 'deep' fans are the ones who deserve to win tickets to watch the game in person as it really means something to them. 

The same is true for connoisseurs of most any pastime.  There are deep fans of musical theatre, and those who go because someone gave them tickets.  Deep followers of ComicCon and shallow observers. Deep lovers of wine and those who can't distinguish one Merlot from another.  

We can't be deep in all areas, but my wish for you in the new year is that you find at least one area in which to do so.  Go deep in something, and embrace the thrills and heartache that such investment brings.

-- beth triplett

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
Good summary at:

Sunday, January 3, 2016

#1311 wears well

I think of all the vestiges of old-fashioned clothing that still make their way into today's wardrobes.

At one of our everything/nothing lunches, we were talking about "stays" in men's shirt collars.  Why are these still necessary?  I am sure there is technology to allow the collars to 'stay without stays', but some men still feel better when using the little plastic pieces with regularity.  

Men are not the only ones with accessories that have carried forward. If you walk into a women's lingerie department, you will still find a rack of slips. Most quality garments are now made with sewn-in linings, yet slips continue to be sold. Is this because of tradition or do people still prefer a full-length slip as an extra layer of smoothness?

There are cuff-links, now purely for aesthetics vs. functionality; crinolines for special occasions instead of everyday poodle skirts, and you can still buy girdles for more restriction than Spandex.  Dress hats are available for both men and women.

I wonder what modern accouterments will last into the next decade.  Fortunately, big shoulder pads did not make it out of the 80s; will yoga pants and camouflage make it past this decade?

As you assemble your wardrobe, you have options that have proven themselves throughout the years. Wear what makes you feel like the best you today.

-- beth triplett