Monday, February 29, 2016

#1368 leap

How many times have you wished for more time or an extra day to accomplish something?  Today is your day!  You get that extra 24 hours that you have been seeking to finish errands, achieve a goal, gain some extra sleep or work a bit more on that project.

It is a full bonus day on the calendar, but in reality, is the point in time we have opted to play catch up for the drift in alignment between the lunar cycles and the calendar.  Without the additional day, we would lose almost six hours every year, meaning that every century the calendar would be out of sync with the lunar calendar by almost a month (24 days).

So Leap Year is really yet another example of how little things add up to make a big difference. The Earth's rotation of the sun takes 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds -- we just "ignore" those extra 5:48:45 until today.

Julius Caesar introduced the concept of Leap Year over 2000 years ago, and surely anything that has been around that long brings myths and traditions along with it.  According to legend, today is the day that women are to propose marriage to men (balancing the traditional roles on the day we balance the calendar!).  If a man refuses the proposal on this day, he must buy her 12 pair of gloves (so she can hide her empty ring finger!)

Whether you propose, buy gloves, relax or work extra hard, I hope you make note of the bonus day.  Use it to take a leap of faith to do something new or something that you have been putting off. If it's worth adding an extra day to realign the calendar, it's worth doing something special with it.

-- beth triplett


Sunday, February 28, 2016

#1367 best

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the highest grossing motion picture of all time.  It has grossed over $2 billion worldwide, and done so in less than two months of release. Clearly, it is a monumental blockbuster and box office hit.

Yet tonight, at the 88th annual Academy Awards, the movie won't be named Best Picture. It isn't even nominated. The Force Awakens only received five nominations, and all in technical categories: film editing, original score, visual effects, sound editing and sound mixing.

Several of the Best Picture nominees many people won't have even heard of, let alone seen, until the contenders were released.  Room, Brooklyn and Spotlight together haven't grossed $100 million domestically vs. The Force Awakens' $916 million alone.

Which brings me to the question of "best".  Who defines best? Clearly there are criteria to win certain awards and honors, but "best" is a personal and subjective term. There are always other measures and values to weigh, and different ways of evaluating what means the most to an individual.

Don't let others, not even the Academy, define what best means for you. 

-- beth triplett


Saturday, February 27, 2016

#1366 size

I recently played the game at Staples of trying to figure out which was the best price for copy paper. Is it cheaper to buy five reams and receive a rebate in a month for four of them? Am I better off buying one ream for one cent and the rest at full price? Will I ever use three full cases so I should buy two and get a whole case free? It is worse than BOGO.

But all this time spent pondering paper choices got me to questioning why paper is the size that it is. Think about it: 8-1/2 by 11 is an odd size to be the standard.

So I turned to trusty Wikipedia and read something that I don't read very often: "the precise origins of the dimensions of US letter size paper are not known." The guess is that they came about because they were "a quarter of the average maximum stretch of an experienced vatman's arms" in the days of manual paper making. Now there's a precise measure!

Ronald Reagan contributed to the standardization by making the 8-1/2 x 11 the official paper size for all US government forms, and now it is the defined standard per the American National Standards Institute. Thank goodness, because think of what expense and chaos it would cause if printers, binders, form processors and copy paper came in different sizes.

I like the saying "it is what it is" and I guess it refers to the size of paper too. Now if Staples could only simplify its paper buying choices as much as the paper producers have...

-- beth triplett

Source: Wikipedia

Thanks to Curt for asking!

Friday, February 26, 2016

#1365 internal

A colleague and I were observing leaders and how much internal motivation is required for a successful "life at the top." 

The higher you ascend on the organizational ladder, the fewer people there are who tell you that things are good.  Most of what makes its way to your desk are the problems and challenges. You don't get many kudos or appreciation.

And if you need that external validation, a senior leadership position is probably not the right fit for you. To be comfortable long term, you need to be internally motivated and able to take satisfaction in a 'good job done' without someone else complimenting you on it.

Think about where you fit on the internal/external motivation spectrum. Does it align with your position on the leadership ladder?

-- beth triplett


Thursday, February 25, 2016

#1364 insurance

According to the Humane Society, 62% of U.S. households own pets. That represents a lot of fur, a lot of love, and a huge financial market.  

Nationwide Insurance is moving to capitalize on this devotion by promoting its pet insurance. Such a product has always been available, but Nationwide is attempting to make it commonplace, by promoting it with emotional full page ads in mainstream magazines and expanding the coverage available.

Anyone who has a pet knows that the costs can be steep, even for a healthy pet. I wrote yesterday about the birth to death model of veterinarian care, but it doesn't come cheaply.  More pet owners are faced with losing a "member of the family" or investing thousands of dollars in extended treatments, and Nationwide sees an opportunity in this dilemma.

There are many financial safeguards that have become common place that were not thought of before. AppleCare and insurance plans for electronics. Extended warranties on appliances or cars. Supplemental disability insurance and credit overdraft protection. Why not pet protection too?

Think about where there is a gap in what currently exists and what could be. How can you build a bridge to cross that gap, and let it lead you to the pot at the end of the rainbow.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

#1363 divergent paths

Think about the difference between a vet and a physician. Both are doctors who have completed rigorous medical training, but then the paths diverge.

Vets are mostly generalists who treat animals from birth (or close to it) through death. There are few animal specialists, and mostly people go to their same neighborhood vet for every malady, surgery, routine care and even end of life assistance. Vets dispense prescriptions, trim nails, take x-rays, sell food and serve as a one-stop shop for total small animal care. They deal with dogs, cats, birds, iguanas, gerbils and other different species -- all with varying anatomy and needs.

Contrast that with a physician, who primarily deals with one age group, one system of the body, and relies on countless other professionals to assist with providing care.  Doctors of humans are mostly specialists who focus in depth on one aspect of treatment and health.  The medical system is engulfed in paperwork and insurance, whereas for most vets it is all cash on the spot.

Both serve their purposes, and, of course, humans are far more valuable and complex than the family pet, but the contrast between vets and physicians provides an informative analogy for how work is done. Which are you: a generalist or a specialist? Do you go deep in a specific area or know a little about a wider range of material? Can you become more like a vet -- or more like a physician -- and adopt some of the strengths of each model?

I'm glad there is a generalist for my dog and a specialist for me. Think about how you can align your work so you're not barking up the wrong tree. 

-- beth triplett

Thanks to Amy N. for the observation

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

#1362 guidelines

On Sunday, at the National Association for Campus Activities National Convention, I presented a Pecha Kucha presentation that referenced two of David Ambler's Guidelines for Working with Students. Dr. Ambler was the Chief Student Affairs Officer at Kent State University in 1970, and these Guidelines were part of his first speech to his staff as he "began the academic year that follows one of the worst tragedies in American higher education."

As I said in my presentation, this philosophy has been on my desk literally for my entire career and shaped the way I do my work. I have mentally adapted the tenants to apply to "staff" and "people", not just students, and it has always served me well.

Several people have asked for a copy of the complete quotation. I am happy to provide it below. (If you would like a copy as a Word document, feel free to email me at the address below.)

A Total Experience: Guidelines for Working with Students
by David Ambler

1.  Know as many students as you possibly can and know them well. Nothing is done without this individual relationship.

2.  Be honest with yourself and others. It does no good to tell students what you think they want to hear.

3.  Realize that your position is at best nondescript. No job description or cookbook will ever substitute for your native intelligence and the qualities which have led to your selection for this job.

4.  Be available. There is no such thing as a "standard work day." The job is time consuming and restrictive, but rewarding.

5.  Deal with the important and relevant aspects of your position. Avoid getting burned out in dealing with petty differences.

6. Recognize that the values and attitudes you take to your position, will, to a great extent, determine the way many students react to us all.

7.  Understand that you work more by persuasion and the power of your personality than any amount of formal authority.

8.  Treat each student with the dignity and respect that you want for yourself.

9.  Accept the fact that we are not an end to ourselves. With each new program and student, we should work toward the end of eliminating our necessity.

10.  Finally, never underestimate the power of your influence on a student. Your conduct and conversation are what you are -- a model for others.

-- beth triplett

Monday, February 22, 2016

#1361 let Mikey try it

Living in Iowa, I am able to take advantage of the opportunity to see many of the presidential candidates in person. As I wrote about earlierI went to several stump speeches this year, and saw candidates on both sides of the aisle.

It occurred to me that politics is a lot like art: you need to see what you don't like in order to know what you do.

I think most things are like that. You try different kinds of food to discover that you like Italian but don't like Thai. Or that you like lasagna, but don't like tiramisu.

You look at different fashions to learn that you like classics and solids and don't like lace and mini-skirts. You like dogs but not cats. The Corolla but not the Camry.  How would you know what you liked if you had nothing to compare it to?

The Internet and social media allow us to connect with groups that are like us, whether they be small in number or large. That feeling of familiarity and belonging is quite powerful...

...and is also limiting.  

Try to hang with a different crowd or experience things you don't believe suit you -- at least once in awhile -- to confirm what you think is true. If you only see what you think you like, you'll never truly know you're right.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, February 21, 2016

#1360 pragmatic

Right now, I am attending my twentieth (!!) national convention for the National Association for Campus Activities. Even though I am there as a guest board member and am no longer directly in the field, I am delighted to participate in the event because I know I will learn something.

I will walk away from this convention with a list of ideas that I can implement now. A new app that will help me. An idea for a training exercise or icebreaker. A new contact with a specific connection with whom I can follow up. A book that I will order from here and have waiting when I arrive home.

Theory definitely has its place and contributes much to overall understanding, but pragmatism has a role too. And NACA folks are pragmatists.

I think most people embrace pragmatism more than they realize. The "10-steps to ___" features in magazines. You Tube videos on "how-to" do things. Infograms and lists instead of articles.

Think of how you can share some knowledge today -- that can be used today. You don't want all your learning to be quick and easy, but sometimes it's nice when it is! 

-- beth triplett

Saturday, February 20, 2016

#1359 grass is greener

I think most people take grass for granted. It shows up every spring; it covers sports fields and parks, and for the most part, it doesn't draw much attention.

But to the Betts Brothers, who run Tuckahoe Turf Farms, there is a difference in every blade. Tuckahoe is the king of natural turf, selling 15 million square feet of grass every year to the majority of athletic fields in the Northeast. They have supplied the turf for the Eagles, Steelers, Browns, Packers and Bears. The Pirates, Orioles, Red Sox, Indians, Mets and Nationals have all fielded balls on Tuckahoe products. Colleges, soccer teams, minor league franchises, parks and new construction all want the bluegrass to meet their needs.

It would be challenging to differentiate one field of grass from another, so the Betts Brothers came up with a way to win fans. Now they host eight soccer tournaments each year and allow high schoolers to play on their turf: winning over coaches, parents, players and others to Tuckahoe's quality. It works too; they have sales of $4-5 million/year.

How can you provide your customers-to-be the opportunity to experience your product as it will actually be used? Free samples in the grocery store is one way, but think big like Tuckahoe. Get your prospective customers on your turf and wow them with what makes you an all-star.

-- beth triplett

Source: Fields of Dreams? Turf Farm in Jersey has Role by Erik Brady for USAToday, December 2, 2015, p. 1C & 4C.

Friday, February 19, 2016

#1358 the next chapter

Life doesn't always go according to plan.

When one such detour happened, my brother-in-law said: "It's not the end of the story.  It's the middle of the story. Nobody likes to read a boring book; think of it as an interesting chapter."

What a great metaphor to keep things in perspective. The book isn't bad; just this part of it.  Keep reading!

-- beth triplett

Thursday, February 18, 2016

#1357 cookies

When I was outside Sam's Club over the weekend, there was a group of girls huddled against the wind with their table of Girl Scout cookies. There is nothing like a box of Thin Mints to assure me that spring is on the horizon!

I'm not sure there are any new flavors this year, but what did catch my attention was that the Scouts now accept Visa for payment of their delicacies. I later learned that this was part of a larger strategy with Dell. Digital Cookie 2.0 allows scouts to track sales data, accept on-line orders, market cookies and store information for future purchases. I wonder if the program leaves cookies on customer's computers! (-:

Dell provided $2.5 million to provide scouts with access to the program and hopes to help the girls become "strong, smart, tech-savvy women in laboratories, startups, elected offices and boardrooms." I have written before* that the Girl Scouts were missing an opportunity with their cookie sales, and I am happy that they are doing more to leverage their signature program.  

What is your organization doing that could benefit from an infusion of "e"? Is there something you do by hand that could go digital, even in a pilot or experimental stage? If the Girl Scouts can do it, surely you can be a smart cookie and do it too!

-- beth triplett

Source:  Digital developments help track Girl Scout Cookie sales by Grace Wong for the Chicago Tribune in the Telegraph Herald, January 17, 2016, p. B7.

*See Blog #270, February 26, 2013

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

#1356 piecemeal

As an organization's board was debating an issue during a meeting, the conversation seemed to be going in many different directions.  The chair made an astute observation about how the lack of a strategic plan was playing out in this discussion; each member had different ideas on the priority and impact of the topic at hand.

"We didn't buy a bucket of Legos," the chair said. "We bought them one brick at a time and we're not sure what we're building."

Did your organization have an end goal in mind before it began acquiring resources and trying to use them? Or did it take what was at hand and just plunge in without a vision for the result? 

It always helps to have at least some sense of the picture on the box before you start putting the puzzle together.  Even if the details are fuzzy, general agreement on the direction you are heading will help the pieces come together much more effectively.

-- beth triplett

Good one bg!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

#1355 residue

I had a vinyl window cling in my window that no longer was applicable so I removed it.  At first glance, it appeared to come off without leaving a trace, but when sunlight came, the outline of the decal was quite apparent. 

I washed the window and the same thing happened: at first it seemed like the residue had disappeared, but when I viewed it in daylight, the outline remained. I needed to use the trusty Goo Gone and a lot of elbow grease to truly remove its presence.

Do you have experiences like this vinyl decal: you think it is easy to put them behind you, but in reality their effects linger on? Maybe in one light it's possible to forget that it was there, but in other settings it is not.

Memories and experiences can be like this decal.  As much as you wish you could just make them disappear, their impact is deeper than that. Allow yourself some time and prepare for some effort to banish them.

-- beth triplett


Monday, February 15, 2016

#1354 squeeze

A wonderful exercise to illustrate the importance of non-verbal communication and teams is through playing Koosh Tag.

Participants form two equal lines, holding hands of their team mates, and face (but don't touch) the opposite team. One additional person is not in the line, but stays on one end to place the Koosh on a table, while a second person (not in the line) is at the opposite end to flip a quarter.  

Only the one person on each team closest to the Koosh looks at the Koosh; all others face the coin-flipper. Without speaking, the coin is flipped, and if it is heads, the person closest to the coin squeezes their team mate's hands -- and, if things go correctly, each person silently squeezes hands down the line -- with the goal of being the first person to grab the Koosh off the table. If successful, the "grabber" rotates to the other end of their team and becomes the one to watch the coin flip, until one team has rotated everyone through.

The fun comes in when someone incorrectly squeezes -- either by squeezing on "tails" instead of heads, by thinking they felt a squeeze when they didn't, or by seeing the other team squeeze and thinking they were correct when they weren't.  In the case of an incorrect grabbing, the team rotates in the opposite direction and actually loses ground.

Koosh Tag is a great way to illustrate that everyone on the team plays a role, and those in the middle are no less critical to success than the coin flipper or the grabber on the end. It is also a powerful illustrator of non-verbal communication as the whole thing takes place without those in line speaking.

Koosh Tag generates lots of laughs and energy, and is a great way to start a workshop or morning meeting when you need to wake people up.  All you need is a Koosh and a quarter to infuse some energy into your next training! 

-- beth triplett

Hats off to Tracy for sharing this idea several decades ago!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

#1353 shake up

I just read that the company that makes Etch A Sketches sold their rights to the toy to a Canadian company. It brought back a flood of nostalgia about the many hours I spent turning those knobs, trying to make that aluminum powder into some recognizable shape.

I have always liked the Etch A Sketch; maybe because it is one of the simplest ways in life to get a do-over. There was no risk in trying something since you knew it could be undone in one shake.

I have used the toy as gifts at the end of a retreat about change and at the start of a departmental reorganization. In one visual, it encapsulates so much about trying and starting anew.

How can you adopt the Etch A Sketch mentality and make a fresh start on something today? Maybe, in honor of Valentine's Day, you can clean the slate on a relationship, or perhaps a new venture awaits in your professional life. Either way, don't be afraid to shake it up and embrace another beginning.

-- beth triplett

Source:  Ohio company sells classic Etch A Sketch, The Associated Press in the Telegraph Herald, 2-13-16

Saturday, February 13, 2016

#1352 typography

Ever since the changeable type balls on the iconic IBM Selectric typewriters, I have been fascinated with the impact the mere change of font can have on a document.

And, although I can't remember who said it, I believed it when I heard that "good design is 90% typography and 10% blank space."

I think good work is like that too -- 90% of the outcome is what you do with the product/project itself and 10% is the context that surrounds it.  You need to provide a breather between one idea and the next. You need to leave that 10% to allow your staff to regroup and recharge. You need to give space for others to weigh in.

When you are pondering your to-do list for the weekend or the next task you're getting ready to tackle at work, think about your 10%. Be sure you build in some blank space.

-- beth triplett

Friday, February 12, 2016

#1351 databases

I was interviewing a candidate yesterday and a question came up about her use of databases. Another interviewer commented that many people did not like the previous database the association was using, and now there were even some unfavorable comments about the new one.

Everywhere I have ever been there have been people who did not like the database.  

When I think about what causes this dissatisfaction, I surmise that there is a minuscule sweet spot between robustness and simplicity.

On one hand, databases could be simple and easy to use, but it would limit their ability to store large amounts of data and sort it into many fields. The more complex databases can accommodate volume, but do require patience, detail and training to extract the information from them. 

All of the end users want simple reporting from a complex back end, and this intersection remains elusive. The more information that is stored, the more that is required to retrieve and manipulate it.

As you plan, not only for databases, but for other projects, it is worth your time on the front end to assess where you fall on the robust vs. simple spectrum. If you will truly use vast amounts of data or take action based upon small nuances, it is worth the investment to collect and manage information. But if you really just want a headcount, you don't need to obtain demographics at the door; using a simple clicker will accomplish the job just fine.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, February 11, 2016

#1350 dishes

If you keep up with dishes and do them right away, it requires little effort to keep the dishes clean.  If you let them sit in the sink for days on end, the food dries and hardens, thus requiring strength to remove it.

I think this simple little analogy applies to weight loss as well. If you eat healthy foods on a regular basis and maintain your desired weight, it becomes a routine that demands less from you.  But if you ignore your weight for awhile, it will require a much more strenuous effort when you turn your attention towards it.

The same can be said for all sorts of projects. If you keep up with the data collection, it's a piece of cake. If you go back and try to recreate it, it is arduous. If you are attentive to lawn maintenance, it is easy to maintain. If you let erosion and weeds take over, you have a chore on your hands to reclaim your landscaping.

The next time you're tempted to procrastinate or put off a seemingly minor task, visualize the stack of dishes.  Do you want to wipe away the food with ease or spend the time deep scrubbing the pot?

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

#1349 patience

I met a friend from St. Louis last week and she remarked on the lack of patience that she sees in organizations. "Everyone is looking for the silver bullet, and they don't have the patience to stick with a plan and see it out. It may sound old school, but it is true."

As the world moves faster, more and more people in organizations are looking for quick results. And the options that promise to achieve them are plentiful, making it even harder to have the discipline to stay the course and see something through.  

It is true in our personal lives as well. Diet plans, home tidying-up manifestos, ground-floor investments, speed dating and political speeches all promise to make our world a better place in a jiffy.

Most of what is worthwhile takes time. The high road isn't the short road.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

#1348 accountability

I have written before about CPR as a moniker for how to develop training design (first consider the content you want, then how you invoke participation before building in review).  
Here is another CPR for you to remember, but this one relates to accountability.  In the great book Crucial Accountability, the authors suggest that you use this acronym to help you address the right issue when confronting someone about unmet expectations.

When something happens for the first time, address the content of the infraction.  
"You came in late to work."  "You missed the deadline for the project."  "You didn't take out the trash as you promised."

If the same infraction occurs, address the pattern, not the content when you have the second conversation.
"You came in late again after you said you would be on time."  "You let me down with a missed deadline again." "Failing to do what you promised is impacting your credibility."

If the problem continues, instead of talking about the content or pattern, address instead how this behavior is impacting your relationship.
"Your behavior is causing me to lose trust in you."  "I can no longer count on you to keep your word."  "I am hurt that you continue to break your promises to me; it is impacting our working relationship."

The third time someone misses a deadline, you know it is bigger than the deadline. If you focus on CPR, you will avoid discussing content over and over again and allow your accountability conversations to address what is really going on. 

-- beth triplett

Crucial Accountability: Tools for resolving violated expectations, broken commitments and bad behavior.  By Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler.  Second Edition.  2013.

Monday, February 8, 2016

#1347 attuned

I like Downton Abbey a lot and football a little, so it worked out well for me that Downton was on television last night even though it overlapped with the Super Bowl.  

But I found it interesting that Downton takes a week's hiatus during the Academy Awards.  Apparently Dowager fans are also aficionados of the Oscars. (Perhaps it is because they are into watching fashion in both shows?)

The lesson I take from this is to know your audience. There was likely little overlap between the Super Bowl crowd and the Abbey viewers, so both could continue opposed. But if viewership was to be impacted against the Academy Awards, it was wise to delay a week.  

You don't have to rigidly follow a schedule without regard to external events. Be attuned to what your target market is paying attention to, and adjust accordingly.  Sometimes you want to punt and other times you can ad lib. Be willing to do either.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, February 7, 2016

#1346 bling

Today, of course, is Super Bowl Sunday. It reminded me of a great line from the Draft Day movie: "Why is it that the ultimate prize in the most macho sport ever invented is a piece of jewelry?"

Why is it?

Officially, it is because only one trophy is awarded to the team, and so these rings become "a portable trophy representing an experience that can never again be replicated." Each ring comes with a unique design, and lots and lots of bling.  It is reported that the Patriots' rings last year cost $36,500 each. The NFL pays for the first 150 of them, and teams can buy additional rings if necessary. You do the math!

The rings have been given for all 50 Super Bowls and are the memento of choice for MLB World Series winners, NBA championships and the NHL's Stanley Cup winners. Check out some of these designs and then tell me who says diamonds are a girl's best friend?!

It may seem counterintuitive to give a ring as a top award in a man's sport, but obviously the leagues have created value and established the ring as the coveted prize. What can you do to create cache for something in your organization? 

-- beth triplett

Wikipedia Super Bowl Ring

Saturday, February 6, 2016

#1345 framed

I was doing some rearranging at my house and this inevitably involved dusting the shelves of pictures that I have on display.  As I looked at these photos more closely, I realized that most of them are dated from several years ago. I had relatively few current photos in my frames.

It occurred to me that I used to be the one who would take the pictures, have the roll promptly developed, get double prints and share my bounty with friends and family. Now, except for the obligatory photo in or on the Christmas card, I can't tell you the last time I printed pictures. Since they have become digital, they zoom through the airwaves from phone to computer, never pausing to be printed, let alone framed.

I wonder now what to do with all the "old" photos in the many frames. Do I keep my display, frozen in time from ten years ago, or do I make the effort to update it?  Perhaps Santa should have brought me a digital frame so that I can at least see what I have stored on the hard drive.  

Photos have become far more pervasive thanks to the ubiquity of camera phones, and sharing happens at an astronomical rate as well. But preserving them and displaying them is becoming a lost relic, along the lines of handwritten letters and pressed flowers, that used to grace attics across the land but is there no more.

No doubt there is a printed photo in your house -- on a shelf or hanging on the wall -- that you walk past daily without really noticing. Today, pay attention to that reminder of the past and pause to relive the memories that it has framed for you.

-- beth triplett

Friday, February 5, 2016

#1344 pie chart

"To say a person is a happy person or an unhappy person is ridiculous.  We are a thousand different kinds of people every hour." -- Anthony Doerr, "Memory Wall"

The above quote was recently published in the O magazine and it struck me as being particularly relevant. 

I have recently experienced a big life change and so people are frequently asking me how I am. I want to answer that I am a pie chart of emotions. Some days (moments?) the proportion of feelings shifts, but I never am feeling just one thing. There is a whole conglomeration of emotion wrapped up inside.

Whether it be with emotion, strategy or deciding what path to take, resist the urge to label something as one way or the other. Life is much more complex than that and you'll do best to acknowledge the amalgamation rather than the dichotomy.

-- beth triplett

*Message card in February, 2016 O Magazine

Thursday, February 4, 2016

#1343 chit chat

I recently attended a Pecha Kucha event in town. For those of you unfamiliar with them, Pecha Kucha may be described as a mini-TED talk, but it is much more heavily reliant on images. Ten people present accompanied by 20 slides that are shown for 20 seconds each. In other words, people have about 6 minutes to tell their story.

Pecha Kucha was started in Japan (it means chit chat) as a way for architectural hopefuls to present their work in a concise manner.  It has spread to over 800 cities and become a global way to network and share stories.  

At our event, presentations ranged from lessons about sailboats, to training dogs for protection, to foraging for food, to overcoming mental illness, to moving to Iowa from the UK to a woman who is a self-professed "gearhead" when she is not modeling in pin-up poses, to a mom who does "Science Sunday" experiments with her toddler in hopes of inspiring her to pursue STEM.

I went just to see what it is like since I have been asked to present in this format, but stayed for the entire presentation. It was fascinating to hear people share their stories and to see the variety in presentation.

Think about how you could incorporate a Pecha Kucha-type format to share your story or that of your organization. Using the "20x20" format may be a great way for you to hold people's attention with the visual appeal, and be concise in conveying your message.

-- beth triplett


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

#1342 definition

Many years ago, a wise mentor cautioned me about tying my identity too closely with the job I held.  He believed that you needed to have a life and a purpose outside of work that could continue after the job ended.

"A job doesn't define you," he said.  "You define the job by who you are."

Some great words to live by, no matter where you are on your career path.

-- beth triplett

Thanks Keith!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

#1341 coattails

The news in the toy world is that Barbie is getting a redesign. Instead of the traditional doll that has been around with only minor modifications since 1959, now there will be four body styles: original, petite, tall and curvy.

Barbie is one of the most recognizable brands in the world; according to Mattel, 9 of 10 people recognize Barbie.  But will they, when her shape varies so much that clothes are no longer interchangeable, her skin color varies and she has so many different hair colors and styles that it is hard to keep track of them.

At what point is Barbie no longer Barbie?

A similar dilemma has faced many companies and organizations throughout the years.  Car makers have created a whole line of different models to keep their distinctions clear.  Oreos have extended their brand to include just about any flavor with frosting between two circular cookies, but other resemblance to the original Oreo is fleeting.  Would they have been better off creating new brands of cookies or having the Rav4, Avalon, Camry and Corolla all just be called Toyotas?

Without debating whether or not the expansion of body models is a good thing or not, I believe that the iconic Barbie should remain only as the original.  Others should be introduced with different names and personalities, not the taller/shorter/fatter version of the original.  

If you make substantial changes, own them.  Give your spinoff a different name and culture and let it stand on its own merit, rather than try to ride the coattails of the original.

-- beth triplett

"Now can we stop talking about my body?  What Barbie's new shape says about American beauty" by Eliana Dockterman in Time, February 8, 2016, p. 44-51.