Saturday, April 30, 2016

#1429 chain of commerce

When I was in Pella, I think the only store I recognized in the downtown area was a Hallmark store. It made me realize how much franchises have changed the course of commerce:

> The growth of franchises has helped facilitate long-distance relationships, be it family or friends. It's easy to give a gift from your local mall, knowing the recipient can easily return it to their branch of the same store at their local mall. 

> Spanning geography also comes in handy for service, like buying a car in one city and repairing it at a dealer in another state. 

> There is a sense of comfort due to the familiarity. You can go to a new town and know what restaurant has food that you will like, you know how it is prepared, and you have a good idea of the price range before you enter. The adventure may be gone, but chances are higher that the place will meet your expectations because you know what you are getting before you go there.

> On the down side, places now look so much more homogeneous, even in Europe, because the same stores are everywhere. There are many fewer "local" establishments that give character to the place. It used to be I knew I was in Chicago because of Marshall Fields and New York with Macy's, but now Macy's has no allure because it is everywhere.

Franchises and the growth of chains are one more way that we are all interconnected, but don't get complacent about the chains being "your" stores. Keep in mind they are part of a larger enterprise and a portion of the profits go elsewhere. This weekend as you're out spending money, be intentional where you do so. Buying local doesn't mean the local chain.

-- beth triplett

Friday, April 29, 2016

#1428 wind at your back

I was in Pella, Iowa last week, a town that has enthusiastically embraced its Dutch heritage.  In addition to the thousands (literally) of tulips in bloom, one of the main attractions was the windmill. This is a giant structure, 134 feet tall, and a functional one. The Vermeer Mill turns wheat into flour powered only by the wind.

The windmill in Pella is a replica of an 1850's structure, but reminded me of the modern wind turbines that populate the countryside today. Wind energy is so prevalent in Iowa that a turbine is the predominant graphic on our driver's licenses. Is this another case of everything old being new again?

Vinyl albums and turntables are making their way back as a method of choice for playing music. Brewing beer and growing gardens are now popular pastimes instead of done only by necessity. Fluorescent is showing a comeback in clothing, featuring styles and colors in neon shades just like in the 70s. 

We are quick to look ahead and often forge forward without looking at the past. Let using wind as power be a lesson to propel you forward with a nod to the inventions that came before you. Not everything new has to be totally new.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, April 28, 2016

#1427 worn out

Yesterday I wrote about Money Smart Week and shared a picture of the bag of shredded currency I received. It got me thinking about shredding, and how elimination is part of the organizational life cycle.

The Federal Reserve Bank shreds about $23 million every business day, and that is just in Chicago. Dollar bills wear out in about 21 months, and the $5 bill wears out in about 16 months, so the Fed is continually shredding currency in addition to issuing new bills. 

In organizations, there is often a focus on what needs to be added, but Money Smart Week gives us an occasion to pause and consider what needs to be removed. What habits do you have that you should "shred?" What policies are in your organization that need to be reissued with a new look? Have you evaluated what you offer and thought of updating it, just as the Fed does with counterfeit-prevention measures?

Shredding isn't just to get rid of confidential materials. It's a declaration of permanence that we are done with this item and are moving on: no storing it only to revisit it at a later date; no ambivalence about whether it will be useful again "someday." Take the bold step to be like the Feds and create a process that routinely evaluates and shreds what is worn out in your organization.

-- beth triplett

Source: Money Smart Week materials: Why Does the Fed Shred? and Did You Know?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

#1426 shredded

I was at the library the other day and walked out not only with a book, but with a bag of money! They were giving away sacks with approximately $364 of genuine U.S. currency, so of course I had to get one.

Lest you think I am kidding you, here is a photo for proof:

The bag of shredded currency is a metaphor for the money people waste on unnecessary or frivolous spending. Like the money in the bag, it is real money that gets frittered away, little by little, with nothing to show for it. In fact, the bag of shredded bills is more exciting than some of the purchases I have made.

I think of the children's book Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday*. He didn't shred his money, but he made small, inconsequential purchases until his money was gone. "Good-bye fifteen cents," he says, over and over. I am sure many can relate to his habits.

Think about your budgeting at home and at your organization and see if you can't make some changes that improve your fiscal health. Money Smart Week (April 23-30), highlights ways people can be more aware of and better manage their personal finances. At the website, there are dozens of resources on financial literacy, credit, budgeting and more. 

It's fun to get a bag of shredded cash at the library, but money without values looses its allure when applied to your real hard earned greenbacks. Use Money Smart Week to take steps so your budget isn't unintentionally shredded going forward.

-- beth triplett

*Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst, 1978. (Yes, it's the same Alexander who had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

#1425 gen Z

I recently participated in a webinar about Generation Z, those born between 1995-2010. It's hard to believe that those students are in college when it seems like just yesterday they were born.

The presenters (Dr. Corey Seemlier and Meghan Grace) shared information about many trends impacting this generation. One that was of particular note to me was their interest in "creative entrepreneurship." The speakers pointed out that for all their lives, side businesses have been a part of the landscape. From Uber, Alibaba, Etsy to Airbnb, people they know have been making money on the side or on their own. Turning a hobby or passion into a business no longer has high entry barriers or involves significant start-up funds. If you are offering a service, you can just start offering it.

Another influencer of this generation is budget cuts. They have know a tight economy for much of their lives, and seen the impact of budget reductions in schools, colleges and even in families. As a result, they are more financially conservative and more likely to save than previous cohorts. Combine this concern about money with the ability to make a little extra on the side, and you can only imagine where the generation is going.

The study of generations may not change the path people are on, but it helps to understand the motivating factors behind group behavior. If you haven't read about this latest wave of young people, I encourage you to brush up on your ZZZs. As graduation approaches, more and more of them will be entering the workforce and it behooves us all to know how to create environments that will capitalize on their Zeal and Zest for social change.

-- beth triplett

Monday, April 25, 2016

#1424 homage

In a stroke of brilliance and I am sure in a flurry of activity, Corvette ran full page ads in several major newspapers on Friday, April 22.  As you recall, the legendary singer Prince died on April 21. So, in less than 24 hours, after an unexpected death, the car maker whose "little red Corvette" was immortalized in Prince's song by that name, played homage to him in print. They conceptualized, designed and did media buys overnight. It was a stroke of genius.

If something tragic happened to someone important to your organization, are you prepared to take steps to acknowledge it? Does someone have the initiative and authority to take action? Have you thought ahead as to what action you might take?

Corvette set the bar high for an appropriate and timely response. The lyrics may say "baby, that was much too fast," but as recognition goes, "baby, that was spot on perfect timing."

-- beth triplett

Sunday, April 24, 2016

#1423 unique

Normally I am a big fan of Coca-Cola's advertising, but I don't understand their new "Diet Coke, It's Mine" campaign. 

Their advertising claims: "each bottle is unique." But if you look at the bottles, unless the variation is some nearly-invisible minor tweak, they all look the same to me.

Even if the bottles were different, I am not sure what difference it would make in beverage sales. It could even be working against them as sales for Diet Coke declined in North America and Europe in the first quarter of the year.* 

I don't do well with gimmicks, and this seems to fit the bill. If you want to make changes for a good purpose, go for it. If you want to alter your design to fit the season or commemorate an event, knock yourself out. But the point of "millions of unique looks" escapes me, especially when they all look the same.

Be cautious about using the word "unique." Chances are the only thing unique about it is your belief that it is.

-- beth triplett

*Source: Coke's namesake sodas see declines from the Associated Press in the TH, April 21, 2016, p. B5.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

#1422 move 'em

Last weekend, I was at the Goodwill store as a purveyor of cheap stuffed animals for my dogs to shred. While there, I encountered a sale: $15 for 15 items of clothing.

It was a stroke of inspiration for a store like this to clear out the winter inventory and make room for the spring merchandise. One dollar per item was almost irresistibly cheap, and "forcing" customers to purchase a bundle achieved the goal of mass exodus much more than $1/garment would have done. 

I was there with a friend, and once we had four items between us for which we would have paid full price, the rest was "free." We left with two winter dress coats, two sport coats, a pair of pants, three pair of shorts, three sweatshirts and four hats. For $15. And we were not the only ones in line with a full cart.

This is yet another example of how having an intentional goal can drive your strategy in different ways. If the aim was to "move 'em on out", the 15 for $15 ploy was more effective than a cowboy rustling cattle.

-- beth triplett

Friday, April 22, 2016

#1421 an answer

I believe people often feel like they need to have "an answer" to give others when asked about certain things. As a result, people do things that provide an acceptable explanation, and buy themselves time without being held accountable. 

Examples of this include:
> Q: "What are you doing about X department?" A: "We are hiring a new person." or "We're going to reorganize."

> Q: "When are you going to get married/have a baby/buy a house?" A: "We need to see what happens with the economy."

> Q: "How are you resolving X problem?" A: "We formed a committee to address it." or "We have a meeting about that next week."

> Q: "When are you going to do that thing you always talk about?" A: "It's on my bucket list."

> Q: "Have you found a job yet?" A: "I sent out resumes and am waiting to hear."

Even though the answer is just a place holder, people seduce themselves into believing that action is occurring. Forming a committee may eventually address the problem, but the problem still continues right now. Those resumes may ultimately lead to a job, but the actual answer is "no, I have not found a job yet." The real truth is uncomfortable, so people become masterful at the non-answers that are conversationally acceptable responses.

It's legitimate to evade the issues in chit chat as not everyone who asks deserves a comprehensive reply. But if you find yourself believing the answer you give, it's time to stop the song and dance and own up to the hard reality.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, April 21, 2016

#1420 high five

Want to do something that promotes cooperation, shows appreciation, makes others feel recognized -- and is free? Then today is your day!

The third Thursday in April -- today -- is National High Five Day, a holiday you may not have on your calendar, but one that has been celebrated since 2002. The High Five is one element of physical touch, and studies have found touch promotes cooperation and collaboration among those who receive it.  

I never gave much thought to the gesture, but apparently others have. There is a TEDx Talk by Doron Maman that includes the correct way to do a high five (watch the elbows of the other person, not their hand or eyes.)  

There are several variations of the high five, including the Baby Five (using one finger), the Air Five (no actual contact) or the Fist Bump. (read about others)  They even sell special devices that allow you to blast confetti from your hand when you high five someone -- whether that be at a wedding, sporting event or party.

You may not want to walk into your boss' office today and give her a High Five, but there are likely people around you who would appreciate the acknowledgement of their actions. It is hard to be demure when mutually giving someone a high sign, so you can infuse your environment with a festive spirit by participating in National High Five Day today. Just keep an eye on those elbows!

-- beth triplett

High Five to Natalie Keller Pariano for the research

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

#1419 reveal

During the afternoon, I accompanied an artist-in-residence to an elementary school where he did magic tricks and juggled for the students. They were enthralled by his act, and wanted to know how he accomplished his feats. "I read," he said. "I taught myself how to do magic and juggling and you can teach yourself, too." That was the extent of his revelations.

But at a reception for the sponsors later that evening, he shared a few insights to his magical slight of hand. He also admitted that he had done some of the tricks early in his career that had failed -- some miserably -- yet he continued doing them. He was supposed to make scarves "disappear" into a fake thumb, yet they didn't all make it inside. Another time, the "thumb" fell off. Still another misstep occurred when he had a chemical that turned water into gel so it didn't run out of the cup. He tried the trick with cola instead and ended up pouring pop all over his volunteer's head! 

The bottom line is that magic isn't always magical. Just like things in real life that look like they are easy: it isn't always the case. Instead of wishing for your magic trick to transport you to a better place, do like Bob Kann does and practice, practice, practice your reality until it appears to be too good to be true.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

#1418 convenience

As I returned some DVDs to the library, I had to park, get out of the car and walk several feet to get to the building to return them in a drop slot. There is no drive-up receptacle for returning items, and when I asked about it, I was told that the employees did not want one as they would have to go outside in inclement weather to retrieve the items. 

It is inconvenient for me to walk to the building; it is actually difficult for a handicapped person to make that journey or more of a hassle for a parent who doesn't want to leave their child in an unattended vehicle even for a few moments. 

This is a case where non-profits could take a lesson from businesses and try to make things more convenient for the consumer instead of the employee. There are other examples where the desires of the organization have trumped the service mentality:

> Many colleges have the closest parking reserved parking for faculty and staff, making the student (aka customer) walk the furthest to the buildings. Imagine if the employees at a store took all the prime spaces instead of parking further away. 

> Many government or service offices are closed outside of M-F 8-5 hours. Think if businesses operated that way. I am sure those in banking or retail wish that they weren't open on Saturdays, but for the customer's convenience they are. 

I believe strongly that happy employees are more likely to create happy customers, but like everything, you must strive to strike a balance. Shifting too much in one direction will leave you with happy staff members with no one to serve!

-- beth triplett

Monday, April 18, 2016

#1417 history

Over the weekend, I went on an architectural walking tour of our downtown. There are many historic buildings there, and I anticipated hearing stories about the structures that were built in the early 1900s. I did.

What I did not anticipate was hearing about buildings that were built in the 1960s. Interspersed between beautiful art deco and Gothic frontages were buildings that were devoid of any embellishment and looked rather plain. Our guide talked about how a new movement aims to determine what to preserve from the 50s and 60s as prime examples of modern architecture, and to figure out how to to do it.  

"I don't agree with the look and some of it is horrifying," he said. "But you have to put yourself in their mind as a 1950s retailer and appreciate it for what it represents." He talked about ways to "respect the past without replicating it," and how to acknowledge that modern architecture is part of our history.

The tour gave me a new lens with which to view our city. Not only do I understand more about the grand structures that remain, but I also have new eyes with which to see the more modern buildings that surround them. 

What is in your organization that you should be preserving, even if it is "horrifying" to you? Designs, packaging, programs and practices may seem antithetical to what you have become, but they have helped make your organization what it is today. Take a tour of your own "downtown" and earmark what is to be preserved, rather than purged. Your future will thank you.

-- beth triplett

What has been preserved
What needs to be!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

#1416 thick

I recently met someone for breakfast at Hardee's and while I was at the counter I was looking at their regular menu. They had a big banner touting their new bacon cheddar fries. They serve "Thickburgers" and 2/3# patties. The menu lists curly fries and onion rings. I thought to myself that I had never realized it, but Hardee's had staked their niche on the non-healthy segment: they were going for the market that was not calorie-conscious. It seemed to be a clear brand choice and I was inwardly applauding them for going this route with gusto.

So imagine my surprise when I looked at my tray liner and it had a dietCoke pictured and a bun-less burger, made large by a pile of condiments. It said: "Explore the other side of Hardee's --" Turns out that seedraH is Hardee's spelled backwards, and it welcomed me to "the other side of Hardee's: a little healthier, just as tasty."  

I was sad to see that the chain was not staking its claim on big burgers, rather it was now promoting low carb burgers, any burger wrapped in lettuce, swapping fries for salad, and suggesting no mayo or cheese. It doesn't give the calorie count for the low carb Thickburger (which seems like an oxymoron) but presumably it is less than the 1340 calorie Monster Thickburger they offer.

Why does everyone think that they need to be all things to all people? I was excited when I saw a clear brand position, and they took away that clarity when they extracted the carbs. Take a look at your organization's "menu." If you can't get a clear picture of who your audience is, maybe you need to get it through your thick head that you are diluting everything by your lack of focus.

-- beth triplett

Saturday, April 16, 2016

#1415 by any other name

Do you know who Dr. Frank Jobe is? Have you heard of ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery? 

Unless you are a baseball aficionado, it is doubtful that you do, but a much broader audience has heard of Tommy John surgery -- the common name for the UCL procedure listed above. Tommy John was the patient, but Dr. Jobe was the surgeon who first performed it. 

I wonder how the patient became famous for the procedure. Why isn't it Frank Jobe surgery? He performed dozens of ligament reconstructions on professional baseball players, so you would think he would get the recognition. And I wonder how Tommy John feels about having a surgery named after him. If I was picking something to be known for, I'd prefer to have it be an accomplishment rather than a setback.

If you could pick what would be named after you, what would it be? Maybe Arnold Palmer would have chosen his signature lemonade/iced tea drink or Shirley Temple would have picked her grenadine and Sprite combination. Perhaps Jerry Garcia would have picked cherry ice cream or Twiggy would have chosen the Twiggy haircut.

The next time you need an icebreaker or conversation starter, ask people what they would have named after them. If anyone can beat ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery, be sure to let me know!

-- beth triplett

Friday, April 15, 2016

#1414 cream-filled

Forest Gump uttered the now famous line: "My momma says that life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get."

I saw a real box of chocolates become just such a change experiment when an unlabeled box was on the counter for sharing. Some walked by and just picked one without regard to knowing what was inside. Others were upset that the treats did not have a "guide" indicating which was which. Still others went to great lengths to determine what was inside, even cutting some in half to inspect them before taking the plunge.

Forest's momma may see chocolates as an analogy for life; I see them as a metaphor for how people handle change. Some are quite comfortable with the unknown and are fearless in experimentation. Others have no propensity for risk and want to be sure of their decision, even when it involves something as insignificant as a piece of chocolate. Those with mid-level risk tolerance will eyeball their choices, but then pick one: being content to decide with limited information. 

What kind of chocolate-picker are you? And how can you use such innocuous decisions such as choosing a piece of free candy to expand your comfort level for change in general? Try to be daring on the little things to help you build skills for the bigger issues. Being brave is a cumulative talent, even one hazelnut at a time.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, April 14, 2016

#1413 fleas

Some of my favorite weekend activities are attending flea markets or going to garage sales. Many people think of the two events as interchangeable, but a connoisseur knows that when they are true to form, they are quite different.

At a garage sale, people are looking to sell their items and get rid of them. Bargains abound, especially toward the end of the sale, when sellers would rather make you a deal than keep their possessions. At a parish-wide garage sale last weekend, I purchased a manual typewriter for the marked price of 25 cents. The same model is listed on eBay for $55 (not that I am selling it!) 

Flea markets, at their purest, are more like antiquing. Items are often sold at a premium, as vendors are hoping to make money from their unique or rare treasures. If something doesn't sell, they will most likely pack it up and try again later rather than giving it away for a bargain. At my last flea market, I paid $1 for a vintage Rainbow Tablet notepad that is clearly marked for 10 cents as the original price.

To be successful -- as a shopper or a seller -- you do best when you understand the event and have the right mindset regarding the transactions. While the two selling arenas appear to be similar, in fact, there are important distinctions. I would have expected to pay $25+ rather than 25 cents for the typewriter at a flea market, and would have wanted the 10 cent notepad for, well, 10 cents or less at a garage sale. 

Think about the programs your organization is offering and consider whether it is possible they are being confused with another type of event in a similar category. Is your service project being perceived as a fund raiser? Or is your open house really a scheduled program? Maybe your educational webinar is seen as just an advertising pitch? Or what you promote as a town hall is more of a presentation vs. open forum where people can ask questions?

Be clear about the nuances in your category so you can align expectations with reality. People need to know if they need to bring their checkbook or a coin purse to your sale.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

#1412 a sign

Over the weekend I heard a speaker who recounted his experience at a 5K race. He noticed that after the leaders ran by the majority of the fans left, so he and his wife decided to stay to cheer on the rest of the participants. As a result, he learned heartwarming stories about the challenges the final runners faced. They overcame obstacles, beat illness and in general were more inspiring than those who sprinted across the finish line first. He benefited from cheering on others, and undoubtedly the runners gained a bit more energy having even just two people there motivating them to endure.

Running seems to be a timely topic, as this week I received this email from a friend: 

Yesterday during the GO! St. Louis Half marathon, I thought about you and had an idea for leadership dots:

When running a foot race – 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon – some of the BEST parts of the race for the runners (besides finish line!) are the creative signs made by spectators.  The signs help a runner get his/her mind off of the remaining (sometimes what seems like) endless miles, makes one smile/laugh, and are just all in all FUN! Also, the signs make those NOT participating suddenly an important part of the race and the fun/energy/excitement surrounding it.

There are some common ones: “Run Amy Run!” with another sign that says “Run Random Stranger Run!” Those spectators who are there for a particular person and cheering on that person, but seeing thousands of others so having a sign for them! “If it was easy, I’d be running with you”
There are some that only make sense to runners: “Toenails are not IN this season”  (Toenails often fall off when you run a lot – particular marathon distance, etc.)
There are some that might only make sense to a younger runner: “I’d swipe right for you”.  
There are some that are timely and the funniest yesterday: “If Trump can run, so can you!”

I think both the speech and the email highlight the importance of having someone there to support you. At a race or in life, we undervalue the role of the cheerleaders and fans. It would be a totally different experience running in isolation, just as it would be less fulfilling to go through any meaningful experience without someone to high five at the end. Whether it be graduation, finishing a major project, overcoming an obstacle or achieving any other goal, it is clearly nicer when there is someone to recognize your achievement in the moment.

Make it a goal to step back from the running and doing to be the sign-maker and applause-giver for someone else. You may find that the extra mile you go to cheer on others will fuel your own inspiration in ways you did not expect.

-- beth triplett with Jen McCluskey

Speech by Erik Hatch, NACA Northern Plains, April 8, 2016

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

#1411 pencils

I recently attended an event at a facility that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. As a result, the building had an exhibit about Wright and some of his other works and the gift shop sold a host of items inspired by Wright's designs.

The architect is certainly known for his distinctive style that graces many residences and public buildings. He designed over 500 buildings and many of his recognizable works were on display. But the piece that caught my attention was a simple postcard with a picture of his colored pencils, all laid out on his desk as they were on the day of his death.

To me, the pencils were a tactic representation of Wright's genius. A casual bystander might think they were the tools of a kindergartener, not a master architect. It shows that it was not the sophistication of his equipment that made Wright powerful, rather how he translated the congruity from simple tool to minimalistic architecture to create greatness.

We might have moments where we think we can't produce wonder because we don't have the right ____. We may think that we need more equipment or more technology or more gizmos. Wright is an example that it is the sophistication of what is within, not the glitz of what is external, that makes something masterful.

When you are stuck, think about Wright's simple lineup of pencils and see if you can't create something great with what you have before you.

-- beth triplett

Monday, April 11, 2016

#1410 ahoy

Over the weekend, I was pulling up to the cashier's booth in a parking garage. As I handed the clerk my ticket, she said: "That will be $3.75, and do you know what a pirate's favorite letter is?" 

The question took me by surprise, as it is not usually what I hear from a parking attendant! 

"R," I answered.  "Wrong," she said. "It's The C."

And while we continued our transaction, she continued to rattle off cheesy pirate jokes. "What is the pirate's favorite restaurant?"  "Rbys -- bet you want to go there now!"  "How much did the pirate pay to have his ears pierced?" "A buck an ear." Etc.

Brene Brown has written about the importance of treating the service clerks with professionalism and cheer. The little banter from this attendant showed how a little joy can go a long way in a commercial exchange. It probably made her shift seem like it went faster, and it certainly brightened up an otherwise routine purchase for me.

You may not want to memorize pirate jokes to entertain your clients, but a simple smile and positive attitude can go a long way in adding some booty to the day of your fellow matey.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, April 10, 2016

#1409 licked

Today something is set to happen that hasn't occurred since 1919: the Post Office is reducing its rates for First Class mail. A stamp will now cost 47 cents instead of 49! [For a full listing of new rates click here]

While welcome for consumers, the decrease in rates makes no logical sense for the postal service which is losing over $1 billion/year. But in 2014, when the latest increase was passed by Congress, it was done with a two-year provision that expired today. No action was taken to repeal it, even though the Postal Service appealed to Congress for such, so as of today you overpaid two cents for each of those Forever Stamps you have at home.

I am sure when the rate increase was proposed, it made it more palatable for Congress to hike stamps by three cents when they thought it was a short-term adjustment. Often it is easier to sweeten a deal in the present by making long term concessions. But those deferred actions have consequences as the USPS is feeling today.

Keep this situation in mind the next time you are proposing something with variable terms. If you can't live with the long term in the short term, you may want to renegotiate the parameters before you seal the deal.

-- beth triplett

Additional source: Stamp prices set to go down two cents in April by David Goldman, CNN Money, February 26, 2016

Thanks Meg!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

#1408 growth

Some people have a green thumb, whereas others kill many of the plants they encounter. For those who are horticulturally challenged, a new line of foliage may be just the ticket. 
Plants of Steel are promoted as "durable and low maintenance", a way to bring healthy greenery into your home and increase the chance that it will remain that way.

Those who have a way with growing things have no need to pay the $15 premium price for a simple houseplant, but others may find it a bargain if the plant actually lives and does not need to be replaced.  

Even in something as simple as plant selection, it pays to know your strengths and to accommodate for weakness. What can you do today to gain clarity on where you are gifted and where you need help? You can't grow without that insight.

-- beth triplett

Friday, April 8, 2016

#1407 gimmick

As you know, the day after Thanksgiving has taken on a life of its own as Black Friday. Many retailers have attempted to extend this sales bonanza and have resorted to Black Friday Week and even Pre-Black Friday Weekend sales. 

But Lowes is taking it too far by trying to recreate the frenzy through a Spring Black Friday promotion. Seriously?

Do they actually think that just by calling something "Black Friday" will make it synonymous with "really cheap" in consumer's minds and they will line up outside to grab the bargains? 

What I think is that calling something "Spring Black Friday" is just taking the lazy way out. If a store truly had a good sale, word would spread and they wouldn't need to call it anything.

There are a lot of gimmicks out there, and red flags should go off in your head when you find yourself tempted to resort to using one. Go for substance and you won't need to worry about manufacturing the hype to accompany it.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, April 7, 2016

#1406 continuity

One more observation from the NCAA tournament: how wonderful it was to see the current Villanova coach (Jay Wright) embracing a former 'Nova coach (Rollie Massimino) after the big game. Too often the leadership of one era moves on and ignores those who went before them, but this doesn't seem to be the case with the Wildcats.

Jim Collins advocates for this type of leadership continuity in Good to Great, and I agree with his premise. Whether it be through formal succession planning or merely through conversation and contact, having a continuous thread of leadership presence serves many organizations well. 

What have you done lately to reach out to those who have come before you, whether directly in your position or as leaders in your field? How have you applied lessons others have learned in the past to issues you are facing today? And, most importantly, how have you crafted ways to give recognition and appreciation to those who helped clear the path for you?

Embracing Rollie Massimino did not diminish Jay Wright's accomplishments; it just added to them. Consider how honoring someone's legacy can help you be a better leader today.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

#1405 assist

I'm sure that I'm not the only one who was a bit sluggish yesterday having stayed up too late to watch the NCAA men's basketball championship game -- and to re-watch the final shot over and over again.

[If you didn't see the game, you must watch the last play here]

There were many well-deserved accolades for Kris Jenkins who hit the basket of a lifetime. But if you watch the clip again, you'll notice that praise also should be heaped on the set-up man, Ryan Arcidiacono who got the ball down the court and tossed Kris the perfect pass.

Only the sports junkies will even remember Ryan's name, just as few can account for who threw Christian Laettner the ball for his miracle shot in the 1992 regional tournament. But these men behind the scenes made the glory possible.

Not everyone can have the ball, but all of us can play a role in helping our team win. Maybe it is by being a great assist player or rebounder. Perhaps it involves cheering from the bench. Maybe you're the guy who wipes the sweat off the court during time outs. Or even a fan in the stands cheering your squad on. 

The Villanova players said: "This is for all the guys who went before us." Don't discount all the guys (and girls) who went along side you, too, and especially the Ryans for being just two steps ahead of you when you needed them to be there the most. 

A team encompasses many more than those who suit up for a game. Take care to acknowledge everyone who assists with your wins.

-- beth triplett