Where and when do each of us embrace uncertainty? If we are doing it for the applause then safety trumps innovation and we cease pushing towards the edge. The resistance (fear) we feel offers a platform from which to lean-in instead of bending away. What we do is not for everyone, it is for the dedicate few we picked to serve. The resistance reminds us that our work matters.
Seth Godin got it right. We do not stop doing business with everyone because there are some bad actors in the sector. Invest in those who matter today #GivingTuesday
Harvard Business Review got it right. When strategic planning makes you feel better about the future and attempts to control change, you are probably doing it wrong. A great plan should generate fear and be daunting. Why not articulate a heroic journey worth attempting?
And the Ferguson Library go it right. If you are going to live your mission and are committed to serving as a resource for your community, then what better moment to continue showing-up than when everyone else is locking their doors.
Seth Godin posted on the subject of math. He suggested, ‘we need to get focused and demanding and relentless in getting good at math, at getting our kids good at math and not standing by when someone lets themselves (and thus us) off the hook.’ It took me a long time before I found a math teacher who communicated with clarity to guide my proficiency in math. Once I did find such a coach it transformed my reaction to encountering word problems.
Who are you spending time with and being relentless in adding value to their journey? These are the individuals who will remember you forever. Which teachers from your elementary school years can you name? What made them remarkable?
When we take our expertise (thinking like a scientist) and share them so they are accessible (talking like a truck driver) the pursuit of something greater is possible.
Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey, and Gary Vaynerchuk co-hosted a one-day event in New York last week, titled Business Gets Personal. These three thought leaders continuously created remarkable content and build loyal tribes. The opportunity to hear the trio deliver keynote addresses and interact with one another was a highlight. Their talks were authentic to the philosophy’s they share through their selected mediums. A few highlights follow.
Seth expanded on his theme that the world has changed from the three television networks and local newspapers. You now have permission to bring something that matters into the world without waiting for gatekeepers. His mantra, ‘people like us do things like this.’ We cannot exist just by demonstrating competence and if we get into a race we will find ourselves doing it cheaper and faster and may just win the dubious title of being the cheapest competent. Seth encourages us to look for people who gravitate towards the edges. If we are just trying to get the word out then we are simply marketing to the masses. If failure is not an option then we have also taken the option of success off the table. The underpinnings of Seth’s recommendation include being generous and being an artist. Do work that matters so much so that you will be missed if you do not show-up one day.
This was my first occasion to see and hear Dave in-person. He centered his time around four elements: 1. People Matter. Dave remarked that vendors, customer, and competition are not units of revenue, production, or supply. 2. Team and Culutre of Excellence. He outlined the importance of unity and discussed the biggest threats to unity, including poor communication, gossip, unresolved disagreements, lack of shared purpose, and sanctioned incompetence. 3. Slow and Steady Matters. Using Aesop’s fable of the Tortist and the Hare to illustrate his belief that slowing down in many aspects of business is vital. To be hired at his company takes 7-10 interviews as he looks for people’ ‘inner donkey’ to appear so he knows what talent he is really hiring 4. High Calling. Be generous in everything you do and recognize that there are no shortcuts.
Gary is well known for going off-script and improvising. He did not disappoint, ditching his keynote for an impromptu question and answer session with the audience. In classic fashion he entrained and informed. The most powerful takeaway for me were his remarks on social media. Gary implored the attendees to act more like a media company and focus less on being a virtual social gathering platform. The delivery of useful and engaging content supersedes the desire of most groups to manipulate users into taking an action. Gary considers the ‘Editor-in-Chief’ of any enterprise the most important individual in the company. When asked to recommend the next social media platform he responded that he only cares about what works today, he can adjust in real time when the next platform gets traction. The cost of entry into a remarkable social media effort is your organization’s content. If the content is useful, informs, and engages then people will rely on your cause as an expert. An actionable step is to visit https://twitter.com/search-home and enter in search terms that are relevant to your cause. The results offer costumer insights at a scale none of us could ever afford to produce on our own.
Being of service to others by producing things that matters may be a simplistic summary but equally profound for me.
The final surprise give-away, a poster reproduction of a custom print commissioned by Dave Ramsey for the session.
A refrain in the social sector is to refer to nonprofit boards as ‘working boards.’ Implying that the board is in charge, taking action, and not rubber stamping directives from the Executive Director. Visit a meeting of a ‘working board’ and it is not uncommon to find exceptions to the working sentiment. Committee meetings postponed, attendance mixed, materials not reviewed prior to a session, and a small minority of attendees fully understand the topic in front of the board. Despite a commitment to working, effectiveness does not always follow.
Seth Godin implored us to be generous in our interactions. Set-up systems that are easy to understand, user-friendly, and engage. Curate topics to be discussed that amplify the board’s strengths. Send out materials in a timely manner and be generous in what you assemble, relevant, compelling and concise. Set clear expectations and state the session’s purpose. Close with a commander’s intent framework. Allow the expeditionary team to outline actionable next steps and select a captain to oversee their journey. Agree upon the group’s guidelines during meetings, we know what to do with our electronic devices when the airline closes the cabin door.
How would remarkable generosity manifest itself in your enterprise? How would it feel? What would it look like? Would a first time visitor be able to navigate your process? How can the working board be empowered to be the generous board?
A flower does not
think of competing
to the other
flower next to it.
It just blooms.
Seth Godin’s post answering the question “how was your bike ride?” amplified a recent meeting experience. All the data presented to the attendees was bench-marked against organizations deemed to be competitors. The group was being asked if the organization we represented looked enough like its peers to be considered competitive but also maintained sufficient signature characteristics to exemplify autonomy. I fear too often data drives strategy. We try to disguise ourselves as a rose when we are a tulip if we feel that roses are trending. Some data is essential. The vitals of the organization must be monitored appropriately but it serves little value to be taking the pulse of a nearby neighbor who has a different history and traits. We need to accentuate our strengths instead of burying them for compliance with the norms. Be brave. Amplify remarkable. Act to embrace your best form.
We cannot be all things to all people. However, our values can be evident in all our interactions. Seth Godin recently wrote about using our words to be a positive force. We can be remarkable simply by flipping our message from negative to the positive. There are enough “No Parking” signs in the world that we are selectively blind to their existence. Changing the message can make for memorable results. Finding a positive way to communicate develops trust and loyalty, even when we are asking others to refrain from an activity they enjoy.