Tag Archives: Service

A New Direction

The winds of change are blowing.

Two months into my new job and I have finally found my feet – my balance. It’s not been the easiest transition, I must say. The Power that Is sent some terrific challenges my way personally, knocking me off balance just when I was most precariously perched. I’ve shed some tears the past couple months and I’ve exercised my faith…’tain’t been easy! It has, however, grown me as I so like to grow. And now, with my feet firmly grounded, I’m ready to feel the sun shine on my face as I start in a new direction.

One of my favorite things about my new boss is his voracious appetite for learning. He will learn from anything-or-one he’s the opportunity to learn from. He reflects on the way he builds his company, his business and his community impact. He encourages me to do the same. Due in part to a leadership podcast he’s turned me on to, an idea he has I think’s worth building and my thoughtful hubby’s cautionary reminder I don’t loose sight of my dreams, I find myself pulled in a new direction and I want to share it with you.

I recently thought hard about what I’m good at, what I believe in and what brings me joy. I reflected on these things in an effort to boil my professional aspirations down to a one sentence job description; something on which I can focus when I start to “spin”. What I landed on has excited me and I find my mind racing with ways to make it happen.

I want to encourage and inspire people to do business mindfully.

I want people to go out into the business world with ideas that encourage generosity of the spirit and collaborative thinking. I want to broadcast awesome resources/ideas like TED and Netweaving to influence anyone I can reach. And (this is where the joy comes in;)), I want to do this by written word. I want to learn and reflect on my learnings in such a way as they might inspire others to their own reflections.

It just so happens my boss has interest in doing much the same. Jason created a social platform a while back called the Noodlehead Network. Envisioned as a place where business minds can gather and share, it sits empty and waiting…like a carnival in a ghost town:(

So it is here I find myself. An idea rooted in passion and a vehicle for it’s launch. I’m ready to focus my attention and efforts in a new direction and I’m excited to see where this path leads me. I’m going to re-commit myself to regular writing and do the best work I can at the same time.

I worry only about PLM. This blog is so very special to me. It’s very name has become so much a part of how I see myself. If I choose to focus my writing time on Noodlehead Network instead of here I will miss it so…

But we’ll just see what happens, shall we? I hope those of you with an interest in this new project will join the conversation. In fact, I’d love to start it right now.

What ideas/information/people have you been exposed to that/who influence the way you work? The way you build the relationships in your lives? The way you go forth?

Pot Luck Kindness 2010: The Big 3-0

Yay, I'm 30!

Yay, I'm 30!

Last month I read Robyn Bomar’s How I Celebrated My Birthday (aka 38 Random Acts of Robyn) and was inspired. Have you seen this yet? Robyn decided she would spend her 38th birthday doing 38 random acts of kindness. She made a list and spent the day running around town with several members of her family doing random acts of kindness. What’s more, she asked her “friends, readers, Facebook fans and fellow Twitter-ers to each perform one Random Act of Kindness and to let [her] know about it throughout the day”. What good stuff, man! I wanna put some goodness like that out there!

So here I am, a few days from my thirtieth birthday and I haven’t gotten my act together. I actually considered doing a belated Earth Day post this week because the work involved to pull together something like Robyn pulled together is not work I want to be doing this week. Can you believe I would let lazy beat out good karma on an occasion such as this?

I do feel like it’s a special birthday. I own it, I love it and I feel somehow as though I’ve turned a corner in the past few months and I am so very excited for the me walking into my thirties. I had a lovely meeting today for the Netweaving Pay It Forward Week and this evening I spent $28 on $50 worth of groceries – a milestone in frugality. Two for two, man…can’t I make this idea work for me somehow?

Well, maybe with some help;)

Here’s the deal. The one thing I didn’t care much for on Robyn’s project was that so many of her random acts involved money. As I read through her list I was tallying the costs and the project felt less and less practical for my personal situation. I also really don’t need to take Monday off…I’m in the middle of some very cool projects and would rather spend my birthday working on them:) So, I’m going to rip off Robyn’s idea and dilute it down to my taste…throwing just a little bit of good stuff out into the world is better than not throwing out any, right? 😉  So…

Pot Luck Kindness 2010: The Big 3-0

  1. I ask that anyone so inclined to celebrate this milestone birthday with me perform a random act of kindness. I’m going to do as many as I can on b-day and I’ll tweet them out as I do them.
  2. I ask that you make every effort to perform a ROAK that doesn’t cost you money or at least doesn’t cost you much. Let’s put a $5 cap on it, ok?
  3. I ask that you let me know about your RAOK somehow. You can comment here, text me, FB me, tweet me; whatever. I’ll post any messages I get from other channels here later. My hope [read: gift] is that this post will collect a long string of creative RAOKs, inspiring anyone who stumbles on this post in the future to perform one themselves or perhaps celebrate similarly on their birthday.
  4. My birthday is Monday 5/3 but I’m not going to attach the request to the date. You can do it the day you read this post, the next day, a week later, whenever. I will certainly be pleased if some of you think about me day-of but I’ve been stretching out my birthday for years so I don’t know why I’d stop now;)

That’s it; my birthday wish. I hope you want to celebrate with me and I hope you have fun doing it. Thanks for reading, too…I can’t tell you how much this outlet – this regular writing – has done for me. And your attention, dear reader? It’s speaking my love language🙂

Good Businesses in a Price Economy

I spent a few hours working my company’s booth at the Atlanta Home Show last Friday. One conversation I had was with a woman interested in purchasing new appliances. I asked her questions intended to get her thinking about her renovation needs, guided her as only a trained associate can and we parted ways with the understanding that I would have one of my sales reps contact her with more information. Just after she turned the corner of the booth, she returned. “It’s going to come down to price, you know” she informed me.

I get it – I really do.  I’ve spent more time clipping coupons and comparing prices in the past six months than ever I’ve spent before! Still, I can’t help but wonder: at what point does a price-driven economy erode our expectations for and ability to provide quality service?

On Saturday, I went to a local nursery to purchase weed killer for my lawn. I know this nursery isn’t bargain basement, but opted to go there because they offer value to me in other ways. I know I can get in and out quickly because I don’t have to cross a football field of a parking lot or wind through 20 aisles to find what I need. I walk in to a well-staffed building and am able to ask questions of a knowledgeable associate, identify the correct products for my needs, check out and have my purchases wheeled to and loaded in my car for me.

After the nursery, I went to Kroger. Several of our family’s staples were on sale and I stocked up. I did not lose any sleep over Publix’s lost sales.

Next I went to the liquor store (does anyone else hear Sublime in the background?). I could have gotten my brand of wine for less cash at Kroger, but I decided I would rather support this local store in the hopes that they will continue stocking their shelves. This seems to be a challenge in my area, so the concern is real.

Each of these decisions was value-based. I considered the value of my time, efforts and cash in each and am comfortable with the decisions I made. In the situations where I knowingly paid more than I could elsewhere I valued time and efforts over cash. When I purchased more than I’d planned at Kroger there was also a convenience value (I was already there). I may not have taken advantage of the offers had they required an extra trip to the store.

I can respect the consumers’ right to weigh their own values. I exercise mine daily. What concerns me is that a price-driven economy prioritizes cash above all other values. So much so that many are willing to drain companies of their services then purchase elsewhere on price alone. This may ultimately put those companies boasting value services in a position where their lost (or matched-price) sales prompt management to drive down costs (read: furlough, head count reductions, etc.) and cause a service level decline.

I’m not suggesting this is a foregone conclusion. I’m suggesting, rather, that in a culture holding frugality in higher esteem with each passing day, we run the risk of being swept up in a price economy and letting service fall to the wayside. There is a difference between frugality and basing purchase decisions on price alone, but the distinction between the two is fine and debatable. If we don’t pause and reflect on these decisions daily we may even lose sight of it.

If you’re planning to make a major purchase, consider the service you’ll require in making that purchase – both pre and post sale. How much time would it take you to research your purchase yourself? How much are you willing to pay to rely on an experienced salesperson to help you make those decisions instead? Take that amount and hold it in your mind as you shop around. Is saving $50 on this particular purchase worth doing business with a company you get bad vibes from or one that doesn’t provide service value? It’s your decision and it will be different in every scenario – I just think we need to be mindful and ask ourselves these questions.

Let’s be frugal. Waste not, want not. But let’s also be thoughtful, supporting businesses that aim to do good business when we are able to do so. What do you say?

Netweaving: Why I don’t Mind Attending Events

The novelty of networking wore off quickly for me. All it took was a few of those people. You know them – they’ve handed you a card before a word has been uttered. Three flights up in your elevator pitch they’ve already checked out – scanning the room for their next card receptacle. They’re gross and they make me wish I were at home with my family. What a waste of my time.

When an esteemed colleague urged me to join her at a WINN meeting I only agreed out of respect for her. WINN (Women in NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) Networking). Whew! That just sounds complicated, right? I was in a sorority in college and enjoyed it, but I’ve been exposed to enough caddy, female politics to steer clear. You can imagine my surprise when I walked out an hour and a half later feeling like my time had not been wasted. These women were incredible! They shared ideas and resources for growing and improving business. The fluff was minimal. I was hooked.

Early on in WINN’s evolution someone introduced us to Netweaving. Catchy word, huh? Wanna know more? Well, I’m happy to oblige:)

Have you ever seen or heard of the movie Pay It Forward?  Well, Netweaving is a pay it forward approach to business. Instead of walking into an event thinking about who you can meet to benefit you, you walk into one looking to meet people who interest and impress you. Then, as your black book of resource contacts grows, you begin to connect people. You connect them because they have a common interest or it benefits them to know one another. You help people with no known personal gain.

Frankly, I don’t believe Bob Littel, Chief Netweaver, has invented anything new. What Bob has done is give a name to an exercise that some business people do naturally and suggest a practice for this exercise so that those who do not can. It’s brilliant in it’s simplicity. Bob is teaching/reminding business people to be good people. Yes, part of the concept is a belief that good things happen to those people who make good things happen, but the payoff is not guaranteed and it’s not a motivator. It must not be.

The WINNers took this concept and we began applying it to our group at every opportunity. One such opportunity was Christmas. We opted for a non-materialistic gift exchange. After drawing names, we contacted our giftee and set up a time to get to know her better. Then, after learning more about her business, her personal professional goals and/or  her personal aspirations, we worked on gift ideas. Leslie sent me links to resources for marketing a blog and building readership. My giftee asked me to spend a couple of hours helping her set her new computer up. Some women hosted a Netweaving meeting,  introducing their giftee to someone it behooves them to know.  The gifts were specific and meaningful – we enjoyed the exchange so much!

We shared our stories at a meeting last week. Bob Littel (an Atlantan) even joined us to celebrate the efforts. I have rarely been in a room that oozed satisfaction like that one did:). When it was all said and done we had each gotten to know two members better (she we gave to and she who gave to us) and we had exercised our creativity generously. What a project!

I still guard my time. I don’t rush off to every event that crosses my inbox in the hopes that it will be another WINNer. Still, I’m glad I went to that meeting. I’m glad I’ve invested in a group of people I admire and enjoy. They’ve inspired me, supported me and befriended me in the past year and I value those relationships. They’ve replaced a hated chore (networking) with a healthy and welcome practice (Netweaving) that I can do every time I’m in a group of people. They’ve helped me grow, and that’s worth my time.

Ok, enough soppy stuff; here’s the fun part:)

WINN never did land on the right thing to call our little project. What we’re doing isn’t Netweaving, that’s just a gift some of us chose to give and an attitude we’ve adopted. Here are the names we came up with. If anyone can come up with something better I’ll give them a “whatever the game is called” gift.

  • Secret Santa with a Twist (this one had legs until “secret” made the getting-to-know-you pregame confusing…)
  • Netweaving Santa (yeah, we just went over all that…)

There’s been talk about doing this quarterly, by the way, so taking the “Santa” out of the name is welcome.

ALSO GOOD TO KNOW: Netweavers are doing an event this April (more info to follow). The original plan involved people flooding local restaurants to have their meetings. I actually think that’s a great idea (can think of a few places I’d like to support), but the event has grown exponentially to include so many different meanings now (inter-office communications and the like) that it it has opened up to any(one/where) they can meet. Think about this…one day when all these people (who are more like you than they are different) are exercising their nice muscle right along with you…I wouldn’t mind sharing in an energy like that.

What are you doing for others?

Community service was a part of my upbringing. I remember working at the shelter with my family as a child, so happy to operate the rockin’ commercial dishwasher they had in the kitchen. The high school I graduated from regards community service as a cornerstone in education (30% of last year’s high school students have participated in mission trips). In college, my sophomore year housing was contingent upon a service project. Still, my service record has had its ebb and flow – at one stage of my life it becomes consistent and then at another it’s limited to the opportunities that throw themselves my way. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose experience has been such – ’tis life.

A belief that I didn’t have time for community service between my career, my housekeeping and my family fueled just such an ebb cycle a couple of years ago.  I don’t want to be away from home any more than I am now, I thought. I’ll plug in to my community when we find a church. In the end, my opportunity to get back into a flow of service came from unanticipated circumstances: an interface with a breathalyzer got my lazy bum going, lickety-split. You don’t know how much time you actually have until a situation forces you to start organizing and using it.

I volunteered with several organizations over the next six months. I worked at a Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store, I participated in a work day for a transitional housing community, I stocked the pantry and thrift store at our local co-op and I began lending my marketing and event planning skills to I Am B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L., a mentoring program I am honored to be a part of to this day. Sometimes the work was fun, sometimes it was not. Sometimes it fit seamlessly into my schedule, sometimes not. But, when it was all said and done,

  1. I was out of excuses for not serving…and didn’t want to make them anymore, anyway.
  2. I was a more informed member of my community – able to direct those in need to sources for support and potential volunteers to vehicles of service.
  3. I had a better understanding of what kind of and how much service I could fit into my schedule.
  4. I was doing good work.
  5. I wanted to make service compulsory in my child’s upbringing.

January 18th is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. A Civil Rights leader who encouraged community service as a means of raising one another up rather than tearing one another down, the holiday honoring him is now widely accepted as a day during which people commit acts of service. With the holiday just under a week away, I am reminded of my not so distant service surge and the lessons I carry from it. It is my hope that in sharing my own story of service, I might inspire someone else to start or fuel their own service flow. Consider dedicating some of your time on the 18th – to serve, investigate vehicles of service or even just to spend a few moments reflecting on how you have served others or they have served you. Let this exercise lead you where it may.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”

“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’”

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.