Saturday, February 27, 2010

Choosing Happy

I want to tell you about Alba. Alba spreads happy. Alba is in her 30's and from Honduras. She is beautiful.

Alba works in the housekeeping department of my company. Her job is to empty trash cans, clean the bathrooms and vacuum among other things. I have worked many places and there are very few names of housekeeping staff that I remember, let alone ever met. She knows I am a coffee addict and always offers me a cup before closing down the pots for the night. She does her job well, but this is not what makes her remarkable.

She comes in each day with full hair and make up. She wears pretty sweaters and sparkly jewelry. A walk through the kitchen during her lunch is a veritable fiesta for your nose. She has made her lunch hour into an event worthy of engraved invitations and a VIP section.

I would not want to do her job. I wouldn't feel good about myself. But not Alba - Alba takes care of herself, She takes care of those of us whose offices she dusts. How can we not be happy when you hear a sing-song Latin tinted "Goood Moorning!"?

One has to be happy to get up each morning and make yourself pretty to run the vacuum cleaner.

I have been to after-work happy hours with Alba. While others were drinking too much and whining about work. Alba sat next to me leaned over and said "I don't like that" - "Why do they have to be ugly? It's not good, they should be happy." Those whining, complaining co-workers easily make much more money than Alba. They get to sit in offices with comfy chairs. Yet they were not choosing happy.

I am lucky enough to see this example of happy every day. I try very hard to live by Alba's example. It's difficult. Stress can make you crazy. But I think the next time that life starts to get me down. I am going to ask myself "What would Alba do?"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How to Play Rock Paper Scissors

How can you have fun at work if you do not know how to play the simplest of games OR settle disputes in playground manner?

I was actually just told by a tiara worthy co-worker that she did not know how to play Rock, Paper, Scissors.

So for her and the rest of you out there that probably spent your childhood pursuing education and you go.
How to Play Rock Paper Scissors

Stand facing your opponents
Count to 3

You each throw a sign for either Rock (a fist), Paper (hand held flat), or Scissors (2 fingers out like scissors)

Rock beat scissors (they can break them)
Scissors beats Paper (they can cut)
Paper beats Rock (it covers it)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

You DO Have Something to Offer via Social Technology

Maybe you are finally convinced that social technology and personal branding is not going anywhere and you want to get started before it changes. You understand that it is about sharing, but have no idea what you are suppose to share. Let me help you think outside the box.

I have taken a sampling of my facebook friends and will use their professions as examples of what I would do if I were them.

Use Blogs, Micro Blogs, Video and Podcasts:

Teacher- Give those lessons you always wanted to teach, but don’t have the opportunity within the confines of the school system. Online book club and reading discussion

HVAC installers – blog the product options, video do-it yourself maintenance

Dental Hygienist – Oral health, product optinions, how to floss, why smiling is good for your mental health

Hair Stylist – How to blow dry or flat iron, using At-Home products. Changing your cosmetics when changing your hairstyle or color

Retired Police Officer – Public safety, Using headlines – how to prevent issues in the future, Examples of how a department or agency has done it right.

Home Inspector – Home maintenance, when to do it yourself, when to hire an expert, Vinyl vs. Brick etc.

Office Supplies – Office organization! (Who doesn’t need that!), Pros & Cons of different office equipment, Highlighter art & Paperclip chains

This is just a sampling of the options – the beginning of the brainstorming. Keep going. Nothing is too silly – you would be surprised at what people do not know, or what will enterain them and keep them coming back.

After you have made your list of professionally related topics, mix in some of your personal interests. This is where the personal banding comes in. Posts about your latest kitchen masterpiece, your workout, fishing trip or little league coaching lets people know who you are and helps them to bond with you.

Remember to keep it positive and don’t be afraid to go there!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

How to Make Change

I was reading Deb Evans' Blog, and when I read this sentence “I plan to be a strong leader and dig much deeper into the how I plan to lead.”, I thought how that statement would strike fear into some people. That statement would elicit a ‘great what do I need to do now’ out of some. Others would start whining about what changes would come.
Employees hate change. Most times after a staff meeting where changes are announced, water cooler talk and closeted conversations are full of negativity and bitching. This turn of events always makes me a bit crazy. Announcements of change usually excite me.
I love being able to look my job in a different way. New challenges! Change keeps us from becoming stale. Change prevents burnout. Change keeps us learning.
As a leader how do you present change? Do you dictate and mandate?
As a leader, announcing change by saying “we are going to work harder”, “we are going to do things differently” is a BIG no-no. Your employees hear “You are going to work harder” “You have to change things up”. Employees know that by saying ‘WE” – you mean them and that you, the leader has no intention of changing.
Change must be announced with enthusiasm. Change must be announced, by letting the people you lead know YOU as the leader intend to change, even if you are excited about announcing mandates from the parking lot instead of your corner office. Your people need to know what YOU are going to do. You must lead by example. If you want your team to dig deeper, you must dig deeper. Lead by example. Be positive. Open your door to your employees, acknowledge challenges. And most importantly, before asking your people if they are willing to follow you, tell them where you are leading them.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Can Franchising Save Small-Town America?

I grew up in small New England towns. The people in these towns are an independent lot. Generally, we did not have national franchises. There was the local bakery, no Dunkin' Donuts. There was no Dairy Queen or Sonic to hang out at after school, mostly we all went to work after classes, if a job could be found. Ironically, we moved from each of these towns shortly after they each got their first McDonalds (purely coincidental). I believe the feeling was that national chains would detract from the individual identity of the area.

I work for an international franchisor and attended my first International Franchising Association Convention last week. The first bit of information that I took away is, the values of the majority of these businesses align with small town values: Quality, Commitment, & Customer Service.

As I write this, the unemployed young man that is working on my car came inside. We discussed his job hunt, he has applied at one franchise store several times, and not the local store, because of the service he has received at the establishment. He said he noted that the manager at the local store was rude, and mistreated his employees, making a bad work environment. Small town workers want to be part of quality & customer service focused businesses.

When I return to my hometowns, I am sad. They are dying. They are small and dark. People need to drive for miles to get a spool of thread or a pot holder.

One can tell from the number of farmer's markets and craft fairs that the entrepreneurial spirit lives in the hearts of these people. However money and opportunity prevent most from gaining the experience they need to run a successful business. If small town business-person were to invest their money in a franchise system instead of an independent business, he would have the benefit of a proven system, the experience of the failures of those who came before him.

Successful businesses provide jobs and grow local economies. Those looking at a start up business as well as franchisors should look at the small towns. The memory of having a donut with the locals at the town bakery can be as warm and pleasant as the memory of having to drive 120 miles for a chocolate honey-dipped Dunkin' Donut.