Stop trying to make the biggest change possible and start making the smallest change possible.
Change is far more about your attitude than possibility. More about leverage than it is about inputs.
As a kid I liked to sleep in. My oldest bother had taught our family that during the Summer months of the year, if you wanted to sleep in, you had to black out the windows in your room. This usually consisted of garbage bags taped to the window frame, layered on because everyone knew the Sun could get through one bag. What a waste of garbage bags. I had a south facing room so it was very bright in the morning.
We have a row of cards at the StratLab office we keep there as a reminder of why we do what we do. A hand written thank you card is something so precious because you rarely see them anymore. Think about the times you’ve given away a hand written card, and think of the times you’ve received one. Those moment are very special here’s why.
It’s hard to fake a thank you card. Generally people who give a hand written note REALLY mean it. You never write a nice thank you note because you “ran out of time to thank someone”, or “you couldn’t figure out what to get them!”. No you wrote the thank you note because you actually care. Something very rare these days.
It’s hard to take time out of your day to write something using your thoughts, that’s why it means so much more.
In a world where a tweet, snap or post on Facebook is so simple to do, write a hand written note, you’d be surprised as to how far it goes.
Maverick written by Ricardo Semler in Brazil published in 1993. A transformational business book from start to finish. Completely counter what you’d come to expect from a Brazilian industrial tycoon. I think Mr. Semler is one of the most thought-provoking, honest, most humble leaders I’ve ever come across.
Semco, a heavy duty industrial manufacturer has no rules to live by. You pick your own hours, pick your own pay, pick your own vacation times, heck you even vote on your own managers regularly! Twice a year you fill out a 30 question questionnaire about your management and division you work in.
No one has a long term contact. No one is employed longer than 6 months. Everyone’s salary is openly known by anyone who cares to know.
Semco is the most democratic company I’ve ever read about, and they did it in a 1980’s Brazilian economy. Not the beacon of sought after economies you once thought, on the contrary, Brazil was avoid by many businesses because of the government, high inflation rates, and a fast growing unpredictable future. It’s astounding what Ricardo and Semco accomplished during this period in Brazil.
He was courageous in his decisions but the theme throughout his career and the book was that he cared (and still cares) dearly about people. It’s so refreshing to see in someone like him in a leadership role, putting people before profits.
Telling, forcing, commanding, never works. Inspiring, helping, listening, always does.
In Ricardo Semler’s Maverick he tells the story about the first few times he came in on a weekend. The first thing he noticed “people dress differently when they come in on the weekend, why is that?”. They did it to be more comfortable. But don’t we want everyone to be comfortable when they are working all week long?
The dress code era at Semco was ended.
The executive dealt with the obvious backlash. “What if someone doesn’t want to do business with us because of the way someone is dressed in a meeting?” Ricardo’s answer; “if someone doesn’t want to do business with us because of the way one of our employees ‘looks’ then that’s probably someone we shouldn’t be doing business with”. Wow, that’s leadership.
Isn’t that simple? Why do you try to make your staff conform? Because you’ve always done that? That’s not a good reason why. Ask your staff, what they think, you may stumble upon a smart way to make your company culture better.
From John Mackey’s Conscious Capitalism he sums up what the vast majority of people are looking for when it coming to work.
A job, a career, or a calling.
We’ve all had a job. We’ve all hated a job.
A job is what we first want when we’re young. Mostly for means to an ends. We want cash money. We treat the job as such, we don’t get too attached, we try to do just a good enough job not to get fired. There are many people in this world that simply work at a job. It’s not fulfilling, they don’t love the organization they work for, and when another “job” comes along that seems similar but pays better, they’re gone fast than you can say “do you want fries with that?”
A career is a little different. Like a longer, well-paid boring job.
….is to give you my recommendation. It’s not to pay you, it’s not to hire you, it’s not to give you an A+ on an assignment, it’s to tell someone in my life how I honestly feel about you.
Isn’t that the best thing anyone can do for us? Give their recommendation of us to someone they know?
Think about it. An old Manager talking to a business owner who offers you your dream job? An interview while in school for a co-op placement and your Volleyball coach give you a rave reference? (This happened! Jeremy who worked with us for a little while and who I coached with for a couple years had me as a reference for a job placement over the Summer, I had so many positive stories about that boy they HAD to hire him after talking to me).
The best thing anyone can do for you is to give an honest recommendation of you to a peer or colleague. There’s no higher honour than someone saying, “oh, you want good cupcakes? You MUST talk to Jeph, he makes the BEST cupcakes!”. No advertising could ever be better than honest word-of-mouth.
One day in the StratLab office Eddy says, “eh, chew guys ever see Aaron Draplin’s Ted talk?!”
Me: “What did you just say?!?” Eddy: “Just watch this….”
Meet Aaron Draplin. A crazy hat wearing, beard grooming, design denim god. He’s what we strive to be one day. Just happy to be able to wake up and create art every day. That’s something to get excited about.
He’s genuine (I mean he wore a hat and swore in a Ted talk, haha!).
He does not care about awards (they just inflate ego).
He’s incredibly excited to be able to do his art every day.
1. He’s genuine
He cares. He cares so much about his audience he wants to show them how to be original. When someone swears in front of your it’s a sign of respect, they’re comfortable enough to be themselves. When Aaron takes to the stage you instantly realize this isn’t going to be your regular speech. His outfit makes him look comfortable as well, jean jacket, trucker hat? He’s making it okay to be yourself.
2. He does not care about awards
In the marketing/advertising world it’s hard to get very far without finding out about “an award you could win!” or better yet “you should apply for this award!”. Apply for an award?!? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?!? Yet it happens all the time. Agencies attach “awards” they’ve won to proposals not knowing that clients want to hire them to create value for their organization, not simply win awards.
Winning awards can send you down a dangerous path. Always striving for the next award. What there is no more? You can’t control that outcome hence why this author thinks it’s very silly to focus on winning awards.
Finally Aaron doesn’t need an award to make him feel good, he just needs to look at the team he works with and the amazing volume of work they’ve created, and smile.
Awards are a false idol you’re seeking. Their poisonous, they change people, once you are an “award winner” you’re never the same. Stay hungry, stay thirsty.
3. He’s incredibly excited to able to do his Art every day
When I met Hugh MacLeod for the first time I asked which of his cards he created was his favourite. He said he had a lot he really liked but one always came to mind.
“If you have your health and you can make a decent living doing what you love, then you have little reason to envy other people.” -Hugh MacLeod
The way Aaron looks when he talks about being “able” to do his art every day. That’s incredible. That’s what I want to become.