comfort zone and where the magic happens

I Was Completely Terrified Yesterday

I had to lead three consecutive sessions of Volleyball for 8-14 year olds. I have never done this before. I’ve coached for six years now, have only coached boys and the youngest I’ve ever coached was 15 years old.

So I’m completely out of my comfort zone…

 

I get to the gym my hearts racing because I have to register every athlete in the next 20 minutes (you guessed it, never done that before either!) and then my nightmare happens. We were at the wrong gym. And not just me. I had over 70 Volleyball players and their parents coming to the wrong gym on the opposite side of town. Two cars were sitting in the wrong parking lot waiting for me to open the wrong doors to the wrong school. I completely messed up. I had one very important job to do, to confirm the gym, and I confirmed the wrong gym**.

 

The two coaches who were helping me, Reed and Michael quickly got to the other school and started practice with the kids, without myself, the practice plans or the balls. These guys saved my life!! Reed and Michael, you da MVP!

 

After the worst possible thing that ever could happened(or so I thought) we only had a couple kids quit because of location, but we now have a better gym and I learned how to run three different sessions for 8-14 year olds.

 

Lesson learned, when times get tough, when you’re at your max stress level, you’re usually not as bad off as you think. Take a deep breath and realize it’s when we’re at our worst, people judge us the most, and that’s when we earn their trust. So smile and don’t be afraid to laugh at your own mistakes. We’re all human.

 

**In my defence I did check back in my e-mails, I had wanted to book the Laval highschool but instead the email said elementary school. We’d booked the highschool. One of the first lessons you learn from Mr. Dale Carnegie is never ever tell someone they’re wrong. That is NOT a good way to build rapore.  The highschool was a better gym with a better spectator area so it actually turned out better for everyone.

90-percent-of-the-data-in-the-world-today-has-been-created-in-the-last-two-years

9 Lessons Learned Volunteering on Not-For-Profit Boards

1. The world is changing faster than you can imagine.

“Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.”

-IBM

On a single day on the Internet there are:

  • Over 2 million Google search queries

  • 48 hours of new YouTube videos

  • 684,000 bits of content shared on Facebook

  • More than 100,000 tweets

  • $272,000 spent on e-commerce

  • Source: Webopedia

If you disappeared tomorrow, who would miss you? What distinct advantage does your organization create? Why is your mission a noble cause? Ask these questions early and often or else you may find your organization obsolete. To the Not-for-profits that take advantage of the changing online landscape and embrace technology your audience will adore you and you will attract a new smarter customer who (if you do your job right) becomes a loyal evangelist.

2. Every year, every month, every day, people have less attention than they did last year, last month, and yesterday. How are you getting peoples’ attention?

There’s a new not-for-profit starting up tomorrow who’s mission is better than yours, who help more people than you and who can do what you do for cheaper. What are you going to do about it? How will you stand out? How will you be remembered? How do you get to the point where people seek YOU out? If you don’t standout you definitely aren’t going to be remembered. You need to create a “Social Object” that people can associate with your cause.

3. You’re only as smart as the feedback you’re getting.

Not-for-profits are really bad at this. Trying to get feedback as an organization is a very forward thinking endeavour. Not-for-profits are not very forward thinking entities(rash generalization but true). Every year they talk about what they did last year and how well it went. No critical breakdown of what happened, no holding people accountable to goals set last year, and no wants to change in the future to get better. It’s that last part that bothers me the most. Because these aren’t profit generating entities it doesn’t make sense to adapt and innovate and strive to lead a market.

The only thing more risky than changing is staying the same.

The only thing more risky than changing is staying the same.

Everything about business is changing at an alarming rate right now, your only hope in survival is ensuring you’re getting feedback from your customers and employees.

Since we were children, feedback has been the only way we learn. Why is that any different for not-for-profits? You need a feedback strategy, and an honest one. If you have a 56 Question Questionnaire providing your feedback for you, just know you’re basing your information on the sick twisted person that would fill out a 56 question Questionnaire.

4. You can’t change what people say about you, but you can influence it.

“Branding” in 2014 is what people say about you behind your back. As a Not-for-profit if your members smile to your face but bad mouth you behind your back that’s a terrible brand. If you have complete board turnover every year that’s bad. IF you have past board members that refuse to be contacted, that’s bad!

Your reputation precedes you. Google your name, what comes up? You have a personal brand whether you like it or not, most people don’t understand they can influence it if they want to. Not-for-profits usually have an advantage here, your reputation is what you’ve done, the people you’ve helped and the impact you’ve created. The RedCross is one of the most recognized “brands” in the world and I would argue it has nothing to do with their messaging (though the logo is pretty ubiquitous), it has everything to do with their impact. Otherwise when you see the infamous Red “+” sign you wouldn’t immediately attribute positive characteristics.

5. Face the brutal facts. 

Yes this is stolen from Jim Collin’s book Good To Great. You must face the brutal facts about your organization and marketplace. People don’t have time to care about your organization, no one does. You have to pitch why your not-for-profit matters. I’ve been on a board where we only talked about the good things we did, how great every event was, and never brought up any criticism or created an urgency to get better.

Confront the hard facts, the longer you put off the truth the worse it gets when it finally becomes a reality. Business changes, Not-for-profits change. The only ignorant thing to do is assume we know what we’re doing and not seek out feedback.

What if we don't change at all and something magical just happens?

6. You can tell people’s priorities by the way they allocate their resources (time, money).

I’ve met people who give their time selflessly year in and year out. I look up to these people, they truly understand priorities in life. They put relationships before money. People before work and organizations over themselves. These people are the builders of our communities. You have no idea how much these selfless people have given in time to ensure that people they don’t even know get to enjoy (insert community event, sports team, or club here). From Brownies and Scouts to Hockey and Basketball organizations, boys and girls clubs and sports clubs. The one thing they have in common is people like you and me built them.

The unsung heros are the people who tirelessly volunteer their time to work, coach, organize, plan and do all the things that it takes to make Not-for-profits tick. If you meet someone who’s been a part of a Not-for-profit for a while just assume they’re amazing, you have no idea how much they’ve given.

If you want to find out about someone’s work ethic ask somebody they volunteered with on a board or an organization. Reputations go a long way. I find myself recommending people I’ve volunteered with and coached with a lot. You trust someone on another level when you know they believe in giving their time back to help others.

7. At any given moment, one or a few people can ruin it for everyone, you must ignore past these people.

People love to complain. You have to constantly remind yourself that it’s easy to be a critic and it’s hard to take negative feedback and actually act upon it. On volunteer boards I find this to happen a lot. People LOVE to complain without offering any other solutions. People love to tell you you’re wrong. People love to say “it won’t work”. You have to ignore these people.

Create a culture of proactive feedback, never are you allowed to say “I don’t like it this way!” without providing another plausible way.

8. There’s nothing more important than having a clear vision that everyone understands.

Those who built the visionary companies wisely understood that it is better to understand who you are than where you are going – for where you are going will almost certainly change.

-Built to Last by Jim Collins & Jerry I. Porras

Many business folks I’ve met underestimate the power of a vision. But most companies try to explain “everything we’re good at” without “pissing some department” in their mission statement. Effectively making it useless. Einstein said you only truly know a subject when you can explain it to a six year old. that’s my philosophy when it comes to your organizations vision, simply down to a few words that you could explain to a six year old. 

Examples:

Regina Volleyball Club: Lets grow Volleyball

University of Regina Alumni Association: Build Pride 

Regina Police Service: Public Servie First

Creative Options Regina: Gentle teaching

9. Fun can be a competitive advantage.

In the future the best organizations will have done the most important thing, attracted the best people. To attract the best people you have to have an amazing cause, but not just that, you have to create a work environment that people would seek out. A workplace to love. People will take a pay cut and make other sacrifices just so that they can work with people they like, and people we like are the people we have the most fun with.

Fun can be a competitive advantage

Fun can be a competitive advantage.

Think about it, at a board meeting have you ever asked: “how could we make our meetings more fun?”. Most don’t bring that up because they still think doing what they’ve always done is enough to attract younger, smarter, better talent. If your meetings are fun it’s going to be easier to attract better people in the future.

If you encourage your employees to have fun more often they will respect the workplace more, tell people about how great it is to work there, and when shit really does hit the fan, employees you’ve encouraged to have fun will be there for the organization. It’s when we’re at our worst our allies matter the most. Make strong supporters out of your members, encourage them to be themselves and have fun.

Aftermath of Sept. 11th

Could You Stand Up To An Overwhelming Majority Who Disagree With You?

Barbara Lee was a Congress Person when the September 11th attacks occurred in the United States. In the hours following the attacks the United States Congress drafted a 60 word sentence that would change the way the U.S. could use to military force from then on. The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) was signed by George W.Bush on September 14th, 2001, and has been the legal foundation for the war on terror for the past thirteen years.

Barbra Lee was the only Congress person to vote against the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

Of the 535 people in the United Sates Congress, 534 of them voted in favour of the Authorization to Use Military Force, only one person voted against it. Immediately after she began to receive hate mail, a tons of it, and for months on end. She had the courage to standup for what she believed in. She had to vote against an overwhelming majority because she knew she had to live with the repercussions of that vote.

Fast forward thirteen years and the United States has been evacuating troops for the past several years now admitting the “war on terror” wasn’t the success they hoped it would be. Looking back Barbra seems to be the smartest person in that room at the time. She’s truly an inspiration.

What was written in a few days of fear has now come to govern years of action

Could you standup for what is right even though you know everyone around you disagrees?

I first heard this story on the podcast titled “60 words” from Radiolab is an amazing listen. They interview many of the people who were there the day the vote went through and the backlash that followed.

Buzzfeed covered this story as well in a long article titled; The Untold Story of the Most Dangerous Sentence in U.S. History. 

Here’s a video of her explaining her position. She’s very smart and courageous.

Making people smile since 2013

2013 Year In Review From The Offices of Strategy Lab High Above Regina

Strategy Lab November from Strategy Lab on Vimeo.

As I fill my coffee cup with my second shot of Bailey’s this morning, it’s left me a tad sentimental looking back on a great year, one I may never forget.

Starting a company isn’t an easy task, the odds that you’ll go bankrupt are hovering around 90% in your first year, 80% in your second year and only around 10% in your tenth year. What does that mean for Strategy Lab? We have ten years to wait, ten years to stay above the death line, as the goal with any new born organization, survival is the key priority.

This brings up an interesting predicament, what do you focus on?  In the website/marketing consulting industry how do you “survive” per se? How do you ensure you’re focusing on what you need to to ensure you’re around for year ten and beyond?

Sadly I don’t have the answer to this question. My best guess is the little things (I’ll explain later). I wish I did, however I do have an idea of what not to focus on. Pleasing everyone. You can’t do it. ‘Yes man’ philosophy only works to an extent. When you say yes to something you’re saying no to something else. I’m starting to learn about this, it feels like experience creeping up on me, then I pinch myself and remind captain ego that I’m still very young in my field and having patients will be an asset very soon.

As you gain more experience in whatever field you’re in, you begin to learn lessons. They aren’t easy, they’re learned from making mistake, and I’m sure many people don’t see the lessons life is trying to teach them through set-backs and adversity. Most people give up or take an easier path. Life throws them lemons, they set them down, run to Wal-Mart and buy a bottle of lemonade. Work ethic gets recognized these days because it’s so rare to find in our over-educated yet knowledge seeking, work avoiding, know-it-all generation we’ve become. The most important lesson I’ve learned this year is that no matter what industry you’re in the secret to success is not a secret at all, it’s hard work.

The most difficult part of the year has to be parting was with Linden. It wasn’t a bad breakup, we’re still friends, but someone leaving your company is never an easy transition. We’re on good terms, just going in different directions. We wish him all the best and would love to work with him again one day.

The biggest accomplishment as a company has to running our first conference/workshop, #Awesome2013 took over Twitter on the morning of July 18th 2013. We filled a room at the Regina Inn, had four brilliant local speakers, and learned a little bit about running a workshop. Since then we did a Google Analytics session at Capital Ford and a Website-In-A-Day workshop. They’re fun, interactive, prizes, and you learn a lot. We’re excited to start a new Workshop series in 2014.

The-Strategy-Lab-workshop-series

 

The biggest accomplishment personally, was finally seeing the new Regina Police Service cars driving around with their mission statement on the side of the car. It wasn’t my idea, nor did I come up with the mission, but while working with some very smart folks at the Regina Police Service we helped them change their core values, vision and mission.

I still remember one question that came up during the project, how will we keep everyone who is a part of the RPS reminded of the new core messaging? The idea from a very smart person was to print it in more places, make sure every employee can see it every day. In offices, on walls, in conference rooms and, yes, on the cruisers. What a brilliant way to remind yourself of what you stand for. If you want to read more about how we got “Public Service First” on the side of Police cruisers click here.

The coolest project I was a part of this year had to be the Regina and District Association for Community Living (RDACL)’s Sharing your Awesome On An iPad. It was a six week course we developed for people who applied to learn how to use an iPad. We created the program for RDACL so they can use it else where and build on what they’ve already created. Here’s a video Brandon made on Sharing Your Awesome On An iPad.

RDACL Workshop from Strategy Lab on Vimeo.

My most fascinating project I worked on (and am still working on) is the Hospitals of Regina Foundation (HRoF). An organization full of passionate people, an amazing history, and brimming with potential. I’ve met a lot of brilliant minds working together to enhance our health care system, an endeavour that affects everyone in Saskatchewan. The future of what the HoRF can do is amazing, I’m very much humbled to be a small part of it.

I’m excited about the opportunity Brandon and I have working with some of the most amazing organizations in and around Regina, helping them take over he world. To 2014, may it be your best year ever.

 

Love,

Jeph

 

 

* – I said I’d explain the “little things” later so here goes. Our world is very paradoxical, people are irrational and often react in the opposite way we might think. Markets react in the opposite direction as we predict, everything thing in our world has a paradoxical opposite side to it, like the Seinfeld Bizzaro Jerry episode! So as a consultancy (and maybe all companies) to get big, you’d think it would be doing the big things. The flashy things that get you noticed, the bigger the client landed, the more prestigious your brand gets. But you’re only as good as what people say about you, your “brand” is what they say about you behind your back.

We measure this by referrals, the best compliment a client can give you is referring a friend, which unconsciously says: “I was so happy with you guys that I think my friends and colleagues will as well benefit from working with you!”  What can be better than that. People don’t just refer anyone, referring someone is a reflection of your own brand after all. So as an organization, you want to be a brand that people would want to associate themselves with, or co-brand themselves with. The only way to do that is to get the little things right. From your e-mail tag line to your business cards, every single touchpoint people have with your brand they are making a judgement, it’s up to you to influence if that judgement is positive or negative. Over time those judgement add up to what people perceive as your “brand”. Once people have made up their mind, it can be impossible to convince them otherwise.

Professional Stock Photos-the we can make a mobile and a desktop website

My Birthday Wish For You….

…is to inspire someone to do better. To achieve more. To aim higher. We love to undercut ourselves, underestimate our abilities, and set underwhelming goals. Stop it. It’s not fair to yourself.

It’s not hard to inspire someone. All it takes is any random act of kindness.

Buy the first round.
Send a text to someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
Give someone a bag full of candy. (Who doesn’t like candy?)
Give a stranger $5 and tell them the bill fell out of their pocket.
Hold the door open for someone.
Do more than is requested.
Tell someone you love them.
Tell that person who smiles too much how beautiful it looks on them.
Give someone a chocolate bar for no reason at all.
Buy breakfast.
Leave your waitress/waiter a $20 bill and write on it “pass on the love”.
Tell an elderly lady her hair looks gorgeous.
Pay for someones’ coffee in line behind you.
Leave $20 in the bathroom and wait till the next person goes in, which for their smile when they come out.
Fill someones’ parking meter.
Actually give something to the guy who plays guitar at the liquor store.
Make cookies for your significant other.
Say yes the next time someone asks a favor of you.
Buy someone at your office a coffee, someone who you’d never buy coffee for.

Etc.

Get creative, the more you try and help others the more you’ll end up helping yourself. Trust me.

Psst, now pass it along…

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