One of the intriguing things about being a consultant is that I often have the opportunity to connect the dots in tantalizingly new ways. Taking a step back, I look inside myself for a moment, and often, I learn something I did not expect to see. That’s always pretty darn exhilarating.
Seems I have been working with a couple of clients in very different product and customer spaces–but I now see a common thread that has emerged around workforce empowerment and driving employee behavior. Well, tomes have been written on human behavior, you might say. But I’ve got an angle.
Back to my headline. Lately, I have been completely fascinated with this concept of developing marketing strategies for companies from the inside out. That is, making your employees your best recruiters and your most potent marketers. Fortify them with everything they need to communicate your message. I am currently ghostwriting a blog for successful small business consultant/coach, and he talks at length about the importance of empowering entrepreneurs and their employees. He says they are much more than task purveyors, and thinking about what drives them (on the inside) is essential. There was super article on LinkedIn last month about this very topic–seeing your employees as talent/brand ambassadors. Key elements include:
- Training your entire workforce
- Engaging them in the process
- Repeat . . . and did I say recognizing and rewarding?
The other client is a major retail consumer brand deploying a complex, matrixed, supply-chain, customer-management system. How are these the same, you ask? Well, this initiative requires a gigantic shift in workforce behavior and technology process adoption. The front line is the “cash register” of the company, and that impacts every single employee. Seamless execution requires a well-oiled communication machine that empowers and engages the entire operation in action and accountability–from the inside out. So . . . from a communication perspective, I’m thinking the bullet points required are very similar to what I’ve listed above.
Think of every employee is a virtual “internal-preneur,” invested in the company’s positive outcome, no matter what the challenge. Our job is to create this program with the artful orchestration of social media, email, blogging, video, karaoke, and many other appealing participation opportunities.
Something to consider. . .
It’s Christmas, again. So, what have we done? Seems the years are barreling by more rapidly than ever. Hyperspeed. With the death of my father this year, the passing of my mother two years ago, my youngest turning 18, and other major personal epiphanies this year, the reality of time has been a central theme.
That’s why I bought myself a special gift this year — Mary Oliver’s new book of poems — “Blue Horses.” It’s exquisite. I find the purity and simplicity of Oliver’s intimate observations of nature and everyday wonder so profoundly moving. Perfect for a day like today — which celebrates our core, spiritual connection to the Divine or Source — no matter what our definition of faith.
It’s all about authentic connection — whether to self or others, right? So, a gift for you . . .
You might see an angel anytime
and anywhere. Of course you have
to open your eyes to a kind of
second level, but it’s not really
hard. The whole business of
what’s reality and what isn’t has
never been solved and probably
never will be. So I don’t care to
be too definite about anything.
I have a lot of edges called Perhaps
and almost nothing you can call
Certainty. For myself, but not
for other people. That’s a place
you just can’t get into, not
entirely anyway, other people’s
I’ll just leave you with this.
I don’t care how many angels can
dance on the head of a pin. It’s
enough to know that for some people
they exist, and they dance.
Happy Christmas and 2015!
“The Last Mile” is a phrase used in the telecommunications and technology industries to describe the final piece of the communication journey that connects the network to the end-user or customer. In more jargon-y tech circles, it’s often referred to as the “last-mile problem,” because the end link to consumer is too often disproportionately expensive or difficult to achieve. Even compared to the costs associated with rolling out broadband wire and hardware across the globe, last-mile connections have been plagued with technological issues, infrastructure barriers, and high costs.
It’s so beguiling that there are many publicly traded companies focused exclusively on the “challenge” of facilitating this precarious one-on-one connection. Pursuit of this delicate alignment extends to transportation logistics, as well. From traditional heavy goods shipments to e-commerce-driven home deliveries, the last mile plays a critical role in the supply chain. It’s the ultimate destination – the final frontier. Get it wrong, and you risk customer alienation. Get it right, and you create a meaningful, high-value, and potentially lasting relationship.
That’s the connection. My wheels are turning—thinking about that ever-so-bumpy road that often characterizes “the last mile” in our most intimate relationships. A metaphor is born. You know the adage that those closest to us have the power to hurt us the most deeply. Well, here we go. I think the struggle of the last mile speaks to this. Yet, the sad part is that some us never let anyone down that barren stretch of highway into the inner sanctum of our hearts. Even if someone finds entrance ramp, there are often too many twists and turns, culverts and crevasses—too many dead-ends . . . or just too many barricades. Plus, there are all those the emergency vehicles that come out of nowhere—crimson lights blazing and sirens shrieking! Or, the bridges may be washed out due to years of emotional storms and deferred maintenance. There are a myriad of reasons. And this can be true in a variety of contexts—family, friends, romantic partners—even work. Your “last miles” can be very painful, even scary, but they are worth the trip.
Being more mindful and aware has definitely helped me enrich some of my “last mile” journeys recently — and I find that I am becoming more appreciative of noticing these attributes in my fellow travelers, as well. I feel the “last mile” in any relationship is best navigated as a two-way street. After all, it’s where the rubber truly meets the road, right?
You fish or you cut bait, as they say. Face it. “Last-mile connections have been plagued with technological issues”— especially when some of us have more baggage on the bus than others. So, to stay on track, unpack with care and compassion when necessary—and refuel when needed. Traveling light – and maximizing flow . . . here I go.
This is one of my favorite quotes from the remarkable Maya Angelou. She expressed so many ideas and notions of the heart with such raw eloquence and clarity. As one who has struggled with clouded filters in my life, this resonates deeply.
Live in authenticity—not to satisfy the expectations of others, nor the perceived expectations of anyone else. It also means resisting the impulse to change, cajole, alter—or otherwise attempt to “fix” another. Peacefully release and allow . . . others to walk their own divine paths. Easier said than done, right? Instead, you may simply choose a different reality. Fighting or feeling dismayed gives the recipient of that energy power. Taking a different path alleviates so much stress and pain.
It is such an essential lesson for productivity, sanity and happiness. And at the core of this awareness is mindfulness. Marsha Linehan, a noted American psychologist and author, created Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) around this philosophy. It’s a powerful form of psychotherapy that actually combines behavioral science and brain theory with Buddhism tenets—acceptance, meditation and mindfulness.
In the spirit of our dear Dr. Angelou, who touched so many, we can all seek this state of inner peace and mindfulness—to communicate in truth—internally and externally. To believe in the veracity of what is. But we cannot if we are not clear— about who we are and how we feel. This, indeed, is the journey. In lieu of a mindfulness retreat or a series of therapy sessions with Dr. Linehan, here are a few ways to get a dose of this mindfulness practice:
- Focus on one thing at a time
Try giving up multitasking occasionally. It exacerbates stress and states of confusion. Handle one thing and one thing only—mindfully in the moment. Step away from the phone.
- Do what works
You do not always have to be right— make a statement, issue and edict, or win the war. Don’t cut off your nose despite your face. Think twice before you send that blazing email copying the president.
- Set achievable goals
Set aside the BHAGS for a while (the big, hairy, audacious goals – as a former boss used to call them). Focus on the attainable ones. Give yourself some wins!
- Nurture friends, connections, and support
Build a network. Connections are so important. They give you strength and a soft place to land when you run out of steam and your resources dwindle. YOU don’t have to be everything to everyone.
Keep moving. Reduce your physical vulnerability. You know about this one already.
- Be grateful
Find something to be grateful for every day. It multiplies (even at work).
There are more, but this is a great place to start. Until we understand exactly who we are and how we process stimuli, many of our reactions will be wildcards. This takes work, because so much of our communication is conducted on autopilot—hardwired and subconscious. There are no easy answers, but if we are mindful of our issues, we can begin asking better questions . . . What do you think?
“Faith consists in believing what reason cannot.”
On Saturday, we honored the memory of Everett E. Gantz Jr. with a quiet, traditional Episcopal memorial service. After nearly 89 years on this earth, my father was still an enigma to many— and to me in many ways. Few truly knew the man behind the stoic, Midwestern-chiseled facade— and the charismatic artist/wife of more than 50 years. Thankfully, my dear sister Melissa gave a lovely, instructive “reflection” that filled gaps and hearts.
The loss is palpable—and beginning with my mother’s devastating stroke in January 2010, the grieving process has been a lingering one.
Plus, as a single, working mother of two growing boys, remembering to “put the oxygen mask on first” is a constant effort—and a daily focus of my mindfulness practice. However, I am certainly no role model for the “sandwich generation,” and I guarantee you that I still get tangled up in the roughage, as it were. Still, I have come to understand that the frustrating stubbornness and vitriol I have encountered on “both sides of the bun” often mask the poignant vulnerabilities that quite frequently melt my heart.
Mastin Kipp, one of my favorite daily inspirational mentors, says, “When you let go and admit it, accept that you have moments of being a mess, and you share that feeling at times with the rest of us, then you can step into a larger, freer life.”
So, with another Mother’s Day behind us and a new normal dawning, I have revisited something I wrote several years ago for my mom:
No need to give to feel anymore.
Her bare spirit shines — less the veneer.
Without speech, without talk
The essence of her soul.
Awareness without comprehension,
She looks at me finally – and actually sees.
Letting go of need.
Content to be.
Fights her wheeled prison.
Her body knows now
To bridge the chasm.
There between this Scylla and Charybdis.
And yet he still clings.
Denies to suppress — but never go home.
Letting go of control.
But the seizures defy
The years and the secrets
He insists to know why.
Anger. Passion. Pain.
A stone cold wall.
What a loss — so far.
Tear us apart and we fall.
Oh, to let love . . .
So, letting go.