Yay Team!

An effective leader develops very different ways of achieving job satisfaction. Personally, when the work of others I manage receives kudos from clients, it feels good. My own ego takes a backseat – and I’m just fine with that.

I’ve been leading our team for three decades and this is certainly not a new thought nor an innovative insight. I didn’t learn it overnight, but gradually it became second-nature that my team’s wins were my wins, whether I was on the front line or not.

Recently, this way of thinking struck me all over again. It was in the pre-dawn hours when I checked my email account before heading to the gym. First, a Google Alert caught my attention, showing me a client feature just published in the local daily – a monster lead story that spread across much of Page 1 before jumping inside and spreading across two more pages. I beamed with pride at our team’s success. Next, I began seeing a flurry of emails from another client, starting with our East Coast marketing contact and followed soon after by company executives on the West Coast. Each applauded the flood of prominent and relevant press coverage the HKA team had secured for five consecutive days. I did a fist pump – yay team! I was proud of our client teams that performed amazing work.

If you manage a team, whether directly or indirectly, it is this pride in work well done that generates the fuel for your own engine. And when your team handles a particularly perplexing challenge, the reward is even sweeter. Sometimes I miss being the one who hits the homerun, but usually I’m glad to be the manager in the dugout. Yay team!

Fundraising in Orange County

Now Hare This: Tortoise Tales

The tortoise and the hare is a well-known Aesop’s Fable. The boastful hare leaves the starting line in a blinding flash, destined to cross the finish line way before the painfully slow tortoise.

But does he? Of course not! The foolish, over-confident hare stops to nap en route and when he awakens, discovers the plodding tortoise has won the race. This was one of my favorite childhood stories (perhaps I identified with the tortoise as a child).

As I sat down to write something, once again, about my Ruby’s Raiders team that fundraises for the MS Society, I flashed on this childhood fable.

When it comes to fundraising, I consider myself the tortoise. Just like the tortoise, I make slow but good progress and eventually get the job done – often ahead of those who start at warp speed. I’m consistent and persistent. Tortoises are reliable; hares, well, not so much.

Let’s look back. My first MS Walk in Orange County, in 1999, turned out to be the year before my mom, Ruby, died, having suffered with severe Multiple Sclerosis for more than two decades. I walked with my husband, just the two of us. Later that day, we visited mom and showed her our MS T-shirts and the little medals given as we crossed the finish line. She smiled. We raised just $100 that year.

The next year, we did it again. This time we fielded a small team, mostly co-workers, and called ourselves Ruby’s Raiders. Mom would have liked that name. We raised a little more, about $2,000. Compared to the big teams, our fundraising was like the tortoise.

I won’t go through our progress, year by year, but this year, 2016, Ruby’s Raiders walked for its 17th year. I don’t know our final tally (I don’t think we quite reached our $7,500 goal), but it doesn’t really matter. We are still tortoise-like in comparison to the big teams. But we keep moving forward. We keep coming back. We keep raising money to help the mission of finding a cure – and meanwhile, helping patients and families. And every dollar counts.

Over the years, we have raised more than $100,000 for the MS society. That’s a number I’m proud of. Perhaps it’s obvious that longevity is a trait I value, considering it is HKA’s 31st year in business. Our Ruby’s Raiders’ numbers have added up like the tortoise adds steps, a little bit every year. Each year and every team has been different, but each has been rewarding and cherished. And so, I continue on the same path, one small step in front of the other.

Need for Speed

Is the immediacy of today’s business world making us more productive — or just more crazy?need for speed

I don’t know about you, but I think about this a lot.

Sometimes it’s someone else asking me for an immediate response. If their question lingers in my inbox for too long (hours rather than minutes) they are likely to become impatient. Sometimes it’s ME asking for immediacy. And I’m the one who gets impatient. I see both sides. Either way, our expectations for speed are off the chart.

I used to think that sending and receiving email from my computer was fast enough. It definitely beats snail mail. It flows quickly into my inbox and just as quickly can flow out again – if I’m paying close attention.

But I was wrong. When not sitting at my desk and looking at my computer, a sea of emails could arrive, unannounced and unanswered. Minutes, hours or even DAYS could go by. Not so immediate.

Moving forward, the next big thing was funneling emails into our cell phones. No need to sit at a desk. No laptop needed. We could see and handle emails ALL THE TIME. Potentially, we could be on-call 24-7 with NO DOWN TIME.

Good news? Not really. I wasn’t too enamored with this immediacy but hey, that’s what technology delivered so I’ve adapted. The era of having down time while we are out of the office is illusive. Are we more productive? Sure, in a crisis situation. It’s useful to be able to reach people more easily with urgent messages. Otherwise, I have to think having down time ultimately made us more productive.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any more immediate, it did. Today, if we know someone’s cell number and there is urgency, texting is the way to go. In our personal lives we can control the speed with which we respond. But at work, ignoring a text from a client or an employer is worse than ignoring an email on your cell phone. Even a busy CEO is likely to respond to a text – yet he or she may not return a call or an email.

Back to my original musing. Are we more productive? Or just more crazy?