A respectable wedding date

7 Feb

I wrote an entire post with the back story about how I came to do this, but WordPress zonked and no draft was saved. So back-stories aside, here is what I posted on Craig’s List today (the DC and Balt sites). A respectable wedding date.

UPDATE: My post got flagged and taken down from Craig’s List. The text I wrote follows the screen capture below. Read on.

A respectable wedding date

Title:(strictly platonic) A respectable wedding date – w4m

I’m looking to increase my social network in the DC and Baltimore areas. Last year, I was given a great project and New Year’s goal by a married farmer friend of mine: ATTEND TOP-TIER WEDDINGS as a date for men who aren’t looking to date, but need a date. I was, admittedly, a chicken, but I am going to do it this year. So, if you find yourself invited to a wedding or two in the DC-Balt area and need a respectable date, I may be just what you need.

Here’s what I need: The weddings need to be first-to-first, or at least the first wedding for the bride. The younger the bride, the better. The people getting married need to be of families in the higher echelons of government, business and philanthropy in this area.

And I need for you to be a gentleman.

I’ll be a lady. I can hold a conversation … and my alcohol. I can be charming, a good date and appropriately dressed. I’ve been told, in so many words, that I wear my 48 years well. I have a more-than-reasonable job, interesting hobbies and a life I enjoy living. Whatever your reasons, if you need a date for a top-tier wedding in the area, are in the 44-54 age range and you’re buying the wedding gift :-), consider inviting me as your “+one.”

The photo I’m attaching is recent, from a costume-heavy “Santa” event in DC. I was Ambassador Claus.

Occupy Baltimore

25 Jan

Monday night I attended a BMoreSmart event (a tech event) at which Rico Singleton, CIO of Baltimore City, was the key speaker. Among the many things he addressed that night, developing a relationship with the local tech community was key. He wants to/needs to be able to hire local people for many (mostly) coding and development projects the city needs done but doesn’t have the staff to do.

This is, of course, complex.

The city isn’t quite set up for this type of working relationship. Much is yet to be done to work out the kinks of that system.

The city isn’t really in the position to pay the appropriate market rate for the volume and caliber of work that needs to be done.

The sexy-shiny-social-public-facing apps are great, but it’s often the onerous, less-glam projects that really need doing.

The city isn’t set up to pay someone a portion of their fee and allow them then to own the code/product they create (so that they can sell it to others).

And, perhaps most importantly, the city lacks the talent to fill the jobs need in the whole city. (Don’t scream, you geeks. He wasn’t saying that there isn’t tons of talent and a great tech community; rather, that the volume of work to be done and the people able to do it just doesn’t exist at this time.)

There’s the Apps for Democracy, Code for America and a slew of other choices, but those projects and programs tend to be about sexy subjects/apps and such.

One of the speakers showed a website he’d developed on vacant properties in Baltimore. It was quite cool. And the data, well, it was quite fascinating.

I heard talk of Mayor SRB and her plan to bring — what is it? — 10,000 families to Baltimore in x years? And then I had a funny thought: funny, in that I laughed to see pieces of a puzzle come together.

“Occupy Baltimore!” was what I heard.

Yes, Occupy Baltimore.

Here’s a vision to try on in your head. I kind of like the way it is in mine.

Imagine the city were able to create a good system wherein it had a robust this-is-what-we-need procedure for short-term, specific tech projects. Imagine if decided to pay but a pittance for (probably, though not exclusively) young developers to work on these projects for below market rate. Imagine that the city would own the code, as their structured mindset so requires them to do so now if they pay for development.

Imagine that rather than being paid fully in cash for wages, or in code developed that they could resell, instead these coders were paid in Occupy Baltimore “currency:” in cash specifically and only toward vacant Baltimore housing. I’ll make up some numbers, but let’s say a project was worth $10,000 in a legitimate market, but the city only had $2,500 to pay for it. The person who took that job could get $2500 in cash and, say, for example’s sake, $15,000 in Occupy Baltimore currency. Maybe they took on another project, or worked with a friend or two to pool their Occupy Baltimore bucks. Who knows? Before a year could be out, a few friends could pool together to rebuild a vacant home.

Now, it might behoove the city to put these (mostly) young coders in group housing during there earn-less-than-market-rate days, assuming they were to work a minimum number of hours a week or month. It would need to be good housing. Dormitory grown up housing. Preferably near a fun area of Baltimore so they’d feel more connected to the city. These are Millennials of which we speak, and their long-cycle cultural legacy is affluence, technology and culture. They want all that and more, and adults do well to give it to them in childhood. Now that they are in young adulthood, we need to think differently about how to make as much as possible free for them. Not free as in hand-out free, but as in trade-energy-and-vitality-for-free. That kind of free.

I’m sure there are a 1,001 problems with this vision. And a 1,001 reasons why it’s perfect and right.

It’s one thing for a politician to say, “I’m gonna” (ref the State of the Union tonight and any other candidate on the campaign trail). It’s another thing to think differently and find solutions that are right for the times.

And the banks. Remember the banks, Wall Street, investment firms? Well, here’s a chance for the banks to redeem themselves; I’m sure they can work out some financing with the vacant properties, the city’s Occupy Baltimore bucks and some lovely form of a new housing program for young Millennials moving into city’s to re-energize them and bring brightness. Imagine the possibilities for bank’s (local ones especially) to transform themselves before the new generation of customers by doing right … for THEIR generation. To give them hope and possibility.

With Baltimore’s CIO, Rico Singleton, thinking in the direction he is thinking to get more coders who will do big work for little money, with Mayor SRB thinking in the 10K More Families direction she is thinking, with the insane vacancies in Baltimore (what, isn’t Baltimore the only major city in the last couple of decades to have actually lost population?), with shamed financial institutions needing a really good (and legitimate) win, with the massive and can’t-be-fought cycles of generational shifts and the opportunities for working with young Millennials at hand, my sense is Baltimore may just be the city perfectly positioned to make the OCCUPY movement actually mean something.

Occupy Baltimore!

Young geeks, if not you, then who. If not know, then when.


No, I didn’t edit or proofread this post. It is what it is.

22 posts

3 Jan

22 posts. That’s it, my annual WordPress stats tell me. That’s all I cranked out in 2011. Yeesh, there was a time when I had to sit on my hands to make sure I didn’t produce more than 22 posts in a week. But that was when there were but 452,000 plus or minus WordPress blogs — there are an estimated 60 million plus now — and when I was whinier and incessantly insistent that social media and blogging was going to change everything … and quickly.

I didn’t count on it changing me, this flood. But I find in the flood of “here comes everyone,” that it’s a little less fun to write. I still do it for me, for my clarity of thought. But the compulsion isn’t there as it was before when to blog felt more daring, more the world of a pioneer, or, perhaps better said: an early settler.

Wordpress Stats for Banana mango smoothie post

I do find it fascinating that my banana mango smoothie blog post still pulls in major hits, day in and day out. Blogging about smoothies — while utterly fun for me — was one of the ways where I saw the utter power of well placed key words and what was possible in a blog. But it seems Google has realized what I have known for awhile, my blog sizzle is not as hot as it once was and my banana mango smoothie post hits dropped from over 5,000 in Oct to less than 500 in December. They’re on to me, this slacker who once held the blog banner high.

I’m still here. More entrenched. More institutional. Less at the bleeding edge and more at the interior and mainstream where there is not blood, but decay; decay that cries out for that which is fresh and new, revitalizing and possibility-making. Oddly, all the at-the-edge, at-the-extreme things I’ve learned are that which make me valuable and critical in the part I can play on the institutional interior now. Odd. True. Right. I turn 49 this year; the Crone’s year. The year of 7 x 7, but I guess that’s another post, were I to get to it.

Happy New Year, lovelies.


I saw it in my dreams

10 Dec

I had a dream the other night: a dream in which I was walking through a city —  DC, presumably, as that’s what it felt like. Except I saw it in the future when the city had become (as all are now) more residential, filled with hip GenXers and bright-eyed, collegial Millenials. A city alive, vibrant, re-energized and with all the extra zing, color and shapes that are possible in dreams.

In my dream, there was a particular image that struck me, resonated. It was an apartment building: a particular type of apartment building. The apartment was a high-end, positioned in the best of the best spots in the city. Night time. Streets filled with happy people. A good feeling in the air.

This particular apartment building wasn’t just any building where any-ol’-anyone could rent. It was marked SATURN, and in this building lived only and exclusively employees of Saturn. The city was filled with such buildings: amenity-rich, decked-out and top-of-the-line places designed specifically for the employees of a particular company. In this future I saw, this type of apartment buildings had become “the thing.” They had become a part of the economy, the job market, a recruiting tool.

See, rather than providing salaries that put just cash (lovely as it is) into the pockets of employees, companies had crafted worlds in which their employees were treated as special, where they were protected and bathed in the focused affluence and comfort of their employers who held these employees as very dear.

Think about it from a generational lens: the generation of Millennial young adults was brought into the world during a surge of “Baby on Board” stickers announcing their parents’ precious cargo; they were lovingly watched over in monitored playgroups as toddlers; resources for education surged during their years in elementary, then middle and high school; playgrounds were made safer; programming for kids exploded as an industry and, in general, the world of adults turned attention, time, money and effort toward ensuring that this particular generation would not be like the one that preceded it.

Why would it be any different when they are the dominant generation in young adulthood? It won’t be. Their young adulthood years will be a continuation of the focus and care of adults and institutions, and that is how the cycle goes.

I saw it in my dreams

10 Dec

I had a dream the other night in which I was walking through a city: DC, presumably, as that’s what it felt like. Except I saw it in the future when the city had become (as all are now) more residential, filled with hip GenXers and bright-eyed, collegial Millenials. A city alive, vibrant, re-energized and with all the extra zing that is possible in dreams.

While it was a vibe I felt and saw, it was a particular image that struck me, resonated. It was an apartment building: a particular type of apartment building. The apartment was what could be considered a high-end place, positioned in the best of the best spots. Night time. Streets filled with happy people. A good feeling in the air.

This particular apartment building wasn’t just any building where any-ol’-anyone could rent. It was marked SATURN, and in this building lived only and exclusively employees of Saturn. The city was filled with these buildings: amenity-rich, decked-out, top-of-the-line places designed for the employees of a particular company. In this future I saw, it had become a thing, these buildings. It had become a part of the economy, the job market, the recruiting tool. Rather than providing salaries that put just cash (lovely as it is) into the pockets of employees, companies had crafted worlds in which their employees were treated as special, protected in and bathed in their norms of affluence and technology

For our Millenial workers this was/is/will, I believe, increasingly become so.

17 pages

19 Nov

17 pages. That’s it. A mere 17 pages. Oh, but in these 17 pages, the things will you learn. Generations, Fourth Turning, cultural moods, Millennials’ rallying cry toward the right to a middle class … and how to position yourself (your company, your brand, your family, your finances) to navigate the everything-can-turn-on-a-dime era known as The Fourth Turning.

Near a quarter billion views!

18 Oct

I feel a upsurge of joy when I hear this song: Party Rock Anthem.

Perhaps you know it as Everyday I’m Shufflin. And now that I have discovered the video on YouTube, I’m addicted. Apparently, I’m not the only one. This video has 246,268,423 views as of today.  That’s near a quarter billion views. And counting.

My sense is this song is — and will continue to be for decades — to  Millennials what Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was to GenXers: an addictive, heck yeah song and video, of which we never tired. In this song I sense the unquestionable generational shift of Boomer media moguls and GenX performers to GenX moguls and Millennial performers.

There’s the family element so comfortable to Millennials: the two gents in the group LMFAO are related. There’s the playfulness of their outfits and lyrics that lacks the angst and anger of GenXers; these two gents were rather privileged children, as most Millennials, regardless of income are, by virtue of growing up in an era where adults make children’s needs a priori. (Actually, one of the guys is a late-wave GenX, but you can see all the X and market-focused influence in their brilliantly branded line of clothing.)

It’s sexy, alive, fun and specific.

Of course, who am I to guess, predict or tell Millennials what they’ll find exquisitely memorable in their mid-life years, but if I were a betting woman, I’d put money on this song and video. If you’ve yet to see it, may I recommend you find 6:16 minutes to enjoy this video. And I do recommend watching it to the end!

If we each kill 300 …

14 Aug

I know it may seem like a battle that cannot be won, but I refuse to stand by and do nothing.

It’s the stink bugs I’m talking about and their inevitable invasion come early fall. Last year it took me until well into fall, maybe even early winter, to change my tactics from an approach of bugs-belong-outdoors to you-will-die-if-you-step-inside-my-house. As a matter of fact, once I transitioned from Earth Momma Bugs-Belong-Outdoors to Stink Bug Killer on a Mission, I even began killing the stink bugs on the outside of my home. (I have a tall jar with cotton balls soaked in nail polish remover, and into the jar they go.)

This year, I started early. I started killing juveniles in the summer. And I’m starting to see them on the exterior and — gasp! — interior of my home. So, what’s a sane person to do?

Personally, I think if each man, woman and child (above the age of six) commits to killing 300 stinkbugs each this year then perhaps we can stem the geometric growth of their invasion. Who’s with me? You can count on me to do my part? Can I count on you to do yours?

On un-requiring children to learn cursive … and the Homeland Generation

28 Jul

Haha. If you’ve posted a video on YouTube of late, you know that YouTube let’s you pick the still to use as the graphic for your video. I actually *picked* this one from a set of three options. Makes me laugh, anyway. But on to the content …

Horizontal filing and an uplifting solution

24 Jul

I’m a horizontal filer.

The vertical filers, who assume their way is right because office products are made primarily to support their style, call us pilers, or stackers, or maybe even slobs. Well, they can call me and my kindwhat they want, but I am what I am, I know others who share similar thinking, and I’ve learned to work with my strengths and weaknesses. What I don’t have are products that work well for me.

I’m hoping someone will come across this blog, read the idea here and either point me to where I can buy the item I need, or perhaps they can figure out how to make it and get it to market. So here’s the quick flash idea I just had: The idea is to have a free-standing pole that has (in the right range of what is reachable while sitting or standing) trays accommodating 8.5 x 11+ paper horizontally and say 3/4″ high. The trays would, of course, be perpendicular to the pole and they would rotate around the pole, or at least partially. The intent would be that a tray could have a project label or file label on it that is visible from a sitting or standing position, but the tray could rotate out of the ordered stack so that the contents (the pile) could be accessed and then returned to the neat, tidy storage area.

Sigh. Not sure if that verbal description works. Basically the idea is to allow for piles, create a vertical stack and allow each pile to be pulled out and accessed as needed. It’d probably be useful to have different options for the actual tray height and then some adjustment option  for creating space between stacked trays.

The problem with all the horizontal filing systems currently  on the market is that they assume a person wants to file away a horizontal pile. But I know I just want to PUT a horizontal file somewhere until I need it again. The products for horizontal filing misunderstand the basic and initial need of Our Kind.

I need a product engineer! Herman Miller (and crew), can you hear me now?


Are Millennials less religious than other gens?

12 Jul

This morning I was reading a Boomer’s blog post about religion, churches and his view of generational shifts in “religiosity” (not sure if I made up that word). He wrote, “It is not uncommon to hear that the generation in their 20’s and 30’s are agnostic or atheist.”

My response through the lens of applied generational theory:

Millennials, those in the 7-ish to 29-y.o. range in 2011, are raised in a culture influenced mostly by Boomer values. Boomers orient as a generation toward vision, values and religion. It shouldn’t be too surprising then that if you’re raised by a generation that leans one way, that you lean the OTHER way. It’s not that Millennials are mostly agnostic; it’s that they’re less curious about their internal and spiritual worlds and more curious about the external and physical world. Boomers, who grow up in a structured and well-built world as children, in young adulthood created a cultural change to focus on the meaning and purpose (of everything!).

So as Millennials now define young adulthood, what do we see? Millennials grow up in a values-fixated world, and in young adulthood, bring a focus back to the physical world and the importance of structure.

GenXers, in between both, correct the excesses of a values-fixated world and lead the shift toward a world where systems function better, thus allowing the Millennials a platform upon which they can bring their “Hero Energy” into society and actually use it!
The Silent/Homelanders are another story for another day.

So I offer this to the Boomer who looks at Millennials and sees them, along with his generational cohorts, as more agnostic and atheist: generations always see other generations through their own filters. (Right? Makes sense.) Imagine what the Boomers’ values-fixation and generational unwillingness to define as important the care of the physical world, e.g. roads, bridges, public parks, IT systems, looks like to Millennials who are raring to go, raised for their role as Heroes and wanting very much to live in a world that is safe, gleaming and structured. Then let’s talk about which generation is more this and less that. Being more religious or more agnostic is not a good-er or badder (I might have just made up two more words) thing. It’s a cycle and a rhythm that happens naturally to correct excesses, provide what’s needed now and create the path for a future that’s coming. That’s what generations do; they balance each other, allowing for growth, renewal and evolution.

The generational make-up of Columbia, per US Census 2010 data

11 Jul

As one deeply interested in generational dynamics, I’m curious about Columbia, Maryland’s demographics by generation. I find that this kind of information helps with problem-framing and problem-solving. As we frame and solve problems as a community, having a sense of our current generational mix may help us choose better paths to follow. Here’s the Columbia data (plus or minus a percentage point), broken down by blogger Bill Santos.

Columbia’s Generational Make-up in 2010
* Silent (born before 1943), 6,656 people (7%).
* Boom (born 1943-1960), 24,034 people (24%).
* Gen X (born 1961-1981), 29,972 people (30%).
* Millennials (born 1982-2002), 26,076 people (26%).
* Generation-to-be-named-later (born after 2002), 12,877 people (13%).

Black Rock City Farmers Market

6 Jul

Great shot of our More Carrot camp at Burning Man last year.

Two months from now, I’ll be in one of the more inhospitable places on the planet: Black Rock Desert in Nevada. And I’ll be there with 50,000 or so others at the nothing-else-like-it-anywhere phenomenon of Burning Man. Last year was my virgin year, and I’m back again for more this year. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of the More Carrot theme camp, offering Black Rock City’s first farmers market. We gift fresh vegetables and fruits in the morning, 8-11, at our farmers’ market stand. This year, we’re expanding our operations, and looking for some fundraising support in that lovely schwag-for-support style that is increasing in popularity and function.

Whether you’ve been to Burning Man, are going to Burning Man, hope to get to Burning Man one day, or know you’ll probably never get there but are fascinated by the whole thing, I hope you’ll help us out with a donation though our IndiGoGo campaign.

If it be your will

20 Jun

In W, of all places, I heard of this singer: Antony and the Johnsons. The photo shown in W and the opening line of the article had me curious instantly. Yeah for YouTube and the interwebs, I was able to find and listen to his music on the spot. (I’m hooked!) Now, while I don’t know the exquisite details of Antony’s biology or chromosonal make-up, my guess is Antony is a hermaphrodite. Talk about taking the gift of life and making it an exquisite prayer of gratitude and development! What an interesting and beautiful voice.

Sing, Antony, sing! Here’s Antony and the Johnsons singing, “If it be your will.”

And Leonard Cohen, singing his version.


A beautiful citizen uprising

12 May

“A beautiful citizen uprising!” Apparently, that’s what I said — and there’s video to prove it.

One of the most excellent regional unconferences (imo) is Transparency Camp, put on by the Sunlight Foundation. This year, I was interviewed as one of the participants, and my few moments of fame open and close the video.

Kate, Zell and a wedding dress

1 May

Wedding gown design, Rosellen Howell, 1946

I know it’s not an exact match, but I see some similarities. In 1946, my aunt, Rosellen Howell (whom, growing up, I called Aunt Zellie), headed to New York City at the ripe age of seventeen, where she then studied fashion design. Here’s a wedding dress design from her collection.

And here is Kate Middleton (the newest princess) and her dress:

Why are Deborah and Janet so successful?

30 Apr

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about the cyclical naming of babies and how generations and Turnings (per Strauss and Howe) impacts popular baby names. A few days ago this earlier post came to mind when I came across an article about the most popular baby girls’ names in 2009. (These would be the Homeland generation: the generation that shares the same archetype as the Silent generation, born 1924-1942.)

Check this out. Notice how the names sound to your ears and the image that you have with the personality that would match such a name.

Design by Rosellen Howell, 1946

  1. Isabella
  2. Emma
  3. Olivia
  4. Ava
  5. Sophia
  6. Madison
  7. Chloe
  8. Abigail
  9. Emily
  10. Addison
  11. Ella
  12. Lilly
  13. Mia
  14. Alexis
  15. Grace

Then look at the most popular female names of 1999, when Millennials were winding down but still Millennials. More Glamour Girl (my child is special) names. Listen to how the names sound and the personality you’d associate — sight unseen — with such a name.

  1. Emily
  2. Sarah
  3. Brianna
  4. Samantha
  5. Hailey
  6. Ashley
  7. Kaitlyn
  8. Madison
  9. Hannah
  10. Alexis
  11. Jessica
  12. Alyssa
  13. Abigail
  14. Kayla
  15. Megan


Fast Company has an article based on Linkedin data in which it claims the best names to name your baby and future CEO. In my eyes, this article would be much more valuable were the author and the good people at Linkedin to have given generational theory its due. The article (per Linkedin’s data) concludes the most-likely-to-be-CEO female’s names are —

Design by Rosellen Howell, 1946

  1. Deborah
  2. Sally
  3. Debra
  4. Cynthia
  5. Carolyn
  6. Pamela
  7. Ann
  8. Cheryl
  9. Linda
  10. Janet

Hmmm, let’s see. Most female (not male) CEOs are in their 50s. So what if we go back and find the most popular female baby names in 1959. (These would be the tail-end of Boomers.) There’s some correlation between popular names for baby girls some 50+ years ago and the more-common names of 50-something female CEOs today. Duh.

  1. Mary
  2. Susan
  3. Linda
  4. Karen
  5. Donna
  6. Patricia
  7. Debra
  8. Cynthia
  9. Deborah
  10. Lisa
  11. Barbara
  12. Pamela
  13. Sandra
  14. Nancy
  15. Kathy

And, not to leave the GenXers out of the conversation, I looked at the top female baby names in 1971 (GenXers are born 1961-1981, so this is the mid-point in the generation).

  1. Jennifer
  2. Michelle
  3. Lisa
  4. Kimberly
  5. Amy
  6. Angela
  7. Melissa
  8. Tammy
  9. Mary
  10. Julie
  11. Stephanie
  12. Heather
  13. Tracy
  14. Dawn
  15. Karen

Cyclical time. Cultural turnings. Rising trends and fading fashions. These things are part of the experience here on this lovely planet. Always there is something being born, something rising up, something being solid and powerful and something fading and moving toward death. To my mind, and as I continue to study generational theory, I find the (approximately) 20-year turnings that occur each time a new generation moves into young adulthood, one of the more compelling, informative and insightful bodies of work.

On elephants and anthropomorphism

20 Mar

A tweeted @NPRnews article headline caught my eye the other day. Gotchya! Elephant Caught Cheating. It was meant “to catch” me, and it was successful. As I read the story about a young female elephant who figured out how to get the result (food) that she wanted without having to do the work (the learning and collaborative system designed by the researchers), I found myself bothered by the anthropomorphism of the author.

The young female elephant who figured out how to get the food through a means other than designed by The Humans is called “a cheat.” A cheat? Did she sign an agreement with The Humans to do the experiment as They designed. Perhaps in her “cheating,” she was actually exploring physics and solutions that were different? Perhaps she was applying her intelligence in a new way because the experiment was stupid and low-level. Perhaps she was exerting her dominance with the other elephant and she had Her Reasons.

These things I don’t know. And my attempts to figure it out have me being anthropomorphic also. It’s not my job to know her reasons for going around the parameters of the experiment. I will say that I found rather off-putting The Human Journalist’s application of pejorative adjectives to the elephant.

How I almost sold my soul for a box of labels

3 Mar

It happened like this: I tweeted a simple request. (It seemed innocent enough at the time.) I tweeted that I needed help getting some Avery labels printed for an upcoming hocoblogs party. And that’s when the snowball rolling toward my soul being owned by The Devil started to roll.

Good thing for me, my soul isn’t for sale, so I caught that potentially Hellish problem in the nick of time. “Whoa, Devil,” said I. “No souls for sale here.”

See, when I posted my request to the Twitterverse, a smart gal managing Avery label’s brand online spotted my tweet and responded to me right away. She offered that she could give me some labels if I were to blog about why I liked Avery labels.

I asked for the dollar amount of this “gift” of labels, and she said it was about $90. I explained to her that the blog post I was interested in writing had to do with respecting that a company was monitoring its brand in the social space and that it had empowered an agent (notably, a pr firm) to act on its behalf for community relations with brand ambassadors.

She told me my blog post focus that was a little out of the norm, but that she was game.

Avery labels sent from Red Sky Public Relations.

I told her that I was delighted she was game, because I was going to blog about the experience anyway; now I get to tell a happy, yay-for-Avery-and-good-online-brand-monitoring story rather than a “they tried to get me to sell soul, and they can’t have it” story.

Even better, the gal sent me the Avery product prior to my blog post being written: a statement of trust. (Nice touch.)  And, so folks, I now have a load of Avery labels … and my soul, fully intact.


For companies in need of some good online brand management, props to Leigh Ann Dufurrena of Red Sky Public Relations. (You can use this link in your own personal brand management, Leigh Ann; you get a shiny gold star in my book.)

Reducing board micro-management

27 Feb

For those of you who’ve ever experienced micro-management by a board (on either side of the table), here’s a potentially helpful document I wrote. It’s designed to help nonprofit organizations reduce unnecessary board intrusion, concurrently while helping the ED and staff serve the board and provide them what they need to do their strategic work.


See, I’ve served on two boards of late. And, educational experiences they have both been! I’ve learned through some rather twisted and uncomfortable ways about the roles of the executive committee, the board president, the committees, the executive director (ED) and the staff. I have not always been the easiest of board members to have around. I want information. I find it impossible to do my job of providing, among other things, strategic direction to an organization about which I know little.

In my frustration, I became a whirlwind of data requests. I had culture clashes with the staff and ED about what information I had a right to see. Me? I think Google Analytics are relevant when one is the Communications Committee chair.  And HTML newsletter open rates and clicks on links. Because I wasn’t receiving the information I felt I needed to do my job as a board member, and as my requests for information were often perceived of as stepping on staff and ED toes, the I-want-you-can’t-have push-pull became even more pronounced.

Now, EDs have to protect their staff from excessive board requests and ensure that mission critical operations continue. And usually, producing reports and providing information takes staff time that can impact the staff’s ability to do its work. So, what’s a sane organization to do? Well, I think the first thing is that people have to know is what they’re asking for and why … what purpose does the getting of the information provide? And what’s it worth? Is the information sought a $25 answer (a quick email sent), a $250 answer (perhaps a meeting with a few staff and follow up), or is it a $2,500 answer … perhaps a more extensive report? Board members should be able to ask a reasonable question of staff and get a reasonable answer. Equally, even without a master of science in management, board members need to understand “the cost” of their questions asked.

So, what’s a sane organization to do?

In my consulting work over the years (and in personal relationships), I see that it is my responsibility to ask for what I want and to make sure that I’m clear about what it is that I need as an answer/deliverable/date. My suspicion is that board member requests of staff would half and ED/staff resistance would subside tremendously if there were systems in place that required (forced) board members to be more thoughtful in what it is they need, and why.

So, I created a form, a document, a think-your-way-through-your-thought-process guide. I make no claim of perfection in this regard. I have yet to test and vet this form. I am, however, offering it for nonprofit boards, EDs and staff as a potentially helpful tool for navigating the sometimes-messy territory of board-staff relationships. (And for those of you who’ve got your thinking caps on but don’t serve on nonprofit boards at this moment in time, you’ll be able to see the business applications for such a form.)


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