New Release: Positive Cultural Impact

You’re leading a team: could be you and one child, or you and a sales team, or you and a massive corporation or nonprofit institution. In any case, you have a culture you want to build, values to instill. But how?

For the last few months I’ve been blogging less as I was working to refine a concept into a concise e-book which details my formula for making a positive cultural impact in the form of a cycle which I very creatively decided to call the Cultural Impact Cycle.

Graphic4

Last Friday I published this e-book, reasonably priced at $2.99 USD. Here’s the link: How to Make a Positive Cultural Impact.

In a recent discussion with a random stranger, I told the stranger I am a life coach.

“What do you teach people?” he asked.

“Coaches don’t teach… but I’m also a writer,” I said, and proceeded to give him the elevator version of the cycle and the book.

“So, it’s the simple things,” he said.

Yes… it’s simple. The concepts here aren’t complicated. It’s implementation that may be difficult… perhaps even challenging enough you’ll want to work on them with a coach.

There’s more to come. Soon I’ll have a video course available for purchase that includes a workbook and an online forum. In the meantime, you can check out the book itself, it’s a short read at 8,300 words.

Enjoy!

–Adam G. Fleming

Exchange Value like a Dollar Does

Arrived in Egypt. My hosts told me not to change money at home or the airport. A quick Google search reveals the Egyptian Pound exchanging officially at 8.8 to the dollar. In reality, if you know the right people you can trade USD for 12:1. This stretches my dollars enough that the first street food I bought, a bbq chicken schwarma with yogurt to dip, cost 25 pounds or just a fuzz over $2. At 8.8, the same schwarma is a lot closer to $3. That difference over an eight-day stay is going to be huge, yoooge, in my favor.

For all of Americans’ own concern over their own political process right now, a concern the rest of the world no doubt shares, that dollar is still viewed as a stabilizer, so much so that people who are creating value here in Egypt (and therefore have a profitable enterprise of some sort) are willing to pay a premium to get these dollars and stash them.

It reminds me of conversations I’ve had with Americans who get into buying silver as an investment; they too are hoping to have something stable in reserve if the other collapses.

There are a couple principles we can draw from this. One of them is that there’s always going to be something people perceive as “more stable” than what they have. But there’s an even more important principle driving the whole thing: you’ve got to be able to produce something valuable, and as long as you are able to do that, you can be profitable.

Looking to any sort of currency for long term stability is spiritually risky. I’m not saying that a savings plan is wrong. The danger zone seems to be in the area where we rely on what we’ve saved more than on what we can make, and on what we can make more than on faith.

When you’re afraid, somebody is going to benefit from that to your detriment, just the way I’m now benefiting from a 12:1 ratio.

In our work, we need to focus on creating value in the moment. Even if the dollar collapses, our ability to create value will live on. In our rest, however, we have to focus on faith. If we focus in our rest on what we’ve saved aside, hoping in our stockpile… we won’t really be resting. You can’t rest in the future, only in the present.

(artwork: weaving done with Egyptian materials by Anneke Price, Chiang Mai, Thailand)

The Motivated Locomotive

Once upon a time there was a train full of toys, stuffed animals, dolls and balls. “Wouldn’t it be great,” said the Clown, CEO, “if all the boys and girls on the other side of the mountain had our goodies, toys and treats any time they wanted?” Everyone agreed. So they roughed out a Vision statement which said “Develop, deploy, and manage a diverse set of strategic logistics tools to serve our customers, improving overall satisfaction among our diverse customer profiles.” It sounded very business-like. Everyone knew what it meant, right? “Take a variety of toys and sweets over the mountain that all the kids will like.” Also, they decided that a good mission statement would be “seamlessly operationalize market-driven global opportunities,” which pretty much meant “get in the black asap” and they got to work.

The CEO pointed out that the most likely market was over the mountain, and besides, there was a railroad right over the top already, so the company loaded a train with anything they had in stock and set off to make their mission a reality. Which was great, until their engine broke down a mile out of town. Nobody had bothered to see if it was in working condition. So the CEO started doing some quick headhunting by tapping his network.

“hey, I need a loco-motivated guy here who can get us over this mountain,” he said. He tried to lure away people from some major logistics companies, one that specialized in heavy brown and yellow packages, and another that specialized in speedy delivery of red and blue envelopes, but nobody he went to business school with was interested in working for a startup, for half their current pay and dubiously valuable stock options.

Finally he found a kid who was just out of college. Let’s just say she was a little green behind the ears and hadn’t quite stopped watching videos with talking trains who rolled their eyeballs around and bantered with their cabooses and obeyed a clown in a top hat. She was what we’d call an “idealist” and a “go-getter” and she’d never had an opportunity before. She was hyper-motivated; even loco-motivated because she loved the vision. Her motto was “I think I can” and with a lot of effort she made it over that first mountain and delivered the goods.

The end, but not quite. Using some lingo she thought the CEO would understand, the Little Engine Who Did, said “that mountain is a silly hilly hill, homey don’t play that,” and to the board of directors she said “our methodology is unsustainable, has anyone even bothered to think about what our values are?”

Everyone said “What do you mean? We have a vision, a mission, a motivated general manager, and we’re in the black. Keep doing it!”

The Little Engine Who Did, and was happy to keep doing it, too, if only it wasn’t such a damn uphill struggle half the time, said, “We have vision: we know how we want to change the world for the better; we make children happy. We have a mission: to deliver toys to the town on the other side of the mountain. But I’m not motivated to keep making that climb, over and over, when I think there might be better ways to deliver that fit who we are more appropriately. Did anyone think about the tracks?”

“The tracks were just there,” said the giraffe, who spoke up because he always had an easy time getting a bird’s eye view, “and based on a cursory inspection they do not appear to be broken.”

“It’s not a matter of being broken or not. It works, but I’m wearing out quickly. I don’t get to see my children much, and when I do, I’m so exhausted I fall asleep before we’re done eating our KFC. I really want to do what we do, but I don’t have a high value for our traditional methodology.”

“How else could we do it?” said the CEO.

“The first two options I see are blasting a tunnel through the mountain or building a track that goes around it. Then we could consider getting a ship and sailing around to the east, or flying some of the goods in by air. Some of those methods will cost more, some will take longer, but just getting it done isn’t going to work. We need to look at other values besides just doing it this way. In this case, there isn’t a right way to do it, just different ones.”
So they wrote it out:

Vision, or how the world will change if we succeed: Kids will play and grow!

Mission: What we are doing now: Getting toys and fruit to children.

 Values: How we do it and why we do it the way we do it. Where the train tracks go and why they go there.

“We have not thought about these very carefully before,” said the CEO, who felt his suspenders had broken and his pants were falling down, because they were. Hee, hee.

And that is when they called a coach to help them talk it over. The Beginning.

Thailand, 2016, Poem #2

A bricklayer on his scaffold

Drops a plumb line from the topmost brick

To set it just, just so. If it is straight

His wall will stand and stand.

 

A poet drops a plumb line from her head to heart to find her voice

Setting her words just, just so. When it rings true

The culture she builds will stand, and stand

And stand.

 

Can I coach my employee or not?

The question comes up all the time: If I can’t have an agenda for someone I’m coaching, can I ever truly coach people inside my organization, or not?

If the individual’s values are in alignment with the organization’s values and goals, then yes, a supervisor can coach anyone on issues related to strategies and tactics. The organization’s preferred strategies or tactics may not work for that person. Scrap them on an individual level if you’re both headed the same place with the same values. Coaching builds leaders internally and if you build leaders through their tasks, they’ll be grateful for the opportunity.

If the coaching goal revolves around issues where the individual and the organization are not aligned in terms of values or goals, then a third-party coach is better. The person who needs coached may find they also need to move on. Better to figure it out for themselves and make a shift to an organization where their values line up, than to hang on way too long, get burned out, frustrated, sabotage with complaining or other bad attitudes, and end up needing to be fired!

Know the difference between values and strategies/tactics, and you’ll know whom you can coach.