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Whether you are winding down for vacation or running at full speed wondering how you’ll ever make it to vacation, I hope you find inspiration in the following stories and resources.


The Importance of Relationships

“Getting a job is all about who you know.” I’ve always interpreted this phrase as a bit “schmoozy” – working a room, leveraging your connections to sweet talk your way into a role you may not deserve. I’ve recently been given a whole new perspective on this expression, courtesy of three separate youth-related events I facilitated in the same week. A similar thread wove through each one, related to the importance of relationships in helping youth secure employment. One conversation included this observation, from an articulate young woman who has recently “aged out” of the child welfare system:
 
If I take out of my network all the people who are a bad influence on me, then all the people who are in ‘the system’ and don’t have any more contacts than I do, then all the people who are paid to give me support, I honestly have no one left...I don’t need any more resume-writing workshops. What I need is stuff to put on my resume. Actually, what I really need is someone to hand that resume to!”
 
She took my breath away. Her comment reminded me how grateful I am to have each of you in my circle. Our professional relationships and networks are a gift and a privilege that I don’t take for granted.
 


Strategic Planning Workshop Series for EDs and Board Chairs

This fall I’ll be leading a three-part series of workshops on strategic planning in partnership with The Guelph Community Foundation and The People and Information Network (PIN).
 
The workshops are designed for Executive Directors and Board Chairs to attend together. They provide a practical, “road tested” planning template for each of the three phases of strategic planning. During each three-hour session, participants will work through these tools interactively, making tailored progress toward their own situation. Think of it as affordable small group coaching, suitable to whatever stage of the planning cycle you’re in. Get these on your calendar before heading away for summer vacation!
 
Click on the links below to learn more about each workshop and to register for one, two or all three:

If you’re not near Guelph and are interested in running a similar series of workshops in your community, I’d welcome talking to you about that possibility.
 


 

Summer Reading

Looking for some summer reading suggestions? Here are three work-related reads that I found useful recently:
 
Stories for Work
The essential guide to business storytelling
By Gabrielle Dolan
 
This book explains why we all love a good story, then coaches readers how to develop and use memorable stories in a variety of professional contexts. It’s full of practical scenarios and examples that are useful even for those of us who think we already know how to tell a fine tale.
 
The Social Association
5 key skills not-for-profits need to increase member engagement, generate ROI and create a thriving online community
By Mel Kettle
 
Even if you don’t run a membership-based association, this resource has useful tips for using social media effectively to build relationships with whoever is in your tribe.
 
Hug Your Haters
How to embrace your complaints and keep your customers
By Jay Baer
 
This book is a quick read, but a good reminder not to ignore customer complaints, but to respond in ways that turn haters into ambassadors for your brand.

 


An Example of a Memorable Moment 

In a previous newsletter, I mentioned Chip and Dan Heath’s book, The Power of Moments. This week, my colleague Julie Huffaker of Deeper Funner shared a lovely example of her business coach creating a memorable moment for her, and I have her permission to share the story with you. They’d explored together the metaphor of “bushwhacking new neural pathways” during one of their sessions, and she had been letting that image percolate for a few days. Then she arrived home to find that a package had arrived in the mail. It contained a machete (!), from her coach, Erek Ostrowski, with an encouraging note to keep up her explorations. Julie explains it this way:
 
“Erek and I explored the metaphor of creating new pathways, and I immediately thought of forest trails. He asked a number of provocative questions, including about how new trails come into being. ‘Bushwhacking’ was part of my answer. We then talked about what tools and supports help you stay with bushwhacking, coming back to it and making progress, when it's by nature slow, arduous, unclear, experimental, hot, sweaty, full of brambles and prickly bite-y things... and there's a lovely well-worn trail just down the way. He encouraged me to think about what structures and tools would support new trail-making.

And then the machete appeared. The note: "Here's a little structure to remind you what you're working on!"

How’s that for customer service?!
 



Taking Advantage of Unexpected Opportunities

Last summer, my then-almost-thirteen-year-old son Jonah attended a week-long music camp. Due to a timetable conflict, he was moved up to play in the senior orchestra. At the end of the week, his conductor happened to mention that he was short of cellists for his home orchestra’s upcoming European tour. Jonah approached him afterwards and inquired if he might be considered for that trip, even though he wasn’t even “supposed to be” in the senior orchestra yet. The conductor graciously invited him along, and he’s been busking, performing, selling smoothies and cutting lawns to raise money ever since. Now here we are just 10 days away from Jonah’s departure, first for Montreal and then for Salzburg, Vienna, Prague and Munich. Not only that, but his parents, one sister and both grandmas are joining in the adventure!

It was a scheduling glitch that got Jonah in the door. But it was his willingness to inquire further, his confidence that he could belong, and his persistence over many months that have made it possible for him to embark on this unforgettable experience.

Perhaps there is an opportunity circling just on the periphery of your attention right now. What might it mean for you to look it square in the face, accept it as being for you, and do what it takes to make it happen? I’d love to hear your stories of doing just that over the summer.

Or, if lounging on a dock is more your style, I hope you are energized by that too.

I plan to do both.

 

 
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