Friday Randomness, Vol. 61

Discover Sendline

Everyone does a year in review it seems these days. Spotify. Strava, I discovered. Every single email list to which you’re subscribed. To that end, I’m sorry for what I’m about to write. As I try to do every week, though, I’ll keep this short and sweet.

Here then are the highlights, in case you missed them. The posts, in looking back myself or that I recall even when writing them, I feel now are worth repeating. In no particular order, these are five of my favorites.

Friday Randomness, Vol. 43… A reminder to myself not to make assumptions.

Friday Randomness, Vol. 60… Taking the time to handwrite something makes all the difference.

Friday Randomness, Vol. 25… Simplifying what I say, and telling stories, is the surest way for me to influence others.

Friday Randomness, Vol. 52… Caring about people is all that matters.

Friday Randomness, Vol. 39… There’s rarely a time I need to use the word ‘just.’

Of course, it would seem that if I’m saying these are the ones that stand out for me, the others don’t for some reason or another. That’s not entirely true. If you’ve missed any random randomnesses, they’re all up on our Journal.

With that, out with the old and in with the new. Here’s to what we can glean, both positive and not, from 2020. Cheers to new beginnings!

Friday Randomness, Vol. 60

Handwritten notes

Happy Christmas! Here’s to a time of year to celebrate, to spend with family, and to think about the (adjectives fail me at the moment, so insert your own here) year that was 2020, now in the rearview. To listen to holiday music, like Leslie Odom, Jr. singing Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria. In Latin, even.

It’s also the time of year for Christmas cards. As we looked through our lineup along windowsills, something struck Katie and me. Of all our cards, we noticed only two included any sort of actual handwriting. Of those two, only one was a personal, handwritten note.

Why am I bringing this up? It’s the thought that counts, right? Absolutely.

This made me think, though, of my little box I keep of things from my fifteen-plus years at REI. Yes, it’s a little box. There are only a handful of things I’ve kept, after all. The email from my boss Mike. A hilarious card one of my guys made me after I ordered a Christmas gift for K from Two notes, one from Sally Jewell when she was still CEO and one from Matt Hyde when he was our Marketing Sr. VP. The reason I kept them?

They were handwritten.

Both Sally and Matt, all those years ago, carved out a few minutes from their no-doubt crazy-busy schedules, grabbed a pen, and wrote something personal to me in each of them. Almost ten years later, I still have them both. Yes, the thought counts. What counts, even more I remind myself, is taking a little extra time to write something by hand.

Friday Randomness, Vol. 59

Beethoven music

Happy 250th birthday, Beethoven! Well, technically as best we’ve nailed it down, his birthday was on Wednesday. It’s kind of a big deal, this year. Just Google ‘Beethoven 250’…

I could write a book about Beethoven. I’ve already written a term paper, for which I got a better grade than our class valedictorian. Just saying. If I couldn’t beat him at calculus, I could beat the guy at waxing poetic over Beethoven’s enormous Ninth Symphony.

Why this randomness? Well, certainly not all of these have really had to do with leadership, or with managing teams, or business in general. There’s more to life than work, after all. Beethoven, however, can definitely apply to that first one. When I’m pressed to define what leadership is for me, it always comes down to some form of inspiration. Someone who inspires me is a leader.

Beethoven, then, just… Yeah. He had the edge of speaking in what I think of as the universal language: Music. In this age of divisiveness, of hostility, of rancor, I’m pressed to find common ground. A universal one? Yep, music. And no matter anyone’s beliefs, or their values, or their perspectives, it’s tough not to give Beethoven even a little credit for writing music that two-hundred and fifteen years later we’re still performing, still listening to, still being blown away by.

Still being inspired by.

For those who subscribe to the New York Times, they put together a really great list of his music. If you want this guy’s recommendation for the best 8 minutes of Beethoven… Grab some headphones, turn up the volume all the way, close your eyes and absorb the second movement of his Seventh Symphony as conducted by Carlos Kleiber.

Friday Randomness, Vol. 58

The Wenatchee foothills

This week, I was talking to Jessica from the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust. They’re our local 1% For The Planet donor, after all. She called to thank me for our #givingtuesday donation and answer any questions. In our conversation, she shared with me some of the history around the trail network that the CDLT has been able to develop throughout the Wenatchee foothills. 

During her telling of the story, she mentioned how difficult it was initially to bring together all the various land owners who owned property where there are now trails. How folks back then had said it would be impossible to get everyone to agree, to come together and see the value of a local trail network. The proposed trails would cross all sorts of private property, from orchards to farms to rolling sage-covered hillsides.

Always, with change comes some fear.

Listening to Jessica, I thought of a question: What was the thing that led to their success in ultimately creating what is now the foothills trail system? Her reply brought a smile to my face. ‘Taking the time,’ she explained, ‘to build trust and relationships.’

Yep. I smiled because I had learned the value of that lesson years ago when I was the guy wanting to bring in a new line of business to REI. It made total sense to me and was a win-win for everyone. Why didn’t they all see it that way!? Over time and after doing a lot of reflection on that effort, I realized how much better my chances of success were if I took the time to, as Jessica shared, build relationships and trust. That meant I had to start prioritizing the little stuff. Like making time to just grab a coffee and catch up, or asking someone how their family was doing or about the vacation they just came back from and were still glowing over. In a lot of ways, the cool stuff.

Jessica’s answer was a good reminder it’s not just me. That the patience and acceptance of taking the time to get to know others is the way to go.

Friday Randomness, Vol. 57

Cannon in Gettysburg National Military Park

My first photographic effort, circa a long time ago…

To relax, sometimes K indulges in the guilty pleasure of browsing Bored Panda. This week, she came across something that piqued her interest: Rejection-Sensitivity Disorder. It’s funny that a lot of the signs are, well, traits of being an introvert. Maybe the only differentiation is in the use of the word extreme, as in it can cause ‘extreme emotional sensitivity and pain triggered by a perception that a person has been rejected or criticized by people they care about.’

Reading through the Twitter feed explaining the disorder, the part that caught my attention was this:

Your interest in it (a thing you enjoy doing) drops like a stone, you don’t want to be a part (of it) anymore. You want to go home, by yourself and hide.

Yep, that’s definitely introversion. It makes me think of a time I was, I think, thirteen. Our family was on a weeklong holiday from Saint Louis to visit Washington DC. We stopped at all the historic sights along the way, including Gettysburg. Driving through the park, me riding front and center in our six-seater Buick, a cannon along the side of the road caught my eye. I was a little too timid to speak up immediately. I waited a bit before asking if we could pull over so I could take a photo. Once stopped, I walked what seemed a long way thirty-or-so years ago now, but in reality, likely wasn’t much more than a quarter of a mile. I found the particular cannon I had spotted, framed it with my little Kodak point-and-shoot, and etched the image onto some color film.

Then walked back to the car, proud of the photograph I had taken, enjoying the moment.

When I reached the car, everyone had spilled out of it and was clearly exasperated. I don’t remember what was said, and I’d likely embellish it to save face at this point. I do vividly recall climbing back into the front seat, squeezing over to the center, and fuming. I muttered (or more loudly than I’m remembering) under my breath how I just wanted to go home, by myself, and be with our new cat. I didn’t want to be in that stupid Buick, or with my grumpy family.

I’m definitely introverted. I’m not sure I’d diagnose myself with Rejection-Sensitivity Disorder, but the similarities are striking. If you’re also introverted, or even if you’re not, you may find it interesting.