Archive for July, 2014

Management Lessons from a T-Ball Game

Baseball glove

Last night I attended a T-Ball game for a group of beginning baseball players.  The difference in this game was, since it was the last game of the year, they were playing without the “T”.  Yep, they had an actual pitch coming at them and they had to swing.  Just like the big kids.  It made me think how some businesses could learn from watching T-Ball.

  • Practice. The kids learn about catching and batting. They learn how to hold the bat, about their new mitts, and wearing helmets for protection. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all got thorough lessons on not just how to do things, but why things are done a certain way? Then actually give employees ample opportunity to carry out these lessons with guidance.
  • Training. Before the game the coaches went over a few things on hitting a moving ball. I know someone who recently accepted a very high-dollar sales job. His training? Here’s your cube, a phone, and your list…have at it. Wow, that’s some training program. Just think how productive a new hire could be there with a little training.
  • Praise. When those kids actually made contact with a pitch, everyone cheered. All the coaches, parents, the whole crowd whooped and clapped, no matter which team they were there to support. Imagine if someone made a sale or closed a deal and co-workers/supervisors freely gave out attaboys. Wouldn’t that make employees more likely to succeed?
  • Coaching and Teaching. Sometimes it takes a few swings to make contact. Maybe some just can’t hit that ball. At least not in the first game. Perhaps they don’t hit in the second or even third game. But they’re coached to keep trying and taught the mechanics of the game so they want to continue. What a concept! Anyone who’s worked in sales knows that it’s a numbers game. You have to make X calls to achieve Y sales. Simple math, yes, but are you getting the necessary coaching when you don’t close the deal?

If you get the opportunity to attend a T-ball game, I highly recommend it.  And to those of you in supervisory or training positions, have patience.  People learn in different ways at different paces.  You just have to individualize a bit to maximize your employees.    But if they make contact with the ball, cheer loud.  No matter whose team you’re on.

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Great Gifts Needn’t Be Overly Expensive

Queen Copper Rose (picture from LaForge Weapons on Etsy)

Queen Copper Rose (picture from LaForge Weapons on Etsy)

Have you ever received a unique gift?  The Hub and I have a pretty low budget for gift buying…at this point in our lives we don’t need a lot of stuff.  And if there’s something we really want, we buy it.  So when holidays roll around that involve giving a present, a low limit forces some creativity.  Not that we don’t splurge a bit now and then, but for the most part we stick to it.

As one of the thousands of couples who married on 07/07/07, this year we celebrated our 7th anniversary.  I got him the ever-practical golf balls and a DVD of one of our favorite movies accompanied by a personally made card.  Stayed under budget, a little romantic, but overall no-nonsense just like him.  Good.

Now, the Hub has gotten pretty creative at finding little things on the internet that fit the criteria, but this year he really outdid himself.  When I opened the card he made me, I found a shiny 2007 penny taped inside.  Aw, adorable, right?  He said he was lucky, like a lucky penny I figured, loved it.  But then he told me that the seventh anniversary is the copper anniversary, hence the penny.  Hmm, interesting.  And then I opened my gift.  I felt the tears well up in my eyes as I removed a beautiful pure copper rose that was hand-made just for me.  The details were unbelievable, right down to the leaves and tiny thorns.  Curses, out-romanced by my better half yet again.

He told me I’d have to go on Etsy and give a review to LaForge Weapons where he had it crafted.  Etsy?  How does he even know what that is?  I’m tellin’ ya, people, the Hub is always full of surprises.  But one thing is for sure, great gifts do not have to be expensive gifts.  I’ll cherish that copper rose forever, and I’ll never forget the story that goes along with it.

OMG, I Joined a Gym

Weights

I know, I know, I said I would never do it.  But I joined a gym.  It’s really the Caboose’s fault if you want to know the truth.  She had to join a gym when we moved because there was no YMCA here.  When the letter came in the mail offering a free month at Anytime Fitness for both of us, she knew she had me.

I was pretty agreeable about the idea.  Actually, I was excited to get back to doing something good for me.  I spent the last seven years as a runner, training from one race to the other.  My weight fluctuated with my efforts, but my legs held up for the most part.  I’ll admit it, whenever I ran past one of those little boxes of fitness, I felt somewhat smug.  After all, I was really exercising, I was running. They were chatting and watching TV on treadmills.  Yawn.

But then we started getting into a routine at our gym.  It was fun that we got to do it together, and the Caboose was a patient trainer in teaching me new stuff.  And we discovered Zumba!  Thankfully there are no mirrors in the classroom.  Let’s just say I am less than coordinated and leave it at that.  But we had a blast and laughed a ton.  Surely that was extra good for abs, right?

And then the free month began to come to a close.  With just a few days left the reality set in.  I was loving this, and now it was almost done.  Then the light bulb went off…insurance, they’ll pay over half my fee!  I can still go to Anytime anytime I want and attend any class I want for less than five bucks a week.  Now that is a deal I’m glad I took.  And I would recommend them…Anytime!

Happy Birthday, America!

Fireworks Show

Ah, Fourth of July weekend, the magical time of summer.  The kids are running around trying to squeeze all of their technology into their bags before leaving town.  I’m cooking and baking like a madman to get ready for a four day weekend.  Dad’s polishing up his golf clubs.  And the dog is just trying to maintain his composure through all the ruckus.

FW 2

 

 

Now, I’m not going to lecture you about what the holiday should really mean or what you should include in your celebrations.  To me that is a kind of personal thing.  Yes, it’s the celebration of our country, her birthday if you will.  But I think it’s about a lot more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FW 3

 

During this time I like to think about my past Fourths.  I remember back to summers at my grandma’s in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the U.P. (or “Da Yoop” if you’re local).  We’d pile into the car or box of a truck to go watch the fireworks show.  We ran in crazy trajectories around the yard with sparklers or watched snakes curling on the sidewalk, leaving an unfortunate black stain on the concrete when they finally sputtered to a stop.  We ate hot dogs and chips, and if we were good, ice cream cones at night.  It was simple.  It was fun.

 

 

FW 4

Life seems more complicated these days.  I don’t think people take enough time away from electronics to just be in the moment.  I’m afraid life’s passing my children by sometimes, unbeknownst to them.  So this year my only request for how you celebrate is to be present.  Whatever you’re doing, whomever you’re with, focus on being there.  Eat some ice cream.  Light a sparkler.  And don’t forget to ooh and ahh over the fireworks, they really can be impressive.

Happy Independence Day!