Everything we do in life starts as an idea

Every idea asks something of us, and the first thing it often ask us is to be brave.

I love ideas! One of my favourite books is a children’s book called “What do you do with an idea?”.

This story answers that question.

Buckets and Borders was started by our sons Justin and Brendan Lee (complete bias is fully recognized:).

It started as an idea, while they played hoops across too many countries to count.

Like all good ideas they didn’t quite know what to do with it. They could not let go of this truth that basketball was something that could unite people, cultures and countries.

They started to share their idea with others. They gained more insights, played on more courts and the concept morphed again and again, picking up speed as it went.

In 2015 they formally established the organization that is now a registered not-for-profit. They selected their first project: “The Lakeview Project”, transforming (rescuing) an iconic basketball court in Regina called “The Cage “.

The grand opening festival is this Saturday!

I feel so ready for something that unites us rather than divides us. Something that expresses youthful energy, and supports young leaders who are taking action and doing something positive for their community.

The process of transforming ‘The Cage’ could not be a better expression of the Buckets and Borders brand. Bringing people together to create a court that is art in motion. It was built with intentional positive effort, with many hands and many ideas. And when you step on these fantastically coloured courts you feel the irresistible pull of positivity.

The last page of the book, like this story, answers the question –

“What do you do with an idea?

You change the world.”

Get the whole story here: www.bucketsandborders.com

Follow them on Instagram @bucketsandborders

There is no finish line

“Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight is my all – time favourite business memoir. I read it as soon as it came out in 2016.

I have always been a Nike fan right back to university days when the Nike poster of the long distance runner drenched in rain, arms out with the caption “there is no finish line” adorned my residence room at Queen’s. That image spurred on a lot of miles in my waffle trainers.

It is hard to recognize the behemoth of a company that once started in Phil Knight’s trunk. His obsessive passion to find the best shoe for runners was always his fuel.

This is a struggle and emerge tale over and over again. Relentless, eccentric, and far from perfect. Phil Knight doggedly pursued building this company, living most of his life in debt.

In this book you are pulled in and along for the ride, and when you feel like you hit the turning point, that they have made it.  Sales hit 40 million, but there is no sigh of relief, he was on the brink of bankruptcy, again. He talked about how for years each night he would go to bed and his wife would ask “are we going bankrupt?” and he would answer “I don’t know”.

My first business, Starstruck, manufactured a line of women’s clothes that was sold to 320 stores in the US and 120 across Canada. We were miniscule to Nike in every kind of scale, but I identified with the challenge of manufacturing.  It was constant; always this circle of raw goods, works in progress, shipped goods, and the design mill constantly turning with new ideas for the upcoming season. Sometimes it was a roller coaster and sometimes it was like a Ferris wheel, and you wondered when the music stopped would you be at the apex of the Ferris wheel enjoying the view or being invited to get off the ride?! I loved reliving those thrills and imagining that kind of scale.

It is not a perfect tale, the best never are.  Mistakes were made, relationships were fortified and broken, many of which he is still haunted by.

The book is raw, so raw I found myself thinking “do you really think you should say that Phil?” By then we felt like friends, lol.

There was the crisis of sweatshop conditions in their offshore factories. He doesn’t gloss over that. It was a time that shook my own faith in Nike. To their credit they became a leader in factory reform. “We used the crisis to reinvent the entire company. We told ourselves ‘We must do better’.” said Knight. Let’s hope it is, and was enough.

At the end he steps down as chair of the company he founded and walks us through his regrets – time missed with his family, the tragic passing of his son. The wrongs he wished he could have righted.

But he admits that his “secret regret” is “that I can’t do it all over again”.

He goes on to say, “I’d like to share my experience, the ups and downs, so that some young woman or man going through the same trials and ordeals, might be inspired, comforted or warned. Some young entrepreneur, athlete, painter, novelist will press on.”

For Phil Knight there is no finish line, and there is something about that still inspires me (with or without the waffle trainers.)

Great Stories . How to eat fudge

So when a 13-year-old writes a book it gets my attention!

And when it gets published and you can buy it on Amazon and it is called “How to Eat fudge”–  I buy it!

Jelena Jerkovic is honest, open, and vulnerable in a Brené Brown kind of way.

Wise beyond her 13 years, she is navigating the end of grade 8 and the upcoming unknown of high school.

Fudge is an acronym for: Fear, uncertainty, doubt, guilt, expectations. I love this quote from her book:

Eating fudge means mentally digesting and breaking down the bad feelings and flushing the garbage you don’t need out of your system” She talks about how to feel your feelings and advises “the only way to get out of your knot of feelings is to untie them” (yup she is 13!)

The book includes some worksheets and tools and tips to help you when you slip into F.U.D.G.E and it is all written from her 13-year-old perspective using her own life experience. If you know a 13-year-old this might be perfect summer reading!

I know she says it is for kids, and she is a kid…so she should know.

But I think fudge is good at all ages! After reading this you might think fudge has never tasted so good!

*this is not a paid sponsorship I just like to share good stories. I am also a big fan of her Mom Finka Jerkovic who is my friend, mentor, colleague, collaborator and also the author of Sell From Love!

Marketing Lessons from the Second Grade

Rosie was easily the most enthusiastic student in our grade 2 class.

Before our teacher could even finish asking the class a question, Rosie’s hand flew up.

If she wasn’t selected to answer the question right away she got a little frantic and would wildly waive her hand back-and-forth.

If that didn’t work she would try harder.    

Jumping out of her desk and with one hand firmly on the hem of her dress, her pony tail bobbing she would jump up and down all while waving madly in the direction of our teacher.

One day she even stood on the chair of her desk hoping to be impossible to ignore.

Sometimes Rosie didn’t even have the answer she just wanted to be part of the conversation.

Our teacher would dutifully try and involve others but it was hard to ignore Rosie. But after a while, we did. It just seemed normal to have Rosie jumping up and down with every question. In the end Rosie’s approach didn’t work very well.

But she sure taught me a few good marketing lessons.

The first one; if you keep trying so hard to interrupt people they begin to ignore you.

We mute you, we unsubscribe. If you keep popping up on our screen when we are trying to read more about you on your website we “X” out of you, we move on. We truly do not like to be pestered or annoyed, especially if you don’t have something valuable to tell me.

The second lesson is everyone wants to be heard and some just want to part of the conversation.  Are you allowing for that in your marketing for people to just connect?

The essential third lesson: if you are going to jump up and down waving your arms in the air, hold on tight to the hem of your dress so no one can call out “I saw your underpants”.  

These 3 marketing lessons were brought to you by Rosie!

Kind Acts, the value of Constraints and the Art of Propelling Questions

I have a beautiful, big, journal that I bought at the most amazing store called Paper Umbrella.  It’s a local store filled with so many treasures!!! I am inspired every time I go into the shop, not just because they have such an irresistible array of paper goods, sassy cards, and drool-worthy pens, but because the owners Theresa and Brad provide an experience that always lifts my day. They understand community in the purest sense.

All through the pandemic they have held imaginative and kind activities. One of my favourites was “letter love” where they encouraged us to write a letter to a senior in a care home. Brad and Theresa would deliver them to various homes and the notes would find their way to those who needed to know they were being thought of.

When we couldn’t go in their store we could order and have curbside pick-up. Our paper bags always adorned with a personalized note splashed with beautiful calligraphy.

Then there was the “daily dose” a five-minute video every day on something you could craft yourself and you could count on it like clockwork. They showed up to cheer us on and cheer up others. I won’t ever forget that.

Back to my journal….

I keep all my notes for blogging in this journal.  It’s a fab “evening azure ocean blue colour” (Can you tell that I always wished I had a job where I could name colours and paint!)  There is something about being able to sketch out a blog on paper first that appeals to me, and then I translate that using a keyboard.

But today my tried-and-true system is unavailable. I’ve broken my right wrist, so the keyboard and the journal will be getting dusty for the next little while.  This is my very first voice-dictated blog.

I feel a bit like I’m flapping in the wind, in freefall gripping the armchair with my one good hand, reaching out for something that is familiar.

Then again it is 2020! Working within a constraint has become familiar! A broken wrist? No problem just another constraint!

Constraints have been shown to lead to better practises, to the transformation of businesses, and the invention of vaccines! (Which last year we never even knew we needed.)

I admire so deeply the many businesses who have had to change their business model on a dime, and be nimble enough to respond to even the most remote opportunity to rewrite what is possible. These businesses chose to believe in a narrative that taking small steps forward would pay off.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Aimee Schulhauser, owner of two restaurants (Tangerine, Slice), a cooking school (Schoolhause Culinary Arts) and a catering business (Evolution Catering). Infact she opened a new restaurant right at the start of the pandemic! As you can imagine she has been hard hit.

“The fact that we are so nimble really paid off for us”, says Amy. “We were able to respond very quickly to the needs of not only our customer but our community. When we could no longer seat people in our restaurant we thought about how we might be able to help. At that time many grocery items were hard to come by. We opened up a mini-grocery with items like flour and yeast and some fresh fruit. We expanded our takeout with what our customers wanted, which was not our trademark salads. They were looking for mac & cheese and meatloaf! We became very determined to just keep showing up however we were needed.”

We are not in control of the constraints put upon us by this pandemic, but we can control the ambition and inventiveness it can generate in ourselves and in our business. Despite this, not every business story or personal story will end well.  That reality hurts our collective hearts.

So how do we move forward?

I think the first step is accepting the constraint, changing our mindset to remove some of our traditional ways of solving problems, and asking new questions. 

The type of questions you ask yourself can change your direction. Try asking yourself propelling questions. A propelling question is defined by linking together a bold ambition and a considerable constraint. It is a hopeful question challenging us to find the right idea. The practice of asking propelling questions can be used at all levels of business.

Some examples include:

How can I maintain relationships with our customers when our business is closed?

How can we expand our business when we don’t have an advertising budget?

How can I elevate the customer experience and reduce my expenses?

How can we prevent layoffs when our sales have slid?

Asking propelling questions will introduce tension and discomfort and make us examine what we thought we knew. I believe it will also propel us to new solutions.

Like voice dictating a blog. 🙂

 

*this blog is not endorsed or sponsored it is simply an opportunity to cheer on purpose driven brands

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