Sunday, September 23, 2007

Leadership Legacies: "The Starbucks Experience"

Along with personal life legacies, I enjoy learning about the leadership legacies of individuals in organizations as well as the legacies of organizations themselves. My interest in organizational legacies (and love of great coffee) lead me to the book, "The Starbucks Experience" by Joseph A. Michelli.

While I most often go to my locally-owned coffee shops (Barry's Deli is my favorite), whenever I'm traveling, I'm glad there's usually a Starbucks nearby to provide my morning cup of coffee. I've always had good experiences at the Starbucks I've visited and appreciated reading about their "secrets of success" in Michelli's book.

Starbucks "5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary" include:

1. Make It Your Own
2. Everything Matters
3. Surprise and Delight
4. Embrace Resistance
5. Leave Your Mark

These principles can be applied in most any organization or business in my view. "Make It Your Own" brings the talents and unique personality of every employee to life in the workplace. I'm sure that if all the businesses I've worked for over the years would have diligently practiced "Everything Matters", the business world would be very different today (and the Enron meltdown wouldn't have happened).

"Surprise and Delight" inspires creativity and real caring about individual customers and fellow employees. No doubt, the political arena (and occupants of the White House) would be transformed by practicing "Embrace Resistance." And "Leave Your Mark" is all about the legacy every organization and individual leaves for future generations of people living on planet Earth.

Leaders at Starbucks have also provided a structure for employees ("partners") which they call the "Five Ways of Being":

  • Be welcoming
  • Be genuine
  • Be considerate
  • Be knowledgeable
  • Be involved
This structure encourages people to be creative (no "scripted" approach to customer service) and to bring their own personality into providing service to customers. To reinforce the concept of "Five Ways of Being", Starbucks gives their partners a pamphlet called the Green Apron Book which offers ideas on how to personalize relationships with customers.

Michelli's book is an enjoyable read even if you have little interest in business management or organizational legacies. It is filled with heart-warming stories about ways Starbucks partners have surprised and delighted customers (and each other). I was especially touched by the story of a store partner who shared her $87 million lottery winnings equally with everyone on her team (they had contributed $1 each to the ticket she bought).

If you only read one business book this year (or ever), I highly recommend "The Starbucks Experience". Take it along to read at your favorite coffee shop. And you may want to give the "Five Ways of Being" a try at your workplace ... or wherever you are in your life.
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Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Professor's Ethical Will: His "Last Lecture"

In last Thursday's Wall Street Journal (Sept. 20, 2007), Jeffrey Zaslow wrote an interesting (and touching) story he titled, "A Beloved Professor Delivers The Lecture of a Lifetime." It was about a 46-year old professor's "last lecture" to 400 colleagues and students (he has pancreatic cancer and is expected to live a few months).

Zaslow notes that a number of colleges have started "Last Lecture Series" in which top professors are "asked to think deeply about what matters to them and to give hypothetical final talks." He says the question for audiences to consider is:

"What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance?"

Sounds like one of the essential questions we address in crafting an ethical will. I find it encouraging that such questions are being asked on college campuses and that professors are sharing their personal life legacies with their students. Perhaps, it will inspire young people (and older adults) to begin considering their life legacies at an earlier age. It may bring about important changes in their lives as well as have an impact on future generations of people who inhabit this beautiful world.

Professor Pausch used images on a large screen as he talked about his life which Zaslow described as a "rollicking and riveting journey through the lessons of his life". Here's a link to the story which contains a video essay by the Jeff Zaslow about Professor Randy Pausch's last lecture:

The article is well-worth the 5-minutes (or less) it will take you to read it.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Life Lessons: Who will care for you?

Most people don't think about who will care for them if their health is compromised by illness, accident, or a degenerative disease. I certainly didn't -- not until my heart gave me a "wake-up call" nearly ten years ago. Since then, I've learned more about healthcare and how people are cared for in America than I ever really wanted to know.

Reading Gail Sheehy's story "Why We Must Help Caregivers" in Parade magazine this month reminded me of an op-ed I wrote nearly three years ago on the subject. From what Sheehy had to say about how little has changed since then to support family caregivers, I thought my "old" words bear repeating today.

"Every day in our community, family members are providing many hours of essential care to loved ones who are chronically ill, disabled, or elderly. All too often, they are doing this difficult, emotionally and physically draining work alone.

Even when these family caregivers – most of whom are women who also work outside the home – get some help from their children, friends, or neighbors, the care demands can be relentless. Day after day, their loved ones need dressing, toileting, feeding, medication assistance, doctor visits, and much more when Alzheimer’s and other dementias are involved.

Most people don’t know -- and our politicians in Washington D.C. rarely acknowledge -- that family caregivers provide nearly 87% of all homecare services in the U.S. That amounts to over $350 billion worth of “free” caregiving services each year – more than was spent on all of Medicare in 2002 – according to the National Alliance for Caregiving.

Today, over 44.5 million adults in America are doing caregiving for a family member, 27 million of whom provide at least 20 hours of care each week according to an AARP study.

Over 66% of the care needs of the elderly are provided solely by family members.

By the year 2030, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that 20% of our population will be over 65 years of age, resulting in a total elderly population of more than 70 million people – representing a 102% increase from the year 2003.

Considering that the fastest growing segment of our population is people over 85 years of age – one-half of whom require help with personal care – even more of the responsibilities for caregiving in the future will fall to family members.

What this means for all Americans is that caregiving concerns have moved from being a private family situation to a societal issue. There is a strong connection between the difficulties families are having with meeting caregiving needs of their loved ones and the fact that our healthcare system was never set up to help people live at home with chronic health conditions.

It has been said that there are four kinds of people in the world – those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers. None of us will be excluded.

So what does this mean for residents of Lane County? Most importantly, to realize that there is a large and growing need for community support of the many family caregivers in our midst. Family caregiving is an issue for all of us!

If you haven’t already done so, it is time to begin conversations with friends and colleagues about eldercare experiences in their families. You may be surprised at how many people have been touched by caring for family members and how deeply caring for loved ones affects their daily lives.

It is time to educate yourself about issues involved in caregiving for the elderly and the health risks it places on family caregivers. A great place to start is the website:

You can begin learning about the financial impact eldercare may have on your own family in the future and explore long-term care insurance options available. Medicare does not currently pay for in-home care (and is unlikely to do so in the future) so families shoulder the full financial burden of costs for caring for elders living at home.

You can start familiarizing yourself with local resources for eldercare and senior services. Take a look at Lane County’s many resources at: as well as Call the care providers and get information to help with your planning for family caregiving.

Not to be forgotten, it is time to reach out to family caregivers who live next door or across the street – either by yourself or with your family, friends, or members of your church.

Typically, family caregivers have difficulty asking for help. You can make it easier for them to both ask for and accept help by offering to do something very specific and non-threatening. Offer a ride to church, to bring a dinner once a week, rake the lawn, shop for groceries, or provide some respite time for the caregiver to take a break for themselves. Make a commitment the family caregiver can count on. Set a time and show up to share the care.

Just a little bit of help can make a big difference to someone in your neighborhood. Don’t wait for the holiday season. Give a caregiving family a gift of recognition and thanks for the heroic work they’re doing each day for their loved ones."

LOCAL NOTE: Partners to Improve End-of-Life Care will soon publish a brochure "If Someone You Love Is Seriously Ill ..." with information and resources for family caregivers. It will be distributed to medical offices and other healthcare locations throughout Lane County. Ask for a copy at your doctor's office or request the brochure via e-mail at:
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