Hello in there.
It happened right around this time four years ago. I remember it like it was four minutes ago.
Dad had Stage IV pancreatic cancer, but Dad was also a farmer with a harvest to finish. One did not go well with the other, but still, the work needed done.
And so, the neighbors came. Just west of the house that built me saw combine after combine after combine after combine and the many hearts and hands making light work of a dark situation.
We lost Dad a few weeks later (though not before he got to see his Cubs win the World Series), but we will always have those memories of neighbors helping neighbors… of selflessness… of kindness and courtesy.
I tell you this as I type from bed… recovering from a downright debilitating case of Covid that thwacked both my wife and me pretty good. Thankfully, it missed our kids, and she is doing much better. So am I (20 days later), but the post-fever fatigue has been almost more than I can bear.
Because I, too, have been blessed by kind, selfless helpers and heroes.
They have names like Kate and Johnny and Kallie and Mike and Ryan, and they are the people on our team who repeatedly said “I got this.”
Clients, too, and family and friends and, of course, neighbors… praying and loving on us when we didn’t feel very lovable.
I tell you these two stories because I bet you know stories just like these.
Why aren’t we sharing more of them?
Our feeds are cluttered with anger and fury-fueled internet in its ALL-CAPS, ALWAYS-RIGHT, OVER-SIMPLIFIED, PORLY-SPELLED COMMENTARY.
Some of those farmers weren’t my Dad’s best friends, but they were his neighbors, and I just can’t help but think if we care for each other as we might our neighbors, we might not only survive these goat rodeo times but thrive.
One act of kindness, one helpful neighbor, one “I got this,” and one giving of thanks at a time.
Being Good Company
Between sleeping and Covid coughing fits, I’ve been reading an extremely meaningful new book from Seth Godin called The Practice.
(I’ll go ahead and mention now that I will not be using affiliate links with you. Ever. If I recommend something, it’s because I think you’ll like it, not because there’s anything in it for me.)
I recognize, for marketers, it’s almost cliche to quote Godin given how much good stuff he’s written and produced over the years, but this new book—essentially about shipping work with your unique voice that helps others—is special.
As a chronic sufferer of Imposter Syndrome, I read a particular passage I wanted to share with you. It’s about how, when you do your best, unique, important work, not everyone’s going to like (or even get) it.
And that’s okay.
You’ve maybe heard of “God Wink” moments? Little cosmic coincidences that keep you going or turn you in a different direction?
Well, I prefer to call passages like these “God Shovel” moments: big whacks upside the head that reach down into the depths of your soul and say, “HEY! I GAVE YOU THESE GIFTS AND TALENTS! USE THEM TO HELP OTHERS!”
According to my Kindle, I’m 72% finished with The Practice. And I’ve given you several links here to purchase it yourself, but I thought I would go ahead (I don’t believe Godin would mind) and share my Kindle highlights from the book. At least, I think I’m properly sharing them with you. If it doesn’t work, please let me know. But buy the book, and also by the time you’re ten pages in, you’ll think of someone you know who will love it. Buy it for her, too.
Keeping Good Company
You try having a fever for 13 straight days and not having some strange thoughts… though much of social and mainstream media seem to shout how all hope is nearly lost, I kept seeing too much evidence to the contrary, and when I saw these patterns emerge, I’d use the little Drafts app on my phone and type up some notes about the common characteristics of Good Companies.
The first you’ve already seen in the three engagements: personal, internal, and external, and I wanted to share a couple others this week and see if you agree.
Good companies have one golden rule: Do well by doing good.
Good companies have two callings: A call to kindness and a call to professionalism. We’ll elaborate on these another day.
As you’ve already read, good companies have three engagements.
And, as I see it, good companies have four commitments. Together, these four singular commitments comprise our community’s covenant: The Good Company Commitment. All four are simple; it doesn’t mean they’re easy.
Commitment To People
We commit to model the behavior we want to see in others. We will treat the drive-thru worker with the same level of respect we use for the CEO. We will listen with affection and respond thoughtfully and carefully. We shall, as Stephen Covey, says: Seek first to understand. Our default position will be to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and approach every interaction as an opportunity to learn something new—even be proven wrong. We will live our lives with curiosity, awe, and wonder in knowing there’s infinitely more good in the world than bad even if the bad gets more than its unfair share of headlines. Life’s far too short to waste it worrying and scurrying and wailing about things outside our control.
Again, we’ll elaborate on the other three commitments another day, but they are:
2. Commitment To Employees
3. Commitment To Customers
4. Commitment To Communities
Making Good Company
As noted, when you have a great team and great customers, it doesn’t feel much like work. This past week, we came up with a new marketing idea for one of our clients, and I have her permission to share it and its context with you.
Perhaps you’ve heard, but there are some folks who feel that 2020 has been something of a dumpster fire. But hopefully, like our team and our client, you also may have heard that you get to choose how things affect you.
We believe there are many reasons to be optimistic about 2021, and we also believe our company does more than a few things well that give us the confidence to be optimistic. And we know we’re not alone.
Enter our client, Custom Powder Systems, a dry-powder storage custom sheet metal manufacturer specializing in containment for wide and varied (and really cool) industries. They built a glove box for NASA to safely handle moon rocks.
Anyway, even though we are a containment company, we’re in the relationship business. In fact, I believe there’s no such thing as B-2-B. It’s real, live humans in one of those Bs doing business with real, live humans in another one of those Bs.
Guess what? They’re optimistic about 2021, too!
So, we will have a new content marketing feature starting in December (we are still brainstorming its title) asking two simple questions of Custom Powder Systems’ clients, and we’ll promote them on LinkedIn and via email marketing.
What are the questions? Well, let me share my client’s answers to them:
That was my friend and client of ten years, Denise McIntosh, CEO of Custom Powder Systems, host of The Art of Engineering podcast, and owner of perhaps the coolest bell in the manufacturing industry.
And that new feature is something we call a Contentpole. Don’t bother googling it. You won’t find it. We made it up, but it’s the right term and the solution to one of three reasons most companies say they tried social media and it didn’t work.
More on Contentpoles and those reasons another time, but we have happy clients with happy customers in happy communities who actually enjoy our content marketing… and jaw-dropping numbers to show its success.
Like I said, it’s fun being and working with good companies. Time to make the turn…
The Back Nine
1. My sister Lynn wrote this a few years, one Master’s Degree from Notre Dame, and one grandchild ago, but it’s no less awesome today as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving here in the US. Here are 50 Ways To Give Thanks.
2. Speaking of happiness and gratitude, Shawn Achor’s TEDx talk about the science of happiness is quirky, funny, and extraordinary. I highly recommend watching it this week.
3. I know our kids are socially distancing, but some kids are nearly always socially distant. Yes, it’s great when our kids win awards or trophies, but what if we focused on teaching our kids to be the ones who go sit by the kid who sits alone?
4. Our local radio station has a Bible study group cleverly titled “The World’s Largest Small Group.” This week’s email is part of a series led by Mark Hall of Casting Crowns, and it’s called “Listen More Than We Talk.”
5. I’ve never struggled with fatigue the way I’ve struggled this week. I’m still typing this in bed, but there are several other types of fatigue you may be experiencing—as a healthcare worker, as a schoolteacher, as a family business owner—but this article struck me as unusual and appropriate. Read about how to rise above compassion fatigue.
7. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m a sucker for Blue Bloods on CBS… while I’ve been recovering I binge-watched seasons 7 and 8, and if you know the show at all, you know it’s literally and figuratively set around the family dinner table. There’s grace and discussion and it’s a delightfully comforting trope in these uncertain times. That’s why I was surprised when they had such an unpredictable family tradition: What did you fail at this week?
8. For all my friends in marketing, here’s my Thanksgiving gift to you: McSweeney’s and author Joe Moore give you Notes for the Graphic Designer of the American One Dollar Bill.
9. Finally, I wanted to draw your attention to a free webinar happening on Sunday evening (8:00 PM EST) courtesy of a very special school in Montreal. There’s no catch. Sign up. Because Sesame Street is maybe the greatest thing in the history of ever, and one of its writers is Emily Kingsley. She changed the world the day she decided to have Big Bird interview her son about his experiences with Down’s syndrome. You can meet her virtually this Sunday evening. I’ll be there. I hope you will be, too.
Welp, that’s it.
I know it was a lot. I hope you found something or things of value and chucked the rest. I hope you’ll come back next week. In the meantime…
Thanks for being awesome,
Oh, and PS – Speaking of Sesame Street, Jim Henson’s on my professional Mt. Rushmore along with Roy H. Williams, Bob Goff, and Tom Peters… who’s on yours? It reveals more than you know, you know? In fact, it’s one of the 20 questions we ask companies to *really* learn about them. Most people say they’ve never been asked, like, 17 or 18 of them before. Some people think they’re weird. Some people think we’re not very businessy.
Our stuff’s not for non-believers.