The thoughts on my mind this month, tucked in nicely just after your Thanksgiving holiday, revolve around how things often tend to work out for our good, why that’s something to be tremendously grateful for, and a caution not to tempt those good fates by heaping your plate too full. So, fateful, grateful, and plate full is our title, and I’m going to start with a story of a recent addition to our team.
We had an intern at the LoCo HQ office this summer, Ethan Lee, and as his term started to wind down, young Alma wondered aloud to me - “are we going to hire anyone to help me after Ethan’s gone?”
“I don’t know - probably,” was my response, and the truth was I had procrastinated on placing an ad or even writing a job description because I wasn’t quite sure who we needed because we needed so many things! I could definitely use another person to help represent LoCo in the community, Alma needed help in the social media and content creation space, and we had a building tension in our brand - what’s the relationship between LoCo Think Tank and The LoCo Experience podcast? Sounds like two or three people - but we’ve been on an intern budget - who am I looking for and where can I find them?!
So, the three of us had a nice lunch for Ethan’s last day, and a few quiet days in the LoCo office with just me and Alma, (she was especially quiet because she was so busy!) and then I got a fateful email from Leah at Larimer County Workforce Development. It seemed that someone who had been job displaced during Covid and done some odd jobs since then had taken a shine to the “Marketing & Administrative Intern” posting we’ve had on file there for years. Leah wondered - are we still looking for help?
Well as a matter of fact…
So, we had a quick call, and then an interview - and 15 minutes into the interview it was obvious that Alisha Jeffers would be a great cultural fit on our team, and it was a done deal. A week into her county-sponsored term it was clear that Alisha was quick to understand, asked great questions and was a capable writer, and soon after she started asking questions about the brand - specifically how are LoCo Think Tank and The LoCo Experience podcast related, and what’s the plan there?...insightful.
And then, we had our first strategic plan check in since March…oops. The plate has been full, we’ve been traveling a lot this summer, all the excuses - but as it turns out, we’ve been steadily making progress on most of the plan items! I’m a leader, not a manager - always true and sometimes obvious, as it was that day. Alisha asked if we might consider doing an exercise that she’s been working out for her side business - and possible future enterprise - Big Picture Creative Consulting. It’s brilliant really, what she’s developing - a way of zooming out to see the big picture, but then zooming in to limit your scope so that you can focus on the day to day. She demonstrated the technique visually on the whiteboard during a team meeting and we were able to see a structure forming for our own Big Picture Strategic Plan for 2023.
It was confirmed for me then that we’d like to keep her on the team well beyond the county-sponsored term, and at the time of this writing it has become official - Alisha Jeffers is the new Marketing Manager at LoCo Think Tank. Watch for more from her in the weeks and months ahead!
Woah, woah, woah - what about Alma? Hasn’t she effectively been the marketing manager until now!? That doesn’t seem fair! Well, I appreciate you defending her - and yes, she has effectively been wearing that hat, and many others, but it didn’t fit super great. As the girls worked together through projects, Alisha demonstrated her comfort with content writing and her skill at visual communication - it became clear to Alma that Alisha could level us up at LoCo HQ in this area - and she was grateful!
When Alma was hired, it was for a marketing intern role, working with a more experienced person and learning on the job - and then Rory left and Alma was right into the frying pan! She didn’t have a chance to learn from a more experienced coworker as she’d hoped. Kudos to her for using the situation to demonstrate her resourcefulness, stepping up and sticking it out! Alisha is now coming alongside Alma to be the kind of manager that collaborates rather than dictates. True to LoCo culture, they’re sharing experiences and expertise that complement each other’s skills. So fear not for Alma - she remains our webmaster, marketing assistant, Producer of The LoCo Experience Podcast, and effectively, our office manager (in part because she’s got memberships for Costco and Sam’s Club, so secures our necessary items like TP and bubble waters!)
Truth be told, as it became apparent that Alisha wanted to stay, and have a more significant role - I did worry about Alma’s response - but I needn’t have. She could have seen the situation from a scarcity mentality - “if we hire Alisha, does that mean it will be longer before I can get another pay raise?” - but instead, saw it from an abundance perspective - “if we hire Alisha, our brand and marketing will be stronger, and as LoCo grows we all prosper!!” Another example of LoCo culture in action: She was grateful instead of hateful, seeing Alisha’s arrival as fateful, because for too long she’d had her plate full! (sorry, I couldn’t resist)
Do you know why Alma could remain comfortable in the face of what might have appeared as a competitive threat? When I asked her about it, she shared her “go with the flow” mentality and her awareness that she is valued, and important to the team. She’s heard me compliment her for being a hard worker with a strong ability to learn and demonstrated character, and our only digital native and the best figure-it-out person on the team for many challenges! And she knows she is loved and created for a purpose - loved by me and the team, loved by her family, her church and friends, and her fiance - (Alma’s getting married in December!) - and loved by her God.
Fateful is an interesting term, and as I wander toward the meaty part of this blog, I thought it might be interesting to look it up - and I almost wish I hadn’t! To be clear upfront, I was using the third definition of fateful for my title and narrative so far, didn’t realize it was such a gloomy term generally:
1: having a quality of ominous prophecy
a fateful remark
2a: involving momentous consequences : DECISIVE
made his fateful decision to declare war
b: DEADLY, CATASTROPHIC
3: controlled by fate : FOREORDAINED
So yeah, my focus is not so much the ominous prophecy one, and though impactful perhaps not momentous, and definitely not the deadly or catastrophic one (I hope!), but instead, the last - controlled by fate - foreordained.
Controlled by fate… but what is fate? Circumstance? The Universe? And what is foreordained - and by who? By God? And what about free will?
Whether we are churchgoers or not, I think most of us tend to put God (and fate) in a box, and try not to think too much about what has been foreordained for us. Yes, we plan for our lives, and kids choose which topics to study at university, and we choose to apply for a job at one company over another, and markets dictate new opportunities and sometimes the destruction of long-standing industries. And, like ants, we just kinda keep doing the things - buying cars and building houses and getting that money, and watching those sports, and wait… what are we here for again?
I’ve been listening a bit to an Eastern Orthadox Priest in recent years, having met an interesting business owner who’d converted from an Evangelical upbringing to Eastern Orthadox. One of the key differentiators that I’ve noticed, is that the Eastern Orthadox doesn’t put God in a box so much. Whereas our western churches might say “God is infinite”, they would instead say - “God is not finite” - subtle, it seems, but significant.
So, for a bit of backdrop - the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthadox split - way long time ago in 1054, but in many ways they never really were together. The Orthadox have been doing church and worship and life pretty much the same since the beginning - of course with computers and cars and stuff now. The Catholics, on the other hand, went through all kinds of changes and challenges - doing the whole dispensation thing for a time, and all manner of church and state hokey-pokies in the history of Europe, and then comes this Martin Luther guy and things really start to fragment from there. God is not like you say, he’s like this! And here are the scriptures to prove it! The first of the Protestants, but not the last - soon you had the English Separatists who branched into the Puritans that sailed to America and, once in America, sprouted all kinds of new ways to put God in a box - be they Methodist, or Baptist, or Presbyterian, or…so many flavors of God to choose from here in America! On top of that, we’ve got plenty of Buddists, and Muslims, and Jews, and increasingly, N/A. And then there’s nihilists - God is dead, dontcha know?
This focus on different flavors of God takes the focus off the real need - to have community, to have a framework for our decisions, to begin to understand our purpose - am I here to be a good Baptist? Or am I here to worship and serve and love? I would propose that whether your god be my God, or goddess or no god at all, that you let him/her/them out of your box to live the intended purpose of being bigger than you.
I’m a simple guy, and I take a relatively simplistic approach to this intersection of fate and free will - I believe that we have both. God, or the universe, or something moves people to connect and relate, and something in those experiences is attractive or repulsive, and it’s our job to be sensitive to these forces, and use our own common sense and judgment, and essentially to partner with that force. I personally believe that things don’t just happen to me, they are providential - God is nudging the situation along the path He’s foreordained. And, significantly, I have free will to choose whether to go along with it - or whether to resist and pursue my own ends by my own means. If I go along with God instead of fighting against Him - life will be better for me, and I’m grateful for that.
Along this same line of thinking, in this final segment I’d like to introduce our newest LoCo Facilitator, and share the story of her coming to the team. Hang with me and you’ll see examples of going with the flow and partnering with God on this serendipitous path:
It all started with my leaving late for a coffee meeting (with a future podcast guest), and being unable to find an open parking spot - but noticing that Old Town Media had lots of extra spots just a block away from my meeting - surely they don’t watch too closely and I’ll be safe from towing for an hour!
After my meeting, I popped in to say hi to Miles and a couple of his teammates at OTM and share what we were doing with the podcast - and ended up booking Miles and his wife Val to be on the show - it’s Episode 64, now in our top 10 listens and climbing! During the show they mentioned a guy named Mark Weaver, and how he’d helped them with their HR and amazing culture at OTM. I was acquainted with Mark lightly, but hadn’t taken the time yet to get to know him. So I reached out to him and we had a coffee and connected well, and planned a future podcast session together (Episode 85) - which was awesome!
Mark also agreed to host a webinar for us on Cultivating Workplace Culture and not only that - he also introduced me to a pair of amazing business ladies who agreed to be guests on the show!
The first was Ginger Graham of Ginger & Baker, which is Episode 73 and currently our most-downloaded episode - and the latter was Kim O’Neil, Episode 86, recently departed as COO of Encompass Technologies, a Fort Collins family business that she helped scale over the last 12+ years into a dominant force in their industry. From our first coffee conversation, my sense was that she was in a great place in her life to be a LoCo Facilitator, would enjoy the role immensely and perform amazingly. As we continued our conversation, and later engaged in the podcast, she began to recognize the truth of that notion and - after a visit to Drew Yancey’s Next Level chapter - she was sold!
So now, in addition to a freshly-started Builders chapter with many seats to fill, a Catalyst chapter in need of some fresh cheeks in the seats, a rebranding project actively in process, our 2023 Strategic Planning in the works - we’re going to launch another LoCo Next Level chapter in early 2023 - facilitated by Kim O’Neil!
This new chapter is for the owners and deciders of larger regional businesses - typically between $5MM and $50MM in revenues, growing and navigating change, looking for perspective and accountability as the leadership architect and strategic planner of the team. If you’re interested, or you know someone who should be - please send them to our info page on the website - here. We’ve been reaching out and meeting with candidates already, and will be doing so throughout December and the early New Year. If you do know someone who should be in this new chapter - we love introductions! (and we pay a nice referral fee)
I’m grateful for this fateful journey, and though our plate is full we love the menu! Many hands make light work, and a joyful heart is good medicine. We’re in for an exciting season at LoCo HQ - stay tuned next month for more on the brand update and more! And until next time - stay LoCo - and don’t put God in a box! Instead, partner with Him through your hands, your feet, your mind and soul - and things will be well with you.
Peace, joy, and love to you this holiday season, and thanks for reading.