October 22, 2009
Celebrating Who We Are
This week we hold our annual off-site, all-day meeting for everyone in the company. It's something we've been doing for almost twenty-five years. We close down the reception desk and warehouse, shut off the phones, put emails on automatic reply, and bring in employees who work in other parts of the country.
What do we do?Continue reading "Celebrating Who We Are"
June 24, 2009
Next week IVP undertakes its annual ritual of taking stock. I don't mean we will evaluate how well we did or didn't hit our goals for the end of our fiscal year on June 30. Rather almost all office personnel are commandeered by those in our accounting department and our distribution center to "do inventory." I and my colleagues will don lightweight grubbies (the forecast is for the high eighties) and partner with our more warehouse-savvy comrades to count books.Continue reading "Taking Stock"
February 17, 2009
Walking Out on the Speaker
I was at a conference last week with many excellent, well-known speakers. They made presentations at plenary sessions of over a thousand and at seminars with fifty to hundred people. Regardless of the notoriety, prestige or quality of the speaker, or the intimacy of the group, those who attended felt free to walk in and out of the sessions at will--perhaps several times in a session for a single individual.
This is not a new, of course. I've noticed it for some time in a wide variety of settings. Thirty years ago, however, it was not so.Continue reading "Walking Out on the Speaker"
December 8, 2008
In Making Room for Leadership, MaryKate Morse tells this story:
In the early eighties, my family and I returned to the United States after working in the Andes Mountains of Peru and Bolivia for several years. It was the end of the summer, and a recession was in full swing. My husband, Randy, applied everywhere for a job, but he couldn't get one. . . . By December our savings was nearly gone, and we were getting anxious. Randy decided to do something out of character for him--he went out and bought a new, contemporary suit, shelling out a couple hundred dollars in the process. At his next job interview, dressed in his new suit, he was offered the job. We do not think that was coincidental. (p. 103)
Before the age of gender-inclusive language, the saying was, "Clothes make the man." I used to understand this to mean that the impression people have of you is significantly based on what you wear. That is Morse's point, and there is a good measure of truth to that.
But when I was in high school I noticed another dimension to this contemporary proverb. I discovered that when I wore a suit, others didn't just treat me differently. I acted differently. I carried myself more erect (which my mother, who always complained about my slouching, would appreciate). I walked differently--with more purpose. I gestured differently--with more confidence. I talked differently--with a more formal vocabulary. In fact, everything about me seemed to be more formal, as if I'd aged several years just by putting on a coat and tie.
When I mentioned this recently to one friend my age, he thought that sealed the case against casual dress at work. I wasn't so sure. Yes, professional dress can help us conduct ourselves more professionally. Sloppy dress could possibly induce sloppy work. But perhaps casual is not the same as sloppy. Perhaps neat and casual dress can help us be at once careful in our work and more relational with our coworkers.
I don't believe how I dress at work has much effect on me now. Probably being a high school nerd, I had a much greater sense of sophistication in a suit than I do now as an adult nerd in a suit. As with most of my colleagues, my Casual Friday has turned into Casual Monday through Friday, as I rarely don a coat and tie in the office.
In tough economic times, dress tends to become more conservative. So we may see that shift in the near future as we saw in the eighties. In any case, in how we dress we will all still be balancing the value of taking ourselves (and being taken) more seriously, with the value of being approachable and relational.
December 2, 2008
I once emceed at a conference and was responsible for handling the question and answer session after a major talk. There were about three hundred in attendance and dozens wanted to ask questions, but we only had fifteen minutes available in the schedule. I had the roving mike and raced around the room trying to get as many questions as possible but only managed about five.Continue reading "Giving Voice"
August 12, 2008
A friend was asking about our office culture. Corporate? Family? Other?
While we've never been a family-owned business, we've always had a family feel. Probably that's because we started small and have grown slowly and steadily over the years. So changes in corporate culture did not come in wrenching jerks and jolts that can occur with fast growth or sudden downsizing. But as my friend and I talked, one change came into focus.Continue reading "Culture Shift"
April 3, 2008
Those who are biblically literate know that Genesis doesn’t say what kind of fruit Adam and Eve ate. No matter. Centuries of artists have known it was an apple. An apple with a bite out of it. Thus evil entered the world.
So the recent Wired Magazine article by Leander Kahney should come as no surprise.Continue reading "Evil/Genius"
August 24, 2007
I still vividly remember the company picnics our family would go to when I was young. At the end of August a few hundred people related to the business my dad worked for would gather in a city park in Minneapolis for food and games. A huge cauldron (my childhood memory tells me it was like a 15-foot metal watering troff) had a fire built under it with dozens and dozens of ears of fresh Minnesota corn being boiled. Everyone would gather for Bingo, with each winner taking home a silver dollar. I prized the few I managed to win. The sights and smells of the whole event still linger with me.Continue reading "Company Picnic"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 1:42 PM