Yesterday, I presented a special lecture with Prairie College Business Management students on Fair Trade. As I have been updating myself about this topic, a few headlines grab my attention:
Kitkat withdrawing from Fair Trade
Fairtrade : Is it really fair?
Shocked but not surprised: Fairtrade responds to report of widespread child labor in West African cocoa industry
The system is not perfect but it is working for a lot of farmers, artisans, and producers in the South. The current labelling and certification process for fairtrade has become a million dollar industry. Ethical consumers are beginning to vote with their purchases and this trend will be going to continue in the next 10 years. The question for the actors is that how can we prevent consumer confusion with all these competing claims in the marketplace?
The fairtrade sector is growing at an accelerated rate from $ 1.5M in 2005 to $9.8B in 2018. Yet, fragmenting in many ways due to the crowding of claims within and outside of the ethical/fair markets.
There has been tremendous harmonization of fairtrade. All actors understand, agree, and commit to its principles and standards. In the future, actors must as well agree and commit to growing and evolving fairtrade without compromising its foundational principles but at the same time, honoring its commitments to the broader marketplace.
The heart of true fairtrade lies in the producers and farmers. If they're not benefitted from these initiatives, why would fairtrade exists?
Talent is so over-rated.
Leaders and managers continue to tout that they want to hire the best, brightest, and the most promising of all candidates.
The best seldom accomplishes more than what they think they can. They have limited versions of themselves that fit their current frame of 'success' and 'achievement' which could be limiting their chances of becoming better than they really are.
Whereas those that are average are always in the look-out to prove themselves and surprise themselves that they can do way better, with the right attitude and process.
Grit trumps genius, talent or high IQ (Duckworth: 2016). This is well-documented with the inner city students research that came back that persistence enables them to survive and thrive despite hardships or obstacles.
In these last three months, I persisted in the absence of positive news. It seemed that it's becoming a futile effort and I have to be preparing for the inevitable. The Plan B and C aren't better than the first option. It would mean more work and more expense on my part. I'm not even prepared to go that route.
Yesterday, a breakthrough came through. I'm happy I persisted. One colleague said, "Good for you, you have the time and talent."
On both those counts, I don't have enough. But I have grit and it's helping me reach my goals.
What are you trying to accomplish? Are you the near the end of your rope?
Hang in there, it's not the time to throw in the towel yet.
Persist and win.
Give up and lose.
Woody Woodpecker asked, "What's the big idea?"
To which the other fellow replied, "You and your milk!"
Big ideas grab headlines.
Big ideas move mountains and people.
Visionaries toggle between one big idea and on to the next.
The BHAG mindset gives us the excuse to think big and leave the mundane to others.
People love big ideas. They like being entertained with the fact that these big ideas are being funded by OPM-other people's monies and OPM-other people's machineries.
It's good to see the view at 20,000 feet altitude but going down: the view changes drastically.
Leaders cannot toy with big ideas without being unscathed by the realities of implementation.
The major fright comes from the fact that there are many hats to be worn and handshakes to make. There are investments to be made from resources that seem to deplete the moment the ink has dried. There are gazillion things to do to even get at basecamp.
Instead of coming with big ideas, why not start with the next-level ideas.
There are studies supporting that change isn't scary when presented with the next logical step-an easy implementable blueprint where followers are not asked a 360% transformation, but a gradual shift over the course of time.
Focusing on goals that you can realistically accomplish will ensure that there is enough fuel that keeps you motivated but also enough oxygen to get you through each day.
Overwhelm is a by-product of too much, too soon, too many -all at once.
Lastly, are you a delayer or early satisfier?
Delayer waits at the last minute to accomplish the big ideas by creating layers of complex rituals and processes that are not necessary or essential while satisfiers are good at completing the task in front them and slaying the proverbial dragon, one by one.
Creating impact is not after 5-10 years of hard work and sweat. It's right now.
What's your big idea?
How do you turn that 'big idea' into everyday wins and giant outcomes?
Passion, apparently, is not something that we 'love' to do.
It comes from the Latin word 'passio' which means 'to suffer' as in the Passion of Christ (His suffering on the cross).
Passion is about something that we cannot ignore and it pains us if we are not doing or being that person that we want. That pain and suffering that comes out of it is what we should call our passion. In current parlance, it becomes synonymous to either love or rage, all in strong amounts, which dilutes the essence of the concept.
As leaders we are driven to achieve and measure thing that matter. In our drive to win and excel, we, sometimes, lose the central fact of life.
Our passion is not doing what is comfortable, convenient, and extremely easy.
Our passion is to continue provoking understanding, soliciting insights, and encouraging debates that will increase our effectiveness and awareness about the ambiguities that we face.
Instead of comforting ourselves in our 'nice, cozy positions and status, we should look out for radical ways to extend our humanity and impact.
It is not with coziness that we learn lots, it is the crucible of trials, tribulations, and challenges that we become better at our work and in ourselves. Discomforted situations reveal great things about individuals, institutions, and societies.
On the other hand, a lot of our discomfort stem from our resistance to evolve hoping that some things will reveal themselves in better light or go away in due time. Most things do not get fixed on their own.
What do you think about at night when you are about to sleep? Are you comforted by what you achieved or discomforted by what you are trying to resist doing or becoming?
Bossy is the word they use for girls and women exhibiting strong leadership qualities, while boys and men are labelled as leaders with a great future early on.
Let's reframe the word bossy for the next generation of girls and young women who are ready to take on the world with their talents, aspirations, and contributions.
They need to be nurtured for what they can be and do rather than what roles they are expected to fulfill. They should be accepted for who they are, not what parents or caregivers expect them to grow to be. They should be enabled to explore themselves with many options to choose from, than what traditional paths would call them into.
As a society, we owe this to the younger generation to be claim their space with less barriers and obstacles imposed on them, less prejudices they face, and less judgments on themselves and their choices. Let's build up the next generation of people that is proud to be called bossy and living up for it!
Trees are like girls.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.-Chinese Proverb
Within my network of business executives and leaders who are doing well, I see two patterns of opportunity-seeking behavior that are important to underline in this time.
One is that they don't believe in palliative measures and don't look to outward signals to navigate their way out of the pandemic slump. They create their own metrics, dig into what they do best, and engage their peers and industry leaders to help them move strategically.
The second pattern I observe is that these leaders believe with all of their hearts that investing and increasing their impacts is now, in spite and despite of the volatility of the markets. Waiting for the green signal from WHO, CDC, and other institutions to say that all is clear is like waiting for a new utopian society. Nobody knows what's going to happen next year, in two years, so on and so forth.
Two organizations have embarked on a new expansion project for their facilities, upgraded their equipment and protocols, and increase their value as a result. Another organization had been relentless in deepening their connections with their stakeholders that it has become a mature and evolved center since the pandemic, offering never-been-conceived offerings and services, not just as a response to help, but a mission-laden value. The pandemic accelerated their transition from an underperforming asset to a powerhouse organization! A number of organizations have decided that hiring for the future but keeping with the responsibility of pandemic prevention is the way to go.
There are powerful examples of not coasting along and resisting to just cope and endure. Beyond resilience, leaders must prepare for the inevitable-radical change that is now in our faces!
What are you doing now to increase your value and impact to your customers and stakeholders? What is the winning mindset that you should adopt to enable you to thrive and not just endure the crisis?