Monday, September 19, 2016

The Future of Business

The Future of Business:
The Graybar Way

I believe that if you live right, life has a way of coming back around to give you what you have been giving to others.

Some call it karma, some reaping and sewing; I call it a wonderful life.

My work affords me the opportunity to meet and greet people who do the things that we don’t pay attention to but could never live without.

We’ve all sat behind a Graybar truck and have had the benefit of their business.

I recently had the chance to meet the folks who provide electrical, communications and data networking services throughout this nation.

I’ve worked with amazing companies and have met some really powerful people. This past weekend, I had a chance to peek into the future.

Every so often, I work with an all women’s audience. I love this work. I believe that as more women succeed in business, everyone will have the opportunity to succeed in life.

We’ve all got a ways to go; men need to sponsor and support more women and women have to do a much better job supporting each other, but that’s a conversation for another day.

When I’m lecturing, I like to get to the meeting place early. I want to take in the space before it’s filled with the great minds that will occupy it.

This past weekend, I walked towards the meeting rooms a little lost and a little confused. A young man wearing the company’s logo shirt stopped and asked if he could help me.

I thanked him and told him that I was looking for the Women in Graybar or W.I.N.G.S breakfast and he smiled and said, I’ll show you the way. The young man told me his name and informed me that he did not have the privilege to attend but he was sure that I would enjoy it.

I actually scratched my head. I was confused and amused at the same time.

I’ve been speaking at women’s meetings since I became a woman but I’ve never seen a man yearning to attend one.

There were other folks sitting outside of the room. They all acknowledged me and said good morning.

I walked in the room expecting it to be empty, but I was surprised to be met by the CEO herself.

Kathleen Mazzarella (The Margin Ninja) is brilliant, energetic, warm and compassionate and she is the future of business.
Kathy is one of two woman to lead a Fortune 500 company of this kind, and the only one of this size but she is as humble as she is powerful. 

Kathy extended her hand to greet me, squinted her eyes, read me faster than I’ve ever been read and decided that a hug was my preferred greeting; she was right.

As the room began to fill up, I was surprised and somewhat proud to see that this women's event was attended by men as well. The men made up about 40-45 percent of the room. 

In an industry where men make up an overwhelming percentage of the workforce, and women a tiny percent of the leadership, Graybar is truly remarkable. 

After I spoke, folks stood in line to greet me. They all shared heart-warming stories, tears and laughter.

What moved me to my own tears was the number of people asking what they could do to change the world. Some wanted to find young folks to sponsor, some wanted to combat racism and sexism and some wanted to level the playing field.

Kathy, the CEO was still there waiting for me and when everyone else was gone, I asked her how she managed to find so many amazing people.

She smiled and said, “We hire nice people. Business is work, it should be done with good folks.”
We stood and talked longer (actually we closed the place down) and I left smiling.

Life is coming back around. 

Graybar was founded in 1869. It’s got a remarkable history of firsts in electricity, telegraphs, telephones, fire alarms and much more. You may not know who they are or what they do, but you can not live without them.

Graybar is hiring. If you are smart, flexible and kind, if you want the world to be a better place and know that it starts with you; if you want to work hard, learn, think, grow and be happy, Graybar has 800 positions that may just have your name on one of them. To learn more

The Graybar way is the future of business, it’s smart with a heart. Get on board or be left behind.

Be you, be well, be the future.

Bertice Berry, PhD.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Preconceived Outcomes:
Are you setting yourself up for self-fulfilling prophesy?

When I travel, I tend to leave a day in advance. I book flights with at least two hours of connecting time between them.  That way if my first flight is delayed, I still have the opportunity to catch the connecting flight.

I rarely have to rush through airports or get annoyed by the inevitable delays associated with travel.

I try to take the first flight out, since the plane is almost always there from the night before and I have my breakfast in the airport lounge. 

I give myself loads of time to get to the gate giving me just enough time to people watch or read.

A few days ago, I got to my gate early and sat down. The woman next to me immediately began to chat me up.

She was pleasant and like me on a business trip. Our plane arrived and an old travel buddy came off the plane. We spotted each other and acted like kids on the playground.

“I was thinking about you last week.” I told her. We exchanged hugs, good wishes and enquired about each other’s children. (Hers were of the four legged variety.)

I learned that she had had to put one of her babies down and we hugged again. She was off to her next flight and I felt warmed to remember that even in the airport, I have close friends.

The woman I had just met, commented how special that was and how she had moved away from family but had not really connected since then.

Just as she said this, the gate agent announced that we had to move to another gate. The woman sighed and said, “It’s always something.”

I smiled and we walked to the new gate. Once there, our pilot made an announcement informing us that the original plane had a maintenance issue and would take 4 hours to fix, but that he’d called and got a new plane so we'd be leaving about a half hour late but would land only 15 minutes later than the scheduled arrival.

I smiled and my new travel buddy asked why. I told her that my friend had been on that original plane, but it had landed safely. I went on to say that the delay could have been much worse, but all we had to do was walk to another gate.

She stared at me and said, “I like your outlook. I wish I could be more like that, but my job has given me a team of young folks who have never done this work and a big assignment that’s very important.

I smiled again and again she asked why. I told her that the young newbies all had something to prove. They were fresh and excited and ready to work for her. She frowned and began to sweat and said, but they don’t know anything.

I told her that they knew plenty. They had degrees that were fresher than hers and new eyes on an old problem. I informed her that her team had no expectations or preconceived notions about how difficult or as she had put it, “impossible” the job was, so they would be eager, unless…

I paused and allowed her to ask the question and when she did, I told her.

“Unless you go in with a preconceived outcome before you even start. Unless you decide that your team is not worthy of your respect and unless you really do believe that you are all alone.”

Then she smiled and said that she had sat down in the right seat.

What have you already decided?

How can you reframe your thinking?

How can you turn quick encounters into meaningful exchanges?

Be you, be well, be conceived.
Bertice Berry, PhD.