Monthly Archives: July 2013

Failure Is an Option

I am a failure.

It’s time to come clean and admit that I have frequently (and at times remarkably) fallen short of what’s expected of me. Whether we choose to admit it or not, everybody fails. Einstein was written off as a dullard by his teachers. Abraham Lincoln failed at business, went bankrupt twice and was defeated in numerous campaigns for public office. Thomas Edison’s teachers told him he was “too stupid to learn anything.” JK Rowling was divorced, broke, depressed and on welfare. The list goes on and on. (You can read about more of these “failures” here.)

While I am certainly not trying to compare myself to these great men and women, the point is valid – no matter how successful one is perceived to be, the road taken to get there is often a bit bumpy. However, these bumps are often what jolt us forward and propel us to new discoveries. Continue reading

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Sustaining Your GRC Program, After the Fireworks are Over

Firework shows are the ultimate front-loaded project; the type where it’s easy to lose sight of the long-term relationship. For two summers in my early twenties, I was a “Licensed Pyrotechnic Operator” by the Missouri Division of Fire Safety (which, if you know me, is like asking your cat to clean the swimming pool). My job description involved trekking to a variety of rural, hole-in-the-wall communities and assisting a team with blowing up a pre-determined number of explosives, without losing any appendages. After 12 hours of work in the hot sun, the day would end with a brilliant display of color and spectacle. For many teams, the end of the show was their queue to haphazardly tear down the tubes (the launching mechanisms for the fireworks) and get the heck out of Dodge (or Thayer, West Plains, Monett, etc.), all the while high-fiving each other and talking about the great event they just created. I was lucky enough to be assigned to a team that knew better, though. To be a successful fireworks operator, it’s not just about the show.

Sustainability in the fireworks business is about the complete relationship. The person signing the check is typically a city council member or the chair of an oversight committee. The last impression of this stakeholder isn’t the show, but the conditions that are left behind after the show. Was the area cleaned up appropriately? Was trash left behind? Was the team professional and on time? Small town leaders talk; one bad impression can lead to a lack of business, both this summer and beyond. Continue reading

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