Two libraries and a materials service

On a recent SLA adventure, I visited the Pacific Northwest Chapter  in Seattle and had a lovely tour of the new(ish) library at Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington. The MS Library has an inviting presence with lots of seating. They focus on training materials in the physical library and, of course, have a killer website built using MS Sharepoint.  

After meeting with the PNW chapter, visiting SLA dignitary Gloria Zamora and I travelled to Portland to speak to the Oregon Chapter of SLA, which gave us a great excuse to visit  Ziba Design’s new digs in Portland, Oregon and see their library. Ziba’s library also has a very inviting presence. The information specialists are embedded in the business and only in the library ad hoc.

And for other business interests, I visited the Uliko Studio a materials research resource in Beaverton, Oregon which just opened in September. What can I say? It’s another warm, inviting open space. Quite lovely.

It’s not a library, but a materials sourcing service. They have an interesting business model as the materials and space are supported by the vendors as a service to the clientele of designers and developers. Isn’t this interesting? The owners were very knowledgeable about materials, processes, and sourcing. If you are in the area, and interested in materials, I recommend making an appointment to visit!

What I learned from running for office

First, I want to tell every one of you who voted “THANKS.” I’ll work hard to make sure the best interests of the association—and  therefore your interests—remain front-and-center. And to those who didn’t vote, well…you get a wag of the finger and a stern look. And a polite, throat-clearing cough.

In many ways, the campaign served to prepare me for office. I’m a different person than the one who started the journey so long ago. (It was a long time ago, because “election months” are like dog years). Before I turn the page and take on this new role, I want to reflect on some things I learned as a candidate. 

I learned to blog. It seems easy enough: write a bit about something that interests you, then post it. The hard part is looking at your interactions and activities as if they are something that someone else should be interested in. My constant debate with myself was whether or not what I thought was intriguing was blog-worthy. Reflecting on issues and events and how to share your thoughts on them is a good tool for your toolbox.  

Be more extroverted than you are. Usually I just let life wash over me, but now I have to pick up the shiny things I see and show them to others. If you’re usually introverted, it takes a real effort to be extroverted. I’m still coming to grips with that, to be honest.

Use Web 2.0 tools. My blog automatically updates to my LinkedIn account and my Twitter account, enabling me to reach a lot of members at the same time. And my Twitter account updates to my Facebook site. Isn’t that cool!?!

Look for the spirit of generosity. I was constantly humbled at the idea of people believing in me enough to donate their time and energy to a fellow member. Our Association runs on good will and generous souls, and I didn’t always see the magnitude of that compassion before the campaign.

 Others can rely on you and you won’t break. You can volunteer to do stuff that benefits others more than yourself and it feels good. It is enlightened self-interest—you get back more than you give. And you will have a new way to define “riches.”

I can rely on others. They won’t break, either. People came through; they care. They want me to carry their concerns forward.

You can’t – and shouldn’t – do it all yourself. Relying on others isn’t always easy. I’ve always been able to meet deadlines and check off tasks on my own. But running for office is not a solo effort. So I learned to collaborate better and to involve others by articulating a simple vision. They, in turn, spread the message further. I think if we can get this concept right, eventually we’ll be able to empower a movement.

 It’s going to be tough. Not everyone agrees on the direction, the vehicle, or the speed we need to travel. Some people don’t think we need to go anywhere and some want to go twice as fast as we can safely manage. Balancing those demands will be tricky. My hope is that if I listen to as many members as I can, I’ll get good guidance about the best path forward. But make no mistake: we are moving forward.

It’s going to be the most fun we’ve had lately. I felt fantastic energy at some of the question-and-answer sessions. Members care deeply about our direction, and when they sense positive change is coming, they feel good about it. Strategizing about the future can be a lot of fun when you believe in the journey.

Business savvy is key. We know our jobs and our tools, and we’re darn good at what we do. We satisfy customers every day, and we push ourselves to do it better. But knowing the ins and outs of the information landscape isn’t enough. For our profession, our association, and our careers, we need to get better at the business of business. Becoming fluent in “business speak” is crucial to making us Future Ready.

Don’t booby-trap yourself. Sometimes the crazy new idea you get late at night isn’t all that great when the sun comes up. My own natural exuberance can be a bit spontaneous. I’ve learned to fit myself with a restrictor valve in order to be critical and cautious. The stakes are higher now. Because of the office that you have entrusted to me, I face more scrutiny, and people will be holding me up to a higher standard.

At the same time, I have to be myself. Go figure!

I don’t know everything—and don’t have to. “WE are the smartest ones in the room,” as the saying goes. Figuring out how to use the strength of others is the hallmark of a leader. A strong rope is made up of many individual strands. My take is that the more voices we hear consistently, the better our Association gets.

I’ve got to go draw a new map now. I think it has your name on it!

Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hound

Ginger & ArnoldAre you an animal lover? If so, have you noticed the lessons your dog, cat, or other critter can teach you about life, just by they way they approach each day?

As a joke, someone recently offered me their copy of  Leadership Secrets of Attila The Hun, which is a light-hearted look at how an obscure barbarian leader might sum up his approach to managing an unruly horde.

Attila cover changedHowever, I have a better leadership model to work with – our two golden retrievers, Arnold and Ginger. Even though they passed away last year, within six weeks of each other, I still think of them all the time. I miss them now because of their sharp instincts and insights. 

 At the SLA conference in June, candidates will be asked to speak about their leadership philosophy, and key traits that make good leaders. So I boiled down some of the dog widsom that I witnessed and tried to translate them into positive leadership skills.

 Dog Wisdom  Leadership Skill
Head down, tail up Dogs are always on the lookout for new information that will inform their world and help them make the right decisions. A happy dog has their nose to the ground, seeking out new data, and their tail is usually up, indicating they are in a good mood.
Join the pack Dogs are pack animals and so are we. If you join the pack, the pack will be stronger for it. A good healthy pack has a wide variety of individuals, all pulling in the same general direction. Good leaders inspire others to share the load for the good of the entire group. Good packs have a nice balance, and the members seem to have more fun.
Wag more, bark less  A good leader should have a pleasant demeanor and welcome meeting new people. Keep wagging your tail as you sniff out a new friend and everyone benefits. A good leader doesn’t dominate the conversation with a lot of barking. In fact, a good leader often doesn’t have to do a lot of barking – if you’ve watched Caesar Milan on The Dog Whisperer, you know that a subtle nip is all that a good leader needs to keep everyone’s tail wagging.
Some bone need to be chewed thoroughly Have you ever seen a dog leave a bone when it still has meat on it? Neither have I. Dogs will relentlessly work a bone until the job is completed.


In Forest ParkWe all wish we could be the person our dog thinks we are. Your SLA leadership team is the same way – we want to do right by our members. We put high expectations on ourselves and try hard to do good things, but we need your feedback – a kind word, a pat on the head – to keep us on the right trail and make for a doggone good pack.