Category Archives: Leadership & Culture

Leadership and Culture

Of Dance Hall Cuties and Well Endowed Colleges

Clarke County. I am finally home after a long, long evening. The sputtering gasps of Spring’s premature arrival are interrupted by a dreary mist. Everything’s grayscale. Think: London with a twang… in crocs… and canvas grocery bags.

Earlier today, I foolishly answered the phone (what on earth was I thinking!) and received an offer that I could not refuse. I became the unwitting victim of a southern belle’s cajoling, playing on my dreams and fears, low-blows and the promise of a free meal. I agreed to join my sister-in-law, Kammie, for supper followed by a girls-night-out of salsa dancing. Family can be that way sometimes. Continue reading Of Dance Hall Cuties and Well Endowed Colleges

One Word for 2010

With the year winding down, we asked a few of AV-1’s thoughtful insiders to sum up the year in one word. And, while at it, we asked what one word they would wish to be able to claim as 2011’s “One Word” at the end of the coming year.

At the end of this article, use the comments tool to share the One Word you would use to describe 2010 (and what you’d like for 2011)! Or, chime in on the AV-1 List.

Special thanks to Gwen Bell of #Reverb10 for the prompt.
Continue reading One Word for 2010

The Art of Tipping: The True Cost of Poor Service

Tybee Island. Spring Break at The College typically marks the rough and tumble race to the end of our fiscal year. For starters, my guys get a week-long, all-access pass to spruce up classrooms too heavily booked to do more than sneak in a lamp replacement between regular classes. Filters get cleaned. Dust bunnies get vacuumed.

Meanwhile, I have budget proposals (and their obligatory revisions) to attend to.

WelcomeToGeorgia In years past, we have often been the beneficiary of end-of-year spending dollars doled out from our parental unit engaged in the organizational equivalent of checking between the sofa cushions for spare change.

No such luck this year (and things are looking fairly doleful next year as well).

With the execution (in a good way, sorta) of my fiscal homework and the safe return of our sunburned students (bleary-eyed and somewhat wiser to the ways of tequila) I spied my window of opportunity to cash in some accumulated vacation-time and pull a “Don Draper” and disappear for two weeks.

With our budget in shreds and dust bunnies at bay, the place pretty much ran itself without me.

Don Draper, oh sooooo coolFor weeks I have been priming Chance for our ultimate tour of the barrier islands by framing it as a cross between modern vagabondage and a quest for the perfect barbecue. To his credit, Chance had been toiling away in his workshop, making sure his inventory of stained-glass wind chimes was packed and ready for the Summer arts-and-crafts circuit. To ensure that our 14-day getaway would not leave him pining for his wire cutter, I sweetened the deal by tossing him a new Kindle and an Amazon gift card.

In short, we were loaded for bear.

All good plans, sadly, have unintended outcomes. And although eating out played a central theme, I had not considered the consequences leaving a push-over man-child with the weighty responsibility of leaving an appropriate gratuity. The man has a heart of gold and knows his barbecue, but he can be the biggest sap when it comes to overpaying for luke-warm service.

Hungry-angry-unhappy-man-waiting-for-dinner-poor-service-bad-review-restaurant-pen-ink-drawingBy the end of our second week, I got tired of having to explain tipping to him over and over again about enabling piss-poor performance, so I wrote up a little cheat sheet to help him focus.

Let’s be clear about it: I am not cheap. When I go out to eat, I avoid the chains and expect good service. In college, I waited tables during a time when little or no gender-specific decorum existed among the kitchen staff. The pay was lousy and tips were important. The work was hard and working conditions were occasionally miserable. Compared to those cro-magnon days, today’s waitresses have it easy: good service is good enough for a good tip. And for me (and you) good service should be worth chipping in about 20%.

You could say that I am an all-or-nothing kind of gal: you deliver good service, you get your 20% tip. You disappoint me without making it right, expect zilch, darlin’. Nothing personal.

And so here are a few tips for the waits-of-the-world who really want to do a good job and make good tips: it’s all about Courtesy, Timeliness, Mindfulness. Let me know what you think!

Anita’s Guide to Best Practices in Restaurant Tipping

Courtesy is not a crime

Let’s start with the basics: Courtesy

  1. Dining out is an intimate experience and I like to feel comfortable with the person whose going to be handling the food I am about to eat. A pretty good start begins with, “Hello, [optionally insert your first name here, if appropriate] I’ll be your server.”
  2. Ask permission… “can I refill your drink?” “would you like to see the dessert menu?” “are you ready for the check?”
  3. Don’t waste my time trying to be extra-nice. A few years ago, Ira Glass of This American Life, conducted a pseudo-scientific experiment with two waitresses, each behaving super-friendly to half their tables and aloof to the other half. The tables treated to aloof service (good service, but aloof) tipped more.
  4. Sometimes mistakes happen. Don’t make a big deal of it. Fix it quickly and cheerfully without casting blame. If it leads to delays, offering a complimentary beverage will put me in more benevolent frame of mind even if I decline the offer.
  5. Equal eye contact all around, thank-you.

We waited 30-minutes and no service

Timeliness

  1. Drinks orders are taken and filled the moment we’re seated.
  2. Entre orders are taken within 3-minutes of seeing our menus folded closed on the table.
  3. Please be sure that our table receives entrees before other guests who were seated after us.
  4. I like to receive my entre within 15-20 minutes of placing my order. The maximum acceptable waiting period for the delivery of entrées may be adjusted down for short-order diners and up for schmancy restaurants or exceptionally crowded dining rooms. Food served more than 20-minutes after the order better be straight off the stove (fries are hot, meat sizzles, salads and garnish are fresh, moist and cool to the touch, fruit is chilled, plate is at room temperature). If the food comes late and everything is the same temp as the plate it’s on, I’ll know it’s been sitting under the heat-hood for a good long time.
  5. The check appears within minutes of its request and my credit card is retrieved and returned in short order. Please don’t tempt me to dine-and-dash.

Waitress

Mindfulness

  1. It is good to check to see that we are satisfied with the meal. When the entre is delivered he may ask, “Does everything look okay?” Then, once we’ve had an opportunity to taste our food, you can return to inquire, “How’s everything taste?” And never do so when my mouth is full.
  2. Drinks are kept filled (ice is always replenished before refilling ice tea and ice water).
  3. When I need your attention, a little acknowledgment goes a long way, even if it is just to say that you’ll be with me in a moment.
  4. I’m not saying that a server must be a mind-reader. I’m just saying don’t make me get up to find my own straw.

Attention to Details

  1. Beer glasses are chilled.
  2. Iced tea and water refills always include ICE.
  3. UN-sweet tea is never refilled with SWEET tea.
  4. Beer glasses should never be warm. They don’t have to be chilled (although it is a very nice touch) but an empty beer glass ought not to be straight-from-the-dishwasher hot unless there’s a waiting line out the door.

Kings Country Produce Barefoot Cowboy

Big Mistakes

  1. You shouldn’t be interested in how my boyfriend is dressed (and I can assure you, he isn’t either.)
  2. If you fawn over my male dinner guest and make little eye contact with me, how do you expect me to react when I ask for the check and you bring it to him?
  3. My estimation of service extends to how I see you treat other patrons. Unless you take reservations, each arriving party should receive the best available seat. I won’t think much of you if you stash the family with young children in the far corner next to the rest room or kitchen entrance when there are better tables available.
  4. You can’t fix a broken kitchen. If one free drink leads to a ladies-drink-free night because of the comedy of errors going on in the kitchen, be advised that I can be a pretty mean drunk. If it’s Hells’ Kitchen in the back, you’ll have a better chance for a tip if you call your manager over (don’t wait for me to ask for her) to apologetically comp my meal.
  5. Flair.

Kings Country Produce - Best Peanuts On US301!

A Recipe for Disaster…

  1. I don’t want to hear about where you went to school.
  2. Please do not try to impress us with your ability to memorize our individual orders — and then getting it wrong.
  3. “Is everything okay?” (Meaning, “The cook’s pretty sure he cleaned up all the broken glass, but I still think a shard may have found its way to your chili… You haven’t found it yet, have you?”)
  4. Let’s not tempt fate: When you come to refill my ice water, tea or coffee, do us all a favor and pick up the cup to refill it.
  5. And while we’re on the subject, during Summer months, condensation tends to collect on the outside of cold drink pitchers and needs to be wiped off with a clean towel before entering the dining room. If, at some point during your drink refilling, condensation drips off your carafe onto my food, drink or garment, I cannot be held responsible for my actions.

In short, if I wanted to have an indifferent dining experience, I’d stay home and boil an egg. I came to dine at your table for something more — for a memorable experience of good food and efficient service. If you can deliver those two things (and then get out of the way), you will be handsomely rewarded, else, you’re likely to receive the same tip I get at home.

Afterthought

William Michael Lynn, PhD is a former bartender, busboy and waiter who is now a nationally recognized expert on tipping who has written over 30 publications on this topic. At the start of the 20th Century, working for tips was considered by the elite to be a form of Flunkyism, that is, indicative of a character flaw in which one is willing to be servile for a consideration. Some considered such professions to be undemocratic. Those days are gone. Service of any kind is an honorable trade. I don’t expect to be entertained. I just want good service and nothing more.

The AV-1 Forum Let me know what you think!


by Anita Vidwell
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

The Most Important and Serious Survey… ever.

Come April, we like to pause a moment to reflect merrily upon all the hi-jinx and lallygagging that carried us through the long, cold winter doldrums. Ah, the leaky basements! Oh, the delayed supply shipments! Jeepers, those goofy budget cuts keep cracking us up!

We turned to our resident comedian, Dave Althoff, Jr. (the guy with the funny titles in his emails) and asked him to come up with questions that would make us laugh, learn and understand the stereotypes of us AV types. (For those of you who don't fit the stereotype, consider this an adventure in tolerance, or better yet, just play along.)

Some of his questions are funny (at least we thought so), some more serious (Joe did get a little misty) but all are meant in good humor. Please take a few minutes to complete our special, super-secret double-detention AV-1 April Fools Day survey.

Incoming AV-1 Survey!

Professional Development Survey Results


On Monday, we posed six questions to the AV-1 community about the value of professional development. This is my analysis of your responses. Please let us know what you think.

Chart1

First, we fall into a pretty tight band with regard to how many Professional Development (PD) opportunities we get per year. 73% of respondents are able to arrange up to six opportunities, and not a single respondent indicated getting over 10 opportunities. Six of us responded that they get no PD. 

We would love to hear more from those of you who get no PD… is that by choice or for some other reason?

Continue reading Professional Development Survey Results

AV-1 Survey: Professional Development

climb the ladder, take the survey Our recent pre-InfoComm survey told us that 63% of AV-1 readers attend InfoComm for educational (Professional Development) purposes. This got our readers, and us at AV-1 HQ, asking more and more questions about professional development. 

The questions came more quickly than we could answer…

Is InfoComm the best place to engage in Professional Development? 

Are there other great ways to continue to learn??

Are technology directors and managers getting all the Professional Development they feel is required???

How come we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway????

We knew the only way to get the low-down was to go back to you, knowledgeable readers, and ask a few more questions. Please take a minute to fill out the survey and let us know what/if you are doing for professional development. As always, the results will be posted by next Monday.

Scott says, "Take the survey"

 Scott Tiner

Bates College

Call For Proposals: CCUMC 2010

2010 CCUMC Annual Conference The Consortium for College and University Media Centers (CCUMC) and AV-1 invite you to submit a proposal for a presentation at the 2010 CCUMC Annual Conference (deadline for submissions: April 2) in Buffalo, New York, October 6 – 10. This year's theme is Leadership in Media & Academic Technology.

The CCUMC 2010 Annual Conference will be hosted by the University at Buffalo, State University of New York (SUNY). The CCUMC Annual Conference is the premier annual event for the sharing of knowledge and wisdom about media and academic technology in higher education institutions throughout North America. 

CCUMC's 2010 conference promises to be the best yet, with a fun, exciting, and informative mix of 24 scheduled concurrent sessions, six interest groups, and daily keynotes and general sessions.  This year's conference will include a special campus tour of University at Buffalo facilities highlighting media, academic technology, and learning spaces, as well as an outing to Niagara Falls for a tour and dinner. 

Click here for more information about the conference, including a link to the online conference presentation proposal submission form.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Mark McCallister

 Mark McCallister

CCUMC President-Elect

University of Florida

Change and Trust

I’m writing to share an observation: the people around us — our customers, reports, coworkers and bosses — pay attention. Especially in the workplace, those around us tune in not just to the things we say and do, but also to our motives (whether stated or implied) behind our actions. They want to know that we can be trusted and that they can trust us with their best interests.

Trust makes good neighbors.

Even up here in staid northern New England, the average Joe and Josephine have their personal antennae up almost all the time.

My ER doctor-friend, for example, was closing on the purchase of 100-acres atop a hillside in Vermont when rumor had it his commute to the hospital (two hours by car) was to be by helicopter. Without a word, the town council placed a no-helipad restriction on his deed (so for kicks I occasionally threaten to put a windsock up there while he’s away on vacation). There had been no plan for a propeller-commute, and, had either party taken the time to build trust, the town council could have avoided embarrassing themselves.

Speaking of antennae, one night in our small town, a patrol car pulled me over for a burned out tail light. The next morning all the police scanner owners in my shop ribbed about my reckless driving, but I digress.

Trust gets things done.

Positional PowerI wonder, are many managers are aware of this? After all, people tend to hide their feelings pretty well. It may be that in many cases management is so overwhelmed with handling the big issues that they forget the importance of building their credibility and trustworthiness among their subordinates.

Invariably, those managers (well, I suppose we have all committed this offense) try using their positional power as a shortcut to some quick win, and what happens?

The same managers are struck suddenly by their subordinates’ apparent resistance to change. Workers who previously merited high praise now are regarded as stubborn and lazy. Frustration sets in. Pretty soon, the supervisor concludes that the staff aren’t listening, can’t learn, or worse, they have innate incapacity to self-actualize (see Maslov’s Pyramid).

Truth is, when people are behind you all the way, they will walk on hot coals to get the job done, whatever it takes. But when we have no trust for those in command, and no confidence in the mission, we drag our feet.

Continue reading Change and Trust

Adventures in Service: Sweet Victory in Dallas

[Editor's note: Although most of what we do appears to be tech-related — all cables and components — the reality is that we are part of a person-to-person business, built on understanding, communication, collaboration and trust. That's service. This week, contributor Anita Vidwell shares her Thanksgiving adventures in service.]


Oriental concessions thingy in Anatole atrium Dallas, TX. Thanksgiving with my parents was a resounding success, despite all forecasts. Previous family gatherings subjected my boyfriend, Chance, to Daddy's political insights regarding the unmanliness of ponytails punctuated by lectures on how it has been scientifically proven that liberals are the source of all things evil in the world.

This holiday, perhaps as an olive branch, Daddy invited us down and put us up in the Anatole. The flight was pleasantly uneventful (thank-you Southwest!). I convinced Chance to leave his man-bag at the hotel and the big day itself passed with nary a peep out of Daddy, save for one sniffling crack directed toward Chance about how patchouli is really just cheap perfume for women of questionable repute (eliciting a threatening, "Carl!" barked from Momma in the kitchen). 

Continue reading Adventures in Service: Sweet Victory in Dallas

Good Enough: A Reader Chimes In

To the Editor:

I enjoyed reading your treatise on Good-Enough innovation and wholeheartedly agree with your assessment. I know many people who won’t even attempt anything new unless the result offers some guarantee of perfection. They always talk about how they’ve got their eye out for opportunities that can deliver the “big win” and the “slam-dunk” but these folks never seem to get much accomplished. Maybe they think it’s too risky?

Please accept the following list of good-enough innovations that I think are worth mentioning.

If you decide to post this please sign me,

Anita Vidwell

Lego_Color_Bricks_180 1949, Lego-brand “Automatic Binding Bricks” (a.k.a. “Legos”). How could you guys have missed this one? Legos were all over Bob Capp’s article in Wired: The Lego version of Nirvana’s Nevermind album cover was clearly meant to represent MP3’s harsh rendering of music. The Lego sculpture of a desk telephone tells me that Skype may not be as good as a real telephone, but it’s close enough for jazz (no pun on the previous musical reference). A Lego model of the Predator plane can’t actually fly, but then the actual MQ-1 Predator is too small to carry a pilot, so it’s kind of a toy plane that drops real bombs. Lego bricks are kind of an anti-toy because the play they inspire has to come entirely from the child’s imagination. Legos are about the only toy that adults can play with without shame. As a kid, Legos inspired my little brother to flush them down the toilet. He really liked plumbing.

Continue reading Good Enough: A Reader Chimes In