Posts Tagged ‘Bob Rowell’

Sometimes the best way to serve is not to serve at all. 

J’s blog is about servant leadership, about “living your why.” He closes his posts with an invitation to schedule a phone call with him. “We’ll talk about whatever is on your mind.”

I wanted to affirm and strengthen my connection with J, and I am attracted to the blog’s themes. Accordingly, I took him up on his offer. 

It was a pleasant conversation. However, as a servant leader, J wanted to serve, and that required me to have a need. 

After some digging, I admitted that I thought my weak point was lack of accountability. For most of the things I do to turn my diverse gifts into service, nobody notices if I do them or not.

“Choose just one thing and commit to doing it every day for sixty-six days. Check in with me at the end of each week. I’ll be your witness,” J told me. 

J’s suggestion was sound, and his offer kind and generous. To my surprise, I felt terrible after I hung up. 

I don’t like being the needy one. Here’s what would really help: “Bob, your skill in X is wonderful; I could sure benefit from your doing some of it.”

Sometimes the greatest service is to be served. Often, validation of worth is what people need most.  

For a servant leader, stepping back from finding a fix can be difficult. That’s certainly true of me. I delight in suggesting a remedy to someone’s problem. 

This engenders a tightrope act. I want to use my gifts in service. I would benefit from a little help here and there. At the same time, I don’t want to be reminded that my efforts yield little fruit. How do I seek and receive help yet avoid feeling inadequate? 

Concerning my own leadership role: when does greatest service mean being a recipient? 

How can I validate others? It may be asking for and accepting their service. It may be praise. It could be a gift, or a touch, or a phone call or card. 
Establishing a culture of appreciation is, perhaps, vital. In such a culture, service must be given—and received. 


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7 Habits To Fight Depression

Fighting depression is tough. Thankfully, there are some behaviors that tend to keep the foe at arm’s length.

You can use a simple technique to have a behavior well on its way to occurring automatically within a week.

The technique I’m talking about is BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits.

One trick is to keep the behavior something you can do in less than thirty seconds. By making it short and sweet it becomes something you can do pretty much however you feel.

Another key is to anchor it to something, preferably associated with the habit behavior, you do every day. After every occurrence, carry out the tiny habit.

The third trick is to reinforce the behavior each time you do it. Little celebrations, such as humming a victory fanfare or pumping your fist in the air, release endorphins in your brain.

Depression is a cruel son of a bitch. Depression fights dirty. Having some weapons to fight back just might give you a little edge.

Before you know it it’s a habit you don’t even think about. Pretty cool.

Here’s a list of behaviors that can help ward off depression:

  • eating a healthy diet
  • cultivating gratitude
  • creative activity
  • meditation
  • maintaining a support system (keeping in contact with people who care about you)
  • spending time in nature
  • cardiovascular exercise

Let’s take the first one: eating a healthy diet. That’s too vague. To be a good target for a habit, the behavior must be simple and specific.

Say you want to limit your junk food intake. Putting a serving into a small bowl gives you two benefits: fill up the bowl and it looks like a lot; the trek back to the kitchen is a barrier to mindlessly eating more.

Opening the bag of chips is the perfect trigger. And of course you celebrate when you fill the little bowl.

The recipe is “After I open a bag of chips, I will pour a serving into a small bowl.”

Cultivate gratitude

After I pour some chips into a small bowl, I will consciously and deliberately savor the first chip.

Creative activity

After I wash the dinner dishes I will play three chords on my guitar. 


After I close the door upon returning home from work, I will take three deep breaths. 

Maintaining a support system

After I process my business email I will send a short note to a friend.

Spending time in nature

After I sit down at my desk I will gaze at a photograph of an idyllic scene. (There’s benefit in just appreciating a beautiful image. But you’re likely to develop an urge to visit a local park.)

Cardiovascular exercise

After I pee, I will do two jumping jacks.

Pick three you like. Or create your own. Then write them down. (I know that sounds silly, but it really helps. You’ll remember them better and writing them will give your commitment a serious boost.)

Depression is a cruel son of a bitch. Depression fights dirty. Having some weapons to fight back just might give you a little edge. Especially if you can wield them with virtually no effort.


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A local club recently invited me to speak about the benefits of participation and cohesion. Or, you might say, organizational vitality.

Some leaders of the group envision a more vibrant club. It would be able to do so much more for the community. It would be better for networking. There would be greater camaraderie and more fun.


I agreed that it was a very important topic. Furthermore, I’ve learned a good deal about it, and am quite eager to help out. But I strongly urged a different topic for the speech.

Talking Won’t Make A Difference

For one thing, talking is very unlikely to make any difference.

Sure, a skilled speaker might make an audience feel good, and even enable them to recite great things about cohesion and participation.

Even for a world-class speaker, though, that would be difficult. Because before you can sell a solution, your audience must feel the pain of not adopting it. They would have to admit that their current performance is inadequate.

But even that speech wouldn’t change the condition of the club.

The reason they asked me to address the topic of organizational vitality is because some people felt a dissonance. The club they have doesn’t match the club they want. The resolution comes from creating alignment between the desired and the actual.

Resolve the Dissonance: Embrace Your Strengths!

One way to resolve that dissonance might be to embrace and celebrate the club as it is. In this particular organization, members attend meetings every week. Objectively, that is a lot of energy, resources, and, undoubtedly, combined talent!

It could be that by recognizing their strengths and partnering with other community entities, the club would discover that it has everything it needs. There are success stories that border on miraculous, all because of collaboration. Rather than do everything, each partner complements the others by providing the component function they already do well.

Resolve the Dissonance: More Vim!

The other way to resolve the dissonance would be to elevate the level of vitality. Talking about it is unlikely to have any effect. What might?

You Have Control

It often helps to consider how much control one already has. Even if it is ability to change things in a negative direction, it can reduce the feeling of impotence. And if you can figure out how you could make it worse, maybe reversing those efforts 180 degrees could deliver the results you want.

So what could you do to create more lethargy in an organization? You might

  • Make the meetings difficult to attend
  • Have goals and activities that members don’t think of as their own
  • Make sure meetings are predictable and dull
  • Make members feel overburdoned by demands on their time and resources
  • Build a sense of resentment and frustration because a small contingency does all the work
  • Make members feel unappreciated

Here are the opposite actions. There might be something here that could improve vitality.

  • Make meetings more convenient
  • Make planning open, inclusive and transparent
  • Incorporate surprises in meetings
  • Reduce demands on time and resources
  • Broaden the distribution of duties through delegation
  • Create activities and events that honor members

You Need Target Behaviors. Shared Experiences

One difficulty of improving vitality is that it is hard to define and measure. Imagine your reaction if someone got up in front of the group and said, “OK, we’re all in favor of participation and cohesion. So on the count of “three,” everybody cohere!”


Cohesion grows out of shared experiences, and, to a lesser degree, shared values and goals.

Now, in contrast with cohesion, experiences provide for some very clear target behaviors. And once you have a clear target behavior, there are some great tools to bring it about.

Create Something Special!

A group retreat can be wonderful for increasing organizational vitality. Creating something out of the ordinary lets everyone know that this is important. Food is always good for bringing people together. Include games or activities that require everyone to work together. Give each member plenty of chance to share their opinions about the organization and how to make it stronger. Celebrate your strengths!

When Time Is Limited

A retreat may be impractical, or members may be unwilling to invest that extra time. There are still plenty of things you can do within the context of regular meetings.

They need to be short, of course, but there are plenty of activities that can increase esprit de corps.

  • Have a discussion about what people like about the club. But start it out with buzz groups of two or three.
  • Do the same with how the club could be even better.
  • Take turns expressing appreciation for another member. Focus on diversity.
  • Any challenge–especially physical (it’s more fun!) that requires full participation to accomplish it.

Change Is Hard. Recruit New Blood

You can try to change the people you have, or get new people. (Hint: change is hard.) Here are some tips on recruiting.

A Vital Organization

Reassessing your resources just might show you that your organization is just fine the way it is. If, however, you are convinced that you need greater participation and cohesion, you can’t really do it by talking. There may well be steps you can take to make it easier and more rewarding. There are also activities you can implement to help. And don’t forget about bringing in new blood.

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Usually, we do our best to carry out our projects on our own. But what would it be like if a couple other organizations, or a dozen, or the whole community cooperated on the project?

Coral reef community.

Coral reef community.

One strategy is to partner with friends who share the same aims. Another can be called “functional collaboration.” This approach utilizes partnerships with organizations already fulfilling the component functions of the project.

Here are a few examples of projects that enjoy the benefits of partnerships. Perhaps you’ll find some ideas about how partnering with friends can add more effect to your cause.

Fork It Over

Metro, the regional government serving greater Portland Oregon, was looking for ways to reduce the 180,000 tons of food being dumped annually in landfills. They partnered with the Oregon Food Bank to develop the Fork It Over program. It gave food businesses a safe and easy way to donate that food, rescuing it from the waste stream and getting it to those in need.

Eventually, partnerships burgeoned to include industry professional organizations, food industry personalities, Health Department inspectors, media providers, government recycling outreach staff, numerous food rescue agencies and dozens of donor businesses.

Each partner drew on their particular strengths to fill roles in support of the overreaching goals. In addition to donating, receiving and distributing food, these roles included encouraging participation of peers, publicity, planning, and providing infrastructure.

As a result of all this collaboration, tons of food were saved from the dump and diverted to people in need. Food businesses saved on their waste disposal fees. And Metro got a very high rate of return on their grants: Every dollar spent yielded $31 in benefits.

Check out the case study here.

Diaper Bank project

Many low-resource families have to balance spending $100 a month on diapers with other priorities, such as clothing and rent. Want of diapers affects elder abuse, ability to keep a job, and social isolation as well as health and comfort of babies. A surprisingly wide range of community ills could be alleviated by providing diapers.

A community benefit consulting company saw that there were programs offering assistance for food and other basic needs, but no help when it came to diapers. So they started a diaper bank.

As the project evolved, the planners began a process of “functional collaboration.” They broke it down to determine the functional components, then they looked around to see who else in town was doing that function. Examples of functional needs included warehousing, case management, transportation, and promotion.

Eventually, the entire community owned the project. Schools and businesses conducted diaper drives, and other groups filled needed roles by simply doing what they were already doing.

“The result is a program that is immensely lean, immensely agile, able to handle considerably more volume than it otherwise could,” says Hildy Gottlieb, one of the project designers.

Details are in the book, Pollyanna Principles.

Check out the article on this project here.

Roofers, Road Builders and Recycling Shingles

Thanks to a coalition of waste management, roofing contractors, and the road construction department, everybody is coming out a winner.

Instead of dumping torn-off shingles in the landfill, the roofers give them to the road builders. The shingles from a typical home provide enough material to build fifty feet of new highway.

Waste management sees their landfill expanding a little less quickly. Roofers save on disposal fees. And the highway construction department (and the taxpayers) receive free material.

(Thanks to Chuck Hester, truline Roofing, for providing this example.)

Instead of competing...

Instead of competing…

... try partnering!

… try partnering!

How Might Partnering Give Your Cause More Effect?

When it comes down to your community benefit projects, how might partnering give your cause more effect? What are some groups or people that share your aims or provide complementary services? How might you go about reaching out to these allies?

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Let’s talk about your bottom line.


Here are some metrics which will guarantee greater effectiveness for your organization.

Everybody knows what is meant by “bottom line.” It tells whether your organization is profitable, and by how much. If yours is a for-profit organization, it is the goal towards which everything else aims.

But that bottom line does not necessarily tell if your organization is successful and effective. Unless the sole objective of your organization is to make money.

Bhutan and Gross National Happiness

Consider the country of Bhutan. They are, of course, concerned with economic wellbeing, and keep a close eye on their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

But they are also intensely interested in the happiness of their citizens. Before they are adopted, proposed policies are examined through the filter of the Gross National Happiness (GNH).

Bhutan’s GDP is a measure of the country’s economic bottom line. The GNH is a measure of another bottom line. Policies are chosen based on their ability to advance both of them.

If You Don’t Measure It …

If you don’t measure a given metric, you’re probably not going to make advances. And if you do make progress in that area, you probably won’t even notice.

A “Chamber of Commerce” With A Twist

Here’s another example. The Sierra Business Council is a sort of regional chamber of commerce in California’s great mountain range, the Sierra Nevada. They want businesses to be increasingly prosperous.

But that’s not all. SBC combines this economic bottom line with two others: community wellbeing and environmental integrity. They see these three bottom lines as interdependant. After all, the natural environment is important to tourism, an important business of the region. And those mountain folks have a keen appreciation for their towns and neighbors.

Plotting For Success

What are your organization’s desired outcomes? the goal towards which everything else aims? What other bottom lines might you have?

CompassPoint offers a system for visualizing how dual bottom lines interact. The graph below shows resources along the horizontal axis, and mission impact along the vertical axis. (Thanks to Susan Mooney for directing my attention to this.)


Mission impact is the true aim of nonprofits, local and regional governmental agencies, utility companies, and other organizations. Resources (including but not limited to money) provide the wherewithall to carry that out.


The folks at CompassPoint use a graph like this to help organizations decide which activities they should adopt, and which to avoid.

High mission impact is your ultimate aim. So anything at the top of the graph–quadrants 1 and 2–is something you want to pursue.

Activities in quadrant 4 don’t yield much outcome for your mission. But they do yield a high return in resource development. (Think broadly about the resources that can give greater effect for your cause! Funding is but a fraction.)

You should shun anything that neither furthers your underlying mission nor provides you with more wherewithall (quadrant 3).

In your organization, never neglect your bottom line(s). Recognize and define what they really are. Because measuring those bottom lines can help keep you on track, can help you set meaningful objectives, and will probably show you more resources than you had suspected.

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Bob Rowell, Strategic Communicator

I’m an idealist. I care about stuff, such as world hunger, clean air, my Toastmasters club, and the wellbeing of my friends. The important thing, to me, is people taking action.

For years, working with museums, health clinics and the Peace Corps, I helped people to understand and to care. But I observed, to my immense dismay, that enlightened self-interest, intellectual agreement, even emotional involvement seldom bring about action.

My investigation into what really works has revolutionized my approach. It turns out that the influences that inform our behavior include such factors as fear of loss, what our neighbors think, and having the right trigger telling us to make a move. Some factors are so obvious we often overlook them. Many others are unexpected, at least at first.

For example, Brenda, an officer in my Toastmasters club, was frustrated at the low compliance in completing a particular form. Rather than try to drum up more motivation, I made the task easier to do: I scheduled it into a meeting agenda. Brenda got her information, and 100% compliance.

Another example: My dear friend Gwen was struggling with keeping her house tidy. I suggested she invite her neighbor over for weekly tea. Gwen didn’t need a lecture about cleanliness, she needed a trigger.

Whether you are interested in people using more sustainable transportation, taking their medications on time, or contributing to your cause, the desired end result is action–people saying yes.

So now, rather than delivering information, I focus on delivering yeses.

I want to share with you.

Especially if you pick up the tools and apply them. Because our missions require action.


You’ll find all my social media presence is here: XeeMe

Here is my LinkedIn profile.

Contact Info
Phone: 760-902-9492; 760-671-6747
email: rowell_robert@yahoo.com

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Bob Rowell, Strategic Communicator

I’m really excited about helping people. If it helps individuals, or communities, or the natural resources around us, it’s probably something I want to promote.

I spent a lot of years delivering information. My venues included museums, nature centers, medical clinics, and Peace Corps, in Guatemala and across the United States. I taught everybody from toddlers to senior citizens, professionals to illiterate peasants. My subject matter was all over the map, too: reforestation, diet, anatomy and physiology, natural history, physics and more.

All the time, though, my real aim was to see things improve. But even though I loved teaching, and my audiences loved me, people weren’t changing their behavior. Inevitably, I got very depressed.

So I began to investigate what really works when it comes to delivering behavior change. Because missions require action. What I’ve learned has revolutionized my approach.

I gave up on delivering information. Now I deliver yeses. I discovered that I’m not interested in people knowing why; I’m interested in people taking action. What’s really important is what they do.

I sought out and studied with BJ Fogg, whom Fortune Magazine listed as one of “10 New Gurus You Should Know.” Another teacher is Doug McKenzie-Mohr , who is a member of Canada’s National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. My teacher and friend Nedra Weinreich’s clients include Cedars Sinai Medical Center and The Nature Conservancy. At a seminar by Joel Roberts, I rubbed shoulders with an Air Force general who was there to learn how to make a billion-dollar pitch to the Pentagon.

I want to share with you.

Especially if you pick up the tools and apply them. Because our missions require action.


You’ll find all my social media presence is here: XeeMe.

Here is my LinkedIn profile.

Contact Info
Phone: 760-902-9492; 760-671-6747
email: rowell_robert@yahoo.com

Social Media Marketing Online Learning Course

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