Thursday, November 29, 2012

Either you've got it or you don't

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I'm following along a path I've laid out, writing about topics that interest me.  Today's topic is probably my favorite - Customer Service - and as the title suggests, I would argue that either you've got it, or you don't, there is no in between.

I got all excited to write something inspirational about customer service. I thought about it all day, hoping something would dawn on me.  I searched all kinds of terms, and I found all kinds of new customer experience "thought leaders" to follow on Twitter, but nothing ever surfaced that didn't seem to be preaching to me.

The best thing that I found is what I will share with you - a link to a website with 11 great (and short) customer service stories.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Write. Then write some more.

OK, I failed Na-No-Wri-Mo.

Not only failed it.  I didn't even make it past the 2nd day!  But, for some reason the crazy optimist in me kept the NaNo banner on my Facebook page up... as if I could somehow....

I still want to write.  I still want to tell stories.

When I read something someone else has written and think to myself  "I could do better than that." The fact is, they've already done better than me, because they've written, and I haven't.

And still, storytelling calls to me...

But, I need structure. If not structure, at least a map. Lately, I've been trying to follow a list I've made of the things that interest me. I'm trying to focus each day on one of those topics and blog about it.  Today's topic to focus on was blog/writing. I happened to open what I thought was a spam email,

And I found Storylane

"Storylane works like a blogging platform but is social from the ground up. Your content can be categorized by you and then discovered by our fast growing community. Storylane can breathe new life into the content you created for your old blog and hopefully connect you with people, places, and ideas that can add value and meaning to your life."

OK, add meaning to my life?  I'm not sure I buy that.  But, I was intrigued enough to sign up. And, like the marketing piece on their writing page says:

"If the blank page excites you like nothing else, if you always turn a word twice around before putting it down, if you've ever re-written something twenty times, this is the place for you."

What the heck - it's a start.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Learning, and Inspiration Comes in Threes

Bill Clinton, Joe Thiesmann, and Abraham Lincoln.

An interesting trilogy.

On the surface, they don't have much in common.  A couple of former presidents, all famous, all very inspirational.

And I was lucky enough to meet all three within 30 days.

(OK, I know, Lincoln is dead, but through the magic and the teamwork of another unlikely and interesting trilogy, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Daniel Day Lewis and Steven Allan Spielberg, (since we're going with middle names here) - Lincoln has recently been resurrected.)

I met Bill Clinton at a rally here in North Dakota for Heidi Heitkamp. (OK, I didn't actually meet him. I was, however standing next to Downtown Dad, who did get a handshake and a fist bump as a result of my waving like a madwoman antics, so I think here, among friends I can say I met him.)

Clinton's speech was like a great concert.  He doesn't talk TO the audience, he talks WITH you. At a time when I was troubled by the great conflict between the two parties, point by point, he very respectfully and convincingly explained the opposing messages as only a former president with a deep understanding of policy and politics could. 

I met Joe Theismann at a Chamber of Commerce Luncheon called Voices of Vision. I honestly didn't want to go. All I knew was that this big lunk was a quarterback and he supplied me with the grossest moment I'd ever seen when his leg was broken on live TV. And I don't even watch sports, OK, I was watching THAT game in 1985 for some reason.  

This guy had my attention.  I'm pretty sure this is what they mean when people talk about "locker room speeches."  They are loud.  But in a good way.  Theismann's speech was like a rock concert. I was a little surprised that this jock knew so much about corporate politics. At a time when my department is in the midst of a reorganization, I found some real inspirational ideals to hold on to. In the end, I guess it really is all about teamwork. 

My meeting with Lincoln was a little different.  A little more personal.  It was in the telegraph office where he's about to send a message to General Grant. The setting of this scene is pitch perfect. Almost a metaphor in itself.  It opens with him sitting there, hat in hand, the two telegraph operators waiting for him to tell them what to transmit, -- leaning toward him -- as if to say "listen, something important is going to happen here!" 

Lincoln then muses half to himself and half to the boys about Euclid's theory of Equality.  He says things that are equal to the same thing are equal to each other. He says Euclid calls that a self evident truth. Then,  appearing to make a mental note about that he continues on about equality, and self evident truths. It's a beautiful scene.

These three men's ability to whittle down complex issues to one key principle, or a central idea, directly spoke to me, and inspired me this past month.  

What has inspired you?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Veggie Turkey Soup with Basil Ricotta Dumplings

With so many thanksgiving leftovers still lingering in the fridge, I was feeling the need for something that would bring them all together and this soup is just the ticket.

Light, yet comforting herb flecked ricotta dumplings distinguish this turkey soup from the thousands of others simmering on stoves across the country this weekend.

2 leftover turkey legs plus 2 cups leftover sliced turkey
2 leeks chopped
3 carrots chopped
1 onion chopped
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound green beans
1 can stewed tomatoes
Basil Ricotta Dumplings (recipe below)

In a large frying pan saute the leeks, carrots, onion and green beans in the olive oil until tender. Add the stewed tomatoes.

In a large soup pot pour together the stock and water, add to that the veggie mixture, the turkey legs, and the  sliced turkey.  Bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Remove meat from turkey legs, and discard bones.

Make the Dumplings

1 cup grated Parmeasan ceese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup flour
1 lightly beaten egg
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
liberal amount of ground pepper
salt to taste

Combine the cheeses, flour, egg, basil, salt and pepper until smooth, drop by heaping spoonfulls onto the simmering soup. Cover and cook about 6 to 8 minutes.