With Whom Do You Eat Lunch?

I’m a big proponent of connecting with colleagues, both inside my company and outside of it, during lunch. It’s a finite time, we all need to eat, and we can chat about a relevant topic to each of us in that time.

(Photo by Cynthia Price)

(Photo by Cynthia Price)

However, I have a new approach to lunch, which comes from hearing Polly LaBarre, a founding member of Fast Company and the editorial director of MIX, talk about looking through my “rolodex” and inviting the weirdest or strangest person to lunch once a month.

She was actually referring to Tom Peters, who recommended inviting a weirdo to lunch once a month.

The term weirdo is loosely defined, and the premise is that by inviting someone to lunch who is different from you, you will learn something.

“A person who is equipped with questions and curiosity will attract more attention than the close-minded,” LaBarre said.

So I hope you will view it as a complement if you get a lunch invitation from me.


How to Add Value, Inspire Creativity


(Photo by Cynthia Price)

How do you add value and inspire creativity?

The obvious answer is to shake things up and not do things the way you always have.

That means applying a new set of organizing principles, according to Polly LaBarre, a founding member of Fast Company and the editorial director of MIX.

She says the new organizing principles include:

  1. Coordination happens without centralization.
  2. All ideas compete on equal footing.
  3. Power comes from sharing not hoarding.
  4. The wisdom of the many trumps the authority of the few.
  5. Novel viewpoints get amplified
  6. Mediocrity gets exposed
  7. Intrinsic rewards matter most of all

“Leadership is not a function of where you sit, but of what you can do,” LaBarre told an audience at the 2014 PRSA International Conference.

“I’m here to argue for the power of inquisitiveness over uncertainty,” LaBarre said. “Do you ask more questions than you give answers?”

She recommended developing a list of questions to always ask people. The questions should be playful and open you up to creativity.

Her parting advice: “Try walking a little more stupid and with a whole lot more questions.”

Fast Company’s Polly LaBarre’s Advice

Are you capable of change as fast as the world is changing?

What case do you make for the difference you make in your role?

Are you regularly able to reinvent yourself?

Polly LaBarre encourages developing a sense of energy. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Polly LaBarre encourages developing a sense of energy. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Those were daunting questions asked by Polly LaBarre, a founding member of Fast Company and the editorial director of MIX.

Her advice is not to be afraid, but rather to develop a sense of energy.

She quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson: “There are always two parties, the part of the Past and the party of the Future; the Establishment and the Movement.”

She offered the following advice during the October PRSA International Conference:

Stand for something. The values you stand for will imbue your organization. Your job is to be alive and awake to the shifts, but you also need to know what shouldn’t change. Articulate and advocate for a better future.

“You have to make a case for why what you do really matters,” she said. “Have you developed a story so powerful that people will stand in line for it? That they will tell it for you?”

If they are telling it for you, they most likely are on social media.

Cultivate your innovation DNA. LaBarre posed the question: “How do you do art as a team sport?” She discussed Pixar Animation Studios, which she said “turned the workplace into a canvas.” For example, the visitor badge reads, “A stranger from the outside.” Emergency exit signs at Pixar read, “Exit the building before tweeting about it.”

Lead without authority. The ruling idealogy for so long was “control” but that doesn’t unleash passion and inspiration.

Have you developed your sense of energy?

How to Avoid Jargon Monoxide

I doubt there is a writer alive who hasn’t been told to avoid jargon, acronyms, company speak. We’re all guilty of it as some point, myself included.

To help you avoid it in the future, take the photo from this post, and place it on your computer. It’s from Polly LaBarre, founding member of Fast Company and editorial director of MIX.

When you avoid these words, you will begin to speak “human.”

If you want to speak human, you must avoid:

  • Buzzwords
  • Acronyms
  • Canned Biz Speak
  • Abstract technical terminology, such as incentivize or right size
  • Word barf
  • Verbal detritus (think outside the box)
(Polly LaBarre slide)

(Polly LaBarre slide)