Our Pierogi Dinner was about collaboration, but food related events won’t return soon

There is plenty of collaboration in successful community events, its even easier with Zoom and Trello.

My community group has historically done large eating-oriented events that brought out 600-800 paying customers, often (over) filling the school cafeteria. Our fish fries have been legendary forever, Oyster Roasts an October tour de force our members and others loved.

The original pierogi event came from one member (Stephen Fogg), who suggested it as a substitute for a not well-attended spaghetti night in late January. Noting that, “Every Catholic church in Cleveland has pierogi dinners every Friday in Lent,” was math many former Yankees in our club could imagine. He served about 50 of us those buttery, cheese and potato filled Polish delicacies, what most describe as like ravioles. For many, it was comfort food from childhood.

It’s truly a Collaborative Process

We decided to do a test run the week before the dinner, and besides cooking the kielbasa and slivered onions that would make workers familiar with production tasks and timing, we made 1200 kolacky cookies. It took about 2 1/2 hrs. dedicated effort, turning balls of dough into, smaller, thin squares, dab a blob of jelly in the middle and fold cookies.

Those cookies were THE inspired hit. Only two at a time rationing, unforgettable. We were short of *everything,* bought out the nearby Harris Teeter on supplies, including turkey kielbasa, more onions, and sour cream.

https://cdtalententerprises.com/2019/11/06/pierogis-as-content-collaboration-success-model/ I’ve used this as ‘thought leadership’ several times. From first presentation of pierogi possibility to counting the dollars that went with massive group pride in the successful operation, it was four months total. The speed of ‘best practices’ collaboration between remote workers involved in any project today hits a ‘reach out and touch’ standard with Zoom.

When our marketing, essentially just church bulletins as far as Rock Hill, produced wild response, people coming down the stairs at 5:01, we started ringing the register at all levels. Customer satisfaction? Highest rating every time.

Like the Oyster Roast (October) and what had been a 34-year tradition of selling Christmas trees starting after Thanksgiving, we’re not doing pierogies this year, and didn’t last year, because really good crowds are not how we break COVID-19’s grip on being together.

Fogg & minions= collaboration

Job Two Counts Big

That means, at the most basic level of collaboration, masking up as an act together for a common goal. Call it best practices overall, IMHO, Pandemic is Job One.

Job Two is putting some economic levers back into full play, and WFH (work from home), the ability of not-in-the-same-place talents to be immediately and easily incorporated into a creative flow, has proven that connectivity and productivity can maintain high standards.

Naysayers might point to ‘job encroachment syndrome’ or something similar, because widely diffused sources don’t always slot easily with time on task vs. ‘dark hours.’ For every ‘The Intern,’ where a go-go executive learns the human cost of constantly being ON regarding business, you’ll find dozens who have found a rhythm they can live with.

Perhaps not including those who swapped drive time with at home schooling concerns, or might have to consider paycheck alterations – If we’re ALL tele-commuting, sending contributions to a central point, able to SEE the results in real time, should there be a location differential?

There isn’t a room full of Mad Men-style creatives down the hall any more. Whole operations are dedicated to the proposition of lots of people doing pieces, with a use ’em and lose ’em financial philosophy.

A rugby – COVID-19 analogy for a lack of sports Wednesday: Gotta make the catch

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Having used the analogy several times over years of writing, the ultimate factor as the receiver of a downfield kick-punt in rugby, a game everyone knows is rough, is you can’t whiff on it or let it go, you HAVE to catch it. That high, hanging up there one especially.

You’ve seen it dozens of times in football, “the bomb squad” guys who pulverize a punt returner who doesn’t wave his arm in a fair catch signal.

Now take out the pads and helmet. And the fair catch signal. Yeah, crunch time, pal.

Well, actually you can TRY fair catching it, by simultaneously catching the ball, digging a heel into the turf, and shouting, “Mark!” but most experienced players will tell you to run even if you do it right, because not everyone knows the rule.

I sure didn’t back in 1981, when I went *through* a guy who invoked it. I learned about it at the keg later, when the guy – who was a referee and certainly did it right – told another guy about running and not everyone knowing the rule.

Part Two of that is being on the receiving end of getting railed, where you can SEE that ball and different colored jersey are going to arrive at the same time. Whether or not you’ve been clobbered at such a moment, that very short moment of impact, your life gets changed.

It’s going to be a problem (challenge? pssshhh!) either way.  If you try to avoid the blast and let the ball bounce, and bing, bang, boom! they score, thats a mark (soft?) you’ll have to carry for a while.

Otherwise, when they peel you off the turf, there are only a couple questions that make any difference. The primary one related to potential concussions is supposed to be “What’s your name?” with the expectation you don’t know that, fuggidaboudit. After taking the abuse, many want to know if their team kept the ball.

If you say something about, “But I don’t wanna go to school, Mom!” they put someone else in the game.

The Analogy

Lots of Americans, and people around the world, are “sheltering in place” now, WAITING, as a rugby fullback often does, for the ball to finally get there. Nobody else can make the play, and whether people think differently about you at this specific time, will count on how you handle the opportunity.

We’re not talking about taking the kick all the way back for a score, we’re not talking about the ball bouncing off you, and everyone scrambling while you hopefully have the ability to choose between covering your head or curling in a ball to protect yourself, and will someone PLEASE get that telephone!

It’s absolutely about making the catch. Not doing anything crazy, but nooo, its not going to be easy either way.

Staying in place is making the catch without sweating a different colored jersey in your peripheral vision. There’s no “Whats your name?” factor either. You cannot hurt the team by hanging out around the home work space right now, maybe even have a beer during work hours. 

Need another rugby analogy? So, this THICK, Samoan-looking #8 guy (and yes, the tats are part of it) picks up the ball and comes around the scrum, motoring right at our captain, and from inside center position, I swear I heard him gulp.

Captain sat out the previous season after a broken collarbone, and having this ever-lovin’ chunk of humanity coming full steam ahead, he knew somebody had to stick their head in there and stop that bowling ball.

Which I did, taking him low, because otherwise you bounce off, have no effect. I’ll remind any readers that, in rugby tackling, there’s no roll blocking someones feet,  so a legal tackle involves circling your arms, which means having to put your head in near knees and feet.

Doing whats needed

That’s what “somebody” needed to do about stopping that situation, it didn’t have to be Davey at that point though. We need LOTS of somebodies doing whats needed to get “real life” back any kind of sooner. Like rugby, this COVID-19 isn’t a one shot situation, more like Spring and Fall season. Sports-wise, its going to be more of a marathon-like survival than a win-loss on any scoreboard.

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AME Zion Church during Sanders rally for environment

If I stay in place another couple weeks, doing leadership thought blogs, and working on another book instead of deciding to pack a church next weekend,  that’s making the best choice, given the alternatives. Even here, in the Buckle on the Bible Belt, I don’t believe we’re going to break on what needs to be done even at a holy time on most calendars.

I’m for sure not planning on taking COVID-19 straight up, but I’ll make the catch or right play when its needed. I can certainly feed myself without any problem, my last expedition to neighborhood Aldi, had no problem getting everything I needed to batten down, including a couple bottles of 3-buck chuck. Here’s hoping we can rely on “the other guys” to do their part as well on the best practices front.

And yes, the people working smile when you ask if they’re getting enough props.

A high caliber nurse in this arena offered to make me two masks, which makes me sure its going to be of a quality those brave people wear, ones for my brother. She and a couple others are cranking them out besides doing 24s and a couple 12 hr. shifts a week. I’m doing the bandana and gloves, and hell yes! you take your gloves and whatever garbage with you after shopping or whatever.

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Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talent Enterprises 
(704) 502-9947

 

 

 

Boost to best practices was time well invested for Week Two of COVID-19 “in place”

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Brother Mike was originally going to be at home on two-week rotation – now kitchen is his office.

The premise of “picking against homeys” question on my landing page, with a Final Four date in April for CDTalent Enterprises to write 1,200 word Leadership Thought blogs for two readers, has been extended. If you still want to leave a comment, feel free.

As a mostly remote worker, and someone who does a number of physical, outdoor activities solo, this world-event virus hasn’t changed that level of lifestyle, nor my operational effectiveness on a contract basis. Personally and professionally, there are still any number of effective projects to go forward with. Case in point:

During Week Two of “staying in place,” I edited a 73,000 word previously self-published book onto the wattpad application over six days, and adding pictures! I pushed my favorite project, CARDS & CONSEQUENCES: Return of Marlena the Magnificent into a much better orbit.

What would jumping awareness of your corporate being 500% mean for your “operation?”

Work at home, THAT’S legit “Deal with it” bone

Saying it didn’t affect my active lifestyle or professional effectiveness, which has been primarily an electronic vs. site specific operation for several years, there’s still no doubt that COVID-19 is the overriding topic of the times. (Mulvaney who? but yes, deal with it.)

While often quoting Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) about how much energy we spend on worrying about things we have no control over, I’m believing that doing what you can, worrying can’t be 24/7.

I’ve done the plan on wash, wipe down, minimal contact-no crowd events, have food in the house, gas is like a buck-eighty, but the whole country is about to be in semi-deep freeze. Speaking for myself, I’m informed and still worried. That stock market screaming in the background, I don’t have a dog in that reallllly serious fight to worry about.

Please, I have toilet paper, but those front line medical people need protective gear. Things do not work out well if there’s less personnel.

I’m generally considered very fit, a Boomer who decided to keep on right side of Nature with eating and exercise. Might not get to show that off at 45th reunion, scheduled for October, but it also means being in upper age group most effected by virus.

I’ve relied on ACA for two major events – bicycling accident, knee replacement – and am beyond satisfied with the health care I’ve received. Part Two, yes, I’m worried about whether this bringing down the curve will help as much as necessary.

Doesn’t it sound like any kind of success when all sports leagues, the NCAAs, NASCAR, (eventually) the Olympics, *CHURCHES* in Charlotte, the buckle on the Bible Belt, two of the most populous states, have said “stay put,” and have the political will to do what’s best ASAP?

How many people KNOW Cuomo is doing a helluva job, or that Trump won’t allow that Dr. Fauci to say he was wrong too many times, even when Trump spreads mis-information in the most dangerous ways. World pictures show famous places with nobody in sight – so we’re maybe doing something right?

Yeah, I know, and then there’s Spring Break. That the Spanish Flu was primarily spread by all the soldiers coming back from WWI is a fact, and another is that a LOT less concern for social distancing on the beaches by millions of relatively young, is going to be equally dramatic in terms of the communities they return to.

First shot at tracking

One company tracked the location of cell phones in use from ONE beach during that period, and how those blips redistributed across most of the East was enlightening. Somewhere along the lines, you’re always taking a chance. Early scourges for my generation were herpes and AIDS, and certain behaviors mattered. Right now, almost nothing does. Not apocalyptic, but LOTS to think about, right?

Will that invalidate the safety factor I tried for by staying close to home for over three weeks, or how much longer beyond 6-8 weeks? Puts a dent in the idea for sure. A certain poll shows 81% to 8% NO WAY people go back to work “just because.”

Back to the idea of The ONE Thing

Recognizing that I accomplished the rejuvenation of a major project, elevating ‘Cards’ from bargain bin status to a platform with a terrific array of potential outlets – links with publishers, movies! – is still only two-thirds of an actual achievement. Admitting the look and feel of the online product surpasses even having first 60 copies in hand a while ago, is easy though.

Its also important to me, because the days after I put everything right on that site as a “creative,” the What’s Next? marketing persona took over. A number of options have been uncovered, one of which requires having a second 50,000 word book completed on the site. Long-form informational blogging and time on creative all put Writing back in prime slots of my schedule.

Which is an essential part of ONE Things – While you do an array of tasks in pursuit of the overall plan, your effort is on the result, not just movement. Putting minimal spin on the idea of “in place,” sending request for proposals information is part of the remote worker process, and time on task (creative) moves the overall project as well.

I don’t actually need to get out of the house for food, and I just picked up another video interview. Cap’n America slugging it out with Iron Man, “I can do this all day”? Might have to.

There’s been an immediate, dramatic change in these United States. We’re going to find out about having flattened any curves pretty soon, and no, not everyone is going to make it safely to “the end of this.” Realistically, the Spanish Flu was even more deadly when it came back around the winter of 1918-19.

But, just in case you haven’t got anything great to read socked away, come on back here, or check out that link. For now, my ONE Thing can be good for both of us.

   
Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talent Enterprises 
(704)502-9947

Day 1 as Christmas tree volunteer, cheery family event, plenty of sales, Scouts were super

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Yanking a decently big one through the baler was earning your spurs. Its a dang poor job that can’t afford a supervisor, this one has two.

Post-Thanksgiving and upcoming-Christmas have a grand meeting the day after Turkey Day, and beyond super deals on 55″ wide screen splendor, getting the family Christmas tree acquired extra ASAP priority because of the “late start” on that part of the season. We (St. Gabriel MC) had a splendid, even optimal first day – ideal weather and easy to say ‘yes’ to product and pricing, the Scouts and a bunch of HS kids getting service hours were consistently good workers, the families we served excited.

This is our 35th year of selling trees at St. Gabriel, and as a challenge to working your verbal skills and keeping projects moving positively, volunteer activities count. The ‘crew’ spans from 13 to 93 years old, cash table and wreaths and chainsaws. Everyone was on the same page in getting the show on the road, and it turns out, several of those Scouts can actually SELL.

I believe how well things operate goes directly to work-force education programs, giving concise instructions, getting  actions described and checked on (stocking trees, picking up branches), shaking branches to open things up was instilled as best practices. I sold and chainsaw-trimmed the first two customers myself over an hour before we officially opened because people showed up.

Getting young workers filling racks with trees by size was task one, cutting blue string-bound trees (especially junk around the top), and expecting two carriers taking trees to cutting area was procedure. You can’t help smiling when strong young men tell you they can handle the White size themselves.

A sense of humor works great. Scouts were *death* on tying knots for trees on roofs after I reminded customers, “We haven’t lost one in 35 years, nobody wants to be #1 on that list.” 

Cutting loose and having fun, selling Christmas trees is a joyful no-brainer. You KNOW people are there to get that tree *now,* and while mentioning that $$$ raised stays in Charlotte for a variety of community projects, the fact that PRICING barely even registers for the vast majority of Day One customers is a lock. With no hourly wages for our workforce, how much tree you want gets easier to accomplish.

We’ll sell 900-plus trees in less than three weeks, and having an A-1 supplier (I usually say “4-time Grower of the Year” when people ask where we get the trees from) certainly counts. It’s an old school relationship, built on time, and whatever big (9′-10′), big-based trees we received, not everyone else is selling those. Tree size availability goes back to the recession years, when many tree farms going out of business didn’t plant what would now be the popular 7-8 footers.

The last family on Friday, the little girl with her princess dress and lighted sneakers, had brats for dinner and then bought the tree that had the fat bottom Dad liked, with a yellow tag price. Bingo, memories for everyone.

They’re not customers, they’re people and families

Having previously mentioned the opportunity to work your communications skills, we can all become teachers and leaders. On a hustling, eight-hour day, some scenes and ideas stick in my mind.

The collegiate VBer (center hitter) on crutches, three days after surgery, six people had input on how BIG a tree on that. We talked about upcoming therapy because I had a knee replacement two years ago.

The middle school kid who was able to explain the difference between 7-point-8 and 7-dash 8 on our size chart (hey, that he spotted it was something to start) – giving him an attaboy, a small, positive affirmation that cost me nothing.  Proud Mom, and maybe her smart kid helps on a future Men’s Club project.

Lead by example

There are always safety concerns at work, but at a tree lot during early set up, I let my experience inform their work efforts, like lying the tree down instead of stretching to cut something at the top of a 7 footer.

Early on, a HS volunteer who took directions about cutting open a tree, getting better all the time.  Telling guys its okay to press into the tree branches enough with a cardboard cutter to pop the strings, going from bottom to top is the most efficient.

Making sure at least one guy in each group had a blade increased efficiency by a ton.

Being able to yank a tree through the baler was a rite of passage. Give the lightweight20191128_144148 freshman credit for turning down the chance to try – he’d seen it wasn’t easy even for a 220 lb. wrestler. Hey, even two guys pulling a tree through qualifies for getting spurs. At some point, the guys want to see you tug a sort of big one through, and that was fine.

Technology. Even, or especially, our oldest members benefited from clear, picture-labeled products in a lightweight unit, like “10” decorated wreath’ and ‘7 ft. tree.” All sales stats could be brought up immediately, and knowing the actual Day 1 totals was affirming. (Yes ma’am, we can do debit cards.)

The first customers arrived about 9:30, we weren’t officially supposed to start until 11:00, but the customer is essentially right – they came to buy a tree, so find the one they want.

About Thanksgiving dinner

It was super successful, especially for Mom, because there were plenty of older women who were willing to talk with her. The funny part was a LOT of North Carolina lovers watching their #6 Tarheels get thumped by unranked Michigan 73-64. They’d all been looking forward to dissing Duke fans after the  Blue Devils lost on a tip in by Stephen F. Austin at the end of overtime the night before.

It was great that a deep-fried drumstick was reserved for me. Ahhh, tradition.

With all the college age kids around, none seemed at all concerned about politics and 2020 elections.

When there’s a *Working* Engineer on it, That Equals Results

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Chef Chris at Oyster Roast, another great community event. (Monthly mtgs. 1st Fri.)

I have to give a small, generic, shout out to the efforts of a couple guys from my men’s group. After over a year of knowing the disposal in our school kitchen was absolutely shot– and repairs would cost $1,000s— three guys whipped the whole kitchen at St. Gabriel into significantly higher productive shape.

The guy who handled everything but the disposal, Seth, was hired help, and he got several other faulty elements (a second oven was big news, unkink a gas line), and all those fryers we’ll be firing up for our annual Fish Fry on March 10th tested-operational. Last year Men’s Club served almost 700 parishioners and others between 4:30-8:00, when almost everyone is gone. Fryers check was important, the oven appreciated, but that disposal represented an expensive choke point.

Kurt and Pete getting down with  the element required taking it apart down to its guts, and rebuilding from bearings up. (Kurt got the manufacturer  to send it free.) Although neither guy really expects or needs kudos, I still feel – as a journalist, in these more often petty times if you will – its legit to point out simple above-and-beyond deeds.

Trimming chicken and talking at the Men’s Shelter yesterday, Pete made it sound like he barely held a wrench, just read some of the complex directions, which Kurt, lynch pin do-er engineer on the project, was often a step ahead of.

A definite legacy of doing good – SGMC

Our organization, St. Gabriel Men’s Club (SGMC) has a legacy of doing good, beyond our post-Thanksgiving sale of Christmas Trees and this upcoming fish fry, which is actually our biggest one-day community event. The fact that kitchen is *100%* righteous for this event, that a couple someones you’d given a gnarly, long-term negative situation to, and gotten a REALLY great result from them, that’s still worth pointing out.

When you give someone a gnarly, long-term negative situation, and get a REALLY great result from them, that’s still worth pointing out

Open house for new six-unit Hospice opening at Southminster. Not only was hors d’oeuvres cuisine of roast beef-small rye breads, or seared ahi on cucumber (plus) and desserts delightful, its actually fare available to residents. Everyone from the wine server to tour guide, white-coated others, and the bus driver back to car at far side of the impressive Southminster complex, could articulate their part of that community’s mission. As a networking event attitude, having extra time to talk with/learn about people, I told him about Charlotte Bridge Home, because he’s ex-military.