You’ve probably heard the Chinese proverb: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Another way to think about it: all big and complex things start with a simple step forward.
In many situations, however, that first step might not be so simple.
You likely have your own personal list of to-dos that have been gnawing at you for what seems like forever. For whatever reason, you keep procrastinating and pushing them to the back burner.
That tendency is multiplied when you consider projects that require a team or collaborative approach. Maybe you have a list of projects that you want finished, but you never seem to have the time, energy, or organization to move them forward.
At Reach Partners we’ve seen projects fail to launch or stall because a successful start was an obstacle. Starting is harder than it looks.
We want to be the best human beings we can be. We strive to be transformed, so we read.
We read books about leadership, personal growth, and business. We appreciate lovely fiction and poetry. We read because it’s one way we can grow and empathize with others, to see the world and our actions from a different point of view.
Essentially, we read to be better human beings who will do good work with other good humans.
The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality and systemic racism (which we’ve benefited from) remind us that there is still much more we need to learn and understand. More than ever, we need to keep listening and learning from our Black friends, partners and neighbors.
Whenever we plan an event, an in-depth meeting, a social gathering, or virtual experience Reach Partners will always argue for the same thing. Every time.
This thing is the most important detail for every planned interaction. It is the life blood of our work and what drives us to do better every day. Most importantly it’s the power, the energy that fuels the work at hand.
How do you tap into this energy? How do you make it work for you? Draw the right audience? Craft the right marketing activities? Align stakeholders? Create value?
You start by defining purpose.
C.S. Lewis once said that integrity is doing what is right even when nobody is watching. We like that definition, and we like our own interpretation: Integrity means we do what we say we are going to do.
At Reach Partners, we don't make empty promises to make our partners and ourselves feel good. We follow through. And we enjoy working with partners who do the same. We value integrity; here are some ways we do:
When we moved into our new office space (across the hall from our previous location) last summer, something felt familiar.
I couldn’t exactly put my finger on what or why. I had visited the space when it was inhabited by another company, but I hadn’t spent a lot of time in there. Yet, I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that something significant had taken place in the very spot where I now work.
And then I had my ah-ha moment: My office used to be Tony’s office. You see, Tony’s work experiences have made me pause and reflect on work life at Reach Partners.
Tony was a long-term employee who worked with this other company in our building. Several years ago she requested one day off – July 10.
I recognize that granting vacation requests or personal days off can be complicated. But from what I understand about this business’s industry, mid-July wasn’t a busy time of the year. From what I knew about Tony, she was hard working and committed.
I don’t know why Tony asked for the day off, but it didn’t matter. Her boss said no. In response, Tony put in her two-weeks’ notice and left the company.
I’m sure denying the request for a day off wasn’t the only reason Tony left, but it certainly was the last straw for her.
Yes, there are rules and employee handbooks to follow. There are good reasons, as an employer, to have policies in place. There also are situations where employers and employees have to make hard choices. For example, I took off less time after my second child was born than I did when my first child arrived. Rachel once chose to fly from Minneapolis to Bismarck so she could attend a family wedding and fulfill a client obligation over the same weekend.
As at any company, Reach Partners always tries to balance the responsibilities of work with the responsibilities of personal life. Sometimes it’s easy; sometimes it’s not. Still, we believe our team is happier, healthier, and more productive when we trust our people to make decisions about their time.
Never do I want to run the kind of company that isn’t willing to consider an employee’s request for personal time. Tony’s company lost an experienced employee. I still wonder if her boss regrets his decision to deny her a day off.
In honor of Tony, we have observed July 10 as a Reach Partners holiday for several years.
This year, Tony’s Day Off will be held a day early because of some scheduling conflicts. That’s okay. What’s important is that we take a day off and recognize that sometimes the best policy is showing a little empathy and trust.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an updated version of a post that ran July 7, 2015.
In case you hadn’t noticed, we LOVE the color purple.
Since we began, our Reach Partners identity has been represented by shades of the color. We think purple perfectly represents our values of gratitude, integrity, beauty, possibility, and empathy. Plus, it makes a powerful, but accessible statement.
I’m sure it wasn’t the only reason Tony left her position but I know it was the last straw.
Tony, a long-term employee who worked with another company in our building, requested one day off, July 10. From what I understand of that businesses’ industry, it wasn’t a busy time of year. Whatever Tony’s reasons for the request, it didn’t matter; her boss wouldn’t allow her to take the day off. So she put in her two-weeks’ notice and left.
Sure there are rules, employee handbooks to follow and many good reasons to have policies in place. There are situations when we have to make hard choices for our time. For example, I worked much more following my second child than my first; and Rachel made the choice to fly from Minneapolis to Bismarck in order to attend a family wedding and fulfill an obligation for a client the same weekend.
Never do I want to run the kind of company that isn’t willing to consider an employee’s request for personal time. I still wonder if he regretted his decision to deny Tony a day off.
Now, July 10 is an observed Reach Partners holiday. We honor Tony, and ourselves, by closing the office to remember what’s truly important.
It doesn’t matter if it’s not your job, it has to be done.
After an event, exhausted and exhilarated, it’s fun to rehash and relive the ugly and the worst. It’s human nature to revile stories that entail grand screws ups (someone else’s). But it’s even better to share the stories of the plucky heroine, who jumped in at the critical time of need, set aside ego or an opportunity for rest and without complaint, cheerfully donned another hat for the good of all. A superhero for the small stuff: able to serve, move and aid.
Those opportunities to step-up don’t come along everyday but on those grisly occasions you learn who you want on your team: the intern that sees a need and fulfills, the CEO that pushes aside ego and picks up a plate, the staff member who acts to solve the problem.
It’s safe to say, I want Anita on my team.
Rachel, Reach Partners