The upside of having a job where the main goal is to distill complex stories into two-sentence summaries is that my teams and I have to find the priority concepts in each one and be as clear as possible when we present them. The downside is that the two-sentence limit makes us cast off details that make the stories come alive.
That’s why I enjoy this exercise every month.
Here are the stories that came alive through details beyond the two-sentence limit in October.
The phrase, “the messenger matters,” is what stuck with me about this story. Darren Walker and Charlize Theron wrote in this piece about the need to engage the local community in solving problems, because that’s where trust begins. “We have seen time and again, in our work with frontline organizations like the Small Projects Foundation, that the messenger matters,” they wrote.
Most-clicked October story: Why “I’m disappointed” can be a powerful opening
Business Transformation SmartBrief
We use this type of analysis from McKinsey often. Sometimes, they seem dense and inscrutable (to me at least). This article addresses growth, sustainability and inclusion as it discusses the fact that the three don’t always progress steadily or in conjunction with each other. Here’s the biggest takeaway: “Good strategy should always start with asking the right questions.”
Most-clicked October story: Why shipping containers are showing up in backyards
International City/County Management Association
I have been editing the ICMA newsletter for more than three years now, and I have gained a deeper appreciation for local government leaders in general, and city managers in particular. This city manager, Ifo Pili, was a flexible enough thinker to be willing to change his perspective about the roots of poverty.
“If we have the lens that people are in poverty because they just want to be there, or because they’re not working … (or) they don’t want to pay the price, … that’s a misconception that I’ve had,” said Pili.
Most-clicked October story: 4 leadership behaviors that destroy team trust
National Association of Social Workers
Does the word “data” make your eyes glaze over? (It’s ok if the answer is “yes.” Discomfort with data is not a moral failure.) When it comes to social services issues, we need to appreciate all of the people who DO like data and make the effort to figure it out. It matters because we need to know who to help, we need to figure out how to help them and (of course) we have to figure out how to pay for that help.
“To tackle a problem, you have to be able to identify the problem,” says Sheryl Kubiak.
Most-clicked October story: Here are 12 phrases that aren’t helpful
National Emergency Number Association
It’s a great thing (in many ways) that technology has improved to the point that it can detect a potential emergency and contact 9-1-1 for us. It’s not that great a thing when something like a roller coaster ride can activate that call to 9-1-1 and clog up dispatchers’ resources. For example, 60% of the accidental 9-1-1 calls received in Sevier County, Tenn., were caused by smartphones and smart devices, not by legitimate emergencies. One recommendation is to put your device on airplane mode before you enjoy the ride.
Most-clicked October story: Audit of D.C. 9-1-1 finds several major problem areas
Reserve Officers Association
My note about this story is simply, “This looks hard!” I especially couldn’t get my head past the fact that only one person in 65 passed the first version of an Army test for the expert field medical badge (and that person didn’t end up earning the badge, which involves other activities such as a 12-mile ruck). The Army made adjustments, though, and allotted more time for mandatory study halls. The pass rate is now much higher.
Most-clicked October story: Army evaluating new techniques for body fat measurement
I had never heard of the Darien Gap before I read this story. The stories in UN Wire often make my team sad, and this one fits right in. To learn more about the Darien Gap, I read this post by Matthew Karsten (Expert Vagabond). It’s impossible to not feel for these innocent children being subject to such an inhospitable place.
Most-clicked October story: Official sounds alarm over mental effects of pandemic
There was more than summary editing in October …
Writing about Tallahassee and its Gold LEED certification in How an integrated approach helped Tallahassee, Fla., achieve a Gold LEED certification. I loved the process of choosing, arranging and completing this post. Three of our city’s staff members spent time with me explaining how Tallahassee achieved the highest score so far on the US Green Building Council’s current version of its LEED for Cities and Communities rating system.
I definitely am just the messenger here. Please read this piece to see how a city can set a goal for itself to create a better, more sustainable and resilient place to live, and encourage your neighbors to incorporate some of the same principles.
I also wrote three follow-up posts related to the ICMA Conference, which I attended digitally while dreaming of actually being in Portland, Ore.
How government leaders can find priorities amid the chaos
Why yesterday’s suburbs will never look the same
How lessons from an adventure race apply to government leaders (read this one — it’s so cool!)
About careers at SmartBrief/Future
Each month, I share the open positions at SmartBrief and Future for anyone who is interested in being a part of finding and sharing stories through newsletters and Future’s other enterprises.
All open positions at SmartBrief and Future plc can be found at this link. Here are a few highlights:
Editor, Government and Nonprofit (Atlanta)
Manager, Client Success – Music (Remote)
Junior Executive Producer (Atlanta)
Content Producer – Radio World (Atlanta)
Paid Social Product Coordinator (Atlanta)
Content Producer, What to Watch (Remote)
Visuals Designer, MarieClaire.Com (NYC)
Account Director, Supply Chain (NYC)
Digital Sales Associate, Tech (NYC)
Account Director, Women’s Lifestyle and Home (NYC)
If you are interested in applying and have questions, please email me so we can discuss further.
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*These opinions are my personal thoughts, not those of my employer.
Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. My pronouns are she/her/hers.
Diane Tolley says
Always fascinating, Paula! The story about the Children in the Darien Gap just makes me weep!
Paula Kiger says
Me too! The blog post I shared about the man who traveled there is mild compared to another one I found. So much to think about. Thanks as always for your support and for commenting!