June: Not your ordinary news month

When I wrote my wrap-up of my favorite May stories from SmartBrief, I couldn’t help reflecting on the difference between the pre-May 25 stories and the post-May 25 stories. I even added a story from the June 8 issue (which at the time hadn’t even been published yet) because I found it so reflective how rapidly the nonprofit sector’s focus had shifted after George Floyd’s murder.

Setting the tone

I realize it’s probably an awful habit to check my email before I get out of bed in the morning, but I do. Therefore, the first work-related thing I read on the first day of June was Why are leadership thinkers silent about Floyd and the protests? by SmartBrief senior editor James daSilva. This post made a difference to how I approached the month for a few reasons. To put it most succinctly, “silence is also a message,” one of the key points in the post, is so true. It’s true as it relates to the way governments and businesses choose to respond to challenging times in society, and it’s true for us as individuals.

In addition, I breathed a sigh of relief after reading this post because it was a sign to me about the choices I could make in my editing work as the month progressed and as I contributed to SmartBrief’s leadership Twitter account, which I help manage (please feel free to follow if you don’t already). Finally, it was published at the beginning of a day that finished off with the CEO of Future plc, SmartBrief’s parent organization, saying , “We have never made a political statement at Future and we’re not making one now, this is a fundamental truth – black lives matter.”

As an organization we won’t know if we have succeeded in showing that we support that fundamental truth for a long time. But it made a difference that our CEO said something — immediately and without reservation.

Now, having gotten that long prologue out of the way, these were my favorite stories from June.

BoardSource SmartBrief

In our June 3 issue, there was an article about how to empower Black-led organizations to help their communities. Author Jamye Wooten founded an organization that provides microgrants through the Baltimore Black-led Solidarity Fund. Wooten said, “Relationships move at the speed of trust and social movements move at the speed of relationships.” This captures so much about what makes nonprofit efforts work (and last), all in one sentence. 

June: Not your ordinary news month

Business Transformation SmartBrief

The Business Transformation SmartBrief (BTSB) has four focuses: change management, “people, planet and profitability” (which is, to overgeneralize, about environmental, social and governance factors in investing), digital innovation, and any research that applies to those areas. An article we shared in our June 3 issue discussed 10 reasons change management efforts may fail. One of the reasons is the belief that “leaders can force people to change.” In my experience, a leader may be able to make change happen, but doing so comes at a cost to morale, productivity and long-term success.

The post’s author wrote, “A senior manager who tried that approach told me, ‘All I got was malicious compliance.'” The term “malicious compliance” seems about right. And I agree with this reminder: “People need to understand the motivation for change and leaders must ‘win them over’ to succeed.”

Entrepreneurs

I filled in as the editor of SmartBrief on Entrepreneurs for the June 26 issue. The issue included a story about Alexa von Tobel, who founded LearnVest, a company that was designed to help people understand financial planning better. LearnVest was sold to Northwestern Mutual in 2015 for $375 million. Von Tobel discussed how she started the business with only her savings (no capital). “I had so much conviction,” is what she says about her process.

Although von Tobel was discussing a business decision, “I had so much conviction” seems to apply to other aspects of June 2020 and the challenges we all face.

International City/County Management Association

In the June 22 issue of the ICMA newsletter, we included a story about how the St. Paul, Minn., City Council voted to prohibit conversion therapy for minors. Prohibition of conversion therapy is an important issue to me. I advocated for such a prohibition here in Tallahassee, Fla. It ultimately passed, but one of the City Commission meetings I attended as the discussions played out will stay on my mind for a long time. People who have been personally affected by conversion therapy were courageous enough to describe their experiences. People who spoke of their opposition to conversion therapy were too cowardly (or perhaps just uneducated) to be compassionate toward people who didn’t fit their idea of the absolutes into which people should be sorted.

I’m happy to see conversion therapy bans being passed in more places. The American Psychiatry Association has opposed the practice since 1998.

National Association of Social Workers

Relando Thompkins-Jones wrote a piece called Representation Matters in Social Work: We Need More Black Therapists. We shared that piece in the June 9 issue. Thompkins, who is Black, discussed how frustrating it was to have a (white) therapist who “hadn’t heard of Amy Cooper, didn’t understand the racial dynamics at play in the story, and was not aware of the death of George FloydBreonna TaylorTony McDade, or others.”

Thompkins-Jones makes the case that there need to be more Black therapists, and suggests a “pathways approach” that provides support such as mentoring, field placements and workshops to help build skills for aspiring Black social workers.

Must practitioners always share the same identities of the people they support? No. Are understanding identities and their connection to power, privilege and oppression in relation to others important? Yes. Do we need more Black therapists? Yes. — Relando Thompkins-Jones

National Emergency Number Association

I have lived in Florida most of my life, so hurricane prep has been a consistent part of our routines. In this article from the June 4 issue of the Public Safety SmartBrief (NENA), a county emergency management director was discussing how hurricane preparations will be complicated by the pandemic. After explaining that people seeking to stay in hurricane shelters would “need to bring including masks, snacks, food ready that’s to eat and bed rolls,” Rupert Lacy said, “A shelter is refuge, not comfort.” That is technically true. I’ve never had to stay at a hurricane shelter (yet), but I can’t imagine a time when comfort is more sought after than when you and your family are away from your own home, unsure if it will still be standing when you return.

Reserve Officers Association

The June 1 issue of this newsletter had a story that discussed how the Army Emergency Relief program had expanded benefits for Army National Guard members or Reservists affected by the pandemic. One of those is a zero-interest loan of up to $3,000 to deal with taking care of the remains of family members when it’s impossible to have a funeral right away due to lack of capacity at funeral homes. This is known as “dignified storage.” There’s nothing wrong with the term, but it made me sad that it has to exist.

Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honorary

There were some excellent pieces of writing about the need for more diversity in science last month. In our June 9 issue, we shared US scientific societies condemn racism in the wake of George Floyd death. Several scientists presented compelling statements. Megan Donahue, an astrophysicist who is also president of the American Astronomical Society, wrote, “Racism persists because many of us have refused to see it.”

In addition, I found Donahue’s candidate statement from the time she ran for the office. The election was in 2017, so this statement dates back at least three years. Part of her statement reads, “I propose to increase AAS-supported outreach to underserved communities. We have hard work to do to meet the challenges ahead, from shrinking science budgets to meeting our own high standards for opportunities for all.”

Donahue’s statement occurred long before the George Floyd murder. It’s not that racism wasn’t present in 2017, but there wasn’t a national conversation of the type we’re having now. I admire Donahue for making diversity and “opportunities for all” a part of her platform.

UN Wire

I’m sorry to end this month’s wrapup on such a negative note, but the June 26 issue of the UN Wire newsletter had a story about the millions of Yemeni children facing starvation due to the pandemic.

And if the picture of the starving newborn atop this story doesn’t move a reader, I don’t know what will.

It’s a heartbreaking image, but one that the things I’ve discussed in all the other stories above — motivation, trust, conviction, acceptance, comfort, dignity, making sure the underserved are accounted for and putting aside our refusal to see racism — can be applied to making the type of change that literally helps people survive.

How to Build an Anti-Racist Company

I participated in a webinar on June 11, How to Build an Anti-Racist Company. (There’s a full replay here for Quartz members or people who take the 7-day trial.) This is a huge topic to fit into one hour, but that hour was an hour well-spent, and it will help me make a more focused contribution at my organization.

I wrote about the webinar here, and would love for you to tweet SBLeaders to share a commitment can you make to making your organization more anti-racist.

June: Not your ordinary news month

Working at Future/SmartBrief

This is a section I share every month. I do want to add that our organization just grew substantially as Future’s purchase of TI Media was finalized.

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 business-to-business newsletters.

wrote in more detail about my experience as a SmartBrief employee here, which may help answer any questions you have. As always, I’m happy to answer inquiries and provide more information about the process.

Open positions at SmartBrief and Future plc can be found at this link. If you are interested in applying, please list me as your referrer or email me so we can discuss further.

To subscribe to one (or more) SmartBrief newsletters, including the “end of the work day” While You Were Working, for which I am a contributing editor, click here. We’re also still producing a brief specific to COVID-19 on Tuesdays and Fridays, and you can subscribe to it here.

If you aren’t in a subscribing mood, you can still keep up with us at the site of our parent company, Future; on FacebookSmartBrief TwitterLeadership SmartBrief TwitterLinkedIn and SmartBrief Instagram.

June: Not your ordinary news month
I always work from home, but right now all of our staff members are working from home. For that reason, here’s a nice memory (and a lovely quote) from my visit to our DC office last December.

*The views expressed here are my personal opinion and not those of my employer.

Informing, inspiring, inquiring

With every newsletter I edit daily, I aim to help people who may feel a bit stuck — at work or in their personal lives — find a bit of space to see things differently.

The stories I share inform, inspire and lead people to inquire.

Informing, inspiring, inquiring
Photo illustration w/image from Gratisography.

Here are some examples from September.

INFORM

In the Sept. 4 issue of the International City/County Management Association newsletter, we discussed a Colorado county that created a space for nursing mothers when it redesigned its administrative space and accommodates Commissioner Kelly McNicholas Kury as she brings her nursing infant to meetings. Having pumped breast milk in a number of less-than-comfortable places 20 years ago, I love this new acceptance of the needs of parents. I hope including this story in the newsletter informed other city and county managers of options they may not have considered.

I have typed/edited Michelle Bachelet’s name more times than I can count in the year that I have been editing the United Nations Foundation newsletter (UN Wire). The Sept. 6 issue had a lead story about how Bachelet was urging “Indonesian authorities to respect Papuans’ right to freedom of expression and refrain from using excessive force.” Farther down in the issue was a story about how Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro “taunted UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet Wednesday over her father’s death under 1970s Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.” (Bolsonaro was striking back at Bachelet’s inquiry about an increase in the number of killings by police in Brazil.) A judge found that Alberto Bachelet most likely died as a result of torture that took place after he was jailed by Pinochet’s administration. I have grown to admire Bachelet over this past year, but this piece of information grew my admiration exponentially.

INSPIRE

Many of the stories in the nonprofit sector newsletters somehow touch on wastefulness and how to reduce it. You know the little packets of four crayons that restaurants give kids so they can color throughout the meal? Did you ever wonder what happens to the crayons once the patrons leave? One meal certainly isn’t enough for a kid (or kids) to wear down one crayon, much less four. In the Sept. 5 issue of the BoardSource newsletter, we told readers about the Crayon Collection, a nonprofit that collects used crayons from restaurants in every US state and nine countries and redistributes them to school districts. This story can inspire restaurant owners to reduce waste (while giving schools ideas regarding where they might get more supplies).

There’s a “policy” section in the National Association of Social Workers newsletter that seems, at times, a little less awe-inspiring than some of the stories we share about how social workers are making a difference in their communities (and world), but the Sept. 11 story about a resolution passed by the Seattle City Council is both — a policy story and a difference-making piece. The resolution “acknowledges and promises to address violence against indigenous women and girls after native women.” It was championed by native women, social workers among them. This resolution will inspire a whole city to right some centuries-old wrongs.

I wrote a post for SmartBrief, Helping families find hope again after Hurricane Michael, that describes playgroups organized for children and their families in Bay and Jackson Counties after Hurricane Michael struck Florida last year. I am so inspired by the change these social workers created for children, 10 at a time, by giving them an opportunity to share their stories and process their challenges. The fact that their parents also got to benefit from the Journey of Hope curriculum matters too. The affected communities are not far from where I live, and their well-being is personal to me. I was honored to have a small part in continuing to tell their story at a time when they are still struggling as the national spotlight has faded.

Informing, inspiring, inquiring
A participant in one of the Hurricane Michael playgroups. Photo Credit: PlayBig

INQUIRE

How are you at keeping secrets? When the 347-member team behind the Event Horizons Telescope that produced this image of a black hole won the Breakthrough Prize, only one person was allowed to know so the news could remain secret. In a massive understatement, project leader Shep Doeleman said, “I feel like this has been bottled up.” This story in the Sept. 6 newsletter from Sigma Xi , the Scientific Honorary, was news because of the prize, but it made me ask whether I could keep such a big secret. (For the record, I could keep such a big secret; confidentiality is my jam.)

It’s not something I have thought that hard about, but I always assumed any military veteran could be buried at Arlington Cemetery. As I learned from the Sept. 30 issue of the Reserve Officers Association newsletter, there is a history behind how burial rights evolved at Arlington, and there are more changes ahead. The rules have been revised 14 times in 150 years, and the newest set of proposals is geared toward handling a space shortage. The new rules would restrict burials to “those killed in action, recipients of medals for heroism and gallantry, recipients of the Purple Heart medal, former POWs, and U.S. presidents and vice presidents.” The biggest change would be prohibiting service members who die on active duty from being buried there if the death did not occur in combat. This is just something it was interesting to know. It can’t be an easy job to make these decisions and disseminate the changes among the military community.

Finally, congratulations you’re now a first responder (or you need to be). If you’re like me, you have come to assume any call to 9-1-1 will summon help. In general, that’s still true, but the broader network of first responders in our nation is changing. Less people are volunteering to respond to emergencies and disasters, which poses a problem for small towns that rely on them more heavily than big cities do. We discussed this in the Sept. 24 National Emergency Number Association newsletter. FEMA’s 2018-22 strategic plan emphasizes, “shared responsibility across all layers of government down to the individual.” That “individual” part? It’s you and me. “If a whole lot of people were just a little bit more prepared, it would make a very big difference,” said public policy professor Amy Donohue. You (and I) might want to inquire at the local Red Cross about disaster preparation techniques.

Informing, inspiring, inquiring

If you would like to be a part of informing, inspiring and inquiring, learn more about our current openings.

wrote in more detail about my experience as a SmartBrief employee here, which may help answer any questions you have. As always, I’m happy to answer questions and provide more information about the process.

Here are the advertised open positions as of 10/6/19:

If you are interested in applying, please list me as your referrer or email me so we can discuss further.

A Recap

To subscribe to one (or more) SmartBrief newsletters, including the “end of the work day” While You Were Working, for which I am a contributing editor, click here.

If you aren’t in a subscribing mood, you can still keep up with us on FacebookSmartBrief TwitterLeadership SmartBrief TwitterLinkedIn and SmartBrief Instagram. (There’s also a SmartBrief feature at The Muse.)

(I’m linking up this week with Kat Bouska’s blog, for the prompt “10 reasons why you love your job.” Although I could easily list 10 reasons, I wanted to keep things on the concise side, so I chose three things I love doing at my job (informing, inspiring and inquiring) and added seven examples (plus the bonus Hurricane Michael post)).

Informing, inspiring, inquiring

*Note: My opinions about the stories are my personal viewpoint; they do not reflect an endorsement by my employer.

How 7 SmartBrief stories inspired me to do more

I read many news articles every day due to my work. I can either let them influence me to do things more often or persuade me to cut down. Looking over the most thought-provoking SmartBrief stories I encountered in February, I’m going for “more often” rather than “cutting down.”

I can:

Be open to disposing of outdated ideas and considering a new, more inclusive perspective

In the International City/County Management Association SmartBrief, there was a story about how Sandusky, Ohio, had chosen to end Columbus Day in favor of making Election Day a paid holiday.

Columbus Day was never all that big of a deal here in Florida. I don’t think I ever had it off (but I think the kids’ schools scheduled teacher planning days on Columbus Day). There’s a bigger question here, though, of how we as a society treat a day that many places have renamed “Indigenous People’s Day” and how much effort we expend to give people an opportunity to vote. In the long run, I think voting wins. 

Refuse to rule out the power of the tiniest clues

In the Sigma Xi Society SmartBrief, there was a story about unusual coyotes in Texas that, as it turns out, have DNA from extinct red wolves. The article discussed how the researcher who has been collecting genetic data on wolves and coyotes in North America prefers tissue samples over photographs when people ask for her help in identifying “wolflike animals.” In the case of the unusual coyotes in Texas, though, a biologist on Galveston Island, Texas, lost the tissue samples of one of the animals who was killed by a car, so couldn’t send them to the researcher.

Here’s how she got the information she needed: “He later lost one of the samples, but was able to send the scalpel he’d used on the animal’s carcass instead.” (Lo and behold, the “unusual coyotes” may possibly share DNA with the extinct red wolves.)

Who keeps their scalpels lying around without cleaning them? It paid off big-time here, but the survival of this woman’s research (at least in this instance) was hanging on the chance that a fellow scientist didn’t clean his scalpel right away. Hmmm.

Trust the evidence: Hope is real!

In the National Association of Social Workers SmartBrief, we discussed Professor Chan Hellman’s assertion that hope is evidence-based. “Hope scores are significant predictors of average daily attainment and GPA,” he said.

I especially loved this quote from the article: “Hope is a social gift. It’s not something that takes place in isolation within you, it’s something that we share.” I’m not even sure what it means, but “hope is a social gift” seems like a gift worth giving.

February 2019 SmartBrief wrapup

Always demonstrate a spirit of collaboration

I learned through the BoardSource SmartBrief that Henry Timms is leaving the 92nd Street Y to become the Lincoln Center president.

I have always heard great things about Henry Timms, and I know he has made a big difference for the 92nd Street Y. I wish I could go to the city more often and do more things there. I did get to go to the Social Good Summit there in 2015, which was a thrill.

February 2019 SmartBrief Wrapup

At the 92nd Street Y for the Social Good Summit. Probably the closest I will ever be to Victoria Beckham in my life!

The Lincoln Center board chair, in discussing the challenges Timms has faced in the past, said, “His temperament is one of collaboration; he seems to have a low ego need.” I think this type of collaboration and a “low ego need” probably serve people well. 

Speak up to end debilitating practices

In the UN Wire SmartBrief, we shared the observation of the International Day of Zero Tolerance For Female Genital Mutilation.

The practice of FGM has affected around 200 million women and girls, and the UN wants it gone by 2030. I do too, and I can do more to help bring about an end to this barbaric practice.

Be a proponent of metrics over anecdotal evidence

I have learned so much about first responders and the issues they face from the National Emergency Number Association SmartBrief. Consolidation of public safety centers is a common theme (ours here in Tallahassee has had its ups and downs since its creation in 2013), and this article explained how to make consolidations as smooth as possible.

The part of this article that most stuck out to me was “our memory does not provide an honest assessment.” It was written to explain how people who have begun working in a consolidated situation don’t always accurately remember how things worked prior to consolidation. The point was the need for an honest assessment and the development of realistic metrics. This is true beyond the emergency management world. 

Help remove mental health stigma, especially for the military and veterans

In the Reserve Officer Association SmartBrief, one of the stories discussed reports of death by suicide of 11 Air Force airmen and four civilian workers in January. “We need an Air Force culture where it is more common to seek help than to try to go at it alone,” said Air Force leaders.

I wish I didn’t even have to say this, but we have to figure out a way in this country to destigmatize mental illness. This is especially true for people in the military and veterans. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has resources for Veterans and Active Duty. Team Red White & Blue also works with active-duty military and veterans for a variety of needs. Make a donation, volunteer in some way, be there for a friend who is active duty or a veteran. 

***

That’s my list of seven but I have a bonus.

I filled in for a colleague editing the SmartBrief on Entrepreneurs newsletter for a bit, and I read How these three women faced their fears to pursue their dreams. I could have put it in a relatively generic category of “motivational pieces about women who are entrepreneurs.” Something one of the women said, though, left me wondering why it has to be that way:

“I’m scared all the time.”

In fairness to her, it doesn’t sound quite so stark when considered in the context of the rest of her advice: “Don’t be ashamed of being scared; cultivate belief in yourself. Today, it’s possible to learn almost anything online. ‘I’m scared all the time. Just do the thing you know you need to do anyway,’ she says.”

I’m past the point in my life where being “scared all the time” makes sense for me. There’s a difference between the relatively healthy uncertainty that comes with embarking on a new effort and being in a constant state of fear. I hope it works out for her, but I don’t plan to follow that path.

Balancing fear and confidence

There are things we can do to find equilibrium between assurance and anxiety. As these seven stories show, finding that balance may lie in embracing the things we can do more of rather than living a life of scratching things off the list.

February 2019 SmartBrief Wrapup

Openings at SmartBrief

When I share my wrap-ups of favorite SmartBrief stories, I also include our open positions. I wrote in more detail about my experience here.

Here are our currently advertised open positions (they’re all located in Washington, D.C.):

If you are interested in applying, please list me as your referrer or email me so we can discuss further.

To Recap

To subscribe to one (or more) SmartBrief newsletters, including the “end of the work day” While You Were Working, for which I am a contributing editor, click here.

If you aren’t in a subscribing mood, you can still keep up with us on FacebookSmartBrief TwitterLeadership SmartBrief TwitterLinkedIn and SmartBrief Instagram and Life at SmartBrief Instagram. (There’s also a SmartBrief feature at The Muse.)

Thanks for reading, and I hope (in an evidence-based kind of way!) to play a part in keeping you informed long into the future!

February 2019 Smartbrief Wrapup

This post is a response to the Kat Bouska prompt “7 things to do more often.”

*Note: My opinions about the stories are my personal viewpoint; they do not reflect an endorsement by my employer.

**Also — I know there’s something odd going on with the spacing on my post(s). I see those extra spaces and plan to eradicate them … as soon as I figure out how!

Toy Drops, Accountability, and the End of Overdue Book Fines

In October and December of last year, I shared posts recapping my favorite SmartBrief stories among the briefs I edit. Here’s an update:

From ASPA (The American Society of Public Administrators) and from ICMA (the International City/County Management Association)

Cities loosen penalties for transit fare evasion (ASPA)

Utah library stops charging fines for overdue books (ICMA)   

Why it’s so interesting: When I lived in New York City (1989-1992), fare evasion was definitely seen as a “no-no.” Now it’s (to an extent) in the same category as fines for overdue books. Speaking of overdue books, some cities are choosing to forgo fines for those now. This (keeping a book past its due date and owing money for it) was seen as a “no-no” long before I was a NYC resident paying my fair share for transit services. Things are changing regarding how municipalities incentivize behaviors that contribute to the greater good. The Utah library was concerned that fines exacerbated inequity, for example, and made it hard for the people who needed the library most to use its services. Also, in both cases, there were analyses of the amount of resources spent on enforcement in comparison to the revenue generated. It makes me look at the world in a different way than I did before. 

Favorite December 2018 SmartBrief stories

From Sigma Xi Science Honor Society

Invasive wasp endangers Spain’s chestnut crops

Why it’s so interesting: It’s a problem in itself that sweet chestnut production in Spain is down 30% due to an invasive Chinese parasitic insect. It’s a bigger problem that the diminished chestnut production and parasitic attack is a) affecting a struggling economy dependent on exporting sweet chestnuts to France b) contributing to an increase in forest fire risk (because some farmers are burning their crops to kill the invader c) resulting in “urban drift” as young people have become more cynical about a future in chestnut farming and d) causing more questions as one method of combating it (the release of the parasite’s natural predator) may itself cause. This is one of many stories I read that help me understand the challenges our world faces. As one government investigator said, “If we take a wider view this is another example of the unintentional globalisation of parasites and the problems facing scientists as they search for ways of eradicating, or at least limiting the pest.”

From the National Association of Social Workers

Commentary: Seeking, finding support helps former foster child

Why it’s so interesting: This story was about Deitrick Foley, who spent time in the foster care system as a child, and says his involvement in several support groups has helped him see that it is possible to find affirmation and support from people who are not relatives by blood. I loved this quote: “I learned to never give up spreading love to the people around me, and to look at one person leaving my life as leaving the door open and making space for two people to come into it.” So wise.

From UN Wire

Female Venezuelan migrants selling hair, sexual favors for income

There is absolutely nothing uplifting about this story. Nothing. As difficult and heartbreaking as it is to read stories like this, it means a lot to me to be a part of sharing them to a broader audience. For International Women’s Day 2018, Kathy Escobar wrote, “May we remember that our freedom is all tied up together, and none of us are free unless we are all free.” I concur.  

From BoardSource

Organization, bipartisanship help nonprofits excel, Bono says

Why it’s so interesting: When I first read this article, I thought about the last time I participated in “Hill Day” for Shot at Life. On Hill Day, advocates visit the offices of their congressional representatives and share their hopes for their cause. There were so many ONE advocates it was almost comical (it was heartening and wonderful, of course, but the visual was a dramatic statement). Bono, the founder, knows what he is doing and he doesn’t mind being direct and possibly even controversial. Case in point: this line from the article: “Whatever you feel about the NRA – and I don’t like them very much – they’re a very well-organized group and we want ONE to be the NRA for the world’s poor.” I admire him for his ability to praise the organizational abilities of the NRA (while also systematically working day and night to achieve goals that are mostly diametrically opposed…).

From the Reserve Officers Association

Operation Toy Drop prep involves 260 jumpmasters

Why it’s so interesting: Operation Toy Drop (not surprisingly) doesn’t involve actually “dropping” toys. In short, it’s a cooperative, multi-national training opportunity that involves paratroopers from 14 partner nations. The participating troops also collect toys for children in the surrounding area. The event started in 1998, and I enjoyed poking around to learn its historyAt a time of so much divisiveness internationally, I loved the cooperative tone of this project. 

This video gives a brief overview of the event:

(As a side note and point of personal privilege, this story was also relevant to me because my daughter went skydiving for the first time ever last month. Thank you to Jump Jasper Skydiving for delivering her back to terra firma safely. And props to Tenley for being brave enough to do something I have no desire to do. EVER.)

From the National Emergency Number Association

Peevyhouse: Trauma among 9-1-1 professionals should be given priority

Why it’s so interesting: First, I loved the title of this commentary from Jamison Peevyhouse, President of the National Emergency Number Association, “Hell is empty, & all the devils are here.” Such an evocative use of words to introduce a piece about the stresses first responders and dispatchers face. Besides the explanation of the challenges faced by dispatchers, I loved the emphasis on being observant, of being a team, such as, “Be the one who will commit to check on each coworker after a tough shift.” We should all do the same, regardless of our industry.  

From SmartBrief on Leadership

Letting employees design workflow increases engagement

I edited SmartBrief on Leadership for six days in December. This brief is how I became acquainted with SmartBrief years ago, and it has its own significance to me for that reason. Being entrusted with editing it was mixture of enthralling and nerves (but mostly enthralling!). One article from that six-day period that stood out to me was this interview with Stephen Mumford, an executive at Baton Rouge General Medical Center. In discussing employee engagement, he said this:

Listen, listen, listen! I find that sometimes my employees just want to be heard. I make rounds in the departments as much as I can. My employees really like when I come to their areas and see them in action. I also let my team design the processes and workflows for their departments. This keeps them engaged, and they hold each other accountable to the processes they build.

People like to be involved in designing “processes and workflows.” In the medical environment, who better to be a part of designing workflows than the people who do it? I can see why they are more engaged and why they emphasize accountability if they had a hand in the way things run. 

Another cool component of the leadership newsletter is its Twitter feed. Check it out by visiting @SBLeaders.

About Working at SmartBrief and Our Current Openings

When I share my recaps, I also like to give an update about openings. I wrote in more detail about my experience here.

SmartBrief’s Open Position(s)

Here are SmartBrief’s currently advertised open positions:

And in the New York office:

If you apply, please list me as your referrer. 

To Recap

To subscribe to one (or more) SmartBrief newsletters, including our newest, the “end of the work day” While You Were Working, for which I am a contributing editor, click here.

If you aren’t in a subscribing mood, you can still keep up with us on Facebook, SmartBrief Twitter, Leadership SmartBrief Twitter, LinkedIn and SmartBrief Instagram and Life at SmartBrief Instagram. (There’s also a SmartBrief feature at The Muse.)

Thanks for reading, and I hope to play a part in keeping you informed long into the future!

Favorite December 2018 SmartBrief stories

SmartBrief: My Favorite Stories (And Open Positions)

In October, I shared a post recapping my favorite SmartBrief stories among the briefs I edit. Since a little more than a month has elapsed, here is an update about my latest favorites.

From ASPA (The American Society of Public Administrators)

Opportunity Zones take another step as IRS releases rule proposal

Why it’s so interesting: I have to admit … before starting to edit the ASPA newsletter, I wouldn’t have known an “opportunity zone” if it struck me in the face. Short version: Opportunity zones, created in late 2017 by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, are “economically-distressed communit[ies] where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.” OZs are going to be complicated, and it’s hard to say (yet) whether they will pan out to do what they are intended to do, but it’s exciting to think about the possibilities.

From Sigma Xi Science Honor Society

Bodies burn more calories later in the day, study suggests

Why it’s so interesting: Sometimes, it’s not the findings of a study that fascinate me so much, but the methodology. For this study, which found our bodies burn more calories in the late afternoon than early evening, the seven study participants spent a month in a windowless, clock-free lab, having their schedules manipulated and all kinds of things measured. A MONTH IN A WINDOWLESS, CLOCK-FREE LAB. That’s sacrificing for science.

From the National Association of Social Workers

Carolina Panthers tackle player mental health

Why it’s so interesting: I know NFL players earn plenty of money, but they also endure intense pressure, emotionally and physically. The Carolina Panthers were the first NFL team to hire a full-time psychologist. NFL Players Association director of wellness Nyaka NiiLampti said, “mental health is health.” I love that message and believe it, whether we’re talking football, accounting or trash collecting. 

From UN Wire

UNEP: Meat, dairy production driving climate change

I’m not prefacing this with “why it’s so interesting” because it’s more important for me to share that editing this newsletter a) breaks my heart on the regular and b) leave me amazed that I get paid to do this (I have been involved in United Nations Foundation causes for years). This story opened my eyes to the ways the production of meat contributes to heavy water usage and rainforest deforestation. It’s a newsletter that simultaneously leaves me worried about the state of the world and optimistic that causes including the environment, poverty, education of girls, and health have champions.  

From BoardSource

Commentary: Philanthropy must directly face anti-black racism

Why it’s so interesting: This piece does not mince words, and I found it courageous that BoardSource asked for it to be included. It is just a stroke of good fortune, and not something I have the right to expect, to be asked to work with a piece of content that so closely aligns with my personal values. I’ll take it. Excerpt: “…many people face challenges because of the color of their skin, their ethnicity, their sexual identity, and so much more — but that treatment squarely rests, in fact has been perfected over centuries, on racism specifically directed against black people.” 

From the Reserve Officers Association

Study: Meditation could help alleviate PTSD

Why it’s so interesting: The transition back to civilian life is so difficult for many veterans, and meditation is such a powerful resource. In a study, PTSD symptoms were reduced 61% among veterans who practiced meditation as part of the study.  

From the National Emergency Number Association

Commentary: New title for 9-1-1 operators would denote professionalism

Why it’s so interesting: I have learned so much about the world of emergency management, and especially the unique stresses dispatchers face, working on this newsletter. This opinion piece advocates for changing the way dispatchers’ jobs are classified from “clerical” to “protective service professional,” which would make progress toward helping recruit qualified dispatchers and keep wait times for emergency response from growing longer and jeopardizing people’s health. I’m pretty sure every dispatcher I know would agree. 

From the International City/County Management Association

Petaluma, Calif., manager retires after 35 years in public service

I saved this one for last for a reason.It sounds pretty routine, right? City managers retire all the time. But for that city and for that manager, this is a major milestone. I had to confirm the date of the meeting where a proclamation was presented about his service, so I found myself watching the livestream of the presentation. I wondered what went through the mind of John Brown of Petaluma, Calif., as he was celebrated. The man orchestrated the replenishment of the city’s reserves after they fell from $8.5 million to $5,000 in 2008. Now they’re on target to be at $8.7 million next year. It may not be the most unique story we publish in a SmartBrief newsletter, but a man who gave all of his professional life to building communities and the hard, difficult work of getting a city’s finances in line deserves two sentences. Congratulations, Mr. Brown of Petaluma.

Digital Journalism Job Openings

About Working at SmartBrief and Our Current Openings

In my previous post, I wrote about our open positions and why I am so pleased to be a part of it all. Here’s an update.

digital journalism job openings

SmartBrief’s Open Position(s)

SmartBrief now has a similar position to mine open, for a Media Editor.

If you have experience as an editor and an interest in digital journalism, as well as expertise with media news and trends, I encourage you to learn more about the position and apply. (Please use my name as your referral contact. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you have questions.)

The Media Editor position is slated to be in the Washington, D.C., office, but the ideal candidate might be permitted to telecommute.

Note: There are several other open positions in the D.C. office. I assume most of my contacts will be interested in the Media Editor position, but here are the others:

And in the New York office:

About My Experience

When I was sending an email to a few contacts in October, to share the open position(s), it occurred to me that some people are not aware of SmartBrief. Therefore, I wrote a bit in the email about my experience. This is an excerpt of what I said:

Although I just started as a full-time editor with SmartBrief in September, I was working as a freelance searcher, writer and editor before that (since January 2017).
I know people vary in the path they take to find a job that is rewarding and enjoyable. For me, working as a freelancer because I was still taking care of my father-in-law turned out to be the best of all worlds. It showed me why I wanted to apply for a full-time position and introduced me to a product I believe in wholeheartedly, working with other people who have the same focused commitment.
To learn more about what we do, visit the main site here.

 

To Recap

To follow up on the Media Editor position, click here.

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Thanks for reading, and I hope to play a part in keeping you informed long into the future!