By Diane Kortus
My favorite part of the week is Wednesday morning when I get together with my group of 14 employees to reflect on what we’re doing well and what we could be doing better.
We talk about what we like best about that week’s papers and Monday-morning quarterback on how they could have been better. Reporters tell us about their stories for the next issue and the rest of us add our two bits to their ideas.
We recap our sales numbers and talk about the challenges and opportunities our sales people face in this difficult economy. We go over production deadlines and how we plan to cover when someone is planning time off. Before we end with our recognition awards, we share personal and family news.
We have been meeting every Wednesday for more than a year. Everyone attends, including part-time employees and student interns. We’ve learned that the best ideas often come from colleagues outside our area of expertise because they offer valuable perspectives we may have failed to consider.
It is somewhat unusual for a small business like ours to be so diligent. We never cancel our weekly staff meeting and we adhere to the rules that it starts on time and is kept to an hour.
I’ve talked to many business owners who have the same good intention of conducting weekly employee meetings. But they tell me their meetings often run out of momentum and wane after just a few months.
So why does our staff meeting have such staying power? One reason is because we begin each week with a quote. In the course of a year these quotes have helped to define our vision of who we are as a company and what we hope to become.
Everyone is encouraged to bring quotes to our meeting. Some weeks several employees bring quotes and other weeks there is just the one from me. We post our quotes on a wall that’s on the way to the restroom, so they get plenty of visibility.
This wall has become thick with what I’ve come to think of as our company graffiti. As I pulled them down to select the best quotes to share with you this week, I was struck by how well they capture the beliefs and values that bind us together as colleagues and friends.
Our quotes fall into three main areas of thought:
— The attainment of goals is possible only if people care deeply and believe in a shared vision.
— Nothing is more important than kindness and abiding by the Golden Rule.
— You can only live in the present, so make the most of it.
Of the 18 quotes on the facing page, three have been guiding principles as I lead this company.
“Determination, energy and courage appear spontaneously when we care deeply about something. We take risks that are unimaginable in any other context.”
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
“Stop a minute, right where you are. Relax your shoulders, shake your head and spin like a dog shaking off cold water. Tell that impervious voice in your head to be still.”
These wise words help me lead our company to produce community newspapers that make a difference. We want to connect you to your community through the stories we tell about your neighbors and the businesses who reach out with their advertisements.
Some weeks it is easier to make these connections than others. It is the weeks that we struggle that I turn to these quotes to give me courage to overcome adversity, to find the kindness that surrounds me and to reflect on the peacefulness that only the present can provide.