Life, the Universe, and Everything*

     Musings from Linda and LUE-42 Enterprises   

Upcoming Events   DECEMBER
December is Human Rights Month

1 World AIDS Day (UN)
2 Grey Cup Party in Edmonton at Noon
3 Intern'l Day of Persons with Disabilities (UN)
4 Wear Brown Shoes Day
7 Intern'l Civil Aviation Day (UN)
7 Letter Writing Day
10 Human Rights Day (UN)
20 Games Day
21 Short Story Day
26 The Day Linda Does Puzzles in Her Pajamas
28 Card Playing Day
31 Make Up Your Mind Day

Shout Out!
A big thanks to some who made my life better in November

Michelle Demers
Leo Ezerins
Mandy Foster
Liz Garratt
JT Hay
Kevin Hirschfield
Dwayne Mandrusiak
Kelly McClung
Claudette Pelletier-Hannah
Hector Pothier
Paul Rechner

" Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." ~Dr. Seuss
ShawTV clip of me at Grey Cup (the 4 of us who were filmed in this series have been to 103 Grey Cups -- and this was the 103rd Grey Cup)
Click Here

Shelter Puppies Replay the 2015 Grey Cup
(Winnipeg Free Press made this between the Eskimutts and the Red Barks, in support of the Winnipeg Humane Society)
Click Here

ShawTV Kitten Cup 2015
(In support of Winnipeg Humane Society)
Click Here
(It's amazing what you can get someone to do for you for 5 bucks. This is truly innovative)
Click Here   

Living with a Hoarder (Excellent article from Crucial Conversations with strategies for living with a Hoarder -- and the difference between that and being a Pack Rat)
Click Here

Cat Headphones
(I'd wear these!)
Click Here 

LUE-42 Enterprises 
OK, so maybe this wasn't taken at THIS year's Grey Cup but it is evidence of a long-standing tradition of football and me.   
Heard in the Board Room
Being More Generous
In the cockpit of a CF118 Hornet (Military exhibit at Grey Cup) 
Reader Notes
Wish I'd said that...

Books by Moi   


Understanding Bylaws: A Guide for Directors of Not-For-Profit Organizations

ISBN 978-0-9866030-0-6


 Exceptional Board Members, Exception Boards 

ISBN 978-0-9866030-1-3



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Issue:  #58                   

December 2015


At the 103rd Grey Cup in Winnipeg

     November flew by but was it ever full! I had a trip to Golden and while driving each way was awful, it was an excellent trip that gave me plenty of time to write. The writing is going well and I've got 3 new plays started in addition to 3-4 possibilities for a few of my existing plays. I'm starting to wonder when I'll have time to do my job...
     I spent a few hours with some very talented people through the WordShed program with Alberta Playwrights' Network. They read through a draft of a script and gave me great feedback and asked some terrific questions so I can now move onto the next draft. APN also had a 30th anniversary party and fundraiser that was truly innovative.
     Thank you for your kind feedback on my new website (and for finding the typo). It's difficult to put ourselves out there and really tough trying to find the "look and feel" for something as personal as a website. I'm glad we found the sweet-spot.
     A few weeks ago I attended a dedication ceremony of my friend's beautiful baby twin girls and was privileged to be named as one of their god parents. It is a wonderful thing to see so many good and diverse people who pledge to be present in these girls' lives. At a minimum, I will be the one to make sure they know about football and theatre.
     I was recently gifted some wonderful items related to one of my football heroes and I also got my football-on-a-stick signed by the Eskimos Defensive Line (I know you all remember my football-on-a-stick!). All of this while the team was heading into the playoffs.
     While in Winnipeg for Grey Cup, I was one of four people taken around by Shaw (sponsor of the Grey Cup). They interviewed us and filmed plenty of B-roll footage around the Festival site. I ran an obstacle course -- footwork through rope ladders, levelling two tackling dummies, running up a ramp, and diving into a huge pit of foam bricks (I forgot to catch the football). It was fun until I realized I did not have an exit strategy for getting out of the pit. Mercifully my TV segment that ran on a loop all weekend did not include that most unflattering part, but I know there is a blooper reel somewhere that could come back to haunt me!
      Of course, I am giddy with joy at the Edmonton Eskimos winning the Grey Cup. Winnipeg put on a great festival and the Ottawa RedBlacks were exceptional opponents. Our post-game party was fun, even for fans of Ottawa. When we finally wound it down we learned that a young Saskatchewan fan had picked up the entire tab for about 25 of us (we also found out that he lost a bet and had to get a Brazilian wax!).
     Winning is lovely, but the most special part is spending several days with friends from all across the League and the land. It's always sad as one by one they head to the airport, the train station, the highways, etc. In fact, that is happening around me as I write this message. Those still in Winnipeg are camped out in a friend's room and people just keep dropping off their Grey Cup party leftovers. We're all pretty tired so I expect the housekeeping staff at our hotel will have a heck of a party once we're gone!
     I feel great about that, too, because our hotel went far above and beyond to make our stay exceptional. From opening the restaurant/lounge in off hours to booking a bus to take us to the game and back, plus driving individuals to Festival venues and the airport -- it was amazing. If you're in Winnipeg, I can't recommend the Norwood Hotel strongly enough.
     By the time I get home it will be the last month of 2015 and I am already wonder what happened to it. I hope you can avoid being swept up in all the holiday "have-to's" and that you can take some time to notice what 2015 meant to you.
     I wish you a sane December and a wonderful holiday, however you celebrate it. It's not an easy time for many, so I know you'll remember to share a little kindness -- it's especially helpful right about now.

The future belongs to those who believe in the
beauty of their dreams.
~Eleanor Roosevelt

The Answer   

     This question was asked and answered at a session on "The Intentional Board" by WATSON last month. The five trends outlined by the consultants were:
  1. Move away from "representation" models. Yessss! The first national organization I knew that had the courage to discontinue the "rep" model was the Canadian Society of Association Executives. Members were aghast -- What about my province? My sector? My...? Time and again (in other organizations) I saw an Alberta "delegate" go to a national meeting and say, "I agree we should do this but my local board expects me to vote against it." This is crazy-making to anyone who understands Fiduciary Duty (i.e., act in the best interests of the association, NOT be a mouthpiece for your "region"). CSAE's leadership helped give me the courage to assist other organizations in also moving away from a rep model. I'm so glad this is finally catching on!
  2. Independent directors. I think it could work well in professional associations (charitable groups have been doing this for ages). You need more at the table than all veterinarians, all engineers, all nurses, etc. Public appointees from the government help, but why not look for specific expertise that will help your council/board. I think so long as outsiders aren't more than 25-33% of the board, this is a good idea. Right now, I'm seeing independent people find their way onto nominating committees, and I think that's great.
  3. Ad hoc task forces vs. standing committees. In my world this has been going on for years yet sometimes I'll find a group that still has a dozen standing committees, all appointed by the board (according to the bylaws) and often half of them haven't been active for years. Ad hoc task forces are a great way to engage other people -- the project/need is well defined, has a clear deliverable, and an end date. Better, I think, to attract great people to project work than scare them off with a 3-year term.
  4. Collaborative decision making vs. parliamentary model. Collaboration and consensus can work very well if you have a good Chair. I've seen some long standing formal boards soften their grip a bit (e.g., not requiring motions to be seconded, allowing discussion in order to formulate the motion, etc.). I think this is very positive, and it certainly contributes to engagement and a sense of contribution. Roberts Rules of Order can still be your best bet for annual general meetings (especially big ones!) but boards are probably better off with something "less than." For the people who love process more than substance, sorry!
  5. Assessing performance. Some groups have been using board evaluations for years and others are just getting used to the idea. There are many good tools and templates out there, so make sure you figure out first what you want to measure. This is important, and also helps you live up to your bylaws and/or policies that relate to director performance. It takes the "personal" aspect out of delivering bad news for non-performance.

Here are a couple more trends, from my experience:

  • The "speak with one voice" principle of boards seems to be optional for some groups. I never used to see board members going public with a contrary view when they disagreed with the board's vote. Now, I see it a shocking amount (thanks in part to social media). I find this the most troubling trend of all. I believe if you really cannot support the board's decision then let it be shown in the minutes and resign! When these mavericks don't resign and they return to the table, trust is gone and the whole board dynamic changes for the worse. It feels unfair and makes fertile soil for personal agendas. Great thinkers and enthusiastic participants are always welcome at the board table, but "one voice" is essential after the decision.
  • Declarations of conflict of interest at the beginning of a  board meeting is becoming common. Many meetings are starting with a question from the Chair, "Does anyone have a conflict of interest with anything that is on our agenda?" I think this is a good trend, but I'd go one further and have the Chair ask, "Does anyone think anyone else at the table has a conflict with anything that is on our agenda?" A good rule of thumb in answering the question is, "Will it impair the organization if I am seen participating in this?" Then speak up accordingly.
  • Nominating Committees finally found the will to present a slate of nominees based on strategic needs, but now they are backing off because this practice seems "undemocratic." I say phooey (but I sort of get it). Some who present a slate also have a second nomination period (required in the bylaws) so anyone who didn't "make the cut" can nominate themselves (based on some criteria). If they meet the requirements their names go on the election ballot along with those proposed by the Nominating Committee. That appears to meet the "democratic" sniff-test. So here's an idea I heard that I love -- put smiley faces beside the names of the ones recommended by the Nominating Committee. OK, maybe it's not a trend but I'd like to get it going!

      What trends are you seeing?  


Random Acts of Kindness   

     There's a pretty cool website called Coffee Cups and Crayons. On it I found the 2015 Random Acts of Christmas Kindness Advent Calendar. I, for one, can do with 24 fewer chocolates in December and I really like this idea as a substitute. Here's the list:

01 Give a compliment to a friend.
02 Tape change to a vending machine.
03 Make a card for a soldier.
04 Take coffee to your teacher (co-worker).
05 Pick up litter.
06 Send a paper hug to someone you love.
07 Tell silly jokes to make someone laugh.
08 Give someone a hug coupon.
09 Donate a book to a library or hospital.
10 Leave a happy note for someone to find.
11 Do yard work for a neighbour.
12 Donate toys to your favourite charity.
13 Candy cane bomb a parking lot.
14 Call a faraway relative or friend to say hello.
15 Make a thank you for your librarian.
16 Do a chore for someone in your family.
17 Donate food to your local food pantry (Foodbank).
18 Leave a popcorn surprise in a DVD rental machine.
19 Smile at everyone you see today.
20 Take supplies to the animal shelter.
21 Pay for a stranger's coffee.
22 Give treats to the mail carrier.
23 Feed the birds.
24 Take cookies to the fire station.

You can go to the website and print out a nice looking one for your family. Have fun!

Click Here

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