What Makes Good Work Pt. 1 | Content Machine Ep. #35

The average person spends about 18% of their waking life working. That’s a huge amount. And it is likely the single largest block of time you spend doing one thing other than sleeping throughout the course of your life. How can we make the most of that time? What makes good work? While that answer is different for every person, after spending some time thinking about it, I think good work falls into three categories. This podcast is the first in a series of three that are taking a look at the categories of good work and the elements within those. Hopefully, this will give you some language and thought process to help you think about how to evaluate if your work is good. Good work makes us more human. The first category is purpose. Purpose entails things that are bigger than ourselves and more meaningful than compensation. Purpose breaks down into three elements: mission, alignment, and accomplishment. Purpose elements are things that really point to who we are and what we care about as people. Let’s start with mission. When we talk about mission and good work, we are talking about the mission of the organization. Does the mission of the organization and what it supports around its work mean something to you?

This may vary depending on the type of organization. You might work at a nonprofit whose mission deeply aligns with your heart. Or you might work at a manufacturer that is not missional but contributes to charitable causes. Having a missional alignment doesn’t just have to be about a charitable cause too. It might be providing a service to a demographic that you care about or helping support people who have a similar experience as you. A missional element to companies and organizations can help increase the level of good work for someone considerably, sometimes overshadowing the other two categories, possibility and prosperity. The world is trending more and more towards trying to infuse missional elements into workplaces where there wasn’t anything like that in previous generations. So be sure to think critically about any workplace efforts to do so and make sure that they are true to the company and true to the people. The second element is alignment. Does this job align with who you are and what your needs are? We all have different skills and strengths. When you are working in your strengths and gifting, you’re going to be happier at work. When you are forced to work in areas of weakness, you’re going to be frustrated at work.

Now, we all have to be team players, and there will be times where you have to play in an area of weakness to help the team win. But on the average, are you able to play in areas of your strength? Good work aligns with your strengths. Additionally, based on the season of life that you’re in, you might need more work-life balance than not. Does your work accommodate for that? Good work respects your life outside of work. The third element of purpose is accomplishment. It would be frustrating to work and never get to finish something or be a part of a finished product. Part of good work is being able to accomplish things. Whether that be a singular task that is part of a whole or being part of a team that finishes a larger task. Accomplishment is good for the soul. While you may have a small part to play in the whole of a project, are you able to take credit for and see the rest of the project to finish? Accomplishment is part of good work because it helps validate the things that you’re doing. Are you able to feel accomplished at work?

It is a key step to finding purpose in your work. We’ll be back next week with part two of good work. If you have any feedback on our three categories, I would love to hear it. Send me an email at kevin@adelsburgarmarketing. Com. Thank you for listening to the Content Machine Podcast and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next two parts in our series.

Working Styles | Content Machine Ep. #34

I have mixed feelings about personality tests. My standard answer whenever someone asks me what my enneagram number is is I’m whatever number doesn’t care about enneagram numbers. But at the same time, I know that some personality tests can be really useful. Recently, a client of ours, Chad Wilson at Foundation Bank, mentioned that his team had started to go through the Working Genius Working styles test. And on that recommendation, I took a look and bought the book, and now our whole team has gone through it. And I have a few thoughts. One of the reasons I like this methodology is it’s focused on how you work and work together with other people as opposed to your personality or who you are as a person. I think that distinction is important here. We all have different personalities, and I want the goal of something like this, like a personality test, to be how can we work together to win with the focus being on the work? This feels less psychoanalytical and more practical and professional. Lencioni, the author of this book, breaks the entire work world into six skill sets, which may come off as simplistic, but I think he really does a good job with it.

Those six categories are broken down into the phases of work. This simple breakdown contains the entire work experience really clearly. Those skill sets are wonder, invention, discernment, galvanizing, enablement, and tenacity. And while this is also very simple, it has a lot of depth to it. There are only six options for you to score in. They also remove any percentages. So it’s a very clear layout of what strengths and weaknesses are. Working genius breaks it down into two areas of genius, two areas of competency, and two areas of working frustration. Each person can do any of the six, but where you’re going to be the happiest and most effective is showed on that chart. The book is written in classic Lencioni format. Half of the book is a simplistic allegory in the form of a fictional office situation. The other half is more of a breakdown of the model of working genius. This isn’t a long read, but it helps to show you how the tool can be used in the entire workplace. The book pushes you to an assessment. The assessment is online only and is $25 per test. The online platform is actually really nice.

It is set up for an admin to make group reports and then send it to the entire company, which is what we did for our group. You get to take the test once, so you got to go with what you are given. And so far, our team has taken it and only one or two people have objected to one of their letters, which I think this means they have it dialed in pretty well. It’s a shortish test, taking maybe about 10 minutes. I don’t think Working genius is going to turn our organization upside down, but I will look at it for a tool and for languages and techniques to help me lead my team better. Getting a better idea of how our team members work will be helpful. Working genius provides a team map that helps to show where people fit together in the whole work environment. And so when we are thinking about hiring specific positions or assigning people to tasks, having an idea of how they might work and work together and having language around that will help us execute better. Have you taken a personality test that you’ve enjoyed? I’d love to hear more about it.

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Special Guest: Matt Marshal Part 2 | Content Machine Ep. #33

Thank you for listening to the Content Machine Podcasts. This is part two of our interviews with Matt Marshall of the United Way.

Well, so you come in and you start pretty quickly changing the dynamic of what it’s done for forever. From a leadership perspective, how are you working on that change with the team? How are you communicating that? Did you have push back? How does that go down?

Yeah. It’s been an interesting, I think, transition for sure. What happened was right when I first started, obviously, I had interview with the board and explain what I hoped the vision for the organization could be. But as I had our very first staff meeting, I just walked into that staff meeting and I just sat down with the staff and asked them, What do you need from me? What do you need from me from this leadership position? What would you like to see? And all those types of things. That really was the genesis of all the rest of it and in that transition because one of the things that communicated at that meeting was the same thing that I had already picked up on. There were some areas of need in the community that they felt like we could address. Now, I’m not going to sit there and say that any of us at that time knew what that was. It wasn’t so much that as much as it felt like we could do more. And so over the course of the next several months and next year or so, we just continued to have those conversations and delve deeper into what does that mean?

And again, things like the Alice Report really helped us to identify that. And then the services we were providing through the pandemic also played a role for sure. If anything, I think I’ve always said to everyone, a lot of the work and the thought process that went into those first early months on the job, late 2019, early 2020, we already had begun to identify where we really wanted to go. We weren’t sure how we were going to get there, but we had figured out where we wanted to go. And what we felt like ended up happening, rather ironically is that the pandemic really put these thrusters to that and just it exposed… It’s like the Warren Buffett quote, “When the tide goes out, you say you’re swimming naked.” That’s right. It exposed, shows so many things that were maybe hidden by the economy or things like that.

I think one of the things that the pandemic naturally did was it highlighted need in our community even more. And so it helped clarify for us, okay, yeah, this is where we need to be investing. So early on, those were the feelings we had. And so over the course of time, as you’re working with the staff and you’re trying to identify, okay, what does this really practically mean on a day to day basis? I think a lot of I don’t really sense any real moments of real push back, not at all. If anything, I felt always a very strong sense of excitement and enthusiasm from our team on direction and where we were going. I think a lot of that was because I’m very team oriented in terms of those types of things. And so, yes, I may have initial thought or a vision for something, and I really love vision casting. That’s definitely where I love to sit. It gets hard for me, the details of all the stuff. That’s where I have to have awesome people around me to help with all of that. But yes, I would walk into the room at times and just have this vision for something, but the process of fleshing that out was always a team project, and I very much welcome that. I think it allow for the staff and the board to feel a part of that process. This was our vision. It wasn’t Matt Marshall’s vision. It was United Way’s vision on how we get there.

There’s a little bit of that that’s going to be more engaging because you’re doing something new that’s requiring buying as opposed to just doing the same old thing again and again. That’s right. It gets people really heavily invested. You have been leading for a couple of years now. When you think about how to brand and market the United Way, how does that thought process work for you?

I’ll go back to… I don’t think we’ve solved this issue yet, if I’m honest. I think we have taken some great strides. But the key problem I walked into… So my first week, all I did was watch a ton of webinars and conferences and all this type of stuff from United Way, worldwide and from all over the United States talking about United Way. I tell everyone, I just was two days into that and I was like, Oh, I see the problem. As I alluded to earlier, no one could tell you what United Way does. The vast majority of people. I tend to separate this out by generations and by age groups because I think if you were to ask someone, generally speaking, who’s 50 or older, they probably could. But if you were to ask someone, generally speaking, what we may be referred to as your Gen Xers, your millennials, and for sure now Gen Z, who is United Way, your Gen Xers would say, Yeah, we’ve heard of United Way and we could tell you maybe what they do. Your millennials would say, I’d say only 50 % of them might say that they’ve heard of United Way, definitely couldn’t tell you what they do. And I’d say most of your Gen Z would be like, Never heard of United Way, have no clue what they do. Millennials recognize the logo. They probably get that. And so Gen Z might not even get that far. And so that’s been the core issue is like, okay, the marketing problem is just that itself, like, brand recognition. And so we actually just from United Way Worldwide did a huge national survey on all of this and looked at the data, and it was really interesting. And so for me, hyper localize that. Our issues are the same just as pretty much anywhere else. Decent brand recognition. People who do know us, have respect for us and trust us, generally speaking. But again, the vast majority of people couldn’t tell you what we do. Or even if they could, they have question marks because many of them would say we sound like a middle man. And I don’t think they’re exactly wrong. And so we don’t want to be just a middle man, right? Yeah, it’s a bad place to be. Yeah, it’s a bad place to be. But it’s like, but how can we be more than that?

And so a big piece of marketing has been trying to figure that out. How can we change the way people view our work and view the impact we’re having in the community? How can we create great stories from the successes of that impact that we’re having in the community, both through our partner agencies and through our direct programming now, how can we get people excited about what United Way is doing and want to be a part of that? And so all of our marketing strategies have been geared around trying to solve those problems, trying to answer those questions. And so, again, I think we have grown by leaps and bounds over the last three and a half years in relation to that. But I would be really honest to say we’re still far from where I think we could be.

And when you’re introducing your new concepts, do you feel like that muddies the water even further? Or how do you feel like that plays in?

Yeah. No, I actually think… And the only reason I can confidently say no is because we spend a lot of time thinking and talking through it. I think it has the potential to do that, right? So as an example, as a nonprofit of nonprofits, there could be folks who just might say, you just need to do what you always did. And maybe you should back up at this point and say, Well, why didn’t we just continue to do what we’ve always done? Well, it wasn’t working anymore. If I’m just going to be blatantly honest, it wasn’t working. Our donations over the past 20 years had just been on a steady decline. And so we were getting less and less donations, which matter not only to our organization, but more importantly to all those organizations we support. And so we want to be able to provide as much funding and backing for them as we can. But if their donations are just steadily going down, well, eventually it’s going to hit the fan and we’re not going to be able to do that anymore. And so we had to shift in some way. And so part of this, the problem we’re solving for is not only… And I’ve said this from day one, I’ve been really honest with all the nonprofits and with the community. When we started our own programs, I didn’t say, Hey, we’re going to start our own programs, and we’re just not going to do that old stuff anymore. No. We said from day one, I want to raise more money for all of our nonprofit partners and raise money for these programs because they’re both needed and need that support. And so, yeah, it could have been bad, right? It could have. But I think how we’ve been able to really do that fairly well is by growing support for the other nonprofits, too. Starting a West Tennessee Nonprofit Network, starting a giving Tuesday 731, where we help those nonprofits raise money on giving Tuesday, have the newsletter going out to all the nonprofits and to the community about all the different things that are happening, not just with United Way, but everybody else. It’s providing all that general support at the same time that we’re also trying to raise up these solutions for these other community issues. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that. And where I see proof in that, because you could ask that question, Well, how do you know? How do you know if you’re doing a good job? Well, again, and I say this truly with all the humility in the world because it’s not about me and it’s about our team and it’s about more importantly, the community because they’ve done this. And this is what I said at the celebration breakfast a couple of weeks ago. We just had our largest ever fundraising year in the 81 year history of United Way. That’s a huge deal, right?

It’s a huge deal. That’s a huge deal.

And I think that lends credence to people are getting excited about this work. Again, they’re getting excited about our brand. They’re getting excited about the things we’re doing. And that’s the community. That ain’t me. That’s not United Way. That’s the community. And again, it’s just about how can we figure out how to insert ourselves into the Jackson and West Tennessee’s sight guist? The spirit of the times to help people understand what we’re doing and how they can be a part of that.

Yeah. And I bet there’s a strong correlation between people who stopped doing United Way campaigns and then stopped giving altogether.

Probably so.

Yeah. Because it’s a little bit on autopilot. That’s right. So probably the net donations go down and the United Way is great at helping funnel those things. Well, you’ve answered the rest of my questions in that one question. So, Matt, we appreciate your time to come on here. Appreciate what you’re doing for West Tennessee. And if people want to know more about the United Way or want to get involved with the United Way, what should they do to do that?

Absolutely. So there’s so many different ways they can get involved. So I’ve only talked about this many of our programs so far. One’s I didn’t mention that are awesome programs. And the first one I’ll mention that you can get involved with today is the Read Seen program. And so we recruit volunteers from all across Madison County, specifically, we look to grow this program into other counties here in the coming years. But those volunteers then go into the school system and read and help kids increase their literacy scores, which is so incredibly important. And so we are always looking for more volunteers to help with that process. But people can also get involved in some other things that we’re doing. So we hired some tutors on another program called Tutor U this summer that will also be executing over the course of the next school year, both here in Madison County and also in Haywood County. People could sign up to be a volunteer for that. The difference between Reed team and Tutor U, Reed team is more based on sight words, and Tutor U is based on phonetics. So it requires a little bit more training on the phonetic side, but both excellent programs. We want to tackle that from both sides to give students the best chance at reaching those levels that we need them to reach for our test scores across the state and all that type of thing. That’s just an example of how people could volunteer.

But we always say you can give, advocate, or volunteer with United Way. Everybody can do one. If you don’t have time to volunteer, maybe consider advocating alongside us for these needs in our community. And if you don’t have the time to advocate, but you have resources, consider giving. And again, that can go directly to our programs, but also that can go to dozens of agencies here in West Tennessee that you care about as well. And so everybody can do one of those things. They can find out more information about United Way by going to uwwt.org. Go online, learn all about our programs, learn all about the agencies we support, learn about the things that we’re doing and the things that are coming up and get involved with that. They can follow us on social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. We have a YouTube page as well where we have some videos up there about stuff we do.

And then, of course, they can connect with Adelsberger Marketing and everything that’s going on with them because we’re friends and you talk about us sometimes too. You wear our United Way shirt and you rep us.

Matt, thank you for your time and I hope you all will go help the United Way.

Thank you.

Thank you for listening to part two of our podcast with Matt Marshall from the United Way. We hope you’ll go check out the United Way and listen to future episodes of the Content Machine Podcast.

Process Saves Us | Content Machine Ep. #32

Humans have fickle hearts. Our desires can swing wildly from one moment to the next. In fact, just preparing to write this podcast, I was having a hard time finding the motivation to even get started. So, what do you do when you have goals to work towards on days that you just aren’t feeling it? This week on the Content Machine podcast, we’re talking about how having a process can help you build discipline even when the motivation just isn’t there.

An artist, Elizabeth King, once said, “Process saves us from the poverty of our intentions.”

I love this quote because it’s so very true in human life. As humans, our fickle desires can sometimes lead us to forget the intentions we had when we were thinking clearly, thinking more positively, or maybe even thinking with a bigger picture in mind. We might be eating dinner the night before and decide that tomorrow is the day. Tomorrow I will start doing X, or I will accomplish Y. But when tomorrow comes, our hearts have swung around, and our intentions are no longer set on doing X or Y. It doesn’t make you a loser, it makes you a human.

But I think this is what Elizabeth King meant when she said the phrase, “Poverty of our intentions.”

The poverty is fought by discipline. Discipline is capitalized on by a process and a plan. Being able to make a plan is somewhat easy. Sticking to and executing that plan, that’s where the magic is. Having a process around important things in our lives can give us the ability to be successful in those activities, even if our intentions or motivations have taken a dip in that moment. Look, if I was able to make a plan the night before and execute that plan perfectly the next day, every day, I would have conquered the world by now. But to be honest, it’s just not realistic. That being said, here are a few things I’ve found that can help us fight off the poverty of our intentions. Set yourself up to win by being a student of yourself. Pay attention to the triggers that prevent you from following through on a plan. You may notice on nights that you get less sleep or days that you don’t have a plan written out that you are more likely to make the easier choice instead of the right choice.

In my life, I have found that a successful tomorrow starts the day before. I plan the next day out working towards getting good sleep and going to bed on time. These things give me a much more solid start for the next day. I also know that if I don’t go on a run in the mornings, I’m going to be about 70% of my potential self the rest of the day. The same holds true for my phone. If I start looking at social media too early in the morning, it can be a huge distraction throughout the rest of the day. All of these things are things I have noticed about myself over time and then work to build processes around them to help me to be more and more successful.

I also believe in reminders. Reminders to do things. These can be notes on the wall or perhaps in a more modern sense, your phone’s reminders app giving you notifications to do things. Reminders help me to be more successful. Whether that reminder is to plan out the next day or a reminder to go for a run, reminders help us remember what our intentions were. I even have reminders to take out the trash each week. Each night, I write out what my morning looks like and time blocks. The time from 4:15 to 8:00 is planned out to a T. The difference in results between when I do this and when I don’t is significant.

Related to reminders are checklists. Checklists are crucial to success of any repeatable task. I pull some of my thought processes on this from the book checklist Manifesto by Atoll Monde. You can listen to one of our earlier podcasts about that. Our agency has worked to document all of our repeatable processes, everything from the steps to make sure we are naming a new business successfully, or did we do all the steps to launch a new website successfully? Checklists are wonderful because our brains are prone to forgetting things that are routine. One thing I’d encourage you to think about is how to realign yourself when you get out of process. If you have gotten out of process because your intentions have sabotaged you, do you have a mental model on how to reset? Do you have a process to reset your intentions? I usually allow my brain to take a short break like a timed break. Then I return to the problem by outlining step by step what needs to happen, like step one, make a list. Step two, next item, so on and so forth.

I also find music helps me be successful. Usually focus style music like the deep focus, low fi beats, or Middle Earth lo-fi playlists on Spotify.

Learning to overcome your intentions with a process will change your world for a better.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the podcast. As always, if you enjoyed it or found it helpful, please leave a comment or shoot us an email. If you have time this week, we’d love to hear back from you. Let us know, do you have any processes in place in your life? What are the steps you take to get back on track when you get derailed?

Core Values Part 2 | Content Machine Ep. #31

On a previous episode of the podcast, we talked about what are core values and why you should have them. In this episode, we’re going to talk about what the core values are at Adelsberger Marketing.

What are the core values at Adelsberger Marketing? What makes up our unique culture? We have six core values, and we talk about these weekly, and review staff’s fulfillment of them in a quarterly manner. And a little bit of a particular order, here are the six core values.

Core value number one, team. We believe that we win together. Every project is a team effort. Every win is a team win. Everyone is treated with respect and everyone chips in. When we profit, everyone shares in it. We value the input of everyone. We are better together. We go further together. Team is vital to everything we do every day. There is not a single project that is only touched by one person. It is a little bit like a football team. On any given offensive play, the center and the quarterback at a minimum touch the football, but the offensive line also has to be there to do the job for the play to be successful. We will win together.

Core value two, fun professionalism. We like to have a good time at work. We believe in being on time, communicating clearly, and showing up to do the work, being professionals. But we are only serious when we need to be and are determined to enjoy working and working with each other. We love to laugh and should be able to do that at work. Of course, doing that respectfully, we show up and have a good time. If we can’t do that, why are we here?

Core value number three, creativity. We believe good ideas will win the day. We believe everyone is creative, including accountants, regardless of how much they reject that notion. We love to flex our creative muscles and make time and opportunities to intentionally do that. Better ideas give us more opportunities to crush it for our customers. In the coming world of AI, true creativity will be what allows us to thrive in the new model of work that will dominate the landscape.

Core value number 4, responsibility. Or it won’t fail because of me. This is highly related to our number 1 value team. We believe everyone is responsible for getting things done. Take pride in what you do and see that it gets done. Communication is key and confirmation of communication is required. Taking ownership of a responsibility and seeing that it finishes is how we survive. Don’t let the team down. As Bill Belichik says, “do your job.” When everyone does their job, we will win.

Core value number five, improvement. We will be better than we were six months ago. We believe in getting better. We believe in continuous improvement. We believe in learning and growing our skills. If we’re not better than we were six months ago, something is wrong. We will invest in time, tools, and education to improve ourselves to better serve our customers. We are always looking for opportunities to push our skill sets and expand our capabilities.

And finally, core value number six, get stuff done. We will deliver. This is the only reason I am still standing here in business. We believe in doing what we said we will do, and we will deliver what was promised, and if it’s within our control, we will deliver when it was promised. We all work hard and get our hands dirty. Getting things done is a sad satisfactory strategic plan.

Now, these six values are simultaneously true and aspirational. I think you would see all of them currently true in our organization, but we also want to make sure that they continue to be true and become more and more true of the culture and our team.

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Content Machine Podcast. We would love to hear about your favorite core value from any of your workplaces. Send us a message or email.