Hi there!

I hope you’re geared up for a fun, relaxing Labour Day holiday! 
One of the things I look forward to (even on holidays) is bringing you my best ideas and truth powered concepts that help us become better leaders in our work and in our lives. It’s focused in our vision of service to others and reflects our values and current realities. I send this out at the top of the month to be a bit of “leader fuel” that informs and inspires us for the month ahead.

One of my little writing rituals is to have something handy beverage-wise, preferably caffeinated. Right now, I’m enjoying a Torrefaction Foncee’ espresso from my trusty stove topper.
I think that’s French for “a whoopee load of tasty good.”                                                          

It sounds real fancy, but Margaret bought a big honking bag at Costco. Why? Because it was on sale and she knew I’d love it. She’s right about that. She usually is. 

So grab a coffee or whatever, settle back, and let’s spend a few moments together and work through some important stuff.

Little Game-Changers 

Game -Changer NOUN                       
A person, event, idea, or procedure that effects a significant shift in the current way of doing or thinking about something and profoundly alters outcomes.

Sports fans are familiar with that goal that turns the tide and wins the game or that star player who brings a level of skill and grit that makes for a winning team.  

“Game-changer” people in sports and in business are highly valued and sought after because they influence outcomes and tend to make everyone around them better.  
There are also little game-changer words and phrases that if practiced every day, can make for a winning team and fuel big outcomes. Anyone who has ever tried to start a campfire from scratch knows that you need a bunch of small sticks to get a blaze started and then add some more ‘til the bigger logs catch.

Like those bits of kindling, If you work these little phrases into your conversations, I guarantee they’ll help fuel some bigger conversations and better outcomes.
Here are a few little “game-changers” I’ve used effectively along the way.
Try ‘em. I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the outcomes 
First on the list: 
“Here’s what I’m thinking.”
Quite often, you’re in charge of something that involves a group initiative or moving a plan forward. 
That doesn’t mean you’re smarter or know more than everyone else.  
When you let people know what you’re thinking and explain why it frees up the lines of communication and invites a response. 
It also opens up the possibility of dissension, maybe criticism but that’s ok. It also paves the way toward a creative dialogue that improves new ideas and fosters better suggestions.
Having authority or title can create an illusion that you are “right,” but collaboration engages everyone. It certainly helps everyone pull together in the same direction.
“I was wrong’
“There have been situations where I come up with an idea that I thought was a brilliant plan to improve things or solve a problem in our workplace.  
On paper, it looked perfect. In practice, it didn’t work out.

When that happened, I had to go back and say, “I knew you were thinking this approach wouldn’t work. You were right. I was wrong.
Let’s go back to the drawing board on this
At the time, I felt bad thinking that maybe I had lost the respect of my team. 
It turns out I was wrong about that, too. 
Later one of my newer co-workers said, “I didn’t really know you that well, but the fact you were willing to admit you were wrong told me everything I needed to know.”
When you’re wrong, say you’re wrong. You won’t lose respect–you’ll gain it.
“That was awesome.”
No one ever gets enough praise. 
No one. 
So when someone has done something well say, -“Wow, that was great how you did that.”
Add some details. “I especially appreciate……”
This works retroactively as well. “You know, I really liked the way you handled that situation last month…”
That makes just as positive an impact today as it would have at the time. 
Praise is a gift that cost us nothing to give, but it is priceless to the recipient. 
Start praising. 
The people around you will love you for it–and you’ll like yourself a little better, too.
Say “Thank-you” and “You’re welcome.”
Think about a time you gave a gift and the recipient seemed uncomfortable or awkward. Their reaction took away a little of the fun for you, right?
The same thing can happen when you are thanked or complimented or praised or even if someone says “have a nice day”
Don’t spoil the moment or the fun for the other person. 
The spotlight may make you feel a little uneasy, but all you have to do is make eye contact and say, “Thank you.” Or make eye contact and say, “You’re welcome. I was glad to do it.”

Don’t let thanks, congratulations, or praise be all about you. Make it about the other person, too.
“Can you please help me?”
When you need any kind of help just ditch your ego and say, sincerely and humbly, “Can you please help me?”
You’ll usually get a positive response. And in the process, you’ll show vulnerability, respect, and a willingness to listen–which, by the way, are all qualities of a great leader. And a great friend.

“I’m sorry.”
We all make mistakes, so we all have things we need to apologize and ask forgiveness for: 
words, actions, omissions, failing to step up, or show support…
When that occurs, say “I’m sorry” and “please forgive me.” 
Don’t follow the apology with a disclaimers. 
But I was really mad, because…” or “But I didn’t think you were…” or any statement that places even the smallest amount of blame back on the other person.
Say you’re sorry, say why you’re sorry and take all the blame. No less. No more.
That way you both get the best shot at starting over.
“Can you show me?”
Advice is temporary; knowledge is forever. Knowing what to do helps, but knowing how or why to do it means everything.
When you ask to be taught or shown, several things happen: 
You implicitly show you respect the person giving the advice; 
You show you trust his or her experience, skill, and insight; 
Don’t just ask for input. Ask to be taught or trained or shown.
Then you both win.
“Let me give you a hand.”
Many people feel that asking for help as a sign of inadequacy or personal failure. So, many people hesitate to ask for help.
Truth slap!
We all need help.
Don’t just say, “Is there anything I can help you with?”  
Most people will automatically reply  “No, I’m all alright.”
Be specific. Find something you can help with. 
Say “I’ve got a bit of time now.  Can I give you a bit of help figuring that out.?” Offer in a way that feels collaborative, not patronizing or gratuitous.
Model the behavior you want others to display.
Then actually roll up your sleeves and help.
 Find appropriate ways to say “I love you.”
Not in the mushy romantic sense, but in the sense that conveys “I have a great deal of respect for you” or “I think highly of you”.
Some time ago, I got an email from a colleague who I had worked with for many years, 
 It started this way. “I’ve been meaning to say this for some time now but there didn’t seem to be a good opportunity so here goes.  
From there on she went on to say some very affirming things and how she appreciated our work together. She acknowledged that she had learned a great deal from me and how she would always value our great working relationship and how proud she was of things we were able to accomplish together.
The email ended with “And no, I don’t want to borrow any money, or your car or anything 😉 m just finally telling you what I’ve thought for some time now.” 

Well.. you can imagine the effect that had on me. To this day It has a lasting impact.
The point is, we all have people who are super important in our life and when you have the chance, let them know. 
It will create a meaningful moment that will last a lifetime. 
One final thing to say.

There are times where the best thing to say is absolutely nothing. If you’re upset, frustrated, or angry, stay quiet. 
You may think verbal venting will make you feel better, but it never does.
That’s especially true where your tenants or co-workers are concerned. 
Results come and go, but emotions and feelings remain in the pathways of our brain for a very long time.
If you criticize someone in a group setting, it may seem like that person will eventually get over it, but inside, they never really do. 
Before you speak, spend more time considering what others will think and feel in response 
You can easily recover from a mistake of faulty information or genuine misunderstanding. 
You’ll never recover from the damage you inflict on someone else with words that are hurtful.
Be quiet until you know exactly what to say–and exactly what effect your words will have.

There you have it. Nine little game changers.
You may have little game- changers of your own going on. Shoot me a note. I’d love to hear about that. 
My thirty-day game-changer challenge. 

Try these phrases out for only thirty days, and if you’re not completely satisfied, I’ll provide you with a total money back guarantee.

For the first three people who write back to me with their own game – changer experience, I’ll buy you a taco. Yup, you got that right. I’ll buy you a taco wherever you are. If it works out, we can go for a taco together.

If you don’t like tacos, we’ll figure something else out. 

Drop me a line at epp@me.com. or lorne@morethanaroof.org. I’d love to hear about your game- changer experience this September. 

Until next time. 

Have a great September!

Hi there!

Welcome to my front porch.

It’s the place I love to read, think, meditate, and visit.
For several glorious weeks a year, the porch becomes central to my existence. It’s a place where neighbors of all kind, nature and the divine all seem to seamlessly come together. 

Here it’s the aroma of a woodstove fire intermingled with freshly brewed coffee that sets the stage  for conversation or meditation with a back drop of snow-capped peaks. All senses seem to be heightened and enlivened in the rarified mountain air. Even regular Columbia dark roast drip tastes exotic in this setting.

It’s a place where I can be unplugged… yet connected to the people and things I care about.

It’s not unusual for a raucus Kingfisher or curious fox or even mule deer to come visiting at the porch. They are such regulars we name them. Mutt and Jeff, the young mule deer twins seem to like the smell of my coffee. A lot of sniffing going on.

Technically I’m on holidays, but I’m such a ravin’  fan of you all, I didn’t want to miss to opportunity to connect. This months’ blog post is coming to you via a satellite dish, a solar panel and a couple or truck batteries. A quintessential blend of high tech and old school seems to get the job done.

Beginnings: Endings: Messes In The Middle

As usual, I’m writing as much to myself as I am to you.

Our lives are shaped by a series of stories, each with its own unique trajectory woven together in the fabric of life.

We leave home. We make a new home. We enter our career building and family raising years. Eat. Sleep. Work. Rest. Repeat. There’s a few other things thrown in of course. 

We end one piece of our life’s work and begin another. 
Endings and beginnings are bittersweet—we celebrate each with a keen awareness of the other.


There’s emphatic and universal agreement on the importance of good beginnings. 
We celebrate marriages, ship launchings, grand openings, new babies and a ton of other stuff with great optimism. A good start provides a strong and sound foundation for a relationship, where a bad start often results in a lot of extra work to get things back on track, or else the relationship might simply go from bad to worse, and then fail.

When people join a system (a family, a group, a function or an organization), that system has an established purpose. The people who join need to bring something of value to that system’s purpose or else they don’t find their place.

A good beginning depends on having a clear sense of belonging from the beginning!

The Messy Middle:

Here’s where things get interesting. 

The world changes. The ground shifts. Things go horribly wrong. Opposition or inadequacies arise. Loss, crisis, hardship. People can get horribly stuck. Sometimes we find we’re running flat- out only to discover we’re running in the wrong direction. Weariness and wilderness wandering sets in. It’s the “make it or break it zone” where people have the opportunity to turn struggles into strengths, or find whole new levels of personal resilience. 

Author Bill George in his book “Finding Your True North“ describes this fairly predictable life crisis as a “crucible experience” that tests us as leaders to our limits. As painful as these experiences might be, the crucible challenges our underlying assumptions about who we are.

Crucible times help us redefine our values and priorities and force us to come to grips with our view of ourselves and our place in this world! 


Why are endings and having things end well so important?

If you and I are fortunate enough to navigate the messy middle and get to have a say in how things end off, then we are truly blessed. As I come to a close of my MTR time, I truly count myself as that. 

Good endings ensure that the next person who follows can begin unencumbered. But it’s inevitable that endings and beginnings all come around; if a new person brings something left over from another place, they bring those dynamics into the new situation. Ideally, everyone will leave their old situations well and bring the full-bodied gifts from their past into their present.

Think about a time when you left a situation or relationship in good shape with no regrets. It might have felt like everything that needed to be said was said and now you were free to go on to your next chapter with the acknowledgement and best wishes of others.  

Acknowledgements might include:

  • the recognition of what you’ve accomplished
  • the possibilities of others building on your contribution 
  • the part you had played in this system even though you happen to be leaving
  • the value of the experience
  • the gifts you developed that you’ll be taking with you
  • the memories and friendships you’ll take with you
  • the appreciation you feel
  • possibly the sadness at leaving
  • the joy of what was coming next

Acknowledging these things is a key practice in creating a healthy, thriving workplace culture. 

When these things are said, we can look each other in the eye, trade a knowing smile around the amazing things we’ve accomplished together and feel free to move forward on a good basis! 

Oh yeah. It’s not all about me. Just tryin’ to live it out as I move on this month.  
Got any beginnings, endings or messes you’re dealing with right now? 
Drop me a line. Always thrilled to hear from you and respond.


Hey Readers!

It’s that top off the month time again.

Every month you can look forward to a hand-crafted, expertly curated blogpost and update from me on the 1st of every month except when that falls on Sundays or if I’m off the grid and the satellite internet is sketchy.
I write about life, level five leadership, relationships, hard work and connecting the dots to try and make it all come together. I love learning new things and I love doing hard things well. Particularly when what I’m doing directly benefits the lives of others. My goal with this monthly reach out is to propel us toward excellence in service to others.  
Grab a cup of your favourite hot drink and let’s hang out for a bit. I’m tending a freshly pressed Chilcotin Beartrap coffee assembled and custom ground in the 100 Mile Save-On bulk food aisle. Powerful tasty.

Why’s Change Always So Blinkin’ Hard?   Part 2 
In April I explored some of the dynamics of change and why we as human beings sometimes find it sooo…. difficult.  It messes with us at so many levels – at a personal level, in our relationships, families, places of worship and at our places of work.  

As a deep diver on complex issues, I had to lengthen my snorkel tube and take a few extra deep breaths in order to get to the bottom of this one.

So here’s my run down and summary on Change Management:

  • Change is gonna happen regardless of how we feel about it. Sometimes its welcome. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it silently sneaks up you then other times it comes in hot and hard. It can be trivial, or it can be tragic.  Sometimes we have a say. Often we don’t.
  • “Embrace change” is one of those really dumb trigger phrases that has me eyeing the nearest trash can in just in case I have to heave. Change merely for the sake of change doesn’t work. It’s usually espoused by a revved up motivational speaker or someone with an aggressive personal agenda who hasn’t fully thought through the implications. Secretly, they may be masochists who actually enjoy suffering.
  • Changes that are obviously beneficial or move us forward are easy to embrace. But many changes can be downright negative, tough, perhaps impossible to welcome. This list might include loss of a relationship, a loved one, health, job, money, and such. We don’t choose the difficulties or negative changes that spring upon us.
  •  We can always choose how we respond.

Having navigated and survived a lot of changes, there’s three observable  change strategies or approaches we can choose take when faced with inevitable change. The approaches are what I’d call “on the line” thinking, “above the line” thinking and of course ”below the line” thinking.

“On the line thinking” is a status quo, avoidance approach. Basically, sit on the fence, float on the surface and or whatever other passive analogy you can think of and hope to goodness nothing really bad will happen. 
 Here’s a very cool diagram that explains it all. 

The Three Lines 
You’ll see there are areas slightly above and slightly below the line. This is “survivor” zone. If this is our response to a difficult change or problem, we’re sitting on the fence to see what might happen, or we are waiting for someone else to do something. There may be times and reasons for staying in survivor mode that may be quite smart— as long as we stay above the line. Certain high risk scenarios call for  “proceed with caution”. Hence the sayings “pioneers get shot at” and “the second mouse gets the cheese”.
Examples might be when more information is needed or we have to do some research, or to see whether a change is going become a trend, or which way a new boss, government, or relationship is going to go. 
Then there’s the “above the line” thinking approach In this zone, we’re trying to understand the problem or change and figure it out. In this mode we become like a sailing ship captain. We know we can’t control the wind and currents, but we can adjust the sails and chart a course that makes the best use of the elements to move us toward our destination. We effectively become change “navigators”.
Below the line is a dangerous territory of reactive “victim” mode. When we’re in this head space, we’re bitter, helpless, and feeling like others are out to get us or deliberately want to do it to us. In this “blame storming” mode we might point fingers at politicians, bosses or senior management, other departments, customers, competitors, and the like. Decades of research by University of Pennsylvania Psychology professor, Martin Seligman, shows that explaining events in our lives in this state of “learned helplessness” leads to lower performance, poorer health, and higher rates of depression.
What Pulls People Below The Line?
Short answer? Mostly it’s our built in human bias for fear that pulls us down.
In a poll probing exploring irrational anxieties, pollster Allan Gregg asked, “If someone told you something was safe and someone else told you it was unsafe, which one would you believe?” He found that an astounding “68 percent would accept the message of doom and gloom” without questioning who was telling them and what they were talking about. We automatically gravitate to the negative then tend to get stuck there.
Here’s another insightful research piece that explains how we can easily get stuck in victimhood.
See https://youtu.be/7XFLTDQ4JMk

In Summary

  • Changes big and small will keep coming at us and affect us all. Our responses to changes determine whether we’re a Navigator, Survivor or Victim.
  • Understanding that there’s a predictable human emotional toll, turmoil and uncertainty that accompanies change helps us process change.
  • When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by change related fears or anxieties or “numbing out”, It always helps to begin identifying and labeling your emotions. (I have some tools for this- just ask)
  • You gotta know how you feel before you can change it or do something about it.

Getting down to the nitty gritty about what’s happening and your emotions around it helps you better lead yourself. It also helps you gain clarity to create a pathway for personal action. 
What’s the biggest change challenge you’re facing these days? I’ve got one or two of my own going on.

So what do you say. Drop me a line, I’d love to hear about it.

Have a great month of June ! 


Hey there,

Recent studies have shown that the more birthdays you have the longer you’ll live. Who knew! 

The Very Best Work I Do Is Here
It’s an early go today so I’m jumpstarting with a hand crafted double shot Americano from my trusty stove top espresso maker. Each month I look forward  to bringing you the best of ideas that are actionable towards our growth and support as leaders of a foremost community service organization. They are based in our vision and values. They come near the top of the month and that’s on purpose. It’s to inform us, inspire us, keep us focused on the realities of the month ahead.

I write about leadership in life, and connecting the dots between work, relationships, faith, leadership and human nature. So please grab a coffee, tea, kale smoothie or whatever you love to drink, put your feet up and spend a little time with me. 

I always look forward to this time. And thanks for reading. It means a lot to me.

Hitting Threescore and Ten: Here’s What It Feels Like 
Things I’ve Loved and Learned Along The Way
Recent studies have shown that the more birthdays you have the longer you’ll live. Who knew! 
So…….If 50 is the new 30, and 60 is the new 40, then is it too far-fetched to assume that 70 is the new 50?
Here’s the thing. My current existential crisis is that my 70th birthday just went whizzing by yet somehow, I still feel remarkably un-different.
While it’s tempting to make light of the hefty number of years I’ve spent on this planet, something is calling me to hit it hard and head on — no cutesy euphemisms about “70 being the new 50,” etc. I think it’s time to just call it.

I’m officially now a “more vintage” dude.
I’ve always thought of “older” being at least 15 years beyond where I was at any given time and conversely younger people were just varying degrees of younger. There does seem to be more and more of those younger types these days.
My friend Don (younger) says “I keep forgetting how old you are Lorne. You still have all your hair and teeth” while my neighbor Ray (older) snorts “Ha! you’re still just a kid!“
While today’s 70 is nothing like the 70 year olds of my parents’ Geritol generation, there is no dodging the fact that turning 70 marks a whole new escapade in life. The one we used to call “old age.”
I’m still bending my brain around what is “old” exactly? And what does it mean to be 70 in a society that worships youthfulness and people strive to maintain it at all costs?
Here’s what I’ve come up with so far: From my current vantage point, getting older is exactly what I tell myself it is, no more and no less. (Much like everything else in life)  I’d like to think I’ve earned a few more time outs. It doesn’t mean I need to set up camp there and have a snooze. I love the senior discounts on my favorite things and the surprised looks that comes when I ask for them.
Staying moving for me means more than just remaining physically active, although doing so is critical for us more vintage dudes. Getting older also means learning to appreciate each day as a new adventure challenge with the possibility of a few random aches and pains. There is still much to be discovered!
At age 70, I appreciate the verve and the discipline of my younger dude self who put in time at the gym keeping fit and strong, so that today, I can keep on moving, physically, intellectually, spiritually and creatively. It allows me to hoist the grandkids and chainsaw down firewood trees up at the lake. (dead ones of course)
I appreciate more than ever my lifelong love of learning new stuff, my boundless curiosity about people and what makes them tick. I appreciate my capacity to focus intently and navigate complexity better than most. I appreciate that boyhood dude that still lives in me who always wants to know and see what’s next and is committed to figuring out a way to get there.
Things I’ve Loved And Learned Along The Way
To be clear this is not a comprehensive list. That would be way too long. And If I were writing this tomorrow it might be entirely different.
I’ve learned that Parkison’s Law actually works and can be applied to almost anything.
IE. The work always expands to fit the time allowed. The junk always expands to fit the space allowed. Brain monkeys always occupy whatever brain space they are given and on and on. Lesson: healthy boundaries work.  Book of Proverbs – anywhere
Then there’s the Law of Randomness that kicks in every once in a while, randomly of course, and makes life totally uncertain, unpredictable and sometimes tragic.
I’ve learned to cherish friendships. Good ones are hard to find so I work hard at keeping them. Kinda like a bank account, you have to open up and make some deposits and not just withdraw. My best friendships have been tested by time and adversity. So-so friendships always need a bit more of a test drive before investing.
I love “Whoa” moments. A true “Whoa” moment is hard to come by and ever harder to maintain for very long, but you realize that somehow it profoundly changes you. It’s the difference between an amazing photograph and some astounding facts about Niagara Falls and the experience of standing right there at the railing at the brink with the thundering roar of the water and the earth shaking beneath your feet and the heavy mist hanging in the air and clinging to your skin.
I love gazing up at the sheer enormity and beauty of the Milky Way in the clear northern sky realizing that that our little solar system and sun is only one of several hundred billion others in our galaxy alone. Whoa!  
Moments like these bring on some intense combination of awe, elation, sadness, wonder and clarity. More than anything they make me feel ridiculously and profoundly humble and weirdly insignificant.
It was a moment like that years ago, where I determined to work solely on the things that bring me joy with people I love. Life pushes back on that now and then, but yes, that’s been the “stay the course” life strategy for me.
I’ve learned it really pays to check my default settings every once in a while.
You know when that little wheel thingy starts spinning endlessly in the top left corner on my screen of life, it’s time to hit “Force Quit” and check those settings that govern my responses, attitudes and interactions with others.
Gratitude vs. self-pity
Generous vs. selfish
Benefit of the doubt vs. instant skepticism
Showing up and caring vs.not
Quick to listen, slow to speak vs. not
Trusting vs. wary
Thinking critically vs. being critical
Bias for action vs. waiting ‘til things are exactly perfect.
Focusing only on downsides vs. acknowledging upsides
Some things that haven’t changed: I want to be healthier. I want to be more creative. I want to find what is hidden inside of me, dig around, unleash it. I want to find the strength to do that. It’s not an easy to thing to do. To scrape the dirt and dust that collects inside of ourselves. To explore. To wander. To create.
Thanks to each one of you for spending this time with me every month for some years now and sharing this amazing journey. I plan on sticking around and “doing life together” for at least another 20, so stay tuned. 
I’ll keep sending back postcards from this new frontier.
Older dudes that inspire me.
Moses – didn’t start his life’s work until he was 80 
Nelson Mandela – didn’t hit his peak influence ‘til 76, tried a brief retirement but then un-retired at 85 
BB King was still writing tunes, rockin’ it out and touring in his late 80’s 
Just sayin ‘ 
Got any Whoa! moments you care to share ?
Any default settings you’re struggling with right now?

I’d love to hear about it.
Seriously, hit me up. Here to help.  



Hey, all this blustery rain has me thinking Hawaii. Nope,- haven’t been there, but I’m practicing just in case. 

My goal in connecting with you each month is to give you something actionable that you can use to improve your game as we teach and lead others. Think of it as “leader fuel” as we combine to do great work and serve others
My purpose always is to inform us, inspire us, and keep us focused on the road ahead.

Grab a cup of something yummy and join me for a bit.
I’m  currently enjoying a mug of gunpowder green tea I got at new shop on “the Drive”. Tea guy described it in reverential tones as being “superior” and “organic”. It sounds way more dangerous than it tastes. Pretty good actually. Hope I don’t blow up.

2018 Chapter 2: 

This Sucks, Blows and Wheezes!
Question: What happens when there’s a “massive fail” on our part on the customer care front?
Unfortunately, this does happen from time to time.  Someone on our MTR team totally blows it and fails to deliver on our standard of customer care, our values, or even the basic job description. This could be with a tenant, a supplier, a co – worker or one of our major investors. Emotions are running high.
Answer: I or someone else from our senior leadership team has to step in quickly, assess the damage and do relationship triage. Usually this involves a sincere apology to the offended party, a plan to set things right and a commitment to learn from the situation to prevent re-occurrence. 
I don’t mind apologizing on behalf of others when we screw up. Admitting failure and saying “I’m sorry” without throwing the offender under the bus comes with leadership territory.
“Sorry” is one of those life-lube things that reduces friction and heat and helps us reconcile and  move on.

It’s only normal for small misunderstandings to happen or we encounter difficult even abusive people who are impossible to deal with. These I consider small bumps in the road and don’t generally constitute poor customer service.
There are situations however that I would consider universally unacceptable.

  • Long wait times/response times on things like phone calls, emails or requests for repairs
  • Poor attention to detail or facts
  • Failure to understand or perform key aspects of the role or job description
  • Impersonal, unprofessional or needless negative interactions

Here’s the thing that really grinds my gears.
Repeated relational screw ups in the course of doing business that simply need not happen. Most times, damaging scenarios could be easily averted with a bit of thoughtfulness. When I or others need to keep doing damage control on repeat scenarios, that tells me someone is failing to understand that creating an excellent customer care experience is mission critical.

 An ancient proverb says A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a citadel.” So why even go there?
Longer term, here’s what can happen:

  • Lost trust with those involved
  • Damaged reputation
  • Negative community and staff morale
  • Loss of investor confidence
  • A lot of needless “sideways energy” gets expended

  Did you know….
Source : Understanding Customers  Ruby Newell-Legner

Modern day investment icon Warren Buffet says “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently”
 My “Wow” Experience
It was late afternoon. I was between appointments and feeling rushed when a minor disaster struck. As I turned the ignition key, I heard the dreaded click, click, click …. then nothing. I was in a parkade with a gate that automatically locked up at 5 pm. It was 4:20, so time suddenly became a factor. Blood pressure rising, I hastily dialed the roadside assist number on my automobile membership. “Within forty minutes” the friendly dispatcher said. I explained my predicament and she responded “we’ll do our level best to get to you as quickly as possible, Mr. Epp.”

35 minutes later the service truck arrived and the driver, a big guy with “Dan” on his shirt greeted me with a warm smile. “What seems to be the problem?” I explained. “Mind if I poke around a bit? I’ll try to get you up and running unless it’s something a bit more serious.

“Oh, and don’t worry about the locking gate thing, I took care of that on the way in.”

“Besides your car not starting, how’s the rest of your day going?” From there on he skillfully asked a questions and took an genuine interest in what was going on for me while he tinkered under the hood. “Looks like a dead starter motor. Where do you want the vehicle towed?’ I gave him the address of my mechanic’s shop. “O yeah, I know those guys – good shop.” After hooking up he said “hop in” and away we went.

Along the way we chatted about his new Ford diesel truck, grandkids, the Canucks, and some of his hopes and dreams for the future. Suddenly he asked, “where do you live?” I told him.”Why don’t I drop you off at home and save you the cab fare back?” He reassured me he’d lock up the vehicle in a safe place and put the keys in the drop box. As he dropped me off, I asked about the extra mileage charges. “Don’t even worry about that”. I felt a measure of reassurance and calm as I watched my car “on the hook” disappear around the corner along with a cheery wave from Dan.
My crisis that day had gone from an “Arrrgh!” to a “Wow!”.

The next day I got a survey email. Did our driver arrive in a timely manner? did he greet you in a friendly manner ? courteous? helpful? knowledgeable? reassuring? knew how to service you vehicle correctly?etc.
Turns out I was on the receiving end of a masterclass in customer care. Not only did this guy love his job, he knew about going the 2nd mile and doing it with a great attitude.

Turns out a that ones’ brand or reputation boils to the emotional aftertaste of a set of experiences.

Begs the question. How do people experience you?
What’s the emotional aftertaste?

Do they come away thinking Arrrgh!” or is it more on the “Wow!” side of things. 

At MTR, excellence in Customer Service is mission critical and one of the things we strive for. 

 Let’s go create some “Wows” this month.

Thanks for reading!
It means a lot to me. 

Pull Up a Cup of Something



2018 is really happening. I’ve just spent some time pondering the agonies, ecstasies, and everything in between of 2017. Also, I’m thinking through the year ahead. Right now, I’m watching a glorious sunrise on the first day of this year and drinking a steaming mug of plain black Kirkland Dark Roast (my stand-by favorite) I’m also finalizing my three words for 2018. 

My goal in connecting with you is to give you something valuable that you can consider and perhaps act on. Think of it as “leader fuel” as we combine efforts to help a whole lot of folks. My purpose always is to inform us, inspire us, and keep us focused on the road ahead.

You see, we’re on this journey together of becoming a foremost community services organization. Much of it is fun, meaningful and rewarding until of course, it’s not. There are also the inevitable difficulties, discouragements, conflicts, and confrontations – sometimes scary and ongoing. Then we have to evaluate, recalibrate, and hit the reset button. 

Through it all, we’ve built a social enterprise that manages a portfolio valued in the $250 M range that houses and helps approximately 1700 people. Thousands of people have been housed, helped and healed through our work. Much of our growth has come because ordinary people like you were willing to attempt extraordinary things.

A sincere and heartfelt “thank-you!” to each one of you for that.

2018 Chapter 1: Page 1

This doesn’t need a whole lot of setup so I’ll get straight to the point.
In recent days, I wrote our Board of Directors advising them of my intent to resign the overall leadership of the MTR group of Societies. This will allow them to begin the important work of putting in place the next generation of leadership for MTR. I will, of course, continue on in my current CEO role until a new executive leader has been selected.
After that, there’ll be an appropriate onboarding and orientation period.
The board has requested that I remain to help guide the transition process. We’re targeting July 15th but experts tell us that this type of executive recruitment/ transition process can be quite fluid and often takes 10-24 months. Analogy: It’s kind of like an IKEA project. All the big pieces are available, but some patient assembly work is required.
So, no goodbye parties just yet.

Why? And Why Now?  
First of all, it’s part of an overall plan that I and the board have been collaborating on for over five years. We have the luxury of a timed and planned transition that isn’t crisis-driven. Smart and savvy organizations pay close attention to succession planning at the top and throughout the organization. And we’re smart and savvy, right?
Secondly, the work has grown and will continue to grow. We’ve grown our leadership base along with it by adapting, learning new skills, continually restructuring to make sure we’re effectively delivering on our mandate.  As the founder/ leader, I’ve learned that we “grow by letting go” and I’ve actively given things away at key points to make room for other leaders. This is one of those key “letting go” times that will catalyze and empower the next generation of MTR board and senior staff leadership.  
Third point. We’re at an organizational “sweet spot” for change readiness. Most, if not all of our current problems are good ones. We have a good structure, a good work ethic and a clear vision for the future. Never before have we been stronger and better resourced in all areas. Nor have we had the range of opportunities facing us than we have right now. So, centering the timing of all this around 2018 is actually looking pretty good.
What Does This Mean? 
For the time being everything and everybody continues the status quo. I’ll continue leaning into the leadership needs of the organization while the board does the deep work of discerning and deciding leadership selection. The collective job of the board and staff over the next 2-3 years will be to continue to self-organize for scale and capacity. That’s just “corporate speak” for doing more better.
What About Yours Truly? 
Aw shucks, thanks for asking. I love this organization and all of you. It’s been my life for the past 23 years, but I also have a strong sense of new things headed my way. At a visceral level, you’ve got to know it’s a bit scary for me. However, the bulls-eye of my target has always been to finish strong and finish well with all things MTR in very good shape. I think we’re there. Regarding a possible future role: It’s too soon to speculate, so let’s take things one step at a time and see what unfolds. Right now, I’m totally fine embracing ambiguity.
My Three Words

If you’ve been with me for a while, you probably know about the Three Words project.
I twigged onto this idea some years ago via author and business advisor Chris Brogan.

It’s quite simple really. Thoughtfully choose three words to guide and anchor your year. If you want some “how-to” guidelines around this, just drop me a line and I’ll be happy to share how I do it.

If you want to see what others are doing just look up tweets for #my3words.

In general:
Our words are the roadmap to our intentions. 
When we articulate our vision, it helps guide where we wind up.
Our words also guide what we think about.
Repeated thoughts (words in our head) produce our emotions.



 My Three Words for 2018

Move – as in motion, action, kinesis, getting from here to there, A reminder to move physically (fitness) as well as on life plans and projects that I’m working on. Movement is life! The fact is that life is a constant balance between planning and action. 2018 will be a year to move.

Improve – Life happens. I get that. Hopefully, I learn from it and move on. 
Part of me is always looking to make some things better while staying consistent at other things. Not in a sweaty, white knuckle, “we’ve got to get better” way. Its more a curious, appreciative inquiry approach. My personal mission statement is to “help others do better”. This will be a continued focus as I move into 2018. Not to put too sharp a point on this, but continual improvement is “baked” into or brand promise of “More” and our value of pursuing excellence.

RenewRenew is somewhat related to the first two words.
Sometimes it’s a full-time job being me. But hey, it’s also a lot of fun. (Margaret’s comment: “more supervision needed.”) I love watching the renovation reality shows. They remind me that I’m a “work in progress”. The same goes for our work together. I trust the coming year will bring a renewed focus to MTR. 
The Goal is Clarity and Action
I regularly review, write out and think about my Three Words. That is the point after all. They are meant to be anchors and signposts for my year. I keep them in front of me and use them to direct my thoughts, responses, decisions, and actions.

So…..what about you? Have you come up with your Three Words this year?
Are you on track?
Let me know.
Hit reply. I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading!

It means a lot to me.