This is dumb. Let’s keep doing it.

This is dumb. Let’s keep doing it.

This week, as we were scrolling TikTok (yes, we scroll TikTok…), we came across a video that felt a little too true

Sure, it’s about returning to in-person work—and here at Swell+Good, we’re work-from-home, asynchronous forever. Not applicable to our personal lives, exactly, but the larger point stuck: How many things are we doing just because they’re the things we’ve always done? 

Said differently, what are we doing for no reason?  

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that things change. Work dynamics, health guidelines, trends (sourdough, anyone?), and, yes, even our understanding of what is effective. 

The thing you were doing yesterday might not work tomorrow.

And that’s ok. 

As one of our favorite social scientists says, “People often become attached to best practices. The risk is that once we’ve declared a routine the best, it becomes frozen in time.”

Or, maybe even better, “We laugh at people who still use Windows 95, yet we still cling to opinions that we formed in 1995.”

(Yes, Adam Grant wrote a whole book about rethinking things. You should read it. It’s great.) 

A good leader can keep their team moving forward. One who prioritizes growth over being right. One who knows that sometimes, even great ideas and practices have to get scrapped because they’ve reached their lifespan. 

Instead of relying on “best practices,” let’s build processes and policies that work for the future. Let’s embrace innovation and shake things up. Listen to the dissenters. Consider the options. Be willing to toss something when it’s no longer working for you. 

We’re learning this right along with you and dedicating time to reevaluating our behaviors. (Because, wow, is it easy to let things happen instead of making them happen when you don’t carve out time to think about it!) We want to be intentional with our strategies, practices, and calendars—and we invite you to do the same!

Let us know what you’ve reconsidered recently—and what you’re scrapping in favor of something new! 

Leaders clean the toilets

Leaders clean the toilets

Early in my career, I was a store manager for Levi’s. I loved my job and all of the responsibility that came along with retail management. But most of all, I loved being a part of that team.

There is something special about early morning floor changes, the constant rush of customers, and late-night shipment processing. There’s an urgency and excitement that means you always have to be at your best. 

Retail comes with a unique set of experiences that bonds a team together very quickly.

As a manager, you learn how to do all of the jobs in the store. And hopefully, you also learn that no job is beneath you. You are responsible for every aspect of what happens in that space—from customer service, to merchandising, to keeping the store clean. 

As much as it can be, it is your store.

For me, in my three-level store with 25+ employees and thousands of pairs of jeans, sometimes that meant I cleaned toilets.

You see, it was clear to me from very early on that I couldn’t ask my team to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself. How could I expect my team to respect me if they didn’t know I was reliable? After all, at the end of the day, I was just some guy with the keys and a title.

In that fast-paced environment, I formed a belief that has guided me as a leader ever since: There are two types of team members—people who clean the toilets and people who don’t.

I don’t mean janitors and everyone else. I mean that some team members don’t care about titles or what their job description says. They know what needs doing, and they will roll up their sleeves to get it done and help the team succeed. 

Even if that means cleaning a toilet.

On the other side are team members who won’t clean the toilets. They think that they’ve already put in their time. That they’ve done the work. They think that those sometimes-dirty jobs are for someone else. Someone who has it in their job description. Someone with less experience. 

After all, look at their business card. That sure is a fancy title.

Don’t be that team member.

Instead, as leaders, we should be proactive. Look at what your team is working on, and, without skirting your responsibilities, see where you can lend a hand. 

Pick up the toilet brush.

With Q4 in full swing and a million things on the to-do list, who has time to worry about whether something is in your job description? If it needs to be done, do it. Process those gifts, write that email, stuff those envelopes.

Don’t brag about it. Don’t look to take the spotlight for doing something extra. Just do it. Your team will see it. They’ll respect you, and they’ll know that you can be counted on when times get tough. 

Besides, who doesn’t love a clean toilet?

Start canceling meetings

Start canceling meetings

Looking for an easy way to make your team more productive, more creative, and (almost certainly) happier? 

Start canceling meetings. Today. 

If I can point to one practice that has helped me pivot from being a full-fledged workaholic to a person with a fair amount of margin in her day, it has been my willingness to ruthlessly eliminate meetings from my day. 

By canceling 70% of my meetings, I have (magically) freed up my work week. I am sitting on an extra dozen hours of time to actually do work

And I’m not alone. 

As a recent Digiday article noted, “As more statistics link meeting overload to burnout, a crackdown on meeting culture is emerging.”

While canceling all of your meetings might not be possible, there are definitely small steps you can take to make your meetings more productive (and give your calendar a bit more breathing room). 

Begin by asking the tough questions like…

What is this meeting costing your organization? 

Do you have all of your senior leaders in a room for 2 hours? Think about what that time is worth…

What is the opportunity cost of this meeting? 

What else could you be doing with this time—and is that something else more important? 

Do you know exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish in the meeting? 

Going into a meeting without a goal is a surefire way to waste time. 

Are you prepared for the meeting? 

Do you have notes? An agenda? Pre-reads? Do all of the attendees know what they’re supposed to bring to the table? 

Can you make the meeting shorter? 

Sure, canceling meetings might not be possible—but you can definitely save yourself some time by cutting an hour into 30 minutes, or 30 minutes into 15! 

No agenda? Decline.

Is this really a simple question? Just send it to me and I’ll answer it. Do you need me to brainstorm? Great. Put pen to paper for a few minutes and I’ll start there. 

Here at Swell+Good, our team works asynchronously (we do not have fixed business hours) which makes meetings nearly impossible and has forced us to double down on other forms of communication. We’re pros at messaging, written updates, and shared notes and files—and when we actually speak in real-time, it is much more about relationship building than getting things done.

With clients, we’re strategic. We come to meetings armed with questions, stick to our agendas, and keep meetings as short as possible—we’ll happily host a 5-minute update and call it a day (no need to fill 30 minutes if you don’t have 30 minutes of things to talk about!). 

A no-meeting (or fewer-meetings) life is a beautiful thing. So open that calendar and start canceling. 

Need help thinking through how to make your meetings more effective—or how to get rid of some of them altogether? Reach out by replying to this email! We’d love to help!

We are surrounded by incredible people

We are surrounded by incredible people

When we look back over our professional (and personal) lives, we are struck by just how valuable our relationships have been.

There are the people we “officially” worked with for three months who are still valuable mentors to us years later. There are friends who listened to us complain about projects and helped us make difficult decisions about what to do next. There are colleagues we’ve worked alongside for decades and neighbors who might not ever know what a profound impact they have had on us.

Cultivating and maintaining these relationships matters.

You never know where a new connection might lead or when an old friend’s expertise is suddenly essential. (Our not-so-secret trick: stay connected to your former coworkers. It’s the best and expands your social capital…a lot.)

What are you doing to invest in your relationships this week? Who have you been meaning to email or call recently? Who deserves a big pile of gratitude?

Why not drop them a note right now?

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Because like it or not, we are shaped and guided by the people around us.

Our lives are better because of the people who have crossed our paths. And our guess is that you would say the same. So let’s keep relationships at the top of our priority list. Yes, because they help us. And yes, because they can be valuable. But mostly because people are awesome and special and absolutely worth celebrating.

How you say goodbye is just as important as how you say hello

How you say goodbye is just as important as how you say hello

We all know that the first few weeks at a new job are critical — both for you and your team.

How do you build relationships with your new colleagues? What tools and systems do you need to learn? How can you set yourself up for ongoing collaboration, creativity, productivity, and success?

But what do you do at the end of a season? How do you leave a job well?

How you say goodbye is just as important as how you say hello.

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For the person leaving, saying a good goodbye means equipping your team with the information, skills, and tools they need to be successful after your departure (we’ve touched on some practical steps before — things like passwords, file access, logins, links, handbooks, trainings, and more…). It means taking the time to close a season, even as you’re anticipating your next move.

For the rest of the team, goodbyes often mean more work — and certainly more headaches. But it’s our job to say goodbye well, too.

We believe in caring about our colleagues as people, so when a team member heads to a new project or venture, we want to be excited for them! We send them off with encouragement, enthusiasm, and the assurance that their relationships are still as strong as ever.

We also ask questions. Lots of them. Because every transition is an opportunity to learn — for the person leaving, of course, but also for everyone who sticks around.