Friday, July 31, 2009

My Friend Mark!

I can live for two months on a compliment! - Mark Twain
One of my all time favorite authors is Samuel Clemens who is better known by his pen name… Mark Twain!

Born in Missouri in 1835, many consider Mark Twain to be the father of American literature.

He gained widespread fame and celebrity for books such as “Innocents Abroad,” “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”

Mark Twain passed away in 1910 but his wit, satire and words live on today. His perspective on recognition and praise is amazing and can teach everyone some very basic lessons on how to live and work with one another!

For the last several years, my colleagues and I have finished many a presentation with Mark Twain’s famous comment “I can live for two months on a compliment!”

My good colleague Louise Sa has gathered a number of Mark Twain Nuggets and I’ll post one a week under the heading “My Friend Mark!”

I hope you enjoy and learn from them!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Recognition from the Hart

Employersweb just published my article on what recognition companies should do when morale is low. Read it here!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ask the Experts

Looking for more information on recognition? In the July edition of Incentive Magazine’s “Ask the Experts,” my colleagues Michelle Smith, Dee Hansford, Kevin Cronin and I answer the following questions:

• As a business owner, I’m worried about keeping my management team focused and loyal. What should I be doing for them?
• In the summer, what are low-budget and meaningful ways to keep the company-wide picnic important and enjoyed by staff?
• My management team is asking if we should still have our annual company picnic in light of the stressful economy?
• What should I be doing to prepare for recognition after the recession?

My contribution dealt with the last question. Find out how you can keep your competitive edge throughout and after the recession here!

Do you have any other recognition questions? Drop me a note in the blog’s comment section below!

Monday, July 27, 2009

What am I? Chopped Liver!

In a previous post I wrote about how Roy Saunderson’s “Recognition Journey” was my good fortune!

Now I’m not so sure… Roy has started a competing blog on recognition and it seems my two readers (Dad and Veronica, my fourteen year old daughter) have abandoned me and are flocking to him! Obviously, my lessons on loyalty have failed! I feel like chopped liver!

Seriously, check out Roy’s new blog. You will find proven recognition principles, strategies and techniques that produce results. You will discover Roy’s insights on practical recognition giving skills and new techniques for creating a culture to support appreciation, praise and recognition in the workplace.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Future is Here… It’s Called “Recognition Social Networking”

We have all heard about social networking… Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Digg, MySpace, YouTube etc… Millions of people are setting up personal accounts to share their information and to reach out to others on a weekly basis.

Today, more and more corporations are jumping into this space and are starting to set up their own “Business Social Networks.” They are leveraging the power of people and the web to deliver their messaging directly to their customers.

This phenomenon will affect our industry too… I believe companies will use “Recognition Social Networks” to set up programs whereby people will be able to recognize one another. When employees have strong relationships within the company, their success becomes synonymous to the company's. A Recognition Social Network doesn’t necessarily have to have a “reward” component. The recognition received ACTS as the reward. It builds the relationships that are key to driving business performance.

According to a Gallup study, employees who claim to have a best friend at work have customers who rate them "5% to 10% higher than those of impersonal or acrimonious groups, explaining the difference between success and failure in many organizations."

It is for this reason I’m proud to announce that Rideau has created an exclusive partnership with PollStream. They are a leading provider of interactive engagement and community building solutions. PollStream will allow our clients to effectively recognize, engage, educate and inform employees in online two-way dialogues… all with the objective of building stronger relationships. Checkout the press release.

Monday, July 20, 2009

American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life

The Plattsburgh Team
Cancer is a terrible disease. It has taken away so many loved ones far too early. Cancer took my Mom away 9 years ago. Eighteen months ago it took away Jeff Mills. Three weeks ago it took away Michelle Verville our longest serving employee.

Many others in our circle of friends continue to battle cancer on a daily basis. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

And then there are the survivors… those who have beaten cancer and have gone on to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

Last week I spoke to you about Cristal Bordeleau, this week I’m going to tell you about how Rideau and my teammates supported American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
Mike Korash, SaraLynn
Mills and Ann Collins

I’m so proud EVERYONE in our US Distribution Center contributed or participated one way or another in Plattsburgh’s Relay for Life.

The relay started on Friday at 7PM and finished on Saturday at 7AM. Two of our colleagues Pearl Mills (Jeff Mill’s wife) and Marie Pringer managed to stay up all night. The rest of the team crawled into sleeping bags at one point or another over the course of the evening… but they were there and participated. They lit white candle bags with the names of loved ones who had passed away from cancer. These were placed around the perimeter of the track that everyone walked.

Rob Collier, our US Distribution Manager reported that everyone had a very good time for this worthwhile cause.
Pearl Mills
The Rideau Plattsburgh team raised over $1,000 through a combination of contributions from employees, friends, vendors, bake sale and raffles. Rideau is going to match the amount raised by the Plattsburgh team for a total of over $2,000. We plan to do it again next year. What’s amazing is in total the Relay for Life event in little old Plattsburgh raised an estimated $175,000 that night!

One day cancer will be beaten.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An Amazing Story. An Amazing Lady, Colleague & Friend

On June 5th I posted an entry about Cristal Bordeleau. I called her “Rideau’s Great Unifier.” The reason being that Cristal Bordeleau brought our whole company together to raise money for her Ride to Conquer Cancer. The bike ride took Cristal from Montreal to Quebec City a distance of over 200 kilometers and occurred over two very rainy days.

Cristal just sent me an e-mail about her ride. With her permission, I am posting it unedited with some photos. The e-mail needs no commentary. It speaks for itself.

It says a lot about Cristal… It says a lot about Rideau.

I’m so proud of Cristal and very grateful she is part of the Rideau family.
From: Cristal Bordeleau
Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 11:26 AM
To: Peter Hart
Subject: Ride to Conquer Cancer 2009

Dear Peter,

Please, let me begin by saying thank you. Thank you for your support, generosity and encouraging words. Honestly, I do not believe I have all the words to express my gratitude properly. Without your support, and the family of Rideau, I would never have been able to participate in such a wonderful journey. I say journey, as to me going from point A to B is a destination, but to live in between point A and B is a journey. Saturday morning, waking up at 4:30 a.m., was quite an exploit. At that moment, my perception of life had not changed. I was just me, Cristal, preparing to cycle for a cause. I was not prepared for what lay ahead.

I arrived at the Olympic stadium at 6:30 a.m. to pick up my jersey, register my bike and myself, bring my gear to the trucks... etc. Keeping me busy, and not too aware of my surroundings. It was a lot of information to capture at once. Continental breakfast was served, and you could hear the sound of cleats and bicycles all around, it was a little hectic.

7:00 a.m., the PA system comes alive “All riders, please begin advancing to the start line, all riders, please advance to the start line, we will begin the Opening Ceremonies”…

“… First, please let me begin by saying thank you for uniting in helping raise funds to advance Cancer research for the Jewish General Hospital…”

“… Today, we are proud to say, for our first Ride to Conquer Cancer in Quebec, you are 1450 riders and together you have raised 5.7 million dollars…”

“…Please put your hands together and give yourself a great big hand of applause…”

When I heard those numbers, I stood proud for the sum, I stood proud thinking of my Rideau family that contributed to this great sum. My heart was soaring.

7:45 a.m.

“… Riders, your sweat is nothing compared to the tears and sorrow cancer patients go through, but your support will bring comfort, now be proud and ride on…”

After this sentence, I turned my head to align myself, and what I saw, changed my perception on life and human strength and unity. It cut my breath short. A young girl, no older than Veronica, was standing there with her mother, crying, tears running down her face, and all I saw was her hand touching her heart, saying “Thank you” to all the riders that were going by her. That was the face of resiliency, sorrow and gratitude. I cycled out of the Olympic Stadium, with tears in my heart and on my face. That young girl touched me forever.

Day One:

It became clearer why I was doing this, and I knew I couldn’t do this alone, I needed outside inspiration. I thought of Francine, when she hugged me on Friday and thanked me and explained to me her scare, I thought of my foster mother, that battled two bouts of breast cancer and survived, my grand-father who battled it twice and survived, and two others were with me even if I didn’t know them, Mimi, for her strength, courage, high spirits and words of caution when she visited Rideau to tell us the importance of exams, and of course your mom. I knew I was riding for two families, my own and my “adoptive” one. Love and compassion and the resiliency of those around me, got me through the first day.

Through the rain, the hills, the breathtaking countryside, I pedaled my heart out. I was also becoming quite aware that I was a little crazy for doing this on a mountain bike… that was my first “Note to Self: next time I get a road bike” :). I spent most of Day One alone on the road. This gives much time for reflection. Between each pit stop, you would have “Cheering Stations.” It was comforting to hear words of encouragement and clappers as I rode by, giving me an extra boost of energy. Along those stations, survivors of cancer exclaimed in loud voices, their thank you’s. I could only respond with moist eyes and a soft smile, no words could ever express what I felt for them.

I rode into the town of Trois-Rivieres at 4:45 p.m.. Having endured, rain… lots of rain. Heat and cold. My legs on fire. I was then told I was 15 minutes away from Basecamp. 5:00 p.m. sharp, I reached Day One’s destination. Soaked, shivering, stiff and one with my bike, I rolled into the bike parking. As I was going in the direction of the gear trucks, I heard a song that gave me a great big old smile, and made me tear up. It was not a ballad, or a love song... it was YMCA :). I was in a rush to jump in the shower, and find the warmth and comfort of my Rideau fleece.

The festivities were nice. The spirits were high. A live band was playing and Day One came to an end. 8:45 p.m., I was asleep in my tent.

The night was wet, cold but it was all worth it, except for the 1 a.m. “porta-potty” call… now that one, I could have done without… :) …..

Day Two:

4:45 a.m. Wide awake. Packed up all the gear (all wet). And headed for breakfast. Talking with a few people, it was estimated that about ¼ of the cyclist were not moving on. Many injuries happened the day before, varying between scrapes, cuts, neck braces and hypothermia. I counted my blessings, I was safe. All I had were extremely sore legs and a very tender knee, but my heart was set on moving on.

Breakfast was served, and at 7 a.m., I was ready to set out. The route was announced over the PA, even if we had the booklet, and we were wished a safe ride. As we pulled out and I was 10 km in, I knew I was in trouble. I hit 1st pit stop, and should have stayed there, but I didn’t. I continued on to pit stop 2, another 20 km away, and went through excruciating pain, but my stubbornness and determination was pushing me to get to the lunch stop. As I was pulling out, I met a gentleman that would help me get through, and little did I know, teach me a great lesson on “Never Giving Up,” but that’s a story in itself. To the lunch stop, it was 30 km and mostly uphill. Donald, is his name, talked to me the whole way. He has a beautiful outlook on life and he was named “Mr. Smiley” by all the Rescue Staff and Volunteers, and with good reason. Well Mr. Smiley and I had lunch together, and we headed off in the direction of pit stop 3, the one I never made it too.

I must admit, it was the hardest thing for me to do, as I felt I was giving up, but Donald said the right words to me, that made me give the thumbs down signal as a medical car was coming. He told me, “Cristal, what would be the purpose to completely destroy your knee today? That means you would not be able to participate next year. You are not giving up, you are saving yourself for round 2.”

… He’s right!

I was picked up, and well taken care of. Iced for 6 hours, surprisingly by Donald’s wife. Little did I know, I made friends for life. It was nice to be with Donald’s wife as I was there to see him ride in at 6pm, the very last rider to come through the arches, with a great big smile. They drove me safely home as well.

Thank you Peter for reading my journey and for the hug yesterday :)

Yours truly


P.S. That Rideau fleece saved me… lol. As I said it kept me warm, it gave me comfort, staring at it on my bike going up hills, gave me strength and courage as I saw the faces of all my colleagues that supported me, but it saved my butt too :) since my seat was not the best, it became a cushion many of times. Hurray for the Rideau Fleece.

P.P.S. A special thanks to Trinh, she helped me with text messages throughout the week-end. Next we are doing the 5 km walk on the 4th of October as a department.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rideau's Town Hall

I'm a big believer in reaching out and communicating to employees. In my opinion, you can never "over" communicate.

At Rideau, we hold regular, quarterly Employee Communication Town Halls.

My brother Stephen and I do about eight of these sessions over a two day period. They last about an hour with 30 - 35 employees attending each one. We conduct them in English and French.

The Town Halls are broken down into three sections:

1. Financial Health
2. Client's Health
3. Employee's Health

Isabelle Lavigne, our VP of People and Culture brought the model into the company with the thought that all three parts have to be healthy for Rideau to prosper.

In the financial segment, we detail where we stand from a sales and profit perspective against our original plan. We explain if there are any differences and try to give our employees a sense of where we'll end up by our fiscal year end.

In the client segment, we let our employees know about recent wins, losses, threats and opportunities. We talk about what keeps Stephen and me up at night.

The employee segment discusses a wide variety of topics. In our last sessions we talked about the results of our Employee Opinion Survey and our resulting action plan. We talked about Rideau's recent ISO 9001 certification and our Continuous Improvement Plan. We detailed the projects we completed under the plan and spoke of those in progress and those to come. We also talked about our educational and career development programs.

During the Town Hall, we take the opportunity to highlight above and beyond accomplishments of a number of our colleagues.

Corporate social responsibility is a huge issue at Rideau and we always end each Town Hall speaking about initiatives which are making us a better company.

This quarter's theme focused on water. Here's some information we provided our employees:

- Globally, one in six people do not have fresh drinking water.
- A child dies every eight seconds because they do not have fresh drinking water.
- The average North American uses 575 liters of water a day. In Mozambique the average is 10 liters a day.
- By 2025, half of the world's population will not have enough water.

I'm proud to say that all of the above tied into an effort to rid Rideau of all disposable water bottles which we did in the last quarter.

At the end of each Town Hall, we provide all employees with a small gift. This time it was a reusable water bottle.

Rideau Town Halls are critical to having knowledgeable engaged Rideau employees.

Friday, July 10, 2009

It Beats Cleaning the Garage!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Incentive Federation and the great work it’s doing promoting a Legislative Awareness Program.

In case you missed the post, the Incentive Federation is working on defining the incentive and recognition industry so that governments can understand how our work plays a key role in promoting a better, healthier workplace and hopefully enact legislation that will accomplish this objective.

Well the other day, I got a call from George Delta. He wanted to know if Arne Carlson, one of my Board Members could give some advice on how the Incentive Federation should proceed.

It was a great idea!

Arne was a very successful two-term Governor from the great State of Minnesota. He certainly knows how the system worked.

So I called the Carlson household… it was my second call of the day!

My first was to go over some scheduling stuff for an upcoming Board meeting in Montreal. Arne’s wife Susan answered the phone. Arne was unavailable. He was cleaning out the garage! But that was okay! Susan was also coming to Montreal and the two of us were able to work out the details without Arne.

The second time I called Arne answered the phone himself. I explained George’s request and suggested a conference call the following week. Arne countered with “Why not now? It would sure beat cleaning out the garage!”

So if new legislation is successfully enacted, let it be remembered one of the reasons for its passage was a former Governor’s desire to skip out on his household chores!!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Recognition from the Hart just published my views on recognition programs during a recession as well as the value of Real Recognition! You can read the article here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Roy Saunderson’s Recognition Journey is My Good Fortune!

Earlier this summer, Roy Saunderson gave a keynote at Recognition Professionals International’s annual conference in Naples.

You might find this odd, but I have never heard Roy speak before. Yes, I’m supposed to be running the show. And yes, logic has it I should have heard Roy speak before buying his company three years ago and having him work with me!

But I didn’t… I just knew it was the right thing to do.

Roy’s keynote was powerful. He spoke for over an hour. He had no notes. No PowerPoint. There were no props other than a small little teddy bear (I’m not going to explain why here). There was none of the usual pauses, searching for words, or the other things speakers usually do when searching for words.

It was just a simple, powerful story about Roy’s own personal recognition journey. It was a story that reduced many in the audience to tears.

I was proud to be part of Roy’s recognition journey.

Roy’s story is my good fortune. I’m so lucky to know this humble man!

His message is powerful.

His cause is Noble.