Greatness Hiding in Plain Sight

Isaiah Mouw

On a Friday morning in January 2007, commuters passing through the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station in Washington, D.C., were treated to one of the finest musical performances many would ever experience. Unfortunately, none of the commuters recognized it as being great.

Dressed as a common street performer, world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell played in the Metro station as part of a Washington Post experiment. One of the world’s finest classical musicians played some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made–a $3.5 million dollar Stradivarius. What happened? Out of the nearly 2,000 people who passed Bell in a span of 43 minutes, only one man stopped to listen for a few minutes, one woman recognized him, and several children stopped to stare.

Just two days before this experiment, Bell sold out a Boston theater with an average ticket price of $100. But dressed in jeans and a baseball cap playing in an ordinary subway station, there were no rounds of applause, no cameras flashing, and no stopping to enjoy the beautiful music. The study raised several questions, including whether we recognize talent in an unexpected context, and the Washington Post story won a Pulitzer Prize.

At the 2013 IPI Conference and Expo, Roamy Valera, CAPP, was honored with the James M. Hunnicutt, CAPP, Parking Professional of the Year award. Roamy has done more for the parking industry than many of us will do in our lifetime, but what is amazing is that he started as a parking enforcement officer. A supervisor–Daniel Rosemond–saw something in Roamy and gave him a chance with a promotion. The rest, as they say, is history.

The next time you are looking for the next big thing, the next all-star manager, or the next creative marketer for your organization, don’t forgot to look around you. Don’t be like the Metro commuters who didn’t see the beauty or the greatness around them. Try looking within your organization and imagine what one of your employees could do in a different environment. Hiring within isn’t always the answer, but if you automatically dismiss someone within your organization who’s looking for a chance…you may just be passing on the future Parking Professional of the Year (which will accept nominations soon–which of your colleagues might fit the bill?)

 

 

 

 

 

Johnny or Rudy: An Easy Coaching Decision

Casey Jones 4x5 (2)

My son plays on the lightweight football team for his junior high school. He’s light even for that team. He doesn’t have blazing speed, or Football Pic 2the surest hands, or a cannon for an arm, and he doesn’t yet deliver bone-crushing hits.  But he does have one thing that I’d take over all other attributes: he’s got the right attitude.

The other night was their first game of the season and I couldn’t have been more proud of him. Though he was on the sideline more than on the field, he focused his energy on pumping up his teammates. He handed out high-fives, cheered on the Hornets, and when he got in, he hustled to the ball and even managed to pick off the opposing quarterback.

There are many job openings at this very moment in our industry; many can be found on IPI’s website.  All of these postings include a long list of skills required for the particular job. This is to be expected, but I believe firmly in the old adage that says, “Hire for attitude, train for skill.” I’ve made good hiring decisions throughout my career by focusing on attitude and less on skill. Often, I have hired a candidate who has nominal parking experience compared to other applicants.

At the very least, hiring decisions should be made based on equal amounts of skill and attitude. This will ensure that you’ve got the best, most capable people on your team.

If my son keeps playing football, he’ll gain the necessary skills to contribute even more on the field. Until then I’m grateful he’s carrying himself like a true champion.

Parking Goes to Summer Camp

Jeff Petry

Many of us are starting to think about summer camps. While child care may be a prime motivator for parents seeking out camp programs, there are often other reasons they are are popular: they provide a new learning experience that promotes social awareness, fosters creativity, and nurtures independence, all under the heading of FUN!

These are also the skill sets we want in our parking teams. We go to trainings, read management books, and work with human resources professionals to encourage employee development and form stronger work groups. When these goals are met, coming to work becomes fun. So why don’t we send our parking staff to summer camp?

The City of Eugene’s parking staff is going to camp this year! In partnership with the city’s Recreation Division, each parking staff member will pick a camp for one week over the summer months, and attend it as a counselor. They will attend the necessary camp counselor training prior to their week away, and everyone will return with stories to share of what they learned through the experience.

Besides a great week at camp, what do we get out of this? Many of us will stretch our comfort zones by working with kids and in a different environment. We get to immerse ourselves in a creative space to help others learn and foster their learning experiences. And we get to laugh and smile.

What’s in it for the Recreation Division? They get employees who have completed all city-required trainings and understand our organization’s cultures and values. They know how to handle potential conflicts and what it is like work with the public. Recreation staff will get to work with our employees, who will bring their own values, influences, humor, and camp energy to create a unique camp experience for every child (Can you imagine a child receiving a ticket for parking at the bottom of the slide?). Plus, recreation staff are excellent at seeing the positive in all things, even parking officers at summer camp!

What both programs get is a unique opportunity to cross over the organizational chart and intersperse two unlikely work groups in a new way that builds networks and refreshes the work spirit.

I am thinking about choosing Magicians of Everyday Magic for my camp. What would you choose?