ILCA Women’s Networking Group

What’s a Guy / Gal to do?
July 6, 2010, 5:39 am
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By Christa Orum-Keller

Recently, I was engaged in a conversation where a male colleague was asking female colleagues what he ought do and ought not do, in his work interactions with women in work situations.  There were questions and situations described, for which I didn’t have answers and of course there were those shades of grey…

So I thought, why not ask the experts – all of YOU!

I’ll just get things going with a few questions, but I would be delighted if there were many comments with lots of information to share…

  • What terms should and should not be used to describe female work colleagues?  For example:  female, women, lady, girl, gal, etc.
  • Does the acceptability of the term differ if it is used by a woman vs. a man?
  • What’s OK for a woman to say but NOT OK for a man to say at work?
  • What about manners?  Can a male colleague open the door for you?  Pull out your chair at a restaurant?  What about handshakes / hugs / greetings – what’s OK and what’s not?
  • Business meals – if you’re dining with a man, does the server inevitably bring the check to him?  If you are the one paying the bill, how do you maneuver the false assumption with the server?  What’s the man to do in the situation?
  • If the male co-worker is of a more senior generation, do we give him some slack?  Or are our expectations for enlightenment equal no matter what age the person has?
  • What if a woman says something offensive toward women in the workplace?  How do you deal with that?  How does a male colleague deal with this situation?  Say something or leave it alone?

These are just a few small examples.  Maybe you have more comments, questions or situations to throw out that others can comment on.

Let the information sharing begin!  Thanks!


Doing Your Duty
June 7, 2010, 5:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

By Christa Orum-Keller

Sometimes it’s easy to do the right thing. And sometimes it’s not…and that’s when doing the right thing matters the most.

I recently read an article on leadership, which talked about taking yourself outside of your own situation and really thinking about what the other person is going through, and then making the decision about what to do. Not a new concept, but it caused me to pause and think.

When you start your morning and are driving to work, what fills your mind – is it all the things YOU have to do at work, all the things YOU need to get done, all the places YOU need to be and all the benefits YOU will derive? Where is the room for the rest of the world?

It annoys me, and most supervisors and managers, when they hear someone say, “Well, that’s not my job…” My seven year old has recently been asking why he has to do so many things? He says, “Mom, you are being soooo demanding!” And I say, “Yes I am!” It’s not becuase I want to be the meanest mom in town or that I’m trying to be a downer of a mom, it’s becuase I think the world and the people we serve in it, demand that we step up to the plate with fortitude and DO OUR DUTY! And seven is a fine age to begin building the strength of character it will take to grow up to be someone who doesn’t take their duty lightly or considers it only when there is fair wind.

That’s not always easy. The world, our colleagues, our customers, our family and our children demand a lot of us. And if we are truly living a compassionate life where we consider the needs of others, we must be prepared to DO something about those needs. Sometimes that means waiting a little while to fulfill personal needs. Sometimes that means doing things we didn’t plan on or which aren’t in our job description. Sometimes it means bearing more than we think we can and sticking through it, not because it is fun, enjoyable or even tolerable, but becuase it is our duty and it is the right thing to do.

Yes, your mother might be demanding, but if we are to live lives of true compassion, then the world is much, much more demanding than she could ever be.

“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.”
–Eleanor Roosevelt

April 10, 2010, 3:52 pm
Filed under: 1

By Christa Orum-Keller

This spring’s energy of the universe has placed some of the most powerful women I’ve ever met in my life’s path.  Intelligent, wise, thoughtful, connected with living things.  Connected to our warming soil.  And tuned in with the power of their femininity.  Not in that bright shining, hair-sprayed, overly-pink, fluffy kind of way.  In the strong, cultivating, present, witty, and courageous sort of way.

What did they have in common?  They all had their wits about them.  They live in the present yet consider the future.  They don’t let spring’s insanity get them flustered.  They aren’t afraid to say…

  • “We’ll make the best of it.”
  • “Let’s take one thing at a time.”
  • “We’ll get to that eventually.”

But above all, they take time to be good to themselves.  Women serve – their parents, their siblings, their families, their children, their employers, their employees, their communities, their churches, their soup pantries…and we give and give and give.  But these powerful women stop.  They stop and take time to regenerate, revive and review.  Whether the cup of tea, the decadent lunch, the time for a walk in the garden, seeking out spring wildflowers, a massage, a bit of yoga, or a cheerful visit with an old friend – they each take time to take care of themselves.

Feeling frazzled?  At your wit’s end?  Repeat those wise phrases above.  Live in the now.  And feel great about making a choice to be good to you.  It will pay enormous dividends when we arrive at the scorching sizzling spring culmination into summer.

Value Not Price
March 19, 2010, 8:15 pm
Filed under: 1

by Christa Orum-Keller

“The real price of everything, what everything really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it.”            —Adam Smith

This is such an interesting time to those of us who have ever studied economics.  It is too easy, to say that ‘price’ is what is driving our decisions.  It’s not really price, it’s our customers’ new stronger focus on measuring Value.

Every single one of us is focused on ‘getting a better deal’ – but think harder.  Aren’t we really focused on getting something we strongly value?  As budgets shrink, the value equation becomes more important.

What’s neat about that is that we cannot use price as an excuse for declining revenue.  What’s difficult about that is, we have to be better communicators to learn from our customers and discover just what it is they value, and then align oursleves with customers who value what we excel at.  The sites have shifted and we must adjust.  What’s really interesting, if you can spend a few minutes looking at facts and figures, is to observe the areas where your sales might be increasing.

At ILCA, it’s remarkable to note how many new members there are!  There may be many reasons for this growth, but in the end, our newest members must recognize the Value of ILCA membership.  If you haven’t recently read what ILCA pledges to its members, you may find it interseting to review:

  • To serve as a forum for the free exchange of ideas among landscape contractors and their suppliers.
  • To carry out a broad-scale program of practical instruction for those engaged in landscaping, through special programs, meetings and publications.
  • To create a greater degree of public appreciation for the landscaping profession in Illinois and for those for whom it is a livelihood.
  • To encourage a high code of professional ethics as well as quality workmanship among landscape contractors.
  • To support legislation which is beneficial to landscape contractors and the general public, and to oppose that which is not.
  • To work for a greener, more beautiful Illinois.

For those of us who have been members for many years, let us not lose site of the Value of ILCA to our organizations.  We are a community made stronger by and with each other.

“Friendship is essentially a partnership.”      — Aristotle (4th century B.C.)

Who’s Your Hero?
February 19, 2010, 3:36 am
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by Christa Orum-Keller

Wednesday morning this week, ILCA board members were invited as guests, to sample the leadership experience which participants of the ILCA Leadership Council share through their involvement in that program.  Learn more about the Leadership Council here:

The program we sampled, was one about leading in lean times.  Just as valuable as the content the speaker presented, was the conversation, questions and discussion in the small groups and during the breaks.  It is clear; we need each other, as vendors, customers, friends as colleagues to get through these times.

Some of the important points I took away from the morning included:

  1. Knowing your core values is the foundation for all you do.  If the core values aren’t clear, everything else will be muddy too.  Clarity about one’s core values = clarity in decisions and actions.
  2. Everyone in the room is facing the same business challenges in some fashion or other.  We are not alone.  We are all looking to do more with less, seeking ways to fight our way back to become profitable, having to make some of the toughest decisions in our lives – and amidst it all we all need help keeping ourselves charged up, hopeful and positive.
  3. As business leaders we have to carefully balance the immediate demands of today, that is our very survival, with the bigger picture strategies for the future so we can thrive and grow again.  Today this balance is more important than ever.
  4. Every little thing counts; every second counts – and every decision you make about what to do with and in that moment counts.  Make the most of it.

Early in the presentation there was a reference to personal heros.  When I considered who my heros were I thought immediately about people like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, but I didn’t feel my answer was complete – it just didn’t feel like I had fully answered that question.  After the session, I talked with a fellow ILCA member about this conundrum and as we stood at the top of the room, she said that her heros are everyday heros – they are the people she works with and recreates with.  My eyes scanned the room and I had my answer.

Right there, in that room, these hard working, kind, thoughtful, caring, diligent ILCA people are my heros.  The inspiration and hope I walked away with had come from them more than it would from anyone else.  We need each other – and we need the heroic inspiration we can provide for each other in challenging times.  Yes indeed, we need each other.

TOP 10: What I Learned At Midam 2010
January 22, 2010, 7:38 pm
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By Christa Orum-Keller

10.  Networking while waiting in the drink line works really well!  The longer the line, the better the networking!

9.  Riding on the train with a buddy – whether at 6 a.m. or 6 p.m. is much more fun!

8.  Technology is IN!  Faxes are OUT!

7.  Customers love it when they don’t have to lug your catalog home and you simply scan their badge and send the catalog to them later!

6.  Dansko shoes are the very best trade show shoes.  Dansko should become a Midam sponsor for 2011.

5.  Recycling is IN!  Generating waste is OUT!

4.  Members of ILCA who attend MidAm have been known to:  jump up and down on the trade show floor, squeel with excitement, dance, sing karaoke, smile more than other people in the industry, stand on their heads (more than once), shake-shake-shake…shake-shake-shake…

3.  Sustainability is IN!  Questioning the validity of the green movement is OUT!

2.  It is possible to get six green industry professionals in one taxi when you’re on a tight budget!

1.  We belong to the best, the kindest and most resilient industry!  2010 will bring all of us challenges for certain.  Those who were at MidAm are clearly going to make it a GREAT and FRESH year despite these challenges…and we’ll do it together!!!

“Un” Black Friday
November 27, 2009, 9:38 pm
Filed under: 1

By Christa Orum-Keller

While others were struggling to walk the aisles to get the best deal of the day, I took a walk in the woods with my kids.  Well, ‘woods’ may be a bit of a stretch, it was a walk between the golf course and remnant woodlands in the typical subdivision of my in-laws in Ohio.  We collected beech and oak leaves, including what we identified as the ‘largest’ Swamp White Oak leaf ever.  My son peeked up a hollow tree to see if there were tiny creatures warming themselves inside.  We saw evidence of busy woodpeckers.  We heard and saw a Blue Jay as well as flurries of little Chickadees.  And then, just before we arrived at our pond destination, a pond nestled amid a more substantial woodland remnant, a white tail deer leaped across our path.  Great excitement that was!  For both my six and one year olds, this was certainly more exciting than anything we would have found at the mall.

My son found the perfect long straight log, not too high, not too low, and jumping on, with a “Look at me mom!” it became the perfect balance beam.  Our friend Mr. Red Tail Hawk came for a swooping visit and oh, I forgot to mention the snow.  Along the way there were a few snow balls thrown.  Our feet were wet and so were our hands and then a lesson about how to warm your chilly fingers on your warm belly while you walked or ran as fast as possible.

Just a few houses before we came home to our cousin’s house, I noticed a yard with a sign saying, “TLC Landscaping, Your Natural Landscape Alternative”.  I scanned the yard for native plants, a rain garden, a composter…none spotted, although I had noticed the design was a bit more creative and cozy as compared to the other cookie cutter ‘scapes.

Walking on the edge of development and nature, consumer and naturalist, it reminded me of how much opportunity there is for our industry in terms of educating the public and our customers.  We might assume our customers hold set viewpoints, but observing the excitement through a child’s eye about something as simple as identifying a leaf or a bird, our customers might hold that same fascination.  And every small thing matters.  Educating them about how to identify a beech vs. an oak or educating them about one native plant which they will find in their garden and about what insect species it will support – each small step can increase our business, improve peoples’ lives and begin to help improve our ecology.

Two Woodland Explorers…