Monday, December 31, 2018

Goodbye!

As the Chronicle and emails from management noted earlier - we bid adieu today (12/31) to Jennifer Gilmore, property manager of King Farm. She has decided to move on to other things. 

I imagine it was tough to do the business of keeping King Farm, literally a small town, running smoothly. It was a task made even more difficult by the recent embezzlement  King Farm suffered by a former employee. But she did an admirable job soldiering on and trying to get  King Farm made whole - which it was. I  think she leaves us on good footing.

As someone once said though - no one is indispensable. I imagine this is the case for our HOA as well. 

I wish Jen well in her new endeavors as we turn the page and write begin a new chapter in King Farm’s HOA. 


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Controversy Brings Out The Best And Worst In People

It is easy to be a leader or to be part of a group charged with decision-making when times are good. It is easy to rest on your laurels, everyone feels good, everyone smiles and tells you what a good job you are doing.

But the good times don't last forever, and every organization has some bad times. Times when leaders and the leadership group have to bear down have to lead and have to suffer the slings and arrows that come their way.

It is at this time that leadership is tested. Some rise to the occasion. Some crumble or lash out.

Let me tell you a story.

I used to work at an organization (you would know it if I said the name). Well, we worked with a fairly well-known celebrity to record a robo-call asking people to contact Congress about some issue. It was fairly standard. I went to NYC and recorded the take and then went back to DC to set it all up. My boss at the time was working with me to make it happen.

The morning of the robocall arrived. They were scheduled to go out at 4:00 that afternoon - 100,000 or so people would be getting that call around dinner time. Or so we thought. But I was awakened that morning by news that the robocalls had gone out at 4:00 in the morning. Someone set up the system wrong (we used a vendor).

Imagine the feeling. We went from excited to just a pit of despair. Of course we expected to be fired. Me especially.

But instead I saw leadership that day. I saw the head of the organization call the Board meeting, put out a statement, talk the celebrity down and smooth everything over. Then he got on the phone to myself and my boss and reassured us that our jobs were safe. I've never forgotten that - he always had those qualities but they'd never been so obvious before then to me.

Let me tell you another story.

A small organization goes through a bumpy transition. Nothing too major, but it is a change and is kind of tumultuous and people are complaining and looking for leadership. Not only does the leadership not communicate to their constituents nor to the people charged with leading  the organization, but instead they say, "I didn't want to do it anyway. It is not my fault."

This, needless to say, antagonizes everyone. And doesn't do anybody any good. The community doesn't look favorably on the organization, the organizational leadership is angry and confused and the relationship between the new incoming vendor is strained. That my friends is poor leadership.

I am glad that in the prior story that my boss had good leadership skills. What could have been a disaster was turned around into a good news story. What could have negatively impacted our fundraising was instead seen in a positive light. And with all that attention I'm certain we got even more calls to Congress on the issue than we would have otherwise. That is the power of a good leader.

An organization's character starts from the top. I've seen one example of good leadership. The jury is still out on the second, but it isn't looking good.




Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Quick Thought For The Day

I was thinking, recently, about how it really is a mistake to think that less communication and avoiding problems is the easier path.

You know what? I think I was right.

Leadership, it seems to me, is about confronting those problems head on. And building compromise and solutions that work for everyone.

And when a decision is made not backing out of it or saying, "I didn't want to do that" when things get a little complicated or some folks take issue with the decision. 

But some folks may disagree. That is fine, but they should not hold themselves out as leaders.

Leadership certainly is not retreating to a sullen silence or attacking others rather than working together to fix the problem.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Please Take the 2018 Neighborhood Survey

As this year ends, I thought it would be a good idea to ask - how are you feeling about the community  we all live in? What would you like to see to not see get worked on in the next year?

So, I put together this survey. Please note - it isn't an official HOA survey - this is just mine. I will share results with the community on this blog (except for comments of course). But - responses are completely anonymous. I'll leave the survey up for at least 2 weeks or so. Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments at dbjackso1@gmail.com. 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MR2FL8Y

Feel free to forward on the link to anyone else who lives in King Farm.

Friday, December 7, 2018

The 2019 Budget - Good News

Sometimes a bit of news gets stepped on or glossed over in our haste to move on to the next thing. Case in point: do you remember the shuttle buses and the change that was implemented to require a key fob be shown to board a shuttle bus so that King Farm residency could be established?

I remember it. And I am sure that a few other King Farmers do as well. Especially if they were turned away from the Shuttle bus because they didn't have a fob. 

Well....

Fast forward to a couple of months ago. The King Farm HOA was announcing that homeowners' fees would not be increased. I believe that one of the Trustees announced that due to the key fob system that the apartments up by Shady Grove had made a substantial payment to allow their residents to use the Shuttle bus... 

This was awesome news! The key fob system worked as intended, the apartments paid for the access to the system, and fees remained steady partly due to the payment from the apartments. 

Hopefully you will see something on this in the Chronicle or a Management Memo. I think it is a very good piece of news and should be celebrated.

Happy Holidays to All Those Volunteering!

Happy Holidays! To all the people who volunteer for King Farm or the Swim Team or various charities or the city or wherever you do - thank you.

Non-Profit or neighborhood organizations could not function without your help and assistance and good will.

This year I have had the pleasure of serving with volunteers alongside the Board of Trustees and the President, of running for that position alongside others who were volunteers, of being on Election and Communication committees and took part in meal packing on the Mall and a political campaign in TN where I met wonderful volunteers. The Swim Team was a real volunteer effort - where each swim meet both teams had to have volunteers to make the whole event go. It was a feat to see so many volunteers pulling together to make it happen. 

I'm proud to live in a place where so many people volunteer - for Swim Team, the HOA, the school(s), the surrounding charities, the newly formed King Farm Neighbors Village and everything else that people give their time to. 

In my experience, the best organizations are those that realize how important volunteers are to them and never take them for granted. Staff come and go, some are better than others - but they are paid. Volunteers just get to work and don't ask anything in return.  

They just do it because it needs doing.




Monday, December 3, 2018

Playing nice versus making progress

Someone said this on twitter: “We sometimes have to make nice with bad people to get where we want to go in life, and learning how is a useful skill. However, I don’t think it’s wise to make a civic virtue out of it. Choosing what’s right is the virtue. Choosing ‘everyone stays friends’ is ultimately toxic.” 

I thought it quite profound. 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

On Leadership

I was reflecting on the passing of George H.W. Bush and what it means to be a leader. Juxtaposed against the current occupant of the White House.

It leaves a lot to be desired.

If only more people strove to embrace those types of qualities that drove George H.W. Bush - the desire to serve, to give back, to give yourself selflessly to your country (he enlisted a year after Pearl Harbor and early - by lying about his age), and what I think was his greatest moment in politics when he went back on his "read my lips - no new taxes" pledge because new taxes were needed. He didn't let his past words constrain him when it was the right thing for the country. He lost but he did it his way. I have a lot of respect for that.

Contrast that with current people in positions of oversight of organizations. Whether the president or local officials or even neighborhood association - everyone seems to have an angle or an agenda.  Everyone loves to gossip and spread rumors. Often even with conspiratorial overtones. People love to place blame rather than find solutions. Rules are made for others. And information is to be kept secret and hoarded - because information (so some believe) is power. 

Power, even imaginary power, does strange things to people.

Like the inauguration crowd, or the Russian probe or the voting process - people in power or those who imagine themselves powerful cling to their narratives rather than looking to embrace change or even admit that their way of doing things is obsolete or wrong. So they lash out, scream "fake news" or worse make up their own version of why things happened the way they did and then stubbornly cling to their theories even going so far as to promote them using every channel they can. They scapegoat people, make up accusations and even threaten folks who don't agree with them. 

Hopefully, we can get back to where leadership skills matter, and where character counts and where reasoned debate can win out. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not next week or month. But new people will step up, new ideas will prevail - and new leadership will eventually win out. Especially if people step up and throw out those who use conspiracy theories and other levers to cling stubbornly to their perceived power and ignore those who they purport to "lead". 

Let's hope it is sooner rather than later.

A great article by Bill Clinton about George H.W. Bush.

What Is This? An Eyesore Is What It Us.

Update: Now they have put up a screen so that you no longer can see the equipment and other things in the fenced-off area. That is good, ...