Management Tactic #33: Don’t Make Lemonade

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

I completely disagree. Case in point:

I have been planning and organizing a huge fundraiser for my job over the last 11 months. A key component of this job is the auction, for which many of the items come in at the last minute. I log these items and, with the help of a volunteer, compile them into an auction booklet that is both appealing and informative.

It’s important that this book gets into people’s hands as soon as possible so they have time to pick out their favorite auction items. Some are for large parties or vacation properties, so they require some foresight. The event is on October 23, and I work at a church, so I wanted to get these books in people’s hands two Sundays in advance of the event.

So I worked my butt off last week getting this book ready. I hoped to finish on Friday, but there wasn’t enough time, so I came in on Saturday. I had four hours to work before I had to send it to the printer I’ve always used, as they’re only open until 6:00 on Saturday and not at all on Sunday.

I finished just in time. I called the printer, asked for a rush job…and was told they couldn’t do it. Their designers were out of the office, and it simply wasn’t feasible. I’d have to wait until Monday.

This was deflating news after all the work I put into it. But I made lemonade out of those lemons–I decided that getting people the books one week in advance wasn’t too bad, and I could even mail some out this week.

Do you see what I did there? I took something negative and made it positive. But in doing so, I resigned myself to failure. Making lemonade, albeit better than eating straight lemons, leads to failure.

Fortunately, around 6:00 on Saturday, something dawned on me that you’ve probably already realized: There are other printers than the printer I had planned on using. Plenty of them! With my first call to Kinkos (which is apparently now FedEx Office–I missed that memo. Which is odd, because you’d think they’d be pretty good at printing and distributing memos), I lined up a rush job that could be ready just in time for the end of church on Sunday. It worked out perfectly.

I can’t believe how close I came to simply making lemonade instead throwing those lemons back at the lemon vendor and refusing to fail.

Sure, sometimes life gives you lemons. But that doesn’t mean you have to accept them.

Daily Quickie: Analogy aside, I’m kind of in the mood for some fresh lemonade. I always want to get it at Cardinals games on hot days, but never do. Is it actually good lemonade?

11 thoughts on “Management Tactic #33: Don’t Make Lemonade”

  1. So life gave you lemons, and instead, you sold them for a tidy sum which you then used to purchase what you actually wanted from life. Well done sir.

  2. If you had made lemonade on a “hot and dry” day, you could have made some serious money! (But watch out for the occasional pop-up thunderstorm.)

  3. Every year, my agency works with a local non-profit for their biggest fund raising event of the year (we come up with the theme and design the invites, auction booklet/program covers, etc). Anyway, they have a similar problem with the auction items and timing (especially in this economy) and use a website to show the items prior to the event—the auction booklet is only given out at the actual event. It much quicker for them to get items up and they can add items to it as they come in. It might not work for your audience, but maybe its something to think about for next year!

    • Interesting, very interesting. It doesn’t quite work for my system, though. I divide the items into a number of different categories and then sort them within each category by value in descending order. Now, I could post items as they arrive in no particular order whatsoever, but I wonder if people would even look at that. Hm. It’s certainly something to consider for future years.

      I do put the booklet online, but I think people greatly benefit from having it in their hards to mark up in advance of the event.

  4. I am glad you didn’t make lemonade. If you’d accepted the unpalatable date put forth by the first vendor, you’d only reinforce that their decision not to have designers in the office on Saturday evening (despite being open) is acceptable. By losing the work, perhaps this will be a step towards vendor #1 reconsidering whether they need to have a designer in the office at all times, which would in turn help you for next year’s Gala (assuming you didn’t immediately pee on vendor #1’s building to scorn them and swear that you’d never use them again–which was my reaction to a Taco Bell being closed in 1997 when I had a craving for late night Mexican food).


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