Office Depot Foundation is Buzzing
BY MARY WONG, PRESIDENT, OFFICE DEPOT FOUNDATION
The Third Annual Office Depot Foundation Women’s Symposium took place at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach. ODF has plans to take it to other cities in the next year. The theme was “Building Your Hive for Sweet Success.”
The premise is that every woman is queen of her own hive. The theme was explored in a variety of ways throughout the two-day symposium, which featured a dozen dynamic speakers who gave attendees opportunities for transformation in their professional and personal lives.
The symposium brings together hundreds of like-minded, thoughtful, strong and driven women in an engaging, collaborative and personally transformative atmosphere. This year’s speakers took the symposium to a whole new level of inspiration, motivation and education – with extraordinary networking opportunities that made it an exceptional experience.
I’ve been studying a lot about these fascinating creatures. It’s because I’ve begun to think of my work and my life as beehives of activity with a singular goal – to produce something sweet.
• Did you know, for example, that the bee is the only insect that produces food eaten by humans?
• The honey bee’s wings stroke incredibly fast, about 200 beats per second, thus making their famous, distinctive buzz.
• A honey bee can fly for up to six miles, and as fast as 15 miles per hour.
• A honey bee visits 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip.
One of the most fascinating things I’ve learned is that bees really shouldn’t be able to fly. Based on their body structure and mechanics, they should not be able to get off the ground. Fortunately, no one told the bees that this is the case – and so they go merrily on their way.
Hear me out on this… What do want the story to be about for your beehive? What are those values? What do you stand for? What is your mission? I think that we have to divide those up into different things before you can build a beehive. Before you can even start to build that outer piece you have to really truly understand what you want and you have to be clear about your goals.
Then you have to surround yourself with the right people. The important thing to remember is that each one has a role to play in ensuring the overall success of the hive.
The term Busy as a Bee is well earned. These bees from the moment they are born have varied tasks cut out for them. A worker bee has a timeline and job duties. They represent teamwork and empowerment at its best!
So the next piece after one understands their mission is their outcome what kind of honey do they want to produce? Then it’s from there how you can do that?
One consideration to talk about is who do you surround yourself with; how do you pick your workers? How do you get these worker bees and then really look at the roles that they play in your life? You really have to take a hard look at whether they have your back and will they help you fly?
Let’s get back to our discussion of worker bees. They’re not only the team that surrounds you in your professional life but they are also the people that you decide to surround yourself with in life and friendships.
This can take some soul-searching and require some hard decisions. Personally, it’s been a really hard road over the last year. There have been people that have not served me well and I don’t mean that in a bad way, I just mean that people that have stung me. I’ve had to make that decision that it’s too heavy of a weight to carry if they don’t want to be on my team. So I just made the decision to just move forward and so that’s not always easy but it’s something that you have to make a decision to do. Because otherwise you create a disease within that hive and you will put you and your dreams at risk, all of everything that you have worked for.
Do you have clarity? Do you know your values and what you stand for and can you lead? Another part that’s important is asking for help when you need. It’s is always a hard thing for people to do but this is what you do as a leader when you don’t know everything.
Another important part is to replenish yourself. You have to take care of yourself and ensure that you’re healthy. I think that it is so important to make sure that the mind body spirit piece is in the forefront. I would be lying to you if I said I think that there is balance but I would say that you have to really create your own balance.
Talking about balance brings us back to the fact that bees technically are not supposed to be able to fly. But they can. The bee doesn’t question whether it can fly or not. I’ll relate this to you not questioning your own truths in your business and mission. When you’re on your mission sometimes it’s really important to drop the rules of what you’ve heard about how you’re supposed to work. You are creating something that’s from you, so no one else has created it so that means that your schedule and your way of being and how you show up is up to you.
This is success because your honey is really what you said you wanted.
And one more thing: Don’t forget to celebrate. Did you know that bees actually dance? They don’t forget that their mission was to have a disease free hive and to create the sweetest honey that they could possibly create. When they do that they celebrate as a team… as a whole. They all celebrate and they dance.
All through life, we meet people who have tried things and failed, and they will be quick to tell us why we can’t do it, either. Here’s the principle the story about the bumble bee should teach us: if what you want to do has potential and merit and will help you achieve what you want to achieve, how are you going to know whether you can succeed or not, if you don’t try it for yourself?
When you make the effort destiny comes into play. As William Jennings Bryan once said, “Destiny is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” REMEMBER: the bee is not supposed to be able to fly, but she DID!
MARY WONG IS THE PRESIDENT OF OFFICE DEPOT FOUNDATION. SHE WAS RECENTLY NAMED ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN IN PHILANTHROPY ALONG WITH OPRAH AND MELINDA GATES.