As regular readers of this blog may recall, my wife -- Marina Park -- is the CEO of the Girl Scouts of Northern California. It has been a busy year from Marina and her staff because it is the 100 year anniversary of the founding of the Girl Scouts and there have been many celebrations. There was an especially wild one called 100 Hundred, Fun Hundred where some 24,000 girls gathered at the Alameda County Fair Grounds to camp and engage in activities ranging from rock climbing, to scuba diving, to dancing to roakc bands. You can read about the various celebrations here on their website.
Today, I am focusing on the Forever Green Awards -- a series of dinners that have been held throughout Northern California to honor women who "have made a significant impact to sustaining the environment, economy, or community." I have been three of the eight award dinners now and have been inspired by many of these women (here is the complete list), from opera soprano Katherine Jolly, to Jane Shaw the Chairman of the Board at Intel, to Amelia Ceja -- the Owner & President Ceja Vineyards.
I heard something last week at the dinner in Menlo Park that especially caught my ear -- from none other than Brandi Chastain, the Olympic Women's Soccer gold medal winner and world champion, who still plays soccer seriously and now often works as a sports broadcaster for ABC and ESPN. Of course, Chastain we always be remembered for throwing off her jersey after scoring the winning goal at the Women's World Championships in 1999 -- in 2004 she wrote a book called "Its Not About the Bra."
The award winners at Menlo Park were each asked to describe the best advice they ever received. Brandi began by talking about her grandfather and how crucial he was to her development as a soccer player and a person. Brandi said that he had a little reward system where she was paid $1.00 for scoring a goal but $1.50 for an assist -- because, as she put it, "it is better to give than receive."
I love that on so many levels. I helped coach girls soccer teams for some years, and getting the star players to pass was often tough. And moving into the world of organizations, as Jeff Pfeffer and I have been arguing for years, too many organizations create dysfunctional internal competition by saying they want cooperation but behaving in ways that promote selfish behavior. Chastain's grandfather applied a simple principle that can be used in even the most sophisticated reward systems -- one that I have seen used to good effect in places ranging from General Electric, to IDEO, to McKinsey.
P.S. The last Forever Green Awards will be in Santa Rosa at the Paradise Ridge Winery. Click here if you want to learn more.