Today is bittersweet for an odd reason – it’s the end of the Toyota Women’s Influencers Program.
I know that most people outside of blogging think of working with brands as some kind of sell-out relationship where an Evil Overlord milks you for your page views. I have to say that this gig with Toyota has been entirely the opposite – as cheesy as it may sound, I have felt like a valued partner in an enterprise that has been a win-win situation.
The gig was set up by Clever Girls Collective. I’m proud to count the Clever Girls as my friends. They work with brands and blogs in a way that is professional, fun and respectful.
I have to throw them major respect for walking the fine line between aggressive brands and sensitive bloggers with just the right balance. If you’re a blogger, I’d urge you to sign up with them. The worst thing that will happen is that you’ll get a few emails you have to delete.
Toyota has been stellar to work with. Their team performs as well as their cars do. Their corporate philosophy of kaizen – continuous improvement – permeates everything they do. They’re a class act. I feel like the people we worked with really cared about us as people, not just as a means to an end.
For me personally, I’m so thankful to have had the experiences and met the people I did through this process. From yoga at Wanderlust in Colorado to touring the Toyota museum to dining with Toyota execs to paddling a kayak, I have loved all of it.
The best part has been meeting new people and deepening friendships with some women I already knew. They include:
Cat Lincoln of @dearbadkitty
Lisa Morris Frame of A Daily Pinch
Maricris Guadagna of Zensible Mama
Terra of Terra the Bear
Amy Bradley Hole of Freaky Perfect
…and others too numerous to mention, because I have to go to bed.
I just wanted to take a minute to say thanks to Toyota and Clever Girls for this great opportunity and the great times I have had.
In case you think I’m BSing about Toyota, let me share with you my bedtime reading for the next few weeks – a book about which I am waaaay too excited:
Transforming Health Care, which is about a hospital that used the Toyota Production System to improve its quality and patient experience.
In case you don’t want to spend $37 on the book (or spend time reading it) here’s a really great, entertaining podcast that is an intro to how Virginia Mason Medical Center consulted with Toyota to make the lives of its cancer patients better.
The staff met with a Toyota Production System sensei and he took out the ball of blue yarn and a map of the hospital and told the staff to trace the path a cancer patient would take on a typical visit for chemotherapy treatment. When they were finished, it was an immensely powerful visual experience for everyone in the room. They all stared at this map with blue yarn snaking all over the place, doubling back on itself and making complicated twists and turns from one end of the building to the other. They understood for the first time that they were taking their sickest patients, for whom time was their most precious resource, and they were wasting huge amounts of it.
So this is me, signing off as a Toyota woman. But I’ll always have Kaizen in my heart.