5 things I learned – March ’07

March 28, 2007

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Tim Milburn is host of this month’s Rapid Fire Learning at Joyful Jubilant Learning. Check out Tim’s item 4 and learn what he puts in front of his personal “greater than sign.”

Here are 5 things I learned this month.

Zac Crain for Dallas Mayor 2007. Paid for by the Crain for Mayor Campaign.1. Watching the unraveling of Zac Crain’s campaign to become the next mayor of Dallas, I (along with everyone else) learned that social networking alone is not enough to create a viable campaign. Despite having over 1500 “friends” on myspace, Crain was unable to secure the 473 valid voter signatures required to get on the ballot.

SXSW Interactive2. I learned that the next best thing to attending this month’s South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin is watching the videocasts or listening to the numerous podcasts offered online. [Just click on the image.]


jjl_lawb_banner.jpg3. I learned (from Dave) that if you “Cut off the arm of a starfish and it will grow a new one.” I also learned that JJL’s A Love Affair with Books introduced many outstanding books through a series of excellent reviews.

Social Media Club4. I learned that belonging to a particular generation (age) is only one of the determinates of whether individuals use social media to make online connections. I learned from Ann that curiosity and flexibility are factors, as well as how much utility one gains from online exchanges. Sunni adds that being generally comfortable with technology makes a huge difference when we start to use specific social media tools. Jason adds that the biggest factor may be how comfortable someone is with communicating personal messages in public, open forums.

go.jpg5. I learned practical techniques for identifying which professional activities make you feel strong and how to play to your strengths for the good of yourself, your team, and the organization. All of this courtesy of one book, Go Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham. I recently enjoyed hearing Marcus speak in person (a story for another post.) He speaks as well as he writes, with a pleasant British accent to boot!

Well that’s it for me. How about you? Why not share your Rapid Fire Learning by leaving a comment here or writing on your own blog with a trackback to Tim’s Post?


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A collaboration parable and 8 “C”s of teamwork

March 11, 2007

Reading Akhil Sharari, author of The Smart Entrepreneur, is entertaining and thought-provoking. First read this parable found on his About page.

There was a Saint who had a vision about what it was like in Hell & Heaven.

In Hell he saw a huge table laden with food in the centre. Surrounding the table were starving people who all had very long forks attached to the ends of their arms. They could stab the food, but the forks were too long for them to put the food in their mouths. They were all screaming in frustration as they tried to eat the food that they longed for.

In Heaven, the saint saw the exact same table laden with food & people with the long forks at the ends of their arms. However, here he people were all smiling & enjoying the food. What they were doing was stabbing the food & putting it in EACH OTHER’s mouths!

You don’t have to contemplate an afterlife to get the message of that story. We can all accomplish more by working together!

Elsewhere, Akhil identifies 5 key characteristics of effective teamwork – all beginning with the letter “C”.

  • Clear expectations: Each team member knows their role and expected contribution.
  • Channels of communication: Team members share openly with one another and the team fosters communication within the organization.
  • Conflict resolution: Team members work to resolve differences directly, with mutual respect.
  • Consequences: Team members are responsible for, and accountable to, one another.
  • Celebrating achievements: Team members jointly share in the team’s success.

I would add three more Cs to the list.

  • Coaching: Team members share insights and knowledge with one another to boost individual development.
  • Collaboration: Team members build on the efforts of one another to achieve objectives that would be unattainable alone.
  • Community: Team members develop bonds that lead to supporting each other both professionally and personally.

Visits Akhil’s website!

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Books, and book reviews, worth reading

March 10, 2007

The book review carnival is well underway at Joyful Jubilant Learning, including some great reviews of books and authors that were previously unfamiliar to me.

Here are clips from two of the reviews that particularly caught my attention.

Lisa Haneberg, author of Two Weeks to a Breakthrough and Management Craft blogs, reviewed The Zen of Groups: The Handbook for People Meeting with a Purpose.

The book has two parts – The first 90 or so pages offer a good primer on how groups operate (purpose, roles, phases of team development, and meeting models). They offer a pretty good primer on group facilitation, too.

One of the distinctions the authors return to again and again is the importance of how we relate to baggage – ours and other people’s. I love this simple quote from page 7, “Baggage is not right or wrong, it just is.” I can relate to that! The authors talk about baggage a lot because its mismanagement is the cause of a lot of group dysfunction. I like this distinction (I call it Mucky Muck, but it’s still baggage) and think they use it in helpful ways.

Karen Wallace, author of The Clearing Space and Sanctuary, reviewed Do Less, Achieve More – Discovering the hidden power of giving in.

Do Less, Achieve More uses the parable of the rainmaker, made famous by Jung, in which a man ends a five-year drought through inner harmony with the divine. Chu weaves this parable through the book – and being in the middle of terrible drought here in Australia this had extra meaning for me.

I don’t know that it is feasible for me sit in a tent, alone, quiet and still for four days communing with the divine until my inner harmony causes the rain to fall… (although, then again… 🙂 but the richness of the analogy allows the lessons in this book to seep into our soul.

I am adding both of these books to my reading list, and expect the list to grow as the month-long Love Affair with Books continues. Check it Out!

[Oh, I almost forgot a shameless self promotion: I’ll be reviewing Marcus Buckingham’s Go Put Your Strengths to Work on March 31.]

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More questions about social media and generations

March 8, 2007

If you read my post from yesterday, you know I explored questions about the relationship between age, other personal traits, and social networking. I asked, Is social networking of the generation or in the genes? and shared my experience of knowing many baby boomers who “are technologically savvy, blogging daily and using social media like it was the best thing since, well, color television.

Today, Jason Chervokas has a similar line of questioning, Will the Me Generation Go Social? Jason is inclined toward a different conclusion and is well worth the read.

Will the generation whose media habits were formed by the heyday of network TV, change its behavior and begin doing the things social media participants do: contribute, participate, and tag?

I suspect that few boomers post pictures to Flickr, keep blogs, or tag links with del.icio.us. Partially that illustrates a technology gap. But more importantly it highlights the gulf that exists between the way boomers and their kids think of personal messages.

Jason makes the point that many people are uncomfortable with openness and publicly sharing ‘personal messages.’ He perceives this discomfort is greater among baby boomers than among younger generations.

Take a look at the full post and let me know how these ideas rest with you.

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Is social networking of the generation or in the genes?

March 6, 2007

Flowing out of last week’s Social Media Club meeting, Sunni Thompson offers an insightful, revealing post, Mind The Generation Gap. Take a few minutes to review Sunni’s post.

First about Sunni

Sunni explains how she was raised to be familiar and comfortable with computers. She started using the Internet in the early days, continued through college and relies heavily on social media to maintain connections with family across the country. Her primary news sources are national, with little local news. Sunni explains the effect:

As a result of having spent the majority of my adult life firmly entrenched in learning, researching and collecting news and information on the Internet, I find that I am fairly disassociated from any sense of locality.

During the discussion last week, we considered whether there was a whole generation similarly lacking a sense of locality and, therefore, unlikely to be interested in local elections, such as the Dallas mayoral election. Again, from Sunni’s post:

I DO care, but because of my submersion in the world of Internet news, my understanding of politics and issues is heavily slanted toward a national scale. If it’s not covered by NPR, The Daily Show, or my favorite local blog, I won’t know about it.

Then about me

Understand that I am quite a bit older than Sunni; we are definitely not of the same generation. However, we share much of the same perspective about our “place” in the world. Although I still live within about 10 miles of my childhood home, I view myself as a citizen of the planet more than as associated with any particular place. Perhaps because I have settled where I was born, I view “place” as a matter of chance or circumstances more so than an indication of who I am as a person. I am from Dallas, but Dallas is not who I am.

The other commonality Sunni and I share is that much of our active, engaged, daily world is virtual – here with all of you. By definition, that implies that less attention goes to our place of residence. This is a relatively new phenomenon that was not available during my youth. Now that the opportunity is here, I have embraced it and it seems right.

Finally, the question

Is social networking of the generation or in the genes?

I have no doubt that many, many more young adults are wired and comfortable with social media than are so in my cohort. However, I also have no doubt that many baby boomers are technologically savvy, blogging daily and using social media like it was the best thing since, well, color television. From all generations there are also those that shun technology and could care less about connecting to anyone they cannot see, hear or touch.

This makes me think that having a propensity to engage in social networking on the Internet may be a very personal attribute – in our genes more than our generation.

The generational influence, then, would mostly be a factor of opportunity and comfort; older folks have to work harder to learn new skills that were not taught during their traditional school years. I know a bunch of older, life-long learners who have made this investment and would now be just as lost without social media as I would be (and apparently Sunni too.)

I sense that locality has less significance now than it did 20 years ago. Maybe it’s part of the whole flat world phenomenon.

I’m interested in hearing from you, no matter your generation, about the relationship between age and social media and sense of locality.

Are others like me, feeling as much or more connected virtually than to a particular geographic setting?

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Social Media Club Dallas discusses tools and votes

March 1, 2007

Fantastic discussions last night at the Dallas meeting of the Social Media Club. Tony Wright of Kinetic Results lead two main discussions – one about useful tools that attendees “simply cannot live without” and another about the role of social media in political campaigns.

Useful Tools

Lauren Vargas, founder of 12comm Public Relations and author of Communicators Anonymous, has already cataloged the various tools discussed. Here is the list and check out Lauren’s post for more details.

  • PSD2HTML: Fast, high-quality XHTML / CSS markup!
  • Jott: Free, telephone-to-email service that you need on your speed dial.
  • Spinvox: Voice message to text, and more
  • Picnik: Online photo editing
  • WatchetShot: Screenshot freeware
  • TinyURL Creator: Firefox add-on for quick Tiny URLs
  • Basecamp: Project collaboration
  • Accomplice: Free, project management suite, syncs with Outlook and PDA, Lauren’s “must have” recommendation, my next download!

Social Media in Politics

I was a bit surprised by the topic at first; I mean, is it safe for clubs to talk about politics or religion? However, excellent input from the likes of Jake McKee, Sunni Thompson and Blake Poutra insured a lively and insightful discussion.

A big question was whether candidates who embrace more openness, and who’s campaigns utilize social media, will benefit from doing so. Like I said, a BIG question leading into the 2008 national elections.

Much closer to home, we examined the website and MySpace page for Dallas mayoral candidate Zac Crain. Crain is very engaged in social media and has over 1500 people who have signed up as his friends on MySpace. Whether amassing virtual friends can result in polling booth turnout is well worth watching.

I want to write more about the discussion of social media and campaigns, but that will have to wait for another post. For now, check out the blogs of the smart, talented members of Social Media Club Dallas and consider whether making its next meeting (or a meeting in a city near you) should be on your agenda. Hint: It should!

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Throughout March – A Love Affair with Books

February 28, 2007

I’ve been looking forward to the month of March for a while now, because of the tremendous line-up of book reviewers scheduled to post at Joyful Jubilant Learning. If you haven’t visited JJL in while, now is the time to check it out or subscribe to the RSS feed.

JJL is a content network centered around a the practice of collaborative, life-long learning. There is always lively discussion, so be sure to weigh-in with comments about your favorite book or book review.

It’s an honor for me be among such a distinguished group of writers and I’ll be reviewing Marcus Buckingham’s soon-to-be-released Go Put Your Strengths to Work.

Here is full line-up of schedule book reviews:

[here] 3/1 Made to Stick, written by Chip and Dan Heath – Reviewed by Tim Milburn

[here] 3/2: Setting the Table, written by Danny Meyer – Reviewed by Rosa Say

[here] 3/3: GRUB, written by Anna Lappe and Bryant Terry – Reviewed by Mary Hunt

[here] 3/4: Love is the Killer App, written by Tim Sanders – Reviewed by Benjamin Bach

[here] 3/5: Authentic Leadership, written by Bill George – Reviewed by Dean Boyer

[here] 3/6: Two Weeks to a Breakthrough: How to Zoom Toward Your Goal in 14 Days or Less, written by Lisa Haneberg – Reviewed by Dwayne Melancon

[here] 3/7: Do Less, Achieve More, written by Chin-Ning Chu – Reviewed by Karen Wallace

[here] 3/8: Your Brain on Music, written by Daniel Levitin – Reviewed by Steve Sherlock

[here] 3/9: The Zen of Groups, A Handbook for People Meeting With a Purpose, written by Dale Hunter, Anne Bailey and Bill Taylor – Reviewed by Lisa Haneberg

[here] 3/10: The Omnivore’s Dilemma, written by Michael Pollan – Reviewed by Bren Connelly

[here] 3/12: Wherever You Go There You Are, written by Jon Kabat-Zinn – Reviewed by Chris Owen

[here] 3/13: Move Closer Stay Longer, written by Dr. Stephanie Burns – Reviewed by Beth Robinson

[here] 3/14: Leaders’ Playbook, How to Apply Emotional Intelligence: Keys to Great Leadership, written by Reldan Nadler – Reviewed by Wayne Hurlbert

[here] 3/15: The Sundering, Banewreaker and Godslayer, a two-volume work written by Jacqueline Carey – Reviewed by EM Sky

[here] 3/16: The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama – Reviewed by Nneka

[here] 3/17: Citizen Marketers by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba – Reviewed by Phil Gerbyshak

[here] 3/19: How to Connect in Business in 90 Seconds or Less, written by Nicholas Boothman – Reviewed by John Richardson

[here] 3/20: Seeing David in the Stone, written by James B. Swartz and Joseph E. Swartz – Reviewed by Terry Starbucker

[here] 3/21: The Difference Maker, written by John C. Maxwell – Reviewed by Tim Draayer

[here] 3/22: Oh the Places You’ll Go!, written by Dr. Seuss – Reviewed by Dave Rothacker

[here] 3/27: StrengthsFinder 2.0, written by Tom Rath – Reviewed by David Zinger

[here] 3/28: One, written by Lance Secretan – Reviewed by Greg Balanko-Dickson

[here] 3/29: Think and Grow Rich, written by Napoleon Hill and newly edited by Ross Cornwell – Reviewed by Carolyn Manning

[here] 3/30: Go Put Your Strengths to Work, written by Marcus Buckingham – Reviewed by Blaine Collins

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