It rained!

§ August 31st, 2011 § Filed under communication § Tagged , , , , § No Comments

Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while. – Kin Hubbard

Last Thursday, something remarkable happened. It rained in San Antonio. That’s remarkable because for the last six months, we have had only five days with any rain. With the exception of one day in June, these few days of rain produced less than an inch.

Thursday, I sat at a local coffee shop and when the rain started, everyone stopped what they were doing, looked up from their laptops or newspapers, stopped their conversations on their iPhones and in person, and breathed a collective happy, awe-filled sigh. Some people got up and walked outside. You would have thought it was snowing from the looks of delight and surprise on people’s faces.

I had a wonderful conversation with a delivery truck driver outside the coffee shop. I mentioned that I was tempted to dance in the rain. He told me that the last time it rained, he and his wife went walking in the storm, getting soaked, loving every minute of it.

People started talking to each other. Yes, in-person, real-life verbal conversations. There was not necessarily any depth to the conversations, but people who would normally ignore each other connected, at least on some level.

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if we all connected, even if only on a superficial level, with each other every day? If we made eye contact, said something, even banal comments, to complete strangers, rather than ignoring each other, wouldn’t it help create a happier community?

There are so many remarkable things going on every day that we are alive. We need to find excuses to connect with people in person.

Being Social

§ July 5th, 2011 § Filed under communication, marketing, small business, training, writing § Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , § 10 Comments

There’s always a price to be paid for doing, being, and having more, and it has little to do with working harder or knowing the “right” people. In as few words as possible, “get out more.”  – TUT… A Note from the Universe (Mike Dooley)

A few events lately have convinced me that it is time for some comments on social media. This is not designed to be a list of rules. One of the things I love about social media is that it is still in flux. We’re learning “acceptable” behavior as we go along. I’ve come up with a few suggestions, though, and would welcome your comments.

To the extent that you would keep your personal life and work life separate, keep your personal and work social media separate. I have two Facebook pages – one for business and one that is personal. My personal page is primarily a space for connecting with friends, although many of my friends are also business acquaintances. I only become “friends” with people I have actually met (with a few famous exceptions), and all are people whom I would invite to my home.

I started with two Twitter accounts, but am starting to meld those into one.  I accept everyone at LinkedIn, because I view that as a business network only.

I don’t think there should be any rules here, except to think about what your purpose is for the particular social media channel before you start accepting friends, following, and linking. Let that purpose guide you. Just stay civil online and be sure to proofread. Remember who has access when posting your location or any updates.  If your friends have photos of you in compromising positions, well, that’s another whole issue.

Please remember that just because you are good at connecting on social media does not mean that you are sociable. Sometimes the skills that make a person truly excellent at social media are not the skills that make him or her personable or well-mannered. Both venues require a bit of “walking in the other person’s shoes,” but the in-person interaction can be more difficult for people who are introverted. If you feel more comfortable online, you may need to work on your face-to-face manners. Make sure that you smile, make eye contact, act courteously, and follow through on commitments. When you are with someone in person, stop texting and updating, and be present.

Finally, the more social media you participate in, the more you need to connect in real life to balance yourself out. Recently, I joined a new friend for lunch. We initially met through a #BMPR event and started following each other on Twitter. We know each other more based on what we Tweet than an in-person connection. As I approached her, I realized that I was visualizing her name with an @ in front of it.

That’s when you know you have spent too much time online.

What guidelines would you like for social media? Join the conversation – post your comments here.


§ June 2nd, 2011 § Filed under small business, training § Tagged , , , , , , , , , § No Comments

Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study. Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life. – Henry L. Doherty

Anyone who has been looking for a job knows that there are few openings, especially for people with college degrees. Seventeen million college graduates are doing jobs that don’t require a degree. Additional folks are working at jobs that require a four-year degree, but they never get a chance to put into practice the skills they have learned. Further, many skills that are needed on the job are not learned in high school or college. So many of our students have been taught to take tests, but not to think critically or actually learn the subjects.

Add to that the fact that student loan debt is at an all time high, even higher than what we owe on credit cards.

Maybe it’s time we rethink how we handle education.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of college. I hold both a bachelors and masters degree. At the University of Texas I took courses that helped me discover what I really enjoyed. But for a long time, I have been among a group of people who think that for most students a two-year program makes more sense. For many students, landing a job after those two years with companies that value their employees is a much better plan. Some of those companies may provide tuition reimbursement so that students are not left with massive student loan debt. See this TED Talk by creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson for more about how much a degree is worth now.

I am so excited about a new venture – Skillshare, a community where anyone who has information to share can pass that knowledge to others. There are plenty of places where you can take classes online, but as someone who has taught both traditional classes and online classes, I believe that something truly magical happens when a group of learners get together with a teacher who genuinely enjoys helping. Everyone learns from everyone else.

I have been selected to be a Community Ambassador for the San Antonio area for Skillshare. I am recruiting people who want to share their knowledge and people who want to learn. Skillshare classes are primarily about the things we are passionate about, the things that make us want to get up in the morning. Some of us are lucky enough to have jobs that meet those needs. Some of us have jobs that meet other needs, and we fulfill our passions outside of work. Skillshare will give us the opportunity to test out our interests.

Why is it so important to find our passions? We need to shift education in order to produce creative thinkers. I believe that Skillshare may be one of the steps to achieving this radical shift.

Want to help me create this shift as a teacher or a learner? Join me at our first quarterly Show & Tell  event on Tuesday, June 14 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm. (I’m still working on the venue; details will be forthcoming.) Get a taste of training, have some drinks and some fun, meet other learners and teachers, and help start a revolution. If you can’t make the event, but still want to be a part of the effort, drop me an email or call.

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