Whoahh! Who would have thought about that, eh? Here is this English Language and English Literature BA just going through one of those milestones difficult to achieve in today’s current time and age. Who would have thought that on January 20th 1997 I would start working for IBM and that 15 years later I would still be there having a blast loving what I love doing: working smarter, not necessarily harder, with plenty of people as passionate as I am for everything related to knowledge sharing, collaboration, communities, learning and social networking, and aiming at doing, or, at least, trying my hardest, something meaningful and purposeful. Yay!! Happy IBM Anniversary to me!
If someone would have told me, back then, in January 1997, that I would be making 15 years in the IT company that hired me back then, as a contractor, to then full time regular employee in November 1999, enjoying the work I do without focusing too much on the technology piece, that I never liked anyway, I would have told them that they would be just plain crazy. If someone would have told me that after IBM making its 100th anniversary last year, and with over 50% of its population less than 5 years in the company, while I just hit 15 years, I would have told them there would be no way for me to last that long! Seriously. Can you imagine yourself in today’s world, 2012, where the average knowledge worker hangs around a job for 4 years approximately, lasting in any business for 15 years and still have a feeling that you are just getting started? Yes, I know, too difficult to imagine, but the reality is that’s the time I have been at IBM and it feels just like yesterday!
Long gone are the days when I first started working as a Customer Support Representative for the mainframe, supporting the UK, to then move to the PC environment (OS/2 and Windows 3.11!), to then end up on the Training Department from the Help Centre where I spent 4 years in total getting folks up to speed on how to make effective use of computers to get work their work done, as customer support representatives. Long gone are the years where I spent one of the most unforgettable years on a physical assignment in Dublin helping out with the migration of the Help Center from Zoetermeer, NL, to Dublin itself. Long gone, too, are the years where I was in the Global Technology Services line of business, working as a Knowledge Manager for the whole of EMEA implementing and deploying KMS and other Learning & Knowledge initiatives. Long gone, as well, are the years where I worked at the Systems and Technology Group business unit on their Technical Communities Programme or the Global Business Services Community Building programme within their Learning & Knowledge section. Yes, indeed, time flies when you are having plenty of good fun and you have that strong feeling of contributing into something bigger, much bigger, than you.
So much fun as the last 5 years that I have been part of the BlueIQ Team, as a social computing evangelist and community builder, helping accelerate the adoption rate of social software tools, both internally and externally, from fellow IBMers. So much fun as the last 11 years that I have been involved with social networking tools, having gotten started with that precious gem a bunch of us got busy with back then called Fringe and which, right from the start, initiated my journey towards living social till today. And still going strong!
Late last year, with the craze from year end activities and the bunch of business travelling I did, I missed a couple of other important milestones: the 8th anniversary of my internal blog (December 2003) and the 6th anniversary of my external blog (October 2005); as well as my 12th anniversary as a full time employee at IBM (November 1999). I couldn’t possibly miss out on another important one, this 15th consecutive year I have been working for IBM, and which I made a couple of days ago. So what did I do to celebrate it?
Well, after having completed a face to face team meeting to prepare and put together the last few details from the planning of our internal and external Adoption Programme for 2012 and beyond, and after a rather intense, exhausting, but equally rather exciting and exhilarating experience at one of the best conference events I have attended in a long while (Lotusphere and IBM Connect 2012), I decided to take the vast majority of the day off, hang out by the pool (After all, the weather in Orlando last Friday was just stunning!), relax, muse and ponder some more, about how lucky I am for working where I work, for living where I live, for doing what I love doing, and for having around me an incredible amount of really smart folks, both IBMers, and non IBMers, who, without them realising much about it, have managed to shape up, over the course of the years, yours truly, what I do, what I care for, in short, who I am today.
I think it was Gary Hamel who once said that we, human beings, are pretty much shaped up by those people who we are surrounded with, you know, the folks who we usually hang out with (Gosh, wish I would remember the exact quote! Anyone wanting to come to the rescue, please?) and that’s probably the best way for me to define how I feel about work (at IBM) and perhaps share some further insights as to why, all along, I am a people person who cares about who I work with, what we do together and what we can learn new. Long gone are the days where I would worry about making more than enough money, or about having enough (executive) decision power, or influence, to change things, or about having wide spread recognition (even if I don’t deserve it) or just simply having enough work in order to be able to keep up paying my bills. While I can imagine some of that may tick for some people out there, it is no longer the case for me. Maybe even it never was in the first place.
Yes, I guess you could call me a hippie, a Hippie 2.0, but I have always believed work should be a whole lot more than just that. Work. It should be about constantly finding new meaning, new focus, new purpose, new goals in one’s life, a strong sense of pride on what you do and who you know, who you connect with, collaborate or share your knowledge with; it should be about finding new ways to keep up with the learning curve so you can stay away from stagnation to no end; from being a passive consumer, or witness, of things (passing by); it should be about having that rather rewarding and fulfilling feeling that you are, hopefully, contributing into something bigger, much larger, something beautiful, that we could then pass on to our future generations knowing that we have done the right thing: leave them with an opportunity to remember and treasure a legacy that will make their lives, and those of their grandkids, much better altogether.
Yes, I know. I am a hippie 2.0 at heart, probably on the verge of being flagged as well as a utopian, but very proud of it eventually! Always have. And while I may continue to work on helping achieve that purpose and those goals for as long as I possibly can, there is one thing that I could share with you all out there who may be reading this blog post as I reflect further on about how those 15 years have gone by lightning fast and with me hardly noticing it: carpe diem! Seize the day!! Make the most not only out of (your) work, but also out of your own life!
If you come to think about it, we have been given one single life to try to enjoy to the fullest. To get the most out of it, while we can! Yet, we haven’t been given a single job to carry out in our lifetime, have we? But dozens, if not hundreds of them! So, why would we continue to work for something that we may not believe in, that we may not feel motivated, nor engaged enough, nor recognised for and whatever else? Just because it keeps paying the bills without involving too much thinking on the side from you? Really? I hope not. Otherwise we would be totally wasting another precious life. Our own.
Just think of it. Already one third of it is spent getting plenty of much needed sleep, specially, those who have learned how important it can well be for your own well being to sleep good enough hours (So we don’t notice it…); the second third is spent at work (where I do realise a good bunch of folks do have a tendency to work plenty more hours than that second third!!) and that just leaves us with one third of our lifetimes to enjoy and celebrate what we enjoy doing the most: our true passion(s). Whatever those may well be…
Why waste our meaningful and purposeful lives, just like that?!? Shouldn’t we all wake up, once and for all, and try to aim for better things? We know we can do it. We know we just need that gentle push to get us going. Perhaps 2012 is the year where we can break loose and start living much more fulfilling lives altogether. Otherwise, what’s the alternative? Do you like it? I surely wouldn’t. I guess at this point in time in these reflections I shouldn’t spend entire afternoons at the pool in Orlando, Florida, reflecting on these things, but as I went through my 15th year anniversary at IBM last Friday, while enjoying the sunshine, the good weather, a lovely drink and plenty of thinking along the side(s), I just couldn’t help but reminding myself of one of my favourite speeches, quite an inspiring and thought-provoking reminder for us all on what really matters, and which you can find out more about it on this YouTube video, which I will also embed over here. You know, the same thing over again, the small things: Wear Sunscreen!
I am not too sure what I would be doing in the next 15 years, whether I would still be working at IBM, or elsewhere, but one thing for certain is that I definitely plan to continue having a blast with what I do, on a daily basis, living social and all. Life is just too short not to grab it by the face and smack it left and right, if it isn’t facilitating, nor helping, to provide you with you truly deserve. So go ahead and grab it, before it vanishes and moves on, leaving you behind!
Happy IBM Anniversary, my dear hippie 2.0! Here’s to another 15 coming along …
— Stuart McIntyre (@StuartMcIntyre) January 17, 2012