Take a Seat – Make a Friend?

Prague - Charles BridgeIf you have been reading this blog for a while now you would remember how every year that goes by I always try to incorporate a new theme or topic that I would want to explore further along during the course of the year and see where it would take me, specially, if it aligns with the core subjects I get to cover over here from all along like Social Business, Social Computing, Enterprise 2.0, Online Communities, Collaboration, Knowledge Sharing (a.k.a. KM), Learning and, since last year, Open Business as well (Which, by the way, still remains as one of the Top Reads from this blog for 2013 overall and surely am very pleased about that one. Thanks much everyone for co-sharing that same interest!). So what is it going to be this year then, you may be wondering, right? Well, this time around, and to make up for the couple of extended breaks I took from this blog in the last few months, I am planning on making it up and, eventually, incorporate three different new themes, two of which I will be announcing in the next couple of weeks as we move into 2014, and a third one that I will be kicking off today with this particular article. The topic? Humanise. The what? Everything!

Indeed, over the course of the last few years, as I have been getting more and more involved with internal social networking in a business context, one of the many reasons that, specially, social computing evangelists have been sharing all along in terms of the clear benefits for Social / Open Business is the ability for all of those social technologies to socialise the workplace, to democratise it, to flatten it, to make it more personal and up close, to demonstrate how organisations are no longer that faceless corporate brand you just can’t engage with in a meaningful two-way-street open and direct conversation. And that’s all good. But I think we need to start aiming a bit higher than that, and perhaps become a bit more ambitious as to what we would want to achieve, beyond that social savviness. I want to aim higher myself and state how all of these social networking tools help humanise not just ourselves, as knowledge Web workers, but also the organisations we all may be working for, whether large or small.

Why? Well, essentially, because they are helping re-surface what we, human beings, have been all along and that the business world has managed to demolish over the course of the last 50 to 70 years in a very effective manner: our very own humanity. Our very own need to connect, to bond, to find that common spark amongst humans that helps us generate a connection, a link, a chemistry, a conversation, a smile.

Trust, really.

But what if humanise would be something bigger? What if humanise wouldn’t have much to do with social technologies after all, but a wake-up call to realise who we really are (and what we have been all along!) in terms of our behaviours and rituals. What if humanise is all about demonstrating, time and time again, how we cannot neglect anymore, nor ignore, our very own human nature of wanting to connect, to collaborate, to share our knowledge, to tell stories, so that we have got a perfect opportunity to relate to others based on just those connections?

Well, that’s exactly what I am hoping to achieve with this new theme that I will be incorporating into this blog over the course of the next few days, months, year(s). An opportunity for us to challenge our current way of thinking; to also challenge the status quo of how things work in today’s (working) reality, including perhaps in our own personal lives; to understand, finally, how, in most cases, we probably just have to let things go and focus on embracing the unexpected, the uncertain, what we just can’t control anymore, or don’t know the answer for; that is, embracing fully the magic behind serendipitous knowledge discoveries (of whatever kind!) that, just by not being out there, we would have missed out on them either way.

Want an example? Take a look into this one video clip then. Courtesy of the wonderful, rather smart and witty folks behind SoulPancake. It’s a 5 minute long clip under the title “Take a Seat – Make a Friend?” where the main premise is all about opening up. In this case, opening up to total strangers (in pairs) inside a ball pit to talk about “life’s big questions” and, eventually, figure out if there would be a connection in the making.

Now, I am not going to spoil the fun for all of you folks out there wanting to see the outcome of that humanising experiment . Instead I would encourage all to take a look into the embedded code of the video, hit Play, sit back, relax and think “WOW! What would happen if we run this at my workplace?

See? Sometimes you don’t even need to make use of any social technologies to help demonstrate that human, basic characteristic of always wanting to connect with others by just opening up to the unexpected and let the conversation do the rest. Flow naturally.

Magical.

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Changing the World One Idea at a Time

Gran Canaria - Charca de MaspalomasYou know that summer is almost gone when September comes along in full force, work peaks up again a notch or two, and conference month kicks in. Pretty much like March, after the rather long winter months. I am not sure why, but it’s really interesting to see how both March and September themselves seem to be the busiest times of the year, at least, this year, in terms of public speaking and attending various different conference events over the course of a short couple of weeks.  So as I get to prepare myself for the upcoming European World Tour I will be embarking on shortly I just couldn’t help get reminded of the power of changing the world through a rather simple, yet, incredibly inspiring action: the sharing of ideas.

Indeed, late last week I bumped into this short article by Michael Hyatt under the suggestive heading “How Your Next Speech Can Change the World“. It’s a couple of years old already (Got to love the Social Web, for that matter, in helping resurface, once again, the true golden gems hidden out there!), but it is totally worth it. It points out to a TEDx East event speech that the one and only, Nancy Duarte, the presentation goddess, put together to help demonstrate how powerful delivering a good presentation can be to excite and inspire your newly found hero: your audience.

In the past, I have been sharing a good number of different articles over here, in this blog, where I have referenced plenty of practical hints & tips on the topic of public speaking. It’s a subject that fascinates me, because there is always room for improvement. There is always something new that you can learn about inspiring others, no matter how seasoned your presentation skills may well be. There is always an opportunity to do better. That’s why, as a public speaker myself, I keep collecting, digesting, reading, learning as much as I can on the whole theme of public speaking, which is why, as of late, I have been enjoying tremendously the good bunch of rather interesting and relevant links on the topic have been shared by folks like my good friend Peter Billingham. Lots of really good stuff in there to keep you busy for a while helping you fine tune your public speaking skills.

I do realise how there are plenty of dos and don’ts for any public speaker, plenty of interesting role models and a whole lot other articles, dissertations, blog posts, various presentations, practical hints & tipsalong with lots of know-how, real life, down to earthexperiences in delivering good, pragmaticstunning speeches, but if I were to highlight and recommend highly a single resource, my new favourite is the one Michael highlighted on that short blog entry from a couple of years ago from Nancy Duarte herself. Why? Well, for multiple various reasons, but perhaps because of this superb quote that I think pretty much resonates with my own experiences with not only the public speaking I have done in the past, but also what I have learned from having attended, witnessed, gotten excited / amazed by the several hundreds of presentations I have had the privilege of experiencing fully over the course of the years. To quote:

If you communicate an idea in a way that resonates, change will happen

How empowering and truly inspiring is that quote to highlight how important the sharing of ideas openly out there, through the Social Web as well, perhaps, has been all along? How inspirational can it be that the main obstacle you need to get rid of when promoting your idea(s), your passion(s) is no other than yourself. We all are our very own first obstacle in sharing what drives us, just because we think no-one is going to be interested, nor find it relevant, or because no-one is going to pay much attention, or perhaps because we assume no-one is going to like our very own ideas.

Ether way, if you would want to learn a lot more about the drive behind those ideas, your own ideas, about the empowering inspiration of story, who the real hero is, after all, when delivering a presentation, how critical “meeting with the mentor” may well be, and what’s the shape of a great presentation, eventually, this is a video clip you just can’t miss. Nancy Duarte at her best. Be prepared to be wowed, because you will.

I know for sure it will be totally worth it the 18 minutes that it lasts and I can guarantee you that you will never look at a presentation at a public speaking event the same way.

And that’s a good thing.

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The Innovation of Loneliness

Leon - The CathedralOne of the really interesting things in the world of social networking is how every now and then you bump into a specific resource, an online video clip, a blog post, a mainstream news article, a dissertation or whatever else, that is just so thought-provoking and rather mind-boggling in challenging your own notion, experiences, know-how, skills and expertise on the topic of social networks that surely makes you think about your own experiences twice, to the point where it makes you pause and think, really well, whether you are doing it right or not (and whatever that means with “doing it right“). Gary Hamel calls it “changing the way we change“. I call it growing-up, although my notion of growing-up is a completely different kind of growing-up than the one Euan Semple blogged about just recently as well. Indeed, welcome to the disturbing world of Loneliness!

Euan, in a rather inspirational short blog post, puts together all of his hopes around the Social Web (and our societies, for that matter) on those people who “are brave enough to be naive, foolish, enthusiastic, and open – because maybe that is how real grown ups should be?“. I would put my hopes on those, too, although I would also include those who are always open to exercising plenty of critical thinking, in a constructive manner, of course, but always willing to challenge the status quo to help us move forward, to progress further, to grow, to keep learning, to understand how we should strive for avoiding becoming a commodity and thrive in the new Creativity Economy (Yes, another economy to add into the mix) as empowered knowledge (Web) workers. 

And then you bump into absolutely stunning video clips like the one put together by Shimi Cohen on the Innovation of Loneliness (Vimeo link, if interested) that starts off with a rather evocative and refreshing question that I doubt most of us out there on social networks have ever even dared to ask ourselves: “What is the connection between Social Networks and Being Lonely?

I am not going to spoil the contents of the video for you. Not even going to give you a teaser or two, like I typically do to entice you all to go and watch through it. This time is different. This time I am too shocked to even muse about what I thought about some of the key messages coming through after I watched it. It’s a little bit over 4 minutes long, and it’s one of those wonderfully troubling videos that would not leave you indifferent. On the contrary.

It will help you question, and big time!, not only your own notions of what social networks are all about, but the role we all play in them. I can tell you that after I watched it I just couldn’t utter a single trend of thought that would be meaningful enough to share across other than “WOW!! Is this really where we are heading with our very own social networking experiences out there on the Social Web? Please tell me it isn’t. Please tell me we are aiming higher, bigger, better, because otherwise I know we are going to be in trouble, in deep trouble altogether“. If not, judge for yourselves on what I mean and watch through the video clip itself below. Let me know what you think in the comments. Yes, I know, I’m, too, still coming to terms with it myself on how brilliantly poignant it is altogether:

 

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