E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

Fun Stuff and Musings

One Moment Meditation

Tenerife - Mount Teide in the WinterHere we go again, already done with another one of those crazy, rather hectic and buzzing Mondays, and embarking on what promises to be quite an interesting and exciting week, as I am preparing for my next business trip, which, once again, is going to take me to two different cities in two different countries in the next few days. First to Antwerp, Belgium, to attend and present (On Being Social, as a panelist, and on #lawwe as a speaker) at the stunning BLUG event, where the agenda seems to be more impressive than ever; then, over the weekend, heading over to London, UK, where I will be staying till Wednesday, participating and presenting as well at Melcrum‘s fine Digital Communication Summit, as I will be talking about IBM’s journey towards becoming a social business sharing the experiences, lessons learned, hints & tips, and adoption techniques of our now 5 year old Social Software Adoption program called BlueIQ.

Phew! You can imagine it’s going to be a rather intense week (Another one of those!), where perhaps stress will make its presence more than once, and, just now, when thinking about it, I can sense it’s going to show up a few times eventually. Nothing new, really, right? I mean, in today’s current business world who doesn’t that have feeling that some times, and, hopefully, just some times, there are just so many things going on at the same time that even juggling with them to see how many balls remain on the air proves to be quite a challenge on its own.

My good friend Jacob Morgan captured, really nice, on a recent tweet, what the actual impact that stress is causing into the business world and although his tweet was just specific to the US, I can imagine how it would also be applicable in multiple other countries. If not judge for yourself:

 

Now, I can imagine that there would be plenty of various different things and activities you could do to help tame that stress and bring it back under control, since we all know that negative stress has never been rather helpful to one’s productivity and effectiveness. But yet, since we are all so busy doing multiple things and juggling with multiple projects, and whatever else, there is one key question that keeps popping up: Where do you get the time? You know, we are all so busy, we just don’t have it any more! We cannot even control it or have a little glimpse of what we are doing with it. It’s become the new economy. Along with Attention Management, of course, for that matter.

But what if we would have that opportunity to address, manage and tame that stress to reasonable levels with something so relatively simple as one minute? Yes, you are reading it right. One minute! Nothing more, nothing less! Who can’t afford a single minute going by here and there then to achieve that new goal of living a stress-free work life and get so much more done? I am sure you may be thinking that I am dreaming, once again, or that I have become a bit of a utopian. But what if it were possible? Would you do it? … I bet you would!

So allow me to introduce you to this absolutely delightful video clip of just over 5 minutes that will introduce you to the wonderful world of Meditation. In this case, One Moment Meditation by Martin Boroson. I bumped into this video late last week on my of my Google Plus circles and, of course, I just couldn’t help watching it through to see what it would be all about. And, I eventually, got to practice it!! Whoaahh. Really. And it works!!

There are lots and lots of things that I could say about the video, how incredibly inspiring it is and all, but once again, I am not going to spoil it for you folks and I am, instead, going to encourage you all to watch through the video, right as we speak, even if you are not stressed out, so that, when you are, you know exactly what you can do to avoid it and move on with your work. I tell you, I tried it out while going through it and I can certainly vouch for how effectively it works, to the point where it doesn’t feel like you are doing it, and, yet, you are and getting the best results! Just brilliant! And painless!

Again, you may not need it just now, or you may need it pretty drastically; the good thing is that after you watch it, it is just so easy to carry it on with you that no matter where you may well be, or what you will be doing, or what you will be working on, as soon as you notice that negative stress kicking in, it’s time then for that One Moment Meditation, and get back on track. Seriously, it’s that effective.

What do you think? Does One-Moment Meditation work out for you as well? Feel free to drop a quick comment or two and let us know whether it is working out for you or not, and if you have other tips and techniques to help tame that negative stress share them across as well. I bet we would all love to know about them!

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Another Special Day

Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo in the Winter, Seen from ArternaraHappy Saint Patricks Day!!, for those folks who may be celebrating it anyway… Today surely is a special day for a whole bunch of people all over the world. Well, for me, too! No, it’s not because on the Internet apparently it’s my birthday today, which it isn’t (Thanks ever so much everyone for those kind and warm wishes shared across though!). Once again, and like I have been doing for a couple of years now, I *lied*. My actual birthday date is in February (Yes, I am a true Aquarian!), as I have hinted elsewhere already, but in a way it is my birthday today as well. At least, what I would consider having been reborn again into the current life I have been enjoying for the last 8 years and counting… Indeed, 8 years ago, on March 17th, 2004, on such a special occasion as St. Patrick’s Day, I moved to Gran Canaria, as my permanent home. And I haven’t gone back anywhere else ever since!

If you have been reading this blog for a long while you will notice how, despite the odd and awkward experiences here and there with my business travelling, I do enjoy traveling all over the place quite a bit. It’s probably the best option out there to get to know places, people, their languages, their customs, their traditions, their cultural traits, and whatever else. Amongst one of the best learning experiences in life. It’s also probably the best option to meet up a good bunch of close friends who no longer live near you in the same city, country or whatever, but that thanks to the wonderful world of the Social Web they are scattered all over. But, to be honest, the main reason why I love traveling, is because every time that I do it gives me an opportunity to treasure and appreciate why I work and live in Gran Canaria. My home.

You know, time and time again, when I get to present at conference events, summits, workshops, seminars and whatever else on the initiative I started over 4 years ago on living A World Without Email“, and how the world of Social is helping us transform the corporate world of the 21st century as well as our societies as a whole, it surprises plenty of people how I can still get away with having ditched corporate email, rely quite heavily on social networks for business and still live and work in Gran Canaria. Even more when my own boss is thousands of kilometers away from me… Well, that’s my story. And I am surely grateful to my current employer, IBM, as they have been employing me for the last 15 years to give me an opportunity to demonstrate there are other ways to contribute, make yourself useful, have an impact, and enjoy with a passion what you do on a daily basis. Regardless of where you are in the world. It no longer makes a difference. Remember the blog post I put together a couple of days ago on “Everything is connected to everything“?

That’s what I have been trying to prove all along. That with the emergence of much more effective and efficient collaborative, knowledge sharing and social networking tools we now have an opportunity to redesign how we do work, where we do it and with whom. And how it’s that flexibility and work life integration that would surely help knowledge workers become a lot more attached to the work they do, with a rather strong sense of belonging, ownership and co-responsibility for wanting things to work out just all right. To always want to improve the way your business does business, even if that means facing as well the ugly parts, to try to solve them in a meaningful and purposeful manner. All in all, to become more engaged, transparent, open, nimble, in short, sustainable and smart enough to carry on for a few decades more in perhaps one of the most complex, yet exciting, times in our lifetime as a species.

That’s why I am celebrating today my 8th year anniversary since I arrived in Gran Canaria. I never expected I would be staying over here that long. In fact, after my family’s home, it’s the place in the world I have lived the longest in a row. And while I don’t know how much longer I would be living over here, since that’s something that you can never plan anymore these days (Welcome to the world of uncertainty! hehe), I can certainly assure you all that, to me, it’s all about enjoying every single minute of it, yes, the good old carpe diem, because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Oh, well, hang on, yes, I know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Actually, beginning of next week, when I am on the road again for a couple of business trips to Belgium and London (again!) and where you can imagine how much I would be looking forward to coming back home and be greeted with something special , something that 8 years ago welcomed me to be part of its family, its extensive community, and still accepts me to be there for who I am. Yes, that’s Gran Canaria. That’s my home. That’s my life. We may as well enjoy it, don’t you think?

Again, Happy St. Patrick’s Day, for those celebrating it, and happy 8th year anniversary, @elsua 4.0! Time to go off now and enjoy plenty of the beauty this paradise on earth island has got to offer! Ohhh, and if you ever come to pay a visit on your holidays or next business trip, get in touch! I would be delighted to show and guide you around … Or check my Foursquare’s checkins for some of the best places to hang out, as well as enjoy some of the most beautiful surroundings with incredibly friendly people and superb food. Oh, yes, I am a #foodie, too! But I am sure you have noticed that already, haven’t you?

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Why Do We Keep Insisting On Killing Productivity?

Gran Canaria - Up in the AirAs you may have noticed already, the last post that I put together over here in this blog was a bit over three weeks ago, so, once again, it looks like that quiet period is now over and it’s a good time again to resume my regular blogging activities. I know that plenty of folks out there may have thought that I have given up on blogging altogether, again!, after such a long time not writing much in it, but far from the truth! Coming back in full force and perhaps with a new direction for the blog as well, which I will explain in an upcoming new entry. However, I am sure you are all wondering what have I been up to then in the last few weeks, right?, and what prohibited me from coming back to the blog and keep up with the regular schedule. Well, how can I put it? Hummm, how about when a combination of business travelling, planned obsolescense, lack of consideration towards others’ own health, and @elsua v4.0 decided to kill my own productivity?

Indeed, in such pretty demanding times, where more and more is expected from us, knowledge workers, where we are continuously asked to produce more with less, where remaining effective, if not even more productive, has taken a new meaning for all of us, it seems like we are doing a pretty bad job at getting rid of productivity killers and help us get better at what we are already doing. And I am not just referring to the things we can do ourselves to avoid those productivity killers, since I am sure we all know how we could get rid of each and everyone of those!, but talking about those that have been inflicted upon us and for which we do have very little to do to overcome it; but perhaps now it’s a good time to get rid of the silliness of it all.

Cutting through the chase though, the main reasons why I haven’t been capable of resuming my regular blogging activities, as well as pretty much all of my external social networking interactions out there on the Social Web, and perhaps internally as well, has been due to 4 different productivity killers that apparently all decided to kick in at the same time, i.e. that period of three weeks!, and for which one has got very little to do about it all. Although, again, perhaps we need to start doing something about it. And here is why. Here are those productivity killers that I wish we would all know how to address them and get rid of them:

  • Business Travelling

After having seen, and experienced!, the future, as a result of a short visit to Helsinki, Finland, I am no longer too sure that I would be capable of putting up with being stuck at an airport, or in a hotel room, or at a conference venue, where the Internet connection is just not up to the standards of what one would expect to keep being productive. For example, on my way back home from Paris, after a wonderful Enterprise 2.0 Summit event, I was stuck for almost 5 hours in Barcelona airport, plus another 3 hours from Barcelona to Gran Canaria. And throughout all of that time I couldn’t manage to get a decent connection in order to do my job. That, right there, is already 8 hours of lost productivity! Yes, 8 hours that no-one is paying for!

Now, as most folks out there may have seen it for a long while, in a good number of European countries things are starting to become a bit dire, with regards to the financial crisis, high unemployment rates, lack of decent jobs, etc. etc. Our governments keep telling us that we need to go through these little sacrifices in order to make it. They keep telling us that we need to work more hours, increase our productivity and perhaps become more conscious of the time we spend at work. In short, they keep telling us we need to be more productive. Yet, time and time again, they keep neglecting and ignoring the fact that traditional work is no longer the vast majority of the knowledge work happening out there. It’s no longer a physical location, or a place, or having a set of tools. It’s actually a state of mind. Work happens around you, wherever you may well be, and with whatever the tools you may have at your disposal, whether it’s your laptop computer, your smartphone or your tablet.

Governments keep failing at understanding and embracing this new dynamic where for most of the road / air warriors out there work happens while we are on the move! On the train, on the plane, at a hotel room, at a conference venue, meeting up with customers, etc. etc. And when a whole bunch of us have made the transition into an always-on work environment relying on the cloud to deliver what we need, we just can’t afford failing at not having a decent connectivity. We just can’t be effective and productive enough if the external world doesn’t catch up with us! If governments would finally truly understand that. If they’d want us to be rather productive they need to help us stay connected, regardless of wherever we may well be! Now, you may be saying that I am a dreamer, asking and longing for such state of things for always-on work, the reality though is that I am not. Finland, and I would venture to state that for all of the Nordic countries, for that matter, keeps showing us, and leading!!, the way. And, let’s face it, it’s working! Look at they financial crisis in all of those nordic countries. See? Nothing. They just keep working! They may have other problems and other issues, but lack of productivity is no longer one of them. And I bet that pervasiveness of a strong broadband penetration has got a whole lot to do with it. So if they have managed to make it, why can’t we, the rest of Europe, follow suit? Couldn’t we learn something from them? Aren’t we all part of the EU after all? Shouldn’t we help each other raise our common stakes as productive European citizens? Something tells me we got a lot more to win than to lose, don’t you think?

  • Planned Obsolescence

But just as I was on my way home, when I arrived and turned my MacBook Air on, the unexpected, as usual, was about to happen. And again far too soon! Indeed, on the top left of my MBAir a funny rattling noise started to become more and more worrying and after some initial diagnostics I eventually found out the MBAir fan finally ceased to stop working. Oh, yes, MBAir machines *do* have fans as well. Oh, yes, MacBook Air machines are also very much trapped in this 20th century non-sense that we all know as Planned Obsolescence. I have been having this machine for a bit over a year now, exactly one month after the guarantee expired!, and bang! The fan is now history. After calling Apple Care, as well as the Apple Store where I bought it, it looked like it was going to take me quite some time to have it fixed and eventually returned back to me, and quite pricey, too! So, falling, once more, for that silliness of planned obsolescence, I decided to give myself a treat (Seeing a very special date coming up for yours truly, which I will mention shortly…) and purchase a new MacBook Air 13”, which is the machine I have been using in the last couple of days.

But it wasn’t the machine I originally got when I bought it. Somehow, at the shop where I bought it they mistakingly gave me the 128GB hard disk model, vs. the 256GB one, which is the one I wanted. And that basically meant that I had to go through 2 different installations over the course of one week in order to be up and running once again. And I did. I tell you, there is something out there on getting new shiny objects, but, more importantly, something that I have noticed myself over the course of the last few years as you get a new machine time and time again. Going minimalist. That’s right. Every new machine that I have been getting in the last few years I have gone one level deeper with regards to the amount of Applications, Software, Documents, Pictures, Files and what not I may have got on my machine to the point where minimalism has taken a new meaning for me. Yet, it was two different clean installs that I had to do over the course of a single week and that added, quite a lot, to the productivity drains I have been suffering from in the last few days, and those of you who may have done such recent move would probably confirm this as well.

The key question though that I keep coming up with is when is the world finally going to come to terms with waking up and making a successful transition into becoming a full, sustainable, circular economy and leave behind those economy models that not only keep getting us in trouble, as we have seen, witnessed and lived over the last 4 years, and still going strong!, but at the same time, they keep destroying the most precious gift given to us, human beings, next to our life: our planet. When are we going to get rid of that pernicious obsession with wanting to own stuff. What’s wrong with borrowing, lending, making good use of stuff you need and then letting it go, with learning to live just with what you need, not what people keep implanting in your brain that you need? When are we going to fully understand that the resources we have got around us are finite. And we, too, are finite. That one day, if we don’t change our mentality, and start living more meaningful, respectful, purposeful and sustainable lives, we would be the ones that need replacing, that our long awaited planned obsolescence is very much overdue and that Earth will dispose of us, just as much as we are doing of her at the moment. Yes, please, let’s stop, and get rid of!, the non-sense of planned obsolescence and help us keep productive with what we have for longer periods of time. Planet Earth would be a much better place to live in, for sure!

  • Lack of Consideration of Others’ Health

Ok, moving into the third productivity killer for yours truly in the last couple of weeks. This one, in particular, is the one where I am planning to become a lot more aggressive to try to address it on my own terms, since I think it can be done easily. If you have been following my internal and external social interactions, to the point where I may have shared across some of them, you may have noticed how last week, the entire week!, I have been recovering from a rather nasty flu that I got from a good friend of mine, who, apparently, was just recovering from a severe bronchitis himself and he thought things were back to normal. Well, they weren’t! Because that flu knocked me down the entire week like you wouldn’t believe it.

This winter season I have been having one cold and this one flu. So I guess it’s not too bad. The problem though is that, for me, this was the first time in my life that I had a flu, that I remember, that involved fever, muscle aches, apathy, strong headaches, and what not. And, as such, it required a whole lot more taking care of it and curing it than anything else than I can remember. And I am finding it a bit too ironic that I was in Helsinki with a whole lot harsher temperatures and extreme winter, followed by Paris cold weather as well, and eventually 3 weeks later, the lovely sunshine got me and knocked me down for the entire week!

But why am I using the heading over here as lack of consideration of others’ health? Well, mainly because if that friend of mine had decided to stay home for a few more days a bunch of his friends, me included, would have been spared from a rather miserable week. One were my own productivity suffered quite a bit, just as much as that one from other folks, too!, because of him not being considerate enough that while he may have been feeling better, he obviously was not well enough just yet, because some of us got the flu virus after being in close range with him, while celebrating a special event I will talk about shortly.

And this is what I meant that some times, specially, when you are not feeling well, but you feel you need to carry on with the world around you, it’s probably better for you to stay inside and spare that rest of the world some better times. I stayed home the entire whole week last week and will probably do so for most of this one as well. Sometimes it’s better to recover in isolation, getting well taken care of, than just being out there, trying to pretend like nothing is happening and bang! get everyone around you infected with the odd seasonal cold / flu. Believe me, the fact that we may not see you for a few days does not mean that we have forgotten you at all. Quite the opposite. The fact that you have helped us remember one of those unforgettable weeks of you dragging along all the way, surely is going to leave a mark, because I have come to the conclusion that if you can’t spare from your cold / flu, we may as well do it ourselves. So next time we meet up F2F and you tell me you are recovering from a cold, flu, or whatever else, don’t be surprised if I rather walk away from you, or ask you to stay away till you get better. No, I’m not being anti-social. I am just asking you to be aware that just because you are sick it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone should be sick along with you. And since you don’t seem to be conscious / aware of it, we may as well do that for you. Not to worry, when you feel better, we will be paying for the drinks to celebrate your comeback!

Oh, and if you have got to go to the traditional office to do some work, you may want to think about it twice, as well. Last thing you would want to do is to knock down your entire business for a few days, dragging along, just because you decided not to stay home for that little longer. Some times, it’s worth it staying home. Remember, whether you are there or not, the business will continue. If you get everyone sick, that may be another matter. Spare them. Spare us, please.

  • @elsua v4.0

And, finally, the last of those productivity killers that has prohibited me from being much more active in the Social Streams out there in the last couple of weeks. But, not to worry, this is a fun one! One that although it takes a long while for me to admit, it’d only seem to be happening every 40 years! And the reason why it was a productivity drain was more than anything else because celebrating it meant being outdoors, more than indoors working along.

Yes, that’s right, as some of you have noticed in several other places, a bit over a week ago, I reached that lifetime milestone of 40 years of age. Or, as I decided to call it, I just became @elsua v4.0. As you can imagine there were lots of celebrations on the side for such achievement and, while I have got a blog post coming up on the topic, where I will reflect on a few things I have learned over the course of those 4 decades, I decided that since it’s just such a special lifetime achievement, and given the recent issues with that nasty flu, I’ll be celebrating it throughout the whole year! Here and there, and right in between! Why not, right? What are the chances of being 40 again, don’t you think?

Oh, yes, that, too! I can now then vehemently state how those younger generations making extensive use of social networking tools for both personal use as well as for business use, are actually not that young anymore. And how we may be much better off switching the discourse from that generational divide into embracing different working styles within the workplace. That’s what it is all about!

And, to conclude this rather long and extensive blog entry that will serve as me getting back to my regular blogging activities, I guess I’d summarise the main key learning from @elsua v4.0 throughout the last 40 years picking up on a superb mantra headline that my good friend Harold Jarche has been using for a long while and, which, to me, has taken a new meaning altogether just recently: Life in Perpetual Beta:

Be a Natural Enterprise (Slideshare link)

  • “Find the sweet spot: identify your gift, passion & purpose
  • Find the right partners
  • Research unmet needs
  • Imagine and innovate solutions
  • Continuously improvise
  • Act responsibly on principle”

Yes, indeed, it’s good to be back, sustainably productive and Hippie 2.0 once again! 😀

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The Joy of Choice

Tenerife - Mount Teide in the WinterAs I am about to enter my last week of holidays, before I head back to work for the first time this year, I just couldn’t help thinking about a recent piece I read over at the NYTimes by the always witty and rather insightful Pico Iyer under the rather suggestive title of “The Joy of Quiet“, where he muses extensively about that almost forgotten, and sometimes forbidden (in today’s times, specially!), pleasures of treasuring the time to think, reflect, unwind, disconnect, see the world slowing down, charge your batteries, re-energise yourself with what really matters and perhaps come back for more. It’s a beautifully written article where he’s on a mission to help us all re-think the purpose of our online (inter)connectedness and to challenge, in a rather healthy, and very much needed, way, whether we do really need to be connected all the time. Or not. He calls it the “The Joy of Quiet” and I call it “The Joy of Choice“.

Indeed, for a good number of years there have been plenty of us, knowledge Web workers, who have been craving for having such an exciting, exuberant and abundant environment like the Social Web, as we know it nowadays. You know how it goes. We, news-junkies, can’t get enough about being constantly on the know of what’s happening around us and the rest of the world. We, news-junkies, can’t get enough of being exposed to a rampant learning curve that never ceases to stop more and more by the day, and get rather upset when technology falls short and continues to fail on delivering what we know we can get through it time and time again. We, in short, cannot longer live in isolation, it looks like, nor is a state that most of us could probably aspire to in the long run. But is it really so? And, most importantly, can we do anything about it at all? What do you think?

Pico puts it rather nicely, and very provocatively as well at the same time, in this short paragraph, when he states that we may not be able to do it because we haven’t been educated on how to make it through in the first place:

The central paradox of the machines that have made our lives so much brighter, quicker, longer and healthier is that they cannot teach us how to make the best use of them; the information revolution came without an instruction manual

I can imagine that it may well be so for a good number of folks out there, but then again I can also see how there may well be plenty of other people who, over the course of time, have learned to tame, and educate themselves, not only on how they live their connectedness, but also how they may live along without it altogether and do just fine. That’s when something that we haven’t had for years on the Web to the extent we have got today, but that nowadays is just too critical to ignore, kicks in nicely to our rescue: Choice. Yes, indeed, now we do have a choice and that just basically means that we need to decide how we best plan for that joy of quiet without sounding like an hermit or some other kind of weirdo who doesn’t want to reach out and feel connected while everyone else is.

That’s why during the course of my holidays, and as I continue to reflect on the last few months, specially, after that frenetic and rather hectic year end with work related activities and whatever else, I self-discovered, through that thinking and reflection time, how something so wise as your own physical body learns to protect itself from everything that may try, or attempt to, harm its wellbeing. Even if that involves the brain itself. Now I know why for some periods of last year my brain was rather keen on being out there on the Social Web, reaching out, communicating, collaborating, sharing and learning from others, and yet, my body decided to switch priorities and dedicate itself to what it knows best: taking care of itself.

Yes, I guess that’s when your body starts sending some of those subtle and gentle signs telling you that you are about to max out and enter a very dangerous road of perhaps not an easy return. That’s probably why, just recently, you heard from plenty of your friends, colleagues, and other networks how they have started to take up sports once again, or to lose those extra few pounds, or to spend numerous, endless hours reading a good book while listening to their favourite music as one of their preferred evening activities, or perhaps to start some yoga and live healthier lives or maybe move out of the city into a rural, quieter place where things seem to have slowed down for a while and where conversations happen more face to face than virtually.

I bet within your own networks you may have bumped into such accidental discoveries and keep wondering why people keep doing it. Well, wonder no more. Their physical bodies have finally taken over and decided to take a stand as to helping the mind figure out how long and for what purpose should they remain interconnected online and when to find that appropriate time to disconnect for a while, think and reflect on things. On the things that matter. On those little things we all know are out there, but that we keep ignoring them for far too long and when we realise about it, it’s already too late.

Now, when looking back into retrospective from last year’s events and activities, I realise that was probably the reason why, back in July, I decided to become healthier again; that’s probably, while I am buzzing around during the course of the work week with plenty of business travelling, my weekends are sacred longing for extensive periods of disconnect where I basically just disappear. That’s maybe as well why I have now successfully built up the daily habit of doing my workout, where I just take with me my favourite musichit the track for an hour and think about nothing else than just that beautiful Joy of Quiet. That’s probably why I now know how both my brain and my body are starting to be in sync when making the best choices as to when to go and slow down on the communication, collaboration and broadcasting fronts (And instead become more of a thinking force) and when to come back for more within one’s own social networks after those disconnecting periods.

That’s when one comes to realise it’s all about having a choice, but not just having it for the sake of it, because I know that in most cases we would be ignoring it and eventually keep doing what we are busy with on the Social Web front, but also acting upon it, which I guess is the point Pico makes quite nicely throughout the entire article and which I have learned to treasure myself during the second half of last year through starting to listen to those body signals that one knows have a second, or even third meaning, behind them.

Listening to them, knowing when and how to react and, most importantly, learning how to set the right expectations not only for you, but also for those around you, becomes a critical success factor of how we can learn to come to terms with the fact that yes, as wonderful and as brilliant and as energising as the Social Web is, we cannot ignore the choice of looking, and finding!, proper times to disconnect, to unwind, to ponder about things, to question, through critical thinking, what we are doing, where we are heading and what we would want to leave behind. Our legacies. Our purpose. That’s what we are here for. Being In Action. In constant action. Whether it’s out there on the Social Web, creating and consuming top quality content with our favourite social networks, or whether it’s happening in the offline world. Being In Action means what my good friend, and fellow IBMer, Laurie Friedman tweeted just a couple of days back as a beautiful quote from IBM’s recently appointed new CEO, Ginni Rometty:

 

Call it Living Life as a Perpetual Beta, if you wish to as well, but I think Pico’s conclusion, although referring to our children, could surely blend in rather nicely with what would be, perhaps, our main challenge for 2012 and beyond:

The child of tomorrow, I realized, may actually be ahead of us, in terms of sensing not what’s new, but what’s essential

Indeed, figuring out what’s essential is about having a choice, i.e. when to stay connected, socially networked online, but also when to disconnect, when to look for those quiet times, helping those around you understand that as much as you appreciate the social interactions, there is still a time when you need it to reflect and think further what’s happening around you, so that they, too, can get exposed to the better you. So next time you see some of your networks have gone silent for a period of time, not to worry, they are not gone entirely, they haven’t abandoned you either, they are just taking their very much needed time off to reflect and ponder about things, they are taking their time off to figure out what really matters to them, before they come back in full force, once again. So we better start treasuring those silent periods, because something tells me we are going to have plenty of those coming along in the next few weeks / months and that’s a good thing!

The Social Web needs time as well to slow down a bit sometimes, reflect about both its impact and true legacy and keep moving further along once again… So just hang in there, the choice is ours, finally, after a long last. The important thing to remember though is to act upon it. After all “We create our own distractions and just need to learn to manage them“. And that will always remain our choice. Not theirs. So we better make good use of it and they better get used to it, too. They will need it …

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Back to Blogging, Again: Boira (2010 – … )

BoiraIf someone would have told me at the beginning of 2011 that the last three months of the year would have been sheer madness without me no longer of control of things and trying, barely, to keep up with it all, including a massive round of business travelling, I would have told them they would be just plain crazy. No way it was going to happen! No way I would go ahead and tolerate such run-over of one’s work and personal life without trying to do something about it. Ha! Guess life has always been having its own agenda and the only thing we can ever do is probably to try to adjust, be flexible enough, react on time, and take things as they come, hoping the damage would be somewhat limited. Well, that’s probably what I have been doing all of this time lately. And I seem to have survived. Barely. Today it’s my last working day of the year, before I embark on a massive detox, unwinding, relaxing and chilling couple of weeks of a much deserved vacation, if I may add, where I just basically don’t even know where and how to start!! Seriously. Just crazy!

Did you notice the last time I created a blog post over here was on 11/11/11 to treasure the living memory of one of those loving creatures one learns to love, appreciate and live with in unconditional terms over the course of the years? By the way, many thanks to all of those folks who have kindly shared their comments and experiences. Even today it’s still helping a lot! Thanks for that, everyone!

And did you notice the last time I put together another article before that one? Yes, it was another month in between! See what I meant when I talked about losing control of everything around you and put together the automatic pilot just to try to catch up with things hoping it won’t hurt too much?!? Gosh, exactly! I know some folks out there would relate to that feeling as well… Not enjoyable at all, for certain, but what an adrenaline rush, eh?

Anyway, I am back to my usual, regular blogging activities. You may be wondering I may be a bit too insane attempting to pick up my blogging mojo again, while on vacation, but the true thing is that I have missed it. I really have! Yes, you are probably not going to believe it, but not having blogged on a regular basis, like I usually do, over the last couple of months has certainly had an impact on something I never thought I would miss so much till I eventually bumped into it again: writing!

I have gone rusty with my own writing. I hardly recognise my blogging style anymore; putting together these few words in much longer sentences than 140 characters, or a couple of paragraphs here and there, is proving to be a challenge. A good one, for sure, but it just feels weird! That’s why I need to come back to the blog and write and pick up my blogging mojo once again, before I decide to give up on it and move on to other things. I just owe it so much to it that I feel is part of me, an integral part, actually, so you can imagine how tough it’s been in the last couple of months to be exposed to hundreds and hundreds of ideas, thoughts, experiences, very interesting readings and many other wonderful conversations and not being able to prioritise good enough to talk and blog about them.

I need to get started again. It’s probably going to be like a re-birth. A new beginning. A new start where I may also need to work a bit extra hard to recover my Google juice, as well, because it’s almost gone and I guess I just can’t neglect my business card any longer. And while I thought it was going to be a tougher challenge for me to pick up my blogging again, I must confess that it hasn’t been the case. More than anything else, because of a good number of rather inspiring blog posts that I have bumped into as of late, offering plenty of really good advice and additional reflections and helpful insights as to why blogging still is one of the most powerful personal branding tools out there. Check out, for instance, the blog entries put together by Om Malik, Brain ClarkDan Frommer, Tracy Gold, Arkarthick, Garth O’Brien, Lisa Barone, and, of course, the always inspiring Darren Rowse for some great articles that would surely help you convince anyone that blogging is here to stay as it is thriving nowadays more than ever!

So, I am back! And talking about new beginnings, somewhat new fresh starts, I thought I would get back to blogging today giving folks an opportunity to learn what happened after Fosca’s passing away. There have been many many reasons that have prevented me from blogging in the recent weeks and over the course of time I will be sharing further insights on each and everyone of those, but one that, for sure, has had an impact for yours truly during the course of November and beginning of December was that rather painful experience of seeing a tender, loving and caring pet moving on. Till something else happens…

Allow me to introduce you folks to Boira (“Fog” in catalan); the latest addition to the family! A male belgian shepherd dog (Groenendael) that has quickly captured the hearts and minds of the entire household and to no remedy. He is a bit over a year old now, so you can imagine what that entails. Indeed, lots and lots of physical activity all around! In fact, he’s been one of those other reasons why not just blogging, but also being online has had a bit of a hit in my own social presence out there. And I can imagine you know why. Having such an energetic pet in the house can be quite demanding and rather exhausting, and, even more so, lots of great fun! It’s taking me a bit over a month to eventually manage to take some good, decent pictures that I could share along over here, despite taking him out for long walks day in day out. He’s just as temperamental as Fosca was, but equally charming and amazingly smart. So much so, it’s scary some times what he gets to learn doing by just observing and performing once!

It’s been lots of good fun. You folks should see the state of our roof; I probably should take a picture or two and share it across, but right now it looks, literally, like a war zone. The plants we used to have there, the sprinkler and hose to water them, and a bunch of other things are now history. All destroyed, all bitten to no end, all gone! So imagine what he’s done inside the house!

Like I said, it’s been lots of good fun. And still having a blast with him. A few folks who cared to comment privately on the loss of Fosca mentioning how getting another pet relatively soon to heal the pain gradually were just spot on. She is still very much missed every single day that goes by, but Boira quickly comes up to remind everyone that what matters now is the present, right that moment he wants to live with each and everyone of us. To remind me, as well, in this case, that as wonderful as the Social Web is, it doesn’t help him get out for a walk, of getting fed, of getting lots of attention and playful moments. He just cares about now and if you don’t pay enough attention, he will just move on. So excuse me for a second, while I get the leash, and we go out for a lovely walk to enjoy the beginning of, I am sure, a wonderful holiday!

Boira

Boira

(Thanks much, everyone, for sticking around throughout all of this time, too, and stay tuned for more blog posts to come along in the next few hours … I am not going anywhere and I surely plan to catch up! But with a twist … or two … You will see shortly. It’s good to be back!)

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“Ficciones y Aflicciones” By Ernesto Uria

Mussles and Brugs in BrusselsSummer is over and that, basically, means that I have just kicked off the next round of business trips from now till year end. And, indeed, I just did that, as I came back yesterday from my first one of those, this time around to Brussels, Belgium, where I had a wonderful time participating in a customer workshop talking about The Social Enterprise and its own wider adoption of social software. Fascinating and rather enlightening discussions, on both ends, over the course of 4 hours, no doubt!, but more on that later… For now, this is going to be just that unusual blog entry where I will be talking about something else, completely different, from the regular topics I cover over here. And all of that because of something that happened yesterday, on my way back home, that I guess is going to be difficult to forget any time soon.

I have been doing business travelling over the last 15 years and, as most of you folks out there know already, some years more often than in others, but in most cases rather regular scheduled trips all along. Well, for the first time in those 15 years of being a road (Errr, I mean, air) warrior, yesterday I had the longest layover I have ever experienced at any airport. I was stuck in Madrid (In T2) for 9 hours non-stop. Yes, you are reading it correctly. 9 hours.

Now, I can imagine you may be wondering why didn’t I hit the road, grab a taxi and head downtown to enjoy what promised to be a rather gorgeous autumn day, right? Initially, I thought about doing just that, but then again, coincidences in this world teach you that some times whatever you may have planned doesn’t always work out the way it is supposed to. Like this time. Just as I was on my way to Brussels on Thursday last week I found out that one of my former team colleagues, and rather good friend, who enjoys, just as much as I do!, a lovely glass of red wine over a delightful conversation, was also arriving, around the same time as me, at the same terminal, at the same airport where I was. What are the chances of that? She was flying from Milán, and I was coming from Brussels, so we decided to get together, catch up with each other properly face to face for a good couple of hours, enjoy the one or two glasses of red wine and just let part of the afternoon go by enjoying catching up after not having seen each other for a good while.

And we just did that! We went to one of the bars at the T2 terminal, grabbed something quick to eat, and, of course, got ourselves a good supply of wine. That part of the afternoon was just absolutely brilliant! Believe me, don’t ever let people tell you that social interactions through the Web are just as effective, engaging and nurturing as those face to face, in real life. No way! There is no substitute at all for them! So whenever you have a chance to reach out and cultivate them, by all means, go ahead and do it! We had a wonderful time catching up with each other on what we have been doing the last couple of years and it was rather refreshing to see how that pure chance got us together in the first place while in Madrid’s airport. From there onwards, I shared with her a few tips on what to do in Madrid for the remaining time that she is going to be there, and we both departed to our usual schedules for the day. Hers to hit town and enjoy the lovely weekend before work kicks in next Monday. Mine, wait for a little bit longer and make my flight home after a few days away. And that’s where things went awry.

What was supposed to be just one more hour before departing, it turned around into becoming a 5 hour delay before our plane finally took off! Goodness! I guess technical faults in an airplane about to take off can cause that kind of trouble. Anyway, if you are a frequent traveller you know how things go from there. First they tell you 30 minute delay, then 60 minutes, then we move into two hours, and, finally, on the 4th hour waiting there, things are now ready to head back home! That’s the kind of suspense I am not very keen on experiencing and living through on a Saturday afternoon, don’t you think?

Anyway, a long time ago, after a continuous and rather frustrating experience, as a business traveller, of delayed flights, missing them altogether for whatever the reason or just about whatever other complication, one gets to learn that no matter how angry or upset you get about things, never mind picking up useless arguments with people, the delay is still going to be there, or if the flight is cancelled, there is nothing you can do at all either. So I tried to make the most out of my afternoon at Madrid airport and I think I reached the conclusion I need to pick up another one of my hobbies from all along that, lately, I had it almost abandoned: Read fiction. And a lot of it! Specially, when you are stuck at the airport with a bunch of hours before your next flight takes off.

I love reading. I have always enjoyed it quite a bit, even when I was a whole lot younger and perhaps my mind should have busier with something else. However, as of late, perhaps in the last few years, I have neglected reading fiction for far too long, focusing, almost exclusively, around business reading, specially, around the top of the Social Web and the Social Enterprise. My iPad Kindle is ful with books around these business topics, and while I was listening to Spotify on my iPhone (Something for which I am very very grateful, since it made for a wonderful afternoon listening to some of my favourite #elsuastunes), I realised I didn’t have enough fiction materials. And, funny enough, while I was pondering about that and sharing the odd tweet here and there (Guess that’s what happens when you get stuck and bored at the same time!), a good friend of mine, Rogelio Pérez-Bustamante, gave me a quick phone call where we talked for a little bit.

I tell you, things don’t happen just like that, without any purpose. There is always one. You just have got to go, figure out and find it! And seize the opportunity. For this time around, Rogelio actually told me that a rather good friend of his, Ernesto Uría, was just about to present live, this coming week, at 19:00pm CEDT on Tuesday, at the Ámbito Cultural of El Corte Inglés, a new book of delightful short stories under the suggestive title “Ficciones y Aflicciones” (“Fictions and Woes”). The book is in Spanish, and I have yet to find a copy of it for my iPad Kindle or buy it at the recently launched over here, in Spain, Amazon. But right there, while I was talking to him and he was sharing with me plenty of his notes about the short book, and how much he enjoyed it, I just realised I needed to read more fiction. It would have made for a fantastic and delightful afternoon, right there, if I did have a copy of Ernesto’s book and read through it. Somehow it just hit me.

You know, with all of the stuff that’s happening out there, in our now more complex than ever world, a world in where we all know, and are starting to realise, that things would never be the same anymore, it still pays off to have some brilliant fiction reading sitting right next to you, whispering in your ear, enticing you to leave everything behind, “pick up” the book, and start reading, letting your mind do the rest. Yes, indeed, I do need to read more fiction, I do need to find a way to evade myself from being stuck at the airport for so long and don’t feel much into business reading, really (Hey, it was the weekend, remember?!).

But it gets better, because while I had been pondering and musing further on about it all, and perhaps re-start that fiction reading with a splash and get a copy of Ernesto’s book, Rogelio shared with me the speech he himself is going to deliver on Tuesday’s public presentation of “Ficciones y Aflicciones” (“Fictions and Woes”). And goodness! Right there, it blew my mind away! What a surprising, refreshing and staggeringly good read! It’s just 8 pages long, but I can tell you they will certainly trigger that inner urge to want to know more. To get busy and start reading Ernesto’s book right away! Yes, I know, I know, you would probably be expecting by now to have a disclaimer or something, right? Well, here it is. Rogelio is a good friend who is now just starting to dive into this whole world of the Social Web and social networks; we have been having a bunch of conversations on why social networking is taking everything by storm, and how it is changing us all as a society altogether, and I can tell you his opinions about this financial crisis, as well as what he thinks of Europe, would probably make for one of the most fascinating reads out there on the Spanish blogosphere… Not to worry, I’m working on that! I mean, helping him out get his own blog going 😉

The truth is that I hardly know Ernesto (Here is a short, but rather good interview with him, in Spanish, if you would want to read more about him and his work), but you know how it goes, the friends of my good friends are also my friends, so pick perhaps this unusual blog entry with a pinch of salt or two, or, better, go and get a copy of the book and then let me know whether you like it or not. From what I have been talking to Rogelio about it, he just confirmed it would be one that I would enjoy to dive, back again, into the world of reading fiction. And after reading his opening speech, I would probably have to agree with him on it… Ohhh, and he’s been rather generous to allow me to publish it over here, before the book’s public launch on Tuesday. So go and grab a copy of it, in Spanish, at this link and start reading. You will enjoy it!

See? This is probably what happens when you have far too much idle time in your hands, and brain!, on a Saturday afternoon, while being stuck at an airport for a few hours, wanting to find a way to successfully escape, for a while, from everything that’s happened around you. And somehow, yesterday’s experience has confirmed as well that perhaps every odd weekend I may post another entry on something rather unusual, not very much related to the topics I usually cover over here in my blog. They may make up for some interesting and serendipitous new findings and somehow I am starting to feel I may be enjoying it quite a bit! Hopefully, you, too, folks!

(I will let you know, by the way, what I thought about the book itself myself, once I get my hands on a hard copy, but guess what’s going to be the first thing I’m going to be suggesting Ernesto pretty soon… Indeed, where is the eBook for me iPad Kindle? :-D)

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