E L S U A ~ A KM Blog Thinking Outside The Inbox by Luis Suarez

General Interest

How Do I Make Sense of Social Networking Tools

Gran Canaria - Maspalomas Sunset

In one of my earlier blog posts from last week, I got asked the following question: “So, what we all want to know is what have you been doing and what/where can we find you in the future?” and while I will be answering the first part over the course of time with the various blog entries I’m currently drafting along, I thought for today I’d focus on trying to answer the second part: how do I make sense of social networking tools today? More than anything else because I realise that my heavy use of social tools has shifted over the course of the years, and I guess I’m not the only one having gone through pretty much the same, and even more so since I went independent nearly two years ago. So it’s probably a good time now to revisit where do I get most of my learning nowadays and what digital tools do I rely on, or not, to get my daily work done. 

Every year Jane Hart does this absolutely wonderful exercise of putting together the Top 100 Tools for Learning (here’s the list for 2015 as a highly recommended read), and while I won’t be listing my Top 100 I will definitely try to put together some thoughts as to where I usually hang out nowadays, what I stopped using and why, and what I’m currently working on, specially, a very specific experiment that’s caused quite a stir over a month and a half ago, although that would be the story of the next blog post… 

So, here are my Top Learning Tools (for now), where ‘work is learning, learning is the work’, that my good friend Harold Jarche would say and that he wrote back in the day in a beautiful article. Mind you, it’s not a full list, since, to me, context is what defines what I will use at one point or another, so that very same context is what will define a whole bunch of other digital tools I make use of, often enough, but for very specific reasons. There may well be a time where I’ll write about them, specially, in the mobility scenario when both my iPhone and iPad Air have become my not so new anymore workplace. 

  • IBM Connections: Even though I left IBM nearly 2 years ago IBM Connections still remains my #1 business tool for work with my clients, specially, when they ask me their data to remain within the European Union borders. And IBM Connections Cloud does that beautifully. You know what some folks say, you need to be able to walk the talk, so if the vast majority of my clients are on IBM Connections at the moment, I better make good use of it as well so we can co-create together some really cool stuff along the way to help out with their own Digital Transformation journey(s).
  • Slack:  For all of the work I get to do with other clients, work groups, project teams, small niche networks on a given topic where I usually hang out on a daily basis, etc. Slack does the trick. And very much so! I truly heart it. In fact, any business tool that aims to improve both the way we communicate AND collaborate AND kill email in the process will always have my full attention. Slack has it. I use it for everything, as a personal knowledge sharing hub, as my operating system, and a whole lot more than just chat. In an upcoming blog entry I will explain plenty more how I make use of it on a daily basis, but for those of you who may be new to it, check out this stunning article put together by my good friend Thomas van der Wal that pretty much explains the nuts and bolts of what it is, what it does and why you would need to pay attention to it pretty soon, if not today already.
  • Twitter: From the Social Web, Twitter still remains my #1 tool for networking, for socialising, for (personal) learning, for getting a good sense of the pulse of the planet and, eventually, my preferred method of meeting up new people (whether online or after face to face conversations) and for social selling. Mostly accessed through Tweetbot (whether on iOS or Mac), is where I spend most of my online time on social networks today, even more so nowadays after nearly 6 weeks of running a rather fascinating experiment that’s certainly helped me challenge the status quo of how we all use it. Next blog post will talk about it in more detail, but here’s the gist of it: imagine no-one follows you on Twitter; now imagine if *you* don’t follow anyone on Twitter either, would you still use it? [Hint: Yes, I surely do!]
  • Google Plus: I wasn’t really sure whether to include G+ on this blog post, or not, initially, even though it’s one of the most powerful social networking tools out there that I have been exposed to in the last few years. However, lately, I am having a bit of a hate relationship with it witnessing, first hand, how it’s started cannibalising itself removing what once were really helpful and nifty features or splitting itself up in multiple parts (Hangouts, Photos, etc.). Some people call it re-focus. I call it, not knowing what to do with it when there isn’t a company directive in place showcasing commitment to it while listening and engaging with the community of practitioners who make it what it is today. So I continue to question its purpose and my overall use of it. I wouldn’t like it, at all, if, after 4 years of regular use, it would fall apart for good. I have gone through that path far too many times with other social tools and it’s never been pretty. One gets to learn, mostly, the hard way and, in this case, I want to do a bit of damage control this time around till things clear themselves a bit more.
  • Instagram: Ok, I confess. I still make use of some Apps from the darker side of the Social Web. In this case, Instagram. I’m totally hooked up with it and while I know and I fully understand I’m playing with the evil Facebook I don’t think I can escape from it any time soon. More than anything else because of something that Jason Fried also described quite nicely on this particularly interesting and refreshing blog post of what the original Open Social Web was supposed to be: ‘The important feel is how it makes *you* feel’… Oh, yes, using IG makes me feel good! Read Jason’s article and you will understand fully what I mean. 
  • Flickr: Despite being described as Zombie Land, it still is the main repository for the vast majority of my pictures shared across online through multiple other venues, including the source of imagery for this very same blog. And the almost daily reminder of what the Social Web was all about back in the day. Openness. Earlier on this year, it marked my 10th year anniversary as a very happy Flickr user, which means it’s the longest running social networking tool I have been using on the Internet and I don’t think I will be abandoning it any time soon. Even if just for nostalgic purposes.
  • WordPress Blog: Yes, I know, it’s not the first time we hear about the death of blogging mostly due to social networking tools, and it probably won’t be the last either, but even then, 21 years on, blogging still is a thing. More alive and kicking than ever before and perhaps still one of the most delightful self-empowering tools to help you build your digital brand over the course of the years that’s available out there, as I have been blogging about for a good while now. Later on, in October, I’ll be celebrating the 10th year anniversary of this blog and towards early December my 13th year overall of blogging since I first started my corporate blog back in 2002. 13 years of self-publishing online can give you tons of opportunities to build your own voice and writing style and eventually the perfect opportunity to keep demonstrating your thought leadership, expertise and abilities day in day out, year after year. That’s the reason why I came back to blogging after this year’s long hiatus. And why I am still in love with this medium.
  • WhatsApp and Telegram (Messaging Apps): Ok, confession #2: I still make use of some Apps from the darker side of the Social Web. In this case, WhatsApp for messaging purposes. I keep using it both for work and for personal use as it helps me keep in touch with some of my clients, business partners, family and loved ones. And when folks don’t want to make use of WhatsApp, because, you know, after all, it’s still Facebook, I basically switch to Telegram, which is an extremely decent substitute doing a really good job at it! If you already have my business mobile number, and don’t want to give me a call, but still get in touch for whatever reason, using either of those Apps will guarantee you a very speedy response from yours truly.
  • Skype / Hangouts (Instant Messaging): These are, currently, the main two options I still keep using, mostly on my desktop, for real-time, online communications. Good old Instant Messaging, and although I still rely somewhat on Skype, slowly, but, steadily, I am moving, mostly, into Hangouts, specially, for audio and video conversations where both quality and performance seem to be way better than Skype’s. So, if you need to get hold of me to check something quickly, and you may not have Twitter readily available to do so, reaching out through Hangouts IM is probably the best option to get hold of me, as I am also starting to use it much more often while I’m on the road on my phone. 
  • YouTube: No, don’t worry, I’m not one of those very talented YouTubers who earns their living making YouTube videos, although you never know. I have been known to do even way crazier things than that! But I still make use of it every now and then. Mostly through Google Hangouts on Air for the #noemail vodcasting series I’m currently co-hosting with the wonderful and rather smart Claire Burge). At the time I’m writing this we already have got 16 different episodes now in the books that we host every two weeks where we are trying to change the world to transition from #toomuchemail to #lessemail to #noemail altogether. Thus if you want to learn further more how to break free from the email yoke, or learn, at the same time, how other 2.0 practitioners (guest speakers), businesses and organisations have finally broken free, go and have a watch. I bet you will enjoy it.
  • Haiku Deck: I know, I know, while most folks are perhaps making heavy use of Slideshare to share their presentations online for whatever the speaking or customer engagement, I’m a rebel at heart, an outlier, so, instead, I use Haiku Deck. And I quite like it! You know, when putting together a presentation, most of the times the words are already there, somewhere inside one’s head, but not necessarily the imagery, so having such a superb tool as Haiku Deck to put images to your words and build your story line makes it a whole lot easier. So, if you want to check out some of the recent public presentations I have done at various events, that’s where you will find them. Not in Slideshare anymore, I am afraid.
  • Reeder: Of course, I still use RSS feeds. Daily. Remember them? Everyone thought that when Google terminated Google Reader that RSS newsfeeds would die a slow and painful death. Not likely! Quite the opposite, most probably. Gosh, while putting together this article, I realise I’m being very nostalgic by making use of social software tools that, in most cases, are considered pretty much dead, but, then again, there they are alive and kicking. RSS newsfeeds is another one to add into that pile. Yet, they are so critically and fundamentally important to curate content stored all over the Web that not only would you want to read, but also re-share over the course of time. That’s how I use my RSS feeds at the moment: for curation purposes. The reading part is mostly done when I’m disconnected, specially, when travelling for a good number of hours on plains, trains, etc. etc. That’s where Reeder kicks in as my preferred Mac App as newsfeed reader.

    Ohhh, and when I am online Twitter becomes my living, rather dynamic, and collaboratively filtered RSS newsfeed.

  • Pocket: And talking about reading content offline, curating it accordingly, and overall enjoy a superb user experience, that’s why I use Pocket and why I’m such a huge fan of it. In an upcoming blog post I will share a productivity tip of how I make use of Twitter (Through Tweetbot) and Pocket to curate an outstanding list of links I then re-share here and there into my Twitter stream over the course of time, once I have processed them. Pocket is like your extended urge to want to read all of the really cool tidbits shared across with you but not have the time right there, right then to do it. Will read it later takes a completely new meaning: Pocket.
  • Trello / Asana: For task management purposes, and where work items don’t usually take place elsewhere there are two options out there, out of perhaps far too many!, that keep dragging me back. Both Trello and Asana are the main social tools I use when I need to get work done with multiple people who may not have chosen a particular tool to keep track of those tasks. Whenever I ask if folks are familiar with either of them, the answer I get back, time and time again, is they are familiar with one or the other, or both, which makes it really easy. Mind you, they are not the only task management tools that I use, but they are definitely the ones I keep using the most in a collaborative manner. Effective Group Task Management, if you wish to call it that way.
  • Spotify: And, finally, one of my all time favourite productivity tools, which I know is going to sound very weird, pun intended, but, hey, you will know what I mean with that after you read this bunch of rather suggestive and thought-provoking articles on the power of music for getting work done, and not just to listen to it leisurely. And, yes, from all of the online / streaming services available out there, Spotify Premium is the one that does the trick for me, whether on my Mac, my iPad Air or my phone (usually, when I’m travelling or working out). 

After having gone through that list, I am pretty certain you may have noticed how there are number of different social software tools out there, some of the bit hitters, to some extent, that I haven’t mentioned above on my list of Top Learning Tools and there is a good reason for that. In fact, multiple reasons, so I thought I would mention a few usual suspects to close off this blog entry with a single liner, or two, as to why I’m no longer using them anymore or why they haven’t had enough traction to make me want to use them in the first place. Hopefully, that will help folks understand why they can’t, and won’t, find me there any time soon… So here we go: 

  • eMail: Yes, for those of you who have known me over the years, this one still is a no brainer. I’m still the #noemail guy. The think #outsidetheinbox lad who nearly 8 years ago decided to ditch email for work once and for all and still going strong at it. I know, it’s been over 18 months since the last blog post I shared across over here on the topic with some updates, but, over time, I’ll be sharing some more details, not to worry. For now, suffice to say that ever since I left my former employer, IBM, where I was averaging 16 emails received per week, and went independent, as a freelance adviser on Social Business and Digital Transformation, I’m now down to 5, yes!, I know, FIVE emails received per week, which, to me, that’s pretty much just that: #noemail.
  • Facebook: Apparently, everyone seems to be flocking away from Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and what not, and return back to the borg: Facebook, in this case, because, apparently, that’s where everyone is getting the most engagement at the moment. I’m sorry to disappoint those of you who are eagerly waiting for me to come back to it. It won’t happen. It’s not the kind of Social Web I want to live in and spend my time on and after having deleted my account in there over 5 years ago, it’s one of those decisions I don’t regret a single day. Even if it were the last and only social networking tool out there I still wouldn’t come back to it. Some times, you need to make a stand for what you believe in and somehow both Facebook and myself have got different beliefs at this point in time that are irreconcilable. If you are a frequent user, I’m pretty sure you know which ones at this stage. 
  • LinkedIn: Pretty much the very same thing as what I mentioned for Facebook above. Although it’s been nearly 18 months since I deleted my LinkedIn account, there isn’t a chance I will be coming back to it any time soon. Like I said, some times you need to make a stand in terms of the kind of Social Web you would want to live and thrive in and LI isn’t one of those places for me. And the same would apply to Slideshare, Pulse, and everything else that LI may contaminate over time.
  • Medium: No, thanks! I already have a lovely online publishing home where most of my articles will continue to become available over time, and that’s my personal business blog. No matter how beautiful someone else’s home may well be, your own home will always be special. It’s yours, no one else’s. Whatever happens, it will always remain your unadulterated, open window, your voice, to the world and that matters. A lot.
  • Tumblr: Same thing as for Medium. Just because you have pretty good looks and a good, decent user experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll grant you the pleasure of hosting my own content, just in case, after a while, you decide to shut down, like Posterous did back in the day, for instance. Remember? I think I learned my lessons here.  
  • Ello: I tried it and I failed, for the very same reasons as Medium and Tumblr. 
  • Meerkat & Periscope: Unfortunately, I live in a part of the world where free wifi is everything but pervasive and widely available and my mobile data has got a monthly cap of a ridiculous 2GB at a rather pricey tag, so as long as Europe doesn’t enter the 21st century in terms of pervasive, inexpensive connectivity across the entire region, I’ll be staying away from those two. For my own sanity and wallet. 
  • Snapchat: I am not enough hipster to have an account in there, I have been told, so I am staying away and probably for a good while, since I have never bought into the idea of content disappearing just like that into oblivion for no apparent reason.

I am pretty sure there are tons of other social software tools, apps and services out there I’m missing from including in this blog entry that you think I should have a presence in. Well, I might as well have it already, since I have a tendency to claim my brand name in them early in the game, but perhaps I don’t regularly use it, because I haven’t found a specific reason for it, which was the main purpose of writing this article in the first place: to give you all a glimpse of where I spend most of my online time nowadays when making heavy use of social / digital tools not just to get work done, but also to keep learning, with plenty of sensemaking, along the way. #PKMastery, as Harold Jarche himself blogged about a while ago, as one of the must-have 21st century digital skills.

If you feel there is a social software tool I should be aware of to start making use of it, feel free to comment below your suggestion and perhaps share with us the why as well. Somehow one thing I have learned over time is that I have stopped making use of social tools without having a clear purpose about what to get out of them. Because just using them for the sake of using them not only is it boring, but it won’t take you / us anywhere.

Finding the right purpose (for each!) is where the magic happens. For the rest, life is just too short!

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A New Beginning…

Gran Canaria - Maspalomas Dunes at Sunset

After having gone through the longest blogging hiatus I can remember in the 13 years of regular posting I have done through multiple blogs, I guess I can now say it’s a good time for a hard reset. A new start. After all, it’s been nearly 8 months since the last article I put together over here and it just feels very weird. Like I am no longer the person who used to write over here regularly back in the day. Like I have lost? both my blogging voice and style. Like something has been missing and it’s now a good time to, finally, get it back. It does feel like a reboot of sorts, I must confess. An opportunity to perhaps resume my blogging mojo right on the brink of celebrating the 10th year anniversary of this blog later on this year and, this time around, make it stick. But will I be able to though? Will I be capable of coming back in full force to one of my all time favourite Social Web related activities? I don’t know, who knows… At this point in time though, it just feels like an exciting new beginning … and one which I have been waiting for, apparently, a long long time… 

The thing is throughout all of these recent past months I have missed blogging a great deal. Writing in the long form is an art, no matter what people tell you about it otherwise. At times, it did feel as if part of my extended brain decided to live a slow and rather painful death, without asking for help, since the motivation to come back has been pretty much intact all along, but both my work as a freelancer and my personal life had other plans, week after week, month after month, till today. I am rusty though. I can feel it. Big time. Words that once used to come out pretty easily no longer do so. Now I have to think twice, or even thrice, before a sentence comes out and makes sense. I guess my muscle brain is no longer used to writing in the long form and snacking around on social networking sites is, finally, taking its toll. It needs to stop. I need to stop it and focus back on writing more long-form. And this time around make it work, if anything, for my own sake and sanity 😉

A new beginning, indeed! That’s what it feels like at the moment. Both terrifying and exciting at the same time. A reboot where I may need to re-discover both my, long lost, blogging voice and style. One blog post at a time. Paragraph by paragraph, step by step, figuring out whether I’m still made up of that thing we used to call bloggers, or not. Remember how we used to introduce ourselves back in the good old days before social networking tools kicked in? 

I want to come back to blogging. I really do. I have been missing it more than whatever I could have anticipated it in the past and I just can’t explain anymore why it took me so long to come back. I simply have run out of excuses to try to explain it, even for myself. And I have kept failing miserably day in day out. It’s been quite a surreal experience overall to have blogged for nearly 13 years and spend nearly 8 months now with nothing at all. Like taking a sabbatical of sorts, although it’s now time to come back. Can I say I lost the way? Can I say I desperately want to get it back? Will I be capable of getting it back? Will I find the path again to blogging on a regular basis? Or will that same path re-find me again? 

I don’t know. I seriously don’t have the faintest of ideas, but I am certainly going to give it a try. Why not? At this point in time there are far many more questions than answers I can offer popping inside my head and perhaps the only thing I can do is dive right in, have a play, unlearn, relearn and iterate again and see where it would take me. Something tells me the person who used to blog over here on a regular basis before the beginning of this year is someone completely different to who I am today. I sense things will be quite different. Substantially different. We’ll have to find out, eventually. But, at the same time, I’m pretty excited about coming back and resume this blogging journey into the unknown. As you can imagine, I have got tons of stuff I would want to write about. Loads of ideas, experiences, insights, things I am doing for both work and in my personal life and somehow I feel I’m just going back to basics, to that nerve-wrecking experience of online publishing with intent, to the bare essentials of what blogging was all about when I first got started nearly 13 years ago: Start now and write! 

Oh, and keep writing over and over again. Never, ever, stop writing in the long-form! No matter how good and nurturing the snacking around through social networking sites may well have been so far. It’s now a good time to go for the whole meal without forgetting the lovely dessert, of course!

I am ready, are you?

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#Movistar – The Only Boss You Need to Pay Attention To

No Internet ConnectionHere I am, once again, incredibly frustrated and very irritated I got disconnected from the Internet last week Friday, as I blew up my monthly data allowance on my mobile phone for the zillionth time over the course of last few weeks. I got a bit tired of asking friends to use their wifi again and again, so I could continue with my day to day work routines, never mind as well embarrassing myself showing up at a local coffee shop time and time again while the monthly bill keeps getting more and more expensive with all of the additional beverages. Oh well, one more week to go… Indeed, one more week to go before Movistar finally shares some mercy upon myself and decides to treat this customer with some decency by hooking up both my landline and ADSL connection after nearly 2.5 months of much anticipated wait. I just can’t count the days anymore… 

Indeed, I just can’t count the days after having endured such level of sheer incompetence and utterly appalling customer service while earlier on today I had a chance to reflect and muse on a conversation I had with a very good friend of mine, back at the beginning of 2014, as I was just getting started with my new adventure as an independent advisor around Social Business and Digital Transformation where we talked, rather extensively, about what it is like being a freelancer in today’s more complex than ever working environment. 

I trust his judgement quite a bit, since he has been a freelancer himself in the IT industry for over 35 years and still going strong, so when we, finally, had a chance to talk through Skype, I knew it was going to be a rather intense, massively entertaining, hugely enlightening and incredibly helpful learning experience. And, boy, it surely was! We talked about lots of things about what to expect and what not, about what may work and what may not. We talked extensively of what it is like living in this brave new world of uncertainty and make the most out of it, but if there was a single point of discussion I truly cherished (even to today) as one of my key learning highlights from 2014 was the subject of who my new boss would be from there onwards, now I was no longer a salaried employee at a large big corporation. 

We had a good laugh when, as we got started with that conversation, I mentioned to him how in my last project with my former employer at one point I had up to 11 different management lines before I could reach out to the top, that is, the CEO of the company. And of those 11 different bosses I often found myself having to report to several chains of command to keep them in the loop of what I was doing for my day to day work. Never mind how things would have been much much different if they themselves would have been working out loud,  narrating their work (just as I was!), instead of being stuck in their own email Inboxes. Oh well, that’s a story for another blog post coming up on the incredibly inspiring and rather refreshing egalitarian power of social networking tools in helping knowledge workers ignore the hierarchy, flatten the organisation in order to get work done more effectively. 

The thing is this good friend of mine mentioned how, despite the uncertainty that will be now part of my daily life, plenty of things will become a lot simpler in terms of figuring out who my new boss may well be from there onwards. The only one I would need to pay attention to. A surprising and rather refreshing change even, because, in his words, my new boss as a freelancer and independent advisor is no longer my organisation, whatever that may well be, as the traditional hierarchy disappears into thin air since that artificial construct is no longer needed, nor relevant. My new boss is not going to be my fellow peers / colleagues / social networks or what not, not even perhaps the so-called influencers in the market, vendors, analysts, business partners and whatever other groupings, but, eventually, and right to the heart of the matter, my boss would be the one and only to care for and delight to no end: my customer(s).

Wise words, indeed. Who would have thought about that, right? I mean, if you go out there and ask a few people to tell you who their boss is I bet “My customer(s)” is probably going to be the very last answer you are most likely going to hear. And yet it’s the only one that we should be caring about. The only one that matters. The one we all keep coming back to work for every morning doing what we love doing: serving our clients with a delightful experience and, of course, in a timely manner. 

Right at that moment, while we were still conversing and enjoying very much the ongoing dialogue, I realised that sentiment of my customer(s) as my new boss(es) will become my new mantra ever since I went independent and I have never gone back. As a result, and almost after a year going by, I have had the enormous privilege and true honour of having worked with some pretty amazing and rather smart clients who throughout our interactions in 2014 (and beginning of this year already!) have helped me grow not only in a professional level, but also on a personal level. Who knew? 

Who knew that bosses / managers could have that effect on you? Who knew that perhaps in the traditional big corporate world we may have had the wrong end of the stick all along? I mean, how many of you folks out there would consider your immediate boss today your customer and not the individual you are directly, or indirectly, reporting to? I am certain not many. The thing is that you may be thinking that since you don’t have an external job to focus on, specially if you are not in sales or marketing, you really don’t have any customers to worry about, as you may be working in internal projects. But how about if we got it all wrong right from the beginning? You see? We are all providing a service, whether internal and / or external, and as service providers everyone that we are serving then becomes our customer and therefore our new boss. Imagine if we could all get to ignore everything else and just focus on the customer as your new manager. 

Well, here I am thinking what that may have been like over the course of the last 2.5 months when I first requested a service from Movistar where I wanted to transfer my already existing landline and ADSL I got contracted with them and move it to my new home place, 10 minutes away from the old one. As a service provider you would expect they would go the extra mile for their new boss to provide him with a delightful experience, don’t you think? Yet, apparently, they have been looking elsewhere, inwards, stuck in their paperwork, without resources, providing everything but a delightful client experience. More of a nightmare, if I may add. And perhaps that’s been part my fault as well for not stressing out deep enough the impact I have been suffering from their disservice, as I have no longer been able to carry on with my day to day knowledge Web work activities, losing several opportunities already of incoming revenue in the last two months and still counting…

Last week Friday I cancelled one of the many services I had contracted with Movistar for a good few years. Perhaps that’s how I should have made myself heard right from the start vs. patiently awaiting for them to look outside vs. inwards. It won’t be the last one. Currently, I am compiling the various different services I have got contracted with them and over the course of the next few days / weeks / months I will be terminating each and every one of them. I guess I will be firing them all away! I have been saying for a good while now how employee disengagement is a rather serious business problem to tackle in today’s corporate world. Mostly induced by disengaged managers, if you look deep enough into it beyond the initial marketing hype currently going on. 

So when your loyal customer, i.e. your new boss, actively disengages away from you by cancelling service after service, due to your rather poor and devastating skills about proper customer service, I guess it’s time now for you to figure out what’s happening, look around, go outside, engage in a meaningful conversation where you can work harder to solve their business problem(s) and see how you may be able, perhaps, to re-engage them back. If ever. If you still care, that is. 

The clock is ticking… It has been already for a good few weeks and this customer, yours truly, is just about to have enough of being your boss really, my dear Movistar. Thus, what do you think? Time for us to depart ways and move on? Well, it’s up to you… Like I said, the clock is ticking and I just might be waiting for your response to re-engage me back. You know what needs to be done and, this time around, in case you may not have noticed it, there is a deadline.

Friday, January 16th, 2015. 


Written by Luis Suarez

Chief Emergineer and People Enabler. A well seasoned Social / Open Business evangelist and 2.0 practitioner with over 15 years of experience on knowledge management, collaboration, learning, online communities and social networking for business; and has been living, since February 2008, a (work) life without email challenging the status quo of how knowledge workers collaborate and share their knowledge by promoting openness, transparency, trust, sustainable growth, engagement, connectedness and overall smart work. He can also be contacted over in Twitter at @elsua or Google Plus.

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#Movistar – The Cost of Lying to Your Customers

No Internet ConnectionToday is, officially, my first day at work for 2015 after the Christmas holidays. I am writing officially on purpose, because after 61 days I am still waiting for Movistar (That Queen Between that always wants to get paid, but fails to deliver on customer service big time!) to come by my new place and install both the landline and the ADSL connection, so I can resume my knowledge Web work I have been forced to put into a halt for over 2 months now. Latest news I have from the fire extinguishing community management team at Movister_es on Twitter is that they will finally make an appearance (or so I am hoping!) on January 16th. Yet no-one from the technical team has contacted me to confirm that appointment. Instead, they seem to have mastered the skill of lying to this customer left and right throughout all of that time to the point where, at long last, it will have a price to pay: my loyalty.

Or, perhaps, even worse, my trust. After all, how can I ever possibly trust my local telco / ISP again for helping me carry on with my job as an independent freelancer (autónomo, in Spain), working remotely from his home office, when they have locked me down for all of this time without a single apology or concern about the huge impact they have incurred upon this family where I am the solely source of income at the moment. And, instead, they take the route of lying day in day out as it is their business as usual modus operandi. It’s always been.

From 5 to 20 days to get it all sorted out, initially, to another 5 to 20 days to finally get it done and dealt with, to December 29th, to now January 16th (Perhaps?), all along I have been told they would make it all happen relatively fast. Yet, 61 days later I am still waiting… But that’s not the worst bit of it all, because earlier by mid-November last year I got a phone call (One of the many pointless interactions I have had so far!) from a rather helpful and supportive lady telling me they have acknowledged the request to transfer the phone / ADSL line and that it will be taking place by mid-January.

Yes, MID-JANUARY 2015!! So why bother with all the lying to this loyal, faithful 11 year long customer over the course of weeks through regular Twitter Mentions & DMs, phone calls, SMS messages and what not if right along from the start *you* knew exactly when it will all be addressed and fixed and since it was going to take over 2.5 months of rage, angst, impatience and unsettling unhappiness all around for yours truly I guess it was better to lie to this customer in order to tame the frustration. Bollocks! 

Let me tell you something, my dear Movistar, if you keep claiming you happen to be a people to people business, i.e. a successful Social Business, one who cares about their clients and their needs, about your own employees and their well being, one who aims at changing the landscape of B2C (if there ever was such a thing like that!), one who simply cares, there is one little thing you may want to add to your vocabulary from now onwards: never lie to your customers. Be willing to engage in a two-way, meaningful, open, transparent conversation where you are willing to acknowledge the shortcomings of your already appalling customer service, so that you might be able to spark that sentiment of empathy you now have long lost from yours truly, because you just weren’t ready to face the reality: you are everything BUT a social business. Sad state of things, really, if you can’t handle the simple fundamentals of what it is like being an Open Business through openness, trust and authenticity.

Yes, it’s going to take me about 2.5 months to get back on track and be connected to the Internet, once again, thanks to you, Movistar. In the mean time, I can tell you I have gone through some rather interesting and colourful times that will make me remember you not very fondly for a long while, but, right now, there is just something out there for you to worry about quite a bit more: my trust in you and your services, because if you cared about your customers and keep aiming at building one’s trust in you, I can now confirm you have totally lost mine and it will take you a substantial amount of time AND effort to repair it.

I know for sure though you won’t even think a single time in investing your always lacking resources. Why should you, right? After all, who am I? I am just A customer. One of the many millions you keep saying you are serving to the point of delight, but fail quite remarkably at it time and time again by ignoring their own needs and wants, just because you feel we should be obliged to you for offering the service of being connected to the Internet. According to you, it should be our privilege to be your customer, like we owe it to you, but, alas, you know what?, at this point in time, that trust and loyalty from yours truly you have accumulated over the course of over a decade is now lost and long gone forever to the point where you will now become a primer example of what a so-called social business should not be doing at all. You are the perfect case of the anti-social business mindset. Your weakness? Not the lack of resources, nor the lack of customer service skills and know-how while trying to fix your customers’ problems, but something much more fundamental and key to every single Open Business: never *ever* lie to your customers

You know, they will eventually find out. I just did. 


Written by Luis Suarez

Chief Emergineer and People Enabler. A well seasoned Social / Open Business evangelist and 2.0 practitioner with over 15 years of experience on knowledge management, collaboration, learning, online communities and social networking for business; and has been living, since February 2008, a (work) life without email challenging the status quo of how knowledge workers collaborate and share their knowledge by promoting openness, transparency, trust, sustainable growth, engagement, connectedness and overall smart work. He can also be contacted over in Twitter at @elsua or Google Plus.

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#Movistar Killed the Web Star

No Internet ConnectionImagine if all of a sudden you decide to embark on an experiment where you try to figure out what it would be like to live without access to the Internet over a certain period of time not only for your day to day work, but also for your personal life. Complete switch-off from everything online. Would you be able to do it? And, if so, for how long? Imagine if that experiment then turns out to be, eventually, the worst of nightmares as it becomes your new reality and for much longer than you anticipated and your work that depends on it (as a knowledge (Web) worker) goes into an unpleasant halt you just can’t get out of any time soon. Would you be able to hold it for any much longer? Well, don’t imagine, that’s the story I’ve been going through myself in the last few weeks as I got to experience, first hand, and in full force, how Movistar killed the Web Star.

There are times where one’s patience starts to run out. You know, you try really hard to be patient, you always aim for doing your very best at it, but you still run out of it nevertheless no matter what. Well, mine just did. And it is not pretty. Reality kicks in. After 52 days (Yes! 52 days exactly today!) of waiting for my local telco / ISP provider, Movistar (Telefónica), to, finally, get their act together and transfer the old existing landline and ADSL connection to my new home place in another town I can now confirm how Movistar itself treats over 10 years of customer loyalty: really sorry, but it looks like you are pretty much screwed and we just can’t care less for you nor your working needs. Tough luck. 

See? That’s what Queen Betweens do. Or, basically, what single monopolies tend to do over the course of time: squeeze their customers to no end charging them through the roof for their own profit for services you can’t use fully by constantly ignoring your needs while providing you with everything but a delightful experience. More of a horrifying experience, if I may add. Why? Because they can. Because they can’t care less about who you are, what you do, what your needs and wants may well be or what the potential consequences of their exponential incompetence at failing to provide what they themselves call “good” customer service may well be. They don’t. They can’t. They won’t. Ever. 52 days and counting…

This is the story of a 10 year long loyal customer of a local, nationwide, telco provider who has had just about enough of being treated like utter crap, mostly because, you know, I am just A customer. Like any other customer. So who cares, right? I am just incredibly easy to ignore and delight accordingly, apparently. Remember those good old times from over the course of last 2 to 3 years when plenty of businesses have been pouring down our throats their lovely marketing messages about how we are living in a hyper connected, always-on, digital mobile world where businesses can now provide individualised and incredibly customised excelling experiences to clients based on their needs and wants? Well, let me tell you something: what a bunch of bollocks! At least, for Movistar, as it’s taken them over 50 days (and still counting!) to accommodate the needs of one of their many customers. And the answer I keep getting back is that the issues will be sorted out really soon. 52 days later, *nothing* has happened other than being charged over 250€ for a set of services I just don’t have. Not even a single “We’re sorry for the inconvenience” coming through!

The thing is that I am not A customer. I mean, if I were a client who may not have had an urging need to use the Web and the telephone as his primary means of income and revenue, I would probably be ok without the phone nor the Internet for nearly 2 months. The thing though is that I *am* a knowledge Web worker and, as such, I pretty much *live* on the Web. I do have a constant need to be hyper connected, always online, so I can carry out work with clients, wherever and whenever they may well be, while collaborating and sharing our knowledge together over the (Social) Web. Yet, I can’t, because Movistar, apparently, after 10 years of being loyal to them, still doesn’t know me, nor my needs or requirements to conduct knowledge Web work. Yes, apparently, 10 years aren’t enough to get to know who your customers really are. Troubling, really. And frustrating to no end!

The end result? Me losing customers (and revenue!!) every single day gone by so far! With the move to the new home, and as some kind of cruel punishment by Movistar inflicted upon myself for wanting to start a new life (You can probably sense now how frustrating things can get when you are excited about moving to a new home, but yet you can’t work at it as I’ve done over the last 12 years as a remote worker!), I have lost the opportunity to constantly keep working on the pipeline for 2015 for new work, which was the original plan for this month, December, for yours truly. I have also lost the opportunity to continue working with current clients because we just can’t hold up any kind of knowledge work like collaborating remotely through digital tools, video conferencing, conference calls, etc. etc. Everything is on a stand still, except for paying bills, of course. Even those to Movistar itself for a service they keep failing to provide across for nearly two months now. 

The thing is that in terms of remote customer support through Twitter, SMS messages, phone calls and what not, the client experience has been incredibly delightful. The fire extinguishing activities keep mounting up by the day and the folks behind @Movistar_es keep doing a good job in taming and containing my patience from turning into rage, although lately, the responses and keeping me up in the loop is starting to fall behind, probably because they are getting just as tired and frustrated as I am right now as we speak for not seeing the issues getting sorted out any time soon. Bless them for the superb piece of work they are doing in camouflaging the utterly crappy service Movistar is providing to this customer at the moment. Bless them for totally understanding my problem, or so they tell me, of not being connected and losing revenue day in day out, and doing their best, which, apparently, hasn’t resulted in much happening anyway, as I am still without a landline nor ADSL, after a few weeks gone by, but I am still paying for that lack of service. Oh, the many joys of the Community Management Team. See why that whole system is broken? Bless them for trying though, they have just been eaten alive by the system along with yours truly. 

It all started on November 7th, 2014, when I requested the transfer of the landline and ADSL to my new home place and I was told the whole process would take between 5 to 20 days. I told myself, perfect timing, as I will be travelling for the remainder of November to 3 different countries to do work for clients, and upon my return it would all be installed and ready for me to carry on with my job. Wishful thinking. On the same week I got back I got a phone call from one of the local technicians telling me that the place where I now live doesn’t have any more free physical telephone line connections, so they would need to put a new box, which may require another 5 to 20 days for it to be processed. Panic mode kicks in as December starts and I can’t do any work any more from my home office.

Yes, I know, I have been stealing the wi-fi at friends’ homes for pretty much any kind of urgent work, but it’s been incredibly embarrassing to admit to them how much money I get to spend for a service I’m not getting while I’m using theirs. Frustrating to no end that here we are, last day of 2014, and we still have got these connectivity issues in a more hyper connected and always-on world that ever. But is it really? Apparently, it isn’t!

Weeks go by and I get another phone call where I am advised that things are going to be a bit tough because to get a new box is going to be challenging as they are no longer investing in copper, by in fibre (which will take still a few more months to come where I currently live, so not a choice), and the whole process of funding, just for that box, would need to kick in. There aren’t any guarantees, I got told and at that point the first glimpses of desperation and rage kick in as I keep telling them they just can’t cut me off the Internet grid, because of a box. What am I supposed to do with my job as a knowledge (Web) worker?!?!?! Please! Can we get a sense of reality kicking in on the kind of impact such decision would be having not only upon myself, but the family I’m trying really hard to sustain without falling apart into pieces?

Apparently, not! A few days more go by and I got another phone call where I’m told they finally got the confirmation the box funding went through, the request was processed and it’s just a matter of a day or two for a local technician to come along, install it all, and we are back in track. No, we aren’t. I was advised that on December 29th, the local technician would be coming along and do the magic. Alas, no magic happened, I am afraid, only a steady increase of being ticked off about what’s happening. I just can’t believe it. I’m still disconnected and not a chance to know when exactly it would all be fixed, specially, during this Festive Season where everything seems to go on a pause till after January 7th. My goodness! Can I wait for another 2 to 3 weeks?!?!?! No, I can’t! I need to start working again and pronto!

But you have got the 3G / 4G on your mobile plan, right? Yes, I do, but that’s not been very helpful, either, as I currently have got a 6GB quota allowance per month that, given the kind of work I do, I pretty much basically burn it all out in about 2 to 3 days and, once again, here  I am, back to stealing friends’ wifi connections at their own homes. The level of embarrassment and apologising keeps increasing by the minute. Desperation increases a notch or two when you realise it may well be about mid-January next year when it all may be fixed, if at all (as I was wrongly? advised on another phone call not long ago, where I thought it would be mid-December… No, mid-January, apparently).

Unreal! You can now see why I have pretty much run out of patience already, right? Well, it gets much worse! Because the mobile telco is the same ISP that’s supposed to fix the issues (i.e. Movistar) and I am only getting charged more and more money by extending the mobile quota of data. But “what about public wi-fi spaces where you live in the south of Gran Canaria that you could use?”, you may be wondering, right? Well, once again, no good news, I am afraid, as Wi-Fi Finder tells me there aren’t any around me within a close distance and I can only go into a hotel to pay for a daily fee speeds that would take me back to the late 90s. Yes, I’ve tried it already and it’s not even a mild option to consider. 

“Of course, you know, that happens to you because you live in paradise island and people are on holidays over there!!!”, you may be thinking as well right? Really? Here we are, once again, coming close to 2015 and we still think that way? Let me share with you all the incredibly huge missed opportunity by that same telco / ISP provider AND the various local government organisms AND perhaps also the European Union in their so-called efforts to digitised Europe on what they are missing by not working the magic of free public wifi spaces across the board. Go back 10 to 15 years ago, when you use to go on holidays to sunny paradise islands in the middle of nowhere. How did you get in touch with your family and loved ones back then? A long distance phone call, reverse charge, perhaps? A postcard? Complete silence till you got back?

What do you do nowadays when you go on holidays? How do you keep up with your loved ones and share with them what a wonderful holiday you are having and find out how they are doing as well instead? I bet it’s not a phone call, or a postcard, or just complete silence. I bet it’s all pictures, video clips, snippets you feel inspired to create and then share them across the Web by costing you an arm and a leg in hugely expensive roaming charges or countless hours of hunting down a decent Internet connection somewhere. Over the weekend, as an example, I was eating lunch at a restaurant when a guest, an older lady, asked the owner whether he had free wifi or not and when he said he didn’t she humphed and left the place (lost another customer right there!) reminding me, once again, about the huge opportunity of not thinking that the Web should start to become as pervasive as electricity is nowadays… Even a right!

No, it’s probably better to remain a monopoly by some telco providers as I am currently stuck in this situation. Unless Movistar transfers that phone line I won’t be connected through ADSL / wifi any time soon. I can’t go to any other telco providers as they hold the physical line work themselves. I can’t go to Internet satellite providers as they are even pricier and for rather poor connectivity coming along. I just can’t live on 3G / 4G unless I drastically change my working habits, or perhaps even find another kind of job, which has crossed my mind over the course of last few days as I keep contemplating Plan B & C that I have written about in a former blog post. See? This is how screwed up the whole situation is that I have to contemplate the prospect of changing my entire career and look for other job opportunities where being connected is not very much needed, but just a nice-have thing to have for when you come back home from work. And all of that due to the sheer incompetence of a telco / ISP that just doesn’t care much about the potential impact of their non-service to their customers even though they are paying loads of money for services they are just not using! 

That’s the main reason why I have been offline for vast majority of the time since I shared my previous blog post and while I thought I would be coming back to the social grid shortly, it looks like it’s not going to happen any time soon. Even worse, I don’t think I’d ever get a single response to this blog post, never mind getting the issues sorted out in a timely manner (Remember, 52 days and still counting…). It probably even won’t be noticed, because, you know, after 10 years of being their customer, they just don’t know me much. They don’t seem to have enough data of myself, throughout all of this time, to make an educated decision of fixing the issues as soon as possible, as they have now screwed this customer for good. 

A couple of years ago I blogged on how Social Business is all about People to People Business and, ironically, featuring Movistar themselves as a success story. Oh, my goodness!, how naïve I was back then! I guess I can now withdraw those words from here onwards and confirm, sadly, that Movistar is everything but a people to people business. It’s more of a Queen Between with an urging need to die a slow and painful death pretty soon IF they keep on working this hard to disservice their loyal customers! Yes, I’m an optimist and I know there is hope, but will they, finally, get their act together and help me before I move on? The clock is ticking… Time is the new currency. They have already lost 52 days and counting …  


Written by Luis Suarez

Chief Emergineer and People Enabler. A well seasoned Social / Open Business evangelist and 2.0 practitioner with over 15 years of experience on knowledge management, collaboration, learning, online communities and social networking for business; and has been living, since February 2008, a (work) life without email challenging the status quo of how knowledge workers collaborate and share their knowledge by promoting openness, transparency, trust, sustainable growth, engagement, connectedness and overall smart work. He can also be contacted over in Twitter at @elsua or Google Plus.

[PS. If you happen to have read this article, currently live in Playa del Inglés, Gran Canaria, and can offer a coworking space with a decent Internet connection where I can start working right away or if you think you can help out with my current connectivity issues, please do get in touch. I would love to talk with you!]

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2014, The Year That Was

View of Campo Internacional from Playa del Inglés on my way to #running Gotta love the eternal spring, don't you think?  #grancanaria #playadelingles #campointernacional# #running  #exercise  #lifeisgood #landscapes #winter #eternalspring #sunshine #sunAnd nearly four months later… I am back to blogging. Again. And for how long this time around? I just don’t know. We will have to wait and see, but, I tell you, if I were to describe what 2014 has been like so far for yours truly, as we are coming close to its end, I would probably be able to describe it with just a couple of words: “in transition”. Frankly, I never thought it would be that way, or that it would take this long for it to be completed, specially, on a personal level, but you know how it goes, you make lots of exciting plans ahead of you in terms of what you would want to do and focus on and then life does its own thing and makes sure none of them eventually work out the way you intended them to in the first place. Well, at least, one thing did work out in the end though: at long last, and after a massively long hiatus (that is now over, by the way) I am back to blogging. Why? Plain and simple. Because I needed it.

2014 is one of those years that I will be remembering for a good number of different reasons (good and bad, in equal terms), but, mainly, because, if anything, it has been a year of change for myself, both on a professional and personal levels. And, as we are in the process of wrapping things up for another year (Goodness! Does time fly when you are having plenty of good fun or what?!), I thought what a better way to resume my blogging mojo than perhaps put together this article where I can reflect on a rather personal account of what has happened month by month sharing some of the highlights (and lowlights!) as an opportunity to not only go through a rather needed cathartic and reflective moment of sorts for myself, but also as a chance to consider that “in transition” period, finally, over, done and dealt with. Time to move on …

Oh, talking about moving on, I am sensing this entry is going to be rather long, so I am thinking that if you aren’t really interested in following up with the different thoughts and reflections of what 2014 has been for me so far, I would suggest you stop reading now, and come back to the next post I will be putting together shortly as well now that I am, finally, back to writing. No worries, no offence taken if you move on. I totally understand it. What’s about to come up shortly is perhaps a bit too personal any way; an exercise of self-introspection to help me understand better what’s happened this year and venture into what 2015 may bring forward. It’s an exercise I have been looking forward to engaging with for a good couple of months, since the last post I shared over here.

So I better get on with it then, don’t you think? Again, no offence if you would stop reading from here onwards. or if you decide to unsubscribe from the blog altogether after all of this time of silence. There is a new spirit, a massive transformation in the making, a rebirth of sorts, coming along to this blog as well that I will be writing plenty more about over the next few entries and it may well not be what you may be interested in reading, after all. It’s going to be good fun though as I will be rediscovering the true spirit from this blog from way back when it was first born in October 2005 as I get to celebrate its 10th year anniversary next October. Who knows… You’ll tell me, I’m sure. So let’s go! Let’s do it!


Christmas holidays. As usual, the time of the year where I take extended holidays (have been doing that for the last 15 years and counting…). However, this time around a little bit of a special one, since upon my return, on January 20th, I announced, after 17 years of (big) corporate life, I would be leaving IBM, my former employer, and embark on to whatever my next adventure may be like. Not knowing exactly how things would work out eventually, whether I’d be landing safe and sound, whether I’ll be able to justify what’s been my working life for the last of those 14 years as a social computing evangelist or whether I may be able to stay right where I am without having to migrate elsewhere, given the current poor state of things in this country. Lots of uncertainty, indeed, but at the same time plenty of excitement about the new adventures, whatever those may well be. About the change itself, about the new bits of fresh air coming along about figuring out whether I still have got a chance to do something else for the next few years outside of the well established comfort zone I have grown into over the last decade or so. But then … life kicked in, as home care of a rather close family member continued throughout the whole month. Not much of a holiday, after all, as I got to experience, in full force, the initial shift of priorities kicking in and, officially, beginning the “in transition” period…


Reflection month. Spent vast majority of the time reflecting on what I wanted to do next, whether it was working for another vendor in the Social Business & Enterprise Social Networking space, or work for an international business, or work at a startup or, eventually, set up my own business. In the end, and after much thought put into it, I decided to go from one extreme to the other and from having worked 17 years in one of the largest and most complex IT environments out there (through 6 different Lines of Business and dozens of project teams) I decided to set up my own advisory firm around Social Business & Digital Transformation, Knowledge Management, Learning, and Online Community Building. Was that the right choice? I don’t know. Nearly a year later, it looks like I may have made it, after all. But can I sustain it for the next few years? Or was it just the beginner’s luck of someone starting up hoping for the best? I still haven’t been able to answer those questions and I suppose it may need to wait way into 2015 to confirm it. What I knew for sure back then was that I needed something different than whatever I was involved with over the last 17 years. Shifting work environments of similar traits was not going to do it. At the same time, I knew I also needed to have a Plan B and may be a Plan C as well, both of which I haven’t resorted to just yet, which may confirm that initial decision as the potential correct one, if there ever was one. Home care, after nearly three months, finished up on a high note and everything was back in order, although too close for comfort! Phew!


The start of my next adventure. Going solo, as they call it, although I have never been, nor felt, alone, as some people say when you are just getting stated with a new career. Having cultivated and nurtured social networks over the course of the years (As an opportunity to build further up on the collective digital footprint of those friends who you care about and who, in return, would care back), I spent lot of time catching up with folks, whether face to face, or virtually. A very much worth while doing exercise, since it helped me rekindle plenty of those personal business relationships as well as come to terms with the fact and comprehend how plenty of people move on from you, once you stop being enterprisey with no corporate tag attached at the back of your neck, and, how, instead, you meet up other new, but equally interesting and fascinating people you feel you would have never met working in a corporate environment. The “in transition” period fully kicks in by then, as I started working on the pipeline of my own business; trying to figure things out, as I go along, as an independent freelancer, realising the massive learning curve I had just embarked on. Things will never be the same anymore. Excitement is peaking up by the minute as the first potential client prospects help me build that so-called pipeline. No income yet though. Uncertainty makes an entrance. Again. Do I need a Web site to describe my services and myself and hope for the best or will just my Social Web presence (including this blog) be good enough? I still don’t have my site up and I keep wondering whether it’s necessary, or not, in the age of the Social Web, specially, for the kind of work I do.

[Oh, don’t worry, there *is* a Web site in the making, right as we speak, so I guess I may have answered for myself that question… Yes!, you do need a Web site for those people who do not know you just yet to get to know you eventually before they will engage through other digital channels!]


Resumed travelling for business (to a couple of conferences, mainly), but this time around, and for the first time since I can remember, as an independent advisor. The business world changes around you. Or you change. Or both for that matter. I don’t know. Things are no longer the same, that’s for sure! You start seeing things through a different lens and all of a sudden you notice how your opinions, thoughts and reflections run free, unbiased, uncensored. Liberating to no end. Hugely refreshing and soul rewarding at the same time. The pipeline for potential work keeps growing, but still no income. Excitement still high though, mainly through the rekindling of those personal business relationships, while forming new ones, as my close social networks morph along to meet, connect and share (with) the new me. Uncertainty starts crippling in, but it doesn’t bother me. Still doesn’t today. A new world to discover and enjoy opens up every single day. Opportunity takes a new meaning. Self-discovery regains strength on everything I do as I try to figure out the what next and, most importantly, the whom with. 


Travelling for business to present at conference events continues to take place, although starting to appreciate, and quite a lot, how the frenzy of biz travelling from back in the day (i.e. almost always on the road) is no longer there, so I can start enjoying travelling again with a pace that just feels right! Yes! The every other week on the road mindset, all of a sudden, drops almost dead and, instead, I get to appreciate how wonderful it is to travel the world, still today in 2014, to meet up some rather beautiful and amazingly talented people. Still one of the things I appreciate the most from my past corporate life, even though it’s no longer happening with the maddening frenzy as it used to be, which means that every time I travel nowadays I enjoy it even so much more. Pace is everything. Pause is the killer. Time is all we got left as the new currency, so making the most out of it, day in day out, takes a whole new meaning altogether. Apparently, I have become a nowist. And I am enjoying it quite a bit, because who knows what will happen tomorrow or the day after? That’s just too far into a future we can never grasp, nor comprehend accordingly, so why bother? Why not enjoy the now as much as we possibly can? And let the worrying about the future for a later time…

Pipeline work continues to build up helping me realise, finally, how important it is to constantly keep moving, regardless. Multiple touch points, follow-ups, conversations, social networks and other groupings or associations, etc. No waiting times. If it comes, it comes, if not, we’ll just keep moving along. It will come back at some point, eventually, if it needs my attention, help and support or further involvement. Still no income. Uncertainty grows on the third month in a row without revenue starting to make me wonder whether I made the right decision back in January about moving on. The excitement of the new adventure, the unknown, and what may potentially lay ahead, day in day out, still keeps trumping it all though. Life moves on and so do we. No turning point back. That’s what decisions do for you. You just keep moving on. The constant learning never stops. Regardless.


Surprise, surprise! Huge month ahead! Finally, I got to discover and fully experience what, till today, have been my two main sources of income as an independent advisor: 1) Client work and 2) Hosting face to face workshops around Social Business Adoption & Digital Transformation. Yay! We are back in business! Phew! Was starting to get worried to see how some work streams I initially thought were perhaps going to help me generate some earnings didn’t produce a single dime. Nothing. Zip. Nada. And, yet, on the other hand, and all of a sudden, BANG! first round of revenue kicks in from a work activity I never thought I would be able to pull it through, but there it was … Extremely happy AND hugely relieved. The adrenaline rush of your first client kicks in confirming what you initially felt may have been the right move from the start.

[What were those other work streams I thought were going to generate $revenue$ but didn’t? Well, I will blog about them on a separate entry, as I think they deserve their own attention and perhaps additional discussion. You will see what I mean when I share that post across. It will be a bit surprising and very much thought provoking, at least, in what’s meant for me ever since I went independent]


Client work continues. Incredibly exciting and enjoying it tremendously, realising how lucky and privileged I have been to have worked with such a group of rather smart and talented group of clients, and very excited at the same time about helping them accelerate their own collective digital journeys starting it off as a personal transformation. Business travelling for client work picks up a notch or two as well, summer holidays kick in and that feeling that August will be a slow month starts to settle in. Unfortunately, life, once again, had other plans in the making…


Home care for a loved one. Again. Seriously, 2014 has been one of those years that will be rather tough to forget and for a good number of reasons! I couldn’t wait for it to be over, done and dealt with and off we go into 2015. Being stranded at your own home place takes a whole new meaning for the following three months of daily home care for the rest of the family and yours truly. Priorities get reshuffled big time: home nursing, looking after the household, Boira (our Belgian sheep dog), shopping, day to day work (to keep paying bills) and that strange feeling of a much more profound change in the making, building up more and more by the day, once you realise the village you once loved and moved into, because of how much you enjoyed the atmosphere and sense of closeness and proximity, is no longer as charming as it used to be. Quite the opposite.

I lost 6 kgs that month. Running every day for an hour kept me going as that was the space where I could get back my sanity from the frenetic day to day craziness of life taking over. It felt great, as it helped me go back to my expected weight that I lost during the course of the Christmas period just a few months back.


Still heavily involved in home care, although the worst was already over (Thank goodness!). Business travelling, after the summer break, resumes itself and additional client work comes along at a nice pace. The reshuffling of priorities and focusing on other more mundane work streams / aspirations, essentially, coming back down to earth, so I could keep paying the bills, results in me having to move on from Change Agents Worldwide. I will miss them, I still do every day, but, you know how it goes, life goes on and has got other plans for you that most of the times you just can’t control, nor manage, but embrace them and hope for the best of potential outcomes. This was one of them that I needed to prepare myself for. Time is the new currency, remember, and massive disruption starts lingering around in the horizon, right as we speak: after 10 years, we are, at long last, moving! Oh, the adrenaline rush of a much needed change kicking in again! Gotta love it. Yes, house hunting begins… A new home beckons a much needed change. A new light. A new life. Eventually, together.


Revenue keeps coming along nicely, helping me not having to worry too much about how we’re going to keep paying the bills. Grateful to no end. Eternally. Work is pretty much focused on helping clients achieve their goals in their own digital transformation journey(s) as well as face to face workshops (as already mentioned above). Things are starting to become more steady and pipeline continues to consolidate with 2015 already in the horizon and looking very good. Or so it seems…

For the first time in over 10 years though, it’s time to move on again. Change happens in many ways and this one of finding a new home was no different. It was the end point of the period I have been calling in this blog post as “in transition”. By the end of the month, after two to three weeks of heavy search all over the place, we, finally, had a new home. Boy, do I love this place! We were born to live in it right from the start for real! Just brilliant! Just what we needed to conclude that phase of our lives and move into the next one, whatever it may well be.


Within just a few days since we found the bungalow, i.e. our new home, we finally moved in! I still can’t believe how lucky we were in finding such a gorgeous place! Of course, I will be sharing some pictures both in my Flickr and Instagram accounts. Perhaps it was our lucky shot at that point in time, but so very much needed altogether, after such an interesting year gone by so far!

Conference month kicks in in full force so it looks like moving in needs to slow down a bit while I get to do a bit of business travelling around Europe. After Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Madrid, London, Prague, Zurich (twice!) it is now time to check out Stockholm, Madrid (again) and Zurich (for the third time!). Not sure why there seems to be this obsession by conference organisers to put together all of their tech events either in March or November. It must be the winter! Do them in March to get people out of their homes right as spring kicks in or by November before everyone hides for the remaining of the year as winter approaches fast and furious. It’s crazy! Either way, loved the travelling to all of those cities and even more when the prospect of coming to a new home made it all really worth it.

But then another nightmare came through. As if I didn’t have enough with the rather tumultuous personal life throughout the year, my daily work was just about to be hugely disrupted. To the point where I haven’t recovered just yet from it and it may still take a while. Apparently, I have been forced, to put it mildly (by my telco / ISP) to go through this excruciating and horrifying experience of not having a landline, nor ADSL connection, at the new place, meaning that every single day that has gone by since November 7th (When I requested a landline / ADSL transfer) I have been losing revenue for not having worked with clients while collaborating remotely through the Social Web.

Yes!, 45 days and counting… Apparently, this is what you get in exchange of 10 years of customer loyalty spending about 175€ to 200€ per month steady for all the services I have contracted with them. And the worst part of it all? Well, that it is not over yet. 45 days later, I am still waiting for someone at that ISP to fully understand and comprehend the kind of damage they have done to this independent freelancer who happens to live off the Internet (as a remote knowledge Web worker) for his day to day work. Apparently, as a customer, that’s not important. After all, it’s not their revenue (they still get paid for not providing any kind of service!). It’s my own. Yes, you are guessing it right. There is a blog post coming up where I’ll be detailing what it is like living without access to the Internet when it’s your primary means of income while a Queen Between stands in the way not wanting to address and fix the issues sooner rather than later.


Phew! 2014! The Year That Was, indeed! Still without connectivity at our new home and surviving on a hugely expensive data plan for my mobile which runs out incredibly fast given the demands of my Web work and where my telco / ISP has decided that, as a token of generosity, they have extended my monthly quota of 4GB at a lovely price increase I just can’t resist paying for it. Yes, I guess gratitude from their side is taking a new meaning I should fondly remember over time. Anyway, that separate blog post will detail plenty more what’s been happening so far, or better said, what’s not been happening…

For now I bet I will be spending the remaining of the year musing about the new exciting adventure(s) at work. The amazing people I have been meeting throughout the year and who have made it a rather special one (Yes, you know who you all are!). The excitement of doing what I love doing, finally, has kicked off the uncertainty into no-man’s land. And although current pipeline work for 2015 has been abruptly halted to a standstill by my local ISP blocking me from accessing the Internet to do my job, I am hopeful the issues will be sorted out soon enough to be able to enjoy a Christmas break I will be treasuring to bits after everything that has happened this year: 2104. The Year of Change. Massive change.

Finally, the most important thing, at least, to me, that clearly helps me understand what we are all up to in our personal lives with the odd distraction here and there: caring for one another. Indeed, home care, at long last!, is also now over! A thing of the past and, thank goodness!, everything worked out all right in the end, despite the initial hurdles and health scares! Our new wonderful home has done the rest in the healing process making up for a superb end of a rather interesting and challenging year, both on the professional and personal levels, and where I have learned perhaps the most important lesson to date: life has its own plans and ways of developing things further and only thing we can all do is to adjust and adapt accordingly, and make the most out of it all, while having plenty of really good fun!

Life is just too short not to enjoy it the fullest. Today. Don’t leave it for tomorrow. And if that means I am a nowist, be it. After all, it’s Christmas and a good time to get back plenty of the social life we just didn’t get a chance to invest in this year with all that’s happened. It’s never too late, I know. Life keeps moving on and with it all of us, whether we like it or not.

I guess it’s now time for you folks and me to move on, too! I suppose it’s good enough for today as a yearly catchup update of sorts, where I can share with you all what’s been happening so far this year and why there has been, at times, extensive periods of silence from yours truly while I was focusing and spending my time fiddling with other priorities. For those of you who have stuck around thus far into this blog entry, please do allow me to share with you all a sincere token of gratitude for sticking around. It’s hugely appreciated and I’m certainly looking forward to resuming plenty of the online interactions we used to have in between those periods of quietness. 

I’m now back business as usual (At least, for as long as I can without blowing away the monthly mobile data plan) and while I get to put together the next blog posts over here, as an opportunity to resume my blogging mojo, I thought I would share with you all one other major highlight that I went through earlier on this year that I think you might find interesting as well. It’s a podcasting recording. Perhaps one of the most thorough and intimate interviews I have recorded in a good few years.

The interview was hosted by the wonderful and incredibly smart Michael Hicks from the My Way Podcast show. During the course of an hour we got to discuss plenty of the key experiences that throughout the years, starting off at a rather early age!, have shaped and nurtured who I am today: Luis Suarez. It’s that kind of a rather personal podcasting episode where plenty of the nuggets I talked about may not well be known, if only, but a few rather close friends. My Way Podcast is “committed to telling people’s stories” and I guess that’s just what we did: narrate my story.

So, if after reading this rather long post you still feel like going for a good listen of what I have been up to in the last two decades, with lots of personal touch points, and hilarious anecdotes, feel free to head over to the podcasting episode and have a listen. I can guarantee you would have a good laugh or two in between some pretty interesting insights we talked about and shared across around “confidence, working in a team, why it’s important to work in customer service, how and why he no longer uses email at work, working remotely, pursuing multiple interests to find what you are really passionate about, how he uses his blog as his external brain, his recent switch to freelancing, and so much more”.

Hope you enjoy it and from here just a special thanks to both Michael Hicks and Amber Robbin for making it possible! What a wonderful finishing touch to quite an exhilarating year and here’s to plenty more for 2015 and beyond!

Written by Luis Suarez

Chief Emergineer and People Enabler. A well seasoned Social / Open Business evangelist and 2.0 practitioner with over 15 years of experience on knowledge management, collaboration, learning, online communities and social networking for business; and has been living, since February 2008, a (work) life without email challenging the status quo of how knowledge workers collaborate and share their knowledge by promoting openness, transparency, trust, sustainable growth, engagement, connectedness and overall smart work. He can also be contacted over in Twitter at @elsua or Google Plus.

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