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

Gran Canaria

Reflections on Blogging and Real Life Distractions

Gran Canaria - El RincónA good number of people have been asking me offline over the last 3 and a half weeks whether I have finally abandoned this blog for good and moved into something else, since I have gone rather quiet as of late and no new blog posts have been making it thus far for a little while now. Well, my answer: no further than the truth. There is no way I’m going to give up on blogging any time soon! Thus, from here onwards, my usual regular blogging will continue for many moons to come … What happened then?

Well, in the last few weeks things have been incredibly hectic at work for me working on multiple initiatives trying to help accelerate the adoption rate of social software inside IBM (I’m hoping to be able to share some of those insights pretty soon, too!), at the same time that I have been doing a fair bit of travelling (3 trips in a week!) presenting at various events, including the cancellation of another business trip to Madrid to conduct a workshop on Social Software Adoption, which I will be going for next Sunday for a couple of days…

That business travelling involved putting together a good bunch of presentation materials, which, in between meetings galore for most times, as well as presenting at those events, have taken most of the time, specially the time I’d normally dedicate to blogging. Of course, I will shortly be sharing with you folks what all of that travelling was about, since there is a lot to share on each and everyone of them, but, as a teaser, they all had to do with Día del Emprendedor (Day of the Entrepreneur), a face to face event that took place over the course of one week in all of the Canary Islands and which, overall, was a rather unique experience that left a mark on me I never expected to have… And very soon you will know why.

With all of that frenzy happening at work, you can imagine how there was very little energy left to, on top of that, continue blogging away, right? So I needed to take a break, unwind from everything, recharge my batteries again, get back into the full swing of things… and I did that on the weekends, which I guess that’s what they are meant for, right?, specially when you live where I live 😉

So for the last three weekends I have been out of the house enjoying some stunning spring weather over here in Gran Canaria, taking with me my camera trying to grab some breath-taking snapshots of very special moments: those that help you understand and treasure how powerful it can well be being disconnected from everything and focus on the little things that matter…

And, boy, was it worth it? Every minute of it! I have been sharing a good number of those snapshots on my Flickr account already, but I thought I would share a few of those pictures over here so you could have a look into the kind of wonders and diversity I have been exposed to in the last couple of weeks, and why, time and time again, enjoying real life seems to have won over my usual regular blogging over here. With the good fine effect that I’m now back in full force wanting to share a whole bunch of really cool stuff I have bumped into during the last few days and which will keep me buzzing away for a long while still.

Thus, like I said at the beginning … no, I haven’t given up on blogging; not even a remote chance of that happening any time soon! Quite the opposite! Why would I want to mute myself? Why would I want to quiet down my voice, when there is just so much to share and learn from? Why would I want to kill the very same reason why I got involved with social computing in the first place a few years back? Just doesn’t sound right, does it? Yes, there may have been a few days where I have gone dormant but for a good reason. A chance for me to step back, relax, unwind, refocus and get ready for some more! And try to continue providing some good quality blogging that other folks out there may be able to enjoy reading, just as much as I do putting those articles together in the first place … And certainly visiting some of the places like the ones you are going to see on the pictures shared below helps… And a lot!

Gran Canaria - Maspalomas Dunes in the Sping ...

Gran Canaria - Charca de Maspalomas

Gran Canaria - Puerto de las Nieves

Gran Canaria - Municipio de Mogán

Yes, I agree, it’s good to be back! 🙂

Oh, of course, another year has gone by and, as you can imagine, I couldn’t miss it and let it go by just like that … Yummy!! What do you think? Fancy joining me again next year for one of these? Around mid-May? Get in touch!

Gran Canaria - El Tablero de Maspalomas en Fiestas - La Paellada

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Little Venice in the Spring

Gran Canaria - Puerto de Mogan in the SpringNow that I have finally managed to get my hands on a decent piece of equipment, which I had the great pleasure of taking it for a spin not long ago (And was really impressed with the results, I must admit!), I thought it would be a good time again to reintroduce a new series of blog posts to make justice to the beautiful island I have been living in for the last six years: Gran Canaria, Spain. It’s about time, I think.

If you have been reading this blog from the beginning, you would remember how some time ago, every so often, I used to put together a series of posts about places of interest (And worth while checking further, or exploring further, if you are that kind of adventurer…), things to do, landmarks to check out from an island that I can never get tired of, nor does it cease to amaze me time and time again. So I’m going back! I’m going to start sharing, ever so often, the odd blog post where I will try to share some further insights from what it is like living in such a paradisiacal island I discovered over a decade ago and from which I just can’t get enough!

Actually, there is also a specific reason why I would want to take up sharing these blog posts once again. It all begins with combining two other passions of mine: photography and Gran Canaria itself. It’s funny, because I never thought I would be saying this, but it was this island that one that made me appreciate the wonderful world of photography. Yes, I still consider myself a newbie with lots and lots of things to learn in order to master this fine art of taking snapshots, specially when you tend to discover plenty of tricks as you go along. But the way I see it is that I have got plenty of time as well as some of the most breathtaking landscapes, and a few other things, too!, that continue to help me improve my skills.

And, like I said, with that new piece of equipment I got my hands on a few months back, I just couldn’t help avoid the urge of coming back to this blog and start sharing that new series of blog posts detailing why I fell in love with this island over ten years ago, when I landed over here on my first holiday. I know that most people would think that Gran Canaria is a holiday island on its own and, in a way, they are rather accurate. However, that’s just a small fraction of all of the stuff you can do, watch, learn about, experience, enjoy and treasure. A small fraction, indeed!

That’s why with each and everyone of these blog posts I’m hoping to share with you some of those hidden treasures that this island has got to offer to everyone who may want to spend some time visiting and wanting to have a good time. So, from here onwards, every now and then, there is going to be a new set of articles I’ll be putting together where I am hoping to share with you some of the golden gems that this island has got to offer to anyone who may be interested.

At the same time, I am going to do things a little bit different than the initial round of blog entries, since I’m also planning to share further details on interesting places to check from a culinary perspective. Yes, that’s right! I will also be sharing some further insights on restaurants to check out throughout the island, so if you ever come and visit you would probably have a handful of good options to check out. I already got a couple of lists (Top 5, Top 10 and Top 20 restaurants I just can’t wait to share across!) that I’m sure you would be interested in … So hang in there!

Finally, there is also another motif for me to get things going with this series of posts. And that’s to show to plenty of my worldwide friends out there, those who I have met over the course of the years with all of that travelling (I knew it would pay off at some point!), the kind of place where I have been living for the last few years, so that they, too, can see that it’s not just all about sunshine and gorgeous beaches, nor fish & chips, or steak with fries! So it would be interesting as well to share with you other tidbits I may bump into out there on the Web that I would think would be worth while sharing across as well, so that you folks (You know who you are!) could have a better overview of what it is like living in Gran Canaria.

Like, for instance, did you know that we have got a small place called Little Venice? That it is one of my favourite places from the entire island, because it combines, rather perfectly, both the flavour of a local fishermen’s village with that of a rather popular tourist destination? But that it keeps it all in good harmony and it’s quite a treat walking through the various streets, the harbour, the upper side of the village, etc. feeling that would be that perfect place where you can picture yourself enjoying your retirement for so many good reasons? Welcome to Puerto de Mogán!

Well, last weekend I spent there the entire Saturday afternoon over there, and, of course, I took my camera with me. Most of the pictures I took are already in my Flickr account, but I thought I would share with you over here a couple of them to give you a taster of what is awaiting for you on the southwest of the island of Gran Canaria.

Gran Canaria - Puerto de Mogan in the Spring

Gran Canaria - Puerto de Mogan in the Spring

Gran Canaria - Puerto de Mogan in the Spring

Not bad, eh? Well, I hope you do enjoy this new series of posts I’m about to re-launch over here in this blog, hoping that one of these days you may perhaps drop by my island, my home, so that I can then show you around and enjoy a drink or two, or some of the amazing food served by some of the most interesting and intriguing restaurants you can imagine. Get ready and prepare yourself! It’s going to be a fun ride! 😀

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Elige un Gran Destino, Gran Canaria

Earlier on today I was watching Bill Davenhall, in one of the TED Partner Series talks, give one of those incredibly inspiring, amazingly engaging and thought-provoking, too!, presentations where he actually tries to introduce the concept of "geo-medicine". I must confess I wasn’t very much aware of the whole thing, but I found it truly fascinating. The TED talk lasts for a little bit over nine minutes I can certainly recommend you take some time off to go through it. It will be worth it every minute of your time and will make you think about things twice!

You may be wondering by now why did I choose that specific title, in Spanish, for this particular blog post, right? And, more specifically, why am I making such connection between the title itself for this entry and Bill’s, rather revealing, speech, right? Well, for a good number of reasons, but I would just stick with one of them.

If you have been following this blog for a little while now you would remember how, about nearly 6 years ago, I made, probably, one of the most important decisions that I can remember in a long while. Indeed, I decided to take back control of a situation that was not helping me at all, to the point where I eventually started noticing some of its consequences on my own health. I know that this may sound a bit too personal, so I will spare you with the rest of the various different details. Perhaps we can catch up at some point in time whenever we would meet face-to-face and over a drink or two. For now though, the end result was that back in 2004 I decided to move back to my home country.

But instead of going to mainland Spain, which is where I come from originally, I decided to go to the place where I had spent the last five years of my holidays: Gran Canaria. I know that for most people that may sound a bit too weird. I mean, why would someone like me, who’s always been living in big cities for the last few years, all of a sudden would want to move to such a tiny island, right? Not the usual thing that you expect, I can imagine. Yet I went ahead with it; it’s been nearly 6 years now since I made that decision and I haven’t regretted it just yet one single bit!

And this is now where the title of this blog post kicks in, because, while most people think that Gran Canaria is that perfect holiday island, with plenty of sunshine and beaches, the truth is that there’s just so much more about it that I couldn’t let this opportunity go, just like that.

Earlier on this week, a good friend of mine shared with me a couple of YouTube videos that I just couldn’t help sharing them over here. Actually, it is the same video; a longer version (Nearly 7 minutes) and a shorter one (A bit over 2 minutes). The title of the video is something like "Choose a Great Destination, Gran Canaria" and it basically tells a story; the same story that I can relate to myself on why I fell in love with this island right from the start back then (And still going strong!). The same story that details very nicely how sometimes, it is good to sit back, rethink about your priorities, straighten things up and focus on those little precious moments that really matter.

I am sure that after you watch the video you will have a pretty clear picture of why I decided to come and live over here and, even more, you would understand as well the connection that I made to Bill’s TED presentation mentioned above on how important "geo-medicine" could well be for us all. So, next time you hear the words "Gran Canaria" don’t just think about the sun and the beaches. Think about choosing a great destination; one that can certainly help improve your perspective on things and life, in general … just like Gran Canaria itself has done for me throughout the years…

The shorter version

The longer version

(And it is probably a good time now for me to share with you folks a little bit of a disclaimer; that good friend I mentioned above who shared these videos across with me is actually the grandfather of the youngest kid that is featured in the story itself. Oh, those little precious moments that we need to remind ourselves and treasure every now and then … What would we do without each and everyone of them?)

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The Business Value of Social Software by Luis Suarez

Gran Canaria - Maspalomas DunesWe all know that plenty of people nowadays are trying to figure out what is the main business value and various benefits of using social computing within the enterprise. Yes, the good old Return On Investment (a.k.a. ROI) conversations for Social Software that I like to talk about so much lately. Well, here is another blog post to share some further insights on the topic. This time around sharing a personal story on how I am benefiting from social computing myself and how, as a result of that, IBM itself benefits from it as well (I would hope).

January 2004, I experienced what some folks would know as a serious wake up call in my life. One of those times we all get to go through, once in a lifetime, where we need to pull back, think about things that *really* matter to us, make the right decisions, re-engage back and move forwards. Yes, I know, one of those wake up calls…

Back then I was heavily involved for a while already with social software, although mostly behind the firewall. Yet, I knew that it may have well been *my* moment to prove the business value of social networking within the corporate world. I decided to approach both my local resource management team, as well as my, at the time, project manager and ask them whether they would allow me to work remotely from another country, in this case, Spain, my home country.

And while I do realise that perhaps not many companies out there are ready for such somewhat difficult decision to make, specially from a business perspective, the answer I got back was a loud and clear "Yes, Luis, as long as your perform the way you have all along". To which I said, "Of course, no problem! I can do that!"

From there onwards, a couple of weeks later, I moved back to Spain, to Gran Canaria, to be more precise, where I have been living, and working remotely, ever since. And this is where social computing kicks in, because right then I realised that if I wanted to make it work in my new situation I needed to be out there: visible; easy to reach and connect with; always willing to help and share my knowledge with those who needed it (And with those who may need it at a later time, too!) in an open and public way; willing to share my expertise, experience and know-how across the board with those who I know, and those who I may not know yet; willing to feed those resources with knowledge and expertise that otherwise would have remained in my own head, or my computer, for that matter, and therefore with very little access for others to enjoy.

Thus, as you can imagine, I increased even more my already heavy presence in the social software spaces, both inside AND outside the firewall, and that only meant that more information and knowledge from myself became available to others and, hopefully, some of that knowledge was helpful to them as well. That good old "Knowledge is power" suddenly transformed itself into "Knowledge shared *is* power" and lo and behold five years later, still going strong.

Yes, that’s right, today, March 17th, 2009, San Patrick’s Day, marks the 5th year I have been relying on social software to keep me employed with what I consider still my dream job at such large corporate environment as IBM’s, where both of my managers are thousands of kilometers away from me, yet, through the daily usage of social networking tools I know they are just an interaction or two away from me (In most cases even just a single tweet!)

I can imagine plenty of folks out there would be questioning whether I would have been able to make the same move without social software and work in such extreme virtual environment without it and relying on more traditional collaboration and knowledge sharing tools. To which I could probably confirm that I wouldn’t have been able to. Five years afterwards, I am 100% sure of it!

So what is the ROI of this, my personal, story?, you may be wondering, right? Well, perhaps that engaging with social software, embracing a new model of collaborating and sharing my knowledge (Much more open, transparent and public than ever before, ever since I decided to live "A World Without Email") with other fellow knowledge workers has allowed me to prove the point that you can work wherever you want, whenever you need, and with whoever you would want to reach across, depending always on the context, by making extensive use of social software and forgetting about measuring people just by their sheer presence versus their overall performance and results obtained. That is what social software has done not only for me, but also for the company I work for…

5 years on and still going strong! That is, to me, the real ROI for Social Software, both inside and outside of the enterprise world. But how about you? What’s your personal ROI story?

I would love to hear your thoughts plenty more over here or elsewhere. But, for now, time to go and celebrate San Patrick’s Day at my favourite Lebanese restaurant downtown (Beirut), and then, of course, off to the pub! 😀

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¡¡¡Feliz Navidad 2008!!!

You may have noticed how over the last few days, and after the massive piece of news I shared a couple of weeks back (By the way, thanks ever so much everyone! for the lovely comments!), things have gone a bit quiet over here, once again. And must confess that has happened due to several reasons which I am shortly going to detail over here, so that you know what I have been up to so far heh

To start with I have been on holidays (Still am till the beginning of the New Year!) and although I have been having a good rest and almost in disconnected mode from everything, I have been rather busy having to handle all of the paperwork of the country transfer from IBM Netherlands to IBM Spain and, believe me, it hasn’t been an easy task, specially since one of the weeks I have been away already has been rather hectic. Through e-mail!! Who would have thought about that, eh? But not to worry, I will be sharing some further insights on that shortly, as part of the weekly progress reports, which I am running a couple of weeks behind, I know. But we will eventually get there, I am sure.

I have also been rather busy catching up with folks offline, specially during this time of the year where everyone seems to pause for a little while and have a chance to enjoy some peace and quiet, reflect on the year about to finish and treasure what each and everyone of us has or what we may have been involved with lately. What in Twitter I have been calling beers&friends, if you know what I mean.

But if there is a single reason why I have gone a bit dormant over here and why I think it is still going to be like that for another couple of days, is because, as some of you may already know, I am already working on what will be happening in 2009 for me, as far as Thinking Outside the Inbox is concerned. I am putting together a new theme, a new master presentation deck, a new pitch, something really cool that will be happening to one of my blogs (http://elsua.net) and which will impact the other two I am currently maintaining and that has been keeping me far too busy to blog about it overall. At least, for now.

I hope that very soon I will be able to unleash some really interesting piece of news happening with http://elsua.net and that will be the kick-off for 2009 for everything related to elsua. Thus stay tuned for plenty more to come up very shortly!

For now though I just couldn’t help coming over here for a few minutes and share with you folks some those special wishes we all have been exchanging all over the place and which I am sure are getting you into the spirit of the special times we are going through. Yes, indeed, it is Christmas!!! Yay! (But you already knew that!)

That’s why I just want to wish you all a Merry Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, with plenty of good Health and Prosperity for 2009!!! And also want to take this opportunity to give you a special thanks! for sticking around and for dropping by every now and then over here in this blog and for sharing plenty more insights that I would have ever hoped for and help contribute into some of the conversations we have been having all along. Without them, I am sure things would have been completely different. So here I am, taking a couple of minutes to thank you all for those contributions and hope that we can keep the dialogue going throughout 2009!

Till then, all the very best for you and your loved ones in this special time of the year and here is to a wonderful 2009!!!

Christmas in Playa Las Canteras - El Belén - Dec07

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On Holidays!

I was on my way to put together a new blog post over here on this blog, one of the various drafts I have got piled from the plenty of stuff that happened this week, and to comment on a few others I have bumped into in the last couple of days, yet my brain has not been very co-operative for the last couple of hours. Main reason being that as of now I am officially on holidays! Yay!

Yes, indeed, I am going to take a short break, from the moment I get to post this entry and till November 17th when I would be back again to work! One full week of doing nothing else than enjoy the lovely sunshine, get a very much needed rest (Specially for my heavily overused wrists!), enjoy the lovely food & friendly people around me and catch up with some very much needed work / life balance! And then back on to my favourite activity: face to face social networking! Not bad, eh? Yes, I know! Not bad at all! heh

Leo Babauta, over at the fine Zen Habits, put together just recently a wonderful blog post on the topic of striking a good balance between life and work under the title "How To Find That Elusive Balance Between Work and Life". Plenty of really good and helpful tips shared over there and worth while reading the article. For sure.

For me, it is now my own turn to find and enjoy that balance for the next few days and here you have got a couple of snapshots of how I am planning to let life win this everlasting battle of work vs. life:

Thus, if you don’t see me in the various social networking spaces where I usually hang out, you know exactly where I will be, at least, for the next few days. Because, just like Leo finished that blog post on striking a good life / work balance:

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving." – Albert Einstein

Have a good everyone and see you all soon!

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