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

Gran Canaria

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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Gran Canaria – Melonera’s Sunset

Today has been one of those days that, although there haven’t been too many meetings or conference calls, has been packed solid all along and without taking even a breath throughout! Phew! Yes, I know, one of those days. In particular there have been a couple of instances from different interactions, specially with tools!, that have been everything, but enjoyable (Including the fact that http://elsua.net has been down for some time earlier on today, still is a bit shaky, while I am checking things out with my Web hosting provider 🙁 ). So I am really glad that is now all over and here I am, once again, sharing that weekly blog post giving you a glimpse of what it is like living in this gorgeous island of Gran Canaria.

But this time around I am going to be mentioning something else that I thought was really really cool and that I was rather excited about. As you well know, on this weekly series of blog posts about Gran Canaria I have developed the tendency to share both some pictures and short video clips of various places that have impressed me all along from this island and way at the beginning I was actually making use of DailyMotion to store those videos, well, it looks like things are going to change from here onwards.

No, I am not talking about stopping with the sharing of those videos. On the contrary, I am going to keep it going stronger than ever. For sure. What I am really going to start doing is making good use of the wonderful new feature that the fine folks of Flickr have put together. Yes, video!!!  How awesome is that? Right next to the good bunch of pictures I have been sharing all along I will now be able to add Flickr videos as well and share them as part of the same flow. Love it!

Yes, yes, I know that most people have been indicating how sharing videos in Flickr is a little bit limiting, since you can only upload videos which are 90 seconds long, but I tell you what, that’s just more than enough for me! In fact, most of the video clips I am planning on sharing will be that length anyway, so it makes perfect sense to place them together next to the pictures, don’t you think? And for those video clips longer that 90 seconds? -You may be asking, right? Well, I will continue to make use of DailyMotion, of course!

So let’s get the ball rolling then! Earlier on today I went ahead and shared a couple of short video clips in Flickr in almost no time, with a very user friendly interface and along the same lines of flow you get with sharing pictures and they are both part from a single series I created from one special place in my heart that gives me shivers every time I get to go there.

The name of the place is called Meloneras and is just on the very south of the island of Gran Canaria. It is one of those emergent touristy spots in the area where you will be able to find some of the finest hotels from the south of the island. Definitely, a good place to stay. For sure. However, what it also has is one of those stunning everlasting boulevards that would allow you to take long long walks along the coast enjoying quite some marvelous sunsets, both in winter and summer time! The most spectacular ones are the ones happening during the winter time when the sun sets across the Atlantic ocean. Just brilliant!

The funny thing is that I happen to live about 7 to 10 minute drive from there, so I get to go every now and then with the dog and spend one hour or one hour an a half unwinding from everything else and enjoying just one of those special places that only when you get there you realise the kind of beauty you are contemplating. I tell you, very few things can get better than that! And if not judge for yourself with these two videos I shared earlier on:

What did I say? It kind of makes you think you would want to be there, right? Well, that is just how I felt myself earlier on today a couple of times while I was struggling with a couple of tools. Perhaps next time I should just leave it and enjoy another one of those unforgettable sunsets @ Meloneras!

Want to join me?

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Gran Canaria – Caldera de Bandama (The Dormant Volcano)

Continuing further with the series of blog posts I have started putting together a couple of weeks back on video clips and pictures I have been taking here in Gran Canaria, here I am again at it, this time around sharing a couple of short video clips I took with my Nokia N95, once again, from one of those places that, if anything, is just breathtaking. And I am probably too short with that description. Yes, I am talking about La Caldera de Bandama, up in the north of the island.

Here is a quick description of what you will find there:

"[…] a volcanic crater – 1000 m (3300 ft) in diameter and 200 m (660 ft) deep – with a 569 m (1,867 ft) high peak, the Pico de Bandama, to which you can drive up. This peak has an observation platform, from where – despite its relatively low height – you can enjoy breathtaking views of the entire north and east coast and towards the mountainous centre in the west. With a clear sky you might even get to see the neighbouring island Fuerteventura in the northeast."

If you would want to read some more about it, you can certainly go ahead and check out Centre Tour – Caldera de Bandama, which provides a quick, short description of what makes that place special. And once you are done with it, here are the couple of videos I have shared earlier on today where you can see how every now and then I get to go there, just to chill out and admire the work of nature. Like I said, stunning!!

Gran Canaria – Caldera de Bandama – Part I:

Gran Canaria – Caldera de Bandama – Part II:

(And worth while a visit if you are around… No doubt!)

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