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

Life

The Social Revolution – Remember Us

Gran Canaria - Puerto de MoganWe live in rather interesting, intriguing, complex, uncertain and wonderful times. We surely do. We live in times of extreme negatives juxtaposing themselves with extreme positives. We live in times where the Social Web has become that amplifier of (global / local) events, of our passions, of our emotions, of an unnerving polarisation of opinions and beliefs, where tolerance, compassion, empathy and caring, some times, all shine for their absence. Just like in the real world. Where did we leave all of those characteristics behind in our human nature? Have we forgotten what makes us all, human beings, unique in this world, where we have been given an exclusive, uncompromising, cherished opportunity to enjoy and celebrate it accordingly? Where have we left behind our innate social nature? Is there any hope left? Please do tell me there is. Please. Do.

In times where the world seems to keep rejoicing on narrating rather painful and excruciatingly demoralising extreme negatives, I just can’t help but for the rebellious and hippie 2.0 side of me to come out and fight back in search of extreme positives. I guess there is a reality out there that we may not be able to escape, tame nor mitigate, even, in terms of the amount of pain and suffering one might get exposed to, or suffer themselves, but the thing is that I am starting to feel it’s everyone’s responsibility to fight back. There is hope. There needs to be hope. Otherwise, what’s the alternative?

I do apologise to those folks who may be reading this blog post today, as I am fully aware it may well not be the article they were expecting. I know this is the kind of philosophical reflection that’s very rare to see in this blog, but I just couldn’t help fighting back. Please bear with me. I need to get it out of my system. Then things will be back to normal, the new post-normal. Like I said, having seen the unnerving (That word again!) increase of extreme negatives we all keep getting exposed to in our daily lives, I want to strongly believe there is a different way. A much different way. A better way. For all of us. 

And there is, apparently. Phew! I am really glad there is. I surely needed this extreme positive to compensate. I guess serendipity just decided to do its own magic once again, right when one needs it the most. Earlier on this week, and coming through my Google Plus stream, I bumped into this absolutely delightful, energising, refreshing, inspiring, jaw-dropping, thought-provoking YouTube video clip, that I am sure that once you all watch it through in its entirety it will restore your own faith in humanity. It surely did for me. If anything, because of that strong sense of hope permeating throughout the entire clip of the true potential we can achieve with that amplifier effect that is the Social Web.

In an age of polarisation, balance is key. It will always be. And although I certainly realise that video contains lots of kool-aid about us, human beings, it’s also undeniable that we are more than capable. Yes, indeed, we are capable of the most horrifying things, BUT, at the same time, we are more than capable of the most wonderful things. And that’s the reason I wanted to share this blog entry across to perhaps use it as a gentle reminder for us all about what we are here for. Remember? We live in rather interesting times. For real. We should just seek each and every single opportunity we may have to make a difference, to have an impact, to share, not through those negative experiences, since they are always the easy way out, but focus more on the positive ones. The ones that allow us to understand the negative being turned into a positive.

Those experiences that the Social Web has helped us treasure over the course of time with that amplifier effect of what we could all achieve if we just put our mind and intent into it. That’s just what the Digital / Social (R)evolution is all about. And, if not, judge for yourselves. Hit Play, sit back, pump up the volume, watch AND enjoy what we are capable of. Today:

 

See? There is hope. We, too, can do better. Much better. All of us. No exceptions. I guess we just need to be reminded every now and then that right when an extreme negative happens there is another extreme positive in the making just right around the corner. And perhaps that is the intent of this reflection in this post, that, whether we like it or not those negatives may always be with us all, as part of our daily lives, but I guess it’s also going to be up to us to decide how we are going to amplify them, or not, by making a much smarter, sharable, responsible and thoughtful use of the digital tools at our disposal.

Welcome to the Social (R)evolution!


Happy birthday, mum! 😀 [I love you very much!]

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The Future Is Ours

PragueNow that I am, once again, back home, after another round of business trips, I just couldn’t help reflecting on the fact that, lately, over the course of the last few months, perhaps couple of years, we seem to be going from extreme negatives to extreme positives and back. Somehow it’s starting to feel like being on a non-stop roller-coaster, and although I quite enjoy those rides, I am not too sure it’s something I would want to do on a permanent basis. Specially, getting exposed to extreme negatives. They can be just so much energy draining altogether, it’s probably not even worth it focusing too much on them. Yes, I know, I, too, have been missing the Inspiring Video of the Week series of posts over here in this blog, so I’m hoping to bring them back, once again, and perhaps with such enticing and rather optimistic message as The Future Is Ours

No, don’t worry, nothing serious about my own persona or those around me for that matter. I am all right. In fact, I’m doing really well, specially, on the final week before I will be sharing some further details on that previous blog post where I talked about Who Moved My Cheese? and where to next. It’s just that the whole world has gone really weird and for no apparent reason. And that’s where the extreme negatives keep flourishing all over the place, distracting us all from what we should really be focusing on at this point in time: make the world a better place. Not for you, not for me, not for any of us, but for our future generations to come…

That’s why, when I bumped into The Future Is Ours (A beautifully inspiring and thought-provoking short video clip of a bit over two minutes), I just couldn’t help thinking that it wouldn’t hurt us to have some sort of reminders, every now and then, that allow us to keep that focus intact on what our purpose and potential meaning truly are, never mind those distractions that we seem to keep bumping into more often than not. 

Thus I thought that since I am now back from my last round of business trips and in order to get things going again with my blogging mojo, it would be a perfect opportunity to kick things off with a blog entry on the Inspiring Video of the Week and this time around, since it’s been a while, to actually share a bonus one as well! And I think I may have just bumped into the right, quality materials for today. 

Michael Marantz quotes: “Imagine the future as a movie, consider this a trailer to that movie” as an introduction to this short video clip. I know most people out there reading this entry would probably say that it’s far too optimistic and perhaps utopian, but then again, I learned, a long while ago, to come back with why not? What’s stopping us from reaching out our highest potential, that is, “pushing humanity forward? Probably nothing else than just us. So why not go ahead and do it? How? Well, here’s some inspiration to get in the mood: 

The Future is Ours from Michael Marantz on Vimeo.

Yes, I know, I need that, too! Well, here’s the bonus track. When you are done watching through that video clip take a look into this other one, of just under two minutes, on “Social Media Changes Everything“, which is just as powerful as the previous one, more than anything else, because it shows and demonstrates what has been crippling us all in the past and that we are finally breaking loose from it with the emergence of social technologies: “Knowledge / Information is power” is now shifting into “Information now finds its own flow“:

 

And if we are talking about the Social Web as a Flow, as my good friend Stowe Boyd would say, we are just getting started… See? That’s why every now and then I keep longing for inspirational video clips like the two I shared above, so I can get over from the extreme negatives, even if is it hard for a short while and continue to work really hard for those extreme positives that make everything worth while.

Yes, I know, I could probably summarise it with these two different sentences spread around on the first video clip:

Let yourself be overwhelmed… Never stop dreaming

Why not?

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The Sharing Experiment and The Kid Inside You

PragueIf you would remember, a few months back, I put together this blog post on “Why Do I Share My Knowledge?“, where I reflected on the main reasons as to why I’m so keen myself on sharing my knowledge across out there openly and in a more or less transparent manner. I guess that’s what Open Business is all about. Whether for Learning, Helping Others, or Leaving a Legacy Behind. The interesting thing though is that perhaps the main reason why I have been sharing more of my knowledge over the course of the years, is because, deep inside, I am still a child. We all are, after all. It’s just that for a good number of decades we may have neglected our childish nature of sharing for the sake of sharing. And that’s perhaps what has gotten us into trouble in the first place. Again, when was the last time that you behave like a kid when shared something?

I know it may all sound a bit too cryptic and eclectic when talking about those references around childhood, but I just couldn’t help thinking about dropping by over here today to share what’s perhaps one of the most inspiring video clips you will be watching this year and I would strongly encourage everyone to go out there and spend nearly two minutes to go through it to see what I mean.

As you may recall I’m currently on the road, in Prague, to be more precise, on the last leg of this business trip, having a wonderful time visiting the city and doing plenty of good work around Social / Open Business and “A World Without eMail“. Yet, in between here and there I am still having a bit of time to catch up with what’s happening in my various different social networks, and then serendipity does its magic, once again, and hits me badly! In a wonderful way…

Lately, my good friend Chris Brogan, has been doing some phenomenal sharing of great, relevant and insightful content over at Google Plus on how these digital tools are helping transform not only our businesses, but also our personal lives. One of those posts though is special, actually, rather special. It contains a link to that short YouTube video clip that I mentioned above and that I’m sure it’s going to give you shivers through your spine as you get to watch it. Why? Well, essentially, because it will remind you of what we were like when we were kids… And why a good number of us are still kids today. Instead of me telling you what I mean with all of that, I am going to stop here for a minute and encourage you all to watch the video and judge for yourselves…

Whoah! There you have it! Right there! What do you say to that? I bet very few comments can be added other than acknowledging that perhaps we have gone all the way wrong in our perceptions and expectations around the whole concept of Sharing. That Sharing Experiment is a whole proof we can do better at the workplace when sharing our knowledge across. And I know what you may be thinking … Those kids are already a bit too old and they probably have been taught, and educated, by their parents what sharing is all about without asking anything in return. And probably you are right!

But then again, where does that live us, adult knowledge workers, in terms, specially, of how we collaborate and share our knowledge in the workplace? Where did we go wrong with our childhood education and learning, or even our very own human nature as kids, where we seemed to have acquired the right skills yet, when entering the corporate world, we looked like we have left that behind and instead keep protecting and hoarding our knowledge, fighting with one another, still strongly believing that “Knowledge is power“.

Really? Well, I hope not! Look at what this bunch of kids are showing us above, on the video clip. Essentially, that human beings are social animals who share unconditionally with fellow humans what we know, what we treasure, what we are truly passionate about, what we care for, i.e. the well being of fellow humans, without asking for anything in return…

Thus as I keep reflecting on everything that I have learned on this long business trip, attending and presenting at multiple conference events, talking and interacting with customers, and learning from other thought leaders, and that I will be blogging about it shortly as well, I know, for sure, that for me to succeed in the large corporate environment there is a single thing that I would need to keep getting very good at, and which it looks a lot easier than what most people may well think about: Let the child inside me come out and show the way on what sharing is all about… 

I am hoping that you would do the very same thing. After all, there is nothing to lose, but a lot to win altogether, don’t you think?

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On the Road Again, on Another Special Day

Today, March 17th 2013, is St. Patrick’s Day. So while the rest of the world has already embarked on a massive celebration (Happy St. Patrick’s Day, by the way!!), I am also celebrating something rather special, so I thought I would let folks out there know about it, since I keep getting asked time and time again. No, it’s *not* my birthday, as the Social Web keeps proclaiming to the world and beyond. Actually, I have lied on the Social InterWebs, because my birthday already took place a few weeks back. However, on the Web, and a few years ago already, I updated all of my social networking profiles to put an incorrect birth date, just because I didn’t feel the world needed to know that personal detail. Oh, not to worry, I am not too fussed about my age, 41 this year, but it’s the principle that with that accurate date and a couple of other details people could impersonate you and steal your identity. So I thought I would lie about it and instead pick up a date that still is rather special and dear to me: St. Patrick’s Day.

Why is March 17th such an important date to yours truly?, you may be wondering, right? Well, mainly because 9 years ago, exactly today, I moved from The Netherlands to Gran Canaria, my home base, making it by now the second longest time that I have ever lived in a place, outside of my parents home. So, in a way, it is my home, don’t you think? That’s right! I wasn’t really sure whether I was going to be able to make it for that long, but I guess that once you settle in a place and you decide that’s going to be it, it kind of becomes a special place. One that is part of you, and you are part of it. And that, to me, is Gran Canaria. 

I guess time flies pretty quickly when you are having fun, right? Because even though it looks like as if it was yesterday, with the odd blink here and there, it’s already been 9 years since I moved to the island. And I wouldn’t change a single one of those years. It does feel like a re-birth, for sure, since when it happened I was going through one of those life changing experiences that you know you are going to bump into at some point in your life that makes you question and wonder about the small things, i.e. you know, the things that matter. So, perhaps in a way, I am celebrating today my re-birthday after all. Who knows… 

The thing is that life works in mysterious ways and does magical and wonderful things, because how ironic it is that today I’m celebrating that 9th year anniversary of having moved to Gran Canaria, in Utrecht, The Netherlands, where I am staying for a couple of days to participate and present at the Congres Intranet 2013 (#intra13 is the Twitter hash tag, if you would want to follow it up over the next couple of days…). Yes, I know, very ironic, isn’t it? 

Anyway, it’s still a wonderful celebration and I just couldn’t help dropping by over here in this blog and, like every year, share a short note of appreciation for how much of an impact such a tiny island can have in a person, like myself and everyone else who may have lived or visited there. So perhaps I thought I would share over here a couple of snapshots that would give you a glimpse of why Gran Canaria has got a special place in my heart for over the last 9 years and still going strong … 

 Gran Canaria - Maspalomas Dunes

 Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo

 

And those pictures surely remind me of the warm weather that I am already missing while over here in Utrecht, where it’s rather cold [Brrr] despite spring being just around the corner! So I guess it will also help me as an incentive of what awaits me in a couple of weeks when I return back home. Yes, that’s right, Utrecht is not the only city I’m going to visit during this business trip. I’m going to be on a little bit of a European Tour that will take me in a couple of days to Paris (Where I will be attending and presenting at the Enterprise 2.0 Summit – Follow the hash tag #e20s on Twitter, if you would be interested), then from there onwards on to Leuven, Belgium, to present at BLUG (#blug) and over the coming weekend onto Prague, to present as well at the Heutagogy Conference event on March 27th. 

Goodness! I told you, a little bit of a European Tour, wasn’t it? I am excited already and I haven’t started it just yet! Either way, like I said, in two weeks time I will be enjoying the lovely warm weather, the lovely people, the lovely food from the one island that decided to become my new home 9 years ago: Gran Canaria.

Thus happy re-birthday to me!


PS: As usual, if you are going to be around any of those cities while I’m on the road, throughout this business trip, and would want to meet up for a drink or a coffee, or even a quick “Hi!”, feel free to reach out through the usual social spaces … I’m just about to end the self-inflicted Twitter and G+ silence, provoked by something I talked about a little while ago …

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The Arbejdsglaede of Employee Engagement

Gran Canaria - ArtenaraIf you have been reading this blog for a little while now, you would probably remember how concepts like Employee Engagement make me cringe a little bit. Specially, when it’s abused left and right by HR departments and corporations alike, in general, as that magic bullet that will help address and fix the number #1 business problem of today’s corporate world: employee disengagement. Or put together in simpler terms: people no longer owning or caring for their work. Don’t take me wrong, I do believe rather strongly in Employee Engagement. Seriously. I do. What I don’t believe much in is the current form of how businesses are thinking about engaging employees implying that they know better than them, that they can just throw it out there, put together some social technologies around it all and people would come and be re-engaged at work. Well, no, sorry. It doesn’t work that way. Employee engagement is a two-way street and unless both employees and employers are not willing to walk through both we won’t have it. Well, hello and welcome to the wonderful world of Arbejdsglaede!

The first time that I ever heard about Arbejdsglaede was at the rather wonderful and delightful Meaning Conference in Brighton that took place late last year and which, the conference itself, still keeps bringing up lots of very fond memories, every time that I think about how much I learned during the couple of days I stayed there and also how much I savoured the wonderful conversations I had throughout the whole time. But, like I was saying, I learned about Arbejdsglaede from Alex Kjerulf, Chief Happiness Officer (Yes, I know, gotta love job titles like that one! I do!!), while he delivered perhaps one of the most inspiring presentations I had the privilege of attending live during the course of 2012 (And perhaps in a long while, too!). 

Arbejdsglaede basically means a feeling of happiness you get at work, which, as he clearly indicates, is not the same as job satisfaction. It’s way deeper than that. It’s all about reflecting on what makes you happy at work, and, apparently, it’s just too basic things: 

  1. Results
  2. Relationships

And bang! That’s when it really hit me. That’s when I realised that true employee engagement is all about that! Focusing and repurposing your efforts as a (knowledge) worker towards striking new meaning in providing exceedingly good and top performing results, while building meaningful, empathic and caring personal business relationships. Talking about striking for that rather strong sense of ownership and co-responsibility, of belonging, really. That’s what, to me, employee engagement is all about. It’s about finding that happiness at work that clearly gives you that little bit of extra energy to get up every day and look forward to a new exciting day where you are going to, hopefully, learn, collaborate, share openly more of your knowledge (Without asking for much in return) by interacting with your (social) network(s) understanding that “happy people do better work”: “more productive, creative, helpful, better at service, focused on quality, better team-players, more open, more flexible, showing more empathy, selling more, more optimistic, motivated, engaged, energetic, with an ability to learn faster and eventually become better leaders“. 

Whoaaahhh! See what I meant with employee engagement? Now, imagine this, how many businesses out there have got those kinds of aspirations for their own employees by engaging them from the very beginning to help drive a new purpose, a new meaning for what they do at work? Something tells me that perhaps not too many. Or, at least, not enough! Why? Well, because we still have got that huge, problematic issue of 70% of our employee workforce being totally disengaged. Simple. I know, it even hurts deeply. Sad. Rather sad, really. 

Back in 2007, Alex put together a rather interesting and very much thought provoking blog post that I saw re-surfacing through my networks a few days back and that triggered me to eventually put together this blog entry. In Top 10 Signs You’re Unhappy at Work he listed what, back then, appeared to be some of the most profound signs as to why employees are not happy at work. Fast forward to 2013 and it looks like we are still seeing pretty much of the same… Allow me please to quote and list those 10 signs, while I would encourage you all to go and read the entire article. It’s just brilliant as well in how it entices you to do a little bit of a mental exercise and a test to question for yourself how happy you are at work after all… So, to quote them: 

  1. You procrastinate
  2. You spend Sunday night worrying about Monday morning
  3. You’re really competitive about salary and titles
  4. You don’t feel like helping co-workers
  5. Work days feel looooong
  6. You have no friends at work 
  7. You don’t care. About anything
  8. Small things bug you
  9. You’re suspicious of other people’s motives
  10. Physical symptoms

Fascinating read that blog post, don’t you think? I bet that vast majority of us have experienced any of those signs at some point in our so-called careers, perhaps some of us are even suffering from any, or several of those, right now, in 2013, at the time where plenty of people keep claiming that in the Social Era employee engagement through social networking tools is going to rule the world and is going to help reenergise employees again. Well, not really. It won’t. It won’t until we get our mojo back and start embracing that culture of Arbejdsglaede. Because that’s what it is all about. It’s that two-way street I talked about earlier on and that I feel is going to be incredibly important over the course of time, if not already. 

And how do we get to Arbejdsglaede, you may be wondering, right?, as the golden panacea of Employee Engagement? I have got my very own ideas on the topic, but, instead, I am going to leave it down to the master on the topic. Here’s the blog post that Alex put together where he talked a little bit about his keynote session. Then here is the link where you can download his presentation materials and, finally, here’s the link where you can spend 30 minutes (well worth it, by the way!!) watching the recording of the session where he gets to talk about some pretty compelling conclusions that I thought I would quote over here as well to see them in the wider context of re-engaging back the workforce: 

  1. Make arbejdsglaede your #1 career goal
  2. Be happy at work – not just satisfied
  3. Do something about it!

And, finally, my favourite quote on what that two-way street concept for Employee Engagement would be all about not only in the Social Era, but also on the Open Business Era: Do or do not. There is no try!

Who would have thought that Arbejdsglaede would be such a beautiful word and such a magical concept after all, in terms of re-engaging knowledge workers, doing things just right through social technologies, around openness, transparency, meritocracy, caring, empathy, trust and, above all, purpose and meaning.

Well, try now to pronounce it and be ready to chuckle! 😀

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Working Styles – Where Fun Meets Work

Gran Canaria - Santa Lucia de Tirajana's SurroundingsIf you have been reading this blog for a while now you would know how, all along, I haven’t been very much in favour about supporting the argument of the digital / generations divide or the distinction of various different generations at work, whether baby boomers, Gen-Xers, Gen-Yers or whatever else. However, and with that said, I do realise how each and everyone of those generations do really bring up a tremendous amount of diversity into the workplace with their own habits and unique mindset which, back in the day, I described as different working styles in place and that for the corporate world to benefit from those different ways of getting the work done, businesses would need to do, if anything, a single thing to make it all work: embrace them and celebrate such wonderful diversity, more than anything else because that’s what makes working in a now more complex than ever environment quite an exciting and unprecedented adventure for learning and growth to flourish. 

And with that premise I thought for today I would go ahead and share a rather short (10 minute long) video clip that I bumped into in my good friend Felix Escribano‘s Google Plus stream that I thought would be worth while sharing across over here to demonstrate how those various different working styles have been operating over the course of the last few decades till today.

The actual video clip is based on a piece of research from the smart folks from Box1824 and it’s packed up with lots of useful information on behavioural data, trends, ways of living / working from those various different generations and it’s perhaps one of the most insightful documentaries I may have seen in a while that clearly describes, and rather accurately, I must admit, too, who we are, regardless of age, work context, ambitions, motivations, mantras, aspirations and so forth. If you are working in a corporate environment where you are exposed to all of these various different working styles, I can certainly recommend you take a look into it so that you have got a good chance to be exposed to the diversity of what’s behind each and everyone of those generations. It will be worth it the 10 minutes it lasts, so here is the embedded code so that you can start playing it right away: 

What do you think? Not too bad, eh? Did it help change your perception of those colleagues from those generations you work with on a daily basis? Here’s the key question though: how identified do you feel with your own so-called generation? Did it represent you well enough or can we then stick around with those working styles that I mentioned above? Either way, while I would love to read in the comments what you would think, here’s the one liner that describes how I feel about that argument of the digital divide and the various different generations at the workplace: 

“It really seems to be more important to have fun on the ride, than to make it to the final destination”

Or this other one as well for that matter: 

“It’s all about exchanging knowledge, no matter your age”

Or perhaps this other one, much more impactful altogether:

“Besides having a job, it’s becoming more important to have a purpose that can be carried out in different forms at the same time”

Or, finally, the kicker: 

“It is about living better in the present, with no illusion that the future can be controlled”

Followed, perhaps, by the one and only question that every single knowledge worker out there should be asking themselves every day as soon as you get up in the morning and while you get ready to go to work: 

“Are you doing what you love right now? No?
So start!”

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