Once again, it’s been nearly a couple of weeks since my last blog post over here on The Perks of Being an Early Riser and I am sure at this point in time folks out there may be thinking that, once more, I have failed to keep up with restoring my social presence as I mentioned on that last article. Far from the truth, I am afraid. Over the last few days I have been doing something that I have been looking forward to for quite some time and that it’s always something that I can never get tired of: Vacation. And this time around a very special kind of holiday, because it’s been a rather disconnected one, too! Not by choice though, although the world works in mysterious ways, so perhaps that was what I needed all along in the first place: a time to strike for “the best opportunity to take a step back, inhale, exhale, think about life, and ask: am I happy?“
Indeed, every year, during the course of the summer I have been enjoying tremendously that pilgrimage back home to see my family in León, Spain, where I was born and raised, and catch up with them for a few days to see what they have been up to. And time and time again, it’s been a fun experience, specially, when this time around you try to explain to your mum what you do for a living and you realise that she has never seen, played, enjoyed the Web. Quite an interesting and thrilling challenge I would encourage you all to go through, if you haven’t just yet!
Even worse when you try to show her what it is like from your laptop and there isn’t any ADSL or wi-fi around. Or you try to show her on your mobile smartphone and tablet through a so-called rather robust 3G network and you see that it fails to keep getting connected to the point of embarrassment. And you eventually give up, because you know that so-called pervasive connectivity isn’t just coming around. Yes, indeed, someone had to say it out loud, I guess, there are parts in this world where broadband and the Internet are just … not … there!
Goodness! I can’t believe that I am writing about this in 2013, where everyone keeps claiming that we are now more connected than ever before in our history through the (Social) Web, where wi-fi and ADSL lines are pervasive enough to make it an enjoyable experience and where, as a last resort, 3G may come to the rescue. Well, not really. Not everywhere as I have been able to experience fully in the last 10 days or so. And this is happening right here, in Spain, not some kind of remote island, in the middle of the ocean, where the 21st century may not have arrived just yet!
See? Disconnected holiday not by choice, but then again perhaps it was better that way, because I had a real blast altogether! And for a good number of reasons, starting off with having an opportunity to do a proper catch-up with family and friends face-to-face and without any smartphone or tablet devices getting on the way. Never mind that wonderful opportunity as well to find plenty of time to pause and reflect wondering about things, in general, whether I have been enjoying work, my personal life, and so forth. You name it. It’s amazing to see how much one gets to think when you do have all of the time of the world without the so-called distractions we are all pretty familiar with. What Ted Leonsis brilliantly described on a recent article under the suggestive heading “Find Time to Reflect“.
Anyway, I am not too sure whether I eventually succeeded in explaining to my mum what I do for a living, or not, but I can tell you she was right on when she threw back at me a rather short, sharp question that I guess summarises everything and that it certainly puts things into perspective: “Are you happy, son? (Because that’s what really matters at the end of the day, you know)“.
Whoahhh!! Mums are wonderful, aren’t they? They just know us inside out, and without having to say much, to find out really quick everything they would want to know and in just 4 words she was capable of detailing whether I am on the right track or not, and not just in my professional career, but also on a personal level. The intriguing thing is that I failed to utter some words as a response. Instead, I just got a huge smile coming across my entire face that she received warmly with a nod of approval and “That’s all that matters, really, that you are happy with yourself and those around you and that you keep smiling. The world needs that, son“.
You can see why I am getting goose bumps all over again as I get to write down those few words of wisdom, right? And she didn’t even need to be aware of what the Internet is or have access to it or for me to explain what I do for work. Some things are just so profound, so touching and mind-blowing altogether, yet so simple and uncomplicated that it’s incredibly difficult to not just feel overwhelmed by that feeling of immense gratitude. She has done all right with all of her children all along throughout all of these years. And me being worried all along about not being connected to the Web to be in the know and everything, when all I needed was just right in front of my face! Right there! How could I possibly miss that?
I guess that’s what I meant earlier on in this post when talking about taking that disconnected holiday to visit my family and to pause and reflect on things, the smallest things, you know, the ones which seem to be the ones that keep driving us towards whatever our goals may well have been all along, but that, for whatever the reason, we may have deviated a bit in our directions and / or intent. I suppose that’s, amongst several other zillion things!, what mums are really good at over the course of time when they keep reminding you what you are here for in this world and everything, helping you focus on what you really need to focus on… those around you who you care for and … yourself.
In finding time to reflect Ted talks about several common steps that would surely help us all towards becoming happy and successful. To quote them briefly:
- Communities of Interest
- Personal Expression
- Empathy and Giving Back
- Higher Calling”
It is a rather fascinating and inspiring read all along for sure and I highly recommend going through it, specially, if you are still enjoying some time off and could do with some additional hints & tips on what that thinking time could be like. I can tell you, after the 10 days I have spent back home, with my family, in mainland Spain, there are a couple of them that truly resonate with what I have experienced during that time: personal expression, gratitude and empathy and giving back, understanding fully that all of the above will eventually help me figure out the biggie, that is, the higher calling (Whatever that may well be, whenever … time will tell).
Ether way, you can probably sense from this blog post how after that holiday break my batteries are fully charged, and ready for plenty more to come along! I will be back to work next Monday. That outrageous, heretic, corporate rebel optimist, that hippie 2.0, is back in full throttle and interestingly enough with a new focus (I told you, that thinking time was going to have its toll as well! hehe) that will start unfolding itself from next week onwards, when as an early riser back into the social grid, will start unleashing his personal expression. But for now, I thought I would share over here a couple of photos I had the chance to take as well of the town where I grew up back in the 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 …
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 …
IBM Connect 2013 Highlights – Pardon the Interruption in Social Business – The Recording #ibmconnect
A couple of months ago, when my good friend and fellow colleague, Louis Richardson, came to talk to both my twin brother Luis Benitez and myself to participate at the IBM Connect 2013 conference event in Orlando, Florida, following the well known format of “Pardon The Interruption” we knew, back then, it was going to be a risky bet, one where we thought it was going to be rather a huge massive smash hit or just simply a notorious everlasting failure. Since all three of us do enjoy challenging ourselves on a regular basis we decided though to, what the h*ck, take the risk and go for it! We may as well enjoy the ride along the way, right? Well, we surely did! That’s how “Pardon The Interruption in Social Business” came into being and how it was a stunning success we can now go and treasure for a long while…
Indeed, that was the breakout speaker session the Three Louie (#troislouie) decided to embark on, making it the very first time in history that three Luis’ heavily involved with Social Business would be making it on stage at the same conference event, at the same date, at the same time talking with passion about the same subject. Of course, there was a bunch of preparation that took place before that day arrived. Louis got us all three organised (without even sending a single email across, by the way, but collaborating through IBM Connections Activities < W00t! Yes, walking the talk!) and before we knew it we were off to something magical.
Earlier on, indeed, while in the preparation stages, we knew that in order to make it a successful event we needed to count on a little bit of help from the audience, so a few weeks before the session took place we dived into Twitter and started socialising the #ptisocialbiz hashtag, where folks, who would be attending the session live, would be capable of sharing across their questions so that we would then be able to incorporate them into the PTI presentation and give ourselves 60 seconds each, or less, to share that insightful thought that would serve as an educated answer. Somewhat.
And the audience responded! Oh, boy, and brilliantly! Overall, we got through over 18 of those questions over the course of one hour making it a quite fun, interesting and fast paced presentation, which is something that was well perceived seeing the time the session took place at (5:30pm to 6:30pm). Right from the start we knew that we all three needed to be somewhat radically different, so we decided to play some roles as well where Luis Benitez was the traditionalist social product manager, Louis Richardson was the pragmatic social sales evangelist and yours truly was the social business outlier, a role I have grown to become rather fond of over the course of time, perhaps, mostly as a result of “A World Without eMail“.
The vibe during the session was amazing. We had a packed up room with very few spaces left and from what we were told later on in the week coming closer to 300 people attending the session overall. Right then I realised it was going to be a smash hit. The atmosphere was just perfect: relaxed, condescending, inspiring, rather jolly and, above all, brilliantly engaging. You could feel it in the air. Just brilliant! Just the perfect ambience to let your brain do its magic and let yourself go, let all of that passion, wit, knowledge and accumulated experience on living social shine through, just as the audience was rather attentive, alert and willing to be wowed! Well, we were the ones who ended up ourselves being the ones wowed and big time!
We know the quality of the audio throughout the large room was not up to the optimal stage. In fact, we were told by those looking after the sound / mikes that we would better stay close to the main stage as to avoid poor quality of the audio coming through and that was perhaps a bit of a bummer, because, originally, we had the intention of mixing and mingling with the audience, walking about, and bringing forward different points of attention depending on where we may well be in the large room. Oh, well, may be next time around!
The good thing though is that right from the beginning we knew the session was going to be recorded and everything, so, at least, we would have a good quality recording to share across when it would be over. And we surely did. In fact, Louis has already put it together with a copy of the slide-ware we used and shared it across over at his Slideshare account. So folks who may be interested in taking a peek and go through it may be able to do so with the embedded code shared below:
What an adrenaline rush! Still getting shivers through my spine as I keep reflecting on what we learned going through that exhilarating experience of throwing yourself into the unknown and see what would happen, and in front of such a large audience! Just wonderfully delightful and highly recommended altogether!
Judging from the superb, generous feedback comments we received throughout the following couple of days, both offline and online, it looks like it was worth it. My good friend Stu McIntyre probably summed it up nicely with this particularly tweet that we surely appreciate very much, specially, thinking about the initial reservations we had when initially diving into it for the first time:
— Stuart McIntyre (@StuartMcIntyre) January 29, 2013
To me, it was also a bit of a special session, since it was the first time that I ever spoke at IBM Lotusphere / Connect in the 5 years I have been attending the conference event in a row, and it is probably something that I will keep remembering and treasuring as that new format presentation that perhaps will mark a new beginning where instead of focusing on delivering master classes of slide-ware we eventually throw ourselves into the audience to embark on a 2-way open dialogue bridging both the online and offline worlds, where both speakers and attendees learn just as much as we can from one another. Surely one of those fond experiences I won’t be forgetting any time soon!
So much so that perhaps there will be a v2.0 next year where we will expand further on in the concept and take it to a new level. Who knows… For now, we just want to thank dearly and sincerely Stu, for that wonderful piece of generous feedback shared across in the moment, and to everyone else who came over to our session and participated rather actively to help us keep up with our learning curves, the pace and the rhythm on what it is like thriving in social business where the collective keeps trumping the individual master class(es) of those so-called slide-ware prone gurus
If you have a chance to go through the recording and the presentation, we also want to thank you for taking the time to go through it and please do let us know through the comments what you thought about the session itself and how we could improve it for the next time. Because, you know what they say, right? There is always plenty of room for improvement! Practice makes perfection (Or so they say…)
We hope to see you all next year at the next #ptisocialbiz session, hoping it will be just as much fun, entertaining, educational and enlightening for everyone all around as this year’s, if not more altogether!
[Oh, did you notice our answers for one of the very last questions from the session on "What is your personal plan / objective for 2013 to support the adoption of Social Business and IBM Connections?" Well, if you have been reading this blog for a little while now, like since the beginning of this year, or longer, you will know what my answer was…
… Challenge is ON!]