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

Travelling

Samsara – A Treat to All Senses

Gran Canaria - Samsara

 

This week there will be a bit of light blogging from yours truly since it’s one of those wonderfully weird weeks where multiple national bank holidays happen throughout the week, almost one after the other and for different reasons, so there is a great chance I will be spending most of the time offline rather than online. Perhaps, for those odd moments when I’m back online it may well be also the perfect opportunity for me to continue with the series of blog posts around ‘Gran Canaria – A Mini-Continent to Rediscover’ that I mentioned recently I would be writing about every weekend from then onwards. Well, this week already feels a little bit like a massively long weekend with this so-called ‘macro-puente’, so to get things going I will go ahead with the first recommendation of places to eat and dine in Gran Canaria and I will go for one of my favourite restaurants in the island that if I were to describe it with a short sentence it would be just this one: ‘A Treat to All Senses’.

Welcome to Samsara! That incredibly amazing place that, once you try it out, it will trap you for good with plenty of unforgettable and intoxicating memories, enticing you to keep coming back over and over again! 

It’s one of those places where you would need to book a table well in advance, because it gets really busy pretty quick. Once you are sorted out with the booking, what you would want to do is arrive way early, so you have a good opportunity to enjoy one of the most amazing long walks around the Maspalomas Lagoon that will definitely help out open up your appetite. And now you would be ready to enjoy an amazing experience. 

While going up the stairs you can already sense you are off to experience something pretty unique on its own. The atmosphere is very different to whatever you would find in the rest of the island. Something I could pretty well define as exotic, maybe even a tad mystical. Both the exquisite lounge area as well as the capacious restaurant are decorated in an oriental style that, at times, can be pretty overwhelming, but that, once you let your sense adjust accordingly, it’s as if you have just been taken into a completely different world even before you sit down. 

If it is the first time you go there, understand the world may have just slowed down a fair bit for you, because the owner (usually) will take his time to explain how the restaurant works. Pay attention, because that’s where it gets pretty interesting. Samsara’s mantra is that one of sharing the food with the people going along with you. The portions are usually rather large, sufficing a single dish for two people and rather generously, as you can see from the pictures I have shared in this blog post. So asking for a starter, the main course and the dessert for two people would be a rather good option on its own and, believe me, you would have plenty of amazing food on the table. Be prepared to be wowed and multiple times! 

To describe the food experience would be a bit preposterous from my side, as I would probably spoil it all for you, so I won’t. But I will probably add Samsara is a rather special fusion place of the West with the Far East, and getting it just right, meaning the wonderful and rather delicate mixture of western ingredients with oriental flavours, cooked with both pause and tender, loving care, becomes, on its own, a work of art you are just about to enjoy and be mind-blown altogether.

That’s where all of your senses will go through a massive wake up call almost instantly: the intoxicating smells, the gorgeous colours, the  flavours, oh, my goodness!, the scrumptious flavours, the chill-out rather suggestive background music, the always attentive service making you all feel rather welcome at their home. Whoahhh! Did I say already how wonderfully overwhelming it can get? Well, it gets better. The desserts!

You may have noticed how throughout this post I have shared three different snap shots of various dishes I have tried a few times already, but you would also notice how I haven’t shared any picture about the desserts. Such a teaser, right? Well, that’s the best part of entire evening meal. Believe me, I am not exaggerating a single bit when I share over here the desserts are just out of this world AND back! Their presentation alone (As creative as you can possibly get!) would just make you take a picture and forget completely about enjoying the rather suggestive mix of both western and eastern flavours. If you ought to be left with a first good impression about the whole experience I can tell you now it will be the desserts. So make space for them! You will need it. You will thank me later, too! 😋👍🏻

Now I can imagine at this point in time you may be wondering about how expensive the restaurant is, right?, specially, after all of what I have mentioned above. Well, for what you get, it isn’t. It’s very good value for money. Not too expensive, not too cheap, just perfect. So much so you will realise, upon paying the bill, you will already start thinking about when you would be coming back again and at that point that’s when it will hit you: it’s not yourself who would want to come back to Samsara, but all of your senses, because they just had such a dumbfounding experience they would want to repeat it again. I can’t blame them. It’s a real treat for all of them. I know

I, too, can’t wait to come back! Fancy joining me next time around? 🙌🏻

 

Gran Canaria - Samsara

 

 Gran Canaria - Samsara

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Gran Canaria – A Mini-Continent to Rediscover

Gran Canaria - Maspalomas Dunes

 

If you have been reading this blog for a good few years already, you would know vast majority of articles over here have always been related to some of the main business topics I have been rather passionate about over the course of the last 20 years, whether it is Knowledge Management, Collaboration, Learning, Online Communities (and Community Building), Social Networking, Social Business and Digital TransformationProductivity, and, of course, Work / Life Integration. 

You may have noticed as well though how I hardly write anymore about one subject in particular that’s been so dear to my heart over the course of the last 13 years I feel it may well be a good time to kick it off today without any further delay. I may have waited for far too long on that one already. I know now I am ready to talk and blog about it and I will explain why shortly…

You know, people often say, when you decide to start a blog, you should always write about the stuff you are truly passionate about, so that, as the years go by, you wouldn’t get tired of writing about such exciting topics that would allow you to keep up with your blogging mojo for many many years to come. I’m only now starting to realise there is something else I have been rather passionate about over the last few years that I haven’t written much about, at least, in the length I would have expected. And, with that, I guess it’s time to do something about it. And change it. Today. That’s why I’m kicking off this new series of blog entries under the heading ‘Gran Canaria – A Mini-Continent to Rediscover’. 

I know what you all may be thinking about, that you are going to unsubscribe really quick and stop reading this blog, from here onwards, as I write these few words, and never come back. That was it, you are done. So long and thanks much for all the fish! Good-bye! The thing is the fact I’m starting a new series of entries over here to write about one of my other passions, Gran Canaria, that may not be very much related to work, does not imply, at all, I will stop writing about the usual subjects I have been writing about all along, let me be clear on that one. I still plan to write, at least, 3 blog entries per week about business related topics and then, over the weekend, I will write one other post about the island I have been in love with since early 2004. And all of that because of a very specific reason altogether I think it’s now a good time to put down for good. 

As I have mentioned already, I have been living in Gran Canaria, one of the Canary Islands, Spain, for nearly 13 years now and time and time again I keep meeting up tons of people, some of whom are good friends of mine, or become friends over time, or they are just acquaintances who come and go as they holiday over here in the island. More often than not, I keep hearing from them how there isn’t anything else much to do in the island other than lay in the sunshine, go to the beach (or the pool), have a swim, perhaps have a mojito (or two!), come back to the hotel, and enjoy perhaps one of the most disappointing dinners ever. And then repeat again for as long as the holidays would last. Ouch!

Well, that may well have happened a few years back, but it’s no longer, necessarily, the norm. If you ask me, that’s, definitely, not what a refreshing and re-energising holiday in Gran Canaria should be all about, I tell you. It’s got a whole lot more to offer, if you care enough to look for it. Yes, of course, you can still get plenty of sunshine throughout the entire year, go and enjoy some of the most stunning beaches in the country, and have a drink or two before dinner, but that’s just the beginning. There is a whole lot more than that. That’s just one of the many activities you can embark on while you are staying in the island. And that’s exactly what I am hoping to share with you all with this new series of weekly articles. 

The same goes for food. You know, I am a foodie myself. Those of you who know me in real life could vouch for that, I am sure. I have always been one. In fact, before I went and started working in the IT industry back in 1997 I was a already cook for a good few years. And I loved it, I still do every single day, which is what I find incredibly surprising, because, upon asking those friends and acquaintances about the places where they had awful meals I keep saying, ‘No wonder, you are just going to the wrong places altogether! Gosh, believe me, I have tried most of them all out myself already! I know’It’s what you get having lived over here for nearly 13 years and go out on a regular basis for a meal or a drink, which is something I really love doing, as it allows me to help a little bit with the local economy (I will share some more on what I mean about this one at a later time…) while, just as well, have a good time, too. Yes, indeed, getting the best out of both worlds. 

So when conversing with friends about this, I always get asked abut what nice places should they go out to for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or what kinds of other activities folks could do apart from laying on the beach whole day long, having a drink and getting some much needed sunshine. Over time, one realises I keep repeating, over and over again, the very same stories, that is, the very same recommendations and suggestions, year in year out, to the point where it gets a bit too repetitive. And BOOM! Here it goes: I will blog them then, why not, right? 

That’s exactly the purpose of this series of blog posts. They are not meant to replace TripAdvisor at all or whatever other app people may use at the moment to get around places. In fact, if I take TripAdvisor’s noteworthy suggestions about places to eat & dine in Gran Canaria they are quite a few (nasty) surprises I would avoid (Yes, I told you, I have tried most of them all out already! Yikes!). So my intent with these posts is to keep it very informal, very down to earth, nothing fancy, nor too complicated, just blog weekly about a place, or an activity, to go / do and include a couple of items as to why I’d be recommending it based on my own experience living here and then share some additional pictures I may have taken as well. And that’s pretty much it.

Sounds like good fun, don’t you think? I think so, too. More than anything else because the next time friends come over to stay in the island for a good few days (whether on holidays or for work, why not?) I could just point them into this blog and they could just read and digest all of the different suggestions and then make their own holiday / work plans, as they may see fit, based on their needs and wants. So when we meet up again for lunch, or dinner, or just for drinks to catch up with one another, the conversations may shift from ‘My gosh, that place was just awful’, to ‘My goodness! What an amazing place that was! We are definitely coming back! It was absolutely gorgeous!’ 

And who knows? If other people out there, who may be reading those blog posts, benefit from such stories, suggestions and recommendations, about what else you could do while you are in Gran Canaria, all the better, right? That’s what working out loud has always been all about in the first place, open knowledge sharing about the stuff that matters to you, or, better said, in this case, that’s what living out loud is all about. Now, in the moment, carpe diem, making the most, every day, of the place I now call home. My home. And share it with everyone out there who may be interested in doing something different, because if there is something I have learned over time is that Gran Canaria has got a lot to offer. 

Care to join me and find out?

Get in touch soon then! Let’s do it! 

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Social Connections VI – From Adoption to Adaptation, from Enablement into Engagement, while #WOLWeek Kicks Off

My goodness! Can you believe it’s now a bit over 5 months since I left IBM and moved on to my next adventure as a trusted advisor around Social Business and Digital Transformation? Yes, I know, me neither! It’s just gone so fast it’s been a bit of a challenge keeping up with the pace into this whole new life of being an independent freelancer. Pretty much like when I posted the last blog entry over here in this blog a couple of weeks ago, before I disappeared into a business trip to Barcelona, followed by a long weekend break in the same city, to then come back and embark on my next business trip to Zaragoza. Phew! And yet, while the journey has been incredibly good fun all along, never mind the massive learning experience, here I am preparing, non-stop, for the next business trip just around the corner: Social Connections VI. June 16th – 17th, 2014. Prague. Yes, I know, that Prague.

It’s been a pretty wild ride, all along, since I left my former employer, but it’s been even more interesting participating in a good number of different conversations with former colleagues to get exposed to different perceptions and understandings while trying to figure out where to next from there. Indeed, over the course of the last few weeks I have been taking the time to converse with plenty of former colleagues to catch up with one another on what we have been doing and what we are currently working on and it’s been a bit of a surprise how, somewhere, someplace, there seems to have been this rumour that when I left the company I left in pretty bad terms, with resentment, and without a single intention of getting back in touch with any entry point into the IBM ecosystem. Never mind its extensive network(s). 

Very sad and untrue. I am not too sure where or why that rumour started in the first place and, frankly, I am not even interested in finding out more about it. But those folks out there who know me very well, or who have been working with me for the last 17 years, or any period in between, would probably confirm how, like with any other major corporation, there are always highs and lows, of course (no-one can, nor should, deny them), but, overall, my working experience at IBM has been, if anything, a true privilege. From day one. 

Not every day do you get to work in multiple dream jobs at the same firm, while living in paradise island, with your HR manager physically located in another continent different than yours and with your project manager working in one other (different) continent altogether. And all of that with a pretty good salary, lots of prestige and reputation going the extra mile big time and for a long while, and working with some of the most talented and wonderful people around the globe. If anything, like I said, it’s been a privilege. An honour to have stuck around for that long doing some pretty amazing things realising that, at some point in time, it was a good time to look for a change, to make yourself redundant, and start your new adventure. Whatever that may well be… 

 

Well, that’s essentially what I have been doing myself throughout this time, but, all in all, I also realised, way back after I made the initial decision to depart ways from my former employer, that I would not be going too far away and, instead, I would be hanging around the IBM ecosystem (From the outside, that is) helping facilitate potential clients beginning their own Social Business & Digital Transformation journeys. And while I have been doing some work along those lines already (more on that coming up soon!), there is a special event in my mind that’s going to provide me with an opportunity to explore and experiment further how I can put to good use all of those 17 years of experiences and know-how at a large corporate environment like IBM’s. If I managed to make myself redundant, because I considered that my job in the company was done, it’s time now for me to move on into the next challenge: help clients now, who may have purchased an ESN solution like IBM Connections, adapt to the new reality of the Connected Enterprise.

That’s why I am pretty excited to share over here in this blog additional details about my upcoming business trip to Prague (From June 15th till the 20th) to participate at the upcoming Social Connections VI event. A conference event organised by Social Business practitioners for Social Business practitioners, where it looks like this year is going to be more massive than ever with over 225 participants from across the world. Both the agenda and the speakers line-up are pretty impressive altogether. The venue one of the most stunning places I have yet to visit and speak at. And Prague. In spring time and about to enter the lovely summer. Doubt it can get better than that, don’t you think?

That means we are just one week short for the event itself to kick off and I guess it’s now a good time for me to share with you all what I will be up to while I am there. I will be attending the entire conference, of course, so there will be plenty of live tweeting (and some blogging), but I have also been invited to speak at a couple of different sessions. To name: 

You can have a look into the links shared above for more details on each of the different sessions, and why I am so excited about the opportunity to participate as a speaker on a couple of the topics I am truly passionate about from over the course of the years. From the fast-paced panel discussion where you never have enough time to elaborate a thought or two around Social Business, so being sharp and straight to the point in your answers is an additional bonus, to venturing into exploring what the future of work may well be like for Socially Integrated Enterprises. 

But that’s not all of it. The good fun continues on Wednesday, June 18th, as well, where I will have the pleasure of hosting a one day masterclass around Social Business Adoption & Enablement under the heading “From Adoption to Adaptation, from Enablement into Engagement”. And for this one full day workshop I am truly ecstatic about the prospect of packaging up and delivering accordingly 15 years of experiences, know-how, hints & tips, good practices, use cases, community building techniques, lessons learned, show stoppers, inhibitors, benefits, and overall mindshare of what it is like embarking on that so-called Social Business & Digital Transformation journeys. 

In case you may not have seen it just yet, here’s the description of the workshop quoted below: 

What if instead of “driving” adoption within your organisation, you could inspire and facilitate adaptation instead? What if you would have the means to re-define a new way of working with your fellow colleagues and peers through that very same adaptation to become a successful Socially Integrated Enterprise? What if that methodology, good practices, extensive expertise and know-how would all be at your fingertips, so you could apply it right away? What if you knew the nuts and bolts of getting your management and senior leadership teams all involved right from the start to help facilitate the final social business transformation you have always been looking for? Are you ready?

Come and join us on this one day masterclass to find out and learn how you can get the most out of your IBM Connections deployment to begin, or continue, that transformation journey into becoming a successful Social Business.

Agenda:

09:00 – Welcome and Overview
09:10 – IBM Connections and the Connected Enterprise
10:00 – Use Case #1: From hierarchy to wirearchy (IBM Connections Profiles)
11:00 – Morning Break
11:30 – Use Case #2: From document centric to people centric (IBM Connections Files)
12:30 – Lunch
13:30 – Use Case #3: task centric computing (Getting Work Done through IBM Connections Activities)
14:30 – Use Case #4: Networks as the new production line (IBM Connections Communities)
15:30 – Afternoon Break
16:00 – Use Case #5: A Day in the Life … Making sense of it all in the new way of working
16:30 – Closing discussion
17:00 – Workshop ends at 17:00

Whether you are just getting started with your Social Business Adaptation Journey, or whether you are already a very well seasoned 2.0 knowledge worker, this workshop will provide you an opportunity to learn with other fellow practitioners through plenty of practical, hands-on advice, good practices, lots of hints and tips and, most importantly, all of the necessary knowledge resources available to date. It will help you as well to even break free from the email yoke: Outside of the Inbox 

As you can see, it’s going to be a pretty packed up and intense one full day workshop, but, at the same time, it’s going to help me understand whether it’s something that I can then port over to other cities, other venues, other events, even online!, and make it one of the various work streams I’m currently working on as an independent freelancer. It’s bound to be very interactive and overall very engaging, since I’m hoping to collect plenty of feedback from participants to keep improving the overall user experience for future instances. 

The good news is that if you are around those dates there is still time for you to sign up and join us. But if you can’t make it to Prague in just one week from now, don’t worry. Submit your city in the comments to this blog post and, who knows, before you know it, we may be able to host it around your neck of the woods. After all, it’s just such a small world, eh? 😀 And, while I am busy working on the last minute preparations I can guarantee you that the overall masterclass will become available online as a virtual, interactive, workshop some time soon, too!

See? This week is #WOLWeek (Working Out Loud Week). And my good friends Jonathan Anthony, Austen Hunter and Simon Terry, along with a whole bunch of people and the rest of the folks at Change Agents Worldwide (@chagww), have already kicked things off with numerous blog posts, tweets, plus sings, etc. etc. so I guess I have already started with my own share of working out loud practices by letting you all know folks what I will be spending my time on, and a large chunk of it, for sure, for the rest of the week: Social Connections VI and the Masterclass “From Adoption to Adaptation, from Enablement into Engagement”. 

Hope you will have a chance to join us, whether at Social Connections VI, or the Masterclass I will be hosting on June 18th in Prague following the #soccnx event itself, or, eventually participating further along into #WOLWeek. All in all, it’s bound to be good couple of weeks of fun, learning, knowledge sharing, and, why not, visiting one of the most beautiful cities in the world. At least, you shouldn’t miss on that, right? 😀 

 

PS. Ohhh, and before I forget remember that, as I mentioned on my last blog entry over here, all of my #WOL (Working Out Loud) activities will also happen over in my Google Plus profile from here onwards … 

 

Written by Luis Suarez

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

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From Adaptation into Engagement by Luis Suarez

Language matters. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself about how important it is to build a narrative you would feel rather comfortable with when interacting with other people, whether your peers, your customers, your business partners, even your competitors. It’s something that has been in my mind over the course of time in terms of how we get work done more effectively through these digital technologies. You see? I cringe a little bit every time that someone mentions the word “drive” (Specially, when you are not in a car!), or “adoption” or the combination of both: driving the adoption (of Social Business). So whenever someone invites me to help inspire a new narrative within their organisation(s), as they embark themselves on the so-called Social Business and Digital Transformation journeys, it’s an opportunity that I just don’t let go that easily. Why? Well, because having a good, representative narrative on what matters to you and your business is no longer down to some fancy words, but more down to actions. Essentially, walking the talk, leading by example.

That’s why when the European Commission invited me last week to go to Brussels, and spend a couple of hours with a representative group of middle managers, to help them understand the role they would need to play, when embracing digital technologies, adjusting accordingly their management and leadership capabilities to the new reality, I just took the opportunity to demonstrate how important having the right narrative would well be for their own efforts to become a Socially Integrated Enterprise. Regardless of the organisation or the management layer.

So, instead of driving the adoption of middle managers from the European Commission, we talked about business purposes and how social technologies could act as a rather valuable and unprecedented enabler towards achieving a certain number of goals. We talked about the need to move away from adoption and into adaptation, understanding that they are the group that, beyond early adapters, everyone else is looking up to when embracing these emerging social tools while at work. 

You see? While most people out there would consider that middle managers are the main hurdle or obstacle towards the successful adaptation of businesses to this new way of hyperconnected, networked, smarter work, through social networks, here I am thinking, instead, they are your best ally beyond the first and second wave of “early adapters”. Most people may not realise about this, but middle managers are the social bridges within organisations. They are well connected to people down the trenches, while, at the same time, they keep close ties with those on the top. They essentially talk to both groups. They understand the needs and wants from both groups. They know, very well, how to get the most out of each of them, and if they have traditionally been perceived as rather static, hierarchical and overall disengaged, is because they have always been perceived as the main problem, when they are eventually the solution.

Middle managers are that specific group of practitioners, because, yes, they are also practitioners, just like you and me, that have been caught right in between this digital revolution of social technologies just as disengaged as everyone else. So when looking into a business purpose or problem to tackle with the emergence of Social Business employee disengagement is just as good for them as for everyone else. Remember, currently 87% of today’s knowledge workforce, according to Gallup’s recent research, is disengaged at work. So if you have got a group of 100 middle managers, that means that about 13% of them are the ones executing on the work they have, because they feel motivated enough to make it happen. The rest will just continue to struggle along generating perhaps even more disengagement amongst the rest of the workforce. And that is the main business problem we are currently facing and why we need to keep inspiring a next generation of leaders, not just senior or executive leaders, for that matter, who are willing to change their own narrative and understand that effective leadership in this so-called Social Era is not about empowering people around you, it’s about enabling those around you.

It’s about helping them understand how, as a leader, you will be offering your own help and support to provoke that transformation. How the time for command and control, or micro-managing your employees is a thing of the past. How to become an effective leader you would need to acquire a new set of skills and capabilities that would help you transform yourself from being just another middle manager doing their (disengaged) work into the new kind of Open Leadership that’s very much needed to help re-engage a knowledge workforce that right now is on the brink of collapsing on its own. 

That’s why words no longer mean anything on their own. That’s why actions do mean everything. That’s why leading by example, walking the talk, exhibiting those new leadership capabilities and competencies would help you, as a (middle / senior) leader, understand the new dynamic of what it is like thriving in social networks, being part of the pack, one of the nodes, one that can act as the main catalyst to connect the dots across the organisation understanding that the days for the good old strict and rigid hierarchy are well numbered and how it is time to transition into a hybrid approach of combining both hierarchy and wirearchy to then eventually transition into a wirearchy inspired organisation. 

A lot has been written in the past about the critical role that middle managers play when embarking on the Social Business Transformation journey. However, they also have got business problems of their own that they would need to solve first, as my good friend, and fellow CAWW member, Simon Terry quoted just recently: “Middle managers like to complain about being squeezed by pressures from above and below. Their organisations love to blame them for all the ills in the place”. Perhaps it’s now a good time to understand that we should probably stop blaming them for everything that has gone wrong in an organisation and, instead, help enable them to understand their new critical role in the leadership ladder to become the social bridges to effectively make change happen. 

How? Well, probably by exhibiting, through actions, not words anymore alone, a new kind of leadership capabilities, associated with the whole notion around both Social Business and Open Business under a new, rather specific, framework: Open Leadership. To that extent, a little while ago, I put together a presentation at Haiku Deck where I captured my interpretation of what those new leadership traits would be like putting them in context about the main business purpose behind them when embracing the emergence of social technologies at the workplace: eventually, re-engage the knowledge workforce. Yes, to me, still, and by far, our number one business problem in today’s business world, whatever the industry, whatever the sector, no matter what organisation.

Can you imagine the huge potential of transforming our work environment from having just barely a bit over 10% of the employee population doing all the hard work, where we are just about to enter the stage of mere survival, to eventually have a much much higher level of purposeful participation and overall engagement? I know how plenty of folks have been talking all along about social networking’s capabilities to democratise the workplace. To me, it goes well beyond that. It’s about that unique opportunity to democratise how we work, how we connect, collaborate and share our knowledge more effectively, so that we can get work done without all the unnecessary stress and ill-behaviours we are currently exhibiting that are managing, little by little, to destroy everything that we have been building up over the course of decades, and, to such extent, that’s the main reason why middle managers are the main enablers of that transformation journey. 

 

From Adaptation into Engagement. From being blamed from all sides for everything that goes wrong, to become the catalyst enablers helping transform not only the way we all work, but also, essentially, the corporate cultures we breathe in day in day out. After all, they always had the authority to act. Now they just need to show what Open Leadership truly means in the connected workplace and demonstrate it accordingly, not only by their words alone, but also by their own actions, too! 

 

Written by Luis Suarez

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

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Relentless Networking and the Power of Now

Even though I am now an independent freelancer working as a trusted advisor to clients around Social Business and Digital Transformation, after 17 years of corporate life at IBM, there are still some things that I guess don’t change much, or, at least, not as fast as I would have hoped for. One of those areas is business travelling, that, although not happening as often as it used to be, it’s one of those activities where I still see plenty of room for improvement, specially, when trying to combine being on the road and still keep up with my digital activities. You would think after all of these years, and several hundreds of business trips, I would get the hang out of it already, but, alas, it doesn’t seem to be the case. At least, not yet. It’s just like I disappear into thin air, except perhaps for Twitter, for a good few days and, before I realise and try to make an effort about coming back into the Social Web, I am then back home from travelling, and we are back in business. Goodness! Will I ever be capable of reconciling business travelling and digital interactions? Probably not, and here is why.

Relentless networking. A rather short and straight to the point description as to why I would never be capable of reconciling my online social interactions with the offline world, while I am on the move. Never mind that as soon as I leave the country, my mobile phone turns itself into a brick. A rather expensive brick. Somehow my motivation then to remain connected just disappears, since I can’t come to terms with the fact of paying hugely expensive roaming charges for something that it is starting to feel more of a right, yes, the Right to a Decent Internet Access, even for road warriors like myself, when we are away from our traditional work locations. 

Twitter is perhaps an exception to all of this. Its mobile immediacy and ever growing global reach, along with the very little consumption of data while on the road, allows me to still keep an eye on all things digital. But it’s rather interesting to see how I essentially morph, on purpose, how I use this social networking tool whether I am working at my home office or while on the road. At home, it’s my preferred and most energising, inspiring, serendipity-prone, personal learning network. When I travel it’s my main method of how I connect and reach out to people in my network(s). And that’s where the relentless networking I mentioned above kicks in.

I guess, all along, my main focus, when I am embarking on a business trip, is to essentially put an emphasis on connecting with people and reach out, whether they are part of my network(s), or not, through face to face conversations. Late last year I went through the Strengths Finder assessment (More about this one item coming up shortly as a new blog entry, by the way) and I ”discovered” how the number #1 top strength from yours truly is that one of Connectedness. It didn’t surprise me. Perhaps it confirmed my ever growing inner urge to connect with others through face to face interactions, when I am in the road, sensing I may not have the chance to meet up with those people in the near / short term. So better make the most out of it while we are enjoying the now. The present. And then continue to make use of digital technologies, when back at the home office, to help enhance those already existing personal business relationships. 

I suppose that’s how I roll and I venture to state that pretty much describes what I have been involved with last week, when I travelled for a good few days to Brussels to do a workshop and a remote presentation for two different events (I will be blogging shortly on a different entry about this as well). And then I decided to spend the rest of the time meeting up good old friends, or new ones, who may be around and who would be able to meet up for a drink, or a meal, or both. Understanding that, you know, your online social interactions will always be there. However, the connecting with others in the now is just a split moment in our life times. You need to be at the right place and at the right moment with a specific purpose, that one of letting serendipity do its magic. And from there onwards go with the flow and enjoy it.

That’s something that I have learned, of all of unexpected places, and I am sure it may well be a bit of a shock for most of you, specially, if you won’t have one, but from my dog, a Belgian sheepdog: Boira, who happens to understand and embrace the now pretty well. To him everything happens in the moment, so you may as well be ready to enjoy it and make the most out of it, because thinking about the past or wondering about the future just doesn’t fit, or as Bil Keane would say: “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present“. 

That’s probably the main reason as to why after all of these years, perhaps it’s now a good time for me to stop, once and for all, trying to find a balance between offline and online interactions while I am travelling and focus perhaps on the now, i.e. on what I can do right there, right then, at that very moment, when connecting and reaching out with other people face to face, understanding that online digital interactions, after all, can wait, while the ubiquitousness of the present moment, right when serendipity is just about to strike, can’t. And that’s when it hit me last week, while in Brussels, because, in between events, I only had a single thought in mind: network, network and network again.

Relentlessly. Non-stop. You know how it goes. You are your network, your network is you. It’s what you build and nurture over the course of time. It takes an awful lot of energy, effort and intent. But it’s just totally worth it. And sometimes it’s good to have a reminder to Look Up, to pause and reflect from all of the hectic digital interactions, and let the world slow down for a bit having some bloody good conversations, as my good friend Euan Semple would say. Well, that’s just what happened last week while enjoying one of my favourite cities in Europe, Brussels. And, now that I am at my home office again, it’s time to go back to all things digital to keep cultivating those already existing interactions and newly built (offline) relationships. 

Till the next business trip … 

 

Written by Luis Suarez

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

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Gran Canaria – Celebrating the Mini-Continent

Today is a special day for yours truly. A very special day, actually. And I am not saying that because I know how perhaps half of the world (if not the whole world already!) may well be enjoying the various different celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day. So, if you are celebrating it, Happy St. Patrick’s Day nonetheless! Hope you are all having a good time with your loved ones, family and friends. The reason why I am very joyous and rather happy today though is because it’s exactly 10 years ago today that I decided to reboot my life, restart with a clean slate, and make a move to Gran Canaria, where I might find a new home and a new life altogether. That’s right, March 17th, 2004, I took a flight from The Netherlands (Rotterdam, to be more precise) to Gran Canaria to start a new life and 10 years later only thing I can say is that I’m rather privileged and grateful for having found it and for still going strong. 

There are no regrets. None whatsoever. In fact, all along, I have always felt it was probably the best decision I have ever made in my life, next perhaps to the one I have made 10 years later when, just recently, a bit over a month ago, I decided to make a move from IBM after 17 years of service in three different countries: The Netherlands, Ireland and Spain. Interestingly enough, I have always felt a rather close connection with Ireland myself, even more so when I spent a year over there in Dublin on an assignment for some project work I did back in the day. There are just so many things that I truly heart from that country, so when I decided I was moving back home from The Netherlands, I knew I would have to pick up a special date. One that I would remember forever with plenty of fond memories all around. And that date chosen is St. Patrick’s Day. 

Throughout the whole day I’ve been having lots of really good friends congratulating me and wishing me well for my birthday. I guess I have been a little bit of a naughty boy, because it’s actually not my birthday today. It was already in February (Another fellow Aquarian, I know, hehe), so I lied on the Web 🙂 

On most social networking tools out there where I keep getting asked about my date of birth for my profile I never put my real one, since with it and a couple of other pieces of data, it’s relatively easy to impersonate someone. I mostly put the year I was born next to March 17th, perhaps more than anything else, because when I came over here it all felt like I was being re-born again, so what a better tribute one could pay to such a special date than to celebrate it as if it were your real (Internet) birthday, right? 

For all of those folks who have been sending along their kind and best wishes I would want to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you for making this day even more special. For helping me get a reminder of what it was like moving over here, to Gran Canaria, to begin everything again from scratch. 10 years later, I am only now just getting started, although it feels like I have been living over here forever. It’s not there just yet. It’s the second longest place I have ever lived in, apart from my family place, back in mainland Spain (León). So it does feel like I have been here for a long long time. 

And, of course, it was time to celebrate such milestone, don’t you think? Well, that’s exactly what I have been doing whole weekend long, including today!, of course 🙂 by spending most of the time visiting one of my favourite places on the whole island: Puerto de Mogán, to just be reminded, once again, why I moved over here 10 years ago: 

Those of you who may have visited Puerto de Mogán at some point in time would know, and probably agree, what a stunning place that little fishermen’s village is to not only just walk out and about, but also to enjoy some stunning scenery that can be, if anything, rather breath taking: 

But not only that. Little Venice, as it is very well known for, has got a lot more to offer, like rather long walks along the harbour enjoying spring in full bloom in almost every single corner of the village making it a true pleasure for your eyes and your sense of smell to be taken away while the rest of the senses are just getting started to experience beauty and charm in equal doses: 

And, finally, the last stroll along the beach that acts as a clear reminder as to why I felt in love with Gran Canaria 10 years ago and why, 10 years later, it is just as strong as ever! Yes, it probably doesn’t get any better than this: 

I don’t know how much longer I may be living in Gran Canaria. Only time would know for sure, perhaps different various circumstances as well, I guess. At this point in time, I am taking each year as another gracious gift that I have been given without asking for anything in return and, as such, the only thing that I have got left is to write down this blog post as a token of immense gratitude for having Gran Canaria make me feel right at home in paradise. Carpe diem, as some of you may be thinking about at this very moment. For me, it’s a sincere Thanks! for changing my life back 10 years ago and for continuing to do so today.

March 17th, 2014! Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone and here’s to many many more years in paradise to come further along! And, remember, if you ever come over to Gran Canaria, get in touch. I would love to share with you all plenty of the hidden, golden gems this gorgeous island has got to offer to every single explorer

Me, included! 😀

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