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


IBM Connect 2013 Highlights – Pardon the Interruption in Social Business – The Recording #ibmconnect

TroisLouie at #ibmconnect 2013 after "Pardon The Interruption on Social Business" breakout sessionA 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:


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!]

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IBM Connect 2013 Conference Highlights – Adoption, Adoption, Adoption! #ibmconnect

IBM ChampionsAs you may have noticed by now, the little experiment that I had in mind to go and play with while I was attending last week’s IBM Connect 2013 conference event in Orlando, Florida, didn’t work too well, not because of lacking the intention, the motivation or the energy for it, but mainly because I killed my voice on the first day of the event. On Sunday. Yikes! How unfortunate and what a bad timing, because I was really looking forward to exploring that new experiment I have been toying with for a while now. Oh, well, next time around then, I guess, right? Either way, I am now back home, still in full recovery mode from 36 hours non stop return trip, but you may be wondering why I broke my voice on the first day of the event and what provoked it, right? Well, nothing more than plenty of wonderful conversation after conversation around perhaps what I feel has been the main theme throughout the event: Social Business Adoption!

Indeed, if there would be a highlight of what I learned, what I participated in, spoke about, talked about with fellow colleagues, customers and business partners, I could surely summarise it with a single key word: Adoption! It was truly fascinating to see how mature the Social Business field has become over the years and how plenty of the customers I talked to last year around Adoption were this year’s keynote or breakout speakers sharing their story, their journey, on becoming socially integrated enterprises. Yes, fascinating is a good word to describe the overall experience and the huge sense of pride I experienced (even today!) when I get to see customers sharing very powerful stories all around their social business journey(s) with lots of incredibly refreshing and inspiring success stories. Yes, of course, and the good lessons learned here and there, too! 

I think it was also the first time ever, in the 20 years the conference has been running (All along known before as Lotusphere), that there were more case studies and customers on stage and breakout sessions than ever before, which I guess is a really good sign that highlights how mature the whole field of social business is when the customers are the primary focus. That’s probably the best part of the conference, where you just sit back, relax, free your brain from any constraint and just learn. That is essentially what I did for the entire week non-stop! 

I tried to attend a good number of the sessions with customer case studies and success stories, but, unfortunately, I didn’t succeed in making some of them. Not because I didn’t want to, but simply because I had lots of other customer meetings myself, plenty of them for the first time ever that we meet face to face, and that I am sure next year they would be on stage as keynote or breakout speakers themselves sharing their own story. Yes, I feel that confident it will happen. The energy was there, the excitement, too!, but specially, the commitment, purpose and focus to make it happen all around. In fact, I raised the challenge for each and everyone of them that a year later they should be the ones on stage! 

And they accepted it! Game ON! 

Either way, like I was saying, the main reason why I broke my voice during the event on the first day was because of the huge amount of conversations I had with people, fellow colleagues, customers and BPs, non stop around adoption strategies and mainly describing IBM’s own journey towards becoming a successful social business that prevented me from even hanging out at the poolside bar, which, for instance, was the place that I spent most of my time last year. Well, this year I only visited it once and on Thursday evening, once the event was over! Ha! I need to work on that, I guess, and get closer next year. After all, the weather was just gorgeous whole week long! 

Over the course of the next few weeks I will be sharing plenty of additional highlights of what I experienced and learned throughout the conference, since I will have a chance to reflect on what I was exposed to and inject those learnings into new blog entries that I will try to connect with the overall theme from this blog. Perhaps the most exciting one insight I can share now is how a good number of the conversations I had moved around Open Business, which is starting to grab more and more attention by customers as an opportunity to open up, become more transparent, honest, and authentic on how they would want to conduct their business with their own customers. So I will have a good chance as well to talk about that over the course of time. So much so that on the #ptisocialbiz session that I co-presented I stated how my main objective for 2013 is going to be to drop the Social Business moniker and instead adopt Open Business.

For now though I thought I would just point you into perhaps one of the main resources out there that I will keep referencing time and time again about the event itself, which, in this case, it’s the link to the Livestream presentations that took place and that, although didn’t cover them all extensively, some of my favourites were recorded for later viewing as well. Like the Opening General Session, which I thought didn’t present us with much of a WOW! – Bang! Boom! feeling confirming, if anything, that social business is now mainstream. It’s here to stay and it’s here to transform the way we do business and instead of focusing on a massive spree of new features and capabilities the shift now has moved on into how I can apply it to my day to day business, regardless of the industry. Refreshing altogether!

Another favourite session worth while checking out would be the keynote from Day 2 where there were some of my favourite case studies shared through a short video clip, along with 3 live customer stories where David Jones pretty much just nailed it, sharing plenty of insights and helpful tips on accelerating their own adoption of social software for business! But for the rest, I will be talking about it at a later time in a number of different articles, like I mentioned above. Perhaps, for now, I will give you a teaser sharing along, and like I have been doing for other conference events, the .PDF file with all of the extensive live tweeting I did during the whole week, so you could have a glimpse on what customer case studies sessions I was rather interested in, what other general sessions I attended and, specially, what kinds of conversations I embarked on throughout the event itself, both face to face and virtually. 

As usual, you would be able to find the .PDF file over at my Slideshare account (Here is the direct link to it), and here’s the embedded code, so you can take a look right away and breeze through it. Like I mentioned, I will be covering in the near future plenty more ground of those social business adoption stories, some of them so inspiring that I still have got a lovely aftertaste that will be difficult to get rid of. So here it goes: 

And that would be it for me for today for the first, of several, blog entries on some major highlights from IBM Connect 2013, although I am thinking I’m not going to share them all right away, so I can pace through some other interesting reflections I have been musing and pondering about since my last article over here. That way we can balance it a bit nicely in between multiple other things that are happening at the moment. 

Oh, in case you are wondering, the picture I decided to include above on this post was also one of my favourite highlights from the overall event: a live snapshot taken while at the Opening General Session where Alistair Rennie (General Manager for IBM’s Collaboration Solutions) gave a huge shout (and mention!) to a smashing, talented, gifted group of individuals who are taking brand advocacy into new levels: the IBM Champions for Collaboration Solutions. Splendid highlight for sure and the perfect way to kick off quite an amazing event: start by treasuring and nurturing your brand advocates and social evangelists.

It’s the least you could do to recognise, acknowledge and embrace their extended hard work and their ever going the extra mile for you and your brand!


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IBM Connect 2013 – Pardon The Interruption, Are You Ready?

Gran Canaria - Guayadeque in the WinterOn January 20th 1997, while I was holidaying in The Netherlands, I started my adventure into the corporate world with a new job at IBM, as a Customer Support Representative for the Mainframe. 16 years later that adventure continues, and big time!, still having just as much fun as I did in Day One. So much so that later on this week I will begin tasting the Joy of Business Travelling, once again, and that this year is going to take me to a good number of countries and continents I haven’t visited just yet, for which I am really excited about, as you can imagine. But, for now, I’m starting to get things ready for IBM Connect 2013, which kicks off on January 27th till the 31st, and which surely promises to be one of those events difficult to forget around the space of Social Business. Are you ready? 

Well, before you answer that question, and while you may want to go ahead and check out the superb agenda put in place, I would like to ask you to go and have a look into the wonderful short article put together by the one and only, Seth Godin, on the topic of “When a conference works (and doesn’t)“. What a delightful read packed up with plenty of helpful tips on how to build, perhaps, a new strategy, in case you haven’t done so in the past, when attending face to face conference events, like I am about to do later on this month. 

I thought perhaps for today’s blog post I would go ahead and highlight a couple of those tips that I thought would be worth while sharing across and which match, somewhat, some of my own experiences attending face to face conference events in the recent past. As a starting point:

[…] someone is going to say or do something that might just change everything. Something that happens in the moment and can’t possibly be the same if you hear about it later […] In the digital age, if I can get the notes or the video later, I will

Indeed, this is what I have been telling folks over and over again. Focus on the face to face conversations, the networking aspects of the event, specially, with those folks who 1. You may not know just yet, so you can keep expanding your network beyond your usual suspects or echo chamber(s) and 2. You may not be able to see them F2F again throughout the remaining of the year. Think of it as your last chance in the year to catch up with them F2F. Don’t waste that opportunity. Seize it and make the most out of it. The notes, and video streaming, indeed, you can always get them later. No doubt. The conversations, you won’t.

[…] If there’s vulnerability and openness and connection […]

This is something that I am going to be trying it out myself quite a bit in numerous other conference events this year, but certainly going to kick if off at IBM Connect 2013. Actually, not just me, but two of my co-presenters and myself, when on Tuesday 29th at 5:30pm local time, we will go up on stage to kick off our session on “Pardon the Interruption at IBM Connect 2013” around Social Business, Adoption Techniques, Enablement, Collaboration, Online Communities and Social Networking for Business in general. Perhaps even a bit on Open Business as well, why not? 

Yes, that will be the time when “The Three Louie” (Louis Richardson, Luis Benitez and yours truly) will throw themselves into the lions living through that vulnerability, openness and connection in chunks of 3 minutes at a time with whatever the question folks in the audience may well have around all of these topics related to social networking for business. We are currently gathering questions over in Twitter under #ptisocialbiz so if you happen to attend IBM Connect 2013 as well and have got a burning question you would want to share with us, drop it over there and we will grab it for the session. If not, take them with you and ask them live while we are all there. Perhaps even more fun to show how vulnerable we may all well be with the unexpected! After all, what are the chances for you to see The Three Louie on stage at any given conference event? It’s a rare occasion, I can tell you that, since it will be the first time we are all three on stage on the same session. That promises to be plenty of really good fun, I can guarantee you that! Even more if you look into the time of the day for our slot and what we may be bringing up with us along the way … 😉

Following further along on Seth’s reflections about face to face events and how to get the most benefits from them, here’s one of my favourite quotes from the entire post: 

(At most events, competitiveness born from insecurity trumps mutual support)

And you know why that happens in most cases? At least, in my own opinion? Well, mostly because, due to that competitiveness flair going around, people who attend face to face conferences don’t have a tendency to be generous on the information, knowledge and experiences they share. Quite the opposite. They are always a little bit reluctant to share openly what drives their passion, their interests and their motivation to attend the event, just because they feel they need to protect something: their selves. Well, not really. This is pretty much what I have been saying for years around the well known mantra of “Knowledge is power. Yes, it is, of course, it always has been and always will be. But make it square, please! It’s “Knowledge SHARED is power”.

Indeed, the more you share generously about what you are doing, what you know, what you are good at demonstrating your thought leadership, the much more powerful you become, because it’s that visibility at conference events that clearly highlights how you will continue to build those strong personal business relationships. So get out of your comfort zone a little bit. Throw yourself into the lions, once again, of those who are thirsty for your knowledge and share it across generously. What’s the worst thing that can happen? That they now possess your knowledge? So what? You are the one who knows the most about that piece of knowledge or information in the first place and you would just need to remember that we, human beings, are just so bad in documenting and transferring our knowledge across through oral or written forms that no matter how much you share openly you would still be the one who knows the most about that particular subject. Always. Do remember the brilliant KM principles from my good friend Dave Snowden on Rendering Knowledge that would still apply and very much so. Don’t forget that tidbit that most people seem to ignore time and time again since they decide to go the easy way out: hoarding their knowledge. Don’t! Share it generously. For your own benefit and for the benefit of your networks. They will remember you for that. 

As Seth mentions in a rather smart and succinct manner on his blog post, you will become their hero because you have finally realised, at long last, you don’t have much to lose, but a lot to win. 

[Really looking forward to seeing everyone at IBM Connect 2013 and, please, don’t be shy. If we bump into each other, say “Hi!”. It’s the greeting that kicks off the magic of serendipitous knowledge discoveries from conversations you may have with  your networks and other people!] 

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Meaning Conference Highlights – A Collaborative Future #lawwe

La Palma - Roque de los MuchachosNot long ago I mentioned over here in this blog how one of the many reasons why I went through that extended blogging hiatus towards the end of 2012 was due to a rather intense business travelling schedule that took me on a tour of several different European countries to participate, as a speaker, on various conference events, customer meetings, enablement workshops and so forth. Intense is probably the right word to describe what it was like, but another one that I can think about would be memorable. I do have, indeed, plenty of fond memories about the vast majority of those events, but if there is one that has got a special place in my heart is that one event that kicked off last year and which raised the stakes incredibly high on its first edition to the point where it will always be in my thoughts not only because of the tremendously energising vibe it had all around it, throughout, but mainly because of the amazing experience of attending, speaking and participating in an event like no other in search for something that I am starting to feel we need nowadays more than ever: Meaning. 

Of course, I am talking about the Meaning 2012 conference event that took place in Brighton, UK, on October 1st and that three months later I am still remembering it as it were just yesterday. What an amazing event! Not only was the quality of the agenda and speakers top notch (I had the privilege of being one of them giving me a unique opportunity to continue learning from the greatest and the most unexpected), but the atmosphere around it was just electrifying and incredibly energising. The amount of hard work and the dedication to make things right, the incredibly warm sense of hospitality we enjoyed while in there, and the humanity shown throughout the entire event by folks, now really good friends, like Will McInnes and Lou Ash, along with the rest of the NixonMcIness team!, was absolutely a pure delight. Something other conference events should mimic and learn from a great deal! And all of that on their first edition! 

There have been several different blog posts, articles, references, highlights shared across by a good number of folks who attended the event, which have made it quite a rewarding experience going through as I am writing down this blog entry, remembering the wonderful event that we got exposed to over the course of a single day and, most importantly, the sharing of some of the most brilliant ideas we got to exchange and share openly not just from the speakers themselves, but also from people attending the event live with all of the networking that went on and on and on. A delightful experience all around! 

That’s why I couldn’t help resisting the urge to create this blog post where I could point folks to the recordings of the various different speakers, which you can find them all right over here, so that you could have a look and go through each and everyone of them. At your own pace, whenever you would want to. They are all worth it. Big time.

As usual, and like I have been doing over the last few months, I did a bunch of live tweeting from the event itself as well, and I then captured all of those annotations into a .PDF file that I uploaded into my Slideshare account for folks who may be interested in reading further what it was like experiencing the conference live. The direct link to it can be found over here. And here’s the embedded code in case you may want to flip through the pages as we speak: 

I had the privilege as well of being the last speaker of the day, wrapping up what was quite an amazing day that would be rather tough to forget in a long long time. Of course, I talked about one of my favourite topics from over the last 5 years: Living “A World Without eMail“. This time around expanding further on the notion of what a collaborative future may well look like and hold up for us with the emergence of social software tools in the corporate world. I got to talk about plenty of what I have been learning in the last 5 years after I started that movement, back in February 2008, which reminds me that we are getting close to that 5th year anniversary, where I have got a couple of lovely surprises packed up that I am sure folks who have been following this initiative all along would find rather interesting and surprising. But more on that later on…

For now, I thought, as a teaser, as perhaps an interim update from my last blog article on the subject (Yes, I know! I am long overdue an update on how things have been moving along, aren’t I? Well, coming up shortly!), I would go ahead and share the link to the recording over here, so that those folks who may be interested in the topic (It lasts for a little bit over 17 minutes), can have a look into it and watch at your own pace. I’m sure it will evoke a good number of questions and additional insights that I am more than happy to entertain and facilitate on the comments section below, so feel free to chime in as you may see fit, and stay tuned for that upcoming update on the progress report of what it has been like living “A World Without eMail” in the last 12 months. Oh, and don’t worry, it’s not going to be as massively long as the last one. That’s where one of the surprises would kick in eventually … hehe

Here we go: 

Hope you folks would enjoy watching through it, just as much as the huge blast and true honour I had myself on stage delivering the speech.  The vibe in the audience was something that will be very hard for me to forget. Ever. And for that I am eternally grateful to both Will, Lou and the rest of the NixonMcIness team!, for their kind invitation and for making of Meaning something that I can just define with a single word: special! … [Truly special]

An enormous thank you, indeed, to everyone involved in making it happen!

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7 Ways to Kill Your Presentation and How to Fix Them

La Palma - Roque de los Muchachos (Surroundings - Caldera de Taburiente)Continuing further with that new influx of shorter blog posts over here on this blog and since, lately, I seem to spend plenty of time, effort and energy on becoming a better public speaker doing plenty of reading, rehearsing and learning from those who do it best, I keep bumping into rather interesting resources on doing presentations right: engaging, inspiring, interactive, passionate, involving and rather energising, so I do love learning along the way not just with practice, which we all know makes perfection, but also reading the theory about how other people face having to deliver a presentation, whether they are well seasoned or just getting started. There is always something that we all get to learn. The key thing though is whether we are all ready to absorb, change and adapt our presentation skills to make even better pitches to engage our audience(s), which, I guess, is what matters at the end of the day… But what happens when you inadvertently kill your own presentation without even knowing? What can you do then? 

That’s the exact same premise that Jeanne Trojan addressed on a presentation that she put together a couple of years ago, and that when I bumped into it, just recently, by chance, I couldn’t help thinking how scarily accurate it was, and still is, with regards to the engaging art of delivering presentations and what pitfalls to avoid in order not to run into trouble far too soon. Thus I thought I would go ahead and share it over here, so that you would have an opportunity to see those “7 Ways to Kill Your Presentation” and ponder whether you would need to do something about not only addressing them, but fixing them for your upcoming presentation(s) for this year: 


After going through that lovely presentation put together by Jeanne, I bet you may be wondering what could be done in order to improve your own presentation skills, now that you have been made aware of those 7 pitfalls, right? Yes, I know, I had that very same thought, so I kept digging and saw how Jeanne herself has put together another presentation, from just a couple of days ago, where she has collected some extended advice on Presentation Tips from the Pros, which is pretty packed up with some excellent advice on how to not just deliver an engaging, passionate, meaningful and refreshing presentation, but also how you can prepare it, and prepare yourself, beforehand in a proper manner, so I thought I would go ahead as well and take the liberty of embedding it right here for other folks to enjoy as well: 

Finally, here’s one other helpful source from a good friend of mine, and fellow IBM colleague, Louis Richardson, quite an amazing public speaker I have had the real pleasure of watching him live a few times now by the way, about what to expect when putting yourself in front of an audience to deliver a presentation and what you can do to get the better of you out there to engage those who are investing their time AND their attention on you, the speaker, and your message, while on stage. Check out “Top 10 Tips for Stepping Up Your Presentations“: 

The really good thing about bumping into these rather helpful and insightful resources on Presentation Zen and with such a good timing, is that I will be able to put them all into good practice as soon as a couple of weeks from now, when I will be co-sharing the stage with both Louis Richardson himself and my other good friend Luis Benitez (Yes, indeed, The Three Luis’!!) at the IBM Connect 2013 event in Orlando, Florida, January 29th at 5:30 to 6:30 pm ET, under the session heading “Pardon the Interruption on Social Business” that both Louis and Luis have been blogging about it already in their blogs, respectively. The best part of that presentation? Well, amongst several other things [*cough* beer *cough*] I could probably say it’s YOU setting the agenda of the session by participating through this Twitter hashtag right as we speak > #pitsocialbiz as that’s where the three of us are currently gathering questions from the audience that we will be addressing each and everyone of us live at the event around the area of Social Business, and, maybe, why not?, around Open Business, too! 

It promises to be some really good fun and I am hoping that these presentation tips I have shared across from both Jeanne and Louis would help make it all an event better experience for the live audience and for those of you folks reading along.

Will we be seeing you there though?

[We surely hope so! Come and join us!]

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The Joy of Business Travelling

France - NiceAfter a couple of days back home, unwinding and relaxing a bit from quite a hectic schedule at work, it is that time again for yours truly to be on the road again. Every year, they keep saying that October and November are conference events months, now that the summer holidays are over and it is “time to get back to work” (As if we ever stop, right?) and judging from my current current travelling schedule till mid-December I am beginning to believe on that one pretty badly. I have just gotten started with another business trip, this time around a bit longer than usual since I will be going through Madrid, Apeldoorn, Amsterdam, Brighton, Montpellier and then back home again, and I couldn’t stop reflecting about what’s the main reason why I am falling in love, once again, with business travelling: carpe diem.

Indeed, I have been working in such a large corporate world as IBM’s for over 15 years and during the course of that time I have been fortunate enough to live through periods of time where I truly loved business travelling, specially, in the late 90s, and then again there have been plenty of other occasions where I wasn’t very fond of it. Yet, I am realising that over the course of the last few months I am enjoying it quite a bit, once again, and since a bunch of folks have asked me offline why has that happened, what made it tick, I thought I would share a couple of the reasons as to why, specially, when, perhaps for the majority of people out there, it is no longer an enjoyable experience as it used to be.

To start off, I am not ready just yet to kill my day job, as Rolf Potts once beautifully described over at this delightful read on “How to Kill Your Day Job and Travel the World“. I am not sure whether you may have read his article, but if you haven’t I can strongly recommend you go through it. You will find plenty of reasons in it that would confirm why travelling the world is perhaps one of the most fascinating activities that we, humans, once unbeatable and untireable nomads, used to master above any other species, before we became sedentary, changing completely plenty of our daily habits and routines.

It will also help you understand how, in my own case, I am one of those lucky people who instead of quitting his job to start travelling the world, it’s the job itself that I have and the stuff that I do on a daily basis as a social computing evangelist, helping spread the word on Social Business across the world, both internally and externally, that’s allowing me to have that flexbility and freedom to travel along where work would want to take me. Remember when I wrote not long ago that work is no longer a physical space, a traditional office, but more of a state of mind? Well, that includes travelling as well, which is what I have been doing for a while taking that traditional concept of the office with me, wherever I may well be going, as long as I have got my MacBook Air or my iPad and my iPhone and a live Internet connection.

The interesting thing though, and perhaps the main reason why I wanted to put together this blog post in the first place, is because I am not too sure how long it would last, or whether it would be far too long before the time arrives where I would have to stop it. No, I am not referring about quitting my job any time soon, or just move on to something else that would prevent me from travelling again on a more or less regular basis. I am still having a blast, I still believe I have been enjoying, all along, my dream job. I love what I do. What I am referring to is to the fact that things, global events, intrincate happenings are starting to take place out there with such complexity in their unexpected outcomes that I am beginning to sense travelling in general will turn out to be a luxury very very soon for just a few, more than anything else.

And that’s why I am taking the opportunity to seize the day, i.e. carpe diem, and travel as much as I possibly can now that I am still relatively young, understanding how, seeing how certain global events are developing further, there may well be a time when travelling in general would no longer be that easy, accommodating nor comfortable, never mind somewhat affordable.Spain - Tarragona

However, adapting to that new mentality towards business travelling, where a while ago I decided to just take it as it is, hasn’t been easy. It’s taken quite a bit of adaptation, becoming more flexible, understanding, condescending, relaxed and a whole bunch of other things I am sure most of you are already familiar with. I had to continue building on my patience levels, understanding and embracing that at any given point things could go wrong and that when life gives you lemons the best thing you can do is make one heck of a delicious lemonade for everyone to enjoy, not just for yourself, which is probably my own way to keep up with blogging, while on the move, hoping to share some of that lemonade with those interested in reading further along.

And in helping me understand and embrace that new mantra of enjoying, once again, business travelling I just couldn’t help reflect on a recent article put together by my good friend Ross Dawson that has helped me tremendously on not only understanding the advantages and disadvantages of business travelling, but also come up with strategies to help me get the most out of it, time and time again.

In “Travelling for work: 7 principles for productivity and value” Ross put together some of the main principles that he has adopted for when he is on the road / air to get the most out of his travelling experience. No, I am not going to reproduce them all or anything, I would encourage you, instead, to go ahead and read further along, but I surely would want to share with you a teaser by just listing a couple of notes over here, so that you can see what you would be able to find in his rather insightful article:

  • “Travelling is the ultimate learning experience
  • Travelling allows you to open up your perceptions and thinking
  • Travelling is about connecting
  • Have big-picture projects to work on
  • Focus on health and fitness 
  • Work out your personal jet lag strategy
  • Ensure everything you need is in the cloud

I can certainly relate to a few of the things that Ross indicated on that article, like the overall massive learning experience, like how travelling helps you open up your perceptions and thinking not just to other countries, but also to their cultures, customers, languages, traditions, etc. etc. how, specially, travelling is all about connecting with other people, meeting old friends, and new ones, about enriching experiences with face to face meetups over a lovely meal, or drinks, that surely make it all up worth while living through them. They help you become a better person, to grow further; they help you understand why people behave and do things in a certain way, they help you become a whole lot more tolerant about things and people around you, which is something that I can certainly see the world needing plenty of it at the moment. All of that without neglecting the work you are supposed to be getting done while on the move or looking after your health and fitness to ensure you can get the best results from each and every single business trip. And if you can learn how to fight that jet lag all the better. Perhaps one day I will share a short blog post highlighting how I learn to deal with it and how I haven’t experienced it a single bit in the last 10 years or so. France - Paris - Opera

It’s really fascinating though how, subconsciously, after having read his article a couple of months ago, I have been taking into practice plenty of his advice and many tips, along with some additional other key learnings, hints and tips, tricks, etc. etc. I have been incorporating over time myself as well, and how by adapting to the circumstances one finally gets to comprehend how humans were designed for travelling after all. Our innate ability to adapt to the medium, regardless of how tough it may well be, while getting the most out of it and its circumsntances, is just remarkable and once one starts embracing that the end-results are ever so much better, to the point where one begins to even enjoy it.

And that’s exactly what I am doing at the moment. Yes, I know, it’s a crazy schedule. Yes, it’s frantic at times. Yes, it’s incredibly complex to figure out how to make it all work, but it is also rather accurate how rewarding it can well be facing up all of these challenges and opportunities to keep up with one’s learning curve of life, to reach out and connect with other people, to get to know the world a little bit better, to continue treasuring that unique opportunity of being in on country, one culture, one language, and then the next day in another, completely different altogether. And eventually at some point head back home and enjoy the little pleasures of what you have built up over time in your little corner of the world…

Yet, I know that business travelling is not going to last for much longer. I’m sensing things are going to change and rather drastically far too soon, seeing how tough certain things are getting, i.e. the current financial econoclypse we are going through, the geopolitical complex world we live in, the rampant conflicts growing at a rather alarming pace, combined perhaps with our lack of being a bit more understanding and tolerant with those around us, our unwillingness to help others in need, our selfish attitude and envy of what others half, while we see others suffering and so forth somehow it is, finally,  confirming, for yours truly, how the days of travelling for the vast majority of us may well be numbered over the next few months. Sadly.

Spain - Barcelona - SitgesAnd that’s perhaps the main reason why this year I decided to embark myself on that lovely boat of business travelling, hoping to seize that opportunity to see the world, keep spreading the message on all of that social business stuff I have been rather passionate about for a good while, sharing across what I learn and build further along on it, meet up with plenty of those people, whether work colleagues and plenty of other good friends around the world, who share that very same passion, hoping that as a result of that continued learning experience, one, living and embracing a much more interconnected, networked, intelligent and smarter world, can continue helping make a difference, not just for myself, but with whoever else would want to change the world to become a better place.

For everyone.

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