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

Work Life Integration

Unlocking Civilisation Type 1 Through An Open Mind

Gran Canaria - Playa del Inglés Beach

 

Today is my last working day of 2016, before I go offline (from work) for my winter holidays till mid January next year. Somewhere in between, I don’t know just yet when, there will be a major announcement coming through that will explain what I will be doing throughout 2017 and beyond. After 20 years in the IT industry, I can share ahead of that announcement there will be a massive process coming along of unlearning and relearning for yours truly. Yes, I am incredibly excited about it, because it’s about something I haven’t done for the last 20 years, so it will be a rather interesting rebirth (of sorts) upon my return to a new workplace. But in its due time, I suppose. For today though I’ll go ahead and try to summarise what this year has felt like so far and, when doing so, there is a single word that comes to the top of my mind that would describe, pretty well, what it has been like: humanise

I know, it’s a strange word to go for, but let me try to describe it further in detail with a story connecting three different tidbits that have impacted me significantly on what I have learned throughout this year, both at work, as an independent adviser / freelancer around Social Business and Digital Transformation, as well as in my own personal life.

Throughout the year I have been exposed, pretty much like everyone else, I’m sure, to thousands of different ads and marketing campaigns on any kind of topic or product you can probably imagine and through multiple different platforms (whether on TV, radio, newspapers, the Internet, etc. etc.), but there has been one of them in particular that has wowed me so badly that every single time there has been either a local or global event with a significant impact (whether positive or negative, although mostly negative, I must confess) I end up watching it over and over again. So far this year, I could venture to state I may have watched it a couple of dozen times already and somehow I never get tired of it. Quite the opposite, I almost always end up going a bit teary and emotional altogether. 

Both the ad and marketing campaign come from Momondo, under the rather suggestive heading ’The DNA Journey’, by starting to ask yourself perhaps one of the toughest questions out there: ‘Would you dare to question who you really are?’ Hold on, don’t answer that just yet. Wait for a little bit more… Try to go through ‘Let’s open our world’ in its entirety and then ask yourself, again, that same question and see what you can come up with as an answer. Something tells me it may surprise you and quite a bit altogether!

From that campaign they put together a truly amazing and mind-blowing short video clip (a bit over 5 minutes long) that will send shivers through your spine every single time you watch it. It’s perhaps one of the most emotional clips you will watch this year, if you haven’t just yet. The closing line is maybe one of the best sentences out there to describe everything we may have gone through this year. To quote: 

An open world begins with an open mind.’ 

 

Now I understand fully why nearly 4 years ago I decided to, at long last, ditch Social Business in favour of Open Business. Now you may be able to understand a bit better why humanise is the word that would pretty much describe what 2016 has been like for yours truly.

Are we then ready to evolve into Civilisation Type 1 yet?

That was my very first reaction when I first watched the short video clip I have embedded above around The DNA Journey. Why? Well, because while going through the clip I got reminded of this other video from Big Think by Dr. Michio Kaku where he tries to answer the following question: ‘Will Mankind Destroy Itself?’ Interestingly enough, that clip is from 2011 and yet, unless you have been hiding in a cave throughout 2016, it looks like as if it was shot just yesterday.

 

Flabbergasting and gobsmacking in equal terms, I tell you, but, don’t worry, Dr. Kaku’s discourse is not necessarily negative, nor pesimistic on its own. Quite the opposite. It poses a very interesting reflection with plenty of thought-provoking insights as to whether we, humans, are somewhat ready to make the transition from Civilisation Type 0 to Type 1 and in a world where we seem to have reverted back to Type 0, it’s probably a good time now to start questioning whether we, citizens of this world, are ready and willing to participate, getting actively involved, leaving behind both apathy and complacency, to change this world as we know it today.

 

 

Take out the word ‘US’ out of that tweet and insert whatever other country acronym and it would apply just perfectly all right.

I do keep wondering, seriously, as to whether we would be able to evolve accordingly into Civilisation Type 1, specially, after the many dramatic events happening this year, or whether, instead, we will be that generation that will contemplate, muse and witness the planetary suicide Dr. Kaku hints in the clip I embedded above as well. Will we be ready to engage in such an enduring test though to revert course and head on for Type 1? I just don’t know. I hope we do. Seriously, for our very own good as a species on this planet.

Maybe, it’s down to all of us. Maybe it’s all down to being human, after all, and about re-humanising ourselves, once again, through, funny and ironic enough, the various, different digital tools that have definitely transformed, for good, the way and how we communicate with one another not only on a local basis, but on a global, planetary one as well, pretty much like Gutenberg’s printing press did 576 years ago. It’s that kind of revolution we are after, folks, we should not forget about that. And while I realise this blog post may not have much to do with either work nor our personal lives, I actually think it does and big time. It’s who we are, it’s what we do, it’s what we fight for, it’s what we learn that makes us better at what we do already and if I were to describe what it is like it’s about being human, about accepting our very own vulnerabilities and learn to adapt and live with them with grace so that, eventually, they will make us all stronger as a result. 

This is why, as a moderate optimist, I would love to close off today’s blog entry with a song. A song that’s become my favourite tune for this year, and, probably, within my Top 10 from all times, because, if anything, it pretty well describes what 2016 has been like: new dark times, BUT with plenty of light in the horizon, inspired by understanding not only both our limits and vulnerability, but also what we are all good at to overcome those: caring more (for one another), becoming more empathic and, overall, more human.

Again.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and a Happy, Healthy and rather Prosperous New Year to you all! 

#carpediem

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La Tapita Los Jose’s – ¡Viva La Tapa!

Gran Canaria - La Tapita

 

This week is my last working week of the year, and as things are starting to quiet down a fair bit with the upcoming Christmas holidays and everything, there will be some light blogging coming along for the next couple of weeks, where perhaps I will be writing some more about non related work items than anything else, and since I have got already the ‘Gran Canaria – A Mini-Continent to Rediscover’ series going on at the moment, I thought for today’s blog entry I would share a few thoughts about my next recommendation on the list of wonderful places to eat and dine for your upcoming holidays in Gran Canaria, or if you already live here perhaps have another noteworthy option to consider. The next one I can describe it with a simple, short, rather evocative sentence: ¡Viva la Tapa!

La Tapita Los Jose’s is one of those unforgettable places you just can’t miss out, specially, if you are looking to enjoy some rather creative, genuine and scrumptious Spanish tapas. Off the beaten track from the main touristic spots, it’s a rather busy bar / restaurant located in San Fernando where I always typically advise people to arrive a little bit early either for lunch or dinner, so you get still get a table without having to wait much, or at all. So arriving there around 13:30 or 20:00 would be just perfect. Then be prepared to be wowed! 

It’s been recently refurbished (earlier on this year) with a rather modern look with good tables and comfortable chairs and overall very spacious considering the constraints of a relatively small place. The lighting has been greatly improved and that’s a good thing, because your eyes typically end up eating before you do, so the first thing you will see upon entering the place is a wonderful landscape display of rather enticing and appetising Spanish tapas to choose from. Yes, I know, at this point in time, and before you even seat down further you will be drooling big time. Don’t worry, it’s all right. We all do it. Every time. It’s normal. That’s part of the ritual of having a gorgeous meal waiting for you just a few more minutes.

After you have looked at the rather varied and diverse selection of tapas available for you to choose from, you could either sit inside of the restaurant, or outside at the terrace. If you can, sit outside to keep enjoying the lovely sunshine while a rather cool glass of beer heads your way. Let life pass by slowly. Take your time. No rush. Remember, you are in Gran Canaria, where time slows down a fair bit to help you live in the moment. Take it as it comes…

All of the staff members, including the owners (Los Jose’s), are incredibly good at their jobs, very competent, amicable, rather friendly, with a smile and a few kind words always ready to make you feel rather welcome while at the same time providing you with a really good service. You will get to experience the power of their smile and, believe me, it makes a whole lot of a difference in what you are about to experience next: the food. 

At La Tapita Los Jose’s there is one single thing you have and that is choice. Tons of amazing choices, actually. There is always a daily menu with good prices and really interesting suggestions of both fish and meat (along with vegetables, of course!), if you would want to go economical. Then there are tapas, half portions and full portions, which is when you enter the wonderfully suggestive world of ‘el picoteo’ (i.e. the pecking) as you nibble through multiple small dishes scattered around your table as you will be able to see from the attached pictures I have included in this post to give you a rough idea of what’s waiting for you… Yeah, I know, I’m drooling already myself (again!!) 😋

Gran Canaria - La Tapita

 

 Gran Canaria - La Tapita

Gran Canaria - La Tapita

 

Gran Canaria - La Tapita

 

Gran Canaria - La Tapita

 

 Gran Canaria - La Tapita

 Gran Canaria - La Tapita

But it gets way better than that! Because after enjoying the many rather delightful and mouthwatering tapas, you would need to make some more space for the desserts, just because. In a word, they are just exquisite! My personal favourite is the homemade ‘natillas con galleta’ (i.e. custard with a cookie), which, in terms of different types of custard out there at other places, it’s as good as it gets! Seriously, I would challenge anyone out there who tries it that they won’t be able to find anything else that tastes like it in the whole island. It’s that good! Love it!

Yes, I think you may have realised by now how I haven’t shared any picture in this post about the different desserts they have on a daily basis. I know, it’s done on purpose, don’t worry. That way you prepare yourself, through that wonderful mental exercise, for the many luscious dessert options you will have at your disposal after your meal, so much so it will be tough to make a choice. They are all very good choices altogether, so I know you will be back for more over and over again! Just like all of us keep doing already over the course of time.

Everything at La Tapita Los Jose’s is homemade, just like mum’s own cooking, for the day, with rather fresh ingredients and tons of love and care, as it should be, and, best of all, at incredibly reasonable prices reminding you each and every bite why Spanish Tapas have been ever so popular, after all. So much so, I know next time you come to Gran Canaria you will repeat again. Oh, and if you already live here, it will become part of your weekly or monthly pilgrimage to, by far, one of the best tapas bars in Gran Canaria. All of us, eventually, end up going there.

[Friendly reminder: Don’t forget to make space for the heavenly desserts! You won’t regret them a single time!] 

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Calma Chicha – Where Chill Out Meets Unconventional Contemporary Spanish Cuisine

 Gran Canaria - Calma Chicha

‘Calma chicha’, as you may well know, would literally translate into dead calm, you know, when there are no waves, nor wind and everything out there in the ocean is completely dead still, either ahead of a typical storm or right after. However, whenever someone would say ‘Calma Chicha’  over here in Gran Canaria, they are also referring to one of the most stunning experiences of the culinary sort that the south of the island has got to offer to different visitors. It is not only a treat to your eyes and ears with such a soothing ambience, but also to your tastebuds. If you were to redefine contemporary Spanish cuisine, that would be it. 

Right in the city centre of Playa del Inglés, and within a very short walk away from the wonderful Dunes of Maspalomas, Calma Chicha is one of those places that, unless you pay close attention, you may miss it as you walk by. Because, at first sight, the only thing you will be able to see and distinguish is its chill-out area, very nicely camouflaged with all of the different plants, comfortable sofas, chairs, big umbrellas and so forth. Despite being very centrical, it’s incredibly tranquil though, you would hardly notice there are people there hanging out, enjoying the odd cocktail or two while dinner is getting ready, or, of course, enjoying that lovely after dinner drink before you get started with the rest of the evening. 

It’s not a very large place, but it’s better if you book in advance from their own Web site (it won’t take you more than a minute or two tops), even though it has got two different sitting spaces for dinner, which makes it all very cozy and comfortable altogether as if you were just home. Well, you are. That’s the overall treatment you will get from the super friendly, amicable and competent staff. Oh, and if you are planning a rather romantic dinner while you are in Playa del Inglés, enjoying your holidays, Calma Chicha will do the trick, too! Just the perfect setting altogether for you to make the right impression(s). The rest will be up to you … 

As you will be able to see from the different pictures I have attached to this post, the food is rather elaborate, prepared with all fresh ingredients, and plenty of tender, loving care. One thing you can see clearly is that it is not the typical Spanish tapas bar you may be used to. Quite the opposite, it’s more a rather scrumptious glimpse of what contemporary Spanish cuisine looks like AND tastes. And depending on how hungry you may well be, or rather what kind of budget you may have at your disposal, there are different types of menus you can chose from, as well as a la carte, making it a rather special place where there is a bit of everything to suit everyone’s many needs and cravings. There is a great chance you will be going back multiple times, so that you can try the many different options available, just like I have done over the years…

The portions are rather generous and all the prices adequate enough with plenty of great value for your money. If anything, I can guarantee you right away you will not be disappointed by both the diversity of enticing Spanish dishes you can choose from as well as the menus. To give you an example, the attached picture below is Cecina de León, one of my favourite starters from the Spanish cuisine that comes from where I was born and raised, León, and that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else in the island, although I’m sure there may be some other places I haven’t been to just yet that may have it as well. Either way, if you have ever tried it out already, you will know there is nothing like it, and in case you may not have tasted it yet, allow me to recommend you to give it a try when you order your next starter in there. Mouth watering already as we speak! 

 

 Gran Canaria - Calma Chicha

Gran Canaria - Calma Chicha

 

I guess I wasn’t anticipating much of this when I first got things started with this new series of blog posts around ‘Gran Canaria – A Mini-Continent to Rediscover’, but the truth is that the holidays are just around the corner and I’m starting to have a hard time deciding which places I would be booking first to come back and pay another visit, but, if anything, I will tell you now that Calma Chicha would be one of them for real. Why? Well, because, to me, it’s literally like coming back home over and over again but without leaving the island altogether, which is, as you can imagine, as good as it gets, as opposed to have to travel over 2.000 kms and back. 

I don’t need to anymore. Calma Chicha is just around the corner to continue making me feel right at home.

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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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2014, The Year That Was

View of Campo Internacional from Playa del Inglés on my way to #running Gotta love the eternal spring, don't you think?  #grancanaria #playadelingles #campointernacional# #running  #exercise  #lifeisgood #landscapes #winter #eternalspring #sunshine #sunAnd nearly four months later… I am back to blogging. Again. And for how long this time around? I just don’t know. We will have to wait and see, but, I tell you, if I were to describe what 2014 has been like so far for yours truly, as we are coming close to its end, I would probably be able to describe it with just a couple of words: “in transition”. Frankly, I never thought it would be that way, or that it would take this long for it to be completed, specially, on a personal level, but you know how it goes, you make lots of exciting plans ahead of you in terms of what you would want to do and focus on and then life does its own thing and makes sure none of them eventually work out the way you intended them to in the first place. Well, at least, one thing did work out in the end though: at long last, and after a massively long hiatus (that is now over, by the way) I am back to blogging. Why? Plain and simple. Because I needed it.

2014 is one of those years that I will be remembering for a good number of different reasons (good and bad, in equal terms), but, mainly, because, if anything, it has been a year of change for myself, both on a professional and personal levels. And, as we are in the process of wrapping things up for another year (Goodness! Does time fly when you are having plenty of good fun or what?!), I thought what a better way to resume my blogging mojo than perhaps put together this article where I can reflect on a rather personal account of what has happened month by month sharing some of the highlights (and lowlights!) as an opportunity to not only go through a rather needed cathartic and reflective moment of sorts for myself, but also as a chance to consider that “in transition” period, finally, over, done and dealt with. Time to move on …

Oh, talking about moving on, I am sensing this entry is going to be rather long, so I am thinking that if you aren’t really interested in following up with the different thoughts and reflections of what 2014 has been for me so far, I would suggest you stop reading now, and come back to the next post I will be putting together shortly as well now that I am, finally, back to writing. No worries, no offence taken if you move on. I totally understand it. What’s about to come up shortly is perhaps a bit too personal any way; an exercise of self-introspection to help me understand better what’s happened this year and venture into what 2015 may bring forward. It’s an exercise I have been looking forward to engaging with for a good couple of months, since the last post I shared over here.

So I better get on with it then, don’t you think? Again, no offence if you would stop reading from here onwards. or if you decide to unsubscribe from the blog altogether after all of this time of silence. There is a new spirit, a massive transformation in the making, a rebirth of sorts, coming along to this blog as well that I will be writing plenty more about over the next few entries and it may well not be what you may be interested in reading, after all. It’s going to be good fun though as I will be rediscovering the true spirit from this blog from way back when it was first born in October 2005 as I get to celebrate its 10th year anniversary next October. Who knows… You’ll tell me, I’m sure. So let’s go! Let’s do it!

January

Christmas holidays. As usual, the time of the year where I take extended holidays (have been doing that for the last 15 years and counting…). However, this time around a little bit of a special one, since upon my return, on January 20th, I announced, after 17 years of (big) corporate life, I would be leaving IBM, my former employer, and embark on to whatever my next adventure may be like. Not knowing exactly how things would work out eventually, whether I’d be landing safe and sound, whether I’ll be able to justify what’s been my working life for the last of those 14 years as a social computing evangelist or whether I may be able to stay right where I am without having to migrate elsewhere, given the current poor state of things in this country. Lots of uncertainty, indeed, but at the same time plenty of excitement about the new adventures, whatever those may well be. About the change itself, about the new bits of fresh air coming along about figuring out whether I still have got a chance to do something else for the next few years outside of the well established comfort zone I have grown into over the last decade or so. But then … life kicked in, as home care of a rather close family member continued throughout the whole month. Not much of a holiday, after all, as I got to experience, in full force, the initial shift of priorities kicking in and, officially, beginning the “in transition” period…

February

Reflection month. Spent vast majority of the time reflecting on what I wanted to do next, whether it was working for another vendor in the Social Business & Enterprise Social Networking space, or work for an international business, or work at a startup or, eventually, set up my own business. In the end, and after much thought put into it, I decided to go from one extreme to the other and from having worked 17 years in one of the largest and most complex IT environments out there (through 6 different Lines of Business and dozens of project teams) I decided to set up my own advisory firm around Social Business & Digital Transformation, Knowledge Management, Learning, and Online Community Building. Was that the right choice? I don’t know. Nearly a year later, it looks like I may have made it, after all. But can I sustain it for the next few years? Or was it just the beginner’s luck of someone starting up hoping for the best? I still haven’t been able to answer those questions and I suppose it may need to wait way into 2015 to confirm it. What I knew for sure back then was that I needed something different than whatever I was involved with over the last 17 years. Shifting work environments of similar traits was not going to do it. At the same time, I knew I also needed to have a Plan B and may be a Plan C as well, both of which I haven’t resorted to just yet, which may confirm that initial decision as the potential correct one, if there ever was one. Home care, after nearly three months, finished up on a high note and everything was back in order, although too close for comfort! Phew!

March

The start of my next adventure. Going solo, as they call it, although I have never been, nor felt, alone, as some people say when you are just getting stated with a new career. Having cultivated and nurtured social networks over the course of the years (As an opportunity to build further up on the collective digital footprint of those friends who you care about and who, in return, would care back), I spent lot of time catching up with folks, whether face to face, or virtually. A very much worth while doing exercise, since it helped me rekindle plenty of those personal business relationships as well as come to terms with the fact and comprehend how plenty of people move on from you, once you stop being enterprisey with no corporate tag attached at the back of your neck, and, how, instead, you meet up other new, but equally interesting and fascinating people you feel you would have never met working in a corporate environment. The “in transition” period fully kicks in by then, as I started working on the pipeline of my own business; trying to figure things out, as I go along, as an independent freelancer, realising the massive learning curve I had just embarked on. Things will never be the same anymore. Excitement is peaking up by the minute as the first potential client prospects help me build that so-called pipeline. No income yet though. Uncertainty makes an entrance. Again. Do I need a Web site to describe my services and myself and hope for the best or will just my Social Web presence (including this blog) be good enough? I still don’t have my site up and I keep wondering whether it’s necessary, or not, in the age of the Social Web, specially, for the kind of work I do.

[Oh, don’t worry, there *is* a Web site in the making, right as we speak, so I guess I may have answered for myself that question… Yes!, you do need a Web site for those people who do not know you just yet to get to know you eventually before they will engage through other digital channels!]

April

Resumed travelling for business (to a couple of conferences, mainly), but this time around, and for the first time since I can remember, as an independent advisor. The business world changes around you. Or you change. Or both for that matter. I don’t know. Things are no longer the same, that’s for sure! You start seeing things through a different lens and all of a sudden you notice how your opinions, thoughts and reflections run free, unbiased, uncensored. Liberating to no end. Hugely refreshing and soul rewarding at the same time. The pipeline for potential work keeps growing, but still no income. Excitement still high though, mainly through the rekindling of those personal business relationships, while forming new ones, as my close social networks morph along to meet, connect and share (with) the new me. Uncertainty starts crippling in, but it doesn’t bother me. Still doesn’t today. A new world to discover and enjoy opens up every single day. Opportunity takes a new meaning. Self-discovery regains strength on everything I do as I try to figure out the what next and, most importantly, the whom with. 

May

Travelling for business to present at conference events continues to take place, although starting to appreciate, and quite a lot, how the frenzy of biz travelling from back in the day (i.e. almost always on the road) is no longer there, so I can start enjoying travelling again with a pace that just feels right! Yes! The every other week on the road mindset, all of a sudden, drops almost dead and, instead, I get to appreciate how wonderful it is to travel the world, still today in 2014, to meet up some rather beautiful and amazingly talented people. Still one of the things I appreciate the most from my past corporate life, even though it’s no longer happening with the maddening frenzy as it used to be, which means that every time I travel nowadays I enjoy it even so much more. Pace is everything. Pause is the killer. Time is all we got left as the new currency, so making the most out of it, day in day out, takes a whole new meaning altogether. Apparently, I have become a nowist. And I am enjoying it quite a bit, because who knows what will happen tomorrow or the day after? That’s just too far into a future we can never grasp, nor comprehend accordingly, so why bother? Why not enjoy the now as much as we possibly can? And let the worrying about the future for a later time…

Pipeline work continues to build up helping me realise, finally, how important it is to constantly keep moving, regardless. Multiple touch points, follow-ups, conversations, social networks and other groupings or associations, etc. No waiting times. If it comes, it comes, if not, we’ll just keep moving along. It will come back at some point, eventually, if it needs my attention, help and support or further involvement. Still no income. Uncertainty grows on the third month in a row without revenue starting to make me wonder whether I made the right decision back in January about moving on. The excitement of the new adventure, the unknown, and what may potentially lay ahead, day in day out, still keeps trumping it all though. Life moves on and so do we. No turning point back. That’s what decisions do for you. You just keep moving on. The constant learning never stops. Regardless.

June

Surprise, surprise! Huge month ahead! Finally, I got to discover and fully experience what, till today, have been my two main sources of income as an independent advisor: 1) Client work and 2) Hosting face to face workshops around Social Business Adoption & Digital Transformation. Yay! We are back in business! Phew! Was starting to get worried to see how some work streams I initially thought were perhaps going to help me generate some earnings didn’t produce a single dime. Nothing. Zip. Nada. And, yet, on the other hand, and all of a sudden, BANG! first round of revenue kicks in from a work activity I never thought I would be able to pull it through, but there it was … Extremely happy AND hugely relieved. The adrenaline rush of your first client kicks in confirming what you initially felt may have been the right move from the start.

[What were those other work streams I thought were going to generate $revenue$ but didn’t? Well, I will blog about them on a separate entry, as I think they deserve their own attention and perhaps additional discussion. You will see what I mean when I share that post across. It will be a bit surprising and very much thought provoking, at least, in what’s meant for me ever since I went independent]

July

Client work continues. Incredibly exciting and enjoying it tremendously, realising how lucky and privileged I have been to have worked with such a group of rather smart and talented group of clients, and very excited at the same time about helping them accelerate their own collective digital journeys starting it off as a personal transformation. Business travelling for client work picks up a notch or two as well, summer holidays kick in and that feeling that August will be a slow month starts to settle in. Unfortunately, life, once again, had other plans in the making…

August

Home care for a loved one. Again. Seriously, 2014 has been one of those years that will be rather tough to forget and for a good number of reasons! I couldn’t wait for it to be over, done and dealt with and off we go into 2015. Being stranded at your own home place takes a whole new meaning for the following three months of daily home care for the rest of the family and yours truly. Priorities get reshuffled big time: home nursing, looking after the household, Boira (our Belgian sheep dog), shopping, day to day work (to keep paying bills) and that strange feeling of a much more profound change in the making, building up more and more by the day, once you realise the village you once loved and moved into, because of how much you enjoyed the atmosphere and sense of closeness and proximity, is no longer as charming as it used to be. Quite the opposite.

I lost 6 kgs that month. Running every day for an hour kept me going as that was the space where I could get back my sanity from the frenetic day to day craziness of life taking over. It felt great, as it helped me go back to my expected weight that I lost during the course of the Christmas period just a few months back.

September

Still heavily involved in home care, although the worst was already over (Thank goodness!). Business travelling, after the summer break, resumes itself and additional client work comes along at a nice pace. The reshuffling of priorities and focusing on other more mundane work streams / aspirations, essentially, coming back down to earth, so I could keep paying the bills, results in me having to move on from Change Agents Worldwide. I will miss them, I still do every day, but, you know how it goes, life goes on and has got other plans for you that most of the times you just can’t control, nor manage, but embrace them and hope for the best of potential outcomes. This was one of them that I needed to prepare myself for. Time is the new currency, remember, and massive disruption starts lingering around in the horizon, right as we speak: after 10 years, we are, at long last, moving! Oh, the adrenaline rush of a much needed change kicking in again! Gotta love it. Yes, house hunting begins… A new home beckons a much needed change. A new light. A new life. Eventually, together.

October

Revenue keeps coming along nicely, helping me not having to worry too much about how we’re going to keep paying the bills. Grateful to no end. Eternally. Work is pretty much focused on helping clients achieve their goals in their own digital transformation journey(s) as well as face to face workshops (as already mentioned above). Things are starting to become more steady and pipeline continues to consolidate with 2015 already in the horizon and looking very good. Or so it seems…

For the first time in over 10 years though, it’s time to move on again. Change happens in many ways and this one of finding a new home was no different. It was the end point of the period I have been calling in this blog post as “in transition”. By the end of the month, after two to three weeks of heavy search all over the place, we, finally, had a new home. Boy, do I love this place! We were born to live in it right from the start for real! Just brilliant! Just what we needed to conclude that phase of our lives and move into the next one, whatever it may well be.

November

Within just a few days since we found the bungalow, i.e. our new home, we finally moved in! I still can’t believe how lucky we were in finding such a gorgeous place! Of course, I will be sharing some pictures both in my Flickr and Instagram accounts. Perhaps it was our lucky shot at that point in time, but so very much needed altogether, after such an interesting year gone by so far!

Conference month kicks in in full force so it looks like moving in needs to slow down a bit while I get to do a bit of business travelling around Europe. After Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Madrid, London, Prague, Zurich (twice!) it is now time to check out Stockholm, Madrid (again) and Zurich (for the third time!). Not sure why there seems to be this obsession by conference organisers to put together all of their tech events either in March or November. It must be the winter! Do them in March to get people out of their homes right as spring kicks in or by November before everyone hides for the remaining of the year as winter approaches fast and furious. It’s crazy! Either way, loved the travelling to all of those cities and even more when the prospect of coming to a new home made it all really worth it.

But then another nightmare came through. As if I didn’t have enough with the rather tumultuous personal life throughout the year, my daily work was just about to be hugely disrupted. To the point where I haven’t recovered just yet from it and it may still take a while. Apparently, I have been forced, to put it mildly (by my telco / ISP) to go through this excruciating and horrifying experience of not having a landline, nor ADSL connection, at the new place, meaning that every single day that has gone by since November 7th (When I requested a landline / ADSL transfer) I have been losing revenue for not having worked with clients while collaborating remotely through the Social Web.

Yes!, 45 days and counting… Apparently, this is what you get in exchange of 10 years of customer loyalty spending about 175€ to 200€ per month steady for all the services I have contracted with them. And the worst part of it all? Well, that it is not over yet. 45 days later, I am still waiting for someone at that ISP to fully understand and comprehend the kind of damage they have done to this independent freelancer who happens to live off the Internet (as a remote knowledge Web worker) for his day to day work. Apparently, as a customer, that’s not important. After all, it’s not their revenue (they still get paid for not providing any kind of service!). It’s my own. Yes, you are guessing it right. There is a blog post coming up where I’ll be detailing what it is like living without access to the Internet when it’s your primary means of income while a Queen Between stands in the way not wanting to address and fix the issues sooner rather than later.

December

Phew! 2014! The Year That Was, indeed! Still without connectivity at our new home and surviving on a hugely expensive data plan for my mobile which runs out incredibly fast given the demands of my Web work and where my telco / ISP has decided that, as a token of generosity, they have extended my monthly quota of 4GB at a lovely price increase I just can’t resist paying for it. Yes, I guess gratitude from their side is taking a new meaning I should fondly remember over time. Anyway, that separate blog post will detail plenty more what’s been happening so far, or better said, what’s not been happening…

For now I bet I will be spending the remaining of the year musing about the new exciting adventure(s) at work. The amazing people I have been meeting throughout the year and who have made it a rather special one (Yes, you know who you all are!). The excitement of doing what I love doing, finally, has kicked off the uncertainty into no-man’s land. And although current pipeline work for 2015 has been abruptly halted to a standstill by my local ISP blocking me from accessing the Internet to do my job, I am hopeful the issues will be sorted out soon enough to be able to enjoy a Christmas break I will be treasuring to bits after everything that has happened this year: 2104. The Year of Change. Massive change.

Finally, the most important thing, at least, to me, that clearly helps me understand what we are all up to in our personal lives with the odd distraction here and there: caring for one another. Indeed, home care, at long last!, is also now over! A thing of the past and, thank goodness!, everything worked out all right in the end, despite the initial hurdles and health scares! Our new wonderful home has done the rest in the healing process making up for a superb end of a rather interesting and challenging year, both on the professional and personal levels, and where I have learned perhaps the most important lesson to date: life has its own plans and ways of developing things further and only thing we can all do is to adjust and adapt accordingly, and make the most out of it all, while having plenty of really good fun!

Life is just too short not to enjoy it the fullest. Today. Don’t leave it for tomorrow. And if that means I am a nowist, be it. After all, it’s Christmas and a good time to get back plenty of the social life we just didn’t get a chance to invest in this year with all that’s happened. It’s never too late, I know. Life keeps moving on and with it all of us, whether we like it or not.

I guess it’s now time for you folks and me to move on, too! I suppose it’s good enough for today as a yearly catchup update of sorts, where I can share with you all what’s been happening so far this year and why there has been, at times, extensive periods of silence from yours truly while I was focusing and spending my time fiddling with other priorities. For those of you who have stuck around thus far into this blog entry, please do allow me to share with you all a sincere token of gratitude for sticking around. It’s hugely appreciated and I’m certainly looking forward to resuming plenty of the online interactions we used to have in between those periods of quietness. 

I’m now back business as usual (At least, for as long as I can without blowing away the monthly mobile data plan) and while I get to put together the next blog posts over here, as an opportunity to resume my blogging mojo, I thought I would share with you all one other major highlight that I went through earlier on this year that I think you might find interesting as well. It’s a podcasting recording. Perhaps one of the most thorough and intimate interviews I have recorded in a good few years.

The interview was hosted by the wonderful and incredibly smart Michael Hicks from the My Way Podcast show. During the course of an hour we got to discuss plenty of the key experiences that throughout the years, starting off at a rather early age!, have shaped and nurtured who I am today: Luis Suarez. It’s that kind of a rather personal podcasting episode where plenty of the nuggets I talked about may not well be known, if only, but a few rather close friends. My Way Podcast is “committed to telling people’s stories” and I guess that’s just what we did: narrate my story.

So, if after reading this rather long post you still feel like going for a good listen of what I have been up to in the last two decades, with lots of personal touch points, and hilarious anecdotes, feel free to head over to the podcasting episode and have a listen. I can guarantee you would have a good laugh or two in between some pretty interesting insights we talked about and shared across around “confidence, working in a team, why it’s important to work in customer service, how and why he no longer uses email at work, working remotely, pursuing multiple interests to find what you are really passionate about, how he uses his blog as his external brain, his recent switch to freelancing, and so much more”.

Hope you enjoy it and from here just a special thanks to both Michael Hicks and Amber Robbin for making it possible! What a wonderful finishing touch to quite an exhilarating year and here’s to plenty more for 2015 and beyond!


Written by Luis Suarez

Chief Emergineer and People Enabler. 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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