Monday, November 21, 2011

No legs!

IMG_0127 One of the wonderful aspects of traveling is the opportunity to meet lots of people. I tend to be shy around people I don’t know, but because of my travels I force myself to engage strangers in conversations. This technique has helped me move slightly away from my introvert tendencies.

The joy in talking with strangers is that their stories are fascinating. Regardless of their backgrounds, social status, or jobs, strangers’ stories keep me wanting to hear and meet more people, learn of their struggles, paths, passions and resilience. This past week was no exception. I met Steve Hub while listening to Jazz at Les Joulins in San Francisco.

One of his stories was particularly inspiring. Steve works for Corporate Visions as a consultant who helps businesses explain highly technical products and services with understandable messages. (I have to admit, I find Steve’s work particularly interesting, as well.)

Steve travels extensively, thoroughly enjoys his work and believes in his company’s service. On one of his business trips, in Istanbul he got in a cab, beat tired. Traffic was at a standstill so he dozed. After waking, he noticed the driver was expertly moving in and out of thick haphazard traffic. He also noticed that the driver was using a metal rod with his right hand while he drove. The driver, who did not speak English, looking in the mirror, recognized Steve’s curiosity with a welcoming, warm smile and pointed down. Steve then saw that the driver had no legs.

Sitting on the bar stool with Bohemian Knuckleboogie playing in front of us, Steve shook his head, looked at me, and compassionately asked, “How many tourists yelled at him because he did not get out of the car and help them with their bags?” Steve's voice still excited, yet humbled, said “The driver was so proud that he could drive. You know, he could be on the streets begging for money, but he managed to figure out how to adapt the car so he could drive.”

“That driver changed my life.” With disappointment, Steve went onto say, “And, HE will never know how he inspired me.”

I asked him, “In what way did you change your life?”

“He had no legs but he figured out how to work and he was so very proud!”

"Okay," I replied. "What did you change?" I was wondering if I maybe asking him something too personal.

Steve paused only for a moment, “I do not focus on what I don’t have. And, am proud of what I do and who I am.”

Steve also shared with me the blog post he had written for his company, Corporate Visions. The article describes how we have the tendency to focus on what our organizations do not have. Instead, we should focus on our opportunities and capabilities.

Thinking of our loosely federated organization, Cooperative Extension, it seems that at every level, everyone is talking about budget problems and the loss of faculty and staff. Unfortunately, I seldom hear faculty or administrators discuss visionary future opportunities. (I would love to hear about great visionary possibilities being talked about in our land-grant universities; please share those stories, if you have heard any.)

Let’s stop talking about what we don’t have. Let's focus on our capabilities and our opportunities. Each one of us can focus on our own individual capabilities and opportunities. Our organizations should be capitalizing on our strengths and what sets us apart.

Though Steve had written a blog post that translated the inspiration into a business statement, it was evident he was deeply affected personally. The greatest changes we can make are those that we make individually. We don’t need a supervisor, director, stakeholder, family member, or anyone else to tell us to change. We can realize needed changes on our own. And sometimes, it may take a taxi ride or a short conversation with a stranger to see the wonderful opportunities that are within our own skills, talents and resources.

*One final note: as I finish editing this post, I realized that I am writing this article more for myself than for anyone who maybe reading it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Walk the talk

JetBlue tests the social media credibility of ad agencies vying for its accountI am astonished that more companies don't do this, but not surprised that ad agencies think it is stupid. 

Over the last two years, I have had a few occasions to check out some ad agencies and their social media efforts. It was frustrating to see several agencies sell their social media services but not use social media in their own business. 

Ad agencies who offer social media service but don't use social media is evident that those companies dont understand the value of participation and sharing openly.
In the few times someone has approached me saying they are a social media expert, I do these things:
  • Twitter search
  • Google search
  • Facebook search 
  • LinkedIn Search
  • Klout score
  • Other searches, depending on the "expertise" area
None of these searches tell the whole story but they serve as surface efforts to distinguish if someone or some company is blowing smoke. One may have a low Klout score and not use Twitter much, but should be represented somewhere. After a surface search and before making a decision, more evaluation is needed. 

Companies offering social media services should have a presence in social media. The comment that indicates that one would not search for a future wife on Twitter (he might be surprised how often that has actually happened) makes me laugh. Jet Blue was not looking for a wife; they were looking to hire someone to handle business for them. Where do people look for future wives? Social media is one place to look; of course, there are others.

Where do you look for future business partners? You go where they should be doing business and where they have relationships built. You want to see them successful in that space. 

Regardless of your business, walk the talk. If you are a fitness trainer, you should be healthy. If your business is a source for customer service, then you better offer great customer service. If you offer social media services, then you should be in the social media space.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Leadership for Women

Jane Harman, Congressional Representative, concisely describes her viewpoint of leadership for women.  Here is my outline of the video "On Leadership: Jane Harman's advice for female leaders".

  • Leadership is inside out.  You cannot define your beliefs by others.
  • Leadership takes work and preparation.
  • Leadership is lonely.
  • Find your inner strength when things get tough.
  • As leaders advance, leadership gets harder.
  • Failure is your friend; navigate failure with grace, you will become stronger for it.
  • Women in leadership should help other women.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Twitter lists: How I use them

For some people, Twitter lists offers ways to narrow fields of many into few favorites. I use lists to categorize--not to point out my favorites.

CooperativeExtensionList_001Because there are many in our organization who are very new (and newcomers are coming everyday) to Twitter and other social media, I wanted to use lists to easily recommend people to follow. My method is not the most efficient method, but it is way for me to have a bank of accounts that I can refer others to. It is a way for me to personally match colleagues in interests, positions, etc.  I feel that I have a role in connecting people with similar interests because it is difficult for newcomers to know where to start to look. Newcomers will quickly see benefits when they immediately belong to a community that matches their interests, passions, and goals.

Cooperative Extension professionals find colleagues in my Cooperative Extension list. My lists come in handy when I am trying find people who specialize in a narrow field.  

Using my Cooperative Extension list, I created a Tweetdeck coCoopExtensionListlumn. When I need to look at what my Cooperative Extension colleagues have said during the day, I look at this column. Using third party applications, like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, give me efficient ways to prioritize and focus .

Please note: Cooperative Extension professionals using social media should register their accounts here so we can efficiently find colleagues with similar interests and responsibilities.

The majority of the people who I follow do not work for universities or for Cooperative Extension. I learn the most from people unlike me. I follow people who work in public relations, marketing, military, agriculture, education, and government. I follow people who own their own businesses, manage and own farms, attend high school and college, live close by or in Alabama, and are my friends. The variety of people I follow gives me a rich online learning experience. However, keeping up and staying focus are my challenges. Lists helps me focus on certain areas when I need to.

Also, lists give me a way to include a few people who I don’t follow. 

I recognize that my criteTweetdecklistsria for which I build lists is not scalable. But, it works for me now. When I find a better way, I will change.

How To Use Twitter Lists is a good resource for getting started using Twitter lists.

I easily add new people I follow to a list either on (using the instructions in the link above)or in Tweetdeck.

I also create Tweetdeck columns to follow particular search terms (not using the lists). Most of the time the terms are temporary, like when I follow a hashtag associated with a conference. 

The constant noise is social media spaces can be frustrating and create time vacuums. With services like Formulists, I hope to integrate filters for location, search terms, and lists. 

NOTE: I happen to use Tweetdeck, but other applications, like HootSuite can do the same thing.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A soldier, his wife, his kids, and our responsibility

Stressed from slept deprivation, barely making it to the airport to make my flight, excited about some important discoveries in the last two days, and very worried about my faux pas from the morning session, I got in the Zone 4 line to board my flight. I could not think of the good discussions from the last two days. I could only worry that some of the progress that was made during the morning session was now been negated by MY bad judgment call.

Taking a moment from my self-absorbed worries, I looked at the line in front of me. Catching my attention was a soldier and his wife are holding hands. They tenderly looked at each other eyes, chatting, and smiling. They advanced the line in sync, making me think that this couple is not only having a sweet moment, but they have an underlying, strong, undefined connection.

Then the soldier turned to the left, smiling and waving to two children who are seated next to the window. The little boy of about four-years old, waved enthusiastically, grinning proudly, and yelled “GOODBYE DADDY!” The mom said “Be sure to wave out the window in a few minutes.” I realized later that this was a strategic directive to help her children look out the window and not at the line where their parents stood. She knew she was going to need a few minutes to catch her composure.

The soldier turned back and embraced his wife. The wife wrapped her arms underneath his, squeezing him. She closed her eyes to hold his embrace in her memory.

He kissed her quickly. Not wanting to leave it at that, he kissed again and again. He released her with one last look into her eyes. He turned to the left to give his boarding pass to the gate attendant. The wife turned slightly to the right, away from him and out of sight of her children, and covered her eyes. She fought back a sob.

My tears flowed, I couldn’t help it, not experiencing her pain, but sympathetic to her loss and her future aloneness. The woman behind me, sniffled and tried hard to keep her emotions quiet. The young lady working the Delta gate discretely wiped her eyes. The men in the line turned their heads; they didn’t want anyone to see their reactions.

As we moved toward the plane, the line straightened, and the soldier stood straightforward, keeping his face from moving the left or right, trying hard to have a moment without letting others see his emotion, loss, pain and heartache. He wiped his face with the back of his hand. He was grateful he had waited until this moment, away from his kids and wife, to release his quiet emotion.

The two children sitting by the window watching the plane have no idea what sacrifices they are making for this war. The wife has now become a temporary single mom. The soldier will feel inadequate at times as a father and husband, not able to be with his family. His return will probably offer unique and uncomfortable challenges. 

The little research that has been conducted shows that these continuous deployments are taking its toll on these families. Most of us, including me, simply do not want to be reminded of the soldiers’ and their families’ sacrifices, loneliness, struggles, and pain. We don’t want to think of the emotional, physical, and sometimes, financial challenges of these families. We don’t want to think about how these temporary single parents or grandparents are raising our military children. We don’t want to think about how deployments cause hardships on our own soil. We don’t want to think about the adjustments and challenges of re-integration. We don’t want to think about these stresses because we don’t want for our own emotions to take a hit. Furthermore, some of us think it is not our problem, individually.

President Barack Obama called to action an integrated government approach to military family support, with agencies uniting to create new resources and support programs for military. In addition to governmental and educational support of military families, now more than ever, communities, non-profits and individuals are needed to find ways support these families.

Strong military families keep our US Forces strong.

The encounter at the airport was a striking interruption of my selfish emotion that made me realized that turning a deaf ear to the war’s tolls and to the military families’ hardships is a coward avoidance. One percent of the US population serve in the military, but this 1% needs and deserves the support of the whole 100%.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Social Media Goals

This week I will be presenting and participating in two different sessions on evaluating efforts in social media. Measuring and articulating value and understanding social media costs are the focus of the upcoming web conferences. Here are my thoughts on the one of the first steps of evaluation--defining the goals.

Understand why you are using social media tools. If you do not understand why you’re using these social media tools, setting expectations will difficult and probably will end with disappointment.

Set goals. Setting goals gives you focus and motivation to keep working. Take time to explore and ponder what your goals are. Think of goals that align with your organization’s goals and how using social media accomplishes your organization’s mission. Scott Monty, head of social media for Ford Motor Company, recently described Ford’s social media efforts to Shel Israel in an interview .

We look for the brands that are the most respected in the social media space and aim to be part of that elite group. Scott Monty, Ford Motor Company.

Ford also looks at volume, news coverage, and consistency of impact, and listens to customers and fans.

Social media goals should not be separate from the organization’s goals, but should be integrated and aligned with the organization’s mission.

Understand what can be measured and compared. Measuring progress means understanding what should be measured and compared. Evaluating the impact of being social is difficult, at best, and some times impossible. There is not a measurement for connecting and building relationships that result in learning, becoming more confident, and building your credibility. Social media is not a stand-alone broadcast moment. The benefits, value and potential of integration and of others cannot be easily measured, but are important nevertheless.

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. Albert Einstein.

Decide goals and think about the objectives and tactics. Think of business goals. Articulate higher level goals and consider the objectives that might get you there. Do not choose only easy-to-measure metrics, such as increasing number of visitors, number of followers, etc. Consider other objectives that match the social component as well as business objectives. An objective of becoming more engaged may include tactics of engaging with a new person every day or blogging about something you learned from your customers every week.

Mt. Shasta, Kevin, Dave, and Darcy

Focus on goals. Over time, you’ll realize benefits of staying focus. Athletic teams’ goals are to win each game. Every batters’ goal is to get on base. Overall, teams win for only 50 percent of the time. An average, batters get on base less than 50% of the time. Preparing for games, playing the games, and attempting to make hits result in other benefits such as making progress in learning, adjusting, and long term strategies.


My presentation for Social Media Impact Evaluation is on

Ideas for this post came from HOW TO: Manage Social Media Goals and Expectations.

Photo Credit: Darcy McCarty Tags: ,,