Archive for the ‘Web/Tech’ Category
Last night I was throwing out my Google net to see what I would catch. I do this regularly: Google search terms that have to do with our business (“leading so people will follow,” “erika andersen,” “executive coaching”, etc.) just to see what’s out there, and to respond when appropriate.
So I googled “proteus” and the first few entries that came up were about a newly released online game called Proteus. It sounded intriguing, so I bought it ($10 on their website, if you’re similarly intrigued.)
It’s a little hard to explain; you use your mouse pad to wander around and explore a world of islands and seas. It’s extremely primitive graphically (think early 80s pixelated video games), but somehow it seems more like the beauty of a primitivist painting than programming laziness. Each island has its own character and background music, and little pixel creatures who make their own sounds and do their own activities. There don’t seem to be any clear rules or objectives; you explore and see what happens. I haven’t spent much time in Proteus-land (remember, I just bought it last night), but the only cause-and-effect thing I’ve noticed so far was when I got onto an island that had lots of weather (rain, wind, rapidly moving clouds overhead – hauntingly beautiful), I discovered that I couldn’t move against the wind. And when I moved into what looked like a little dust-devil circle on the ground, I was transported to another island.
Because this is how my brain is wired, as I played, I was looking for similarities to “my” Proteus. There were a lot of dissimilarities: most of our work with clients is pretty goal and outcome focused. We help clients get clear about where they want to go and who they want to be, and help them build the capability or walk down the path to get there.
But then I noticed, as I moved around the world of Proteus, that I felt soothed and focused, drawn in, and very, very curious. Which are actually some of the effects I hope that we have on clients. And when I looked at some of the reviews on the site, I thought, These are some of the things clients say about us. I especially loved these two:
What surprised me most about Proteus was I found myself going back to it over and over. There’s something delightfully intoxicating about it.
…you definitely will want to explore Proteus’s island – trust us on that.
I like to think that we also create an environment that’s attractive to people, where they feel safe, and calmed. In our case, though, it’s a means to an end: it’s for the purpose of then breaking new ground, being illuminated and strengthened to live the lives and create the enterprises they want.
Maybe they’ll develop Proteus II, Leader Readiness…
A friend just sent me a very lovely thing the other day. It’s a ‘virtual choir’ performance of Water Night, a piece of music composed and conducted by Eric Whitacre.
What’s a virtual choir, you might ask? In this case, it’s over 3,000 people from all over the world, each recording his or her part of the piece individually. Then the individual voices are edited all together to form a musical whole. Whitacre sent out an instructional video beforehand, first offering performance information (insights and direction about tempo, expression, style, diction, etc.), then conducting the piece for each singer to use as a guide in recording his or her part.
It’s an amazing accomplishment overall, and there are many wonderful individual stories contained in the creation of it, as well. A women whose village in Africa didn’t have internet spent two days downloading Whitacre’s conducting onto her cell phone. A man whose eyesight had deteriorated to the point where he could no longer see a regular conductor was able to sit close to the screen and blow up Whitacre’s image enough to follow his conducting. A woman who sat in hospice holding her mother’s hand while she recorded her part.
And the result is spine-tingling gorgeous, both aurally and visually. In the video, the thumbnails of the thousands of singers build into a wall of faces before Whitacre as he conducts and as the haunting harmonies develop.
How marvelous that we can use technology not only to do things faster, better, cheaper – but to create new kinds of beauty, as well.
My friend Phil Gerbyshak has put together a great little e-book to do some useful myth-busting in the realm of social media. It’s a collaborative effort, called The Naked Truth of Social Media, and includes contributions from Brian Clark, Jason Falls, Erika Napoletano, and several others. It’s both fun and practical (a great combination). Here’s a little quote, from Phil himself, to whet your appetite:
My clients often tell me, “I’m afraid to use Twitter (or any other social network). Can you teach me the right way?”
My answer: “No, but I can make sure you don’t do it the wrong way.” Allow me to brieﬂy explain.
If all you’re doing is broadcasting your specials, shouting that people need to click on your links and buy your crap, then you are doing social media wrong!
The Naked Truth feels like an informal, no-sacred-cows conversation among friends – they don’t always agree, but it’s great to hear everyone’s point of view. Curious? You can find it here.
Last night I stayed up late to finish a little cotton sundress I was knitting for my granddaughter. When I got to the bottom of the skirt, the pattern called for a ‘picot bind off.’ I’d never done that technique before, and the instructions in the pattern didn’t help – I couldn’t figure it out.
So, of course, I got online and Googled “picot bind off.” And within moments, I had dozens of options. I went on Youtube and watched a very clear and simple video example of the technique, and was able to complete it easily.
This morning I told my husband about it, and we started talking about how the internet has transformed human learning.
Two hundred years ago, I would only have been able to learn a new knitting technique if someone in my village or town knew it and could show it to me.
One hundred years ago, I might have been able to read it in a book (but, as I discovered, that’s often not a very efficient way to learn).
Fifty years ago, I could have read it in a book or magazine, and then if I knew an expert knitter, and he or she knew this particular stitch, I could have called him or her on the phone and asked to be walked through the instructions.
But it’s only in this past 10 years or so that our options for learning have exploded in this amazing way. Now, within a few minutes and a couple of clicks, I can find a video and/or written explanation of pretty much any knitting technique that exists.
Every single day, we use the internet to gain knowledge we would not, in any past human era, have been able to find. “To google” (as in, I’ll just google it) has become a verb so common over the past decade that it doesn’t even seem fantastic to us anymore. All the knowledge of the world and all of man’s creation is at our fingertips: most all art, music, writing, insight; information on any possible subject. It’s more than any of us could ever take in.
When I think about it this way, it makes me want to be a little more discriminating in my time online. If all the food in the world was available to me right now, I’d want to select the best, freshest, most delicious. Now that the planet’s knowledge is spread out before me…I want to choose to fill my brain with those things that will be most interesting, helpful, fun, inspiring, thought-provoking.
William Morris, the English writer and artist, once said, “Only have in your house what you know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” A good prescription for what we put in our brains, as well.
That is, absolutely free of charge. Not a bad deal. I began my blog at forbes.com, How Work Works, on Wednesday, and I invite you to take a look. It will be less free-form than this one (where I talk about pretty much whatever strikes my fancy).
I actually established my intended turf in my first post. I talked about my belief that work should and can be both productive and fun – and my related belief that doing good work and having a good time are what most people want from their jobs. I set a goal of focusing on making work what we want it to be.
I’d love to have you be a part of that conversation, if that sounds interesting to you: let’s share things at work and in business that we observe are working well, and think about how we can help those things spread. And let’s talk about things that aren’t working so well, and how we might be able to fix them.
In the spirit of that, my second post was about Groupon – a company that seems to be doing well on a how bunch of levels: building a “tribe” of highly engaged employees who are providing a useful service in a simple way that benefits consumers, businesses and groupon. Not just win-win: win-win-win!
I’m very excited – my wonderful publicist Barbara Henricks and her colleague Kaila Murphy have just told me that the folks at forbes.com are inviting me to be a regular blogger for them.
What a great platform! I’ll keep blogging here, of course, as I have for the past four years, and this will stay the same mix of personal and business that it’s been all along. My Forbes blog will be more business-focused, though my lens will be what I’m always curious about: I’ll explore how we and others can make work a place where people create the careers and lives they most want, and where we can get great results that also make a positive impact on the planet (or at least not a negative impact), while having a good time.
They’re asking me what I want to call my blog. It’s supposed to be my name, and then a title – kind of a tagline. I’m considering either “Talking About Work” or “How Work Works.”
I’d love your feedback, or any other ideas…
Today I was lamenting my slow, sporadic and stupidly expensive internet connection at my country/weekend house. There's no cable service near me (it sounds remote, but it's not really – it's within 15 minutes by car of both New Paltz and Poughkeepsie), so I've had to cobble together my media/technology solution: Verizon for phone, DirecTV for television, and HughesNet for wifi. Hughesnet is satellite broadband, and – at least in my situation – it is, as previously stated slow, sporadic and expensive.
So, as I was bitching and moaning, my love Patrick said, "Why don't you just use a mobile broadband adapter?" Then he proceeded, very kindly, to download the Verizon software, connect the cute little adapter to my computer's USB port, and…voila. Twice as fast, half as expensive.
I know some people think technology is scary, or ruining the quality of our human connections, or whatever. But I mostly love it. As long as you're clear that it doesn't replace real relationships, or make you happy, or give you love…that is, as long as you use it to simply make effort more productive or results easier to get, I think it's great. Twenty-first century labor-saving devices.
Link: TPN :: The Cranky Middle Manager Show » Blog Archive » The Cranky Middle Manager Show #110 Growing People with Erika Andersen.
Better late than never! I’m much indebted to Wayne Turmel, the quirky genuis behind the Cranky Middle Manager show. He did an interview with me late in August, which he put up on his site early in September. I thanked him, but forgot to put the link up on my blog; so here it is now.
If you’ve never listened to Cranky Middle Manager, I’d highly recommend it. Not only does Wayne do interesting interviews with intriguing people, his own “wrap-around” commentary is very funny and spot-on. Check out his reference to Scythian queen Tomyris in the intro to his interview with me.