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Month: September 2009

I invest in 10 ways at a meetup and expect to get nothing! What’s your equation?

Carmen asked me what I “get out” of Spicy Networking and my answer is nothing. I don’t get anything.  That is why the meetings are so enjoyable!

Robin, whose last name I didn’t catch, also asked me, and I asked him if he knew the concept of “chi”.  Rooms have chi (or not).  Well, events do too and so do people.

To use an example to explain.  I don’t get anything out of putting a money tree in the wealth corner of my house. Putting a money tree in the right corner simply pays respect to what is respect-worthy, and creates the right environment for good things to happen.  They may or may not.

The expression “make my own luck” is similar. I have to create the conditions to be lucky – but I can’t force luck.   Luck doesn’t like to be forced.

Chi can’t be forced.   Joy can’t be forced.  But I can’t function without chi and joy in my life.

When I try to “get something” at an event, it won’t happen.

But it won’t happen either if I don’t make an effort. It’s the asymmetry that confuses people.  People want a linear equation – if I do it, it will happen.

It works more like this.  If I do certain things, something I value may happen.  But if I don’t do certain things, it  certainly won’t. I know people struggle with this lack of equation.  But there it is.  Life isn’t a straight line graph!

So let me ask the question the other way around.

What do I invest in a networking event?

#1: I am choosy.

Why go to a dull or badly organized event? And certainly why go back? I think people who tolerate rubbish events (and go back) have no respect for themselves.  They are unlikely to be a good environment for me.

#2: I show up

90% of success is showing up, reasonably on time. We can’t benefit if we are not there.

#3: I introduce myself to people

We gain little by standing in the corner (next to the snack table or the bar) having the same conversation that we had with someone last time.  First rule – don’t hold up the bar!

#4: I make time to listen

Particularly to people who haven’t learned the art of networking.  It is hard to introduce ourselves concisely. Like everything it takes practice. Those of us better at it need to give people still learning some air-time.

#5: I try to learn

People can ask amazingly disconcerting questions.  Last night, I often said I was from a small town.  Everyone wanted to know more.  I need to think seriously about what they want to know about my town.  Questions simply tell us what is unclear to people. And we all are unclear to someone!

#6: I (sometimes) ask open-ended questions

It’s smart to end our elevator pitch with questions so the next person learns about us while talking about themselves.  It’s much better than interrogating them or yawning as they stumble though some waffle.

#7: I rephrase what people do and tell them how they benefit me

It’s good for people to hear how their work has value.  It struck me last night that a lot of people have got into the habit of concealing their contributions.  I must think about this a bit more.

#8: I play “happy-families”

How many people can you talk to in an evening? 15? And if we introduce ourselves randomly, how many will share our interests?  If I can speed up the time it takes to find someone with mutual interests by pointing out who has what in common with whom, very good.

#9: I connect after the event

I look up their website/blog and follow up using one of the channels they provided.

There is no point in sending an automated message that does not remind the person of our specific conversation. I am really arrogant if I think  they will remember me among all the people they met.

And to send an automated message via a service they don’t use is just an irritant.  I know I avoid anyone who does that to me.

#10: I am grateful and allow the possibilities to bloom

In a good evening, the ‘chi’ gets my creative mind going. I come away feeling that I want the day off to think through the ideas that seem to come out of nowhere. They came out of my head of course.  They don’t come from anyone I met.  It’s just that being in a good environment sets the process off.

I suppose that’s what I “get” – though I can’t “get” with any certainty because chi, luck, job, connection, belonging, creativity cannot be forced. They can only be encouraged.

Your turn.  Review time!

Should I be striving to “get” something?  10 things I do are a lot – I don’t actually think about it when I do it.  Writing it all down just makes a long list.

What do you do?  What could I do differently?


Are YOU able to bring 100 interesting people together in a party in London?

How do Julius and Carmen find these venues?

Last night, Spicy Networking met up at The Livery on Wood Street, just off Cheapside as we exit St Paul’s tube.

To be honest, in the ordinary course of events, I would never have noticed The Livery.

It is on a side street
It is ultra modern with clean strong lines
It is long, with the seating all the way through to the back.
And to be be very honest, had I noticed it, I wouldn’t have even gone in.  It wouldn’t look like a place that you just drop in.

As a function venue, The Livery is magnificent.

It is near a major tube (St Paul’s, Central Line). It is on a side street so there are fewer fumes.  The ultra clean look is great for a reception where we are moving around the room a lot and shuffling our bags between our feet.  The long bar opened up into a wide area at the back that was reserved for us.

There is evidently a ‘mental model’ that the hospitality industry and event managers understand that allows them to spot these things.

And then, of course, they make the event happen.  We need more than a good room.  We need the right food.  And, we need the right people.

The food at events organized by Carmen and Julius is always fantastic.

The people are exceptional.  In 18 months or so in the UK, Julius and Carmen have built up a network of business people, entrepreneurs and post-graduate students.  Everyone you talk to at these events is interesting.  And energetic.

A good event. A sound business.  An exciting career.  The magic is in getting the right people together.

That is where the real magic lies.   Getting the right people together.

I don’t know how to do this. I could coach you but you would be working it out for yourself as you go.

If you need it done for you, you need to speak to Julius and Carmen.  They know how to do it.  They have done it.  They do do it.

And if don’t have time to help you, they may know people who can.

Check our restaurants like The Livery which are on the side streets!

In the meantime, pop in to The Livery for a beer and light meal.   And imagine it full with 100 of the most interesting people in London.

I’ll be going back, not to relive a great evening, but to see how it sparks my imagination about the magic of life and work around St Paul’s.

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What would happen if we stopped the BBC news? Nothing or anything?

I listened to the 11 o’clock news as I drove home today.  I counted 9 items.

  • One item was news – the value of the Footsie Index.  But they don’t announce that everyday, so why today?  Anything happened that was different from yesterday?
  • Another item was past tense but vague.  A woman pleaded guilty . . . no information on when, where or the context other than the charge.
  • Two items were advertising – one for BA and one for the Labour Party.
  • A handful were information from the National Statistics Office that rightly belonged in commentary as the data describes events of months ago.
  • And some filler stuff intended to be titillating.

What would happen if BBC became an honest filter and said “Nothing happened in Britain this morning that is worth bothering your head about.”

1.  They’d get back to the work mandated in the Reith vision.

2.  We’d say, Where did the news go?  My favorite part of the day!

3.  We’d realize that the BBC are not that good anymore and stop paying our license fee.

4.  We’d say cool.  Wake us up where something happens.

5.  Other

The test today is to fill in the Other scenario!

Or, pick one of the others and elaborate –

  • I am old and listen to the radio a lot.
  • I am young and rarely switch it on.
  • I am a journo and I am not going to bite the hand that feeds me.

I want BBC to live up to an ideal that is in my head.  Be the best filters in the world.  Provide structure to ideas in the top 20% of any profession.  Is that too much to ask?

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Who has had good results with Open Office Base?

Open Office Base vs Access

Wow, I’ve spent more than 2 weeks trying to get a database going in Base, part of Open Office.

Tonight, I retrieved an old copy of Access 2003, part of the Office suite.

I thought I had lost my touch. Access is definitely easier to use, prettier to use, and more powerful.

My attempts to use Base have been exhausting . . . and embarrassing.

Let’s see how quickly I can create a database in Access.

I’ll let you know!

But if you have created a good, working database in Base, I would love to hear from you.  I am trying to write a program where we input cost price, calculate selling prices and get them reviewed/changed, print labels with all the detailed bumpf required these days, and print labels and price lists.

UPDATE:  Access is definitely easier to use.  Easy to use.  Access 2010 is even better.

There is only one obscure thing to learn: that is how to write the look up commands.  If you follow the tab on the right of source, you can do it by numbers so to speak.

Editing a layout is also fiddly.

But it works and once you know, it is fast and stable.

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Masculine cultures into social media don’t go

A regular trickle of visitors are looking for information on masculine cultures.  It took me a long time to understand this strange term – “masculine culture.”  So what do I understand it to mean?

What “masculine culture” is not

  • It is not an attack on men. Norway has a feminine culture and there is nothing wrong with their men.
  • It also does not mean non-sexist, or even matrilineal. Much of Africa has a feminine culture but much of Africa is assuredly sexist, patrilineal, or both.

What “masculine culture” is

Masculine cultures are based on pecking order.

We all interested in our status, don’t get me wrong.  It’s just that masculine cultures are obsessed by status.   The jostling and thumping of small boys – you have it in one.

It’s not that boys don’t play together. It’s just they find it hard until they’ve sorted out who is “top dog”. And they put everything second to that goal – compassion, beauty, intelligence . . . it all goes by the board.

You can see that women can also have a masculine culture. It is not the preserve of men. Nor is it always bad. It is just very narrowing when everything comes down to pecking order.

Anyway, why does a positive psychologists working in social media write about masculine cultures?

1.  Masculine cultures aren’t positive.

We can get good at winning a race. But the easiest way to win a race is to rig the competition or some other way cheat. We are on a downward spiral.

When we ask the question another way, and ask how quickly we can run, or how quickly we can get everyone over the line, we find more challenge, on many levels.

Life opens up. That is the essence of positive psychology. Does life open up?

2. Social media is about working with others.

Masculine cultures are about individuals or small groups beating other small groups.

My cultural test of the world of social media

I have my new MOO cards now and I am going to repeat my picture test.

Subscribe to my feed (side right column) because I will post the results as I get them over the next two months.

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Filter, filter,filter. That’s where the money is.

In the olden days, our job, you and I, was to consume.

Today, we consume, create and share.

And because we all create and share, we have greater choice, overwhelming choice.  Suddenly, we have to take responsibility  for our choices.  Like it or hate it – we can no longer blame poor outcomes on lack of choice.  Nor can we assume that the creator of what we consume is acting responsibly, thoughtfully, competently, or in our interests.  Anything and everything is out there.  A terrifying world for people who cruise along on auto.

Filter, filter, filter

The scared will run inside and slam the door.  The reckless will try anything.  The bold, the curious, the inquisitive and the thoughtful will learn.

But how do we filter?  Who can we learn from?

I put “filter” into Flickr and this is the first image that came up.  A scientist folds his filter paper in a special shape so that when he filters soil, the thingymebobs that he wants to look at naturally fall around the edge.  Have a look.

Confusing filtering and hoarding

I didn’t put the image here because it is “all rights reserved”.  That is the scientist’s choice.

Quite likely, he assumes our only possibility is consuming with permission from him (and fee).  Sadly, for him but not for us, in this day, people will create and share as well.   His work has no value as scarcity.  His work only has value if it is used.

Let me explain the alternative. He could have  put a creative commons license on his picture, with attribution and share-alike.  Then I would have put his picture here and publicized his work for him. True, some of you will trek over to Flickr but I can guess only 0.5% of visitors will – the typical CTR – click through rate.

Understand our value to the world .  .  . and be rewarded for it

This person’s ability to do science is of far greater worth than his ability to post a picture on Flickr.

A much better bet would be to post the picture and ask for comments and alternatives.  By become the central point for discussions on scientific filters, his knowledge and reach grows, and commercial opportunities of far greater value would emerge – from his filtering ability – not from his hoarding ability.

To demonstrate his ability, we will want to see it in action. Junk, comment, redirect. Junk, comment, redirect.  Rinse & repeat.  Finding one good product from the process and trying to sell it doesn’t advertise the process. The process advertises the process.

That is the nature of filters that we have to get our head around!

1.  Filter so as not to be overwhelmed by junk.

2.  Filter because it is our ability to filter in a specific domain (not to be confused with hoarding) that will have value to others.  And people will want to see the process.  What is our raw material, how do we evaluate it, what advice do we give.

My mind is racing.  This works equally well for the baked beans and irradiated apples at the supermarket as it does for scientists, psychologists, politicians and newspapers.

Enjoy. It is where the money is in the future!

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Why do we abandon our hopes? A visceral demo.

Find a quiet place where you have a moment to enter your imagination and notice your own reactions.  Then read this slowly.

What happens when we connect, strength with strength, and hope with hope?

Close your eyes, or if that is not possible where you are, look upwards to the ceiling and concentrate.  What happens when we connect strength with strength and hope with hope?

We know what happens.  We’ve always known.  But in a flash, our minds push aside what brought a fleeting smile. To bring it back, we must reread the question, and holding the happiness bursting from our chests, ask why: why can’t we keep it?

It is not a secret.  We do know why.  We fear our imagination cannot take wing in the maelstrom of the strengths and hopes. Impossible, we say, and we abandon our fleeting happiness with not even a good-bye.

Read the question again. What happens when we connect strength with strength and hope with hope?

Enough you say. No. Not enough. Read the question again, and this time connect strength with strength and hope with hope. Connect with strengths and hopes in the maelstrom.

Watch the confusion simplify. And connect again. And again.

And know that it is possible to do what we know happens when we connect strengths with strength and hope with hope.

In the maelstrom, there are many hopes and strengths yearning for you to invite them in.

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Moo cards as a gift

There is a saying that we should give up those things that never get any easier.  My Moo cards take too long to make and I doubt the work and time provides equal service to my customers.

So what shall I do for the next batch of cards that I will be making in time for Christmas and the Social Media Mafia unconference on Thursday 17 December, 2009 (in London)?

These were my Moo Cards 2009

Last year, I made some cards with Christmas greetings.

Joy goonies by zenera via Flickr piknikedNew Gold Dream by law keven via Flickr pikniked

This is my thinking for Moo cards 2010

I am thinking of making 20 different cards, each describing someone I follow.

I follow @tojulius
Julius builds customer lists in London and Europe from zero to pleasurably profitable.
I wonder how long it will take Julius to build a profitable list for Rooi?

I follow @audio
Chris generously introduces noobes to his massive network in sound engineering, social media & online education.
I wonder if  anything we do at Rooi will help him strengthen or widen his ties?

Comments on my first-go at turning my Moo cards into a valuable gift?

I need to edit the wording,  a lot.  But as editing takes a lot of time and effort, maybe you could comment first.

Do you like the direction I am taking?

Would you prefer to take your pick of 20 “I follow” cards?  Or, would you prefer a Christmas card?

My wording?

Am I right to value @tojulius and @audio?

My prompt?

Have I suggested a useful start to a conversation with @tojulius and @audio that might lead to a mutually advantageous space?

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