March 29, 2009

Bulk view

Virtual conferences change the game

One of the reasons why I give presentations at conferences so often is because I submit proposals for presentations so often. One of the reasons why I submit presentation proposals to conferences so often is because speaking at an event helps you make the most of it. Speaking also gives you a very good excuse for going to a conference, which is important when managers decide who gets to go.

I just realized that virtual conferences are going to change the game a lot. And I love that.

See, with virtual presentations, you don’t need to build as strong a case for going to a conference. You don’t need to wait for a conference to share your ideas, and you don’t need the votes of a program selection committee to present something and invite people to attend. You don’t need to be a speaker or an organizer in order to reach lots of people attending the same event or interested in the same area. Yes, you’ll network much more effectively as a speaker than as an attendee simply because people will come to you with questions and ideas, but even if you’re not a speaker, you can build an audience by sharing your notes or interacting with others.

Virtual conferences level the playing field. Anyone can be a speaker. Anyone can interact. Anyone can create and share scalable value.

What do virtual conferences bring, then? Awareness of sessions that are out there. Energy and momentum. A critical mass of people thinking about things. What can we do to take advantage of that? How can we make the most of virtual conferences’ unique strengths?

Virtual conferences have their own challenges, of course. How do you interact with others? How do you engage people? How do you enjoy the serendipitous connections of hallway conversations? We’ll figure out how to do things like that well, someday.

There’s something pretty powerful in this if we can help people learn how to do it effectively. That’s going to be one of my goals, then. I know something about presenting remotely. People tell me I’m an engaging and dynamic speaker, and I love figuring out how we can all get even better. I am going to help a thousand flowers bloom. =D I am going to coach my colleagues on how to make the most of these opportunities. And then–who knows–maybe the world, through our examples!

What does that mean, concretely?

April would be a great month to experiment with. I’d like to set up two webinars on remote presentation, and offer people coaching and consultation as well. It’ll be in addition to my full project workload, but it’s play, so I shouldn’t go crazy. The webinar materials will also be reusable, so they’ll keep creating value for other people. Hmm… I feel a Crazy Idea coming on…

Weekly report: Week ending March 29, 2009

From last week:

  • Sort out Transition2 bugs Getting ready for release!
  • Finish proposal
  • Get Smart presentation on IBM Web 2.0 tools That rocked!
  • Finish at least two forms Hooray! Almost done, I think…
  • Try Angelo Racoma’s VA service Asked them to get started on that managing-VAs project
  • Give feedback to Timebridge Yay!

Also:

  • Filed our taxes, oh my =)
  • Got a bike! =D
  • Set up a couple more talks
  • Helped team members learn more about Drupal
  • Automated more processes
  • Caught up with some friends
  • Reviewed my plans and set up some short-term projects
  • Received interesting posts about career advice from two of my VAs, after I challenged them to write me something more than the usual platitudes. One posted, one to follow.

Next week:

  • Deploy new release of Transition2
  • Ride my bike! =)
  • Work on organizing talks, ideas, and material some more

=)

New library reminder script

Gabriel Mansour reminded me to update my old library script. =) Here’s the new one: library-reminder.pl. Serious geekery may be needed to make use of this script.

Making the most of opportunities – tips for managing time, energy, and money

Over dinner at Linuxcaffe last night, my friends and I had a great time catching up and sharing our latest adventures. I learned a lot from that conversation, too! =) In particular: the value of a crazy idea kitty fund.

Nigel asked me if I knew lots of other people who were also experimenting with delegation and virtual assistance. I told him that a number of people were interested, but few people actually took the next step and gave it a try.

It’s understandable. Even in good times, most people don’t experiment with ideas because:

  • they don’t set aside time, energy and money for doing so
  • they second-guess themselves, or
  • they don’t know how to even get started.

In order to make the most of opportunities, you need time and energy–and often, money too.

You can free up more time for experimentation and learning. Trim your passive leisure time, like the time you might’ve spent watching cable television, if you still do. Find ways to do things more efficiently, like occasionally working from home in order to save your commute time. Increase your productivity so that you can get your work done in less time. Reassess how you spend your time and whether you can eliminate some activities or adapt them to include the new things you want to do. Batch your work for more productivity. Buy time back by asking or paying someone else to take care of some tasks.

People often tell me that they’d love to save time, but they don’t have the time to figure out how they can. If you’re running flat out and there’s no room in your schedule for even five minutes to breathe and think, you’re running at an unsustainable pace. Slow down. This may require you to adjust people’s expectations of what you can deliver, at least in the beginning. But you need that time to think and make things better, and you’ll benefit a lot from having a little more control over how you invest your time.

You can manage your energy. Figure out what and who give you energy, and what and who drain it. Figure out if you enjoy starting projects or finishing them, at what times of the day and in which circumstances you’re most productive. Manage around that instead of fighting yourself.

I know my passions and what I can do to pursue them. I’m surrounded by wonderful, supportive people who cheer me on and help me recognize room for even more improvement. I can finish some projects, but I can start many more projects than I alone can finish. I’m definitely a starter, although there are some things that are difficult for me to get rolling. I’m better doing creative work in the morning than in the afternoon. I work well when I’m not worried about deadlines and when I have room to make things better.

How can you go about understanding your energy? Experiment and reflect. =)

You can save up money. Invest in yourself. When coming up with ideas or experimenting with new things, it pays to be able to invest a little on things that may or may not work out.

How do you make space for this? Keep track of all your expenses and see which ones aren’t worth it. Set up automatic savings programs so you don’t even see the money in your bank account. Spend less on things and more on experiments and experiences. Focus on free or low-cost ideas in the beginning, and snowball your savings by reinvesting your profits back into your “crazy idea fund”.

You can explore lots of interesting things when you set aside some time, energy, and money. Good luck and have fun!