I love being part of industry conferences outside my field. I learn so much from the sessions and the conversations, and I meet all sorts of amazing people I might not otherwise have come across.
Yesterday, I participated in the first Social Recruiting Summit, where recruiters shared questions, ideas and tips on how to use social media to connect companies and candidates. I gave a presentation on The Awesomest Job Search Ever.
Reid Hoffman (co-founder of LinkedIn) gave the keynote address, demonstrating LinkedIn Recruiter. Listening to the conversations afterwards, I got the feeling that people had hoped to have more exciting news about where Reid saw the industry going in the next five years, or some other insights and information not available on LinkedIn’s website. Note to self: When you keynote a conference, focus on the big picture and give people something special.
The summit had an unconference portion. I like unconferences because they let people bring out fresh perspectives, late-breaking news, and more conversation. I proposed a session for sharing success stories and war stories, which I removed when I saw that other sessions could fulfill that quite nicely. Ryan Caldwell and Dion Lim had proposed separate sessions around social media and ROI. When I saw what Dion had written, I called Ryan over, introduced the two of them, and convinced them to merge their sessions. Ryan said he thought I should be in mergers and acquisitions instead. ;) It became a four-person panel with some interesting points, although I think they were counting on a more experienced audience with success stories and war stories of their own. In the future, providing unconference sessions with whiteboards or easels would be a great idea because the facilitators can then capture and express more complex ideas.
There were lots of other interesting sessions and conversations at the summit. During my presentation on “Awesomest Job Search Ever”, I encountered some difficulties hooking my laptop up to the projector, so I just went slide-free. I told people the story about how I got to know IBM, how IBM got to know me, and how that led to just the right position being created for me. We took almost 40 minutes for questions and answers, I think. I learned a lot and I had tons of fun. Others did too! The key messages that emerged were:
Lots of good stuff, but I better get these notes out before they become stale!
It was difficult to extract one of our companions for dinner, so I suggested that we all go. There were about 16 of us. Chandra Bodapati took us to a terrific Indian restaurant. (Yay local guides!)
I had a terrific conversation with John Sumser, who opened by saying, “You must have amazing mentors.” He explained his company name (Two Color Hat) by telling me the African teaching tale about a man with a two-color hat who walked down a street and asked people what they saw. He likes bringing together different perspectives. He’s also very interested in the demographic shapes of companies and labour markets.
John gave me tips on storytelling and emotional modulation. He encouraged me to find ways to develop my technical skills in parallel with softer skills like presentation and influence. He suggested checking out things like The Quantified Self, The Technium, Kevin Kelly (kk.org), cybernetics, and other complex things. This reminds of what Michael Nielsen told be about Lion Kimbro, who found that the practice of writing down his every thought made him think much more clearly. Must see if John knows about him.
On the way to the airport
I hitched a ride with Eric Jaquith and Geoff Peterson in a SuperShuttle, which worked out to be a very cost-effective and hassle-free way to get from Embassy Suites to the SFO airport. Along the way, they shared even more insights about recruiting, technology companies, leadership, life, and other good things. I’m really so lucky that people are so generous with their insights!
I arrived at 11:00 at the San Francisco International Airport. Since I had a few hours to spare before my 3:05 flight, I connected to the wireless network and started working. Jennifer Okimoto (enterprise adaptability consultant) sent me an instant message asking me about the summit. She said,
so… I’ve received a request to respond to a media relations request ABOUT SOCIAL RECRUITING and you appear to be the current IBM expert!
Jen had been reading my tweets, and she wanted to pick my brain about emerging trends in social recruiting. I spent 20 minutes braindumping the ideas and stories I’d picked up from the one-day summit. Here are some bits:
So that’s the braindump from the conference. I’ve asked an assistant to transcribe my talk, and I’ll post that after I clean it up. =)
J- doesn’t want to go to any camps this summer. Instead, she’ll try to come up with interesting things to do. I spent a few minutes compiling this list of summer camp ideas. If some of these catch her eye, we can see about putting together our own curriculum and activities… =)
From last week’s plans
Bike to work on Friday =) Stayed home instead.
Plans for next week (this week, really):
In addition to Twitter, YouTube has been a critical tool to spread videos from Iran when traditional media outlets have had difficulty filming the protests or the ensuing crackdown. One YouTube account, bearing the user name “wwwiranbefreecom,” showed disturbing images of police officers beating people in the streets. On Monday, Lara Setrakian, an ABC News journalist, put out a call for video on Twitter, writing, “Please send footage we can’t reach!”
“We’ve been struck by the amount of video and eyewitness testimony,” said Jon Williams, the BBC world news editor. “The days when regimes can control the flow of information are over.”
The world is changing. Technology helps people make a difference.
Thanks to Bernie Michalik for the pointer to the article.
The second session in the Taking the Stage women’s leadership program I’m taking at IBM was called The Power of Voice. We learned about some of the vocal habits that undermine people’s confidence and rapport, such as trailing off or using a rising tone at the end of sentences.
We also had a short discussion about what makes presentations engaging. Many of the participants mentioned enthusiasm and passion–if not for the content, then for something beyond that.
The three key tips I picked up were:
I’ve thought about finding a speaking or presentation coach who can help me learn how to make even better use of my gift of spreading enthusiasm. I’m good at collecting and retelling stories. I’m good at finding something worth being excited about, sharing my enthusiasm, and helping people remember why they care about their work. I’m good at mixing presentations up with creative approaches. I’m good at scaling up – getting more value from the effort I put into making a presentation. I’m good at handling questions and dealing with the unexpected.
The first thing that can help me become an even better speaker would be to learn how to use even more vocal variety. I’ll start with varying tempo, then I’ll learn how to vary pitch, and maybe even learn how to bring in different accents and sound effects. These will help me build more dramatic tension into storytelling, use emotional modulation, and pick the right voice. Articulation would also be good to improve.
I can practice on my own with vocal exercises, aerobic exercise (to increase my breathing capacity), and perhaps even podcasts. I can also practice in my presentations, which usually come once or twice a week during conference season. Once I get my work permit paperwork sorted out, I’ll sign up for Impatient.ca‘s longform improv classes. In the meantime, I can look around for acting workshops or speech coaches who won’t charge an arm and a leg, and I can check out lots of books from the library on how to improve speech.
Other things I can work on in the future: storytelling, navigational structures, vocabulary =) (richer words! more concrete expressions!), improvisation, humor, rhetorical structures, illustration… There’s so much to grow into!
I’m interested in this for a number of reasons:
Next actions: Check out library books on voice training, and ask for quotes from voice coaches in Toronto. Waiting for paperwork: sign up for improv classes, and look for acting workshops.
There’s an insightful 82-page PDF entitled Educating the Net Generation: A Handbook of Findings for Practice and Policy. Support for the original work was provided by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council Ltd, an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. (And the report’s CC-Attribution-Noncommercial-Sharealike!)
If you’re in education, you should definitely check this out. Might be interesting to write case studies like this for the corporate world, too.
Thanks to Millennial Leaders and Ryan Coleman for the link!