Category Archives: passion

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Two presentation stories for today: Oooh, shiny; Reaching the back row

Today, I talked to about eighty to a hundred people during my TechConnect keynote in the IBM Toronto Lab Amphitheatre. My presentation was about The Top 10 Web 2.0 Tools You Should Try. I enjoyed customizing it for the audience (IBM Toronto Lab folks – research and development) as well as for the challenging timeslot (30 minutes for 10 tools!). I owe a lot to the Lab, and I was glad to have the opportunity to give back. =) I also had the pleasure of turning the stage over to Abe Batthish for his talk on the Web 2.0 Technology Interest Community, and I had fun listening to him as well.

Here are a couple of stories from the presentation.

Oooh, shiny

With only thirty minutes on the clock, the presentation was going to be fast-paced, and I had to have some way to keep track of what slide I was on. I considered standing near my laptop, but I nixed that because I’d have an even tougher time connecting with people behind such a massive podium. I didn’t want to constantly look behind and up at the two projected screens a few feet above my head. Running through the slides in my head, I walked to the center of the stage. As my eyes drifted upwards, I caught a glimpse of something shiny.

Oooh, shiny.

The control room at the back of the amphitheatre was separated from the auditorium by a large one-way mirror, which was reflecting all that light. The mirror was just the correct angle for me to see it–and was that a backwards image of my slides?

I hadn’t noticed that the last time I gave a speech in the same amphitheatre. Nifty.

Thanks to a childhood spent reading everything and everywhere I could, I had picked up the ability to quickly read backwards. My slides were easy to distinguish even when flipped horizontally. I grinned and returned to my seat in the audience, looking forward to giving my totally small-scale "confidence monitor" a try.

After Julie Waterhouse introduced me, I launched into a whirlwind tour of the top 10 Web 2.0 tools the audience should try. I found it easy to make eye contact while avoiding the microphone feedback zones and occasionally glancing at the reflection to make sure I was flipping to the right page. It was like my keynote segment to 700 people using the Hilton Toronto’s snazzy audio/visual setup. No, this amphitheatre was better. The Hilton’s LCD panel had been in the lower left corner of my vision, and I had caught myself glancing to the side to see it. Here, the mirror was in the center of the back wall of the amphitheatre, slightly above the audience’s heads, and visible anywhere I looked.

Now I’m wondering how I can set up a mirror like that in less-equipped rooms. A full-length mirror wouldn’t be portable, but maybe a small mirror set up at the appropriate distance would work. I’m not talking about a double-mirror clamped to the podium, though–I really don’t like standing behind podiums! Maybe a convex mirror like those car rear-view mirrors? Will the image be too distorted? Maybe I can make a totally small-scale confidence monitor. Hmm…

Reaching the Back Row

I wasn’t quite sure if I had effectively reached people today. I felt that I was cramming too many words into too short a time. (If I’m going to do this again in 30 minutes, I’ll probably focus on just 5 tools!) I made a few jokes, got a few chuckles, got plenty of nods of recognitions at the problems and pain points I described… but I didn’t have time to turn it into the kind of open, interactive presentation I love. When I gave a similar presentation at another conference, the other tools that people shared during the discussion gave me plenty of material for follow-up posts. Due to today’s time constraints, I didn’t get to open it up, so I ended up doing all the talking. (Pity! I would’ve loved to find out what was on people’s shortlists of tools.)

But people enjoyed it, and I think I convinced a few people to give some of those tools a try. =) I wish I could’ve stayed for the networking events, but I needed to hitch a ride back home for some other stuff. When I got home and reconnected to the intranet, I noticed that a manager had left a comment on my presentation. He mentioned that he had sat in the back row and that he really enjoyed my presentation and my contagious enthusiasm. If I can reach someone in the back row with my passion, I must be doing something right! =)

Teaching passion

Ideally, teachers would focus on one single thing: getting their students really, deeply excited about the subject of the course. Everything else, the students can do on their own.

Peter Turney, Apperceptual: Genius, Sustained Effort, and Passion (blog post)
Link from Michael Nielsen

Here’s another of my favorite quotes:

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

=)

Networking for new hires

I gave a presentation on social networking for new hires to the GBS Application Services Foundations new hire network.12 people attended, and a few more dialed in, including one person from Poughkeepsie. (Yay international companies!) We had a lot of fun during the roundtable introductions. After things settled down, I gave my presentation.

The key thing I learned while preparing the presentation is that people can get by without paying special attention to social networking, but some effort can help people really transform their lives into extraordinary ones. I talked about the intersection of passion, knowledge and skills, and opportunities. If you learn more about what you’re passionate about, you’ll find or create or attract opportunities to learn more about and practice those passions or to use your knowledge and skills. The more you learn, the more you’ll be able to appreciate your passions, and the more opportunities will be open to you. It’s a beautiful cycle that makes things get better and better.

I also gave a number of quick tips on how to be more effective at social networking using events, conversations, notebooks, business cards, personal sites, blogs, articles, presentations, and other tools and opportunities. All these things can help you learn, reach out, and share what you’re learning.

The key thing I learned while giving this presentation was that although people could quickly identify passions outside work, job-related passions didn’t come to mind. I believe that it’s possible to love your work. My dad taught me this. I know that even if there are difficult days and boring days and lost days, if there’s that underlying passion, all those days will be worthwhile.

I’m glad to say that my work allows me to exercise some of my passions. So, what am I passionate about?

I’m passionate about helping people connect. I believe that interesting things happen when we bring different kinds of people together, and that’s why I love how blogging and other forms of social media allow people to bump into people outside their teams. I not only get to help people connect and collaborate, I even get to help companies figure out how to help their people do so.

I’m passionate about helping new hires connect with the rest of the organization and vice versa. I believe that a good social network can not only help new hires learn what they need to learn but also get opportunities to discover and make the most of their passions. I want to help new hire networks challenge and catalyze people’s growth in addition to providing basic social support. I want to help new hires get connected and share what they learn. Because I’ve been helping people connect using these new tools, new hire networks approach me to find out how I can help them. =)

I’m passionate about helping people share what they’re learning. I believe that teaching as you learn helps you learn more effectively. I want to help people share the tidbits that they’re learning and passing those tidbits along to others who are learning too. I not only get to lead by example, I also get to coach others.

I’m passionate about spreading enthusiasm, energy, and passion. I believe that people can be happy at work and in life. I want to learn from people who are happy and successful, I want to be an example to others, and I want to help others along the way. I not only get to share my passions with my coworkers and with other people outside the organization, I also get to encourage others when they need that extra burst of energy.

I’m passionate about communication skills, presentations, public speaking, and storytelling. I believe that presentations should be more than just bullet points and that communication should be more than just talking at people. I want to share what people are learning, inspire people to action, and help them inspire other people in turn. I not only get to learn more about communication skills and practice them by frequently giving presentations, I also get to share what I’m learning and influence the way other people communicate.

What are you passionate about? What knowledge or skills do you want to develop, and what opportunities would help you be even more effective?

To dream the impersonal dream

I’ve been trying to find words to explain what it’s like wanting to make things happen, how it’s not about me but rather about the possibilities I see. One of the books I just picked up from a library has a good quote about it:

Entrepreneurship is nothing about the one who creates a thing and everything about the one who consumes the thing. Entrepreneurs don’t care about the thing they create, in and of itself (as much as they may love what they produce or do). They care about creating it because of the impact it can have on someone else. It’s about that thing as an answer to a question others have long ago stopped asking, or long before they even consider the possibility of it changing for them. (p.50)

And another snippet:

Unless your idea for a business exceeds anything you have ever imagined doing before, is bigger than anything you have believed yourself capable of before this moment, has the potential of transforming a large enough number of people’s lives in the world to make a huge difference in how the world works, and challenges you sufficiently to risk everything you have to make it a reality, don’t do it.

Just don’t do it, dear reader, because it will likely disappoint you in too many ways to mention.  Don’t do it unless you’re ready to rumble.  Don’t do it unless you can put all your fears behind you. Don’t do it unless the pain of not doing it will exceed the probable pain of doing it by a factor of ten.  Don’t to it, because it’s not a game one plays casually.  Don’t do it, because it will confound you, confuse you, threaten to overwhelm you, every single dangerous step of the way. (p.104)

Awakening the Entrepreneur Within: How Ordinary People Can Create Extraordinary Companies
by Michael E. Gerber

Read more about this book…

Here’s what I care about at work:

  • I care about helping new hires, interns, and other fellow Generation Y-ers connect with the rest of the company, and vice versa. I care because I think it would be pretty amazing if all of us newbies were engaged, passionate, and sharing what we’re learning along the way. Ultimately, I want to affect not only the way IBM connects with its new hires and interns, but the way leading enterprises bring these new voices into the conversation.
  • I care about helping interested colleagues learn more about how to use Web 2.0 to improve their personal productivity and collaborate more effectively. I care because I’ve seen how people use these tools to connect and collaborate across the organization for unexpectedly wonderful results. Ultimately, I want to see these tools become part of the culture not only at my company but also in others.
  • I care about helping clients learn from IBM’s experience with social media, and helping IBM learn from them. I care because I believe in what we’ve got inside IBM and I want to help other organizations explore this kind of culture of openness, trust and collaboration. I care because I know we can learn a lot from other companies as well. Ultimately, I want to connect evangelists and champions in different companies so that we can learn from each other’s experiences.

So I guess I’m a bit of an intrapreneur after all. Technology evangelism around Web 2.0 and emerging technologies is officially part of my job, but all of these things are things I do because I have to do them, because I can’t imagine not doing them. =) I’m going to need a lot of help, but there are a lot of people who are glad to help out because these are their visions too. (I like to think that I’m the one helping them!)

Let’s find out how wonderful it can be. =)

What’s your dream?

On Changing the World

Like Daniel at Young and Frugal, I am going to change the world.

I’m changing it already, and as I grow, I’ll do better and better. I won’t always succeed, but I’ll always learn. I’ll get better and better at finding better and better fits between what I’m passionate about, what I’m good at, and what the world needs.

It’s not because I can be anything I want to be, but because I’m becoming more of who I am. Let’s face it: I’m unlikely to become an Olympic swimming champion or the CEO of a wildly successful social networking platform. But there’s so much I can do right now, and there’s so much I want to grow into in the future.

There are amazing people around me who encourage me to keep following my passion, keep exploring new areas. They know you can’t train people to do what I do, and that I create a lot of value you can’t put into a job description. If people around me weren’t this supportive, I’d just look for a different environment. I would keep following my passions, because I can’t imagine living any other way.

I have what-am-I-doing moments. I have do-I-really-have-to-do-this moments. I have just-get-me-through-this-day moments. But I also have I-totally-rock moments and I-helped-someone-else-totally-rock moments, and I’m going to have more of those.

When people tell me I’m special, I tell them that I’m just like they are, and I ask them what it would take for them to live like I do. What would it take for people to live with passion and joy?

I’m Sacha Chua, and this is not just about Generation Y. =)

One of Canada’s Most Influential Women in Social Media?

I’ve been nominated as one of Canada’s Most Influential Women in Social Media in a poll run by Dave Forde, whom I know from the Toronto technology scene. It’s a little odd thinking about that, because I’m nowhere near the likes of Amber MacArthur (popular geek television / videocasting personality), Leesa Barnes (who made it onto a worldwide list of female social media luminaries), and Sandy Kemsley (prolific Enterprise 2.0 blogger well-known for her comprehensive live-blogged conference notes). Me? I’m a recent hire figuring things out and posting notes along the way. =)

I’ve stumbled across influence by being in the right place at the right time, maybe. My story is now woven into IBM’s story about social media, and we’re helping other large companies figure things out as well. I’ve given numerous presentations helping people figure out what Web 2.0 means for them and for their company, facilitated workshops for generating, developing and prioritizing initiatives, and done a fair bit of hand-holding to get people over their concerns. All of that is pretty cool, come to think of it, but what I’d like to do is make it possible for other people to do even cooler things.

Thinking about this poll on Canada’s most influential women in social media, I realized that I didn’t consider myself any way equal to all these role models I have here and around the world. =) I also realized that I had a pretty good idea of a future me that would feel perhaps at home in that list. So here’s what I think “influential” looks like for me:

  • I would organize regular events that brought together interesting people and helped people connect. These events would include workshops on social networking, storytelling and presentations, quarter-life crises, lifehacking and productivity, happiness, geek growth, personal finance, and other topics I’m interested in or passionate about.
  • I would also build a bit of infrastructure that would help transform the networking aspects of these events: sign-up pages with more details, aggregators to bring together people’s blog posts, business card prints and other in-person networking aids, active matchmaking both online and offline, and so on.
  • I would be one of those people that people mention their projects and ideas to in the off chance that I could recommend people to talk to, books to read, and sites to check out–because I would. =) In order to do this, I’d find ways to more effectively capture information to support a somewhat fuzzy associative memory. (It’s _so_ frustrating to know that you’ve seen something before that people will like, but not be able to find it again!)
  • I would help lots of people to figure out what their passion is, deepen their skills, and share the results with lots of people through presentations, new and existing businesses, and other good things. I’d do that by asking people, helping them connect and make things happen, and helping them find a forum or opportunity where they can talk to other people.
  • I would have a big archive of things I’ve thought about and shared with others so that I can pull useful resources out and give them to people.
  • I would build systems to make it possible for other people to do this kind of awesomeness as well. =)

So that’s what “influential” looks like to me. I’m not there yet, but I think I can get there. =) I can learn how to hold external events, and gradually get into the swing of it. I can keep blogging and summarizing interesting resources, gradually refining my collection of resources. I can keep tweaking my addressbook, and someday I’ll build systems to help other people try this out. =)

Stay tuned.