Category Archives: career

Work like you’re showing off: Be the best you can be

I’m excited about the first day of work tomorrow. A little terrified,
yes, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I am going to be the
best person I can be, because I’m going to spend that time anyway, so
I might as well do the best I can. Here’s a quote from Joe Calloway’s
book, “Work Like You’re Showing Off”:

Why would I conceivably not want to be the best I can be at whatever
I’m doing? I like the idea that whether I’m sweeping a street, weeding
my yard, playing drums in a band, teaching a class, taking photos at a
wedding, working as a customer service representative, selling
insurance, washing cars, running a company, being a personal fitness
trainer, bagging groceries, or writing a book that I take the
attitudee that I will knock your socks off with how I do what I do. Or
maybe it’s my own socks that I want to knock off. (p.72)

I’m looking forward to knocking my socks off. =) I’m going to learn a lot and
things won’t always be smooth, but I’m going to find and engage that passion.

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Planning my career – first stages

It’s much easier to act than it is to react, and it’s less stressful
too. When you have goals and clear ways to work towards them, other
people tend to go along with the suggestions.

My job is to make my manager and my team members look good. That means
understanding the pressures they’re under and helping them meet those
expectations while making the best use of my talents. It’s a good
thing my goals are flexible

So, where do I want to go?

I want to gather, refine, document and spread good practices around
Web 2.0 and other collaborative technologies. That’s one of my
medium-term goals. Because the market is still emerging, I need to
make my own rain. If I can do that part effectively, then projects
that fit my interest in that will flow into the pipeline over the next

I also need to develop skills in an area that my department
specializes in. This reduces the pressure on my manager and makes him
look good. If I can do it in a way that also helps me advance to my
own goals, all the better. Portal seems to be the best fit, because it
naturally leads into Web 2.0. I need to find out how to get started
with that. I want to look at the jobs that I’m not currently qualified
for, to give me an idea of which skills are in demand. This covers my
short-term career planning.

And I still want to do my book and have a good home life. Tall order,
but it can be done.

So, what can I do to make this easier? Now that I’ve got my goals
straight, it’ll be easier for me to prioritize my day-to-day
activities. Because I’m doing a lot of things, time spent “sharpening
the saw” becomes even more valuable. I need to know and use whatever
tools and practices that can save me time. I need to continue
reflecting on and incrementally improving the way I work. That’s the
best way to keep it manageable.

Let’s see how this goes. =)

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Career statement: Helping companies help people connect

Here’s my first attempt at a career statement which captures why I’m at IBM:

Helping companies help people connect

What does that mean?Let’s look at the core idea: to help people connect. I want to help people connect with the people they work with and with the people they would never have gotten to know otherwise. I want to help people expand and deepen their networks. In the process, we will make the world smaller. It takes only a few random links to bring different parts of the world together.

Why are these networks important? Because opportunities flow through networks. Conversations are rooted in networks. Ideas begin in networks. I believe that there’s a lot of untapped potential for great ideas, teamwork, and innovations in the worldwide conversations that we haven’t yet had. I believe that we are going to need that potential to face the accelerating rate of changes and challenges that my generation is going to inherit.

I’m not just talking about connecting people with other people in the same organization. I want to connect people with other people who can help make good things happen, no matter where they are or who they are. I want to connect people with the ideas and tools that can help them make good things happen. I want to help people connect with themselves, too: that rich, unconscious collection of experiences and insights and potential that needs to be shared in order to be understood.

I want to help people connect, but as much as I enjoy building these links one at a time, I don’t have enough lifetimes to do everything. So I want to help companies help people connect. I am part of a very big thing, too big for me to do by myself. I want to learn how to help companies learn how to help their people connect with each other and with people outside the company. By refining and sharing best practices and tools for connecting, I want to help companies help people connect the dots. Maybe the person who would never think of giving a speech in front of a crowd might share a tip or a bookmark to a great resource. Maybe the person who would never think of going to a networking event might make a great connection online thanks to a blog entry or a forum post. And maybe these new connections will help bring us this much closer to the ideas and innovations we need in order to keep moving forward.

That’s what I care about. That’s why I’m here: helping companies help people connect.

(Stay tuned! I just realized that I’ve been thinking about some things all wrong…)

Add joy to your job title

Over at Matt’s Idea Blog, Matthew Cornell has listed some of the
coolest job titles he’s seen. Not only that, he links to the people who’ve given themselves those job titles. Check those out for inspiration, and add joy to your own job description. Passion Catalyst! Continuous Self-Improvement Guru! =) How can you not want to get to know people like that?

What’s my title? I’m somewhat in between titles. I’m moving away from being a tech evangelist because it doesn’t capture my focus on processes and practices. I help companies help people connect. I want to get really good at spotting and telling great stories, refining and sharing best practices, and exploring new tools and new ways of doing things. I want to help companies enable more connection, more conversation, more collaboration… and more innovation. And I want to do all that and make it _fun._ Fun the way discovering how small the world is when you discover that the other person in the elevator with you also reads tons of books and you end up chatting about great reads all the way to the cafeteria and all throughout lunch. Connection is fun. Networking is fun. I want to make it easy.

Connection catalyst?

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When you’re new to the job and everyone knows more than you do

Do you remember what it was like to be new to the job? I do. I
remember it like it was yesterday. Wait, it _was_ yesterday. I was in
a customer meeting with all these people who were trying to solve a
problem. I was just fascinated by all the stories and insights
and perspectives they shared, and I knew that I was nowhere
near being able to contribute something like that.

I’ve read that new graduates often come into the workplace thinking
they know everything. There’s no danger of that here. From my point of
view, I don’t know anything compared to these folks. I keep warning my
teammates not to expect that I know anything. ;) On the way into the
meeting yesterday, I told my teammate, “You do know that I’m a
complete newbie at this, right?”
She told me that it was fine and that
I shouldn’t worry about it. Well, if she’s okay with that, I guess it
will work out. After all, everyone started from somewhere. =)

So if I can’t bring decades of experience and thought leadership,
what can I bring?

I can bring hard work. Someone needs to take care of the grunt
work, and I’ll happily volunteer for that so that my team members can
be freed up for more creative work. I might even be faster doing that
than other people would be because of the shortcuts I come up with and
the tools I use. Besides, with fewer habits to unlearn, I might
stumble across interesting ways of doing things.

I can bring my questions. Questions make people think, and
maybe they’ll realize something interesting in new.

I can bring my writing and reflections. I’m still a little shy
about speaking up in meetings, but I enjoy thinking about what I
learned during the meeting and writing it up as a blog post or handout
or article. I can make educational materials, too. I’m looking forward
to helping people learn by sharing those handouts and giving people
hands-on help.

Even if I’m new, I can bring something to the table.

And so can you. If you’re new to the job, cheer up and don’t be
intimidated by all the other people who do it so easily because of
their experience. If you’re already experienced, please look out for
us newbies and help us settle in. =) After all, everyone has to start
from somewhere!

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