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Headlines for Monday:
Work on research
|A||X||Ask about flight|
|A||X||Check out Free the Children|
|A||X||Clear my floor|
|A||X||Empty my bags and stow them|
|A||X||Clear my desk|
|A||X||Bring out my scarves and winter shoes|
|A||X||@1000-1100 Telecon with Vauhini Vara, see E-Mail from Libra M. White|
|A||X||@1700-2000 MIE1402F, BA2155|
|A||X||Prep for school|
|A||X||Telecon with Winston Damarillo|
|A||X||Catch up with people|
|A||X||Sort out details for dinner with Tim Sanders|
|A||X||Set up Toastmasters website|
|A||X||Send Toastmasters agenda|
|A||X||Find out when my classes are|
|B||X||Change password for CDF : E-Mail from CDF Administrators|
|A||C||Connect jd.riff to pharma people|
Experimental Methods in Human Factors Research M.H. Chignell Monday, 5pm - 8pm BA 2155
There. I've admitted it. Happy? ;)
Normal introverts don't find themselves trying to find more hours in the day so that they can go to four different things on a Friday night, or more weekends in a month so that they can meet up with different people.
I feel more than a little guilty about not having enough time to blog about all of this cool stuff, because writing and reflection are also very important to me.
Life is terrific. =)
I went to David W. Gray's workshop last Friday to learn more about visualizations because of my research interest in tracking, visualizing, and supporting technology adoption in large companies. I expected a Tufte-esque critique of the ways data are presented in graphical form, with practical advice on presenting complex information easily. Instead, the workshop turned out to be one on visual thinking and brainstorming. Not quite what I expected, but still good.
My key take-aways from that were:
A number of other participants thought that one of the most powerful points was the idea of writing thoughts on Post-it notes or other easily-rearrangeable media, one thought per note. I was familiar with the idea because of my interest in tools for thinking (mind-mapping, brainstorming, etc.), productivity, and communications, and that kind of thinking comes naturally to me now. I do my speeches, thoughts, and even my school papers on, well, paper form before I get them into the computer, although sometimes I'll start with a blog rant.
Hmmm. I think what I really wanted from the workshop were more examples of how to support communication by presenting complex information beautifully, like the way his company presents business processes. There were a few examples very quickly glossed over as part of his corporate bio, and I really wish there were more. Another powerful addition could be an exercise where we'd take data and figure out how to present it, perhaps working in groups and presenting it to the class. That would have been tons of fun, and it would have made the most of Dave's presentation consulting experience with Xplane.
Oh, and it would've been nice to see more of Dave's sketches. =) He's a fun visual artist, and the sketches would've really punched things up. Granted, it's a lot of work to do that with the Lessig method of one gazillion little slides, but an occasional gapingvoid-style thing would be terrific.
I gave him some feedback on the workshop and on his presentation style. He's trying to get the hang of the Lessig method—fast-paced, lots of slides. This takes a fair bit of work to pull off, but it's great when you can speak ahead of the slides instead of reading off them - there's such a difference between using slides as cues and as punchlines! I haven't given a mind-blowing Lessig-style presentation myself, although I remember my operating systems students' feedback that my lectures felt a lot like ads (in a good way!) when I was teaching them about OS history. I remember listening to a Lessig presentation and noting how his speech was slightly ahead of the slides, and I also remember being impressed with Michael Geist's presentation. They are teh c00l.
Dave seems more interested in doing instructional design and packaging this as a workshop that other people can give, so he didn't want to bring too much of himself into it - which is a pity, really, as he's an interesting character and infusing more of the workshop with his personality would liven it up. =) I think he'll do well in instructional design. He's particularly interested in video. Might be cool.
The main value of the event came from the conversations that it sparked, I think. I met a lot of people there whom I'd like to keep in touch with, including Dave Gray.
The Royal Ontario Museum offers free admission from 4:30 PM onwards every Friday. Simon suggested heading over there for a bit of cultural appreciation, and we had fun walking around before my 8:30 dinner with the folks I met at the Oriented networking event.
I always find Japanese woodblock prints fascinating, and we spent some time in that gallery. I'm also drawn to calligraphy, classical sculptures, and realistic paintings (particularly those with literary or mythological references, like classical paintings). I like room reproductions, too - glimpses of what people's lives were like in the past or how they are elsewhere. I like pieces with stories.
We'll go back one of these Fridays. It would be nice to contemplate a single thing and learn its story. Too bad there are no Wikipedia kiosks in the museum. Do you think there'll be wireless?
I know, Simon said I shouldn't waste more time thinking about this, but I had an interesting learning experience today. =)
A friend invited me to a free recruitment / networking breakfast session for a consulting networking group which shall not be named. I RSVP'd with enthusiasm, name, and affiliation. I promptly got the "We're looking for people who want to sign up right now" brush-off, which is another variant of the "You're just a student, so what can you do for me" brush-off that totally turned me off networking before.
I have to admit, my ego is a *little* bit pricked. <teasing grin> I could understand where they're coming from, though. I wrote them a polite note about how I understood that they need to protect their potential members from schmoozing salespeople, etc. I said that although I'm currently a graduate student at the University of Toronto, I thought I'd familiarize myself with professional organizations in Toronto because I meet a lot of people and I'd like to be able to recommend good resources to them. It would've been nice to be able to say more than the blurb on the website and to give people a good idea of the kind of people they might meet at the group's networking meetings or how the organizers run things, but oh well... I guess they don't want me to voluntarily learn how to "sell" the idea to other people just in case I run across someone who might be interested. ;) I suppose I can always point people to the website. <shrug>
This kind of rejection isn't a new thing for me, though. At business-oriented networking events, I often get the once-over and then ignored by people who are only interested in what they can get out of networking instead of what they can give. On the other hand, people who are open to me find me remarkable. I filter through *lots* of information about things I'm passionate about, such as networking, public speaking, technology. I attend all sorts of events and I write about what I've learned. My enthusiasm and joy remind people of why life is fun and exciting. I know a lot of people who've taken an interest in my success. Not only that, they're often interested in other people who've taken an interest in my success, too. =) The people who see me only as a student don't open up enough for me to show them all these other things, and the people who open up have a hard time believing that I'm a student or that I've only been in Canada for a year!
I think that a better way for this group to have handled the situation was not to assume that I'd be there to market my services inappropriately, but to probe and find out what value I think I'd bring to and get out of it. But then again, that would probably have been more time and attention than they'd think of spending on a student's request. (After all, what can a student offer a group of management consultants, anyway?)
It's a pity, because I'm interested in finding out more about the organization, what kind of people they attract, what value they provide, and what opportunities they're looking for. I'd still like to go. It's worth a try, and hey, I'm already learning a lot from this experience. I just hope that the feel of their meetings is better than my first impression of them, though.
Laurie Dillon-Schalk told me never to give up and that selling only starts when someone says, "No." If they can't see my value or at least ask constructively about it, then maybe the people they attract won't be able to see my value either, and I'd be better off spending that time blogging. But if I can show them that I'm not there for the free food or to hit people up for a job, but that I actually want to create value, then nifty. =)
So, what do you think? Should I try to talk my way into this for the practice, or look for a gentler and more generous networkers to start with? I told Ian Garmaise that I wanted to meet more Connectors. I want to focus on meeting people who live with that sense of gratitude for others who have helped them along and that desire to reach out and help others grow, because those are the people who can really nourish and inspire me. I'm going places, and I want to take a lot of other people along with me. I would love to meet people who can help show me the way.
Hmm. Maybe I should try learning some kind of sport. Dr. Oposa is very fond of tennis. Maybe I should give that a try? The Athletic Centre has courses. I might sign up for either the Mon/Wed noon courses or the Saturday morning courses, which will be a bit of a hassle for my schedule but which will work out well for me in the long run.
Currently more practical than golf.
Another thing to remember when I feel homesick - these words by Nigerian novelist Ben Okri:
Travelling challenges you to change your provincial perspective. Travel begins by altering your sense of the assumptions that you make about the world.
From Jim Paredes' blog. Thanks to Jojo Paderes for posting the link to PLUG-Misc.
I feel very much ethnic and I don't want to lose that, but I am also discovering my global identity. =) Life is good.
I don't have butterflies in my stomach. I've got representatives from every species of the order Lepidoptera and they've taken up residence not only in my stomach but all throughout me, including the nerves of my fingers.
I'm not doing something that scares me, I'm doing something that terrifies the heck out of me. And I *know* that it's not supposed to, but I'm really, really nervous anyway.
Just remember, Sacha, it's not going to be the end of the world. Okay. Contingency plans.
If he doesn't show up, I go ahead and have dinner with a bunch of interesting people. Not a problem.
If people cancel, I can apologize profusely to the restaurant, and we can have a cozier conversation.
If the restaurant turns out to be too noisy, we talk louder or we do creative things with the seating arrangement. Mariko's was doable, so this should be okay.
If conversation is awkward, I can... umm... just remember that people are responsible for enjoying themselves. I'll do my best to keep things flowing, though.
If more people show up than expected, I can drag more tables in.
And even if I flub it, some people will still be my friends. After all, they've survived my cooking.
Right. Not the end of the world. Things are going to be okay.