Categories: communication » talk

RSS - Atom - Subscribe via email

Making a Name for Yourself

Posted: - Modified: | career, connecting, presentation, talk

The key points of my talk “Making a Name for Yourself” at the Toronto College of Technology on March 14, 2009 were:

1. Build on your strengths. Identify your passions and skills inside and outside the classroom, and figure out how to get even better at them.
2. Be flexible and create options. Look outside large IT companies, and even outside the IT industry.
3. Change the game. Create new opportunities for yourself.

1. Focus on others. Look for opportunities to help other people.
2. Make it easy to help you. Have a strong introduction (best-test-focus: start with a brief description of what you’re good at, a concrete example of how that benefited someone else, and a question that puts the focus back on the other person and how you can help them). Bring business cards. Carry a notebook and pen, or a PDA, or some other way to take notes. Have a web presence on social networks, or your own professional website/blog.
3. Ask. Many people enjoy helping. Ask for help and reach out. Find mentors. Ask everyone.

Here are some of the resources I mentioned:

Toronto Geek Events calendar – for finding interesting tech-related events

Love is the Killer App
By Tim Sanders

What Color is Your Parachute?
By Richard Nelson Bolles
Published by Ten Speed Press

Make Your Contacts Count
By Anne Baber, Lynne Waymon
Published by AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn, 2007

How to Talk to Anyone
By Leil Lowndes
Published by McGraw Hill Professional, 2003

Recording of Enterprise 2.0 and Knowledge Management lecture

Posted: - Modified: | enterprise2.0, kaizen, presentation, talk

So here’s my first experiment with publishing a picture-in-picture recording of one of presentations – specifically, the presentation I did last night.

[kml_flashembed movie=”” height=”355″ width=”560″ /]

Slides and class notes
Planning the talk

Lessons learned:

  • The audio from the webcam turned out to be much clearer than Camtasia Studio’s recording, because Camtasia picked up only the audio from the computer’s microphone. I need to fiddle with the settings some more to get Camtasia to listen only to the webcam. The audio was better than the audio on my voice recorder, too. That’s probably because my voice recorder was on the table behind me, and I didn’t have a lapel microphone. If I add a belt clip to my voice recorder and dig up that lapel mic I bought some time ago, that would be a good experiment.
  • I remembered to set everything up! Hooray! Voice recorder, webcam, and Camtasia recording of slides.
  • Splicing the slides and the webcam video was easy, although I kept running into weird problems – my silenced audio still kept showing up in the finished video. I deleted the Camtasia recording of my presentation and manually inserted my slides.
  • I lowered the video quality to 3 frames per second. It’s a bit jerky, but it does shave off some 20MB of disk usage. What do you think? I could also try rerecording this (or recording a different talk) with a close-up webcam video.
  • I’m hosting everything on my own site, as I haven’t found a good place to put things like this yet.
  • I spoke slower this time. Occasionally sipping water reminded me to slow down and breathe. This is good.
  • I enjoyed answering and asking questions. If I were to do this talk again, I’d probably trim this down to five or seven items and then have more of a discussion.
  • It was a good idea to get someone to promise to take notes and share them. Yay! I should build up a store of things to give away.
  • My computer was at stage left, so I could read the screen without looking back.
  • I suspect I’m right-biased in terms of eye contact, so I can make more of a conscious effort to look to the left. I did make sure to make eye contact with folks there some of the time.
  • My left mouse click is still broken (it’s software, not hardware; very strange) and my wireless mouse ran out of battery. Fortunately, I figured out how to use Microsoft Windows MouseKeys, so I could still set up everything I needed to set up before the presentation.
  • W- was there for transportation and moral support. I’m so lucky!

To make this even better next time, I can:

  • Put the webcam on stage right instead of stage left, for a more natural orientation when viewing the video and slides. This could be a challenge, because projecting stations are usually on stage left.
  • Offer other incentives for people to take notes and share them
  • Figure out better hosting for the video
  • Experiment with different video and audio settings
  • Start saving up for a digital camcorder?

Kaizen – relentless improvement! =)

Notes from Enterprise 2.0 and knowledge management talk at Schulich

| enterprise2.0, talk

Thanks to Michael Woloszynowicz for typing up these notes from my talk last night!

  • What is KM?
    • Lots of value if you can share the knowledge in peoples heads with others
    • Finding the person that is best suited for a project
  • Enterprise 2.0
    • Like web 2.0 but geared towards companies
    • Utilizes user technologies e.g. Blogs, Wikis, etc.
  • Why care about enterprise 2.0
    • Differentiate yourself, give you an advantage
    • Broaden your network
    • Number of knowledge issues that companies are struggling with
      • Companies don’t know what to do
    • You will be in the position to make a difference
      • Companies will turn to younger generations to help
  • Enterprise KM is not about the tools
    • Tools change
    • It’s the changes they bring that is important
  • Knowledge is power, 10 areas of questions
    • What is knowledge (document? person? interaction?)
      • Can take a document centric view
      • But you can’t write down everything
        • This  is where people come in, find the right person
        • Not what you know but who you know
      • Sometimes you need the combination of the people and the situation
      • When looking at a paper, you need to know what view the author is taking
    • What do you do with knowledge? Hoard? Share?
      • Knowledge is power
      • Knowledge is something to be kept secret or controlled
        • You can charge lots of money for it
      • Another view is that you can share it, and that is power too
        • Why only limit your knowledge to a few people
        • By sharing it you become an expert
        • People come to you looking for advice, this gives you job security
        • People will also come to you with ideas
      • Differences between hoarding and sharing mindset is important
        • The success of your web 2.0 initiative depends on it
        • Some people do not want to share
      • What’s in it for you?
        • In the short term it can help you to find the information you need and help you practices communication skills
        • You get scale, people know about you
    • Formal vs. Informal
      • Sometimes input involves filling out set fields
      • Things such as Wikipedia are much more informal
      • Newer technologies are much more informal then older ones
        • Get the information out quickly and refine over time
        • There are advantages and disadvantages to this
          • Some people like structure
          • Others like the freedom and not be constrained
          • Constraints may stymie information sharing
            • Informality is quick
      • Informality has a lot of value
        • You can refer back to your old information
        • You can pass it to others
        • People can find it through searches
      • By making it easier to contribute knowledge, you get more of it
    • Relating to formal vs. informal is who has the information? Experts? Novices?
      • Sometimes experts are not the best resource
        • Experts can leave out steps because it is second nature to them
      • Really what you may need is someone that knows more than you
        • Novices can teach you the pitfalls and issues in language you understand
      • Enterprise 2.0 is about everyone contributing what they learn along the way
      • People often don’t contribute because they feel they are not an expert
        • But by learning, others can learn from you
        • For example, have a new hire record their learning
          • Expert can check it to make sure they are on the right path
          • Other can then learn from it
      • Experts and novices can get into conflict
        • Novices that share information become go to people and eventually become experts themselves
        • Mentoring can help to prevent this
    • One tool vs. many tools
      • Some people wait to try things only when others are using them while others want to be early adopters
      • Late adopters and early adopters are sometimes in conflict
        • Email vs. Blogs
      • Too many tools lead to integration issues
      • What happens if a tool goes down?
      • In enterprise 2.0 it pays to introduce one thing at a time and choose the tools carefully
        • Start with your business needs and find the best tool to solve the problem you are working on
    • Managing or facilitating?
      • One of the key things about enterprise 2.0 is collaboration
        • It’s not about submitting a document and closing the process
        • Capture what people are doing and learning along the way
        • Facilitation of collaboration
    • Inside or outside?
      • Companies used to feel that they are the experts in what they do
      • Hire other experts and give them tools to collaborate
      • Now people outside an organization are collaborating
        • Opens up lots of opportunities for companies
        • Can pose problems to the general public for a reward
        • When you can tap the knowledge of those outside the organization you can get more variety and better results
        • E.g. ideastorm
      • Enterprise 2.0 blurs the boundaries between inside and outside
        • Co-creation
    • Adoption is not always easy
      • Culture has a lot to do with it
        • Social, generation, etc.
      • How do you deal with these problems?
        • You have to tell people what the personal benefit is
        • If there are no benefits, people won’t participate
        • Monetary incentive is not the greatest approach
          • Can lead to gaming
        • Appeal to other aspects
          • External recognition? Self fulfilment?
        • Make it part of the way people work
          • Otherwise there is no time to input information after the fact
        • Innovators and early adopters are not a great example, find people in the middle to serve as ambassadors
    • Metrics and ROI
      • How do you quantify these initiatives? What do you measure?
        • Do you measure time savings?
          • Maybe time saved isn’t used to the companies gain
        • A lot of the value is intangible
        • Measure savings on travel or other costs
        • Gather metrics on search results
        • Before and after studies
        • What is the percentage of people using it
      • Metrics you choose will influence user behaviour towards the things you want to gain
    • What next?
      • A lot of value is gained by trying it out
      • This can be outside of work, things that you are passionate about

Talking about Enterprise 2.0 and knowledge management

Posted: - Modified: | enterprise2.0, talk, web2.0

UPDATE: Fixed Wikipatterns URL


I’m giving a lecture on Enterprise 2.0 and knowledge management at the Schulich School of Business (York University). There’s so much to talk about, but I’d like students to walk away with:

  • an understanding of how this is personally relevant to them, and
  • an understanding of the cultural and technological changes,
  • some resources they can check out for their paper,
  • concrete next actions they can take to learn more and make the most of the opportunities.

What I’ll discuss

Enterprise 2.0 encompasses many things. For this talk, I’ll focus on how emerging tools help us organize and share ideas, information, and experiences. I won’t dwell on emerging tools for communication, collaboration, or other aspects of Enterprise 2.0, although as you’ll see in a bit, those capabilities are difficult to separate from knowledge-work. I’m looking forward to finding out what tools class members are familiar with, and which they participate in: blogs, wikis, social networks, asset repositories, and things like that.


Let’s start with why it matters. Why should these MBA students care about Enterprise 2.0 and what I have to say about it, and why do I care that they care?

The first and most immediate reason is that their professor has assigned them (or will be assigning them) a paper on knowledge management and Enterprise 2.0, and my lecture can help them find out about resources and understand some of the key concepts.

The second and much more valuable reason is that if they start applying these concepts now, they can deepen their knowledge, broaden their network, and strengthen their reputation – helping them differentiate themselves from other applicants when they look for a job, or helping them differentiate themselves from other companies when they start their own. These ideas can also help them share even if they’re not experts, make a difference even as newcomers, and create value on a scale that was difficult to do before.

The third and most far-reaching reason is that if these MBA students graduate and go into companies with a deeper understanding of what Enterprise 2.0 is like, then eventually, these seeds can grow into the bottom-up and top-down support that can really change the way we work. In Enterprise 2.0, many companies look to new recruits and fresh graduates for a deeper, almost instinctive understanding of new tools and concepts. If these students understand the ideas and tools behind Enterprise 2.0, then they can help their companies move forward.

That’s why I care, and I hope to help them learn more about why they should care too.

Cultural and technological changes

On the surface, it’s easy to talk about tools. E-mail, blogs, wikis, asset repositories, shared drives, group websites… All those tools have different capabilities, and each has advantages and disadvantages. If you search the Net, it’s easy to find examples of companies using any of these tools for knowledge management.

What I’m really interested in, however, is culture. Mindset. Attitude. And I’m interested in that at the individual, team, community, network, organization, and ecosystem level.

So I came up with a list of interesting contrasts. The core idea is still the same (“Knowledge is power”), but there are all sorts of aspects around it.

Document, person, or interaction? What is “managed” under knowledge management? What does knowledge management really mean? Is knowledge all about documents that need to be organized, categorized, and stored? Does it live it people’s heads, so the “killer app” is an expertise locator? Does it come out in the interactions between people and other people, resources, and situations? I want to call their attention to different ways of thinking about knowledge, so that they can be aware of their perspective and they can recognize the perspectives taken by the different papers and resources they’ll come across.
Hoard or share? Is knowledge something to be hoarded and kept secret so that you can gain power by controlling access, or is it something that you share widely so that you can gain power that way? The difference between these two mindsets is one of the key challenges of adoption.
Formal/structured or informal/unstructured? (or the spectrum) Is your end-goal a neat repository of cleaned-up documents, or a platform for ongoing work? In the past, most knowledge management initiatives focused on formalized assets. With Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0, we’re finding that making it easy to share ongoing work can create a lot of value and get better participation. That brings in its own challenges, too, like finding things. Taxonomies vs folksonomies also come into play.
Experts or novices? Do you want contributions only from experts, or can you get value from the work of novices and amateurs? This has implications for learning and search.
One place or many? Are you looking for just one tool for storing, organizing, and searching all the knowledge, or are you looking at ways to integrate many tools with each other? It’s a mess either way. The mix of mindsets adds conflict and tension to adoption, so watch out for that.
Knowledge management or knowledge creation? Do you see KM as the end-point of a process, or as something done throughout a process? This affects adoption, culture, and lots of other things.
Inside or outside? Is the knowledge and experience you’re looking for entirely within your organizational unit, or can you find a way of engaging and learning from people outside?

Hmm, I think Wikipedia would be a good example to use, because they’re probably familiar with it, and I can also talk about corporate use. I’d like to talk about blogs as well, because that’s something they can take away.


  • Check out bookmarks: enterprise2.0 + km
  • Search for Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0, knowledge management (anything recent probably talks about Web 2.0 as well), or specific technologies such as blogs and wikis
  • Read analysts such as Forrester and Gartner
  • Find research papers
  • Read books like Influencer and Generation Blend
  • Check out Bill Ives’ blog (link is to KM posts) and other blogs about knowledge management
  • Find case studies on Cases2.
  • Look for Enterprise 2.0 and KM-related conferences, and look for related speakers and bloggers.
  • Check out Wiki Patterns for adoption tips and ideas about the challenges people face when introducing KM tools into real-world groups. (UPDATE: Fixed URL, thanks!)

Next actions

If people want to try these ideas out, they don’t have to wait until they graduate and join a company with Enterprise 2.0 tools.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Set up a blog. Share your experiences and your lessons learned. Share what you’re learning. Share what you’re good at, and share what you want to get better at. Teach people along the way. This will help you learn even more and connect with more people. It’ll help you when you’re looking for a job, too – it’s a public portfolio of how you communicate and how you think. If you’re intimidated by the idea of writing in public, give yourself permission to figure things out, and just get started.
  • Organize and share what you know. You’ll probably come across lots of resources while reading. Bookmark them and share them with others. You’ll all benefit in the process.
  • Read a lot. Look for blogs related to your passions and career interests, and add those blogs to your feed reader. Find other resources related to your interests, too. You’ll learn a lot, you’ll pick up the vocabulary and jargon of an area, and you’ll get a better sense of what’s going on.
  • Experiment. Try things out. Curious about wikis? Find out how other people use wikis, then make one. Bonus points if you explore group knowledge management tools with other people, because then you’ll also learn along the way about the challenges of adoption and how to deal with them.

I don’t feel anywhere near ready, but I do feel as if I have something to share, so that’s good. =)

Upcoming talk: Totally Rocking Your Drupal Development Environment

| drupal, emacs, talk

On February 12, at 12 EST, I’ll be giving a teleconference presentation to the IBM Drupal Users Group. =) It’s internal-only, but I wanted to post it here because I often need to look up my abstracts and bios. The abstract is the same as the talk I submitted to DrupalCon09 (Totally Rocking Your Development Environment), but I’ll add some more IBM-specific tips.


Are you a lazy developer? If you aren’t, you should be! Find out about editor tricks that can save you hours and hours of effort and frustration. Learn about browser tips that make it easy to test your sites with different users, track down elusive bugs, and test. Develop the virtue of laziness by automating as much as you can with makefiles, the Drupal Shell, regression tests, and other goodies. Share your best tips during this interactive session. Use your new free time to rock even more!


Sacha Chua has an unshakable belief that life is too short to waste doing repetitive tasks that can be automated, an irrational love for tweaking her development environment, and an irresistible urge to share whatever she’s learned along the way. To learn more about her and Web 2.0, Drupal, Emacs, and other things she’s interested, visit [INTERNAL IBM URL] or (personal blog).

Inside IBM and want to get a copy of the calendar invite? Contact William Shaouy.

Web 2.0 Inside and Outside the Enterprise: York University MBA

| event, presentation, talk

I’ll be giving a presentation on how enterprises use Web 2.0 inside and outside the organization to Dorit Nevo‘s MBA class at York University on February 10, from 8:30 PM to 10:00 PM.

Current status: Mindmapped
Next action: Prepare detailed outline

Notes from the City of Toronto Web 2.0 Summit

Posted: - Modified: | gen-y, talk, web2.0

Thanks to Aaron Kim’s referral, I participated on a panel about Generation Y and Government 2.0 at the City of Toronto’s Web 2.0 Summit. I told a couple of stories about characteristics of my generation and opportunities (for everyone!) opened up by Web 2.0, including Clay Shirky’s story about 4-year-olds and televisions (hmm, got the details wrong on that one). During the panel, I learned about the City of Toronto’s push towards citizen-centric views of information with their 311 project, some thoughts on using subscriptions, aggregation and filtering in order to deal with information overload, and concerns about digital divides and lack of access to computers or the Net. I also heard a story about how one company uses the Web 2.0 equivalent of a swear jar – people who send attachments through e-mail get poked about how they can be using more effective tools to collbaorate. =)

What went well?

  • People: I enjoyed getting to meet the organizers, the other panelists, and the audience members. People had interesting stories and questions. I particularly enjoyed Mark Surman’s talk about lessons from open source development that may help cities become more open and participative. =)
  • Webcast: There was a live webcast of the event, and Lan Nguyen told me that more than three hundred people from all over Canada logged in to watch the streaming video. Moderators also took questions from the online audience and brought them into the discussion. This was a terrific idea because it allowed more people to participate. People were interested in simultaneous webcasting for all city sessions, and I think that would be a Good Thing.
  • Twitter backchannel: Towards the end of our panel, I noticed that one of the online comments mentioned the #to20 Twitter backchannel. I pulled out my iPod Touch, keyed in the wireless user name and password the organizers gave me, and navigated to the #to20 search page. After I scanned through the previous discussions, I started bringing ideas from the backchannel into our panel conversation. People’s tweets reminded me of interesting points to bring up. I’m really glad I had access to the Twitter backchannel without doing something as awkward as bringing out a laptop, and that I could get to know different aspects of the people I’d just met in person. Good stuff! I’ll be relying on Twitter to keep me up to date tomorrow, as I won’t be able to attend in person and rumor has it that the live webcast requires Internet Explorer.
  • Experience: I’m usually anxious before panels and presentations like this because I don’t feel at all like an expert. Who am I to talk about Web 2.0, or Generation Y, or something like that? I make up for it by reading a _lot_ about the topic, collecting stories, and talking to a lot of people about the topic. This time, I was even more anxious because I’m not a citizen of Canada, I didn’t grow up in Toronto, and I don’t know much about the way the Canadian political system works. But the pre-event call reassured me that they’d be okay with my newcomer perspective, and during the panel, it turned out that I had plenty to share: stories from other organizations and people, ideas I’ve written and spoken about, experiences I’ve reflected on… It all worked out well, and I’m glad I got to share some of what I’d learned. =)
  • What would make this even better?

  • Focus: A development issue pulled my attention away during the last panel session, which was a pity because it seemed like an interesting one.
  • Planning: I really should get into the habit of asking for the registration list or even just looking speakers up so that I can have richer face-to-face conversations with them. Names alone are hard to search for. The next time I help organize a conference, I think I’ll ask everyone for blog addresses, Web addresses, profile links, or a short self-introduction… Hey, maybe I’ll do that for my tea party! =)
  • Linking: Should’ve found the webcast URL before the event and posted it on my blog, so that more people could tune in! I’ll keep an eye out for recordings. =)

Lots of people to follow up with, lots of conversations to continue…