Archive - April, 2011

The heart via Shakespeare

Shakespeare second to only scripture has been my guide in interpreting the world of not only my own heart by the hearts of others. In our age of reason it is easy to become mired in facts, figures and laws. Shakespeare though has been one of my anchors to the heart. I interpreted my first love though his words as well as betrayal and honor.

I am trying to remember my first exposure to the bard’s work. As a student at Catlin Gabel School I first fell in love with Shakespeare through the instruction of several teachers. Like other Gen-xers, I remember great film adaptations like LA Story. I enjoyed moments of euphoria watching Much Ado About Nothing in an art house theater in downtown Portland. Through them I was introduced to the magic of words. I found myself rushing home from these films to read the words for myself.

To this day I struggle to decide which of the four types of Shakespeare have had the most influence on me. The one play that I consistently return to is Henry V. I can’t even explain why I am moved so much by this telling of English history other than it inspires me to be a better leader, friend and lover.

I wish I could say I see more live plays. That is something I plan to remedy as I introduce my children to his work. My father even owns a mt. resort in one of the world’s Shakespeare meccas, Ashland Oregon. So I have no excuse.

So as you can see from the photo, on his birthday I once again have Shakespeare’s Works off the self and in hand. Who knows what his splendid tales will inspire next.

To connect with others and see how some great bloggers have been influenced by Shakespeare visit www.happybirthdayshakespeare.com.

No longer strangers: remembering Tim Hetherington

Degrees of separation are quickly falling away. I am finding I am often only a couple of degrees separated in connection to many people I have come to respect, that being authors, directors, actors and others that have influenced me over the years. I think you would be surprised too how small your world really is becoming. For me it is often a death that makes me realize how this impacts my life.

This week photojournalist and Vanity Fair contributing photographer Tim Hetherington was killed while covering the conflict in Lybia. He co-directed the the Oscar nominated film Restrepo with Sebastian Junger. The film chronicles one of those stories that keep creeping back into my heart and mind about what men experience in war and life. My friend Clay Hebert worked with Sebastian Junger to promote the Restrepo and War projects. I have had the opportunity the follow along with Clay in conversations and updates about the films success. So as the events came across on radio news, blogs, and then a call with Clay yesterday, I started to notice that Hetherington’s death was more than just an event that happened to a stranger, even one who’s work impacted my life. The word stranger is losing its hold as we become more connected. I believe we are meant to be connected way beyond even our abilities today allow. Deep in our core there is a desire and pull toward connectedness. Pastor and author Rob Bell writes about this in great detail in his book Sex God.

I hesitated to post about this today until my friend Andy Bunch sent me the trailer for I Am this morning. The quotes alone are worth the watch.

To learn more about Tim Hetherington you can read Sebastian Junger’s tribute to his friend on Vanity Fairs website today. You can find out more about War and Restrepo on Junger’s community site. Netflix also has Restrepo available for on demand play. Hetherington’s passion and gift will be missed.

The internet works: all-call revisited

So at about 9:30 pm Monday night my friend Andy Traub posted on twitter that he could not make it to Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon this June. He had already bought a ticket and needed to to sell it.

I saw his post and knew my tribe would be interested since I live in the NW and have many friends who enjoy Guillebeau’s work. Apparently there is a large waiting list to get in, so this was an opportunity to both help Andy out and someone else as well.

Within minutes someone saw my post and bought the ticket. I loved the response post “God works in mysterious ways…like on Twitter. Thanks…to both of you! #soexcited”. So once again, if you have a tribe and something valuable to share or find, the all-call is a valuable tool.

Here is my original All-Call post.

Skinning our knees

Communication involves mis-steps. We have to be willing to try new things and sometimes even look like fools. And to be honest any type of communication will often involve risks. Some lessons can only be learned through trial and error. We can learn about other people’s communication styles and preferences, but putting our selves out there is sometimes the only way to grow.

Lets take the example of meeting new people. Now for me this is often easy since I am an extrovert. But taking it to an extreme, even I can feel uncomfortable doing this. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet several celebrities at an event. In fact I was outnumbered greatly by those from the entertainment industry. I could have enjoyed the evening star watching and met no one. We miss many opportunities by not be willing to skin out knees. The first introduction I made was the hardest. I stuck my hand out and introduced myself to one of my favorite actors. Luckily all my words came out right. Once that first visit was over the rest of the night was pretty easy and very rewarding. I was only snubbed once (a story that still makes my wife laugh.) I met dozens of people and enjoyed many laughs and conversations. It was very memorable.

Risks can involve sticking our selves out there and asking for something. It can be in the conversation itself. As we navigate getting to know someone we have to take turns in the conversation and really there never is a map to guide us. But again without the risk and often mis-step we would never grow as communicators.

Since we all need to laugh, share you favorite mis-step.

Adding multiple signatures using gmail

One of my favorite tools to stay connected is Gmail. I currently have about 7 email accounts that I manage through it. Now with that many accounts I need a way to easily add different signatures when composing a message depending on which account I am sending from. This past week I found a blog explaining how this can be done pretty easily using Google Labs for Gmail. Here is a short tutorial show how I am using it. Enjoy. You might want to select HD play and expand to full screen to best view.

Being a valuable contributor to your tribe

Last week I wrote about influence overload and choosing what we are influenced by.

So how do I ensure I am staying a valuable contributor to my tribe? Knowing what my tribe’s interests are is a good starting place. Mine is a combination of authors, publishers, entrepreneurs, communicators, coaches and fellow mobile and online tool enthusiasts. There are probably many more nacent groups in there. My point is, find out who they are and what they want from you. Hopefully they have gathered because of the original content you provide and the discoveries you share.

Second I stay valuable by not reposting like a parrot (read Strange Behavior of Crowds). I try to limit my posts to six types of messages: (I am sure I could define more but these stood out).

The Reading post: You will see me post that I am reading something. That means that I have actually started reading something and I think it is worth sharing.

The really valuable Reading post: For this I will usually post a secondary comment like “must read” or “great post”.

The next type is the announcement and is usually reserved for my blog posts or other content I have created like a video.

Then there are the conversations. I try to keep these minimal unless I think the conversation is valuable to the community. Most likely I take those offline.

The fifth type of posts is the question and answer post. I am either trying to get information or answer someone’s question. Twitter is a great tool for customer service. Use it.

Last is the I am here post. I don’t mind you using location services. In fact I like it because I may get to meet up with you. I also like to know the cool places my tribe hangs out.

Keep your posts relevant to those in your community. Take a minute and think if the article you retweet or share on Facebook really is worth passing on. I thank my tribe for keeping me interested and informed. They make me look like I know what I am talking about.

Sarcasm?

So this is a subject that I have been thinking a lot about. It came to the forefront of my world recently when my son said to my wife and I in a kitchen conversation that he just does not get sarcasm. It has become a game for us to help him navigate his ten year old world. We say something and he stops and with a smile says “that was sarcasm”. Really though how do you use or feel about it. In our community conversations it can be an effective tool for communicating. It can also cause pain and misunderstanding for those that receive it. I plan to write on this in more detail but I wanted to pose a few questions to you and see what you have to say. Do you use it? Is it lost on you as a communication style or tool? Do you have stories of how it has caused harm? There are lots of questions here today but that is the point. Thank you for engaging.

Where are they? Going to your tribe.

This topic has been coming up in many conversations. We are experiencing a time where people are able to operate with tools of communication that best suits them. I think this is great. What I have learned is that my own community is filled with people that communicate in many ways. Find out their preference and engaging with them there. I have connections that are solely on twitter, Facebook, text, email, LinkedIn, skype….etc and many combinations of that list. Some are not online at all so I make an effort to visit with them in person.

When I meet someone new I ask them what they prefer. I have learned to not judge their choice. I do let them know know I primarily like communicating via blogs and twitter. Personally I am just glad they are. The response you will get may surprise you. It may be impossible to get them to chat on the phone but they will be happy to email you. It takes some organization but the results far outweigh the work. So where does your tribe hang out? What do you prefer? Like

Talking to taxi drivers

This Twitter post by my friend Carissa left curious.

@CarissaO Fascinating conversation with my cab driver about the entrepreneurial spirit and the power of social media. #austinrocks #SXSWi

Was the driver moonlighting as a guru or VC. Regardless it reminded me of all the great conversations I have had with taxi drivers.

This isn’t about taxi drivers though. Really it is about being present enough to your surroundings to engage in conversations with everyone you come in contact with. I think we miss so many opportunities to learn from others by just ignoring people throughout our day.

My stepdad Glen, who I count as one of the most influential people in my life, led by example in many ways but this was one that I love to practice. He would engage with the grocery clerk, gas station attendant, janitor and anyone else that came across his path. What stood out to me were the people who could not possibly benefit him as a salesman. And a good salesman he was. Better yet though he valued people. Over time all of these people came to know his name. So when I would travel with him it seemed he knew every one in the world. Now I do know this. He always got the best service wherever he went because he had invested in people that served him.

Now back to taxi cab drivers. It is very easy to ignore them. When I get into a cab, no matter what my first impression is, I strike up a conversation and usually try to learn a bit about the driver. It has been rare that I have been disappointed. There have been times that I have been disturbed by the cab driver. One in Vegas stuck with me. He gave my business partners and I a history (his own sordid version) of the decline of the city since the mob lost control. Oh the good ole days. I was hoping not to see a shovel in the trunk when I went to get my bag. Yeah. Mostly the drivers are great.

So next time you take a cab surprise yourself with an opportunity to connect. Try to learn a little something about the person pumping your gas (we can’t pump our own where I live). When the check out clerk asks you how your days was, reply and then honestly inquire about theirs.

Share some of your cab stories (both great and crazy) or how you have connected with people you encounter throughout your day. I would love to hear them.

What still resonates?

My son was strumming his guitar the other evening, marveling at the resonance each plucked string made. Just his comment “dad check out how long this note goes” made me think about all the things I have experienced that continue to resonate for me. We all experience this. We hear a great talk, share a dinner with friends or read a book that shows up in our conversations. These things continue to resonate with us long after others have faded.

Just today my wife and I were marveling how a retreat we both attended continues to impact us. It was a gathering of graduates of George Fox Evangelical Seminary Doctoral of Ministry (DMin) Program on Orcas Island in NW Washington. The group discussion was Led by Author and Professor Leonard Sweet. The subject was the future of technology and the christian church. What still resonates with Kristine and I are the great visits, late night conversations and the inspirations these authors and pastors offered. Each one pushed us to think deeply and left us with a desire to do something grand. Kristine came back and started up her blog which has been dormant since she began a masters program. She wrote six blog posts in one day and is now even attempting to publish her first magazine article.

So what are the ingredients of resonance? How do we have the same influence on others we reach? These are the

Future Church Think Tank 2011 (GFES DMin) by Loren Kerns

things I am contemplating this morning. My friend Peter Biddle is still thinking about Seth Godin’s talk on energy from etch 2007 (correction, Saul Griffith, and it was etech 2008. Share a video link if you know of one). Lana is still being impacted years later by a women’s retreat in Colorado. What is it for you? Let us unpack this together. I am chewing through the book Enchantment, and Guy Kawasaki takes apart many of these elements. I will report back when I am done. For me the book itself is resonating already. I am taking my time and letting it sink deep.