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From selfie to changing the world

Posing was a big topic of conversation for Kristine and I today. I have had the opportunity to study why people pose (project images of their lives that are far from the truth) in great detail since I regularly speak on the topic at least once a year. It was fitting that my friend Sarah shared Tripp and Tylers latest video An Honest Facebook Movie

Posing can be so amplified today with the the tap of glass and the click of a button. Don’t get me wrong. I love celebrating big moments, sharing common events like the current big winter snow and ice storm in Oregon. I also love hearing about needs and trials. Being able to know what others are going through and pray or how to help is important. But if you hide behind smiling selfies, post only the skimmed moments of your life that hide deep pains or addictions then we really don’t know you at all. I’m not saying tell everyone everything. That would be crazy. Some things we should only share with those closest to us. And for some it is just fine to not share anything at all.

Recently I have been studying the Exodus story. The Israelites as they came out of Egypt began to build what would one day be known as one of the great wonders of the ancient world, the Jewish temple. Every part of the process was given throughout the book of Exodus. Before the priests could enter into the inner rooms of the temple they had to wash their hands and feet in a bronze basin. The basin was made from the beautiful polished bronze mirrors that the women left Egypt with. How fitting. What was once used for vanity was turned into something that symbolized becoming pure and clean.

Today social media is often a mirror. Only this mirror is being broadcasted out to potential millions. Last year was embarrassingly named the year of the selfie. What would it look like to use those same tools of influence to change the world instead. Each of us has so much power to influence, broadcast events, expose wrong doings and help others. It all lies in what we choose to do with that next tap of glass and key stroke. Maybe we should all come clean.

Here are some other posts on posing:

Striking a Pose

Willfully Ignoring Inputs

Staying Allocentric with Curiosity

Jab It! A Review of JJJRH

I actually did say that (Jab It) to a friend recently who is building his online presence and engaging his growing tribe. Those who have read Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It will be very familiar with his iconic words used to remind his audience to throw their best effort in building a business, brand and influence. In other words, Crush It.

In Gary’s new book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook (JJJRH), he has the voice of someone who has been through the startup phase, the middle of tasted success and is now on the top with a hand down to those who follow in his incredible path. In Crush It, he came at the reader with a fervor and near maniacal energy of a man on a rant. (he actually dictated the whole book!)  In JJJRH Gary has slowed down to an even pace of someone who has made many right moves but also plenty of mistakes. There is a humbleness and seasoned approach here that stands out. That is truly new. And if you have ever watched his Wine TV, you know the man has plenty to say and the energy to sustain it. And please don’t read that wrong. I attribute Crush It to being one of the main forces that got this blog through 5 years and over 200 hundred posts. It was an incredible manifesto. I have referred back to it many times.

gvpromo2013JJRH is a brilliant look at not only the uniqueness of social media and its growth to becoming a standard for any brand, but also in Gary’s call for the reader to never get too settled on any method or assumption when it comes to an audience or a tribe.

The first section dives into how JJJRH is a compilation of all things good in his first two books, Crush It and The Thank You Economy as well as new insights, mainly on how to not just survive but thrive on the leading edge of an ever changing horizon of social engagement.  For me being able to immediately apply something I gained from a book is one of the best signs of value.

I lead a team of relationship ninjas at Saddleback Leather Company. In the past year we have branched out into new social platforms. We already knew that each one needed to be approached carefully with sensitivity to how the people on those platforms speak, share and operate. Gary’s guidance on how to do that well is first class. The meat of the book dives into the biggies with dedicated chapters for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr. There are also forward looking treatments on emerging networks as well.

A good look at JJJRH means you will have everything to plan your next move. I highly recommend it to CEOs and those in the social trenches.

It Takes Tact

Have you had a conversation that went really well or an ask that was warmly received? I bet you used tact as part of your approach. You might not have even realized it.

In connecting so much of the outcome involves the very first actions. Even before those actions we can prepare ourselves with a proper mind set that leads to tact.

Webster defines tact as “the ability to do or say things without offending or upsetting other people. A keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or avoid offense.” My favorite is the last one, “sensitive mental or aesthetic perception”.

I asked several friends what words came to mind when they thought of the word tact. Here are some of them:

-Respect

-Assume-good-intent

-Genuine,

-Just like we teach our kids, listen more than speak.

-Questions

-Consideration

-Patience

-Listen first

-Gentle

-Lack of tact

-Be considerate of other’s time

-Love

-Slow to speak

-Tact vs. authenticity

-Bring life

-Tact is moot if you’re really connected.

-Be silent

-Less words

-Polite

-Humility.

From the responses I would say everyone both wants tact and appreciates it when others use it.

All of these words are reflections of mindfulness. They reflect the actions of a good listener. Someone who is not rushed. They are characteristics of people who are outward focused.

I think this will be a fun book chapter to write.

133 Email Drafts

How mindful are you with your communication? My friend Peter Biddle a couple days ago noticed a detail of my professional life in an Instagram picture I shared. He commented “133 emails in your drafts folder? Do you ever hit send?”

discardThe answer is yes. I hit send all day long. But more than that I pause before sending even the shortest email. It has become a habit of mine to re-read each sentence before launching a message out into someones inbox. Most I do send. Often, I ditch it and call the person, write a quick text or delete the draft.

My step dad once told me that he thought about everything he said to someone once before letting the words cross his lips. He had a filter that would judge the worthiness of his speech. His practice wasn’t hesitation, double mindedness or indecision, it was great wisdom.

One of the best ways I have found to connect with someone is to learn how they communicate naturally, how they preferrer to communicate and most of all being present and mindful.

Mindfulness is a casualty of our current age. Busyness defaults to hasty words, disengaged hearts and rudeness.

Some of those 133 drafts were extremely long emails. In many of those cases I realized that there is no way I would be able to take the time and read through it myself. Why should I expect the recipient to read it. A phone call or in-person meeting would be much more appropriate.

To end this I thought Tiffany Shlain’s short film on tech etiquette she published this week would sum it up well. Check it out. My favorite was the section on email.

Oh and Peter, I deleted those drafts to make room for more. ;)

Getting Glass: A Connectors Pre-Glass Notes

A little over two months ago I received an invitation from Google to be part of the Google Glass Explorer program. Today I pick up my Google Glass at the Google Headquarters in Mt. View California.

A month and a half before that  I had entered Google’s If I Had Glass. (See the bottom of the post to see what it took to enter.)

The part I really enjoyed was making the 15 second video of how I would use Glass. The idea came to me right away. I can’t help writing and speaking about human connection and technologies role in it. I knew I would use Glass to better connect with the world around me. I got out my camera and shot the video and then edited the final version. I think the whole process took about 20 minutes.

It is estimated that Google had an estimated 145,000-200,000 entries. only 8,000 were chosen to be the first owners of Google Glass. Last year at Google I/O developers were given the opportunity to sign up. They received their Glass last month during the 2013 conference.

Thinking back now over my entry I have been trying to brainstorm how I can not just use the new tech to connect with others but how I I can use the whole experience of being a Glass Explorer as well. I remember back over my tech life to the first time I used my iPad 1 in public. It drew in conversations that started with people shyly trying to figure out what I was using. But quickly through friendly engagement that initial curiosity tuned in to a chance to connect. I would hand it over saying “have you had a chance to play with an iPad yet?”

As a technology tester and innovator I have had the opportunity to do that over and over from prototype Samsung phones to cutting edge tablets and Ultrabooks, often well before they are publicly released. I also receive a couple software beta invites from entrepreneur friends regularly. I thrive on new innovation and I love to share that experience with others.

The main reason I am into new tech is also because we are in a connection revolution where new new ways to communicate are being developed every day. Ten years ago we would never have imagined the location based services and devices that connect us today. That tech connectedness has even reached a level where it takes effort to make sure we don’t get lost and miss out on the face to face interaction  But I believe that tech like Glass, with wise use will let us see each other in a greater, clearer and deeper way. More on that soon

So as I write this aboard Virgin America flight 817, I look around and see galaxy tablets and iPhones. The seat console has ways to chat, text and communicate with the world outside the plane as well as the fellow passenger. We are meant as humans to be connected. And we are only getting started.

You can track my expereince in regular posts here as well as on Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.

 

To be considered entries had to have the following

Essay (Mandatory)

  1. The essay must not exceed fifty (50) words in length (or for Twitter Applications, one hundred forty (140) characters, whichever is shorter); if it exceeds this length, only the first 50 words (or for Twitter Applications, 140 characters, whichever is shorter) will be evaluated;
  2. Must contain “#ifIhadglass”;
  3. Must address the statement “What I would do if I had Glass”;
  4. Must be posted publicly (for example, Applications cannot be posted to limited circles on Google+);
  5. Must be in English.

Video (Optional)

  1. The video must not exceed fifteen (15) seconds in length. If it is longer than 15 seconds, only the first 15 seconds will be evaluated.
  2. The video must be non-commercial in subject matter (for example, the video cannot be a television commercial or an advertisement for a product or service).
  3. The video may be included via a link to a 3rd party site.

Still Photos (Optional)

  1. It cannot contain more than 5 photos. If it contains more than 5 photos, only the first 5 will be evaluated.
  2. Photos must be in .jpg, .gif, or .png format with a maximum file size of five (5) MB/each.
  3. The photos may be included via a link to a 3rd party site.

Margin To Connect

marginJust think of your day, week, or year as a piece of classic ruled notebook paper. All the space in the middle is where we fill up with as much content as we can. But the margins are the areas that are mainly left blank. In school this is where we received back comments from our teachers. If you are like me it is the place in book where I leave notes about a great passage or a quote I want to use later. The point is that there is space…..for more. For more thoughts, dreams, corrections and….in life time for friends.

This week I had lunch with an old friend from my early college days. Mike was one of my pack and we shared so many great adventures, challenges and formative experiences. But like so many people in our lives we lost track of each other until a mutual friend, Matt Singley, brought us back onto each others radar.

Over our lunch Mike wanted to know more about my digital shabbats or what I refer to now as my online fasts. (You can read about those here) Where the conversation quickly went to was margins. Mainly that none of us have any left. We both realized that if there was space we quickly filled it up with busyness instead of deeper things like quality time with friends and family. As I have travelled around the world I have noticed that in the US we lack any significant relationship time. There are no after lunch siestas or 5 hour dinners starting at 9 pm.

What I think suffers most in our lack of margin is our connections to each other. And I am not saying that mainly because we don’t have time for connections. We suffer most because we lose ourselves in our busy lives. We lose what Seth Godin calls “wall time”. We lose quiet moments with our maker. We begin to blend with everything around us and find at the end of the day that we have no grounding and little identity left. And from that we don’t connect with each other because we are lost ourselves.

About a year ago my wife Kristine told me she wanted to start getting up at 4am. I told her she was crazy. But I decided to try getting up with her. Now it is a habit. We rise at 4 am at least three days a week and around 5 to 5:30 on the days we don’t work out. I accidentally found a huge margin in my life. Instead of filling it up with more busyness I decided to read, pray and enjoy the very quiet hours of the early morning. If my day gets crazy I am not as stressed because I already have a reserve from every morning. And around 9pm I am too tired to stress about the day. All I want to do is be asleep.

I am currently reading Andy Traub’s book Early to Rise with a client. She wanted to start getting up early after hearing about my experiences, and asked “how do I do that too”. I had to answer, “I have no idea”, but Andy does. As I have been reading the book, a chapter a day for a week, I have noticed that it is mainly about disrupting many bad habits like going to bed late and choosing new healthy ones. One benefit is that I have found that I have a significant amount of time everyday for margin.

Do you have any margin in your life? If you had some who would you mindfully connect or reconnect with? Here is a challenge. The next time an old friend comes to mind, go one step beyond thinking about the good ole days and call them up. Invite them to coffee or lunch. Reconnect. And if you are finding yourself never having much to say in a conversation, then take a close look at your life. You may need some margin.

Your Dream Is My Dream

“Your dream is my dream now, and I’ll make it come true.” — Lady Sybil to Gwen in Downton Abbey.

You can read the rest of this post on Huffington Books.

I wrote my latest Huffington Post article starting with that beautiful quote from Downton Abbey with Ryan and Amy Green, Amy Dale, Anthony Vigilate, Nat Iwata and AJ Leon in mind. Now, when do I get to see your dream?

Looking Back On Connections With Timehop

I saw a quote by C.S Lewis last week “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different…”. This is one reason I try to journal everyday. I like to look back on how things have changed. Sometimes it reminds me of the things that need change.

photoA couple of weeks ago Carissa O’Brien reminded me of one of my favorite blog posts, one that was inspired by a conversation she and I had during the last day of CES 2011 in Las Vegas. She had found it using Timehop, an app for iPhone that pulls your tweets, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare and Flickr posts from exactly one year segments ago.

I was first fascinated by the app because of it’s milestones attributes just like my journals. I often look back to the exact day a year or more ago to see what I was thinking and doing. Many times those entries can be way-points in relationships, my career goals or personal milestones.

As I started to use the app I noticed something even more profound. I was seeing who I connected with most a year ago and more. People come in and out of our lives. Those that we have a deeper connection with stand the tests of time. Often we allow connections to wane because of circumstances and trials. If you were to look back on your connections a year ago, what would you find? Would those milestones reveal flightiness, connections that skim the surface and never result in meaningful content? Or do they reveal true relationships that continue to grow over time?

Preparing For A Digital Fast

I started taking weekly digital fasts about a year and a half ago at the prompting of friend Tiffany Shlain. I have found that to do it well you have to prepare. But first, let me explain a bit about these fasts.

My career centers around digital connectedness. After watching Tiffany’s film Connected, ( now available on iTunes) she and I had a conversation over dinner about  digitalhttp://www.dreamstime.com/-image8621100 addiction, losing touch with the analog world and the impact on our relationships. That day she was in the  middle of one of her weekly fasts she calls digital shabbat.

I remember thinking at the time that it was going to be tough doing one. I had become accustomed to working just about everyday of the week. Being involved in a tech start-up required a lot of work and it seemed to never end. But I was feeling burned out. Monday would roll around after another weekend of mixing family time with sporadic working. I noticed that I was losing my passion when it came to the things I love in my career, connecting with others, tech and communicating. Tiffany urged me to give it a try.

I took the challenge. At first it was a bit strange turning off my phone, ipad, kindle and any type of communication on my Macbook. To be honest I felt a bit panicky.

Wow, maybe I had become addicted to a digital world.  But then the panic subsided and I began to enjoy my day a lot. Now it has become a time I look forward to every week.  Here are a few things I suggest if you plan to take a weekly or monthly fast.

Come Prepared

  • Notify others that you will be unavailable. I made a voice-mail message saying that I would be unavailable from sundown on Saturday until sundown on Sunday. On Twitter, Facebook and Instagram I send out a simple message “Shutting down for a 24 hour digital fast.” Those closest to me know they can reach me through my home phone or my wife. At first I even had a few people upset that they could not reach me easily for 24 hrs. They soon adjusted.
  • Try to not schedule activities that require you to be on a smartphone or social network. Sometimes this is unavoidable. With a little planning I have found that I have only had to break a fast a few times. Pick a day that makes sense. Takes one on Saturday if it is more convenient.
  • Gather resources that can replace content like ebooks or computer note taking and writing. I keep a few books around specifically for this purpose as well as journals and sketchbooks. I reserve my paper copies of Fast Company and Game Developer to enjoy during the fast.
  • Plan time outside since it is a great time to reconnect with nature without the handy iPhone in hand to distract you from the moment you are trying to enjoy.
  • Encourage your family or those you spend the time with to join you. It can be tough hanging out with others that are glued to devices when you are all analog. I have yet to convince my own family to join me.
  • (Oh, and one last addition. I added this after my latest fast.) Don’t get overwhelmed by the chaos you might come back to after the fast. The world does go on with out you and yes there might be some work that piles up. You will be able to approach it with much more clarity though.

For a great conversation about these fasts I encourage you to listen to Aaron McHugh’s podcast with guest Jon Dale. Jon has some great suggestion for getting your family to join on.

One thing that I also do is not take this too seriously. I will watch a film with my family or even play a video game. Each of us has a different digital lifestyle. Some may need to fast from TV or other types of tech. For me I try to eliminate anything that keeps me from the natural world and the people closest to me. I would love to hear your thoughts if you are doing a weekly fast or are thinking of taking one.

Friends or Professionals?

Yesterday I was having dinner with a few people, one of which was Chris Skaggs. He was getting to know my friend, cinematographer Sean Brown. We had just finished a full day shoot for a Kickstarter film. Chris asked me if Sean and I knew each other as professionals or friends? I asked if there was really a difference. Chris replied, “for you there isn’t. But that isn’t normal.”

I am still wondering why that is. Yes, I am one of those super connectors. Every personality I have taken indicates it. I constantly make new friends and connect others. I easily become friends with those I do business with. But why doesn’t everyone? Is it because most people want to keep a dividing wall between work and private life? Is it because they hate their jobs? Do they not want to have leaks between the two?

I have been there before. I understand that. But even in jobs that were not well fitted for me I felt a pull to become close friends with co-workers and clients. Part of it comes down to personality. But I do think there is something deeper going on here.

I think it is ultimately because we all make comfortable establishments against anxiety and change. We do this in all the sectors of our lives. In many ways these structures allow us to be different people in specific situations. It feels safe. Getting to know more people in a deeper way, many of them in our professional lives, destroys those barriers we have so carefully built. People challenge or disrupt comforts or assumptions we have made about ourselves and the world.

So what about you? If you were to survey your friends, professional colleagues, co-workers and clients, would they be the same people or completely different groups? Why or why not?

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