Friday, October 30, 2009

What hobbles you?

Yup, an old word originally about stopping horses from wandering away. Today it means “to walk lamely” or “proceed haltingly”.

I’ve been noticing lately that many folks are making plans to ward off what they fear vs. seek what they desire.

It’s not always a conscious choice; many times warding off things seems to be practical, or ‘mitigates risks’.

In today’s economy, taking a job to keep your home is a great reason to be practical and fend off what you might fear. It doesn’t mean within that need that you can’t plan and ask for pieces of your dream that reach beyond the immediate circumstances.

Ok.. I’ll confess, that’s my situation today and I’m trying write where I live. :-)

I still want to make sure I find something to ‘like’ about the people I’ll be interacting with, the projects I’ll be taking on and the things I could learn.

And with every coffee, tea and informal interview I have, I make sure folks understand it’s not just about finding me a paycheque but about somewhere I can make a difference and find interest.

But let’s look beyond that… that’s crisis planning. Look at your long-term planning. Are you hobbled by skills you worry aren’t good enough? By worrying about looking ambitious (or not ambitious)? By not pursuing projects that touch your passion? Is there ever a good reason to be hobbled?

Dream big. Act big. All anyone will ever do is say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Or ‘maybe’ which is halfway to yes!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Event Thursday Oct. 29

Another of the Similar Circles quarterly events is happening this week in Toronto at the Rotman School of Business – sponsored by the Rotman Initiative for Women in Business.

We’re sold out! I can’t thank you enough. For those of you attending – there should be many new faces, no name tags and lots of good conversation.

Consider: what are the two things about yourself that you usually tell everyone, regardless of the situation? That makes a great conversation starter at an event. I tell everyone that I’m really enjoying facilitating and that I’m an unappreciated parent. After folks stop smiling, they usually have a few questions for me.

On the flip side – consider asking someone what was their best moment of the week? That often sparks good stories! Mine, this week, is still all the wonderful emails about the TIAW award – lots of little moments that have made this week fly by. (post – Tues. Oct 20)

For those of you who can’t attend the event this week, the next one will be sponsored by Price Waterhouse Coopers on January 21 in Toronto. (my apologies to those outside the GTA. It isn’t the centre of the universe but it is where my sponsors have offices.) If you’d like to get on the mailing list, please let me know?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Your online profile

Your proxy introduction
It goes beyond simply creating a 'profile' - it is a great way to offer information.

These profiles serve as proxy introductions and should be constructed carefully. Your friends on Facebook will most likely check you out on other sites as will your work colleagues seeking you beyond LinkedIn.

But, by 'careful', I don't mean that there's no fun and no life!

As our worlds move together, professional and personal mixing both on the web and in our activities, think about the bits of which you're most proud and include those.

Even with our friends, we have a person we're striving to be. So your online profile isn't about hiding but selecting. Don't think of it as the enclopedia of who you are, but the snapshots of your favourite moments.

Folks don't need to know everything about you before a coffee or a project. They need enough to want to have a conversations with you. Leave some teasers, some unanswered questions and a taste for what makes you tick.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A moment for yourself

A few ways to relax this weekend:

It's worth noting that, sometimes, the best thing we can do for someone is connect them to someone else instead of trying to be supergirl.

Trying to make a stellar impression at every turn can be exhausting. Take a break and look to promote a friend instead.

Allow yourself to just be you and let conversations grow naturally. If nothing in particular comes of it, so be it.

Communities are built in increments not perfect moments. Make a small mistake. Cut yourself a little slack. Enjoy the moment instead of wringing every drop of potential from it.

Sleep late. Eat something you enjoy. Thank a friend. Wear a bright colour!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TIAW World of Difference

This week, I had the incredible honour of being in a room with women who are changing the lives of communities around the world. I'm humbled to say that Similar Circles was named to the 2009 World of Difference roster.

Hosted by the CWC, The International Alliance of Women (TIAW) held a part of their Global Cities Event in Toronto. They honoured this year's recipients of the World of Difference Award - up to 100 women from around the world making change in women's lives, large and small. The award is meant to "honour women who have made an impact on the economic empowerment of women through a wide range of endeavours."

Read about their international partners and advocates. See some of the amazing programs being created by women bringing meaning and joy to many. Be incredibly proud that we are contributing in our own small way to the growing tide of change.

Many many humble thanks to those who have helped Similar Circles grow. You've certainly changed my life!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Approaching change

There are two ways to approach change.
1 - you can create buffer zones around yourself as protection against the things you may fear.
Fears can be big or small - fear of job loss, fear of disapproval, fear of extra work, fear of disappointment, fear of failure, etc.

2 - you can approach change as the tipping point to create what you desire.

I'm possibly facing unemployment. Even when it's no one's direct doing, it's still unsettling. I have two approaches - I can start grabbing at jobs because, like most folks, I have rent/mortgage, groceries for a hungry kid, bills etc. My savings were just consumed by the new furnace. I had a weak moment and bought a dress with what little remained. :) Believe me, at 3 am I can be very persuaded by my fears.

However, the immediacy of the crisis aside, I've been building my community and my plans for a while.

I'm trying to view this approaching change as an opportunity to take a 'next step' that I might have put off otherwise, being comfortable where I am. I am pinpointing the skills I want to use in my next job, the bits I want to learn, the type of folks I'd like to have around... in exchange for which I will try and get up cheerfully most mornings and do a great job (even on those tasks that I would prefer never cross my desk). I'm going to find a job I want instead of just worrying about covering my bills. I might fail - but I will first try.

I approached a slight weight shift the same way, cheerfully choosing clothes I'd wanted to try but couldn't previously justify adding to my crammed closet and limited guilty budget.

New directions and tools emerge when we try to see the opportunities to make - at least part of - the change as our opportunity to seek what we desire.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Assess your desire for change

It seems obvious but we don’t ask ourselves (or our community) often enough: Are you interested in some change and, if yes, how much?

I realized I thrive on change. I prefer the unknown, the point of influence (before decisions are made), and the grey zones. I love sorting riddles and wading through messes.

Not everyone does. Nor should they.
Even me… with my appetite for learning and conquering… sometimes cries “Time out!”. Lol

Your desire for change is a snapshot in time. Some days it’ll be “Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes!” and others will be spent (for me) hiding under the bed.

But change comes in many flavours – small steps, pauses, full out whirlwinds and hard stops. We can’t stop change but we can decide the speed at which we participate. Obviously some events are outside just our control: i.e. job loss or break ups. But even then you can decide how much of a make-over that area (and all the other areas) of your life must undergo for the next incarnation.

For the events that are your choice: i.e. changing careers; buying a house; long hair or short…. You decide if you’ll jump in or wade.

The point is that we need to ask at each step of the journey – change? and how much?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thanksgiving/Columbus Day

I'd like to offer a little gratitude and some virtual pumpkin pie to you.

I've had an intense few weeks - writing the book, parenting, mentoring, researching new jobs, and getting a new furnace (a special adventure which included my poor line of credit). Everyone else I knew was having the same trials (without the furnace) and more.

The cheering on, the 2 minutes offered to say "you Go!", the short but upbeat email - everyone pulled together as we struggled individually. I'm awed by how willing folks are to support each other - even if it's just a quick message.

What more could we ask of each other?

You're an incredible community. Thank you!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Respect vs. Like

"Will you still respect me in the morning?"

Someone said to me the other day "I respect him, but I don't like him."

I had to think about that... One of my mentors had a great conversation with me about how "like" and "respect" were the same thing but respect was the business word. "Ok," I said. "But what about the grey zone where you pick up the phone to offer advance information or have a side discussion because you like someone? Does "respect" cover that?"

Conclusion: you can respect the folks you like but not necessarily like those you respect.

You don't have to want to take everyone you like home for dinner. There's something likeable about most folks - their tenacity, their directness, their choice of tea! Find that point of connection. One or two points allow you to form a bond for whatever purpose has thrown you together. If you're lucky and it's lots of connection points, the maybe they'll cross the wall to friend.

You just need to enjoy them in the context you know them. Like, respect and trust all grow in the same soil. While it's best to have all 3 for a true relationship in any context - I'm happy to build from 'like'.

Monday, October 5, 2009

What role does social media play? Part V

A few caveats
The grey zone is something I think is very cool. We bring more of ourselves to the table the more our worlds/communities/methodologies collide.

This also means you need to exert a little more judgment.

Be careful.

Do you really need the world to see the picture of your dog groomed to look like a panda? Is that part of the ‘you’ that your community(s) need to know?

Everything you post, write, comment etc. can be copied, perpetuated and stored. Like the advice to never write an email while tipsy – don’t add to the online field when you’re angry or tired. Even though the medium has become both location and time agnostic, doesn’t mean you can take an extra hour to think something over.


Respect the privacy of others. Check before you reprint or resend.

Respect your own privacy – there isn’t much left with all the applications, cameras and tweets out there! Somethings are better shared in person.

Understand the basics around privacy laws. Google is a great place to start as are many corporate webspaces.

One tool in the tool box.
Social media tools are valuable. However, they don’t mean you now give up or ignore other methods of communication. Don’t discard what is working; add to it!

Friday, October 2, 2009

What role does social media play? Part IV

The role it plays will be personal

With all the articles, discussions and evolving platforms our there, we are all learning as we go.

Some folks are more advanced. Some are just learning what an RSS feed is. Many are in the middle. Try not to assume the levels of understanding/education in your audience. If the pitch/presentation/discussion is about the tool and not the content, you’re heading in the wrong direction.

There are thoughts that gender, age and learning style all play roles in the comfort and adoption of social media tools. Unfortunately generalizations take you down narrow paths. Grandparents text and teens do coffee meetings. We all want to be able to access our favourite sites regardless of being at work or at home because, chances are, those seemingly unrelated-to-my-day-job sites often are a source of information or inspiration that make us better at whatever we’re doing.

Sidebar….I wrote my master’s thesis on a typewriter! before inheriting a computer the size of a table top and now I can’t think/write on anything else but my iMac. (I once asked if there was a tutorial on how to use a mouse…I’m so ashamed…lol)

The point being that everyone wants and uses this technology. Just as we will justify one person’s expertise over another’s just because we like one person better, so folks will build business cases to get to the tools that help them tap into the greater flow of knowledge that is out there – regardless of on which site it might be found.

Which makes it personal. Personal because we are used to using it (imagine writing a calculus exam without that calculator today!). Personal because it means we can access information with ease to be successful in a task. Personal because it’s our link to the larger community of information and support. (see post June 09 It's not personal)

Which of course goes back to the big grey zone (see post Aug. 08) now created between the personal and professional.

More on the next post…