Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Talk to folks who disagree

We can't strengthen our ideas if we only talk to people who agree with us.

Simplistic? Possibly. But when was the last time you - as a mentor or mentoree - sought out a dissenting opinion?

Monday, June 28, 2010

After the summit(s)

I'm sure you're all 'up to here' with news and opinions on the G8/G20 Summits this week. Add in a tornado plus an earthquake and it's been a bad week.

What was most disappointing was how the opportunity for groups to come together to debate change resulted in destruction and chaos. Regardless of which side of the fence a community stood, no one heard anyone.

Giving someone a voice doesn't mean shouting over anyone else. Building community doesn't mean destroying someone else's. Courage of one's convictions doesn't mean such narrowness that one can't listen to dissenting opinions and find some value.

As we move to Canada Day celebrations, let's remember our strength as a larger community is in our diversity.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

So then what happened?...

If you live/work in downtown TO, chances are you've been at an 'alternate' location this week. You may even have been on your couch. Your teen may even have been bringing you bowls of food while you spent endless hours on the phone/remote connection to work. You may even had discovered at 10pm that you had never made it out of your pjs or showered.

It has been interesting discovering everyone assumed that:
- being out of the office meant you had 'extra' time to develop material/have meetings on non-essential projects
- if they didn't speak to you/someone while everyone was out of the office, folks assumed others might think they weren't working
- phone meetings were easier since everyone was in the same non-room and finding alternate ways to listen/be listened to
- laptops aren't as good as iPad for needing to wander around the house during a phone meeting and take your information with you while you wondered why the dishwasher was making that awful sound

Even without an office, this week I met new folks without ever leaving my couch (or getting my own food bowl). I wasn't wishing for a web cam but I sure could have used a wireless headset. I had people laugh and committees think. I put in lots of overtime and I managed a call with my mother.

I'm not looking forward to going back to the 'old' office model; I think it's time business mixed it up a little!

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's G20 Summit time in TO...

Grab your muskoka chairs, sit by your wading pool/fake lake, hope the network providers can handle the work-at-home load and stay out of downtown.

And consider... This is the coolest trial run to see if thousands of regular office workers actually need to be in an office.

Can we all work from wherever we may be and keep society running? Is the construct of the formal office becoming a history lesson for pre-geographically agnostic tools? Can we move towards a week of goals and end-results instead of hours (visibly) logged?

Will this week prove inconvenient or liberating?

Friday, June 18, 2010

The “I” list

Exploring the different kinds of mentors there are... We either do these things for others or we seek them for ourselves.

Continuing with "I":

1. Immurement-or: Breaks down walls with you
2. Impairment-or: Breaks down barriers with you
3. Impalement-or: Lets you get away with nothing
4. Implement-or: Turns ideas into actions
5. Improvement-or: Moves everything up a notch
6. Increment-or: Demonstrates how to pace yourself
7. Inducement-or: Tempts you to try new things
8. Inveiglement-or: Demonstrates the shadowy side of negotiation
9. Investment-or: Shares themselves with you
10. Involvement-or: Shows you how to share yourself with others

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No such thing as social media...

A headline on the CEC blog last week read: There is No Such Thing as Social Media.

Well, THAT got me thinking. There's no such thing as money either but we all collectively believe the bits of paper and coin are of value.

The post made some good points, most notably: "...“social media” isn’t a separate thing…it’s one thread interwoven into the much larger tapestry of the massive behavioral change that’s been occurring in the way people absorb messages and ideas, process thoughts and make decisions."

And money isn't a precious metal in your pocket but a thread that drives our societal patterns in many spoken/unspoken ways.

So they are both concepts we've collectively agreed to use. Which makes it less about the actual tools and all about the mindset.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A definition of mentoring

I'm always reading definitions of mentoring. Many are prescriptive in a way that makes me feel like mentoring should be left to professors or wizard-masters. However, a few folks create simple terms that show the relationship and leave the door open to endless possibilities.

Rodger Harding said:

An engaged mentor will…
• Provide the Mentee with opportunities, not specific outcomes
• Assist in the exploration of options, not necessarily solutions (a mentor does not teach)
• Explore and understand different perspectives strengths/weaknesses
• Respect and preserve unique Mentee thinking, competencies and impact
• Accept value and priority differences (the ability to transcend personal or projected goals) as well as changing realities as the relationship progresses
• Work with uncertainty – Mentors will not care more about outcomes than their Mentees
• Understand that mentorship oftentimes only bears fruit in years to come – when the Mentee is ready and able to fully absorb the Mentor contribution

It's work for both parties. It takes time. It's about the big picture, not the coaching for the immediate job held. It doesn't even have to be about a job but a mindset - an exploration of a craft - a transition or an emergence. It's a relationship and it's about choices.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Happy 2nd birthday Similar Circles blog!

OMG! Two years! And there's so much still to say... (pls. don't groan; I can hear you)

While the new counter (this week) is probably just hitting 100... there are actually over 600 links to this blog and over 1000 readers (according to my kid...and I don't pay him to check).

For those following my tweets... the blog is my runway for taking flight.... lol

Thank you. For reading. For arguing. For agreeing. For emailing. For commenting. For making my world so much bigger.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Do gadgets help you network or mentor? part II

Mentoring needs all the tools we can find. People, gadgets, books, websites, ideas, opinions, mistakes, challenges.... there is room for it all. But especially the gadgets.

1 - If you're learning and keeping your mind active, you're probably a better mentor for it.
2 - It's something your mentoree can possibly teach you.
3 - You can't really discuss building community if you haven't at least tried to use the tools.
3 - You can mentor with fewer borders and boundaries.
4 - You can share more information - things that exist outside what you directly remember or have learned.
5 - You can explore more information with your mentoree.

Bakers don't only use one cookbook. Carpenters don't own only one hammer. Writers have more than one notebook and pencil.

Gadgets aren't just for IT geeks - they are for everyone. They are as ubiquitous as the telephone, as helpful as the big saddlebag/purse we need to carry it all and as stimulating as the conversations they enable.

I'm not suggesting you text while talking or blow the grocery budget on the iPad. Good mentoring goes beyond the one/one conversation to a mutual exploration of the world around us. What better entry point than the gadgets that are changing our perceptions of what that world could be?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Do gadgets help you network or mentor? part I

Is it Monday already?

A very generous person gave me an iPad. (I didn't ask why... I was too overwhelmed). So here it is, three days later, and I don't know where the weekend went as I worked out how to install/not install an iPad on my Mac mini G4. (Turns out the G4 doesn't support an iPad.)

In trying to figure this out I spent:
* 2 hours with my kid while we passed the box back and forth, petting it like it was a new kitten in the house
* 3-4 hours of phone calls with friends talking about iPads and how they are enjoying/using theirs
* 3 more hours of calls with family who were wondering how my early days experience felt
* 27 FB and email messages from folks offering thoughts on the G4 system
* not to mention several folks who simply stopped me on the street or the subway as I took the box home to ask me about it.

That's a lot of human interaction for something I haven't got up and running yet!

We're fascinated by the gadgets - even in the box they seem to be a terrific way to start a conversation...

But why am I adding yet another device to my overloaded messenger bag?

Not to be hip or cool... believe me I when you say "so hip it hurts" I'm hitting the age where I hear "my hip, it hurts"... But while I believe that a face-to-face encounter will always bear the best results, not everyone in my circles lives close enough to touch - and certainly there are not enough hours and cups of tea in the day even if you all did.

It's not that the gadgets are replacing the conversation; they are an adjunct to networking. If you need shoes for jogging, for work, for snow, for hiking etc. then you need more than your smile and a handshake for different ways of networking. (for those who cook, it's like having only one pot, one spice and one wooden spoon with which to make every dish...possible but not practical)

You don't have to use these tools every day or have every kind, you need to select what suits your goals/lifestyle. But you can't ignore the need to make room in your cupboards for tools if you are truly trying to build out your community.

The applications (Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, SL, etc.), the devices (iPads; BBs; netbooks, etc.) and the usage (texting, following, tweeting, blogging, emailing, etc.) are a means to eliminating boundaries whether they are geographical, hierarchical or imaginary.

So experiment a little this week. Borrow a tool. Try an application. Put a new gadget in your networking skills.

FYI - You'll notice a new 'counter' on the blog. The blog has been up for 2 years and, yes, I just came around to a counter. So if the number seems weirdly low, it's because I had no way to capture the 1000s of you who actually come and visit my sandbox.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Mentoring & networking are the heart of building community

I can't say it often enough. Connecting with folks and building a circles of support - then sharing and overlapping them - is how we get things done, and done with some amount of joy.

It's when we're alone and isolated that there is no movement in our careers and our lives. Consider:
- sending out resumes to strangers vs. calling friends and delving into their circles
- moving to a new neighbourhood and relying only on the phone book to learn about your new environment
- becoming ill and having only the intranet for help

And that's only how it helps you when, everyday, we help each other. A coffee. An idea. A moment to watch a kid while someone slips away to grab a phone call.

Circles do more than get each other ahead. They are comfort. Protection. A chorus that can be heard above the noise of daily crises.

On a global scale - I don't believe a single child could be abused if we had enough community around them. It's in isolation that we all see suffering.

A dark, philosophical moment for a Friday? perhaps. But on a topic that is about building a little joy and breathing room for ourselves. Much much cheer this weekend to you all!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Why do what you do?

Today someone asked me a perfectly reasonable question - What are you passionate about?

At first I thought... Isn't it obvious? I write this blog. I mentor. I hold events. I speak at various sessions. Heck, TIAW put Similar Circle on their roster of women making a difference in 2009!

Then I realised... Sure, I do all these things... but why?

Because I want to help folks find their voice and speak up wherever and however they feel the need. Mostly, that's empowering women - of all ages - since we know the potential power of that choir hasn't yet been heard. But young men as well as women need an ear and a hand. Some fellows are brave enough to admit that everyone can learn a little more no matter the age or level of success.

And if we can spark conversations, if we can ask questions, if we can muse aloud... then we create a door for change and awareness of choice.

The more folks in who bring their circles together, the more voice we have.

What's your passion? Why do what you do?