Thursday, July 29, 2010


We talk in shorthand. There's nothing wrong with that - you just need to remember that half the conversation tends to stay in your head. You hear what you meant but others only get the words that actually come out.

Groups tend to develop their own shorthand - acronyms and buzzwords for which folks have a tacit understanding. As individuals, we also tend to have phrases or descriptors for ourselves that we assume friends and family understand.

But really... everyone has their own interpretations. And even if the meanings are close, it's still worth taking the time to express what you really mean.

So when you're describing yourself - in a bio, a resume, an elevator speech or just at a meeting - don't default to the generic terms and buzzwords - be specific. Don't hope folks get what you mean, help them get it.

Be original in a world of buzzwords.

BTW - I don't want be known as original. Everyone is original. I want to be known as sincere, intelligent, talented, effective and interesting! LOL

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No means No

Again I am moved to tears by an article in a local paper.

For those who have been raped and/or killed... for those who have feared being raped and/or killed... for those who don't feel empowered to say no - even here in Canada... for those who are simply trying to understand why it is still important to talk about women's rights... This article in the Eye Weekly contains graphic language and strong sentiments: Can I have a woord with you? (When No Means Yes)

We have to keep speaking up and out in all languages and formats to all audiences. Silence is hurting us and ignorance is killing us.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The “J & K” list

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

Continuing with "J":

Judgment-or: We’re all good at this to differing degrees.
Jument-or: Teaches us to delegate

Continuing with “K” (with thanks to Karin):
"Kidment": a pocket hankerchief fastened to the pocket and partially hung out to entrap thieves. Also a fictious story to deceive the unwary, a begging letter, a long rigamarole of any kind = Kidment-or: someone who helps you look for the weak spots in your plan.
How about knurlment, which does not technically appear in dictionary but is a technical term for something to do with the design of twist off caps. = Knurlment-or: a good drinking buddy.
"Knackerment" after one has recovered from being knackered, one discusses the issues that arose whilst in a state of knackerment. Still it is not listed in a dictionary yet as a variation of knackered. = Knackerment-or: they know how to do a really good debrief

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Create desire, not hype

Folks seem constantly focused on creating a "new" product (however 'product' is defined). With each launch/opening/kickoff, everyone holds their breath to see if goes viral/gains an audience.

Seems to me we have the equation backwards. Why not define the behaviours you'd like to change and create the product to acheive that? Behaviours are not a by-product of the act of creation but its essence. Audiences react not just to 'newness' but the relevance of any product/project/change.

Want someone to pull out their wallet/give time/offer something of themselves? Create desire. Not hype - but actual benefit for participation. Offer motivation to support the behaviour you desire of your audience.

Monday, July 19, 2010


We've all been told to 'focus' at some point along the way. No one ever really defines what that means beyond "pay attention to what I need you to see". Focus seems to be a fleeting thing, a temporary sharpening, an unsustainable reaction for the average person. For most, focus = concentration and that's not the same thing.

In terms of career, most of us don't have a focus beyond (perhaps) subject matter expertise. We have an area of interest or an industry for which we were/are trained.

In the past decade, numerous books and gurus have talked about focus in terms of finding one's passion or a calling. Unfortunately, the cares of life can make some necessary demands and pull our focus from even a 'calling'. As a theatre artist working in IT management, my focus is pulled from writing even as I use my directing and production skills. My passion to teach and build community becomes a backseat driver to the requirements of building a unified team across a large company.

I'm not sure how to answer or define the question of focus. I believe that we need subject matter experts and generalists. I believe we need to understand our own drivers and dreams and never abandon them - but that paying rent and buying food may create detours.

I am left playing with the following:
Focus = Passion
Focus = Goal
Focus = Self-awareness
Focus = Happens when you need to take a step forward

Focus is not what others demand of you on their behalf but what you offer of yourself from your desire.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A friday sigh for women

Even in the middle of travels, the plight of the solitary woman - often a single parent, often working, often simply trying to do her best - crosses my path.

I believe one must first help oneself. The world owes us little and we cannot surrender our choices, our power or the need to correct our mistakes to others.

But sometimes you just can't do it yourself; there is no shame in asking for help.
And I struggle with the question: is it that we, as women, find it too hard or shameful to ask or that we find it too hard to offer while balancing our own loads?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer Travels - part II

Each city is a chance to see a different point of view. Each adventure is a chance to see a different angle. Each community has its quirks and its qualities.

While traveling around St. John's this week, I've been welcomed into folks' homes, met other tourists, accustomed my ear to new patterns and rhythms and had a few (fleeting) moments of gratitude for my own daily routines at home.

I've stood on the eastern-most point of Canada and listened to the foghorn bellow to the Atlantic. I've danced in the street downtown at 3am.

Perhaps, most importantly - as I spin back and forth between the solitary moments and the community interaction - I've rediscovered that nothing is as important as simply listening to folks. My opinion means nothing if it doesn't fit into the patterns folks weave about themselves. First, listen to yourself. Secondly, listen - just as carefully - to others.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Snapshots and breadcrumbs

All we can ever share with each other are snapshots - points in time, bits of information - because plugging into someone and knowing their history takes time.

We can tell longer stories to bridge some of the gaps - but mostly we offer tidbits to each other. Over time, those bits add up to a bigger story.

You can't rush this. You can't dump who-you-are/what-the-project-is-about in one sitting. You can, however, offer cliffhanger endings and teasers so that folks will seek you out to continue the conversation.

Use your online bios, presentations, elevator speeches, grocery line up meetings... Leave a trail of bread crumbs about yourself as you gather the breadcrumbs of others.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer Travels - part I

Ah, the adventures of the traveling blogger... I'm off to Newfoundland today, with an iPad, a netbook, a Blackberry and raincoat. I may or may not have connectivity in Gros Morne. (lol) I will certainly try skreech after I post a blog from St. John's. I will definitely make some new connections and add to our circles.

If you have a favourite restaurant/pub/place that I should try to see, please e me or leave a comment! Meanwhile, I'm off to see if my ability to talk to strangers has improved and my love of good seafood knows any bounds.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Talk to folks who disagree - part II

I can't change your mind if I don't know what you're thinking.

Often we keep our ideas to ourselves so as to avoid this very scenario - having to debate and possibly have to backtrack or change an opinion.

When did respectful, spirited debate become a bad thing?

Mentors - engage your mentorees in debate. Don't just offer advice, ask your mentorees to challenge you. Challenge them. If we can't offer the arguments for our positions, do we really have an opinion?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Connections are also physical

Connections are not merely emotional or intellectual common points of reference. They are physical too.

Look how our behaviours change with our physical settings and props. Talk to a friend/peer on a couch vs. at a table and see how interaction changes. Talk for 15 minutes with your hands in your pocket. Put 10 people together holding drinks, swap the drinks for ice cream, swap the ice cream for Blackberries. Wear shoes that pinch or a sweater that itches. A noisy cafe vs. a noisy hallway. A phone call in front of a computer screen vs. a call with a mug of coffee and a sunny window.

We spend a lot of time preparing our thoughts and speeches. We seek folks we like and talk through experiences and opinions.

Use the space around you. Even if you never take physical contact beyond the handshake or air-kiss hello, your body and the environment will be part of a successful connection.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Proud to be


What would your list look like?