Category Archives: announcements

Digital Coaching, Catalysts and Sitting on Your Hands

MacBraynes Bus by conner395

I’ve been reflecting on some of the social media work I’ve done over the last year and seeing where I might improve my offering. The model piece of work that I’ve sold to people has gone as follows: “You tell me you want to have a go at this new fangled social media mularkey, but you don’t know where to start. So I’ll start for you and show your people what I’m doing. We’ll start off with me doing everything but my involvement will taper off as your team’s involvement increases and by the end of the project, you’re folk will be doing it all for themselves.”

Great. Sold. But….

What has actually happened is that people have had some great blogs from me (natch) but there hasn’t actually been much change in what they do, the comms teams I’ve worked with have liked the idea but as long as I was doing it *for* them it was too easy to sit back and continue to say “Yes, that’s nice, I wish I was able to do that”. I think there’s still a space for doing live-blogs of events as discrete pieces of work, but more ongoing stuff needs to be done differently.

So I’m looking for a better model. And over coffee with Jonathan Laventhol of Imagination I understood what it might be. He said to me “You need to sit on your hands more” And he’s absolutely right. Just as when you’re helping someone to learn to drive it’s not good to keep grabbing the steering wheel, I think there’s much more value that I can offer as a non-doing coach or catalyst for action.

In their excellent book on decentralised networks, The Starfish and the Spider, Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom talk about the difference between two roles that Julie Andrews made famous.

“In The Sound of Music, Maria enters a dysfunctional family, teaches the children a valuable lesson, convinces the father to pay attention to his kids, and shows the family how to get along. Likewise, Mary Poppins visits an equally (albeit charmingly) dysfunctional family, gets equally adorable children to behave, urges equally clueless parents to pay attention to their kids, finds equally effective ways for everyone to get along, and sings equally catchy tunes.”

“At the end of The Sound of Music, though, Maria, after falling in love with the children and the father, sticks around. It’s obvious that from now on she’ll be the one running the show. Mary Poppins, on the other hand, chim-chim-in-eys right out of London. It’s not that Mary Poppins has a fear of commitment. From the very beginning, it’s clear that she’s come to do a job. Her job is complete when the family can thrive on its own. Once she accomplishes her goal, she rides her umbrella into the sunset.”

I’ve tried both models, but like Mary Poppins, I’m much better as a catalyst. Going in, making change happening and moving on to where I’m needed more, rather than working my way up, establishing an empire and sticking around for the long haul.

Then I saw Seth Godin writing about Digital Coaches

“What’s a digital coach? A freelancer (individual) who usually works with entrepreneurs, small groups or companies to teach them how to dramatically improve productivity or market presence using technology. For example, a digital coach might hook up your cell phone to be more powerful or teach you how to use blogs and Facebook to connect to your audience.”

I think for me it’s a totally bottom-up approach – aimed at individuals inside and outside organisations who want to beef up their personal productivity using web 2.0 and social media tools. They might have a social media project hat they need to contribute to, but would also generally benefit from catching up with what’s arrived in the last year or so and someone to help them think it through in their own personal or business context. The focus is on enhancing productivity, preferable in simple, measurable ways.

When I’ve mentioned this to people, some have said “Wow, yes please” and others have said “Oh, I kind of thought that’s what you did already” So I think it’s probably right. :)

Photo credit: conner395 on Flickr licenced with cc-attribution

It’s called a “holiday” apparently

I’m going away for a week. Not taking a computer (except my phone). Not likely to be online at all. May twitter by SMS or do a Facebook status update if I can get to GPRS. e-mail is unlikely to be answered. Hope to walk, talk, eat, read, write a little, do as little normal stuff as possible. Am being dared to enter the Cornish waters in swimming trunks. If that happens, fear not, there will be no photos.

Bak sun!

3 years (not very) hard labour

macro 008Happy blog birthday to Perfect Path!

The first post now reads, to me anyway, as part-excuse for not blogging before, part-excuse for starting at all. But here is the most interesting bit for me three years on:

"What makes me hirable is the sum of everything that I’ve done in the past and am capable of doing in the future - and that a traditional CV doesn’t give the flavour of real me (yum). "

I never meant there to be quite so much flavour, but I think that sums up what this blog has turned out to be most about – what I’ve done and what I’m capable of doing. This blog has always been about me getting hired.

Above all, I started writing here to keep in touch with more people than I could have coffee with and still make money. I had no clue that it would be something I’d end up doing for big organisations – this morning I interviewed a Global Vice President of an oil company who insisted on wearing a heavily-branded jacket and baseball cap throughout and I spent this afternoon writing about sexual health services for young people in Surrey.

I also never thought I’d get so many friends! It really warms my heart that I’ve had conversations in twitter today with people in Washington, California and Texas as well as Butler’s Wharf and err… Sutton – and that I could drop into Open Coffee this morning and instantly find people who got what I was talking about even if we’ve never met, together with happy smiley facebook friends. Thank you everybody.

I can’t see how any of this could be possible without this silly little personal publishing platform.

Social Media Café

RFH Cafe SocietyI just want first to distinguish this from the events that Chris has facilitated through Social Media Club. I am involved with Social Media Club in London, and what I’m talking about might well be a place to host Social Media Club (or even Social Media Cafés!) and I love both concepts – but neither are what I want to talk about here – I’m talking about a place, not an event.

Phew! Perhaps I’d better start again…

This comes from a number of conversations I’ve had with people in London about having a place to meet, hook up, get groups together, socialise, train people, co-work etc. I blogged about something in a slightly different context about 3 years ago and the idea has been frothing in my head for a long time. I’m thinking of a confluence of the creative, tech and entrepreneurial tribes who are currently gathering around social media and online social networking. I’m talking about the kinds of people who are regulars at Coffee Mornings, Open Coffee, Social Media Club, Chinwag Live.

So far it’s as concrete and as fluid as this:

We (whoever we are – the united socialmediatistas of hereabouts) acquire a space that we can use for the above-mentioned types of activities. It might be laid out as follows (though do not get hung up about physical orientation, upstairs/downstairs front/back doesn’t matter as much as the ideas of separate spaces for different activities).

Ground floor is open to the public, a café style space with good coffee, tea, snacks, fussball, space invaders and the like – maybe the odd plate of eggs bacon chips and beans. Plasma screen shows a rolling twitter timeline from all our mates. An alternative to constantly having to find somewhere to meet up and have coffee and a place where people love you using the wifi.

First floor (don’t get hung up on the physical orientation, just a separate space) is for members & guests. Not a posh exclusive (male) type of private members club (you know where I mean), but something softer, gentler, more suited to creative & geeky types than just to the thrusting entrepreneur. Facilities are flexible meeting rooms, desks and co-working spaces and more exclusive lounging, chatting space with coffee & tea. It’s a bit quieter up here.

Second floor (again really just another separate space) is for media production – podcasting & video-blogging equipment for hire – soundproofed studios, maybe some helpful techies to guide the uninitiated.

Questions:

Why? Why not take an existing institution and warp it into what we want? Now that we are, just, starting to see that there’s a group of us interested in the same things, I think it would be good to have a place of our own.

When? I may be biased by the number of people I mix with who don’t keep normal office hours but I think this is an all-day & evening thing, though possibly not at weekends?

Where? London, I’m pretty certain, but where is our spiritual home? Soho, Shoreditch, South Bank? Somewhere that doesn’t start with ‘S’?

Who? Who will come, who will be members, who will use which facilities? I’m starting a group in Facebook to guage interest and carry the conversation forward. Also what kinds of people do we need to make it happen – property development, deal-makers, investors, staff as well as potential members and customers.

What? Salons, open spaces, meeting (verb), meetings (noun), training, improvising, podcasting, eating, talking, working, collaborating, farting about, other activities with no predefined or explicit purpose, interesting pursuits. What else?

How? Yes.

More questions please – and answers if you have them.

[UPDATE: If you want to help, there’s now a wiki for you to scribble on and a Facebook group to join.]

I should be writing

I’ve so many posts that haven’t even made draft yet, just bubbling away in my head. Maybe listing them here will halp. At least it’s got me away from Pinkerton my Facebook pet Greybit. He’s less than an hour old, but at level 6 and loves fighting level 7 spiders and mantises and stuff.

Anyway, in the pipeline…

Interesting2007 (oh god, there’s a whole sub-blog of its own in there)
Events and conferences in general (following Lee’s thoughts on the subject & Johnnie’s riposte)
Facebook addiction (something about evolving and expanding objects of sociability, probably a link to Jyri)
Social Media Club (what we’ve done so far, what we’re going to do next) COME ON THURSDAY
How can I get more time to write and *talk* about what I think
Me playing my uke & singing (there have been requests)
Some of the interesting people I’ve met recently (at interesting and elsewhere)

Fingers crossed.

Photo by: tim_d (Tim Duckett)