Category Archives: lifehack

Understanding why Web 2.0 works.

There were ten of us in the room.

I gave the other nine people pieces of paper. Each got one 12″ by 12″ piece of fancy paper, the kind that you see in scrapbooks. Each got several pieces of smaller plain yellow or slightly fancy blue paper, the kind that will stick to other paper.

I asked them to take one of the small pieces of paper and write a few words. I said, “In a few words, write what you think social media is.”

I waited. This is a group that has heard the phrase, most of them. It is also a group that doesn’t understand the phrase. They’ve never, most of them, really talked about it. That’s why I’m here.

Then I said, “Put that on your scrapbook page. Now, give me a few examples of social media.”

Then I said, “Answer this question: Have you ever created a web page?”

Each person had three small pieces of paper on a larger one.

I walked over to the head of the group. “Read your first note.”

He did.

I looked across the circle to the junior member of the group. “What do you think about his definition?”

“Great!”, she said.

“Write that on a little piece of paper and sign it.” She did. I carried it across the room and stuck it on the bottom of his definition.

I looked for a person who I knew understood social media. “What do you think of that definition?”, I said.

“I’d add this,” he said.

“Write it down,” I said. He did. I carried it back and attached it to the first two notes.

While he was writing, however, the junior staff member said, “Can I add to mine?”

“Write on another one,” I said. She did. I stuck it on the end of the list.

I looked at the person next to the guy who got it. “What do you think of his addition?” “It’s good,” she said. “Write it down.” She did.

Then I told them a story. It is a good story.

To help me explain the story, I handed them a color copy of a scrapbook page I had created. It looked sharp, bright, almost professional.

After the story, I picked up the color copy of a page I handed out.

“This is a traditional webpage. It looks great.” I picked up the page with sloppy list of notes stuck on it. “This looks awful compared to mine. But it is yours. You created it. You created the conversation. You can add to the conversation.”

I pointed to a picture on my page.

“If my friend wanted to look at this picture and tell me he likes it, there is no way for him to add to the page. He would just have to use a Sharpie on his computer screen. On the other hand, on your page, you could have a picture and someone could talk about it and someone else could and someone else could.”

A copy of a scrapbook page or a scrapbook page that can involve lots of people. Underneath the technology, creating a conversation makes sense.

The technology isn’t the why, it’s the how.

I think they got it, by the way.


Practicing valuing people

I am not a party person. I can be in front of a large group, and I can meet one-on-one, but there is something about having to go to some event and chat that is very challenging for me. (I would have said, “drives me nuts” but that would put the burden on someone else and I think that the challenge is with me, somehow).

When I remember, i’ve discovered a way to make those events almost enjoyable, whether they be family reunions, company picnics, church socials, or neighborhood barbecues. I decide to research one of the other guests.

  1. When I remember in time, I think through the guest list, identify someone that I don’t know well, and read something that will relate to what they know–if I know.
  2. When I get to the event, after making the rounds, I’ll end up sitting next to the person I want to learn more about.
  3. I’ll ask a question that relates to their expertise or situation in life.
  4. I’ll work to not have questions about me. “So Jon, how are YOU doing?” Great, thanks. “But I want to know more about what you were just saying.”
  5. I’ll stay interested in what they are saying, just as I would any subject I was researching.

This weekend, I talked with one of my brothers-in-law. He retired from education recently so I asked whether he was beginning to notice the difference as school approached. There had been an article about the retirement so I commented on that. They are building a house so I asked about the kind of house. I just kept asking questions about him.

By the end of the party, I actually knew what was going on in that family a little more. It made the social event worthwhile. And that, for me, is worthwhile.

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really little things

On one hand, it’s the really little things that annoy us most. The bird call at 5:00 which wakes us up and keeps us awake. The decision over whether to buy a Snickers or a Take 5 bar. The line in the back seat between your side of the car and your sister’s (“Mo-om, s/he’s on my side”).

On the other hand, the little things can give us tremendous delight. The glint in my daughter’s eye after successfully driving us to Border’s and back (after only 2 weeks of driver’s training), the one encouraging email, the screws being preattached to the fan blades.

Why include the last thing? I mean, parenting, friends and a ceiling fan?

Yep. Because it is the little things that matter.

Because of [long story which will be left out in the interest of you], I’ve installed two ceiling fans in a month, with the last one going up today after a week of projects. I wanted to get it done quickly between other commitments, but fans can be a hassle. When I examined the bundle of pieces that connect the blades to the rest of the fan, I discovered that Hampton Bay fans have the screws that hold the blade assembly to the fan already attached. This means that as you are reaching over your head trying to get everything lined up, you do not need a third hand to hold the screw, the driver, and the blade assembly. Your two hands will work.

I was ecstatic. It doesn’t take much to amuse me anyway, but realizing that some designer understood that real people don’t have three hands and figured out how to save us frustration made my afternoon. Even after I struggled with other parts of the installation because of my own lack of coordination, I was still excited about the elegance of practical design.

So what are the little things that I can do that will make other people’s lives simpler? How can I add in the one email of instructions that helps everyone on the team to know what is coming? How can I label the cords so we don’t have to struggle to remember which one goes where? How can I cause delight somewhere down the chain?

We’re looking for lifehacks that enhance our own productivity. I want to find the things I can do to help other people’s productivity…like the fan designer.

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The care and feeding of Jimmy Olsen.

Recently, Chris Brogan reminded us of the importance of noticing the Jimmy Olsens around us. These are the loyal, connected, thorough, passionate, encouraging people who don’t look like superheroes. However, by being who they are, they transform “The Planet” and the planet into places worth being.

Even as I was reading that post, a Jimmy Olsen walked by my office and another was sitting two offices down. What characterizes both of these people…and Jimmy, is that they don’t try to be superheroes, they just do what they were made to do and do it well.

Unfortunately, it is easy to take Jimmy’s loyalty for granted. That cheerfulness? It will last as long as Superman’s strength, right? Unfortunately, there are some things that can destroy a Jimmy just as sure as Kryptonite.

So how do you keep Jimmy Jimmy?

  • Give Jimmy information about the big picture so s/he knows where best to serve. Although “fiction Jimmy” only needs to follow the storyline, real people are helped by knowing all of the story they in. Although we often want to preserve privacy for some reason, Jimmy’s skills as an encourager or connector help in ways that we can’t imagine.
  • Give Jimmy success stories about what s/he has enabled others to achieve. Whenever possible, as a superhero you need to tell Jimmy how s/he helped you save that life or stop the train or save the world. In the nonprofit world, for example, tell your volunteers how the food they collected meant that Heather and Jason actually had hot food yesterday.
  • Give Jimmy permission to stop pleasing everyone occasionally. Jimmy is a pleaser, which is a strength, but also can be destructive. In fact, one writer talks about approval addiction in ways that make me think that may be I….
  • Because Jimmy gets his/her delight in serving, don’t take the opportunities away. If Jimmy makes your coffee, don’t get all independent and self-sufficient. Just be grateful. Out loud.
  • Give Jimmy protection. Don’t make Jimmy stand in front of the bullets if you are the one that is made of steel. Even a superhero gets tired of the pressure (and leaves the planet). However, if you are the one who can stop the bullets, don’t hide in your office while Jimmy answers the phone or the door or the flaming email. That’s NOT what Jimmy is built for. And real-life Jimmys can get wounded.

Jimmy probably would have made a great levite, directing all the attention to someone else. And that can be a pretty fulfilling task for those of us who are really glad we’re not the superhero.

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This link to Creating Passionate Users link suggests that getting people to act takes getting people to decide.

about ministry and productivity

The idea of a blog with the motto, "Less time on tasks…more time on people" is probablly worth looking at. Also, Bob's church, Evergreen, in portland OR is something I want to followup with, as is Joomla which is the content driver for his website.

Just some stuff to remember.