Experience the Adventure

Reno Tahoe USA has a brand riddled with controversy yet there is in fact ‘more to know’ about the Reno / Tahoe area than what pop culture enjoys poking fun at.

Lake Tahoe Emerald Bay Sunset
Photo courtesy of http://www.visitrenotahoe.com

Instead of focusing on the why, I’m proposing we social brand ambassadors start discussing it openly through storytelling on the web.  For example, we can use a twitter hash tag such #experiencetheadventure to aggregate experiences, stories, adventures and codes to serve as a real time focus group with real time social tools.

Why do it?  You could bump your klout score or just enjoy the journey on a stream.

I believe we need to leverage our differences and similarities to drive brand transformation which will result in new revenue for the region while innovating.

We have great events cultural events; Burning Man, Art Town and exhibits at the Nevada Museum of Art.  Yet we don’t seem to capture the entire web buzz that we could.  We have leaders in the culinary arts field who engage with Nothing To It.  We have popular new musicians like Whitney Meyer who recently was discovered on the Voice .  Hip software companies like; Shortstack, Understand, GotDibbs who are helping bring jobs while re-investing in the region.

In terms of education, the Washoe County School District leader Heath Morrison awas awarded the AASA 2012 Superintendent of the Year and for the entire district beat out all other states for the award in overall Leadership in Communication.  Furthermore, we have great sports teams, a new Discovery Museum and UNR which offer talent, learning and affordable programs.

This is just a very quick list.  Countless numbers of organizations doing great work.  However, we have more to do. We could invest in entrepreneurial thinking, alumni, and young leaders in different approaches than we currently are focused today.  I digress.

Instead of focusing on the why the brand isn’t grounded in reality, I propose that as social brand ambassadors, we start to take the lead to help the region through using key hash tags to facilitate changing the perception.  Through this approach, we can bring help promote job growth, economic stimulus and new possibilities all the while demonstrating new innovative social leadership.

Come on Reno Tahoe Adventurers, start to share the code #ExperiencetheAdventure.   Nothing ventured anything gained, right?

Small Business Owners Give a Hoot

Hootsuite Fans!

Small business has yet to fully embrace Twitter for fear of losing control, concerns over taxing resources or simply put, lack adequate training.  I started to comprehend their concerns while hosting a #HootupReno.  Despite their earnest interest in new media marketing, these small business owners were keen to learn something fresh and new, while focusing on driving business results. As female leaders, they openly shared stories about protecting their overtaxed workforce, staying on top of cultural trends and the competitive marketplace.  Yet, what I was surprised to discuss at great length, was the brand protection strategies each business leader employed for their industry, for investing in marketing and also managing on twitter the unknown social followers.  Fear of detracting from the brand through a few ‘bad’ followers, was the most spirited conversation.

After demonstrating the value of using social productivity tools, like Hootsuite, and through sharing stories, we equipped them with new tools for their boxes and in some cases strengthened their ability to steer their ships while navigating difficult economic conditions.  In fact, several business owners left port to embark upon a journey with new friends in their crew after this meet up.  They are now venturing in uncharted waters while staying connecting through social media to share their sailing ventures with one another.

Active Listening, a Core Competency for Social Business Leaders, featuring: Nick Howe

If you haven’t followed Nick Howe on Twitter, it’s time.  He is a social business champion and hero who just happens to be a genius.   This superhero by day has a key role at Hitachi Data Systems , Vice President of the HDS Academy, yet by night is probably the most humble, coolest, geekiest and happiest guy you will ever meet.  He embodies networked learning in every sense of the word.  He engages his industry through storytelling, like at Jive World.  He is foremost a business leader who challenges himself to think about the disruptive nature of social business through active listening.  LISTENING you say?  How many times has a senior leader in one of your organizations taken the time to really listen and not ‘pander’ to you?  Recall and value your thoughts and ideas, synthesize quickly and give proper attribution?  Well, I certainly hope the answer is yes, but if you are like many people, those rare and inspirational leaders are unusual, which is why it’s noteworthy to celebrate when we find the attenuate.  In fact, his personal philosophy is simple:  “make learning a priority, trust that people will step up to a challenge and acknowledge weakness as an opportunity to learn, versus a threat.”

As a business leader he is constantly validating or examining what he believes his and his organizations’ roles are to achieve company goals as a continuous process. Not just a board room exercise once a year.  Yeah, that’s right – the infinite Loop.  Just like great leaders before him have, he is in constant examination of himself and his impact on the organization, his colleagues and his customers.

Merci, for chocolate, active listening and leadership

What I found the most profound in interviewing him for this blog post was his deep personal commitment to being a collaborative leader, who builds alignment, invites people into possibilities and empowers them.  He engages in detailed community conversations with great detail and critical attention to drive business results, yet humble in his overall approach and demeanor that is exceptional.   To use my food metaphors, like a scarce chocolate with intense and subtle characteristics, rich in flavor and depth.  This type of leadership is commendable, addictive and perhaps will become a contagion that spreads the learning fever.  Active listening and reflection are paramount for social business leadership; in fact I would argue these should be key core competencies for leadership.

People ARE the experience

Secret Ingredient

In talking with Nancy Long, Chief HR Officer at Hitatchi Data Systems, One of FORTUNE’s “100 Best Companies to Work For recently, not only did I get goose bumps,  but found myself going on a journey with her.  Think global amusement park meets data solutions.  Wow, her inspiration is contagious and exhilarating.  Yet I also found it quite humble in that she has an earnest commitment to people as the base ingredient for her success in the people business.

As a foodie, I approach conversations thinking about the ‘secret sauce’.  What she shared with me was that over her career her secret ingredient is/are:  PEOPLE.  People are paramount for this tireless leader in the PEOPLE business who truly embodies this guiding principle.  Wow!  She is onto something to create recipes using PEOPLE in every dish.  She has talent at the forefront of the portfolio in her strategies and how she leads organizations who create winning cultures.  Nancy shared, “our leadership throughout HDS at all levels has done an amazing job rallying, supporting and motivating our people.  We have won several pieces of recognition, locally and globally.  Last year we won “most clued in leadership team in Silicon Valley” which was a HUGE accolade for us!

So how ‘secret’ is this ingredient I asked myself?  Well, after searching Google , I found over 12,590,000,000 results and over 6,839 results when searching Harvard Business Review .  The concept of people isn’t a secret. It’s the ‘art’ of creating the winning cultures that seem to be difficult to realize.  Nancy is like many great collaborative artists, she shares her masterpieces, she invites us to learn from her and receive sustenance we yearn for in the workplace.

In summary, I believe we can all learn from this extraordinary leader to embody the PEOPLE business in every sense of the word.  We must build people talent acquisition strategies that are created by the people, for the people and with the people.  We must use the P ingredient in all our creations, whether they are pastries, pipelines or partnerships.  Indeed this thrilling ride is something you can experience.  All it requires is laser focus on PEOPLE.

Community Engagment Tips

Make time to look in the mirror!

Resources – do you have a community manager assigned to ensure you have focus?  Important to ensure that they have a cultivation plan, charter and are working to perform health checks with members to modify and drive accordingly.

Relevancy – are the content assets relevant to the members?  Do they have click thru’s, links and/or are the appropriate length that will drive user engagement?

Feedback – ensure that you are constantly engaging your members to request insight when engaging to ensure that you are incorporating changes and ideas that are member driven as you evolve the community.

Connectedness – critical factors are living and breathing collaborative approaches whenever you approach social learning – so do make sure that you are warm and offer connectedness in your approach as a leader.

Walking the Talk – make sure that you embody the collaborative principles as you operate – it’s contagious

SMEs – thought leaders, subject matter experts or external guests are important to cycle into your community event planning to switch up the cadence and infuse new perspective into the community.

Games and Fun – make sure that you think about approaching your events with some exercises, games or other fun activities to make it more engaging for participants.

Learning – build social learning principles into all that you do relative to your communities.

Leadership – walk the talk in everything you do as it relates to your community.  Drive the desired outcomes to completion, facilitate conversations on behalf of your members and advocate!

Warmth – make your community a safe and welcoming place for members.  Do practice being authentic, warm and embodying the community bill of rights!

Focusing on the Patient

Increasing patient care – this is what it’s all about.  Through my work with physicians over the last few years, I’ve come to really experience how this is  in fact their main focus.  Contrary to what you may read, they do really care about their patients.  Good to hear right?  So, what brings me to share my experience, well I’ve just returned from a weeklong conference which inspired me to write this post.

With the on-set of patients utilizing social media to connect and collaborate, many physicians are looking at these tools as a way to connect bridge and assist in efforts to increase patient care.   It’s exciting to see them embrace a new approach to engage with patients.  We patients, we are hungry for information about healthcare, about the best care, who to use, who has experience, how we  can share our stories and experiences as well as receive information on other experiences.

I was so impressed with Herbert Wolfsen, M.D. at the Mayo Clinic, I  co-authored a medical abstract on his experience in developing a Facebook group to support Esophageal cancer patients.  Why you ask?  Well, it was a wonderful opportunity for me to learn and provide insight into the work Dr. Wolfsen has done in supporting this important group.  Because patients in this group face distinctive issues, it is important for them to connect with each other to share experiences.  The Facebook group is fostering the member’s needs to not only connect with the doctor himself, but with other patients with interest in this area.  This could allow them to have social learning beyond any F2F discussion’s they may have had in the past and continue the dialogue, but through an online venue even richer since it was a larger group.  Overall, I find it encouraging to see such physicians branching out of the hospital and utilizing online tools to enable connections in modern means that engage, support and educate patients.

By Michelle Groff Burling

Social Artistry – Linking the Unlinkable

In a meeting in San Francisco with Etienne Wenger in 2008, we were discussing the critical role of a weaver in the field of Communities.  It is more commonly known as a community manager.  Etienne described this ‘community weaver’ as someone who is a Social Artist.  This was the first time I had heard this term, yet when he described what he meant, I felt validated in the work that I’ve been doing for years. Being a weaver, or what Richad Koch calls, a SuperConnector.

Recently a former colleague was mentioning that they missed my role in the community.  She was lamenting the fact that I’d rolled off that closed community project as I was invited into a new community project.  What she was described to me in great detail in terms of the void that I
left in the community was that of the Social Artist role.  This is why I’m writing this blog post, to help provide more visibility and credibility to this capability as it’s not yet mainstream and therefore something that CEOs and other Executives don’t value within their organizations.

Wikipedia describes it as a technique, “Social Artistry, [6] represents a new model for leadership. Houston, working through the United Nations Development Group, has been training leaders through this modality since 2003. Under the direction
of Monica Sharma, [7]then Director of Leadership and Capacity Development for the UN, Houston traveled to developing nations throughout the world bringing Social Artistry techniques to leadership groups. As of 2011, Social Artistry  trainings and projects are ongoing in a number of countries and new leaders are being trained on a constant basis. This work is supported through The Jean Houston Foundation.”

Puzzle Pieces Cory Doctorow from London, UK

Social Artistry is a leadership skill where someone provides the glue and holds the entire community or network together.  They have an innate ability to see strange divergent connections between disparate concepts together via culture, human beings, and notions of progress and development.  They link the unlinkable.   They foster a feeling of connectedness despite the divergence and most importantly they communicate openly and authentically.    They make what could feel like a fragmented bunch of networks, instead the sense a community has is one similar to that of a puzzle that was recently completed, when you as a member visualize that last single piece snapping into place, which resonates
with your interpretation of that image. It just fits.