0

Make the most of your next unconference

3623648079_dde9e24d02

The “unconference” conference has been very popular especially for information workers. An unconference is a conference where the format is loosely structured. The idea is an informal exchange of ideas, interactions, and information rather than a tightly structured program. ProductCamps, BarCamps, CityCamps, WordCamps, and others are a popular type of unconferences and this year I have attended a few and each one has its own experience and energy but all are equally rewarding.

The nice thing about unconferences is they are generally completely put together by volunteers and are often times free. This not only makes them an awesome value but also means that people organizing have the best interests in mind when putting together.

Attending an unconference is rewarding but truly engaging in an unconference is awesome. Here are some tips to make the most of your next unconference:

  1. Meet new people: Do not be a wallflower and instead get to know people. This does not mean trying to collect as many business cards as possible but have genuine conversations with others. Get peoples names and follow up with them after the conference by grabbing coffee or conversing on email. Try to meet at least three new people at each unconference.
  2. Participate in discussion: The exchange of ideas and information is essential and you can participate in the discussion by either speaking up in sessions or hosting a session yourself. The nice thing about an unconference is presentations are less formal and more of a discussion rather than a lecture. This allows for a lot of people to contribute. Know if you are contributing to the discussion you will feel more benefited from the discussion.
  3. Volunteer: This may mean you volunteer to speak or you volunteer to register people at the door or a number of things. You will feel more invested in an unconference if you helped make it what it was.
  4. Be thankful: Make sure to thank the organizers, volunteers, speakers, and sponsors for their role in the event. This will not only give you the opportunity to meet other people but also is a nice token of gratitude for the contribution that these people played.

Take a look at your community and find an unconference that catches your attention and sign up. Or, maybe next time you are on vacation you can take the opportunity to go to an unconference in another city and meet a whole new set of people and perspectives. Either way keep on learning and keep on helping others learn, as these are both some of the most pleasurable things to be human.

Have an awesome week and remember to do something today to supercharge your success.

As always appreciate your feedback, emails, comments, likes, and re-tweets!

photo credit: IMG_1371 via photopin (license)

0

Changing the innovation culture

2721094209_db34943dcd

Innovation is one of those buzz words that executives and companies are touting. Of course we all want to create new products and enhance value of existing products. How do you do that though? The first step in being successful in this arena is creating a culture that is geared towards innovation and new products.

Changing culture unfortunately is one of the most difficult things to do as a business though. It starts from talking-the-talk and walking-the-walk by empowering leaders and managers with the processes and resources to help drive your culture and encouraging them when they do. Innovative corporate cultures first ensure that a solid new product development process is in place. Then these companies will encourage employees to take balanced risks. Put in place tools to help identify and measure markets and new products. There are many other steps to reflecting the cultural shift but the key is making that cultural shift.

Some things leaders can do to help change culture include:

  • Senior leadership recognition: Each time senior leaders speak to employees they ensure consistent messages towards innovation and new product development culture. Include celebrations of balanced risks taken whether successful or not. Reward and highlight risk taking that ends in failure.
  • Cross-department and cross-functional teams: Establish cross-department and cross-functional innovation committees towards new product development. Periodically move people in and out of these committees to ensure that ideas remain fresh.
  • Ideation platforms: Implement idea catching and voting platforms like Brightidea or Spigit and establish framework to ensure utilization. Reward employees and customers for participating in bringing ideas forward to these platforms whether it is intrinsic or extrinsic rewards. Highlight people’s contributions here and emphasize the importance of participation.
  • Innovation centers: Have an innovation center that focuses on driving innovation and an innovative culture. Ensure that your top talent is involved in these innovation centers. Cycle people in through these innovation centers to ensure ideas don’t get stagnant.
  • In-house disruptive innovation businesses: For larger organizations, establishing self-contained business units geared towards disruptive innovation where metrics and rewards are measured differently. Read The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen to learn more about disruptive innovation. Establishing these disruptive innovation business units is a true measure of innovative companies.

Changing culture in organizations is something that needs to occur from top down but important visible and tangible things need to occur to change the culture. These changes do not occur overnight and the items above are just a few of the ideas that can help towards the cultural shift. Good luck in your cultural shift – it will be the hardest part but rewards are priceless.

Have an awesome week and remember to do something today to supercharge your success.

As always appreciate your feedback, emails, comments, likes, and re-tweets!

photo credit: DSCF1758 via photopin (license)

0

14 Awesome Podcasts for Information Workers

medium_5965181508

Yes I am going to do the proverbial top 14 list. This top 14 list is 14 awesome podcasts for information workers. Why? Because podcasts are awesome! If you are an information worker you should be listening to podcast just like you are reading this blog. Podcasts are the new radio that lets you have on demand audio journeys on just about anything. Apple has even made the podcast app a central thing on its iPhone.

Over the years I have listened to 100’s of different podcasts and 1,000’s of individual episodes and there are way more than 14 great podcasts. Here is my top 14 to get you started or if you already listen to podcasts then here are others you should try:

  1. Econtalk (www.econtalk.org): Weekly podcast where economics professor Russ Roberts interviews everyone from small business owners to Nobel Laureates. Don’t let the name fool you – economics is certainly the theme but the topics covered are much broader than traditional economics.
  2. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History (www.dancarlin.com): Podcast that can only be termed a thematic-like audio journey in to some of the world’s most important historic times hosted by Dan Carlin. Dan Carlin is a journalist turned full time podcast host and this is really a must listen to auditory adventure.
  3. WTF with Marc Maron (www.wtfpod.com): Thrice weekly podcast where comedian Marc Maron interviews celebrities, musicians and whoever else is in his unique style. Podcast takes place in his garage and has made Marc famous so that he even has a television series based on his life and his podcast on IFC. There are many different comedians and other celebrity podcasts out there but this is one of the best. Take a listen and enjoy.
  4. Security Now (twit.tv/show/security-now): Weekly podcast from the TWiT network who has a series of awesome podcasts. Security Now is geared at providing all things information security related news and education. Podcast has Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte talk about everything under the sun on information security.
  5. Roderick on the Line (www.merlinmann.com/roderick): Podcast where Internet-personality Merlin Mann and musician John Roderick have conversations on just about anything that is a mix of entertainment, education, and general rantings.
  6. Beyond the To Do List (beyondthetodolist.com): Podcast where Erik Fischer interviews various experts in productivity and getting things done. Educational listen that often times hits on some new ways to be more productive. After all our most valuable asset is our time.
  7. Freakonomics Radio (freakonomics.com): Yes two economics related podcasts and no I was not an econ major. Freakonomics is a podcast that grew out of the famous books of journalist Stephen Dubner and economics professor Steven Levitt.
  8. The Vergecast (www.theverge.com/video/the-vergecast): This is a podcast from the new media Verge Network that covers technology, trends, and everything in between. Good coverage of technology and trends with various entertaining personalities.
  9. Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders (etl.stanford.edu): Podcast put on by the Stanford Technology Ventures Program where leaders speak on technology, business, finance, education, and philanthropy.
  10. Entrepreneur on Fire (www.entrepreneuronfire.com): High energy daily podcast where John Lee Dumas interviews entrepreneurs doing just about everything.
  11. Back to Work (5by5.tv/b2w): Weekly podcast where Internet personality Merlin Mann and 5-by-5 Network Founder Dan Benjamin discuss productivity, work, barriers, constraints, tools, and more.
  12. Amplify Podcast (bloggingconcentrated.com/listen-to-our-amplify-podcast): Great podcast focusing on the world of social media and blogging. Great place for knowledge workers to expand their influence as social media and blogging are central avenues.
  13. Psychology in Every Day Life (www.psychologyineverydaylife.net): Educational podcast covering the good, the bad, and the ugly of psychology and the state of psychological research. Gives a fresh and honest perspective on a field that is complicated but also sometimes more art than science.
  14. Killer Innovations (philmckinney.com/killer-innovations): Podcast hosted by Phil McKinney a true leader in the innovation space. Last couple years his podcast has been highly sporadic after his book (Beyond the Obvious) and also taking on the CEO position at CableLabs. However, Phil recently announced the podcast will be coming back in a more frequent fashion and still worth listening to the back episodes.

Get started listening to podcasts today and supercharge your learning and entertainment. Maybe a later article I will go into different podcast apps and benefits of each. For now I will just mention I use DoggCatcher on my Android phone (www.doggcatcher.com).

Have an awesome week and remember to do something today to supercharge your success.

As always appreciate your feedback, emails, comments, likes, and re-tweets!

photo credit: iChris via photopin cc

0

Do you fear public speaking more than death?

15647953548_341a726bfc

Public speaking comes natural to a few but for the rest of us it is something we reluctantly do or simply avoid. I am writing this since it is very timely in my life as I recently finished two public speaking engagements.

Over the years I have done many of these in different settings and while I still get nervous prior to starting I feel good every time when I am finished. Further, getting up and putting yourself in front of others and speaking about something you are knowledgeable about will help build your brand and at the same time add value for others.

Here are a few tips to make your next public speaking engagement more successful:

  • Prepare: Few people can just wing it when speaking in front of people. Unless you are very confident this is you or want to experience what the worst-case scenario is like then I strongly advise you to prepare. This does not mean memorizing every line – in fact, memorizing lines comes off poorly and is robotic. Come up with an outline at first and then prepare slides or props or whatever you will use and then practice. For every public speaking engagement I recommend that you go through it at least three times. Further, these three times should be spread out over at least two days.
  • Engage your audience: Really good public speakers engage their audience. This means good eye contact and being conversational with the audience. Speaking in an engaging voice and using emotion in your voice while speaking at a comfortable pace. Further, avoid using big words and acronyms or you will likely lose your audience.
  • Less is more: Often times when doing public speaking you will have slides or some type of props. Stress that less is more. Each content slide should take at least three minutes of time and can be much more. Generally I like to keep presentations to 10 slides or less of content slides and just like a story you need a beginning, a middle and an end. Don’t cram everything into a slide – standard text should be at least 24-point font and use short statements, not full sentences. Most importantly — speak to your slides, don’t read them!
  • Nervous good, petrified bad: Being nervous is healthy and will motivate you to do a good job and to prepare. Being petrified likely will result in you freezing up. Start with smaller audiences or take an improv class to get you more comfortable. Some people find it best to start with an audience of people they know (like a team meeting) while some people find it best to start with an audience of strangers (like an improv class). In short, start small and work towards bigger and more challenging audiences and longer speaking engagements to ensure you stay nervous but not petrified.
  • Practice, practice, practice: There are very few “naturals” in the public speaking game. There are tons of people that look like naturals because they practiced and developed their skills. This practice could be through things like Toastmasters or even taking improv classes. Just find a forum to start practicing public speaking and seek feedback on how to get better.

Now it is time to act – find a way to engage in public speaking. Yeah you might only want to be a database administrator or a market research analyst but if you want to truly be “the” database administrator or market research analyst then you will need to be polished speaking in public – even if just in front of team or department meetings.

Have an awesome week and remember to do something today to supercharge your success.

As always appreciate your feedback, emails, comments, likes, and re-tweets!

photo credit: IDEA SEE Training of Trainers in Belgrade, Serbia. via photopin (license)

0

It is alright to kill your product

4354894784_406c8ddf66

Your idea. Your process. Your product. All of these are your babies. You and your team create these each year. Just like an artist paints her landscape or a chef cooks his special entrée – information workers create ideas, processes, and products.

Once an idea, process or product has been created people have a hard time killing them. Don’t worry — it is natural. Just like you look out for your kid you look out for the product you created. Successful professionals realize that just like people – ideas, products and processes have a birth, a life, and a death. Trying to hold off the inevitable death of your idea product and process will hold you back.

Determining if your creation still has legs or is ready for the graveyard is a tough thing to do and here are some tips to help you in this process:

  1. Be Honest to Yourself: Realize that you are naturally biased to anything you have created and make an extra effort to be objective. Understand this bias and consciously compensating for it will help mitigate it.
  2. Consult a Trusted Advisor: Even the best of us know that no matter how hard we try we will sometimes not be as objective as a third party. Consulting a trusted advisor ensures that our decision and perspective is sound.
  3. Determine Metrics: Ideally you will have already have metrics established to identify when a product, process or idea’s lifecycle ends. If you already have these metrics then compare them to the current state. If you do not, then take this opportunity to come up with those metrics.

Instead of letting someone else determine the lifespan of your product, process or idea – empower yourself by being the determiner of it. By being honest to yourself, consulting a trusted advisor, and determining clear metrics will help you in this process.

Have an awesome week and remember to do something today to supercharge your success.

As always appreciate your feedback, emails, comments, likes, and re-tweets!

photo credit: Antimilitarisme via photopin (license)