This is my son Adam. He is 9 years old and is a special boy. Sometimes when I travel for business he misses me. Recently, I attended SOBCon in Chicago. The night before I was to leave, Adam told me how sad he was feeling and that he would really miss me. In an effort to provide comfort and to prevent him from focusing on my departure, I suggested that he give me something of his that I could take on the trip with me. This is a strategy that I have used over the years with my children. More than a few times, I have taken a little stuffed animal along in my suitcase and periodically taken photos of them here and there. In the past, I have always shared these photos with my kids after my travels – once I returned home. For some reason, this time, I told Adam that I would just Tweet pictures of whatever he gave me to take from along my travels. After careful consideration, Adam provided me with a well used and loved Lego Man. He understood that even though he would not see me the next morning, he would be able to follow Lego Man as he made his way to the airport (and beyond) via his Dad’s iPhone.
What happened next is where the story gets pretty interesting. My great friend and colleague April Ennis, who is from Prince Edward Island, tweeted me to advise that she would be bringing a Lego Lady to SOBCon as well. She thought it might also be fun for her two little boys back home as well. So over the next series of tweets, Lego Man & Lego Lady then made their plans for a grand “meetup” in Chicago at SOBCon. All the while, Adam (and the rest of my kids) were watching the adventures of Lego Man & Lego Lady unfold with great excitement. The fact that Lego Man had a friend who was going to join him in Chicago became a big screen attraction at my house; with the tweets and related photos being played out for all to see over the Apple TV.
All in all, Lego Man & Lego Lady’s adventures included multiple flights, scary taxi rides, daily walks with Marti Konstant, table hopping throughout the entire SOBCon weekend, dinner and masterminding with Chris Brogan & Jaqueline Carly + the Brogan family and friends, much ongoing love and care from Diane Brogran and a trip to their dream destination – the Lego store in Chicago. They were an amazing addition to the fun and brilliance that is SOBCon; while simultaneously bridging the distance between my work life and my home life.
Crazy as it seems, when I came back to Vancouver, I spent time thinking about what Lego Man & Lego Lady had accomplished during their travels to SOBCon. They were an ongoing topic of discussion while I was there; as well as when I returned home. Multiple people tweeted me wondering if they would see Lego Man again in the future. So over a period of days I bounced the whole adventure back and fourth with @AprilEnnis, @MartiKonstant and @Omaniblog. I even recorded an AudioBoo about the story and my thoughts after we returned home.
As I have considered things further I have come to recognize a few things:
- Social Builds Bridges: As hard as we try, we cannot be everywhere at once. That said, social media gives us an ever expanding array of tools that we can use to maintain ongoing connections with our loved ones in new and creative ways. While not perfect, this type of connection can truly help to build bridges that reinforce the love we have for the people in our lives who matter.
- Social Help Breakdown Invisible Barriers: The line between work and life is eroding more and more. Years ago, many people would not dare to mention their family while attending a business conference, meeting or event. Today, technology enables us to breakdown invisible barriers. Every single person who heard the story of Lego Man & Lego Lady showed interest and wanted to know more. This opened the door to multiple discussions related to how we work, live and play.
- Authentic Personal Branding Matters: Who you are in your personal life can be part of your personal branding. Sharing stories and personal things about your life enables people to get to know the real you. It allows you to be authentic. People can really identify with this and come to trust you more. Trust leads to relationships. Relationships lead to increased business opportunities with partners who both respect and relate to the true you. There are countless online influencers who have managed to successfully blend their personal life with their online identity.
- People Like Simple Ideas: People like things they can smile about. Sometimes the smallest of ideas can create a buzz that people can relate to. Even more, when there are opportunities for people to part of building a story buy-in is increased. Multiple people at SOBCon wanted help create the Lego Man & Lego Lady story. They wanted to contribute to the happiness they saw unfolding.
It would appear that the story of Lego Man has only begun. Clearly, he represents a multitude of things related to how we integrate our work and personal lives. Further, he is a symbol who reminds us that every single one of us have lives that matter. Every person leaves behind people that they care about when they go to work, school, meetings, conferences and more. While we may need to put them aside for an hour, a day, a week or more – so as to focus on other responsibilities, the reality is that they remain with us in our hearts.
Stay tuned, Lego Man will be having ongoing adventures with me in the months to come. Together we will meet old and new friends, join in discussions related to how we all live, laugh & earn and will explore the intersection between work-life and social media. All the while, I know that Adam will be paying close attention to our travels.
How do you create bridges between your work and the rest of your life? What role does social media play in helping you maintain connections? Is your “life” part of who you are online?
PS – Lego Man is accepting requests for speaking engagements, guest blog posts and workshop presentations. Feel free to contact me at 604-807-0266 to discuss your needs further.