April Ennis resides in Canada's smallest province – Prince Edward Island. She joined me to talk about a range of issues as part of 45 Conversations.
Greg is a Multimedia Designer from UK based in Denmark. Possessing the skills to produce media of all forms is as important these days as being able to read and write. Greg and I had this conversation as part of the #45Conversations initiative.
This past weekend I decided to disconnect from the social networks for a while and build my #FamilyKlout. It was a great way to remind myself of the importance of being present with my children and for that matter; with anyone that I am really trying to engage with. So often it is easy to forget how and why we need to do this as we just get caught up in the millions of things that cross our inbox, feeds and social network streams.
Yesterday Ann Tran released a really great post called Balancing Life and Your Social Networks. It profiles ten people who are really active on social networks and outlines the various ways that they have chosen to integrate their work, life, community and online connections together. If you are looking for some great strategies to help you balance your online and offline worlds then you should really check out the post.
How do you balance your online and offline worlds? How many hours a day do you spend connected to social networks?
Some of you will recall that I wrote a post last week on the revised vision that I have developed for myself and much of my work. In my post I explained that:
Moving forward my time and related energies will be focused on living, laughing and earning by building connections, facilitating conversations and leading change to make the world a much better place for kids and families. I also plan to spend much more time exploring and writing about the intersection between our work lives and personal lives and the role that technology/social media plays in everything we do.
A new vision always sounds great…but sometimes it is nothing more than words. In my case, I want to be very open and accountable about what I am doing and also about where I am going. I also wanted to immediately connect my vision to moving toward outcomes. You see, if a vision is only words – without the actions to bring it to life; then it really means nothing at all. In order to support my efforts of moving toward achieving the above vision it has helped to begin launching new things. Creating my own new site here at www.boydjane.ca was one way to do that. Another was to launch the new Early Learning & Child Care Canada Website.
Here is what the site looks like as of today.
Clearly, the site is still very much in the design and development stages. All of that said, what I really wanted to do was to begin to build interest and also put a stake in the ground about the fact that something great is going to be happening online in Canada related to the field of Early Learning & Child Care. As such, I followed along the lines of what others such as AJ Leon – Pursuit of Everything & Greg Hartle – New Methods have done to prepare for the launch of their own new sites. Initially they have been sharing a limited amount of information on their new site landing pages. In the meantime; they have been working very hard to raise awareness, build interest and create a following. All of these things will ultimately support the communities that they wish to build. Assuming that they will have products to sell on their sites one day; then their community supporters stand a good chance of eventually also purchasing products or services from them. Behind the scenes of Early Learning & Child Care Canada, I have been doing a lot of this same type of work. As I move forward, I am integrating what I learn from this feedback into the initial design and features for the site. I also asking questions and then listening, listening and doing more listening. I plan to meet with many of the folks that I think this community will appeal to and I will be using their feedback to determine much of what the site will offer. Eventually, I will also work on ways to create opportunities for online connections to evolve to also include offline relationship building; though recognize this will be a long term effort that will likely evolve over time.
I have also launched a Facebook Page:
And just yesterday got a new Twitter account underway:
One of my key goals for this project is to also gather ongoing feedback, support and ideas from people who visit my www.boydjane.ca website and also from the various social media and online communities that I am part of. To date; I have found members of these communities to be exceptionally supportive and really willing to help me reach for my vision. It only makes sense to continue to do this; as I know it will truly help me create that very best online community for the Canadian Early Learning & Child Care field.
When you are building community online what key strategies do you use? What should I be paying the most attention to in the very early days of developing this community?
This morning I woke up and did what I often do. I said “Hello” to the Twitterverse before I had really even connected with my family. (Yes, I am admitting to this.) Let’s face it; the ease of having my Blackberry close to the bed makes this a reality on so many days. Frequently I tweet “Good Morning from Vancouver” before I am even truly awake or before I have connected with my kids.
As I lay there this morning, I thought about how the day could unfold. I thought about all of the work that I should do on the many great projects that I have on the go. I mean, only this week I launched my new blog here at www.boydjane.ca and it got off to an amazing start when Chris Brogan sent out this tweet regarding the new vision that I have for myself and my work:
I realized that I could spend the day further enhancing what I had begun; since Chris had really helped to send lots of new traffic to the site. Then there is another site that I have been working on with @aprilennis over at www.aprilandjane.ca. It is in need of some new content and obviously if I truly focused I could crank out some new posts before the day was through. Beyond all of that; I am also in the midst of establishing a strong foundation for Early Learning & Child Care Canada. It will be an amazing new online community for early childhood educators and families that will serve Canada from coast to coast. Today would have been a great day to dive into that site much further. So clearly there were a lot of things that I could have been working on. Except as I headed off to make my coffee, I thought about my family. I thought about my kids and the fact that they often see me working in front of the computer for long periods of time. I questioned if that was what I wanted for yet another Saturday or if perhaps for today something could be different. If perhaps something should be different.
By the time I was out of the shower and ready to really start the day, I knew I had my answer. I knew that NO; I did not want to lose yet another Saturday of time with my kids. With that thought I decided that I would spend my time with them, instead of working. Even more, I decided that I would fully disconnect from all forms of social media so that I could be completely present with them.
Now, I won’t lie; the thought of this actually made me pretty nervous. It was sort of like that feeling you get when you know you can’t eat or drink before important medical tests. The more I convinced myself that I was going to go offline (no computer and no Blackberry); the more I realized I was already having withdrawal. I thought about what being disconnected would do to my Klout score; which had already taken a nosedive this past week. So…to convince myself that I really could do this I sent out the following tweet – just to make it really real.
Emma, Adam and I then discussed all of the options that we could do for the day. We considered Science World. We talked about the Vancouver Aquarium. We looked at the show schedule for the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. At the end of the discussion they told me that what they really, really wanted to do was go to a great local swimming pool that they had not yet been to. Now, I’m not that much of a swimmer; so the hesitation must have shown on my face. Emma very quickly said; “It’s OK Mom; you can just sit there with your Blackberry and work while we swim.” I realized right then and there that my kids are growing up seeing me work way too much. So very firmly I said “No, I won’t work, I’ll go in the water with you.” Honestly, my two kids looked at me as though I was from outer space. They were shocked but happily accepted that I would be joining them in the water.
So off we headed for the pool where we all swam, played and had lots of fun.
We then had a late lunch and even managed to bring my Mom along for some grandparent connecting as well.
Finally, we went and did some pumpkin shopping.
Not once during this whole time did I check Twitter. I didn’t look at Facebook. No email. Nothing. I read nothing. I focused on my kids. I talked to them. I played with them. I was present. I will admit that a few times I wondered what I was missing online. I recognized that for some of the time I was actually thinking in 140 characters and I really had to work to restrain the social media thoughts that jumped into my head. All of that said, I was really present and I really connected with my kids. They were truly the only people that I was thinking about influencing for that moment in time.
About 6 hours later, once we were home and the kids were happily engaged in their own activities I logged back online to check out what I had missed. I immediately read this tweet from @seanmcginnis in response to my earlier announcement that I was going offline for a while:
I decided to announce that I was back online and sent out this tweet:
A few minutes later, in response I received this tweet from @chrisbrogan:
And yet another from @stepstate
And another from @seanmcginnis
Finally, this one came from @bobhcc – my husband. (He and I had talked about the day and fact that I had truly disconnected from the online world to really be with the kids. Since he knows me so well; he truly recognized that this was an important moment for me.)
So, as I sit here tonight typing this blog post I recognize a few things. I love my life of online connections. I love it immensely. I enjoy reaching out to people and creating conversations that can lead to amazing things. I love the updated vision that I have for my business and am excited about the potential of the projects that are before me. However, I love my family more. Much more. So with today’s experience in mind; I am really going to make sure that I keep working on my #FamilyKlout – I know I won’t always be perfect at it; but I think I stand a pretty good chance of improving it greatly.
How about you, what is your #FamilyKlout score? What are you doing to improve it?
Developing vision is something that many people and organizations struggle with. Having operated my own consulting company for a few more years than I care to count; I know how important it is to truly be clear about what it is that you do and where you are going. We often speak about how critical mission, vision and values are; yet they are something that can be both hard to define and align with.
In recent months I found myself increasingly uncertain about how all the things in my work and personal worlds were fitting together. Slowly I began to recognize that I was no longer totally clear on where my business was going or exactly what I wanted to focus my energies on. I was also struggling to determine how my online connections fit with my desire to make the world a better place. As I spent time in this place of uncertainty, it became crystal clear that I needed to invest some energy clarifying what I am both curious and passionate about. I also needed to rethink how everything that I do fits together. It can be hard to find the time to go through a process such as this, but I managed to do it. Last week I wrote a bit about it here. Somewhere in the midst of my deliberations, I was reminded of a great blog post that Chris Brogan wrote this past summer. He talked about being open to your “Until Moments”. I can truly say that I have worked very hard over the last couple of weeks to recognize that I have been having my own set of “Until Moments” and that I am now in a place of accepting and embracing them. It is amazing what happens when you do this.
As a result of taking the time to clarify things, I am now firmly planted in the place of knowing just what it is that I do and exactly where I am going. The things that I value the most in life are my family, my community and the work that I do to make the world a much better place for the people I care about. I have also been able to recognize that my passion for online connections and the world of social media can play an important role in the change that I lead and in the organizations that I work with. Here is what I now know:
Moving forward my time and related energies will be focused on living, laughing and earning by building connections, facilitating conversations and leading change to make the world a better place. I also plan to spend much more time exploring and writing about the intersection between our work lives and personal lives and the role that technology/social media plays in everything we do.
So with all of this in place, today seems like the right moment to launch a new and updated blog site here on www.boydjane.ca; the name by which I am mainly known in the world of social media and increasingly in my consulting world. Thanks for stopping by, I am excited you are here and look forward to the amazing conversations we will have and the relationship that we will build to do good things in the world.
Do you know what your own personal vision is? Are you clear on where YOU are going?