Category Archives: Networking

Surround Sound

Our experience of life is, for the most part, the result of the stories that we tell ourselves.

…and the mood of that story is colored by the soundtrack playing in the background, sung by the people surrounding us.

Situational MotivatorsThis post (#10 out of 27) revisits a quote from Winston Churchill about what to do when you’re going through hell. Recently, I positioned that quote just above the base camp of a metaphorical mountain, depicted here on the left.

When I originally posted the quote last June, it was during a particularly challenging time in my life. While I was experiencing some time-demanding Professional Bests, I was also experiencing some soul-testing Personal Worsts. Gritting my teeth and relaying that quote was pretty much all I could offer for blogging purposes. Beyond that, I went on a strict social media diet, deactivated Facebook and pretty much stopped reading the news. Looking back at it now, I see I was operating in pure survival / perseverance mode.

Half a year later, I find myself back online and back up at the Strong Performance (aka “Madonna Ciccone”) side of the metaphorical mountain both professionally and personally. Yet, I’m once again feeling like turning off Facebook and the news. Yeah, all it took was a few months.

Social Contagion

[*grumbles something about correlation not implying causation and too much Pharell*]

Our electronic media have gotten too good at creating a single instantaneous worldwide Hive Mind… and the emerging collective psyche is highly susceptible to infection… or hijacking. Loud voices of blame and punishment shout down the softer words of praise and encouragement, causing good people to waste their efforts on backwards-looking concerns.

As a single human being — a mere synapse among 7 billion others —  I want to protect my mental and emotional bandwidth and focus on more productive pursuits.

That said, I don’t want to check myself into a permanent Laughter Yoga retreat either. I still want to learn. I still want to be challenged. My friends post fascinating, inspiring and thought-provoking stuff on Facebook… from time to time. Once in a while (though more rarely), an interesting article will even show up in my news reader.

There’s an incentive for me to venture out into the din of negativity so that I can hear some wise voices. But then, why should the price for enjoying a few fleeting notes of a beautiful melody be a barrage of angry screeches which cannot be un-heard?

(Social media plug-in idea: Rose-tinted-lens Social Media Reader, kind of like an ad-blocker for negativity.  Yeah, yeah, I know… deeply Orwellian and would just lead to even further degradation of public discourse due to selective listening. Also, sort of already exists thanks to the balkanization of media publishing. Even still… it could be one more tool in the growing set of social media coping mechanisms, e.g. Social Media Cleanses, Facebook Friend Purges, Digital Sabbaths, and so on.)


Selecting our connections

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

-Jim Rohn


That quote from Jim Rohn — which provides a neat summary of Social Constructionist theory — holds especially (and exponentially) true in a world characterized by large quantities of social media exposure. Like it or not, the newsfeed on your mobile device counts as one of those five people… and as it scrolls past your thumb that ‘person’ is dragging down your average. 

Last night I had a wonderful non-social media (aka, “real world” or “meatspace”) experience that I’d like to have more often:  Hanging out with people who inspire me and who make me want to become a better version of myself.

Specifically, last night I was at a dinner event honoring two of my friends who are outstanding role models and community volunteers. They are wise, potent and ambitious individuals who inspire others to be the same.

In other words, they are exceptional leaders.

I’d like to listen to the soundtrack of exceptional leaders, more often. Exceptional coaches, too.

In conclusion, to revise the Churchill quote:

If the music is starting to suck, turn the dial and keep dancing. 

(Just not always the same song.)


Sowing the Seeds of Potential

Yesterday morning, I woke up and wondered if I should cancel some side-project / networking meetings that I had set up for later in the day, because I already had so much to do… so much on my overflowing plate.  I really didn’t have the time to be starting any other pursuits, let alone be out there sowing the seeds of potential.

IMG_6215 - yin yang diagonal - medres

Then I read a headline about how UK scientists and the BBC put together a concept plan for sending humans on a return-trip to Mars.

That’s right, we haven’t quite figured out how we’re going to live on this planet, but anyway, let’s send some people to start digging up ice deposits on Mars so they can burn it as rocket fuel.

This is human nature… or rather, all of nature.

We survive and flourish by testing the waters constantly, by exploring new possibilities, by sowing the seeds of potential into the small moments of opportunity that present themselves, like the DANdelion™ Effect of a plant growing in cracks of a sidewalk.

Conditions will never be ideal… don’t let it stop you from growing anyway.

IMG_6217 - yin yang straight - medres

IMG_6220 - nature wins

How to Give (and Receive) Free Advice, Coaching and other Professional Services… But Should You??

Giving away products is a well-known method of marketing:  Companies are always giving away free samples for consumers to try:  food, drink, office supplies, pet supplies, deodorant sticks… usually in a small, consumable “trial size” format.  In a crowded marketplace that gets even more crowded with brand new Purple Cows every single day, the free sample is one of the most efficient ways for consumers to decide whether they like what a producer has to offer.

Knowledge is being given away too, in small “snackable” bits of insights and “how tos” in magazine articles, blog posts, podcast, seminars and so forth. Chris Anderson’s flawed-single-idea-manifesto-published-too-quickly-into-a-book which came out last year, Free, was devoted to this concept of “giving away the content to sell the service.”

It’s not about the gift as much as it is about the way the gift is given, and received.

But what about that?  What about giving away the service?   Unlike deodorant sticks and three-hundred-word essays, true professional services are a little harder to give away… especially professional development services such as consulting, training, coaching and advisory services such as tax and legal advice.

This (free, longish-but-still-snackable) post will explain why that’s the case, and give  some tips on how to overcome those difficulties — both for Givers (Professional Advisors, or “PA”s)  and Would-be Receivers (“WBR”s). After all, gracefully receiving a gift is sometimes harder than thoughtfully offering one.


  1. Why Would You Want to Give Away Your Professional Advisor (PA) Services?

  2. Five Types of Would-be Recipients (WBRs)

  3. Five Barriers to Gracefully Giving & Receiving Free PA Services (and how to overcome those barriers)

  4. Maybe This Is Not A Good Idea, After All?

Read the rest of this entry

Leveraging Social Networking During Your Job Search, by Gil Yehuda and Dan Spira

This morning, Gil Yehuda and I co-delivered a keynote/workshop entitled “Leveraging Social Networking During Your Job Search” to 100+ senior executives via Keystone Partners.  The caliber of the job seekers in the room was outstanding — a reminder of the incredible talent available on the market right now. There were also a number of people at the session who are currently employed — or as I like to call it, the state of being  “between job searches.” All of the attendees seemed interested in improving their use of social media tools — LinkedIn, Blogs, Facebook, Twitter — to position themselves for career advancement.

I’d like to share a few of the key messages from the session, and also reflect a bit on the design process.

Much of this material is based on a set of evolving conceptual models (and online-social-gadget-tinkering-best-practices) that Gil had previously developed. We developed the material a bit further together for this particular workshop, and knowing Gil, he will  probably continue to develop this stuff further in the days, weeks and months ahead… (the best is always yet to come!)   



We took these concepts and strategies, translated them into some very physical terms (we’re talking body physical!), and gave practical next steps for action:


In terms of outcomes for the attendees, Gil and I followed the ol’ Peter Rogen “change what they THINK-FEEL-DO”  approach for our objectives, namely:  


Did we accomplish our objectives?   Yes, yes, YES, and then some.  Overall, the participants showed an impressive willingness and ability to learn and apply what was being presented to them — and to help each other out too.  Sure, some folks called me and Gil out for our sometimes over-the-top, sometimes subliminal forms of motivation (hey, it’s called “accelerated learning” for a reason).  But really, it was all them.  Really.


Working with Keystone Partners and Gil Yehuda was a real pleasure — both of those organizations (yes, Gil, you’re an institution) are world class. I hope to do more things with both of them in the near future. 

Finally, a personal win:  Leveraging the strategies, tools and techniques learned while working at rogenSi, combined with some of Ray Wlodkowski’s insight, towards subject matter that most large companies wouldn’t pay to teach their employees. (“Teach you how to position yourself for a better job??  Get back to work, Smith!“)    Helping such a great group of people in their job search — this is one of those areas where the reward is truly in the work itself.  

Onwards and upwards!

Networking Quote du Jour

“Never worry about numbers.
Help one person at a time,
and always start with
the person nearest you.”
–  Mother Teresa    (attributed)

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