Six tips for getting “enough” out of tech events

As I prep for three tech conferences over six days in Austin, I close my eyes, take a deep breath, exhale and open my eyes. “Enough” seems to be hard to identify. In a world of abundance and ubiquitous tech, we constantly seek the optimal balance. I prepare my work and life, clearing out the non-essential to leave room for inspiration. Inspiration comes in the form of people, things and experiences. Each must have time, space and attention in order to fully appreciate their value. So here are a few thoughts on how to prioritize “enough” so that you bring your best self forward and come away with new ideas, friends and an action plan.

  • The human side is really quite simple, like my friend Ted Rubin says, “be good to people.” There will be many new faces and ideas mixed with the old. I thrive on connecting the dots between them all to make the experience all the more rich.
  • Schedule time to pause and reflect, either alone or with someone else. Walk and talks are an easy way to incorporate movement, connection and reflection.
  • Write down your main takeaway(s), tag with context and share (if it would be of value to others). My motto, “knowledge is power, sharing is powerful” definitely applies here.
  • Eliminate the digital distraction of unused apps on your phone. Make sure you know the passwords in case you want to load them back on later.
  • Manage your contacts. When you make a new contact make sure your record it, tag it and follow-up. Loads of apps can make this easy, but do it while you still have context. If you collect a card, write the event and something memorable about the interaction on the back so you can do it “later” (but while it is still fresh). Bring business cards, but also have a picture of yours on your phone to easily share.
  • Pack light. Mix & Match clothes and bring only the chargers you need. Don’t forget an extra battery!

My bag feels remarkably light. No extra papers, books or devices nor flyers or give-aways to leave a lasting impression will accompany me this time. I admit, as a global nomad, one learns the art of packing efficiently. That combined with the incentive of ever decreasing baggage allowance. Nevertheless, my bag seems considerably lighter than in years past when heading to Austin. With smart phone, tablet, watch and noise reduction headphones, I am set. A few mix and match outfits fit for the climate, walking shoes and I am good to go in a carry-on. My backpack is nearly empty, leaving space for a few select goodies to bring home with me.

Although this list is is compiled with conferences in mind, the practice of enough can be applied in many aspects of our lives. I hope you find this list helpful, and welcome your input, sharing and even invitation to walk & talk in Austin to discuss digital life balance.

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10 Great Gifts for Geek Girls 2016

Still looking for the perfect gift for your geek girl?  Well I have rounded up a 10 of my favorites, including links so you can order online in time for the holidays.  Enjoy!

1. LifePrint 

Okay so it may not be a wellbeing device, other than it will certainly give you a good serotonin kick from the feel good factor of watching pictures of friends and family come to life and sharing them too.  This cool little device is only available at Apple Stores (LifePrint website is sold out).  At a pretty decent price point ($129.95), don’t forget extra stickyback paper ($49.95 for 110 pack).

2. Docking/Charging Station

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Devices and their chargers can be both hard to keep track of and batteries loaded.  I love having a docking/charging station for them when I get home. (If you have kids, you might want two.) This keeps all devices at the ready for my next adventure, but more importantly keeps me present for my family.  There are many different styles, so rather than take my recommendation, look for one that matches.  I like this combo dock and charger to minimize cables.  Wearable tech is great, but most of them still need to be charged fairly regularly.  Until the battery life issue is fixed, at least you know will know where the chargers and devices are in the house. I recommend picking up a pack of short cables so that you can leave them connected at the ready (Lightning for Apple devices and MicroUSB for back up batteries, wearables and other non-Apple devices)

2. Ring.ly

 

A favorite from last year’s list as a newly launched product.  To Ring.ly, I say, “You’ve come a long way baby.”  They began with a beautiful smart ring and now have a smart bracelet.  More importantly, their notifications are now connected to many more apps, to fit a wide range of needs from rideshare, fitness, dating and more.  Keep that phone in your purse and the ugly black rubber fitness tracker at home.  Control your compulsive phone checking, so you don’t miss the here and now.

4. Cord Keeper

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Innovation can be simple to solve the problem of cable tangle.  If you have ever struggled with the tangled cables of your headphones you will love this beautiful leather solution.  Not to mention if you have any challenges with arthritis or poor circulation, they will simplify access to your cords and cables.  You can get them in time to stuff stockings in a five pack for $22.99

5. Stashbandz

stashbandzLast years bomb was the Purse-in-Boots that didn’t deliver (sorry I ever recommended them).  But this year I found a more universal solution.  To keep your smartphones at the ready, how about a garter or boot liner with a pocket instead.  Stashbandz Boot Cuff let’s you have a pocket in any boot. And for those times when you aren’t wearing boots, but rather a dress with no pockets, try the  Stashbandz Garter Purse.  I have been eyeing both for a while, and think it is time to go for both.  With the phone size increasing, most pockets don’t accommodate it anymore, even some purses don’t. Their unisex waist bands can be a great way to discretely carry phones for men, or even a medical device that needs to be worn.

6. Bellabeats Leaf

It is not so glamorous, but the reality is as women our reproductive health has a huge impact on our wellbeing. It should therefore be part of what we can track and understand.  Bellabeats has not only created a great wearable for women from puberty to menopause, but it is beautiful and something you would enjoy wearing even if it weren’t tracking.

7. Quell Wearable Pain Relief

Chronic pain a problem?  I saw this product before they launched and were still testing.  I have been waiting for it to finally come out, and here it is.  If you have chronic pain, this is an exciting innovative non-invasive approach to pain relief without drugs.

8. Muse: Brain sensing headband

I used these devices in my dissertation study on wearables and presence of mind.  People really loved the experience of learning to meditate in a simple way.  My kids even tried them before I distributed them. I noticed a marked change in their ability to focus and filter out distraction.  Perhaps it was a little competitive mindfulness in who get calm their brain and get more birds in the game.  Nevertheless, an interesting tool for those of us with busy brains.

9. Pwr+ Portable Laptop desk stand

portablelaptopdeskWhether moving ourselves from our seats to fight sitting disease or simply relieving tech-neck, changing the angle at which you work and look at your screen is important.  Many chronic pain issues are either caused by or exacerbated by looking at laptops at the wrong angle.  This one even works in bed if you are having a flair up and need to work from there (or want to watch a movie).

10. Gratitude Journal ~ the original! App

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I looked at paper journals, and there are several really nice ones.  You can choose those with prompts, inspiring quotes or blank.  Reality struck me that if I was to accomplish a practice of journaling my gratitude it had to be through an app.  If I have learned anything in this last year it is to find my happiness and health in gratitude.  So whatever medium works for you, use it.

Note: If your Geek Girl can wait, my personal favorite is the AppleWatch 2.  Unfortunately, they seem to be hard to come by in time for the holidays.

Have a wonderful holiday season. I hope you find many moments to be present with your loved ones and yourself.  Be kind and practice gratitude and giving, even if all you have to share a smile and laughter.   Enjoy!

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Balance is Not a Four Letter Word

LinkedIn-OutsideWorkTo my surprise and delight it seems the world is awakening to the value of balance.  Today’s #OutsideWork posts on LinkedIn shared by influencers resonate with well-being and balance’s impact on success.  I have been busy interviewing leaders for my upcoming book, BE-ing @Work.  The emphasis on well-being and balance is increasingly apparent in the stories they shared.  Far beyond the implication of physical health and productivity, lies the connection with self as well as with others to BE one’s best and thrive in that.  Balance seems to have overcome its outdated reputation for meaning flexible hours for working mothers. This shift has left me with a strong sense of hope in the future.  Practice and implementation may be a way off, but the conversation has evolved.  Let’s keep it evolving from preaching to implementation and practice.

Note: Slots still available for interviews on BE-ing @Work throughout February.  If  interested in sharing your story about interventions or actions you use to bring your best self to work and bring out the best in others, please contact me.  Highly productive individuals who suffer from chronic syndromes or illness.  (i.e. Depression, Lyme, MS, …) are of particular interest, but not required.

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Perspective without Connection

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Not so easy at it looks

Feeling the weary road warrior (and I know I am far from the worst), I try to seek perspective from that which I experience. In the last couple of months it has been everything from Silicon Valley and the network of industry specialists in social commerce to Kosovo and discussions on social enterprises and change agents to family gatherings in New England, to workshops for leaders in US cable, to local (Malmö, Sweden) discussions on entrepreneurship and social leadership to Abu Dhabi to discover opportunities for knowledge sharing and advising on how social strategy can be used.  My head is spinning, my heart is full and my body is worn out from flying cheap seats and changing time zones.  But the real result is that I feel more inspired to continue my work and the importance on teaching social strategy. Read More

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What is “Social” and why do I care?

Driven by the belief that knowledge is power and sharing is powerful, I dedicate my work to creating better understanding of the social tools that enable sharing of knowledge both in organizations and their stakeholders. The global benefit will be a greater use of knowledge resources to stimulate development and more effective and sustainable growth. Social begins with people.

The tools available today from new media to global networks and their events provide us with the ability to have far greater reach and impact with our social interactions. Handled wisely with strategic forethought, each one of us has the power to be a change-maker. With the right social strategy each organization has the power to make the world a better place, while improving their bottom line.

Social tools are not limited to new media or social media. They are the social interactions we have face to face that we support through online interactions. They are the communities we choose to support and participate it. They are the relationships that we develop and nurture over time that define us and the people that we interact with. They are the opportunities to interact with like minded people. When we understand how to use them more wisely.

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The Art of Social Strategy keynote video

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The Art of Social Optimization

Bringing all the elements of social together to consider the benefit and impact on organizations and their influence has become an increasingly important. To speak about being “a people oriented organization” social must be taken into account. My recent workshops in Egypt and Ethiopia followed by strategy sessions with a global company and executive trainings for business leaders have all had a common thread. In revising my presentation for the Ethiopia (note, 0.4% Internet penetration) to provide context, I removed the social media tools themselves(that all clients seem to want to jump ahead to). Doing this, the opportunities and the pitfalls of social became more distinct. I have returned to my “social optimization” theory that requires developing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships for growth and sustainability in a social economy. This mean you have to look at how and why you interact with your human capital first BEFORE you apply to on-line tools. It is the cultivation part that is so critical and often overlooked.

The above presentation, of course, had much discussion that lead in different paths depending on the context for the audience. The workshops in Ethiopia and Egypt were more focused on growing businesses to compete in the global marketplace, and emphasized Networking and Communications. We spent a lot of time bringing clarity to their stories and finding context for growth. The corporate and executive presentation and workshops were held in northern Europe, and had more of a business strategy and Corporate Social Responsibility emphasis. Engagement and finding ways to be more effective were the focus of conversation.

A note regarding the video, as it may not have as much context without the accompanying dialog. Aired in 2002, its re-emergence explains the power of word of mouth and sharing things in social tools beyond their original intended use. I use it often in presentations because it touches beautifully on the feeling of discovering context and connecting to something greater than ourselves by listening.

On a personal note, I have to say that I am thoroughly inspired by the people and the opportunities that working in social strategy has presented. I work with interesting and companies and executives that recognize the need to prepare their organizations for the social economy in order to sustain their company’s and their markets’ futures. I devote part of my work to creating change through knowledge sharing in the networks where I feel it will have the greatest impact. In this part,I am both supporting economic growth through women entrepreneurs, especially in developing markets, as well as teaching for the academic and non-profit arena where there social tools can have immense impact on change and the next generation. I look forward to connecting to more people that are working in this cross-over area. For me, that is social optimization, as I get to learn, to teach, to be inspired, and hopefully to inspire some along the way.

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Cultivating Social Business Success

Cultivating social business success requires renovating your communications to find value in your human and social capital. 2BalanceU’s methodology of cultivating a landscape for maximum added value of social communications tools (dialog not broadcast based) implementation. Achieve balance between listening and broadcasting for success in the new marketplace.

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2BalanceU.com News

One of the beautiful things about being an entrepreneur is the opportunity to learn and make mistakes and learn more. After trying for three years to make 2BalanceU the portal for sharing resource recommendations around the globe, I realised we were going about it all wrong. The last thing we needed to do was to create yet another destination that fills our time, distracts us and requires us to learn how it works before we get anything out of it. The vision was right, empowering through simplified global knowledge sharing. But the approach was wrong.

What will emerge from the next version will amaze you with its simplicity and delight you. It will free you up by requiring less time and effort getting to what’s relevant from the sources you already draw from and others that provide information important to you. You will be more effective through greater accuracy in sending out what we wish to share to your intended audience. We have things pulling us in so many different directions, because we are multidimensional individuals. The knowledge sharing tool will come out this Fall. This new tool will be build as a cooperative effort between 2BalanceU and Off The Red with the input of several Advisory Members to ensure we have a sound business model for sustainability. The new site will have a new name (we are still working on that part) and logo, so keep posted and I will let you know when we have it.

2BalanceU remains as a consultancy that provides the vision, the network and input to the executive team. This enables me to continue my passionate work and study of how technology has enabled the evolution of the women’s sacred circle to the modern professional women’s network. I need to find someone to fund my PhD work, as it cannot be done by the former 2BalanceU as planned. (Ideas welcome…) I will also continue speaking at global conferences on social media and network optimisation as well as empowering women in leadership through knowledge sharing. I find this work inspiring and very fulfilling as a great way to really understand the different needs and tools around the world used for knowledge sharing. I will also continue to consult on Internet strategy, particularly on how to engage consumers in dialog.

So thank you for your notes asking, when will 2BalanceU be “live” again. I am so glad to see there is interest and I appreciate your support. I am sure you will be happy with what is coming soon.

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Warm Holiday Wishes

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season full of joy and peace. I look forward to 2009 and the experience the power in knowledge sharing. This economic “crisis” is an opportunity for us all to focus on our missions, evaluate our priorities, reconnect to our networks and find new ones only to come out stronger in the end.

I would like to thank all of you for your support during 2008. Thanks to you, your participation and feedback we are getting closer to accomplishing our vision:
To empower women through knowledge sharing to be change agents for themselves, their businesses and their communities.

I personally would like to thank you for your continued encouragement and validation for the need of pursuing our mission. We recognise that the site was not clear enough in the approach to sharing and how to fullfill the intended vision. We therefore are doing a complete redesign which will be available Spring 2009. We appreciate your patience.

note: The current site will remain active, and all data will be merged, so please do not hesitate to continue sharing on 2BalanceU.com. 2BalanceU will be relaunched as 2BU.

Your thoughts and opinions matter to us greatly. Please do not hesitate to contact us at info@2balanceu.com should you have any questions or feedback.

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