I’m back, well almost.

It’s about balance. From the outside, I am often perceived to have mastered it, balance, that is. When inside, like most, I am challenged to my core. I did not pay attention to that which I preach, balance. As you might have already guessed, this is a reflection posting, but one that I thought worthy of sharing. I hope you will agree and find that it gives you reason to reflect and act upon your own balance.

You may have noticed (or not) that I have not posted much as of late. I have been following the sage wisdom of my elders. My mother raised me well enough to practice, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all.” Of course, I also believe too much “nice” sometimes has the same effect. My father said, “nobody listens once you start shouting.” I have been pretty good at keeping my cool despite it all. But recently I have discovered that the ocean doesn’t mind my occasional outburst (and it feels pretty good). Before you get worried (or not), know that I am indeed alive and doing well.

After seven years in Sweden, my health suffered from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and I needed a serious change. I mean this in every sense of the word, health (emotional, physical, intellectual…). I had forgotten how to smile, and was in need of a serious belly laugh. Being in my mid-40s (yes, a bit of mid-life stuff too), I knew something drastic had to happen.  It needed to begin with the physical “vessel” so that I could proceed with the rest. So, here I am, moved the family to California (kids here, my husband’s coming eventually).

First order of business, sunshine to increase the dangerously depleted vitamin D levels. Second, get active both inside and out. Third get social, meet new people and reconnect with my existing network. The first month was full of the usual logistics and details of an international move with two kids. Registered the kids for school and activities they would love. I signed up for Pure Barre to literally kick my bottom into shape. I brought music back to my life, both guitar and downloading some great playlists on Spotify.  I bought a used convertible to maximise sunshine and smiles while getting it all done.

All my meetings have been either on a hike or walk (no more lunches or fika – unless earned). I have reconnected with some wonderful friends and contacts and made new ones. The depth of conversation is remarkable when one has room for comfortable contemplation, silence. Walking side by side as you aim to a vista point provides just that. The shared memories that are created ensure a bond that cannot be matched by a hurried lunch and certainly not by meeting in a sterile office.

I am feeling amazingly sane and happy for the first time in years.  I am able to tackle whatever life dishes out.  This already tested by challenges to learn the emergency systems (separate ER visits for kid, dog and car all in one week).  So, yes, now it is time to get back to work.  It will not be full throttle at first, as part of my effort to maintain balance seeking the right amount.  But I am happy to say that yes, I am back.  My doctoral research is making great progress and I have a few projects in the wings.  You will be hearing from me again soon and there is some great stuff brewing.

You might ask what does this have to do with leadership in the new social paradigm or global social strategy.  Everything! Part of leadership and social strategy is authenticity and taking care of yourself so that you can lead, connect and share.

I hope you find this helpful in seeking your own balance.  Moving to California is neither the answer nor an option for most.  My point is to take action to achieve balance when it is completely lost.  Take care of the core so you can take care of the rest.  I expect great things from you all.  Perhaps on our next hike.

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Social and Visual Leadership

The paradigm has shifted, and the learning curve is steep. Some will rise and some will fall. Social media marketing is only a small piece of the picture. Understanding that social is people, and people are not just our customers is a start to the journey.

Organizations are made up of people in many different roles. Their jobs require people both internally in the organization and externally in partners, product & service providers, new hires, investors, and so on. Relationships are what count whether business to business or business to consumer, it comes down to people.

Each person has a story that contains knowledge, experience, passions, interests, skills, and people.  Each individual is a unique part of the whole organizations and defines its collective story.  It is this story we share and grow in social technologies.  Leadership must take active part in the story for an organization to succeed in this new paradigm.

Social Optimization, the building and maintaining of MUTUALLY beneficial and effective relationships, is a key behavioral shift when mastering the Art of Social Strategy.  This does not come simply from balancing the gives and takes by counting interactions.  The behavior change must be a result of recognizing the value of all relationships as part of the whole.  It comes from understanding who we are (as individuals and organizations), what we have to offer and what/who we need and how to reach it/them.

Social technologies are tools that help us optimize this change in behavior when we learn how to best apply them.  They simplify our processes for supporting our networks and communities, receiving that support in return.  Sharing knowledge globally through different sensory stimulus has never been easier. It has evolved beyond text.  It is visual, interactive, musical and memorable. Language and time are no longer limitations for creating a global community of advocates.

Understanding who we are and who is part of our story is the first step of the journey.  How you apply social optimization is what will determine your success over the long haul.

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You and Your Avatar

After two very real face to face events in the last month with completely contrasting groups, I am struck by the challenges and the opportunities they present.  My peers come from a highly technical world .  My clients and students come from two communities that are vastly different in their technical capacity and access to technology (for economic, education, cultural and infrastructure reasons). In one they are traditional senior leadership who are resistant to change.  In the other they are eager, often young, entrepreneurs and business students from both developing and developed markets.


  I am always seeking tools to bridge their issues. My last post, in which I experimented with a tool that creates avatar based movies from text script, got some very interesting responses.  Some liked the simplicity, others bored by seeing the same tool used for games thought it less helpful, and then there was the human factor.  That is what struck me the most.  Here I am trying to bring out the human element, the people behind the machines and the tools, and I was just as guilty of creating a tool that replaces the human factor with avatars.  Shame on me.  


So I will say, thank you again for the great commentary received both online and off.  It was fun playing with the text to video tool.  I agree it is not the best to complement the message.  As to the avatars, well I have never been very fond of them.  I prefer the real faces and bodies: blemishes, wrinkles, bulges and all.   I am sure I will experiment with more and I will make more mistakes, but I hope you will call me on them and continue to be real.  That is what it is all about.  If you have suggestions of tools that I should try, please do share.  I am experimenting with many others that are used more for my classroom and clients.  But I am happy to learn of new ones that make knowledge sharing and teaching more interactive.


Here are some fun pictures of the REAL people in the last month that inspire me:


Women for Sustainable Growth


South by SouthWest

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Authentic Leaders are the Future


I stumbled across this video as I was doing some research for our upcoming BOOST (Bolder Organizations Optimize Social Tools) program. BOOST is developed to train leaders in authentic leadership for the new social paradigm. Buzz words aside, we are talking about awareness, acceptance, passion, translated with clarity in a communicable format that works within the confines of social tools and is presented by the leader themselves. This short piece produced by Harvard in August is a beautiful validation of the efforts we are making. Listening to Charlene Li talk of Open Leadership again provided further affirmation of the need. Read More

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Women in Business

Once again I must thank Avivah Wittenburg-Cox for her eloquent way of expressing the communication gap and the impact on women in business. We repeatedly see the signs of ambition and strength in women as leaders. But still there is a great disparity between those who attain the titled leadership role. I would go so far as to make bold conjecture the perhaps many women who lead are not title bearers.

In recent months, I have seen an increasing number of examples of what I would refer to as a shadow leader. The most traditional of these models might be the trailing spouse. She has an immense amount of wisdom, support, talent and ability that she does not outwardly display but us expressed through her partner. I have heard repeatedly that it is not worth giving up their authentic self for the simple action of holding a title. That is not to say that some of us don’t enjoy the challenge. I say, whatever finds you the greatest satisfaction you should strive for. I am simply saying that lead in a way that allows you to be your personal best. Whether a shadow leader or a leader on the stage, we should support and appreciate the act of authentic leadership.

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Authenticity and Passion

What a relief it is to be authentic. Simply watching those who try to be something they are not is tiring. I am me, with all my faults, my quirks. Being real, having faults, is an asset, quite frankly. For if I have faults, I have room to grow, more to learn, it keeps me open and alive. Understanding my own imperfection enables me to be more accepting of others. If a first impression was poor, it makes me curious, rather than turns me away. Did I judge too soon, or was I misunderstood? Regardless of the conclusion, I find it a learning experience.

In building partnerships, I have discovered a new strength driven by my passion for building bridges. Truly believing that what we are building is a tool that is beneficial for all networks as a way to grow, build their community and their audience, raise their voice, and find alliances. I am driven. I can stumble because I am real. I stand to take the next step with caution at first to avoid the same fall. But my passion allows me the strength to stand tall even when rising. Not with pride of self, but confidence in doing the right thing.

That is not to say that it is easy, but it sure is gratifying.

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