There comes a point in your career, when you have a few “aha” moments both professionally and personally – and when those moments collide – you know that change is needed. This happened to me recently. I found myself working many, hours, overwhelmed with busy work of just trying to keep up on email, plus endless conference calls trying to come to some decision on an idea vs. making myself more customer facing and collaborative and executing on all the ideas (communications) sitting in my inbox. As the end of a very long day rolled around, I found myself apologizing to the family as I slid into the dinner chair that I was sorry for being late to the table, but a conference call ran late and I had to get one follow up email out. I credit my oldest daughter, Nicole, for my career-blazing “aha” moment. “Mom, we don’t use email anymore; you need to get with the times.” While I raised my eyebrows, I also thought, what a great world this would be without email — well maybe just 50% less email would free me from my desk. Nicole then proceeded to debate me on the concept of why email still exists when there are so many social channels to connect and communicate with people faster, to share ideas, and be more innovative and open. She was right. I needed to personally embrace social. It would mean learning new technology and changing my evil email ways of cc’ing the world, but it could also be so liberating.
So I set my goal for H2 2013 – it’s time to make a move and learn new technology.
Committing to change
As I just celebrated my “50 and Fabulous” b-day, and after being with a solid organization for over 7 years, why was I even thinking about looking for a new job? It was because I had an aha moment - I was stuck in email hell and personally and religiously not using all this new technology that I was reading about, asking agencies to design for me and watching my children use so easily on their mobile devices. I needed to get my personal Social act together and step into the collaborative wave of communications and innovation. So instead of gradually easing myself into some training, I sought after a position where I would be forced into using it. Net, here I am at NewsGator - 4 weeks in and loving every minute of it.
Making it real
Day one: I flew into Denver, sat down at my computer and launched some site called “Hal” and was told to join a community, well join a few communities. I’m thinking – what is a community and what are these tile things? Post with @ and #?! OMG, where are my daughters when I need them to explain all of this to me?! I took a breath and just started the 10 minute training tour of the site. I was fascinated by all of it. I built out my custom toolbar in about 10 minutes. Then started reading immediately about what was going on in the company, as well as with our customers. It was an instant start-up training lesson, all on my screen – amazing! Then I put out my first question for help using the @ sign and immediately I got a response. Then I got a few more responses, then people within the organization “liked” the question and/or liked some of the responses. This was good, this was really good. My first archaic thought – wow, I didn’t have to try to find all these smart people, they found me with a simple @ sign. I also didn’t have to sort through multiple emails and try to file all those comments in some inbox. The informative answers and comments were right there – easily searchable, but right there.
It's okay to laugh - even at yourself!
Then embarrassment set in. I have carried with me throughout my career this start up plan template. It is a really tactical plan, but it had always helped me to get the lay of the land of any organization. First thing on it is to build out distribution lists for communications and then seek out the sales teams and find out if they prefer a weekly or biweekly communication of all the upcoming marketing activities. I just laughed and thought how stupid I must have looked when I showed my 60 day plan to my now new boss during the interview. Distribution lists – OLD! Now we have communities and we are dynamic. We speak real-time and hear back real-time...in the community that wants to hear what we have to say. No more spamming! Amazing! In a matter of one day, my old ways of working went away.
The second item on my list: get training and set up meetings with individuals over the course of the next 5 weeks to get trained. Well, some of that will still be true, but just having the ability to join various communities and read the communication threads put me on the fast track of getting up to speed.
A few more items down my tactical list: vet ideas to gain support. Well that’s easy. I just have to post them and again, I receive immediate thumbs up or thumbs down.
I know this might sound TOO easy, but the ability to just be openly communicative in an organization is liberating! I don’t worry about who I put in the “To” field on an email anymore; if someone wants to hear what I have to say – they will follow me. Or alternatively, if I need to speak to a group of people, I can target a community. The fact that my CEO sends his posts to the entire company for feedback and actually reads the feedback and comments on them himself – while it could be scary at times – is just amazing!
Continuing to learn, explore, and evolve
Sometimes I still revert to my old ways, a bit nervous about putting my ideas or answers to questions out there. Yes, I sneak in emails. However, I’m getting into the mix of it and I like the real-time communication channels; it’s much more productive. Most of all, I enjoy the innovation – the sharing of ideas and suggestions. The ability to be collaborative in real-time has provided me with a wealth of knowledge that potentially could have taken me well over six months to obtain using my old-fashioned methods.
So my “aha” moment and moving over to the new gig at NewsGator has been absolutely the best thing for my second half of my life! I still have a lot to learn and continue to explore, but expect that I will learn it all on the social fast track. Social, the creative and disruptive technology for business.