Posted in SocialMedia

Twitter Hashtag Chat Group Index

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Hello again everyone!

This will be a short post to expound upon my tweets about my latest effort to support my Twitter cohorts.

A couple of days ago, I was tweeting about stumbling across #TChat (Talent Chat) on Twitter and how awesome it was to find another chat group.  One person I follow, Dean Clevett (aka @DinoDinosaur1)  from Ontario, Canada, posted this in response:

@justasked Wouldn’t it be great if someone came up with a directory of #chat

So, I racked my brain for an easy-to-use, widely accessible location.  My initial choice was Wikipedia.  Within seconds after posting my new page, there was a notice posted to my account and on the page from the gardeners of Wikipedia to delete the page.  Their comment was that with Twitter, an unlimited number of hashtags were possible, and that they would let the Library of Congress handle this “listing” since they archive all tweets now anyway.   My rebuttal stated that I didn’t want to catalog EVERY hashtag on Twitter, just those used for Chat or Focus groups.

To make a long story short, before I knew it I had violated several “rules” Wikipedia has for management of their pages.  Finally, one individual called me a newbie and suggested that I take my content to Wikia!  Alas, a solution that doesn’t have SO many rules!  And thus, I present you with our new “Twitter Hashtag Chat Group Index.”

It’s easy to add your own Chat Group or Community of Interest Hashtag to this Wiki page!  Your only requirement is to create an account, be patient with yourself, and experiment!  If it seems a bit too daunting for you, feel free to email me with your hashtag, a brief description of the purpose of your group chat, and what day/time of the week you convene your chats.  If your group also maintains a Fan Page on Facebook pass me your link and I’ll add it as well.  I’m happy to help!

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Posted in Relationships

Married and Wondering “Do You Love Me?”

Anillos de Matrimonio, Aros de Matrimonio
Image via Wikipedia

The point of this post is to unravel the mystery of how time and circumstance impact your relationship with that person you agreed to spend the rest of your life with.  There are bound to be variances of this tale (some more positive, some more negative) depending upon the support systems and quality of commitment to the communication aspect of the marriage.

My wife and I have celebrated 19 years of marriage on June 20th.  We’ve had three children and moved across the country five times to find a new home and start again–the military is a great way to broaden your horizons ya know!  Our twin daughters came after 3 years of marriage, four years later, our son was born.  My wife and I are very cerebral people–always thinking, contemplating, strategizing–we enjoyed the spontaneity of our pre-child years.  It hasn’t always been the romantic image of wedded bliss one dreams of during the engagement.

Having children begins the truest test of your marriage relationship.  Its easy to have a discussion or debate about differences between two people when there are no distractions or competing deadlines/priorities.   This discussion/discovery phase is natural and necessary to blend two lives together.  But, all of that gets put on hold once children enter the picture.  The real challenge is continuing that blending process with two people who have at least eighteen years of baggage (different backgrounds) while discovering how to share the parenting responsibilities.

No matter how prepared you think you are, or how many discussions you have with your wife prior to the arrival of your children, you will not explore every possible parenting scenario.  The result is unmet expectations and some Children Change Your Lifedisappointments.  This is true for both husband and wife, but especially true for the male in the equation.  Maternal instincts are very real and hormone changes in a woman post-delivery helps them to be very protective and confident about what needs to and must be done.  As a man, you may feel like you’ve taken the back seat and your once “I have all the time in the world for you” sweetheart has been replaced with M. O. M.  and you may be struggling with feelings of abandonment or maybe a sense of having lost your purpose/mojo.  Now there are exceptions and variations to the dynamics I’m telling you about from couple to couple.  No two marriages are the same.

So….fast forward to the point your eldest children are in middle school or high school.  If you take stock/inventory of your relationship and are honest, you’re probably not as happy as you could be or thought you would be when you said “I do” all those years ago.  Some days, life is like “Ground Hog Day” or “Oatmeal…again?” (those references are related to how you view your emotional status from day to day) Some days its hard to feel like life is about anything other than work!  Other days, you’re surprised with amazement at how great or proud you feel.

My wife explained it best using an analogy.  If you’ve ever visited the deserts of Nevada, you’ll see a lot of interesting shaped rocks and boulders.  They didn’t obtain those shapes and textures overnight.  It took years of sandblasting winds and rushing torrents of water to sculpt these beautiful creations.  So, when she says “I look in the mirror and don’t even recognize the person I am!” she’s right–she isn’t the same person!  Time, situations/environments, events, gains and loses have changed the person she was.  The same has also happened to you.

I was reminded during our conversation about the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” and the song Tevye and Golde sang to each other “Do You Love Me?’  Here’s an excerpt…

“(Golde)
Do I love you?
For twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked the cow
After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?”

“Copied from lyricsondmand.com”

In addition to time and circumstance she has truly become someone else.  A code developer who loses his job and gains employment as a cab or delivery driver after a couple of years will notice diminished capacity at developing code for applications.  You know the expression, if you don’t use it, you lose it!  Same transformation holds true for people on a personal/relationship level.   After so many years, she becomes a logistics, navigator and event planner expert.  Her conscious day to day skills are honed around being the person who schedules the babysitter, and juggles the events schedule for figuring out how much time between grocery shopping and getting the oldest child to the soccer field.

Life is often more challenging for women than it is for men because they have to cope with our lack of interpersonal skills.  We generally aren’t taught or encouraged to communicate on all levels well enough to share the workload of house and family in a way that a woman would consider equal.  We’re not taught how to BE a person of encouragement and support–considerate, gentle, thoughtful–enough to slow down and think of someone beyond ourselves.  Another way its challenging for them is there are many families where both parents work…so stop and think a minute about how many hats she’s wearing!  It’s sometimes hard for a woman to “feel” anything other than tired.

Too often we men think in the “ME” context.  Now, being objective about myself, I do a lot more than most husbands today–laundry, cooking, schoolwork grading, cleaning, full-time job outside of the home, dates with the kids.  But I haven’t always been where I am today.  I went through too many years where the job was #1…and my marriage suffered for it.  So, I guess I’m spilling my life story to you all (especially the men!)  to spare you some grief.  Talk to your wife–on second thought, don’t…LISTEN to your wife.  Hear what she has to say (often she just needs to vent) and ask if there’s anything you can do to help.  Most importantly, in whatever way you can be supportive, be CONSISTENT!  Find ways to SHOW you appreciate her. Share the household schedule/chores to allow her a chance for a break without interruptions or demands.

I close this post with something for you to think about:  “LOVE IS A VERB!”  Words mean nothing without action. Do your best to exercise your communication muscles daily–don’t give up and don’t lose hope!  Kahlil Gibran said, “Let there be space in your togetherness”  Don’t forget to allow yourself to be vulnerable to other people outside of your marriage who you feel safe with.  Sometimes you too need to vent.  Another person’s perspective on your situation can sometimes slap you out of your own pity party and put your mind on a better path!

Peace–let me know your thoughts, and if you’re further down the road (years of marriage) than me, and can offer another perspective–please share.  I would love to be prepared for the next 10 years of marriage.

Posted in Uncategorized

Patience Timing and Snowmen

Waldschneemann
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According to Simon Sinek in his book (and in talks about his book) “Start With Why” he explains that our great ideas come to us while in the shower because we aren’t consciously/purposely thinking to solve anything–these great ideas just emerge out of our limbic (primitive brain) system.

So, that’s where this blog post came from–the shower!

I heard the forecast for snow last night and my wife and I were talking about what it takes to achieve goals.  One foot in front of the other, persistent/consistency, focus…and eventually you’re there!  Sounds easy enough.  As the jets of water pounded my shaved head this morning and the suds raced down my legs, the image of snow flakes slowly falling slapped into my visual mind socket.  A question whispered into my thought stream  “How can you possibly build a snowman with so little snow on the ground?”  Of course, when my neocortex has a question lobbed at it, I immediately go into “accessing” mode.  The image of the slowly falling snow quickly shifted into a fast-forward display of thousands of snowflakes each falling one-by-one until the ground was blanketed in a thick sparkling comforter.

Instantly the perfect parable framed itself nicely for some nature confirmed principles that apply to any entrepreneur or person with a dream or five year plan for that matter.

Patience: If the snowflakes did not continue to fall at a persistent and steady pace, the ground would never be covered.  Likewise, whatever your plan, if your actions don’t consistently add to or drive you towards your goals, you’ll lose momentum and possibly lose site of your goals.  Don’t allow your excitement to cause you to move too quickly or you will overlook some critical steps necessary to ensure sustained success.

Timing: As soon as it starts snowing, you cannot make a snowman because there isn’t enough snow on the ground to form a snowball.  If the beginning flakes don’t have enough moisture, the flakes will not stick together and no ball will form.  Just because you have the germ of an idea and believe it worth investing the time and energy doesn’t mean the conditions are right to set your plan into motion.  All factors must be considered when looking at the future–both the things you have some measure of control over, and those situations/conditions which you have no control over.

Snowmen: Maybe you want to build a snow woman?  Do you want two large snowballs or three?  Are you going to dress it up with a snowman kit, or are you going to find items ready for the thrift store to decorate your new Winter mascot?  Do you want it in the front yard or the back?  Perhaps you want to put food color in a squirt bottle filled with water to add some color to your new albino friend?  Similarly, from a planning perspective for business purposes, what is your objective?  Staging, launching, marketing, advertising….prerequisites abound and a great plan is backed up with thorough research.

As Winston Churchill stated during World War II, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”  I cannot stress enough the importance of:

  • Market (demand~need) Research
  • Local/national/international Competition in the particular field
  • What Makes Your Idea Unique (specialty~niche)
  • Licensing/Certification/Trademark/Patents/Copyright Requirements
  • Business Model (Service or Product Delivery Methods)
  • Sustainability (Funding, Profits, Reinvestment)
  • How Will you Handle Success (Recruit & hire more staff, expand?)

I’ll close this posting with a final thought towards the work/life balance.  If you are embarking on a new venture, how will you manage the commitments you’ve already made?  This final question is really important if you are engaged to be married, married or presently committed to another full-time job.  A word of caution to men especially, we tend to excitedly jump into our dreams with both feet–having fallen in love with the idea only to end up regretting the reality.   You can minimize the regret factor if you follow this advice.  I share this perspective from the school of hard knocks so….let the snow fall, keep an eye out for opportune conditions, and when you and your plans are ready, build that snowman!

Would love to hear your opinions, comments, stories of success or failure.

Posted in Uncategorized

Are YOU the Office Automation? (MS Outlook Calendar Drama!)

A Polycom Soundstation. Users can use it to bo...
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(This post is to help frustrated users figure out a way to know what conference rooms best support their conferencing requirements!)

Don’t you just hate it when you want to reserve a conference room in your building, or within your organization across campus but you’re not sure about the details of the room?  Earlier this week, I simply wanted to know the number to the Polycom phone sitting on the conference table.  One of my attendees was going to have to call in and I wanted to put the phone number in the invitation.  I called the staff member’s telephone number who literally sits 12 feet away from the conference room.  The usual person was not answering the phones during this time and didn’t know the number, know where to find the number, and of course–the room was occupied so there was no way to get the number.  With a flash of insight I figured….I can find out that information for myself!

I’ll just right-click on the calendar in Outlook and view the properties….Right? Somebody should have populated that information when the conference room calendar account was created.  Wrong!  The only data in the comments field on the properties tab was a person’s name and phone number.  SSssssiiiigghhhhhhh!!!!

Whoever you are, wherever you work, make the equipment/software automate your work for you, instead of you working FOR the automation.  Part of Conference Room account creation in MS Outlook should include a standard checklist for the requester to fill out before the account can be created.

The following is a list of recommended data points to include in your Conference Room Exchange Account creation checklist to make sure the information is available to you and other customers:

  • Total occupancy of the conference room (seating at the table, seating around the room)
  • What type of visual display is installed (Projector & Drop Down Screen or Plasma/LCD Screens)
  • Laser Pointer
  • Podium or Technographer’s (place for admin person to push slides or type notes) Table
  • Computing Capability (Laptop, PC, Tablet ~ thin/thick client )
  • How many networks are available in the room
  • Smartboard
  • Whiteboards
  • Printer (black & white or color)
  • Fax Machine (include fax number)
  • Polycom Telephone for Conference Calls (include phone number)
    Number of power outlets available around the room
  • Is the room equipped with Conferencing Equipment (VTC, PC-based VTC, Microphones, Speakers)

By populating the comments field with recommended data points like those listed above, it really puts the “auto” magic back into automation and saves you time!  Just don’t forget to update the information to let information consumers know if there are additions/deletions/maintenance or repairs being made on the equipment or the room.

If you find this information useful, or if your company already uses this process to advertise what resources are available, please share!  Efficiency saves us all time and money.  Your lessons learned might help others be better prepared.

If you find this or my other posts valuable, you can subscribe to my blog and follow me on Twitter @justasked

Posted in SocialMedia, Writing

Things I do for Inspiration

Good Morning All,

I don’t have a newsy research paper to share or some crafty idea to write about this morning.  But in an effort to hold true to my own commitment to blog MUCH more than I did last year I’ll write down a few thoughts about how the week is going.

Today is a great day because it’s Friday!  Beyond that, so far the best part of my week has been having the opportunity at work to hear author Simon Sinek (follow him on Twitter @simonsinek come and talk about his philosophies captured in his book “Start With Why!”  Fascinating concepts about how the primitive/older part of our brain is where decisions (gut feelings) are made.  The newer part of our brains, the neocortex, is where we give life to those feelings through the gift of language.  I personally believe that those that are best articulating feeling have some special connection between these two parts of the brain or perhaps it is a muscle that gets stronger with exercise–i.e. my passion for writing.  Anyway, if you haven’t read the book, or have seen it and passed it by–you might want to give it a read.  You’ll learn a lot about yourself that might surprise you.  Here’s a link to the book for sale at Amazon Paperback starts at $8.16, hardcover from $13.98

Anyway, back to my thesis–things I do for inspiration.  Depending upon my perspective and what it is I want or need to do, look at the following

Want/Need: Inspiration Activity

Write/Journal: Read or listen to music
Clean/do laundry: Listen to music or think about some project I want to start
Creative Time w/kids: Read about parenting, watch a short “HowTo” clip on YouTube
Go to Work: Take a shower/review my calendar printed from previous day
Do Admin Project: Sharpen Pencils, Get out stack of blank paper, organize my research data

Anyway, you get the idea.  I try to align my motivational/inspiration activity prior to engaging in the chore with something that is either aligned with my focus/purpose–or, something that completely takes my mind off the task entirely.  If creativity is where my passion lies–I’m one of those strange people who really get inspired/enthused by the smell of freshly sharpened pencils or a bag filled with new office supplies (I know, sounds a little strange).  Seriously you should try just walking through the isles at Michaels or Hobby Lobby, Office Depot or Office Max…tell me you don’t get a hankering to sit down and start writing!

As an extrovert, I really prefer group activities and find it more fun to do inspirational rallying with others.  When it comes to writing, I really enjoy getting up before everyone in the house–browsing Twitter, my favorite news sites, or reviewing my blog subscriptions to feel like I’m connecting with all the other bloggers out there who write knowing that there may be one, 50, or none who read my ramblings.

So, in parting, before I motivate myself off of this couch to head into work, let me just share that I am grateful to have been able to wake up and under my own power (mobility) get up out of bed and have the freedom to translate to you through my neocortex, the passion that flows from my limbic (primitive brain) system.

Good day everyone and thanks for reading!  Tell me, how do you inspire or motivate yourself?

Cheers,
Ed (follow me on Twitter @justasked)

Posted in Relationships

From Passion to Parent – We Men Can do Better

Gentlemen,

I’m writing because there’s something that must be said.  I speak from personal experience, both as an observer from childhood and as a husband/father.  We can do better!  Just ask your mother or your wife!  On the average, regardless of origin, age or class, women bear the brunt in the familial relationship.

I know there are exceptions and some men are great examples of how to be a true teammate in the marriage relationship.  Most women however could, can or have thought the following:

How is it that even though we both work, I still end up doing most of the:

Grocery shopping/menu planning
Cooking/cleaning
Arranging for babysitters
Picking up the kids from school when one gets sick in middle of the day
Staying up with sick kids in the night
Handling the more emotionally sensitive discussions

Now I realize that some of you may bristle at reading this post.  If the truth fits though, perhaps there’s some chance/hope of change.  Most fathers begin their parental journey lacking necessary skills to embrace the responsibility in a fashion that allows women to feel they are “on the same page!”  Many of us are too absorbed in the feelings of loss created by displacement in what seems relationship priority.  You may feel as though this bundle of joy has ousted you in #1 position with your bride because you’re not able to spend the kind of time you used to spend with her.  You may also feel like no matter what you do, it doesn’t seem to be good enough.

This relationship evolution (from the passionate/blissfully spontaneous intimacy of just the two of you, to a now exhausted, frazzled, lets  just stay at home)  will never remain static.  Get used to constant change and many surprises.  If you find yourself in a rough patch, relax–its normal and it won’t always be like this.  The parenting years are some of the most stressful and create a great deal of introspection and comparison between how you remember being parented (what was and wasn’t okay) and how you want to parent.

The real key to harmony once you split yourselves up by creating more mini-miis is to mentally condition yourself to always approach every situation with a questioning mental posture.  If you attack the situation with suggestions and assumptions, you might as well take off your size 10 shoe and begin inserting into mouth!  Seriously, plan your time–print out a blank calendar each month and put the important things to accomplish on it and post it on the fridge.  If you don’t know what she’s planned, your spontaneous after work drinks with the guys just might have hijacked her schedule to have her one and only ladies night out event.  Guys, let me tell you, there’s no greater stress that having to juggle everything on that list above , maintain a house and full-time job!  Take inventory and see where you can help out.

Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, homework help…as much as you can anticipate and take care of  is greatly appreciated.  Where you begin to sense distance and coldness in your relationship is when she feels abandoned and saddled with the responsibility for everything.  She’ll be gritting her teeth, cleaning puke off the floor from one of your sick kids remembering “for better or for worse!” while you’re snoring away.  Its times like those that begin to create the irritable exchanges, the brief looks that once were longing, and the quick peck on the cheek instead of the passionate embrace.  Don’t let the little things in life, forgetfulness, procrastination, and obliviousness our gender is notorious for ruin the adventure of sharing your life with another.

Women, can I hear an amen?

Posted in SocialMedia, Uncategorized

Social Media Entrepreneur Promotion Research Experiment

The  plan was to focus on a particular topic each week during the month of December and find savvy entrepreneurs who are using social media to market their wares.  Promoting other people and businesses is a huge passion, especially if individuals and shop owners are really taking risks, burning the candle at both ends and trying their best to expose their brand in the competitive market.

Original intent was to tweet out calls for recommendations from followers and anyone else who chose to chime in on their favorites.  So in being fair, those that were recommended were included in the compilation below.  The greatest disappointment was that there were very few “recommendations” from Twitter followers–just confirming suspicions that a large majority of Twitter users are in transmit mode only!

The following synopsis of four weeks of examining Tweets, Blogs, and crawling the web resulted in the following:

First week’s focus was Chefs, Cooks, Bakers:

@merita_bread http://www.meritabreads.com/ very simple, nice website (could stand to make known their Twitter presence on their main website…at least under the contact us page.)

@steamykitchen Jaden is a classy conversational social media maven of morsels to make your mouth water   http://steamykitchen.com/ Check out her website for recipes, contests, tips & tricks, and her TV cooking show.  Her website takes full advantage of all forms of outreach to customers via all forms of social media.  She will reply if you send her a Tweet!

For those wanting to keep close tabs on the calories they consume, you’ll find this link helpful:  http://nutritiondata.self.com/

To find more people on Twitter who are passionate about cooking try:  http://twitter.com/#!/search/users/cooking

Second week’s focus was  Artists in demonstrating their skills in any medium:

Really enjoyed doing searches on art (http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23art) and discovering a wide variety of people who qualify as master craftspeople down to those who really appreciate great art work!

@Lyne_Robichaud does some nice art work http://www.culturemauricie.ca/membres/view/479 handbags, topiary, jewelry.

@hildaneilypaint does some excellent Impressionistic Landscapes that you can view at http://hildaneilygallery.com/

@CrochetLibFront An exciting group of men and women who are crazy about crochetting!   http://www.crochetliberationfront.com/

Third week was focused on Authors/Writers:

This week of exploration into passionately verbose people centered primarily around writers that wrote about a variety of topics but were incredibly engaging and funny people!  This group of people were by far the most engaging, responsive, and conversational of all those I found on Twitter!

At the top of the list are two of Twitter’s favorite authors @ceebee308 (View Claude’s website here:  http://bigceebee.webs.com/)  and @LukeRomyn (view Luke’s website here:  http://www.lukeromyn.com/ really comedians in disguise as suspense/mystery writers.   Twitter followers have been signing this petition http://act.ly/2i7 to get Ellen Degeneres to host them on her show!

You can find a lot of other aspiring writers by checking out this Twitter search (http://twitter.com/#!/search/users/author)

Fourth week was retail sales:

This week of research was interesting following the Christmas rush and seeing what kind of bargains/sales were being discussed.  I’ll list those who I found had the greatest number of users tweeting about the sales they found:

Best Buy

Verizon

Borders

What’s most interesting about this week of observations is that there are seriously very few in the retail industry who have really captured an understanding of how to best use social media as part of their regular marketing and advertising campaign strategy.  There are still several National chain stores and establishments that do not take advantage of this media platform to expand their markets and infect potential customers with their brands.