Calmly Excited

Today’s the day Stop Doing Dumb Things rolls into town. Well it is if you live in London, and if you have a ticket 😉

I’ve lost count of the number of live events I’ve run and helped to run over the years. They’re great fun, and energising, powerful and experimental, so I suppose that makes them a little dangerous too?

Everyone involved in our event today is an experimenter. I congratulate you all for your willingness to try something different. And quite apart from lots of format tweaks and new ideas, there will be a couple of things I personally will choose to do differently. It’s no secret, because I choose it not to be, that these events, these gatherings, make me nervous. Will I give of my best? Will you be happy? And if you’re not happy will you be comfortable enough to tell me? And if you do, can I help put that right?

I choose  not to bring a musical instrument with me this time. I need a break, and so do you. And as it happens, I’m playing a 1970’s disco set in the New Forest this weekend. I’m happy to give you a sneak peak, and I figure one scary music day in a week is enough 😛

Disco Doug

I choose to take a more participatory role this time. I’m lucky to be working with Jonathan Wilson and Peter Massey again and we’ve taken the time to make sure we all get time and space to play today, as well as facilitate.

If you can’t join us in real life through today, follow our experiment on Twitter using the hashtag #sddt. That way you’ll get a sense of the useful fun we’re having. Sorry though – unless you’re in the room, you won’t get any home made cake. We haven’t figured out how to get that through cyberspace, and to be honest, I hope we never do.

Thanks in advance to Neil, Neil, Peter, Ben, Martin, Tim and his team, and all our guests 😉

Whatever you’re doing, have a great day folks.

photo credit


Laurie Ruettimann
Laurie Ruettimann

Good ideas are all around us. We miss most of them, and a few stick. 2012 is transformational for me because I spotted an idea in 2011 and I acted on it.  The idea was a reminder, a reminder of the importance of practice. It came from Laurie Ruettimann (pictured above) in a blog post she wrote called Public Speaking Tips. You can read the whole piece here, and the part that really struck home for me was:

I practice like crazy. Other speakers advise me not to over-prepare and I tell them, “Mind your own business.” Malcolm Gladwell tells us that we need 10,000 of practice before we become rockstars. Maybe you don’t have to practice because you’re awesome. That’s great. Good for you. But we don’t let our children get behind the wheel of a car without extensive practice. Why would I stand before a group of busy, smart, talented people without extensive preparation? My audience deserves a strongly executed performance. I want to deliver. You should, too.

Laurie’s post was written on September 21st 2011 and just a couple of weeks beforehand I had accepted an invitation to speak at the CIPD Social Media in HR conference in December 2011. I musta read Laurie’s post about a hundred times, over and over and over. And then I applied that same level of interest and practice to the talk I was going to give. I built the talk, I destroyed the talk, I rebuilt it. I bashed it crashed it, mashed it, bashed it. Practice, practice, practice. Hell I even practiced leaving a couple of pieces to free flow, because you never know how your audience is going to react and if you’ve tied down the whole thing then you’ve kinda got nowhere to go.

The day came. I was nervous. I’m always nervous, and I always tell folks this. See, I did it again just there. After lunch I stood up and did my thing. I nailed it, and others felt I nailed it too. People like Neil Morrison, Alison Chisnell and Natasha Stallard. People I respect because I know they are authentic. And if they think I’m doing a good job, well that will do for me.

Wind the clock forward to today and I am humbled and excited by the speaking opportunities and possibilities that are presenting themselves since the day I nailed it. You can see some of them, including my September trip to Ohio (pinch myself) emerging here. And I’m currently doing exciting work with some great people at Careergro, helping them bring their product to market here in the UK. Last December, one of the Directors of Careergro was in the audience at the conference and heard the talk I gave. How cool is that!

So what?

First I want to thank the CIPD for inviting me and in particular I want to acknowledge Laurie’s part in my recent success. Not only did she write a fabulous, timely blog post, but she has also reached out to me a few times since and given generous support. Thank you Laurie, and if ever I can do something for you, just ask and I’ll do it (so long as it doesn’t involve looking after Scrubby. I’m not big on cats – sorry).

Second, if I can spot these things and act on them, so can you. I encourage you to think for a few minutes. An idea will have caught your eye recently. Have you grabbed it? Are you acting on it?

Third. When you act on it and achieve what you wanted, please don’t forget to acknowledge the person who gave you the idea. Always remember, what goes around, comes around.

Tools, Trust and Toilets

I and many others attended Neil Morrison and Matthew Hanwell’s social media session at #cipd11 this morning. Loads of good stuff being shared and a healthy dash of British toilet humour thrown in for good measure. Here’s a summary of what I heard and learned. I’ll focus on Neil’s thoughts for now and cover Matthew’s later today.

Numbers: Neil started showing us some huge numbers, in the hour to follow 5,000 blogs would be written, millions of tweets sent. These numbers show us that social media is not a passing trend.

Control: Can you control what goes on social media? No more than you can control what people think and say, so don’t try to.

Fear: maybe around loss of reputation? So an employee tweets a ‘bad day’ message and gets sacked for it. The story ends up in the Metro and the company are embarrassed. Who made the bigger mistake? Ever seen an acceptable newspaper use policy? No – so why do you need one for social media?

Fear: what about loss of productivity. To suggest this shows contempt for your employees. If you have a productivity issue, social media is not your problem.

Fear: IT security perhaps? Emails spread viruses much more than social media, perhaps you should ban email instead?

HR as the Sheriff: Your first job as sheriff is to make sure HR don’t write a stupid policy on social media. Your second job is to make sure IT don’t write an even stupider social media policy. Done that? Good – now throw away the badge.

Lead the way: HR best placed to lead a connected conversation between employees, customers and others.

Learning: Neil told us that social media is an invaluable part of his continuous professional development. It gives him ideas, a place to share concerns, do more thinking and learning, helps with business leads and recruitment.

Easy: Social media is easy and those who tell you otherwise are resitaint or trying to sell you consultancy. At Random House where Neil is Group HRD, their approach to social media is organic, or as Neil put it, ‘slightly disorganised’.

Tools Trust and Toilets: Random House allow staff access to all social tools. If they didn’t, staff would just disappear into the toilet and tweet from there! We’d rather trust our people, foster adult to adult relationships – trust beats control every time.

Courage: courage is knowing what not to fear. Social media can help you empower, educate, encourage and experiment.

Thought provoking stuff from a bright HR Director. I hope many in attendance at this busy session go on and follow Neil’s lead.