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Photographs and Memories – Facebook Style vs. Bonfire Style

April 3, 2011 8 comments

I seem to have spent all my free time in the last few weeks pouring through boxes of photos. These aren’t from my career as a professional photographer – they are my personal “snaps” and crates full of family photographs stored by my father up until he passed away a few years ago. We are on the move to a new home in Bath – and the storage space of our new house is greatly reduced compared to the stable block bursting with “stuff” at our current abode. I’m a hoarder!

Photographs are wonderful things. They stir memories. They promote a human interaction in the taking and the sharing. They always have done and always will. In modern social media there

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has been no change. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said of the social elements of FB Photos:

““The photo product that we have is maybe five or six times more used than every other product on the web — combined,””

Photos are Facebook’s lifeblood.

From these boxes, I pulled out a bundle of holiday snaps this week. Four packets of pictures from my first foreign holiday to Portugal in the late 80s – nearly 25 years ago. I went with a couple of friends (who happened to be girls). We had a great time, I got painfully sunburned, my bed got infested with ants – it was fun.

However, what the hell was I wearing? Did people really sell clothes like that in those days – and why was I the fool buying them? Who are those people in the pictures we shared beers with?

Well, I’ve been able to “weed history” to my own recollection. There are 5 pictures saved – they are highlights I can use to remember. The rest of the packs (including the shocking images you can vaguely see in the thumbnail image here) are heading for the bonfire. The saved images are going in my “Personal Box” where I store my keepsakes. Mine!

How will a Facebook generation cope with this “baggage”? These 4 packs of images, today would be uploaded to FB unedited – and remain there for all to see 25 years later. They’d undoubtedly be shared with virtually everyone I’d had a beer with on the holiday and “friended” on Facebook. Can anyone explain to me how that “baggage” will work for Generation Y? Will FB let you weed and put on the bonfire by then?

One of my favourite songs is by The Beatles – “In My Life”. Its chorus goes:

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them

Everyone does that. Recollects, smiles, cries – with affection. It’s personal. My life is richer for the people and the experiences – but the record is in my minds eye with photographs aiding that recollection. How does that work in the deeply shared and connected world of Facebook?

STOP PRESS

I was just about to press the “publish” button …. and …. discovered a brand new iPhone App called “The Last Night Never Happened“.

As they say these days “we’ve got an app for that!” Not quite the answer – but people are starting to realise the issue.

Are the People you REALLY want to know Social Networking?

November 18, 2010 1 comment

One of my personal projects is being Chairman of a charity – the Belvoir Castle Cricket Trust. it’s a start up non-profit – which gets children involved in sport and lets youngsters explore the countryside. It’s a small venture – but we’ve gathered some excellent supporters, including some heavy-hitting, influential Trustees from the world of business, finance, the aristocracy and cricket.

Chairing our Trustees Meeting yesterday, it struck me that this star team would be the sort of people many would want in their Personal Networks. However, it would be very unlikely that Social Networking would be

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the route. This afternoon I thought it worth doing a little audit of how my Trustees used Facebook and LinkedIn. Her goes:-

Emma, Duchess of Rutland. The chatelain of Belvoir Castle – and mother of 5! She is on LinkedIn (with one connection), but has not made it to Facebook yet. She’s probably one of the most sociable and energetic people I know.

John Barclay. Has been the President of the MCC this year (for those non-cricketers, the MCC is the Marylebone Cricket Club, which is the custodian of the Laws of Cricket). John has not made it to LinkedIn or Facebook. One of the most charming communicators – and an excellent writer.

Mrs Moneypenny She is one of the FT’s columnist and an internationally renowned headhunter. She is probably the best networker that I know – counting anyone from PM’s wives to Elle MacPherson in her network. She has one connection on LinkedIn – and is not connected to Facebook.

Phillip Hodson. He is Chief Executive of the Oval Group and played county cricket in England and rugby in South Africa. No presence on either Facebook or LinkedIn.

Emma Agnew. She is Editor of BBC East Midlands Television and the wife of BBC Cricket Correspondent Jonathan Agnew (Aggers). She’s the “modern girl” of the bunch. No LinkedIn membership – but 171 Friends on Facebook …. and an active Twitter account!

I chatted with a friend about this. She’s a heavier user of LinkedIn than me – and comes from a corporate rather than entrepreneurial/small business background. I said that I thought that the “big hitters” just did not join LinkedIn. Why would they spend time being shielded behind their gatekeeping PA, and then go public on social networking?

My friend pointed out that some Chief Executives of the UK’s major businesses were on LinkedIn and active One she cited was Euan Sutherland, the CEO of B&Q (UK equivalent to Home Depot in the US).

Maybe it’s an age thing – but I do think that REAL relationships are properly developed by REAL WORLD interaction. I’d be interested in your experiences. Are the heavy-hitters in your Personal Network social networking?

“The Social Network” – and the school drugs & alcohol chat…

October 17, 2010 Leave a comment

I had a really thought provoking Saturday…

In the morning, my wife and I had been invited to our children’s school for a “Parents Alcohol and Drugs Information Talk” – and on Friday I’d read Mastin Kipp’s blog at the Huffington Post “‘The Social Network’: 13 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Take Away” – and decided to spend Saturday afternoon at the cinema.

What did they both have in common – you guessed it Personal Network support…. (stop me if I am becoming a PN bore – do I see it in everything??!!)

Let’s deal with the less obvious first

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– what has Alcohol and Drugs got to do with Personal Networks? Well, our children’s PSHE (Personal, Social & Health Education) co-ordinator stressed one key point about the school’s strategy to protect our kids – they want the children to form in to groups at an early stage to support each other. They encourage these small, tight groups so that they deal with issues on a collective and supportive basis. Individuals feel that it’s not “peer” pressure to do things – because they work as a group to support individuality. Cool? I hope so – because I think their network of friends will be the best protection to the big, bad world that some of the talk illustrated.

“The Social Network” was a good film – not great – but I loved the topic. In the HuffPost, Mastin outlines the “lessons” of the film – so please do take time to review his blog. For anyone interested in business, social networking – it’s a must see.

From my point of view, the key lesson was that you really need a Personal “support” Network around you to stay sane in any business (small like most – or huge like Facebook). Marc Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder featured in the film, really didn’t seem to have this (partly through his destructiveness – and partly through poor judgement). He’d have done well to read Keith Ferrazzi’s book “Who’s Got Your Back” – before embarking on his enterprise (maybe he should read it even now!).

The film’s story is fiction (based on fact). Even so, you can see how his individuality and focus drove him to create Facebook – but his isolation (and not having a real “friend” to trust) lead him to make some poor decisions. I was lucky in business to have had good people around me – including my wife, who was (and is) always a trusted friend and mentor who “has my back”. However, I could see in the film many of my experiences in creating, building and exiting a business – especially the casualties in friendship/trust along the way.

Anyway, both my morning session at school and afternoon at the movies convinced me that a Personal Network is going to be the most valuable asset I have in my life – and hopefully my children will realise the importance too. Let’s hope Marc finds the same – because you can have all the money in the world … but things get done (and you live your life) through your relationships with people!

Penpals & Pensioners

September 19, 2010 1 comment

Starting a new venture around Personal Networks has been a topic of conversation around the family dinner table. Our children (aged 11 & 12) are fascinated by mum and dad considering working again – after nearly 5 years of being “funemployed”. Also, we met up with with Carrie’s parents this week for supper – and they wanted to hear all about what we planned to be doing.

Somehow, during our discussions of Personal Networks with the children, we got onto the subject of how we kept in touch with friends when we were younger. We did a little comparison of our children’s Facebook activities and “friends” (yes, I know strictly they are too young!) – and our mates

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growing up in the 70s & 80s. Comparisons were….

* We both have/had roughly the same number of close friends that we chat to/hang out with every day. 4-8 seems a good figure on this.
* Mum & Dad did know people around the school, activities, etc – but just really knew their names. Millie has 247 Friends on Facebook & Joe has 319! Our children (and their Facebook Friends) seem to be like impassioned football sticker collectors. These seem to still come from the same base of school and activities – but their stretch through the age groups is interesting. Was there anything quite like this in our generation?
* The kids couldn’t understand the idea of Penpals (for the younger readers of this blog – penpals were children of similar age abroad that kids of my generation exchanged letters with Also, see Wikipedia’s overview.). The concept of writing long letters (often practicing your feeble skills in another language), sending this by post – and then waiting some weeks for a reply was very difficult for Millie and Joe to understand. I know that my sister (now 50) still has a couple of Penpals that she keep in contact – and has in fact visited in USA & Austria. Who will be this generation’s penpals?

Our children have amazing tools available to access and communicate with a wide range of people. It will be intriguing to see whether they will be traveling around the world when they are 50 meeting their Facebook friends?

Supper with Carrie’s parents was an eye opener. No need to explain to an older generation the benefits and value of a Personal Network. Gerry was a bank manager before he retired – and a network was important to him to support his working life. He joined (and actively participated) in traditional networking groups like RoundTable and Rotary. Also, Marina had to use her networking skills to “settle in the family” as Gerry was moved around to different branches with his job.

The most interesting part of the discussion for me was to understand the challenges faced by pensioners as their Personal Network dwindles. While Millie & Joe race up the league table of Facebook Friends – sadly, Gerry and Marina see their network reduce as age takes its toll. Also, the traditional “networking” methods of their generation (meeting up face-to-face and spending time together) – still further reduce the opportunity to be in touch/communicate as mobility/routine get in the way. Gerry and Marina do a great job of maintaining links with their network – in fact this year they have made a resolution to meet up with an old friend that they’ve not seen in ages at least once a month. However, they both see that the tools that Millie and Joe use on Facebook (status updates, short bursts of chat, passing on bits of info, etc) – would be great for pensioners of their generation who suffer isolation and loneliness.

Keeping in touch, building a Personal Network, choosing the right form of communication are all challenges – no matter what generation. Finally, please take the time to read this blog post on Wired – it’s a sad account of when the use of modern communication with a close friend misses the mark!

150 Connections on LinkedIn – should I retire on Dunbar’s Number?

September 3, 2010 4 comments

The day has come when the worlds of Dunbar’s number (which I love/respect/believe in) and my LinkedIn connections coincide! It’s been a tricky 24 hours, when the LinkedIn counter hit 149 – and my commitment and belief in Robin Dunbar’s number (150) collided.

Typical of my active and creative mind, I tried to find several routes around this:-

1. Find a justification for not complying to Robin’s thinking… Well – I’ve just been reading Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s Book “Trust Agents”. On page 226 they give me the perfect opt out by

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saying “The Web allows us to work within Dunbar’s number. It means that we can build business relationships in different ways: Instead of just locally or in a specific vertical, we can channel and stripe and slide in many different ways.” Read more on Chris’s blog. Great – I can have 150 people in lots of different places!!

2. Can I increase the number from 150?… Amazingly, the FT Weekend came up with just that. Page 30-31 of the Money Section last weekend had an article entitled “Build your connections, but go for quality, not quantity.” I can now safely increase my 150 to 250 … yipee. “Andy Lopata, who has built a business advising others how to network, claims that in an age of mass social networking, too many people concentrate on the quantity of connections they make rather the quality. “It is who needs you and what they say about you that counts, and that only comes from building better relationships, not necessarily more relationships,” he says. Lopata recalls a speaking engagement last year, where someone showed off the 2,000 contacts on his Blackberry address book. Lopata was not impressed. “My response was: ‘If you phone those 2,000 people, are they willing to take your call?’ If not, then you are just carrying around a telephone directory.” A philosophy that drives Lopata’s thinking is the Law of 250, the idea that there is an optimum number of contacts to acquire. The concept was made famous long before the advent of LinkedIn and Twitter by Joe Girard, an American salesman who earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records for his prowess at selling Chevrolet cars. Lopata admits that his own database of 4,000 contacts is too big, but qualifies his support of the Law of 250 by noting that good networkers also have a broad range of contacts. “You have to get the balance right,” he says.” Thank you Andy Lopata and Joe Girard – I can have another 100 connections!!!

3. Quit while I’m ahead/Go out with a bang… What better way to go – than to make your 150th connection on LinkedIn ….. ROBIN DUNBAR!! Well, I penned a small invite (my very first on LinkedIn to someone I did not directly know). Amazingly, Robin has only ONE connection on LinkedIn – go figure!!

The result was…. I received a reply back to my LinkedIn invite from the lovely Kathryn York. I’d invited Kathryn a month ago – and she finally came back to me to pop in as my number 150 connection! I am delighted. Kathryn is the Archivist at Wolfgang’s Vault in San Francisco. We met when she showed my son and myself around their music, video and art archives at Easter when we were stranded under the Ash Cloud. If you ever want to know about music from the 60s/70s/80s in the US – this is the lady!

Kathryn’s reply to my request to be a connection (and if she used LinkedIn much) was eloquent – “I don’t use Linkedin much, or my twitter or my facebook and myspace hasn’t seen me in so very long… I do know that folks find all of this does help with connecting (kind of like if I’d ever answer that ringing home phone), so I say thank you for reaching out and I shake your virtual hand with a connection acceptance!” Having a great Personal Network is a lot about diversity – and I’m very happy to have Kathryn in my 150!

I will await to see if Robin becomes my 151st connection (and his second) – but for now I will continue to extend my network onwards (and upwards from 150) with diverse, fun, stylish connections like Kathryn.

Holiday Reading, Tom Peters and the Cheshire Cat

August 25, 2010 3 comments

I am off on holiday in the morning – and I’m going to split my reading time between finishing off my current Personal Network book – “Trust Agents” by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith (I can hear you fellow bloggers saying “I can’t believe you’ve not read that already!”), digging in to a “leisure” read by one of my favourite authors, Michael Dobbs (his new book – “The Reluctant Hero”) – and using Tom Peters “The Brand You” as a workbook to help set my personal objectives.

If you’ve not tried “The Brand You” book by Tom Peters – it’s a brilliant read. Mick Cope (whose book “Personal Networking” I reviewed in an earlier blog post) recommended the book to me. Mick said: “I have always loved the Brand You stuff by Tom Peters – which although was picked up by

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some people – never really found its mark.” After ordering a copy (it’s a classic from 1999 – but not too hard to find) I read it within 48 hours. I have always liked the passion of Tom Peters. I remember during tricky times in my business during the early 1990s playing the audio tape of “Thriving on Chaos” over and over in car as I tried to work my way through the development/growing pains of my company. I have no less enthusiasm for Tom’s work revisiting his teachings some 20 years on.

On the inside cover of the book, he lists his key ideas around Brand You – which he expands through the book. I will certainly be spending time deliberating on many of these ideas and questions:-

* “Routinely asks the Question: WHO AM I?/WHAT DO I WANT TO BE?” – Very relevant after 4 years being “funemployed”
* “Pursues Mastery of something!” Can I really become a Master of Personal Networks – and can I use this Mastery to help others?
* “Selects Clients v-e-r-y carefully/Rejects Clients who are a bad match” Cool discipline to have … and I have no excuse because I don’t need the work. Nice position to be in – but don’t cock up and get distracted by wanting to be all things to all men….
* “Is a Rolodex Maniac/Networks like Crazy!” Well you can tell this is a 1999 book (no mention of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc). Glad he really values the role of Personal Networks in success.
* “Is a ‘Renewal Fanatic’/Cultivates curiosity/Takes every opportunity to learn s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g new!” I love change – and I’m enthused by learning about Personal Networks. How to I keep this curiosity focussed?

So, a time to review with some good books. I think the three key areas that I need to investigate to help understand my Personal Network journey are:-

* Personal Branding. As Tom puts it “Your are the CEO of your Life” – so I’d best understand and be able to present my “brand”
* Social Networking. It’s the buzz of the moment – and I love the digital age – but how does this fit in to Personal Networks? I believe it’s a smaller, and less important, part of our life than people currently think.
* Personal Objectives. Where do I want to go? Otherwise, all other things don’t have a focus or fall in to place. The Cheshire Cat expresses this best in Alice in Wonderland:-

“Which road do I take?” (Alice)
“Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then, said the cat, it doesn’t matter.”
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” (Cheshire Cat)

Holiday reading will be a lot less testing than the questions… Who I Am – and Where do I Want to Go!

LinkedIn Books – and “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member”!

August 19, 2010 4 comments

It’s been quite a challenge writing a review for Neal Schaffer’s book “Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing LinkedIn”. If you read my earlier blog – you will know that I think Neal’s site is one of the best resources for people starting to use LinkedIn. I’d also been enthused by the preface and early chapters of the book. In my fledgling attempts at blogging, I’ve also been fortunate to exchange a few emails (and Neal’s been nice enough to take time to comment on my blog and give advice).

Anyway, the good news is that after reading the book I like Neal even more! He’s a real enthusiast for life and LinkedIn – and the book has consistent themes that I agree with such as “Pay it Forward”, “Trusted Networks of Advisors” and “Dig Your Well before You’re Thirsty”. Some books I end up skimming through – but this one I lingered

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on and enjoyed Neal’s personal presentation of each topic. It was fun learning about LinkedIn with him as the tutor. I certainly picked up ideas around Groups and Answers that I was not aware of – and got a real feel for LinkedIn’s corporate culture.

My one criticism (sorry Neal) – was the assumption that I was/wanted to be a “Windmill Networker”. I knew from Neal’s website that his company was Windmill Networking – but didn’t realise that he has such a strong desire for readers to be part of this “club”. Neal rightly impresses on the reader from the start of the book that you should consider carefully, clearly define (and stick to) your LinkedIn Objectives and Brand. I felt that the “Windmill Networker” emphasis detracted from my Objectives and Brand.

I feel bad about writing the above – as the few personal dealings, Neal’s blog and the enthusiasm that comes over in this self published book is infectious. So, I thought I would go out and buy another LinkedIn book/manual to compare. Enter “Sams Teach Yourself LinkedIn in 10 Minutes by Patrice-Anne Rutledge”….

This is a handy little book, clearly written and well illustrated. It’s a book you can easily flick through – and get a good set of instructions on anything you would practically want to do in LinkedIn. The author is obviously a skilled technical writer – as can be seen from her credits (e.g. The Truth about Profiting from Social Networking from Pearson/FT Press).

However, and I am VERY happy to say this, it wasn’t a patch on Neal’s book! The secret is that Neal writes as an enthusiast who discovered LinkedIn at a tricky time in his career (moving back to the US from Japan) – and learnt the system, worked the system … and selflessly shared/shares his knowledge with others. It is a “How to…” manual – but it’s also much more that that. It’s an impassioned, self-published work that helps “anyone” exploring the idea of developing their Personal Network through LinkedIn by showing IT CAN BE DONE – and helps them to do it! Go out and get yourself a copy….. (read more here)

Thank you, Neal – but do remember, some of us are of the Groucho Marx disposition … “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member”!

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