James Mayes

Posts Tagged ‘guest blog’

Guest post: Life In The Slow Lane

In Blogging, Gadgets, Guest post, Personal Development, Social Media on September 12, 2011 at 11:05 am

Just recently, a long standing Twitter friend of mine announced she was off on holiday and planning a Social Media detox.  It’s something I’ve written about before and believe more people could benefit from. I asked Sarah if she’d be kind enough to share her thoughts – so pleased she agreed. 

James’ post ‘Going off grid’ reflected on his time away from social media. I recently had my own two week detox and prompted by James, learnt three things from the experience (convenient for a blog post doncha think!)

Henri-Frederic Amiel1. Time slowed right down

The majority of people I speak to, always seem to comment on just how ‘busy’ they are. Whether that truly is the case or not, I think social media heightens that feeling, with more ideas, more conversations, more things to check, watch, monitor, try or share.

Life speeds along with its fast food and takeaway coffee, let alone keeping up with the pace of a twitter conversation or following a hashtag. My impatience levels had risen so high, that before I went away, I had drafted an article on my frustration with video blogging. I was annoyed that I couldn’t speed read and felt resentful that the pace of my information consumption was being dictated to.

During my break, I tasted the food, listened to the background noise and yes felt the grass grow under my feet. By the end of my hiatus it was though the matrix plug had been removed from the back of my head. I was rebooted.

2. Quest for knowledge is my driving factor online

So why did I log back on? Honestly, I wanted to catch up.

Yes, on a social level, with my virtual friends and the communities I connect with, but, when asked why I use social media, as a Recruiter, I can genuinely say that:

  • I have won business after a client has “looked me up online”
  • Prospective candidates have approached me directly after reading a tweet or status update
  • I have found, sourced and recruited through my network and from tapping into the networks of those I am connected to
  • As a bi-product of social media, I have formed strong collaborations, shared knowledge and experiences as well as sourcing excellent local suppliers for my business

Yet if I had to pinpoint just one thing, it would be the knowledge I have gained that brings me back time and again.

The web is just so vast that you need help to navigate even small parts of it. Before these platforms I would have just ‘Googled’ keywords and waded through.

Now information comes to me directly, pre-screened from people in my local area, sector, profession or area of interest.  Their expertise and inside knowledge has led me to specific tutorials, fabulous nuggets of information, tried and tested products or tools that I would never have found on my own.

3. Perspective

Slowing things down wasn’t only beneficial to my health (by the end of the first day back in the office I had a wicked headache) it put me firmly in the moment, I felt as though I was experiencing life, rather than just processing it.

Ultimately it raised more questions for me:  What effect does this pace of life have on me, the decisions I take every day and the value I place on knowledge Vs experience?

How can I keep hold of glimpses of clarity my detox gave me? How can I incorporate better productivity and more regular reboots?

Once again, I’ll turn to the web, read more of the much recommended blog zenhabits, as long as I have the time and it’s not in video format though eh?

Sarah Cooper is a Founding Director of McGennis Loy, specialist recruiters for Finance and HR. She can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Over There: A look at SXSW Interactive from the UK

In Personal Development, Recruitment, Social Media, Start-ups, SXSWi, Twitter on August 18, 2010 at 2:30 pm

This was first published on Mike VanDervort‘s page, The Human Race Horses.  It’s here now as a matter of personal record but please, take the time to check out Mike’s site.

I was lucky enough to attend SXSW Interactive earlier this year.  My first visit to a major US conference, my first visit to a more southerly part of the US, my first experience of what happens when 20,000 geeks hit town.  It was a massive event for me and one I feel privileged to have had. I was lucky enough to make some great connections and when this guest post opportunity was presented, I thought perhaps it would be a good chance to reflect back on the experience. After all, it’s primarily a tech conference and I was coming at it as someone with a recruiter’s background and a new business in the social media world. Interesting combination!

The preparation

First and foremost, I wanted to consider the kind of event I was heading to. All the blogs from previous SXSW attendees led me to believe the scale would be unprecedented and a plan of attack would be essential.  First port of call – check out my network for previous attendees and have a chat.  Result: nil.  No-one I knew at the time had attended before, though many wanted to.  Throwing the request out wider proved much more satisfying.  Through some generous souls on Twitter, I was introduced not only to some who’d been before, but also a number of Texans who knew the area, had been before AND planned on going again.  This was superb – insider experience, local knowledge, allies when I got into town. Couldn’t have asked for more. Twitter played a huge part in this and I offer a special hat-tip to @BillBoorman for his part.

First impressions

Huge. Beyond expectation or imagination. My first, my last, my over-riding impression.  I think it’ll blow me away again if I get back there!

I was glad I’d spent time planning – but it was also quickly apparent that no amount of regular “pre-conference homework” would ever be able to cover everything.  Mental adjustment to the environment was going to be an important factor.  Firstly, I simply had to accept that sleep wasn’t going to happen.  The first day made it clear that while the sessions during the working day were superb, they were evenly matched in value by the evening social/networking events.  Bearing in mind the time difference with the UK, I knew I’d be waking up at c.5am most days – and with most of the vendor events running till 2am…. well, you do the math!

I also needed to drop every bit of “baggage” I had. This wasn’t a place to discuss web-now, this was web-future. This was about trying to visualise what could be, supported by technology that didn’t exist, based on ideas about data insights no-one could yet offer.  It’s difficult to do (not sure I completely succeeded), but a completely open mind is certainly needed.

One bit of planning I put some real effort into proved inclusive. The schedules. There are literally hundreds of sessions being run and you won’t get to all.  I tried to identify those most relevant to my professional interests as a first step, then for a second pass, tried to identify those where there’d be a specific individual I was interested in listening to. Certainly, it was time well spent in research mode – but when you actually get into it, you’ll get caught up in the buzz for another panel, or something you’ve planned won’t be as hot as you’d hoped… whatever the reason, if you hit 50% of your planned schedule, you should be pleased!

Key moments

The organisational technology… Twitter started to go mainstream at a previous SXSW event and evidence of this was everywhere. No bad thing, I’d appreciated this in advance and was up to speed. What I hadn’t done was the research on other technologies that were making good ground at that time and thus really getting some attention. Location-based tools have been hot all year, and those who had a good handle on FourSquare or Gowalla certainly found SXSW easier to navigate.

Getting the bar map and party guide was a result.  Not done beforehand as I was focussed on the events during the day, but as clarity struck, I knew I’d need to take a slightly more structured approach to the evenings too!

As per a note earlier, acclimatise quickly to the fluidity and freedom of the workshops – if you can roll with it, you’ll enjoy it far more.  You’ll also take in a few workshops that might not have normally caught your eye, then realise they might actually have something for you after all. Discover something that has NOTHING to do with you – it’s worth it.

My favourite moment though, was the discovery of the Rackspace stand. They were noisy, they had an annoying gimmick to draw people in, it was all very irritating. But it didn’t matter.  Everyone there in a Rackspace t-shirt knew what the firm did. Where the firm wanted to be. They all shared the same passion and conviction and they were all genuine and engaging. If every firm could be represented in that way at events, conferences would be a much brighter place.

In conclusion….

Do it.  If you’re about technology, if you attend events, if you ever run panels or workshops. If you’re interested in hiring the best people in technology, or learning what makes them tick. You might not need to ever go again – but do it once. You’ll be glad you did.

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