10 Ways to Let Women Know They Don’t Count at Work

1. “Forgetting” to add them to meeting invite lists when they are responsible for something in that meeting
2. “Forgetting” to add them to email threads that directly involve them or their teams.
3. Interrupting them constantly
4. Feeling the need to go above and beyond in the “I’m just playing devil’s advocate” department in every single conversation
5. Failing to invite them to participate in social interactions with co-workers (“Oh, I didn’t think you’d be interested”)
6. Assuming they should be the person on the hook for all diversity and inclusion recruiting and knowledge.
7. Arguing about the state of women in technology with THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM.
8. Insist on letting them know each and every time they are not included on a “need to know” matter, and making sure they know you are.
9. Complain that you feel left out of events for and by women at work, especially complaining about events where it is clearly stated that ALL are welcome, but you just don’t feel comfortable attending. (Or attending these events then arguing with the women in attendance about the state of women in technology despite all evidence contrary to your point of view)
10. Not being an ally in countering all of the many people who are doing 1-9. (without advocates and allies, we will always be fighting these same battles)

(Apparently 10 were not enough.  Here are a few more that have come to mind after the initial post:

11. Identify “leadership” potential as what most sensible people would equate with bullying or narcissism.

12. Immediately forgive and forget any bad behavior from male counter parts, but cling relentlessly to one outburst of emotion that happened many years ago as a way to point out she is “too emotional” at work.

13. Forget that the great idea or the new connection you are counting as your own was actually hers. Double down by offering to explain the idea to her, explain the strategic significance of the idea or contact, or offer to make an introduction (to the person she introduced you to).

The Art of Community

The concept of community is one that fascinates me.  I believe that people live better lives when they feel supported and understood.  Whether this support is local or virtual doesn’t seem to matter.  In fact, while a local community may be comfortable for some, I have learned that often introverts spend more time on social media than extroverts. Perhaps this method of engaging with a select group of contacts is more comfortable for those who do not need to derive energy from being around others but still need the support of a “tribe”.   Our conversations on Saturday covered community in many aspects from class norms, to communities of support and feedback as described in The Icarus Deception and The Creative Habit as well as the communities of local business and chefs discussed by Lisa Nakamura and the culture of local communities discussed by Andy Fife

 

In speaking with Lisa Nakamura, I was impressed with the way she discussed food people as a community.  She frequently drew commonalities of behavior and personalities in this group.  She described them as being socially awkward, speaking through their food and also often being control freaks. I loved that while some of these descriptors initially sound negative, she seemed to take pride in each of them. 

 

I was also interested in her perspective on the changes in feedback in restaurant culture.  Her reluctance to read online reviews because her feeling of embarrassment and anxiety of failing to meet future expectations prevents her from enjoying a positive review just as much as the snarky tone of many negative reviews prevents her from being able to take much away from them.  Additionally, the level of expectation set from the immediacy of modern food blogging reviews introduces a new level of anxiety since historically reviewers gave restaurants six month to get on their feet prior to review.  This new race to review means that a restaurant has to be ready to serve at the top of their game from opening night.  As much as Lisa says she did not read online reviews, her sensitivity to satisfying her customer and the feeling of ultimate responsibility for each dining experience run deep.  My favorite quote of the class came during her talk when she said “Apart from sex, eating is one of the most personal things you can do, so you’d better take care of people.”  If that isn’t supporting your community, I don’t know what is.

 

Another interesting aspect of Lisa’s professional life is her book, Bucky the Dollar Bill.  I wish we had spent more time discussing this.  The story centers on  how spending choices can either support or harm the financial well being of a community.  Her experience running a restaurant on an island where issues with supporting locals year round when tourism is only active part of the year gave a special insight into the direct impact of a few dollars spent in the community rather than outside of that community.  It is a wonderful book with a great message.  I have a copy for my sons and hope they will take it to heart as they grow older and have their own money to spend.

 

Perhaps this is a long enough reflection, but I would be completely remiss if I did not cover, even briefly, Andy Fife’s presentation.  After researching Andy’s work and history, I was not really sure what to expect. I thought I’d hear more about non-profit funding and the importance of art, and we did, but not in the way I expected.  The discussion around changing  the message from “Art is the Why” to “Art is the How” was eye opening.   The concept of drawing people together for transformative experiences with art as the gathering point but, education, community and cultural identity as the outcome aligns with my own beliefs about how human beings wish to interact.  So many arts nonprofits do align around art creation, but the art produced is usually secondary to the connectedness that the participants derive, the self esteem, and the confidence of participating in something larger. During the break I spoke briefly to Andy about arts in education, specifically the art based curriculum at Adams Elementary School in Seattle.  In typical “Art is the How” fashion this school explores the ways in which art can help students engage with traditional academics to build deeper understanding of concepts that may have escaped them in a more classical environment. I have continued to mull the content of Andy’s presentation and make connections to projects that I am involved in or wish to start in the future.  Thank you for bringing him to speak with us.

And now for something completely different

Being a storyteller at heart, I was deeply inspired by Brent Friedman’s presentation on transmedia storytelling.  As I listened to him explain the complexity of the work he creates, the vast number of moving parts and the dependencies and interconnections between these pieces in order to create a cohesive whole, I kept thinking there must be great tools available to help assist this process.  But there aren’t.  In speaking with Brent both in class and via email, I discovered a gaping hole in the tools provided for this more woven approach to production.  Based on Brent’s experience and the video interview with Bernie Su about his Emmy winning production of “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” I started to brainstorm approaches to assist in these engaged stories.

Since this class I have been digging into the problems, opportunities and possible solutions in creating a new workflow for transmedia storytellers.  Given the inevitability of the “death” of traditional linear television programming, I think there is a huge opportunity to shape and democratize the development and archive of more flexible, engaging and adaptive storytelling model.  In my “terms of engagement” I focused on my desire to help spread better storytelling tools for the next generation of storytellers.  I assumed I would slowly collect perspectives and theories over the course of many classes, quarters, possibly years.  Instead I find myself working feverishly on this project with a renewed level of inspiration and purpose at work.  I’m striving to start transforming the future of storytelling immediately, no longer satisfied to be sitting in an observer’s seat.  If this is what one class can do, I’m a little worried how I’ll harness the innovation generated by the rest of the program.  But honestly, it’s a good kind of worried.

endings

With the final presentations done, last class meeting concluded, I am just two short writing assignments away from ending my first class in graduate school.  That will merit its own post later, but for now I need to push through and get these last assignments posted.  So here we go.

Evergreen Health

Let’s start by just confirming the fact that their video was one of the funniest, most creative things I’ve seen this quarter.  All of the participants could have been real actors for the quality of performance they provided, right down to the dot of mayo under Zack’s nose during his interview.  Brilliant.  I was really impressed with research they did and while at times I wondered how far out the technology they were discussing really was.  I had the opportunity to ask this in the Q&A and they had really done their research.  With the rising cost of health care, engaging individuals in their own health management becomes a critical responsibility of all care providers and individuals.  This was an exceptionally well done presentation. 

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation was more information on the specific types of data to be monitored and more details of the estimated improvement in outcomes.  I think this is beyond was is reasonable to expect for this class, but it is the only thing I think I’d look for if I was really involved in a discussion of implementing this program.  Great work!

Asana

Being tasked with making B2B software “sexy” is a pretty uphill challenge.  I thought this team took a smart approach by engaging with customers to build a better affinity for the brand via storytelling and really understanding why mobile is a key to success (though I may never think about oral hygiene the same again).  I have long been of the mindset that individualizing the message to make it resonate as something more personal than institutional is critical, (Perhaps it’s that GenX “what’s in it for me” mentality rearing it’s head here) and I think they illustrated it nicely.  Again, their slides were spectacular.  Pulling images from some of the most identifiable stories of my youth was another way to get my “yes” vote.

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation was less of the competition’s video messaging.  I think the concept of showing how little their competition was using a storytelling approach was good, but I didn’t get to see enough of the video to understand what they were doing and it was too much if we were just being shown that their video is pretty standard corporate video.  A minor nit pick, but it stood out to me in an otherwise strong presentation.

Pikshare

Regulation is never an easy balance.  No regulation leaves a system open for abuse, but too much regulation can easily put a damper on creativity and expression.  I thought the Pikshare team did a good job of balancing the requirements of the individuals participating in the service as well as the liability of the Pikshare company and corporate partners.  I think it was well summed up in the “We’re watching, but not in a creepy way,” summary.  I do think this service would be viable given how the individual unprompted photos of products and services seem to be more sincere than most marketing content and this would be an interesting brokering of those connections.

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation was more discussion of regulation struggles in the past over “offensive” materials.  I think there was some great case history, but I really liked their response to the breastfeeding question I asked and it seems like the did some great consideration there that we didn’t get to hear too much about. 

Amazon

This was my pod, and as difficult as it was to get organized for the presentation with such large groups of people, I was really pleased with the final outcome.  I wish we had more time to go deeper into some of the issues at play.  We did a lot of research and the situation with Amazon is extremely complex due to their corporate culture.  Specific concepts around monetizing the platform and/or the purpose built tools designed for their internal use would have been whole other section of the presentation, but it really fell out of the scope of our assignment.  Overall, it was a really good experience and an interesting problem to solve.

Gennection

I have to say I was a little disappointed when I found that they had changed the discussion topic from what was originally proposed.  This was the subject I had envied when pod assignments were made, but I do think they handled the framing of the new discussion well.

Clearly they did a lot of research.  I was hoping to find their slides before I wrote this reflection because in the wealth of information I was inspired to go do more research after class on this topic, it was that engaging for me.  As a discussion of the traits of the various generations, I think this presentation hit its stride early.  As they went deeper, it felt like it became less focused on how to work with Millennials.  Many of the statements made about best practices or the desires of Millennials in the work place felt like they could be more broadly applied.  For example, I can’t think of anyone who says, “I want my boss to be authoritarian, provide a dull work environment and heaven forbid I work on things that I am passionate about!”  I think the core of the conflict (if there is one, I tend to think this is more of a media created problem designed to fill air time) is the fact that this generation is more direct about asking for what they want and are more willing to leave a company to go get it.  That said, the needs are not unique to this population.  In following the twitter feed during this presentation, I kept seeing comments that people felt they were describing their desires in the workplace to a T, but I think this was reflected by people other than the Millennial audience they were speaking about.

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation was a better discussion of why it matters?  The fact that there are a lot of Millennials entering the workplace is not enough reason for an employer to completely rethink their current practices.  If they are not bringing a unique and necessary skillset or perspective to their job, why should employers care.  I would also like to say that I thought the continued focus on the Boomer-Millennial rift was overplayed since in my experience more Millennials will be in organizations reporting to GenXers and I would have liked to hear more about those specific differences.

And like that, it’s done.  Thank you fellow #CommLead students, it has been an inspiring experience!

The Home Stretch

Saturday’s presentations were overwhelmingly good.  I feel lucky to be part of a cohort with so many intelligent leaders. And while these presentations took up most of the day’s course time, I was thrilled to have the class end with being given some insight into the best practices for social media photography, especially when the iPhone is your tool of choice. Fantastic class overall.

If you followed my Twitter activity during class, it was obvious that I was hanging on Josh Trujillo’s every word.   I have been moved by his work in the past as he has an impressive ability to capture moments in scenes of chaos that convey deep emotion.  Having his tips in my pocket are sure challenge me to capture more unique views of my environment to include in my storytelling while at the same time improving my photos of my dogs and dinners for my Facebook feed.

Now on to the group presentations.

Monetizing Communities Mini Cooper:

I think the idea was interesting, and since the events are simply an amplification of local road trips that are successful in their smaller community, I think it could have traction.  My question is really more around the monetization opportunity.  Given the financials that were presented, it felt like the opportunity was small-scale for a brand like BMW to consider successful.  I wonder if there might be stronger opportunities in partnerships that gave access to this highly desirable demographic of drivers on a broader scale.  Since the information we were presented said that they were social media social butterflies, it seems possible to use that activity not only to amplify the Mini brand, but to drive partner opportunities to both target and be endorsed by this community.  Even flipping the opportunity to have it become a select group of Mini owners who are selected for their social media savvy being given a unique Mini sponsored trip with additional sponsors adding events and prizes to the experience may be more beneficial to the sponsors than the limited reach that a 40 person road trip would normally have.

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation to the board of BMW is validation of their facts.  I found myself wondering “where did they get that data” frequently during their presentation.  Especially if it was contrary to my own experience with the Mini owners I have contact with.  One other thing I’d like to see, a different phrasing of their summing up the 50+ audience of Mini owners as “old people.”  Ouch!  While I’m not 50+ yet, no one wants to be called old and the audience of that meeting is likely to have many in attendance who fit that demographic.

Engagement in Organizations- Pollinator Pathway:

This presentation had the most beautiful materials, video, photos and posters.  I was impressed with the mission and goals of their organization.  having never heard of it before, I now want to find ways to contribute and bring a similar project to my neighborhood.  While I loved the organization and materials, I felt the content of the group was a bit too instructive.  I left the presentation without a clear idea of what I was supposed to take away as a member of their audience.

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation to the stake holders of Pollinator Pathway is a clear call for action.  I want to know what steps I should be taking, who I should be contacting or what I need to be researching next.

The Data Challenge- MYPulse:
I learned so much in this presentation.  The format was concise and direct, the references were well researched and interesting.  They did a wonderful job of summing up the ask of the board and supporting both possible decisions.  My notes for this presentation focus on the data they presented, it make me feel like I really understood the business challenges they were facing and the pros and cons of the approaches taken by the competition.

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation to the board of MYPulse is a bigger deal made of their celebrity spokesperson.  As much as it didn’t directly drive the data discussion, if the team has a high-profile celebrity ready to endorse their product, that should have been the first point in that part of the discussion.  As I said, this is a quibble, as I thought this was an excellent presentation.

The Behavior Change- Aspen:

This group did an excellent job of framing the problem they are trying to address.  Instead of taking a broad swipe at increasing recycling overall, they narrowly defined their target audience and gave real thought about how to motivate a behavior change.  It was especially effective that the team took on roles in their presentation and really sold the pitch as a credible engagement with Seattle Public Utilities, and it made the presentation more fun as an audience member.  Adding the concept of competition, active message participation and a “coolness” factor to the communication felt like an opportunity for success with their targeted audience.  I also appreciated that they addressed past failed efforts in this area and took time to dissect and investigate why these efforts didn’t have the success they were hoping for.  One very effective tool used in the presentation was the video of the train hauling garbage to a landfill in Oregon.  It really drove home the fact that while Seattle is a leader in waste management, there is still a long way to go.  Less successful was the 2nd video.  I didn’t understand the message it was trying to convey and felt it just took time away from the core message of the project.

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation to the stake holder of this effort would be a better example of a web video.  To make the project compelling, the “crown jewel” needs to be much more of an attention grabber.

The Free Threat- Root:

It is hard to believe that this was not a real magazine.  Their presentation was so compelling that as they spoke I kept coming up with more ideas to help keep this magazine alive.  By the end of the presentation, I was hoping they would be moved to start this project just so I could subscribe.  Their goals for keeping the print magazine relevant while driving a community around it to support the paid subscription were so well researched and convincingly presented, I was completely wowed.  Their visuals were stunning and the goals of presenting the beauty in food and the world of urban farming really attracted me as a half-assed urban farmer myself.  Taking the community more in the direction of an upscale movement really resonated with me and I think their strategy was compelling as it really felt to understand the evolution of the modern urban farmers.

The one thing I would like to see if this was a “real” presentation to the team at Root would be a discussion of the strategy for community curation.  This is a big departure for a magazine, but one I think is admirable.  Also, I believe their decision not to make a tablet version of the magazine is a misstep.  With the audience they are targeting, tablets seem like a natural progression.  If the desire is there to differentiate the print magazine from a purely digital offering, perhaps having additional features in the print model.  One idea that came to mind for me was to have the last page of the magazine be a seed paper.  This is a kind of paper that has seeds imbedded in the paper pulp.  They can be planted and the seeds will then sprout and grow in your garden.    Again, I thought this team did an exceptional job with their strategy, now if only they’d go make this magazine for me, I’d be happy.

Mo Data, Mo Problems

A few days ago I had a lively debate about data collection and privacy rights with some family friends which just happened to precede my 8 hour Comm Lead class on the same topic.  I have thought a lot about the collection of my data dating all the way back to when Amazon first notified me that they were going to begin collecting and saving my data.  My reaction was to stop shopping on Amazon.  I’ve since gone back (with a vengeance), but as the collection of data has expanded I have resigned myself to it.  I no longer worry too much about being classified by what I buy, what I watch and which social networking sites I visit.  I assume everything I do or say has found its way into the hands of the Mark Zuckerbergs and Larry Pages of the world.  My view on privacy has evolved, at least for myself, to the “it’s already out there, what am I going to do about it” school of thought.  My belief is that there is so much data out there that I can more or less hide in plain sight.  This seems to align with Adriana Gil Miner’s assertion that 90% of the data in today’s internet was created within the past 2 years.  In order to sift the good from the bad, the true from the false and formulate the right questions to get any real benefit from the wealth of data I’ve left in my wake someone really has to want it, and in my view, if they want it that badly, they’d manage to get it anyhow.

Unfortunately, my cavalier view on data privacy does not extend to my children.  They do not have the legal ability to consent to this data collection, and yet data about them can be scraped from my own web use.  Objectively speaking, I can’t really protect them from being “in the system” and that feels like a violation of their rights.

But rather than long for a world where no data is ever collected, I believe we need to create systems to allow people to remove data that  is inaccurate, is being abused or they simply wish to keep private.  California has recently passed the “Eraser” law to allow children to remove their digital footprints.  This may be the first step in the right direction, but restricting it to children seems to defeat the power of the legislation as a real move forward.

Perhaps the real solution is to allow individuals the right to license our data instead of being passive participants in the collection.  One New York student has taken to sell his own data on Kickstarter.  In doing this he can ensure the accuracy of that data and take an active part in the profits derived from the use.  Perhaps this is the real future.

And while I’ve chosen to focus my class reflection on data collection and privacy, I would be remiss in leaving out how overwhelming impressed I was by the work for the Gate Foundation shown by Ben and Taylor from Wintr.  The ability to winnow the bulk of dry data to identify, craft and clarify a cogent story that would emotionally resonate with viewers while creating an artistic interactive experience that did not dumb down their message balances the impossible triangle of technology, science and art without compromising one side in favor of another.  Kudos!

And then there’s this infographic about infographics which just made me smile.

13 Reasons Why Your Brain Craves Infographics

Beyond one screen, one interaction

Viewers no longer focus on a single program without distractions.  Our ability to view content when and where we want seems to be shaping  a culture of continuous media consumption.  Technology allows us to have multiple simultaneous media access points all working at the same time, and smart story tellers are finding ways to weave these interactions together to build richer stories.

With the growth of the variety of outlets for storytelling, we no longer have to create content that begins and end in video.  We can take advantage of the complex networks of social media allowing characters to live beyond the story playing out on your tv or web video.  This invites viewers deeper into the world created on the screen, driving engagement in a way not previously possible, allowing the audience to move beyond viewership into full participation.

And yet, while the appreciation of increased audience engagement  through these rich stories is accellerating, the tools to facilitate the planning and archive of these experiences are still not well developed.  In order to fully benefit from a transmedia story currently, you must be involved as it unfolds. We are still unable to archive Twitter exchanges in sync with Facebook updates ,Pintrest boards, Tumblr pages  set to unfold as your video is being presented in segments over time.

Additionally the plotting of this new fabric of additional writing and production spanning all of the outlets any storyteller has chosen to involve is still largely done via spreadsheets or in proprietary systems out of the reach of  smaller-scale productions.  Better tools to facilitate this type of woven story telling will help push this direction broader at an accelerated rate by inviting more communicators into the fold instead of asking each new player to blaze their own trails.  The ability to successfully archive these stories with some respect of the full viewer interaction experience in place will also increase the return on production costs by allowing an afterlife better encapsulating the full experience of round the clock story development.

Reflections on day 1

One key theme seems to be at the core of the material delivered in Saturday’s class- individualize the message.  People want to have contact with companies, projects, and stories in a way that engages them as it resonates with their own understanding of who they are.  With the disruption in the current age of communication, where delivery methods are so varied and widely accessible, it more important to create a message that captures the attention of a key few who will take amplify your message through their own activities.  Naturally this requires the release of some control of the message which can be a struggle for those who are entrenched in a more traditional communication model.

 

 With every company, and really every individual now having the opportunity to become their own media company the audience is more important as a participant than ever. In fact, the building of community around your product or idea can be the key to long-term success.  Whether it is Starbucks’s mission statement being about more than just coffee or a health insurance company offering content that helps individuals behave in healthier ways, the SAM trying to reinvent their image in the community or even a flash mob to support a child’s creativity.  The content of the message needs to respect audience’s connection to their content in a way that is personal enough to engage at a level deeper than a passing interest.

 

None of this is especially surprising but it is interesting that the field seems to be refocusing on this direct engagement after having been so broadly cast for so much of recent history.  This transformation of the media to a set highly personalized and narrowly targetable channels sets new challenges for those who wish to communicate and drive behavior or understanding of others.