Who is your community?

Often we equate our community with our geographic neighborhood … the neighbor down the block (whether we really know him or not), the businesses in our town and sometimes our Facebook friends.

I view my community little differently.

Image by L. Sean Key

It’s my Tweeps on Twitter – it’s Jennifer Sertl, it’s Melissa Pardo, it’s Dawna Mclean it’s Jay Dyok, it’s Whitney Johnson, it’s Sarah Hodsdon, it’s Jess Stanton, it’s Cheryl Burgess, it’s Sandy Maxey, it’s Kenny Rose ,it’s Mitvzah Circle and endless other wonderful people around the world who give me love and support. These are the people who tuck me in at night with a hug … and wake me up in the morning with a kiss.

It’s Sean Key – who inspired this post – and even though we’ve only been ‘arms length’ friends for thirty years, we now have just created a bond – a bond which I know will be unbreakable.

It’s Terry Summers and Brian Hankla, old friends of mine, friends who I seldom see but know will be there for me … and hope they know I will be there too.

It’s Shay Kelley – who even though had never been to my home town, Minot, North Dakota – drove hundreds of miles with her husband and dog to put in endless hours of needed help during Minot’s recent devastating flood.  You inspire me. I only wish I could be half the person you are.

It’s the Black Eyed Peas – who with exception of Fergie, also had never been to Minot, but last night selflessly performed an epic flood relief concert raising two millions dollars for the victims. If only there were more people like you four.

It’s my daughter, Alexandria – while a pain at times, who provides me with an endless amount of joy and pride.

It’s my Dad – who daily amazes me with his unrelenting optimism and support.

It’s my local grocery store – who always greets me with smiles and conversation. While not necessarily having the best prices or selection … their service and hospitality more than makes for it. Go local business!

These are just a few members of “my community.” Each provides the bits and pieces to make the whole. And it’s important I recognize that I have to nurture them and help them grow – as they do for me.

A community needs love … to give love.

So go out, give some love … and build your community.

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I can be found on Twitter at @clayforsberg

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Welcome to my “Perfect World”

Imagine if you could close your eyes, click your heels – and find yourself somewhere else, somewhere where your personal little world was just like you wanted it to be.

About fifteen years ago I started using the phrase, “Road to Your Perfect World.” It was used mainly in the context of my recruiting business. “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Thus the “Road” moniker. I told my candidates to view a job as a just step on a bigger journey where they wanted to go. If the job they were considering didn’t do that … then move on.

Well the over the years my idea of the “The Perfect World” has changed. It’s not just about work or getting a job anymore. It’s more encompassing. If you’ve read this blog, you probably already know that. It’s about my ideas to fix everyday life and all that makes it up. So – welcome to my “Perfect World, circa 2011.”

My Perfect World

My Perfect World ... well, kinda
  1. First it’s local. I’m all into the web, and what happens in the world and everything. And I’ve met some outstanding people that have expanded my life in areas I never expected. But when it comes down to it, it’s about where I’m standing, the ground underneath me, the tree over there (with the nest in it) – and the cat walking across the street in front of me. My physical, mental and financial health begins and ends here in my neighborhood. If I’m going make things perfect – I’m might as well start right here.
  2. Second, there’s more to life than just buying things. My value on this earth is a lot more than just the size of my house or the balance in my bank account. And I don’t think I’m alone here either. Helping each other, whoever they may be, and spreading good karma is more valuable to me than any car in my garage. In this day of “slash to the bone” political rhetoric, a lot of people, even some of my neighbors, are falling through cracks. And the safety net has holes in it. So it’s up to us, the members of my community – to power up the sewing machine and fix that net.
  3. Sometimes I do have to buy things though, so I’m going to make every effort to support locally owned businesses. These people are my friends and my neighbors. They are the parents of my daughter’s friends. Walmart’s not my friend, nor is McDonalds, nor is Amazon. I don’t hate these companies. But all I know, is three times more money flows into my community when I buy locally. That’s money for public art, for schools, for soccer leagues, and for cat parks (yes cat parks – imagine that – after all it’s my Perfect World). These things keep my neighborhood healthy, interesting and prospering.
  4. Also, when I buy things, local or not, I want to be treated like an individual. I’m not like my next door neighbor or my daughter, so why am I marketed to the same way. Once I first start shopping at your business, I want you to start building a profile on me. I know some people think that’s creepy, but I’m cool with it. I don’t want to know about deals on diapers. It’s been twenty years since I bought diapers. Just because you’re too lazy to keep track of what I buy doesn’t give you the right bombard me with endless circulars and junk mail. Keep me informed on things that matter to me when I should know about them. Respect my time as well as my money. Business relationships are exactly that … relationships. So I want them treated like that.
  5. And lastly, I want to not only have a say in what happens in my community – I want to actually make it better myself. I’m done sitting around and waiting for the government – local, state, federal, whatever – to make thing better for my neighborhood and for me and my friends. Whatever the level, government has gotten to point it’s nothing but a bunch of self-serving bureaucrats. We are much better served, serving ourselves. My neighbors and I know what needs fixing and who needs help in our own community. So in my “Perfect World,” we are going to deal with things ourselves. And it’s not just about throwing a bunch of cash around either (assuming any of us had a bunch of cash). It’s about helping however you can, with whatever resources you have. If you have a truck with a plow on it – help clear the snow in your neighbors driveway … and she’ll bake you a quiche in return. If you have open space in your office building – let a new nonprofit, volunteer tutoring service use it … for free. We learned in kindergarden to share. It was a good idea then – so why not now.

Well, that’s pretty much my “Perfect World,” at least in my own little corner of the world. And I think if a lot of other corners of the world did the same  – who knows maybe things might just get better … maybe a whole lot better.

In fact that might not be a bad idea. Imagine if we could bottle my “Perfect World” and spread it everywhere, or at least a template for creating your own neighborhood “Perfect World.”  And imagine if all these little local “Perfect Worlds” would talk to each other and share what they’ve learned. That could make their “Perfect Worlds” even more perfect.

My “Perfect World” may not be the same as everyone else’s, and that’s cool. After all, we’re all different. But one thing I know, is if you wait and hope someone else, mainly government and the big box store down the street, to tell you what they think it should be … you’re probably not going to be happy. How’s that been working for you?

I think there’s a lot of people out there that think the same way. And if you’re reading this then you’re probably one of them. We can make things better for a whole lot of people – if we just get back to the fundamentals, where it starts.

And it starts on your block, on your street  – and in your neighborhood.  A lot us have lost touch with our community and our neighbors – I’m no exception. But it’s time to reconnect … our neighborhoods need us to. This is where the real power lies. It’s waiting for you to grab it and run with it.

Don’t disappoint!

Note: The five items I described above may seem random, but they’re not . In a few months you see why. Keep in touch. I’m on Twitter at @clayforsberg

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Collaboration 2.0 (Part 2) … crossing the chasm!

Crowdsourcing is like herding cats. Everyone wants to go in their own direction – and seldom is it yours. Of course “crowdsourcing” is best added to a project that is already structurally sound w/ core stakeholders … we don’t always have that luxury. Thanks to Max Aetheling – for that bit of insight.

In my May 8 post, “Collaboration 2.0 … from ideas to action,” I discussed the chasm that exists between most collaborative thought efforts and the implementation of the results of these efforts. What’s needed is an “implementation template” to service as a guide to put these ideas and thoughts into play. Well after a few days of thought (sorry, just my own), I’ve come up with a rough out of this “template.” Here we go.

Turning ideas into reality

Before the actual collaboration begins – the stage needs to be set. It’s the job of the collaboration Founders to set the project direction before the rest of the collaborators, or Alliance, is brought on.

  • Define the general premise of what the collaboration is trying to accomplish. This could be an idea, a solution to a problem, or even a general societal benefit.
  • Breakdown the collaboration into components – or Milestones.
  • Determine who you want on your team – your collaboration Alliance. Cast a wide net. You never know where talent will come from.
Once the direction is set – then let the Alliance begin the collaboration.
  • Set up Yammer groups (or equivelent) for each individual Milestone. All members of the Alliance will be members of each groups. They can jump from “sandbox” (Milestone) to “sandbox” or stay primarily in one – whatever their preference.
  • Set a “ship it” date, a deadline. Take advantage of emotional momentum (like the Middle East rebellions). After the deadline – project implementation starts.
  • Create a narrative goal of what each Milestone should strive for. Tell a story. Don’t fall back on lists – make it real.
  • Conduct an active ideas forum. The flow is the responsibility of the Founders. Moderate the activity and keep the goals always in focus. Use a proactive approach for inactive or lagging members.
  • Once each Milestone narrative is set, then the Alliance is to breakdown implementation needs, timetable and determine who will occupy leadership, or Driver positions for each Milestone.
During the project formation the following issues need be addressed.
  •  Total resources needed – things, talent (not money)
  • What resources needed do we currently have – and how compensated
  • What additional resources needed do we not have – how compensated
  • How will the additional resources be obtained and by who
Once the Milestones are laid out, then the real fun begins. Either the current Alliance or a new operational Alliance needs to take it to the next level – and if appropriate, an ongoing concern. Well, that’s a discussion for another post.
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 These are just some thoughts. Feel free, actually I’d like it – if you threw in your  input. I need all the help I can get with those cats! 

Collaboration 2.0 … from ideas to action!

I originally wrote this post two years ago so some of the cultural references are out of date. But even after two years, I believe the message still applies. This is especially the case in many “groups” on Facebook and Google+. There’s a lot of extremely talented and well directed people lending excellent ideas. But it seems as if everything dies in the ideas stage.

If there was one trend I would say is leading on the backstretch of the trends of 2011 (can you tell it’s the day after the Kentucky Derby) – it would be crowdsourcing and collaboration. With each week the “getting everyone involved” movement gathers stream. We saw it, and still are, with the revolutions in the Middle East. We’re seeing it domestically too. Even”hard to change” corporations are jumping on the bandwagon. Coke is currently crowdsourcing their new theme song (under the guidance of Teio Cruz). And two weeks ago Lady Gaga announced she’s giving away millions at four New York charities voted on by her “Little Monsters.”

In theory, this collaboration movement seems great. The “little guy” is getting a voice.

The chasm between ideas and action

Aside from efforts by major organizations – I see a problem. How do you move this collaboration off the internet into action in the real world? Not everyone is Coke or a rock star like Lady Gaga.

In my experience, there seems to be a chasm between thought and ideas, and the implementation of these thoughts and ideas.

There are numerous great online forums and groups that accommodate collaborative vision formation – but where does it go from there? It seems everyone wants to give their opinion (myself included), but who’s actually going to do the real work making it happen.

Somewhere in the process someone has to have the plan to put these visions to practical use. That’s the strength of traditional organizations. The ideas that come from them may be flawed … but they get implemented. Even the collaborative revolution we saw in Egypt, earlier this year, didn’t fully take form until the Muslim Brotherhood and their existing organizational structure joined in. The students turned over tactical control to them in the decisive battle of the Kasr al-Nil Bridge which marked the turning point in the rebellion.

There is no shortage of great ideas that can probably change the face of our future. Unfortunately, most of them are just ideas – even though they may have thousands, if not millions of contributors. But someone needs to “take the bull by the horns” and channel them into a productive movements.

At present, it seems those that have the worst ideas, those in positions of power – have the strongest organizations to implement these ideas.

What we need is an “implementation template.” A platform where our collaborative ideas can move from just ideas and visions to acting solutions. While we may want to discard the status quo with a ‘scorched earth’ policy – and start anew … it isn’t practical. We have to grab some of the old and use it however best we can – to change the world.

Serious implementation questions need be answered before even the best ideas can come to fruition.

Every movement, every challenge has to have someone to lead the charge. Not everyone is a leader however, nor do they need to be. And the organizational structure needed to get things done doesn’t happen by crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing may uncover a leader – but they still have to lead and they must have a plan to do so. Also, will those intricately involved in the idea formation be willing to take a similar influential role in getting it done? And if they aren’t – then who will. These are just a few of the questions that will arise.

We have a unprecedented opportunity to take this place we live in … and make it a whole better for everyone. It’ll take more than just ideas though. That I believe will be the next step in the evolution of collaboration … or as I call it –  “Collaboration 2.0.”

I’d like to make this post a clearinghouse for ideas on how to develop this “implementation template” I alluded to. Please throw in your ideas in the comments on how we can do this. All input, pro or con, is greatly appreciated.

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You can find me on Twitter at @clayforsberg and on Google+

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Invest in the future … fund a ChangeMaker!

There ‘s been a lot of attention recently about the benefits of crowds. Everything is being crowdsourced. A project that wants to get crowdfunded, posts its project or idea on a website dedicated to soliciting small investments. These investments are often as small as ten dollars and seldom larger than a hundred. For your investment, you get a token of appreciation. This token could be a white paper, a shirt or anything else the project head wishes to give you for your support. There are also levels of appreciation which correspond to the level of your investment.

This whole crowdfunding thing got me thinking about when I was young in Minot, North Dakota (pop. 35,000) – where I grew up. When I was in high school, there was a professional golfer in town, Mike Morley, that was trying to hit the PGA tour. He had his tour card, but didn’t have enough money to go from event to event to compete. A group of Minot businessmen decided to back him and pay for his expenses. I don’t know the details of their arrangements, but I suspect that if Mike made money then they would participate in the spoils. This was kind of an informal local crowdfunding.

If we can participate in a new company or project through crowdfunding, why can’t we participate in the success of the individual themselves, like what happened with Mike – only even more esoteric. OK … work with me.

Meet the ChangeMakers

Imagine a web site or portal with a variety of different people on it, people looking for career assistance. For the sake of argument – let’s limit it to young people. Each of these individuals, let’s call them ChangeMakers – would have to put up a profile or online portfolio. These portfolios would be a “Here I am world, this is what I’m all about and why you should invest in me.” The portfolio could be an essay, it could be pieces of art, or a video or whatever vehicle the ChangeMaker wants to use to present themselves to the world.

All of these ChangeMakers would be put in a central virtual location where we, the investors, can find them. They could be organized by location, or life focus or even age. Each ChangeMaker would determine their own tokens of appreciation they wanted to give investors. Chances are, financial participation probably wouldn’t be one – but who knows.

Rather than just giving money to a faceless charitable cause (not that there’s anything wrong with that), you’d be investing in the future of an actual young adult, one that you could watch grow and progress through life – on one that you had a vested interest in. You could create a portfolio of ChangeMakers, not unlike an investment portfolio. You could diversify … or could you throw all your weight behind a single industry or group of ChangeMakers in a similar field.

Ingenious ChangeMakers wouldn’t limit the parameters of investment to just money either. They could solicit mentoring and expertise in their areas endeavour. If they were an artist, they could request studio space. If they are interested in public policy, they could request a legislative internship.

And on top of it, not only would these young ChangeMakers get the resources they need to jumpstart their future – they’d have to figure out what resources they need on their journey to success. This organizational prompt might be worth more than the assistance itself.

As we search for ways to reform schools and prepare our young for the future, we almost always overlook one of our greatest resources – our community. We look to the public sector for all the answers through political debate ad nauseam … when the solution is just down the street, or in the next town or on the other side of the country. But it’s never potentially further than a mouse click. I believe we all want to help and we all have the same goal – success for our young. But we just don’t have the vehicle to pull it all together, a vehicle where we can put a name and face to those that need our assistance – whatever assistance we may be able to give them.

I’d be interested in hearing your views on this idea I’ve been rambling on about. Maybe it’s just a pipe dream, but I don’t think so. Please give me some feedback.

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