My Social Media Thanksgiving

To get in the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, I want to share my social media thank you’s.

The following four companies are my Thanksgiving dinner – my turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie.

Others may argue that there are  more important social media websites or companies, but just like the key components for a Thanksgiving dinner, social media for me would not be the same without them.

WordPress – thank you WordPress for providing such great blogging software.  And it’s for free too.  You are always there for me and blogging wouldn’t be the same without you.

Twitter – thank you Twitter for helping me connect with others and for all of the people I follow who provide me with interesting tips, links and occasional humor.

LinkedIn – thank you LinkedIn for giving me a place to post my professional resume and for keeping me connected with former friends and colleagues.

faceboo-logoFacebook – thank you Facebook for pulling together all of my non-professional activities and for making it easy to share what’s going on in my personal life with others.

I would like to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving!  And I hope you take time to count your blessings – social media or otherwise.

Outliers – Success Is Complex

Outliers

Outliers

According to Wikipedia, an outlier “is an observation that is numerically distant from the rest of the data.”  When you look at successful people from a distant, the general notion is that they got there through intelligence and ambition.

In his new book, Outliers: The Story of Success, social commentator and journalist Malcolm Gladwell explains that success is much more complex and involves looking deeper into people’s lives and surroundings to see how they achieved success.  Some of the other factors include their family, their birthplace, their generation, the month of their birth and cultural considerations.

Malcolm covered a lot in the book, but here are my quick takeaways:

Cutoff dates matter – The artificial cutoff dates for athletic or scholastic dates do matter.  There is a distinct advantage to have a birthdate as close as possible to the cutoff date.  In general, older children are bigger, faster, stronger and smarter than their age group peers.  The error is that in many cases, we confuse maturity with ability – and then compound these differences until adulthood. My son is an example of this.  He is a second grader but he started kindergarten a year late because of his October birthdate.  So he is at the older range of his class and in reality, there is as much as a 16 month range in ages across his entire second grade class.

10,000 hour rule – It takes a lot of time to become really proficient in anything, whether athletic, artistic or occupational skills like software programming or tax preparation.  Studies have shown that there is a 10 year and/or 10,000 hour rule to reach this stage.  For example, a pianist who practices 3 hours per day, 6 days per week will reach 10,000 hours in roughly 10 years.

IQ is just a threshold – High IQs are not necessarily a good predictor of success.  However, there is a threshold where you need to be ‘smart enough’ to be able to succeed.  As Malcolm states in his book, “being successful is about a lot more than IQ.”

Generational limitations – Success also depends on when you are born which drives when you reach adulthood.  For example, to be born between 1900 and 1911 is demographically unlucky as you would have hit the most devastating events of the 20th century – the Great Depression and WWII – at the wrong times.

Meaningful work – Observing and participating in “meaningful work” as defined by autonomy, complexity and a correalation between effort and reward is critical to becoming successful.

Social heritance – According to Gladwell, “Cultural legacies are powerful forces” and they can persist generation after generation long after the social and demographic conditions that created them have passed.  Gladwell told about a psychology study conducted by Dov Cohen and Richard Nisbett at the University of Michigan in the early 1990s around the culture of honor and violence.  It turns out that there is a difference between young men from the Northern and Southern US respond to insults and which partially explains the higher rates of violence in the South.

7 errors – A typical accident involves 7 consecutive human errors.  Gladwell examines airline crashes and it is very rare for a crash to be blamed on equipment, and the typical cause is human error.  However, it is not just one human error but a series of small errors that contribute to an eventual catastrophic accident.

I thought the book was a great read and it brought up some interesting ideas.  Check it these other links about Malcolm and watch the video from Barnes and Noble below:

Are You Doing “Good Work”?

I read an interesting article in the Sunday NY Times by Daniel Goleman called “It May Be a Good Job, But Is It “Good Work”?”. [BTW, Daniel is the author of the 1995 book “Emotional Intelligence” and the 2006 book “Social Intelligence: The Science of Human Relationships“.]

The article discussed the difference between a “good job” and “good work” and included references to research done by Harvard educational psychologist Howard Gardner.  Mr. Gardner originally proposed the theory of multiple intelligences that suggested that traditional notions of intelligence based on IQ testing were too limited.  Instead, the theory measures intelligence on 8 core intelligences or categories which include:  linguistic, logical-mathematical, spacial, bodily kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalist.

When applying Gardner’s theory and research to job satisfaction, it comes down to asking these questions about your job:

  1. Does it fit your values?
  2. Does it evoke excellence? (are you highly effective and competent at what you do?)
  3. Does it bring you joy?

The unexpected finding in their research was that joy was such a critical ingredient for good work.

While you ponder whether you are doing “good work” (and if you have enough joy in your job), here are some links to check out:

The Freedom Trail and Social Media

Boston Freedom Trail

Boston Freedom Trail

How am I going to link Boston’s famous Freedom Trail to Social Media?

Here’s how.  I’m spending a day in Boston for a business meeting.  I arrived this afternoon and had time to go out for a quick run before it got dark.

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile “red-brick walking trail that leads you to 16 nationally significant historic sites, every one an authentic American treasure”.  Since my hotel happens to be on the Freedom Trail in Charlestown, I decided to follow it for my run.  In 40 minutes, I got a mini-historical tour of Boston including the Old North Church, the State House, King’s Church and Burial Ground, The Boston Common, and Faneuil Hall to name a few.

The trail is pretty well marked with either double rows of red bricks or a 10-inch wide red line of paint.  However, I didn’t always want to go where the trail went so I used it more as a guide than an actual rule because I’m not always into following the rule.  But I saw many, many tourists – even on a cool November Monday afternoon – diligently trying to follow or find the ‘red line’.

So, I find myself in the Boston Commons staring up at the golden dome of the State House and it dawned on me.

In social media, there is no red line to follow.

Sure there’s some guideposts and examples you can follow.  You can read some blogs and talk to some experts about strategy.  But for you to get the most out of your social media experience you will have to blaze your own trail.  This means that you will have to get off the path, experiment with some new things, get out of your comfort zone, take some risks, and fail at some things before you find your own social media ‘red line’.  And you’ll have to keep doing experimenting and trying new things as technology changes, new applications appear and your situation changes.

So stop looking for the social media red line and start blazing your own social media trail!

What I’ve Learned About Drupal (So Far)

Drupal

I’ve spent most of this week documenting the requirements for a new community that will likely be using Drupal as their community platform.  So, I found myself on the Drupal website and have chased down a number of Drupal links.

Before this week, I didn’t know much about Drupal and considered myself a dyed-in-the-wool community enterprise software proponent.  However, situations change and it was good for me to get out of my comfort zone and check out a new way to deliver a community website.

What is Drupal? Drupal is an open source content management platform.  Actually, it’s more of a framework as there are a number of core modules plus a bunch of additional modules that have been contributed by the community.

What can Drupal do? Drupal can be used to develop many different types of websites including:

  • Community web portals
  • Discussion sites
  • Corporate web sites
  • Intranet applications
  • Personal web sites or blogs
  • Aficionado sites
  • E-commerce applications
  • Resource directories
  • Social Networking sites

The CMS Matrix provides a very nice summary of Drupal’s key features too.

What are some examples of Drupal sites? Here are just a few of the sites that I ran across during my research:

Is Drupal for real? I’m still a Drupal novice, so I’m going to have to rely on the experts for now.  For starters, Drupal was recently selected as the Open Source CMS Award winner for the second year in a row by Packt Publishing.  I also ran across a review of Drupal’s latest release written by the CMS Expert on the CMS Critic website which had a very positive review of the platform:

Overall, Drupal is a great framework and it’s no surprise why it keeps getting so much attention. Some very large sites run Drupal with heavy customizations.

Community 10/10 (I would dare to say it’s the largest and most active)

Expandability 10/10 (There’s not much you can’t do with Drupal)

Themability 6/10 (It’s getting there, just not at the stage it needs to be to be new user friendly and attractive without some design skills)

Useability 7/10 (Can be overwhelming but the administration interface is outstanding. Could work on renaming a few things to make them more user friendly.. and automate some tasks)

Overall Score: 8/10

So far, I like what I see about Drupal.  The platform seems very robust.  I like how extensible it is and I like that there is a huge community of people who continually contribute to the project.  Being open source is also a great cost benefit in that we will only have to pay for webhosting once the community is up and running.  We will be using a web design firm to create the Drupal community, so the jury may be out for awhile until the initial alpha site is developed.

Where can I learn more about Drupal? Here are some links where you can learn more about Drupal: