Networking Nightmares

Networking Nightmares and how to solve them.

For someone like me who loves to get out and meet people the idea of networking can still be a nightmare.  Don’t get me wrong.  I find the idea of going out and connecting with new people several times per week exhilarating – as most extroverts do –  but despite the enjoyment I derive there is still something in my systems thinking heart that cringes.  The nightmare is twofold.  First that we think that getting together over drinks is going to help us make deep connections when often people split into groups they already know or breeze through as many conversations as possible to ‘do their job’ for the night.  Second the idea that surface level conversation can possibly develop a relationship that can challenge the deep issues in our society is simply incorrect. Continue reading “Networking Nightmares”

Changing the Business Card Shuffle

I’ve never felt that networking events have helped get me a job.  Everyone seems to be there to give out as many cards as possible before the evening ends and to keep the conversation as light as possible.  This being said I love to network.  Getting to know new people.  I love it especially when I can find out what they are passionate about.

The question “what do you do?” is particularly challenging.  That question is just… argh.  On some level it feels like you are about to be judged and graded as important or useless depending on your answer.  When I meet someone I want to know what they love to do.  I want to know what makes their life shine. In fact, please comment on this and let me know something that makes your life beautiful. Continue reading “Changing the Business Card Shuffle”

Gamifying Create Better Impact Games

Create Better Impact LogoSo as you may know Create Better Impact Games is my company.  I design games around making the world a better place which I know will one day be worthy of winning awards from Games for Change. Right now, this is a little tiny company with a little tiny budget.  Not that one day it won’t be able to hold its own with the big boys, but for now marketing is not the top priority.

As I got ready to bring Waste Not to market using an Indiegogo Campaign I had to think seriously about how to approach marketing. While I have a lot of people in my contacts I couldn’t be sure who would actually have natural interest and who might need some convincing.

Being a game designer I tried to think of ways to make liking or signing up on social media fun and engaging to the community.  This process is called gamification and everyone and their mother is currently trying to apply it to their web presence.  I am lucky that it is part of my natural reaction to communications.

Waste Not Logo
What are you going to do with it?

Back to the point.  There I was at the start of a campaign trying to raise money to print Waste Not.  My Facebook page for both CBI Games and Waste Not were relatively new with little to now following, I had just begun a Twitter presence for Waste Not, and I had nothing on Google+.  So in response I decided to give away a version of my game for free via social media.  You heard me, for free.

I figured that if people got a chance to play the game, even if slightly different interactions than with having a deck of cards, that they’d be more likely to ‘like’ and engage with the marketing of the brand.  In this case, I was seeking to let the game speak for itself.

Now I’ve been going forward with the understanding that this deck of cards will be able to be used in many ways.  That will always happen when you give someone a flexible tool, is that they will begin to bend it and play with it.  In fact many of the stories that we know from childhood have changed over the centuries.  The basic story is still there to communicate the archetypal hero/ine’s journey but the details change.

Well that’s exactly what I’m seeing happening with Waste Not on Social Media.  While the instructions were to share the status so that others could see what you were liking and playing people tended to comment on the Waste Not status.  While this did not garner the amazing viral experience I was hoping for, I did get the benefit of seeing how people began to play the game.  And let me tell you it was fun!  Yes, my games are fun for me too.  Especially when I get to watch others play.

While I’ve let go of the control over the rules and will continue to allow for this project to flow and grow, I’m glad that I undertook this experiment in the gamification of my own marketing.  I think overall those that played did have fun and many of them played several times.  What I’m seeing now is a small but committed group of people who are totally engaged.  I’d prefer this any day to a large, unengaged group.  My hypothesis is that as long as I follow the same theory of engagement that as the following grows it may be smaller initially but they will be more valuable relationships.

Fixing Poor Policy

Reversing poor policy decisions is not only possible it is necessary for the health of your business. While it is often easier to start from scratch, sometimes things need to be changed mid-stream. And you should consider it.

As a business owner take a minute to think about the established system of your business.  What are the indicators that you are getting from your employees?   What are the possible reactions of the system to your policy? How will it positively and negatively affect the environment and the culture?  Is the failure or mistake a symptom of something that is under your control?  Regular communication with employees about topics both inside AND outside the company can help.

As an example : If you have open and regular communication you know that Suzie’s overeating might be because of a recent breakup, but what if you don’t?  A potential cause for a change in is that your employees aren’t getting enough exercise.  There are also all sorts of dietary possibilities.  I’ll tell you this, if I had an employee that was gaining weight I’d be concerned that they might not be getting enough breaks as well since sometimes going to food is an experience of needing to step away from what they are doing.

This has many other potential applications, but what it comes down to is that our businesses are small communities.  The more conversation that happens and the more pieces of the puzzle that you have the better when it comes to making decisions to everyone’s benefit.

Privacy

While catching up on one of the episodes of House, MD that occurred while I was away in Haiti, I noticed a theme that flowed quite well with my experience. So much so that I paused the video and began to write.

The theme was ‘privacy.’ While House and his team had a short debate on the topic and whether it was a modern innovation, totally unnecessary or socially irrelevant, I began to think of my visit to the town of Cabaret just outside of Port-au-Prince. Continue reading “Privacy”

Ghosttowns in the Hills of Italy and Tourism

I’m referring not to the haunting of the hills but the abandonment of villages.

Empty buildings.  Why?  They have the food they need.  The homes are beautiful.  Why would they leave?  I expect that these typically family-centric communities of 5+ houses become nonviable as the younger generation moves away and the older one dies.  Driving around, we passed two of these housing clusters that were  empty and another that was at half its potential occupancy.

Another challenge evident exists in housing prices.  According to one local, after the release of the book Under the Tuscan Sun and then the movie, prices of Tuscan villas shot sky high.  It makes me wonder if those detritus filled decaying homes might be bought and inhabited if the locals weren’t priced out.  I wonder if this same effect happened after the release of the book Eat, Pray, Love in the countries it referred to.