A Business Technology Place

What if I had started writing earlier?

An article in a recent edition of the alumni magazine from my university contains a story about a family finding letters from a deceased relative who was a college student in the early 1900s. The family agreed to share the letters with the living history program at the university. As you can imagine, these personal notes contained historical information not only about the young student and his feelings but about the campus and the events in the world around him as well.9169068026_53f8cc86f0_k

What if I had started writing earlier in life? I would find stories about network equipment, break-fix of computers, and wiring closets.  I expect I would have recorded commentary about operating systems in servers and computers and how to connect them together. I would have written about the challenges of remotely connecting computers from home via modems or ISDN lines. Most likely I would have analyzed software design and specifications from the viewpoint of a waterfall approach.

More than the technical know-how, I would be curious to see my attitudes and feelings about the subject matter. This is what helps historians get to the next level of understanding of the documents they examine. For me personally, it would provide a glimpse into the technology and business concepts during that day and time. Would I still agree with my own attitude and reflection 20 years removed?

I know now that writing has a role in our lives that can leave a lasting impact. It’s a great habit and hobby to start even if you just for write for yourself. It helps me with the day-at-hand as a way to organize my thoughts and reflect. Written documents provide an artifact to examine later for research. I often look back through my writings for specific keywords to help with formulating my thoughts.  I wish I had started writing earlier in life.  My first blog post was November 8, 2008 and this will mark my 452nd post. It’s been a good journey and I can say better to start late than never.

If you aren’t writing your thoughts somewhere, it’s a good habit to consider. Do it for yourself even if you don’t publish content publicly. You’ll be glad you did.

Onward and upward!

Photo Credit: Dinuraj K via Flickr Creative Commons.

Amazing things you should be doing at work

I always liked the quote “choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”. I consider myself fortunate to have identified early the general area of practice that I wanted to make a career. Doing my job motivates me to learn and become better at my craft. But it also gives opportunities to sow seeds of happiness and enjoyment for myself and others. Over the years I’ve developed a few habits that I think help make ‘work’ more than a place. For me, these habits help add the emphasis to the quote ‘you will never have to *work* a day in your life’. Everyone needs a list of amazing things that they intentionally do to make ‘work’ a job to love.  

Here’s my list:

1.Laugh with your coworkers.

I told a coworker recently that if you aren’t laughing at work then it may not be worth the drive. To me, laughing is the spice that flavors the day. I try not to miss moments and events throughout the day that provide both smiles and laughter.

2.Keep a quote board.

I keep a log of witty, profound, funny, and obscure sayings that I hear from coworkers. Often, these are the sayings that spark the laughter and smiles that keep us connected to others. Then during special events or conversations, I reference the quotes. I find that these quotes often pinpoint specific elements of the company’s work culture or the personality of a coworker. They are a tool to strengthen relationships, motivate people, and find enjoyment. For me they also provide the basis for many of my blog posts.

3.Take pictures of events, people, or business artifacts.

I learned this one from a former co-worker who would take pictures of historical moments and physical artifacts related to the business or a project. Each photo tells a story about people and events. Unlike many things in life, the love of storytelling is something we never lose. Stories unite us, teach us, and provide insight into future decision making.

4.Reach out and touch someone.

I still use the phone on my desk. For me it’s a reminder that a simple phone call can often get me to the answer quicker than an email string of back-and-forth questions. No, it doesn’t create the CYA audit trail that comforts us. But it is more appropriate for some communications. It allows you to hear and feel the mood of the other person. It contributes to trust and friendship beyond what email can offer.

5.Help others be successful.

Common advice for being a good employee is to do things that make your boss successful. But I think the core of this advice goes much deeper. We should make it a goal to help all our coworkers be successful with their jobs regardless of their title or position on the organization chart. This is the concept of mutual submission and the assumption is that everyone in the company contributes to the success of the company. The best way to get there is to help others be successful in their work.

Your social media footprint is your history

We are fascinated with history.
Maybe History wasn’t your favorite subject in school, but I suspect that certain aspects of history get your attention now. There’s the History Channel on cable television with popular shows like Pawn Stars, American Pickers, and American Restoration. In fact Pawn Stars scores at the top of some cable TV ratings for certain age groups. There are books, documentaries, investigative reporting, etc. that all touch-on our fascination with history.

Historical information appeals to us because it’s about about how people and objects interacted to create a moment in time. They create a story and a connection for us to relate. We say life is all about relationships today and it was all about relationships back then also. Relationships are part of the fabric that makes us. So why wouldn’t we have a fascination with history.

We are fascinated with our own history.
There comes a time in the life of most people where they want to know more about their family lineage. For me, it hit during my college years. I spent some time at the local archives digging through census records and got back as far as my great great grandfather. Then just when I thought was picking up steam my grandmother told me she believed he was adopted. So it became complicated to proceed and I had school work to do and dropped my research.

Today, sites like Ancestry.com pull together information and provide tools to aid in historical research. I love the phrase I see when I pull-up the Ancestry.com site: “Ready to discover your family story?” That’s the connection with people. It’s not just a history of people and names. It’s a story about who your family was during a moment or a passage in time. It’s a story about what made you.

Social media is creating a historical record of our lives.
Now think about what digital media sites are creating. We are creating historical time lines of events in our lives. No longer will people piece together bits and pieces of their history by a photo album with names and dates on the back of the photographs. We are creating a digital footprint of our lives by our status updates.

Facebook has captured this the best with their new timeline feature. Facebook says “Tell your life story with a new kind of profile.” In essence they’ll sort your posts, status updates, blogs, photographs, etc. by date so that you can create the sequential story of your life. Just imagine if you had that for your great-great grandparents. You’d be interested to read that right?

Other social sites such as Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest are building and keeping this type of information as well. Blogging is great for this too and whether you are recording events in your life or expressing opinions on a subject, you are creating a sequential series of content.

The social sites are like our digital diaries.

The good and the bad of it.
I know when the Facebook timeline feature was first announced there was a flurry of activity and blog post recommendations to look at your timeline and remove posts that you didn’t want to be public. So for example, all the things you said about your-then “significant other” you might remove. Or maybe it was the things you wrote as an impulsive youth and you’ve grown wiser with your words now and want to remove them from the record. Whatever the reason, the idea is to make sure your history is clean. Then there are the privacy concerns. Do we want to have all this information exposed to stalkers and criminals?

But I think the idea is more good than bad. What’s really happening is that we are creating a life journal just by populating our social spaces with content. At some point in the future we can go-back and see our thoughts, our pictures, our conversations, etc. It’s our history. It’s what we have made.

Go make history.
So value your history, your story, your life. Keep a copy of it for yourself and future family members. (Google+ and Facebook have options to download a copy of all your content.) It’s your history. Go make it.