Adventures in Technology with Explorers, Skeptics and Cowards

There have always been explorers, from Magellan, Columbus, and Amelia Earhart to modern day adventurers like Robert Young Pelton, John Goddard and Jeff Corwin. And for every explorer there is a crowd of people shouting, “You are wasting your time! You are chasing a delusion! You are following a path to destruction…” (Okay, never mind, that was what my friends and colleagues have said to me!) Skeptics abound where explorers dare to dream, and the other crowd that gathers is the cowards. Those are the ones who say they will go AFTER the path is laid, After the path has been proven safe and AFTER there is a safe number of other cowards to walk with.

Exploring new business models or learning methods is no different. It takes an explorer to go first, to try new technologies, to dare to fail…or succeed! How many times have we heard, “Twitter is dead!” “No one will ever attend a serious business meeting or class in a virtual 3D environment!” “Facebook is on its way out and it is not a business tool!”? More times that we can count. The future depends upon those who will venture out into unchartered waters. Those who embrace the unknown or unproven to try something so radically different that others whisper as they walk by, “She’s the crazy one who has students using their cell phones in class!” “He’s the one who gives his product away for free and thinks he will make money…and what’s up with a name like Google?”

Last week I spoke at an event on a technology panel and a woman approached me after and said, “Isn’t all of this just hype? I mean Facebook is for teens to play games and talk about hating their parents. Businesses shouldn’t be wasting their time with these when there is real work to be done.” After I suggested anger management classes to her, I started to explain that we can no longer do business the way we used to do, and the new world of business requires new tools and then I stopped. I realized she would not be persuaded by such a lunatic as I. She would need to wait safely on that other side of the digital CANYON for the next covered wagon to come and get her. Ironically, that same day we read that Facebook reached an important milestone for the week ending March 13, 2010 and surpassed Google in the US to become the most visited website for the week. Yep, sounds like a waste of time for sure.

What waters must you cross to reach the new world in your business? Who is telling you it can’t be done? Who is saying they won’t follow you? Remember, the future is already here, but only the explorers are bold enough to enjoy it! There are oceans of opportunities waiting…are you an explorer, skeptic or coward?


Share your thoughts on exploring new worlds in your business or industry. Where is going? What are you doing to prepare?

Twitter: @GinaSchreck
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Using Productive Failure to Learn BIG

No more reading about “how to use today’s technology.”  It’s time you try a little productive failure in order to start moving forward.  Ok bare with me here as I go a little academic on you  Remember, after all, I am first an educator and communicator with with a thin layer of Goofy Geekiness to help the learning go down.  (Kind of like the sugar-coating over a valium– meant to keep you awake to learn something and then it will seep down into your brain as you sleep.) Hmmm I digress, but I see a new marketing slogan coming!

Back to productive failure.  Michael J. Jacobson, Professor and Chair of Education at The University of Sydney, is an international expert in the fields of the Learning Sciences and Computer Supported Collaborative Learning.  He is one of the top researchers exploring learning in the world of 3D virtual reality.   Jacobson says students learn more if allowed to do something challenging where they will most likely have a hard time being successful.  When they cannot do it, students are engaged and guided through ways to solve the problem.  Sure it’s setting them up for failure, but it’s productive failure.

Recently I took a video-editing class at the Apple store, where I got my MAC, and realized that I had engaged in productive failure to make a huge leap in my learning.  I had been playing with some editing tools on the MAC without really knowing what I was doing.  I got frustrated when I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t able to find any of the movie clips I was loading.  In the class, Rob, my instructor, guided me through a discovery process to find out that I needed to organize the clips differently.  I GOT IT!  I knew what he was talking about and immediately saw the application.

Back in time, we know that people learned new skills through aprenticship programs and learning on the job.  But once education was institutionalized, that all changed.  We now sit students (both kids and adults) in classrooms, put the sage on stage to feed them information and then give them a test to see if they remembered any of it.  Sadly much of corporate learning is still done this way.

What we don’t know using this method is whether or not the student can actually DO the task or USE the skill learned.  The student has head knowledge but doesn’t know how to apply the learning, and when they do go back and try to implement, they become frustrated and revert back to what is comfortable.

Now let me step out of the academic and into your world (unless your world is the academic world, then you can just stay  in your seat).  So many people are talking about ways to use technology in our businesses and in our learning environments.  But most people attending the class are listening to the sage on stage and taking notes.  Some are sitting on webinars watching screen shots.  When the learner goes back, they don’t always remember how it was done and many get frustrated and quit.  It’s time to dive in.  It’s time to start doing and stop reading about it.  What is one new technology tool that you keep reading about but haven’t yet taken a stab at?

Don’t worry about being perfect with it or having to set everything up perfectly before you start!  Just start.  Sure you may fail at parts of it, but when you do … fail productively!



If Someone is Selling You the Easy Button Don’t Waste Your Time!

There is NO easy button!I’m really tired of people whining, “It takes too much time to use Facebook or Twitter in my business.” (Be sure and read that with a very whiny voice!) Everyone wants the easy button, the purple pill, the silver bullet, the quick fix, but when it comes to authentically and effectively engaging your target market, IT TAKES WORK!

Now I know many internet marketing folks who will disagree with many things that I say when it comes to staying away from auto-following people and sending automated messages welcoming every new connection with a fake smile and a FREE product pushed in their face…okay so I’m a bit cranky as I write this. Let me get more coffee.

Okay, so in my humble opinion (or IMHO for those of you who, like me, have a hard time with whole words any more), SOCIAL media or SOCIAL marketing, is about…. well, being SOCIAL! I like to explain to people that when you fire up a Facebook Fan Page or launch your Twitter account, you are inviting people in for a cocktail party. You start some conversations and move to different parts of the room, always moving, adding to conversations and connecting people as you go. The way most people approach their social media launch is to invite everyone over for the party and then they go back to doing “real work” or worse, they go to bed.

I don’t care what industry you are in. It could be the pet industry, the canoe outfitting industry, the professional speaking or education industry. It’s still a SOCIAL networking environment. And yes social activities do take time. If you go to social networking events through your local chamber of commerce or leads groups or association meetings, you have to take time to walk around meeting and chatting with people. You might spend 1-3 hours, chatting, shaking hands and exchanging business cards with people (many of whom you will go back and ask yourself, “Who was this?”) and perhaps have 5-10 really good connections. That is time consuming and very limiting when it comes to the number of people you will connect with.

Through the use of social media, you could connect with hundreds, or thousands per day if you spent that same 1-3 hours. You can meet and learn from smart people who are in your industry, in your geographic region or in other areas that interest you…all at the same party. And when you share your expertise and provide great content to those who are interested in your information, Google rewards you. You will start showing up more often in places where your topic is being discussed. Your tweets and Facebook posts will be pulled when someone is looking for an expert in your arena.

Now there are many people who will tell you just connect to 10,000 totally random folks, because everyone is a possible customer or good connection. They will sell you automated tools to just collect Twitter followers and send auto messages to be successful in the social media world. While there may be some truth, depending on what you are selling, I believe that if we spend just a bit more time adding some filters-whether they be filtering out REAL people versus SPAM BOTS or people who are not wearing clothes-we would have a better network, or a better chance of people staying engaged at our cocktail party. So I say pass on the EASY BUTTON and grab a cocktail. There are folks to talk to here~

If you disagree, let’s hear a good argument-give us some examples! If you want to join in the cocktail party, tell us about yourself or join me on Twitter @GinaSchreck

Hiding the Facebook Apps without Hiding the Sender

We have discussed in the past how to hide the updates of someone who is too chatty or posts every detail of their private life on Facebook without completely UNfriending them–I mean you may have to send your mother a message occasionally!

But what about all of the game apps that folks are playing and cluttering your Facebook stream with?  You can now hide the particular app (can we say FARMVILLE!!?) and still see other posts from the sender.  Here is the latest Gettin’ Geeky episode explaining it for you in 3 min ~ So grab an ear of corn and take a peek.