Can You Imagine?

My daughter Amy recently published a book. (Yes, that was a shameless plug for this. ;-))

Her official launch party was this week, which meant we needed to make a run to Costco for beverages. Before we went, we were standing in my kitchen discussing exactly how much wine we should buy for the crowd by determining how many ounces were in a standard 750 ML bottle, and how many ounces a crowd of 100 – getting free wine -was going to drink.

During this discussion, Amy was working furiously on her iPhone, converting milliliters to ounces and doing other forms of math. Since I really, really suck at math, I looked at her and remarked how nice it was that we had the capability to do these complex equations right here and now, without mistake.

She said, “I know! Can you imagine what it would be like without it?”

Um, yeah.

I don’t even need to imagine, because I remember the days when calculators didn’t exist at all. You used a pencil and paper and did the math by hand, or used a slide rule.  How many ounces in a milliliter? Dunno – better go the library to find out.

Back in those days I really couldn’t imagine a world with microwave ovens, or video games, or portable phones. But now that I live in an era with some of the most amazing devices and conveniences, I try to stop and remember what it was like without them, because it makes me so much more patient and appreciative.

Today I was pitching social media services to a potential client and he asked me what the future was going to bring. Maybe social media will be gone in 5 or 10 years, he said, and something else will replace it. I responded that I had no clue what the future was going to bring, but that wasn’t going to keep me from embracing and advocating what we need and have, right here and now.

I can imagine it’s just going to get better and better.


Women, Weddings, and WTF?

When I was ten years old, The Detroit News announced at my elementary school that it was holding a meeting for kids who were interested in becoming newspaper carriers. When I attended the meeting, I was very promptly told to leave, because I was a girl, and girls were not allowed to deliver newspapers.

The year was 1965, and that was the world I grew up in: a world where girls and women were not given opportunities and choices. We did what we were told we were allowed to do, and didn’t do what we were told we could not. Several years after this incident, when I was in junior high school, I was almost forced by my mother to take a typing class, because she told me that I needed to have a skill that would allow me to support myself. Although women were encouraged to become teachers and nurses, secretarial work was a sure-fire way for women to work if necessary, and my mother knew and accepted that.

I tried to raise my daughters differently, and to help them understand and accept that they could have, and should demand, a different world. So when my oldest daughter got engaged, my reaction was

copyright 2011 kat berger photography

Yes, this picture is me at her April wedding, telling the story of why I was so dismayed when she got engaged. Dismayed because I felt that marriage was a betrayal of all of the things I had worked to change, and a dismissal of all the opportunities she had that I didn’t have.

So when Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, told the graduating class of Barnard College last month that her generation of women “blew it”, and that equality for women was now on their shoulders, I totally understood. It was the same reaction, more elegantly stated, that I had to my daughter’s engagement. I felt that women’s equality was her burden, and the burden of her fellow Gen-Y-ers, and that marriage was an obstacle, not an assistive device.

I am hoping for the day that she and other Millennials prove me wrong, because they are going to do exactly what Sheryl Sandberg told them to: they are going to lean in. Their husbands or significant others are going to help, so I don’t have to hold up a sign that says WTF? at anymore weddings.


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We Have No Secrets – or do we?

I’ve spent the past 30 days trying to decide how to resume blogging after a long, unintended absence.  Being an open and straightforward person, I considered a highly personal “here’s what went wrong” post.  Since I am also an apologist, I was certainly going to include profuse offers of regret, and promise to never let it happen again.  Another consideration was to post as if I hadn’t been gone at all.  Or maybe just say “I’m back” and drop it.  What to do, what to do?

Finally, I consulted the best expert I know – my daughter Amy.  Being a professional writer and long-time blogger, she is highly qualified to advise me.  I know she has my back.

My daughter pointed me toward some resources, and advised me that there are a whole lot of blogs out there that are apologizing for not blogging. In fact, blogs that resume after extended absences generally follow one of the formats I’d already considered: explanation, apology, or acknowledgment only.  Good information, but not the kind of “do this” kick-in-the-butt that I was looking for.

Finally, while listening to one of my old albums, I made my decision.  I’ve been gone, and now I’m back.  I’m not going to explain, because Carly Simon told me not to. :-)

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The Social Media Ladder

“You really ought to be on Facebook.”

My daughter, Amy Elliott, spoke those words to me in early 2009.  I don’t recall my exact response, although I am sure it was something like, “you’re nuts”, or “what for?”, or “isn’t that for kids like you?”  I probably said all three.  She knows me well, though, so I took her advice and signed up anyway.  I enjoyed it immediately, and I remember becoming SO excited when I actually had a dozen Facebook friends.

Two months later she persuaded me to sign up for Twitter.  I again did as she suggested, but like many people,  I didn’t understand Twitter at first.  Then I read an article in HR Magazine, published by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), about using Twitter.  It included some links and people I could follow.  One of those people had a Twitter instructional video, which included other links and ideas, which led me to  . . . well, you get the picture.  I was hooked.  Addicted.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was climbing  Forrester‘s The Social Technographics Ladder.

SocialLadder Starting out on the very bottom as an inactive non-user, I went to the top, as a blogger, in less than a year.  I may not be doing everything well yet, but I am doing it.  All it took was intellectual curiosity, patience, and the willingness to step outside of my comfort zone.

I began writing this blog with the idea that I was going to encourage everyone to start climbing their own social media ladder.  To quit lurking or listening on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter and to start commenting and interacting.  But I realized that not everyone wants to climb a social media ladder.  People have different levels of contentment for different things; who am I to push my passions on someone else?

So instead of encouraging you to climb a social media ladder, I am going to encourage you to find some ladder that you are passionate about – whether it revolves around work, family, friends, hobbies, or charities – and start climbing.  Get better, or smarter, or more involved, or more interactive, but START CLIMBING.

Need an incentive?  I’ll give you one, as suggested by the songwriting team of  John Kander and Fred Ebb:  “boost me up my ladder, kid, and I’ll boost you up yours.”*

I am offering a cash prize of $100, and the book “Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon” to a lucky reader who boosts me up my (or my daughter’s) social media ladder by commenting, tweeting, adding to a blogroll, following through Networked Blogs, etc.  Details in the video below.

Don’t understand what bacon has to do with social media and HR?  Look here.

The Social Media Ladder VIDEO

*I’ll put your name in the raffle drum an extra time if you can tell me (in your comment) the name of the song and the show it is from without looking it up.  Be fair.

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