I met with a (very) senior exec yesterday who said, "We all need love. Even I need love." He was talking about love in the workplace. The kind that comes from simple "thank you's" or acknowledgments of good work.
It brought to mind a time when I had about 450 people reporting up to me in some fashion. The highlight of my day was getting a "Daily Dilbert" in my email box. It amounted to a rare a moment in my day when something good and happy, with no agenda, was freely shared with me. (This was during the last recession, when positive or light-hearted information was "a find," and a pleasure to behold vs. dealing with budget cuts, people cuts, and "doing more with less.")
Over this past year, I've discovered a new type of Dilbert. Something that can not only bring string-free smiles and positive feelings, but that can add business and personal benefit.
It sort of feels like a recipe for "work love." It fills the gap that no boss can fill -- while offering a boost, a feeling of connection and worth, and a source of new inspiration and knowledge to every day.
What better holiday to share it than Thanksgiving?
The Work Love Recipe:
"Connections with people who share a professional interest or relationship which can deliver string-free spontaneous joy."
The regular joy you will get from these connections is better than a shot of espresso, and similar to a "great job" memo from the boss. Simple as that.
What could a sample 5-ingredient list look like for the "Work Love Recipe?"
- Identify areas that interest you professionally.
For me, topics of interest include business strategy; use of technology to better reach and engage large audiences; culture and values; buzz marketing and PR; Business and Personal branding; IT industry dynamics; "Best Place to Work," "Employee Engagement," and "Leadership" best practices; and breaking business news.
- Seek out thought leaders in these areas and read/comment on their work.
I set up a "Google Reader" and subscribe to several blogs for a real-time fix such as:
- Join your company's social network.
Read what others are saying. Join discussions. Start discussions. Subscribe to the communities you enjoy following. You'll start discovering ideas -- and the people behind them - that turn your brain on, in a very work/professional sort of way. Many of these people will become your friends.
Inside of the EMC ONE Social Network, I subscribe to the EMC Culture Talk Community. This way I get a quick email alert when new content is posted. I frequent the Competitive Community, the HR community and the ever interesting "Watercooler".
- Find and join professional networks outside of work. Networks that are both on-line and the old-fashioned face-to-face types.
My face-to-face network: TARA. "TARA is a small constellation of diverse, influential, global women who build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships to take charge of their professional and personal destinies and help others do the same." We have an annual retreat in Belize :) and meet often in local chapters.
My on-line networks: These will also allow others to find you easily. I am a member of LinkedIn, Facebook, the Downtown Women's Club, and college alumni groups.
and one of the most interesting of all ....
- Leverage and join Twitter. This is a means to connect, gain value, and form relationships -- including true friendships -- with people and ideas you respect. You don't have to "Know" these people at first, all you have to do is "know of them" to be able to see personal snippets of their ideas on a daily basis. I think of these snippets as "Brain Candy." On Twitter, people post brief, genuine thoughts (no fancy company-speak) and links to content they liked. You can scan 10-15 posts in a matter of seconds. Click on the ones that look interesting to you. Share content you find of interest - inclusive of your own blog -- and further your personal brand and network at the same time. The mood is upbeat and supportive.
I visit Twitter 1-3 times a day generally during "downtime" segments lasting 1-10 minutes. Examples: waiting in line for coffee at the Dunkin' Donuts drive through and at the grocery store; waiting in the dentist office; walking down the long hallways at my office; during TV commercials; when I can't sleep at night; and during the all-too-rare pedicure.
Some of the 200 interesting people and content I follow on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/nytimes, New York Times Feeds
http://twitter.com/jowyang, Industry Analyst
http://twitter.com/penelopetrunk, Career Journalist, CEO, funny
http://twitter.com/ezrabutler, Marketing and strategy guy, funny
http://twitter.com/cheeky_geeky, Funny geek
http://twitter.com/timoreilly, Smart guy
http://twitter.com/chrisbrogan, Interesting, connected guy
http://twitter.com/vendorprisey, Industry analyst
http://twitter.com/DowntownWoman, Networking maven, TARA member
http://twitter.com/guykawasaki, Tech, social media guru
http://twitter.com/adamcohen, PR guy, social media and red sox fan
http://twitter.com/JimJCramer, The one and only Jim Cramer. Boo Yahh.
http://twitter.com/skydiver, PR connector guy
http://twitter.com/Pistachio, Social media maven
http://twitter.com/Scobleizer, Tech journalist
http://twitter.com/barbaramassa -- EMCer, head of US recruiting
http://twitter.com/kcornwall, EMCer, in Marketing on the West Coast, Mom, Funny
http://twitter.com/SteveTodd, EMCer, Innovator in software engineering, blogger
http://twitter.com/davidkspencer, EMCer, manager in software engineering, blogger
http://twitter.com/billpetro, EMCer, on the road mobile device technical guy, blogger
http://twitter.com/PeterQuirk, EMCer, neat geek, connector with great info, blogger
http://twitter.com/gminks, EMCer, technical training, blogger
http://twitter.com/LenDevanna, EMCer, web czar, blogger
http://twitter.com/danschawbel, EMCer, social media PR, blogger
http://twitter.com/NCorridanGregg EMCer, women networker
http://twitter.com/Storagezilla, EMCer, funny neat geek in the field, blogger
http://twitter.com/kkempskie, EMCer, corporate PR guy
http://twitter.com/JamiePappas, EMCer, social media platform guru
http://twitter.com/storageanarchy, EMCer, trouble maker (!), blogger
http://twitter.com/NuzhatMKarim, EMCer, University Relations phenom
To net this all out, I feel a record amount of "work love" on the job these days. My mind is constantly stimulated and I have a huge pool of professional contacts, both internal and external, to bounce business ideas off of. And, I truly believe, I've never been more productive. The work I've done for this past year I believe is among my very best; better for my network, my energy level and my sources of daily knowledge and inspiration. At the same time, subtracting the truly lousy economy and the job loss around us, this is about the happiest I've ever been on the job.
I'm thankful today. Thought I'd share my recipe with you. Feel free to connect with me on Twitter to start your connections flowing.
-------------------------- TALK BACK -----------------------------
Where do you get your sense of "work love?" Please share your tips, and/or your favorite sources of ideas or inspiration. This networked land is still rather new to me. Two years ago all my efforts and connections lived in a relatively small circle. I, like many others, are trying to pick this more connected world up on the fly. Your input is most welcome.