Comfort Zone

Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. –Brian Tracy

Some of us work our whole lives with the goal of being comfortable. We strive for a comfortable home, a comfortable car, income, etc.
There was a time that I subscribed to that type of thinking; life would be better if I could just be “comfortable”.

I think it was the cable TV show What Not To Wear that first woke me up to this deceptive word. Whenever the person getting a fashion makeover tried describing why they wanted to hold on to one of their old, beat-up, pieces of clothing they almost always described the clothing as comfortable. At this the show hosts would cringe and go on a rant about why comfortable is not on the list of criteria for looking good.  In the same way, comfortable does not make the list of criteria for being successful!

Move out of your Comfort Zone

I get it. Life is hard and it’s easy to become complacent. I’m that way too.
I remember seven years ago I was not only complacent, I was stubborn about being complacent. I was seeing signs at work that my job may be eliminated, but I was choosing to ignore them. I remember telling my wife, “It took me two years to find this job, I don’t have the energy to look for another one now!”.
Yet despite my will-power and determination, and (especially) despite my complacency, my job was eliminated, just as I knew it would be. Because of this I was in the worst position of my life; No job and little preparation for finding another.
I’m not sure what I could have done at that late date, but whatever it was  it would have been better that doing nothing and pretending the problem didn’t exist.

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
–Brian Tracy

I love that Brian phrases this quote so well. He uses real words like awkward, and uncomfortable. Brian is right, it is awkward to put yourself out there. When you’re on a new path you’re out of familiar territory. You may venture off of the path and you may get bumped and bruised, but there is something that will surely happen: you will move forward, and you will grow.

What are you doing to get out of your Comfort Zone?

 

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Neale Donald Walsch

The Growth of Technology and the Social Graph

 

As the interactions and connections grow they further fill-in the Social Graph. The Social Graph is a term coined by social scientists to refer to used to refer to relationships on the Internet. The colorful image above is a visualization of my LinkedIn.com connections, and is basicly a social graph of my network. As complicated and interwoven as it it, it represents less than 600 people. Can you imagine how detailed the Social graph of Facebook, Google, or the World Wide Web is, and all of the interconnectivity and interactions that take place on it daily?

Yahoo is currently working on a project called the Small World Project, in which they are attempting to prove that the world is indeed connected by six degrees of seperation. Sociologists have tried to prove this claim for decades, but have failed to resolve it. You can participate in the Small World Project by clicking here.

As I think about the interconnectivity of it all I can help but wonder if once examined and mapped, will the Social Graph reveal the type of repititive fractal patterns that Mandelbrot discovered? I wouldn’t be surprised one bit, after all it is all interconnected.

Who Do We Trust?

Any business owner can tell you that word of mouth (also known as a referral) is the best way to get business. As marketers word of mouth is the type of interaction we strive to offer online. We want interactions with our brands to be relevant, honest and within the context of the existing conversation. Social media platforms like Facebook provide a perfect platform where friends, trust and brands all come together. As marketers our goal should be to find a way for to put our brand in a position to be spoken about in real, “organic” ways on social media platforms.

From Word of Mouth to “World of Mouth”

In Eric Qualman’s 2010 book Socialnomics, he talks about how putting word of mouth onto social networks amplifies it reach exponentially. We may have a conversation at a party with three or four people, but an online conversation on Facebook could potentially reach much much more. For example, If I post a recommendation on Facebook and a friend comments, all of my friends and his friends can see the conversation. So if we each have 300 friends, that’s, 600 people! for each new comment or “like” all of the new commentators friends can see it as well. Those numbers can get really big very quickly!
It is worth mentioning that word of mouth is much more powerful (as all interactions are) face to face. There is some dilution of trust in the online world. But what more effective way is there to leverage the power of word of mouth to reach large groups of people?

 

Career Coaching and Layoffs

Last week I volunteered as a career coach for an event called “Passport to Success” that was produced by a local TV station. As I told my friends, I’m not really a career coach, I just play one on TV! Actually I was very comfortable slipping into the role of coach to help this group of 130 recently unemployed professionals.

As a technology coach I met with people for 6 minutes each in a “speed dating” type of format. Throughout the morning I met with 32 people. Afterwords my voice was hoarse and I was exhausted, but it felt great to help people with their career search. The biggest thing I did was to encourage people to establish a personal brand and bring it online through social networking sites like Linkedin.com, (amazingly 90% of the people I met with didn’t have LinkenIn profiles).

As someone who was laid off from a real estate marketing position just two years ago, I felt a real empathy for their situation. This is a terrible time to be in their position, and their road is bound to be hard in many ways, but it’s also a potential opportunity for them to grow personally and professionally.

In the two years since my layoff I have grown professionally in ways I couldn’t have imagined previously. Being a pragmatist I would have never taken “the leap” to venture out on my own without the firm shove given me by my previously employer. Here is a link to a video clip from Durham, NC where I talk about turning my layoff into an opportunity.

The other side of this is that I’ve suffered huge personal and financial hardships during this same time. I won’t go into these, but suffice to say that it “ain’t been easy!”
I’m not sure what the future will hold for me, but I know for sure that I have been changed by the events of the past few years, and I will never be the same!

As I think about the people who have been recently laid off I know that some will find another opportunity right away, some will stay in their industry, and some will not find anything for a long time. But I know that some will, as I have, use this opportunity to transform themselves an reinvigorate their career. But for almost none will it be easy!

The following link has a video from the  “Passport to success” event with a short clip of me talking about the power of blogging.

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