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Tell your work story with an infographic

Resume screen shot - reflectionI have recently found myself updating my resume. Why? After 4 1/2 years at Spigit, I have moved on as the company has been acquired by Mindjet. It was a good run there.

So I needed to dust off the resume. And you know, it was eye-opening how limiting resumes are. They are great for their core job-to-be-done: provide a history of your work. But they’re terrible if you want to go into more depth. You see advice to limit resumes to two pages. Use “power” verbs. Avoid graphics that foul up automatic scanners.  Good counsel, but not what I want.

I wanted to communicate a narrative about my work at Spigit. We spend so much time in our jobs, and there is always a story there. It’s richer than anything you can communicate via a series of bullets about your skills. I want to describe the circumstances of the work. Give some key milestones of my employment. Describe the projects and outcomes of my work. Creative types will augment resumes with portfolios. What about the rest of us?

It occurred to me that infographics are good for my purposes. They get across key information in a narrative using a visually interesting style. But they don’t require a significant investment of time and focus for the reader. So I created my own infographic to describe the context and work of my time at Spigit:

VP Product Spigit infographic

I tried using one of the infographic-generation sites, but wasn’t satisfied with the results. The default templates didn’t match the story I wanted to tell, I wanted to do more with the interplay of text and graphics, and the PNG image upload was buggy. Instead, I used two free apps to make it:

  • Google Docs – drawing app
  • GIMP image program (installed)

I exported the Google Drawing to PDF. To turn the PDF into a high resolution PNG file, I followed the advice on this StackExchange post.

The final question is where to put the infographic. It doesn’t exactly fit a standard letter (U.S.) or A4 size, so you can’t append it to your resume. So I’ve uploaded it to Slideshare and Scribd, added it to my LinkedIn profile, and it graces the About Me page of this blog. Would be kind of daring to send it to a prospective employer, eh?

If you’re interested in creating one of these, feel free to contact me. I can offer you what I learned in making it. And in case you’re wondering, Spigit’s revenues are publicly available via SEC filings by its lead investor PICO Holdings.

I’m @bhc3 on Twitter.

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My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 082109

From the home office at the World Track Championships in Berlin…

#1: Spigit Innovation Summit Wrapup http://bit.ly/4zIqo1 by @innovate “It’s important to have connectors on your #innovation team”

#2: Jeff Bezos on corp #innovation: For innovative ideas to bear fruit, companies need to be willing to “wait for 5-7 years” http://bit.ly/tP9vj

#3: Like this by @paulsloane – Given unlimited resources to solve something, we’d dev something expensive & over engineered http://bit.ly/Qa3tY

#4: Zopa isn’t disruptive argues @bankervision http://bit.ly/ZYela His key points: same customers, same credit scoring, same pricing as banks

#5: Gary Hamel last week: “We have a state of creative apartheid, where some are *really* creative, some aren’t. That’s BS.” #spigit09

#6: Bookmark this: 14 Reasons Why Enterprise 2.0 Projects Fail http://bit.ly/3piYNF by @dhinchcliffe #e20

#7: Bookmark this: How To Kick Start A Community – an Ongoing List http://bit.ly/641dA by @jowyang

#8: Mashable: “14% of surveyed employers disregard candidates who use friendly smiley faces in social media” http://bit.ly/1ajvd8

#9: RT @skap5 Is IMHO a necessary descriptor? Unless of course the rest of your opinions are not humble.

#10: My son starts kindergarten in a couple weeks. Then I see this: “Tutoring tots? Some kids prep for kindergarten” http://bit.ly/3htw0 No…

How many of us find our true talent? She did.

Photo credit: cyclingnews.com

Photo credit: cyclingnews.com

Over a year ago, I wrote a post here titled How Many of Us Find Our True Talent? In that post, I speculated that the vast majority of us find vocations and activities we’re good at. But we likely have talents in totally different areas that never really see the light of day:

My own theory is that each of have talents that are uniquely strong in us. For some, these talents would put them on the world stage. For most of us, they’d probably vault us to the top of a particular field. And yet I suspect that most of us never hit on those unique talents.

And here’s the exception that proves the rule. The Wall Street Journal ran an article this week, Cycling’s One-in-a-Million Story. It tells the story of Evelyn Stevens, a 26 year-old top-ranked cyclist who will be competing in the upcoming Route de France. That itself is impressive enough.

How about this: A little over a year ago, she didn’t even own a bike.

A former tennis player at Dartmouth, she was working as an associate on Wall Street. Putting in the hours needed, she barely had time to jog. Deciding she needed more exercise, she bought a bike. Pretty quickly, it was apparent she was a natural at it. The WSJ article relates how early on, with little training, she clocked a mile-and-a-half hill climb in 5 minutes and 40 – 50 seconds. Strong, trained male riders do the same climb in the low 6:00′s.

She’s now quit her investment banking job, and doesn’t actively pursue her previous sport, tennis. She’s found her true talent. As the Wall Street Journal noted:

The truth is that Ms. Stevens is one in a million: She was lucky enough to stumble into the exact pursuit she was born for.

Indeed.

My Ten Favorite Tweets: Week Ending 080709

From the home office in the former Soviet republic of Georgia…

#1: GigaOm: One RSS subscriber equals 5 to 10 Twitter followers http://bit.ly/MkRHF

#2: Interesting take: “To enable innovation it may be necessary to reduce the number of social ties between coders” http://bit.ly/5apJn

#3: RT @berkun The best approach for wicked problems is to break them apart into smaller problems. Repeat until there’s a piece you can solve.

#4: @GrahamHill Toyota had 20 million ideas in 40 years? Wow. That’s says a lot for how they got to the top of the automotive world.

#5: Checking out @lindegaard‘s list of books and people he finds useful for #innovation work: http://bit.ly/18MUk3

#6: Lloyds CIO: RT @kat_woman have u had a look at spigit? We used it 2 create a world-first idea mgt system internally that runs like a stk mkt

#7: Just spoke with Gary Hamel re: next week’s Spigit Customer Summit. Very nice, very sharp. His keynote will be: “Inventing Management 2.0″

#8: Reading: Go cloud, young man http://bit.ly/h2wx3 by @philww Cloud computing is the future #saas #careers

#9: With family, we’re hitting the shopping holy trinity: Target, Costco, Trader Joe’s

#10: I see these foursquare updates of people out and about, looks great. Mine would be…home….home…playground…home… Kids, you know.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 112808

From the home office in Lake Tahoe, California…

#1: Better than spam? Chris Baskind reports a spammer on Twitter has a 21.5% return follow rate: http://bit.ly/EzHm

#2: If you don’t ask, you don’t get. And…you never get everything you ask for.

#3: Just added BackType to my FriendFeed. An interesting competitor to Disqus and Intense Debate.

#4: I love this saying about parenting: “The days are long, the years are short.” >> So very, very true.

#5: Why is Papa Bear such the dufus in the Berenstein Bears books? Giving us Dads a bad name…

#6: Doing a keyword search in my GReader, seeing some great posts for blogs to which I don’t subscribe. Power of subscribing to others’ shares.

#7: Editing/adding content on my blog’s About Me page. That page receives a good number of hits, and I thought…”What Would @chrisbrogan Do?”

#8: Reading: “Resumes are Dead. Social Media is Your New Resume.” http://bit.ly/yqUQ

#9: Twitter for $500 million..gut says that’s too low. Twitter is the defining platform for lightweight interactions. $1 billion +…

#10: Thanksgiving morning. We’ve got Christmas music playing on the radio (96.5). Kids are jumping on the bed. Heading to Gramma’s house later.

Will We Ever Find Our True Talent? Not Likely Says Malcolm Gladwell

outliers-malcolm-gladwell

This past June, I wrote a post titled How Many of Us Find Our True Talent? It was a look at whether people tend to land in professions that fit their “highest and best” talents:

My own theory is that each of have talents that are uniquely strong in us. For some, these talents would put them on the world stage. For most of us, they’d probably vault us to the top of a particular field. And yet I suspect that most of us never hit on those unique talents.

Malcolm Gladwell currently has a book out titled Outliers: The Story of Success. In it, he examines the underlying factors that propel certain individuals to the very top of their fields. I have not read the book, so I’m picking up its contents from various sites I’m reading and a couple interviews with him that I’ve heard.

From what I’ve seen, Gladwell’s thesis can be boiled down to three factors:

  1. Intrinsic talent for something
  2. Luck of the draw for your circumstances
  3. Heavy practice in a field (min. of 10,000 hours)

Microsoft founder Bill Gates comes up in discussions of this book. We all know that he conquered the PC world with Microsoft, becoming fabulously influential and wealthy. But there’s the Paul Harvey-esque “now you know…the rest of the story”. Here’s how Harvard’s Thomas Sander relates it:

He credits Bill Gates’ success to early and sustained access to high-end computers. Gladwell concedes that Gates is obviously brilliant, but still notes that many other brilliant youth never had the chance to become computer stars of Gates’ magnitude because they didn’t haveaccess to these sophisticated computers.

I heard Gladwell on NPR talking about this. It turns out he attended one of the few schools in the country, high school or college, with access to a mainframe computer where students could program. Now Gates had a passions and aptitude for programming. So there was this great mix of talent and circumstances that allowed it to flourish.

In the post I wrote in June, I ascribed people’s not landing in fields that leverage their true talents to three factors:

  • Too quick to focus on something at a young age, never trying out other areas
  • No opportunities to surface and develop the hidden talent
  • Practical realities – kids, mortgage, caring for someone who is ill – prevent a move into a different field

From what I’ve seen about Gladwell’s book, these factors ring true. As he says himself on the website devoted to his book:

Doesn’t that make it sound like success is something outside of an individual’s control? I don’t mean to go that far. But I do think that we vastly underestimate the extent to which success happens because of things the individual has nothing to do with.

I don’t want to leave this post on a down note. Many, many of us will find vocations that we are good at, and which make us quite happy. We have family and friends which enrich or lives. Personally, having gone from one profession I really enjoyed (banking) to another (enterprise 2.0), I know there are a wide range of fields that each of us can do well at and be happy.

And with a lot of luck, a very few of us find the mother lode.

*****

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Fish Where the Fish Are: Extend Your Blog’s Reach through LinkedIn

This is controversial, but here goes: I think if you’re remarkable, amazing or just plain spectacular, you probably shouldn’t have a resume at all.

How about three extraordinary letters of recommendation from people the employer knows or respects?
Or a sophisticated project they can see or touch?
Or a reputation that precedes you?
Or a blog that is so compelling and insightful that they have no choice but to follow up?

Seth Godin, Why bother having a resume?

It appears LinkedIn has taken this advice to heart. LinkedIn already has recommendations. Now LinkedIn has opened up its site to let third parties build apps for users. There are nine apps to start with. There are two apps letting you add documents to your profile, which touches on Seth’s “projects” advice above.  And two of those apps allow you to add your blog to your profile: WordPress and SixApart.

Which is interesting…two blog apps in the initial nine? What’s that telling you?

In the professional world, blogs are a great way to:

  • Demonstrate your knowledge
  • Stay current on your field
  • Explore new ideas
  • Connect with others

Out in the wild, there are millions and millions of blogs. The smart advice for bloggers is to stick with it, seek out others and engage in conversations. That’s something that should regularly be part of the blogging life. You’ll learn a lot.

But, it’d be nice to know your professionally oriented blog was reaching others who might open career paths. Which is why LinkedIn’s move to add blogs is so exciting.

Here’s how I picture things as they are, and as they can become:

I know the long-term trends favor recruiting via the blogosphere. But for the next few years, I’m not expecting recruiters to get out there and find candidates based on their blogs. They’ll still go to places where there are concentrated areas of people with relevant experience. LinkedIn has become one of those go-to places.

That being said, recruiters, or more likely, the clients for which they are recruiting, can see a much better picture of you outside of the list of jobs you’ve had.

This adds a new dimension to the reasons for you to blog. Bloggers can get caught up in things like traffic, frequency of posts, comments and making sure their blogs are part of the big social media sites. It’s just human nature.

But now, your blog becomes something more. It becomes a record for how you think, what topics are your passion and opinions on events affecting your field. Even if no one reads your blog out in the blogosphere, you’re still making a case for your talents. And there’s no need to have a high frequency. Whatever you last posted shows on your profile, whenever that was.

A friend recently asked me about blogging. She’s in the non-profit world now, and wants to transition to the business world. I told her one thing blogging can do is get you out of the box that your past work experience and education put you in. Through blogging, you can demonstrate the aptitude to handle work in a new field.

Hats off to LinkedIn for adding these apps. Great addition, and something more people should take advantage of.

*****

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Today’s Social Media A-Listers: The Archetype of Tomorrow’s Company Leaders

Dennis Howlett had a post yesterday on Chris Brogan’s blog, Web 2.0- Was It Ever Alive? In the post, he takes the postion that much of the value of “social” is overstated, and will suffer from low internal adoption. He also believes the Gen Y/millennial fascination with social media will pass as workplace realities creep in.

Another post I read a couple days ago was on the New York Times Bits blog, Will Microblogging at Work Make You More Productive? This post and Dennis’s are nearly diametrically opposed. Included in the comments to the post was a very pro-social media point of view from a 22-year old named Emma.

Taking the two viewpoints together, I came up with this chart:

This certainly parallels the recurring generational differences on things like war, helping the poor, music and many other aspects of our lives. Use of social software in the workplace is actually one of those things that I believe will survive the inevitable changes in life perspective that will occur for Emma.

The ME in Social Media

Social media is a diverse pool of interests, motivations and relationships. It’s quite flexible for the uses you want.

Emma is very much in the learning mode. She’s engaging others on Twitter to diversify her knowledge network (see The Revenue Impact of Enterprise 2.0 to understand the value of this). There is no reason for her to discontinue this behavior, and indeed, she’s helping her career via social software.

Now as Emma progresses through her career, she’ll build up an external and internal network that provides sources of information, opinion and perspectives. These will be immensely valuable to her.

She also start to lead others. Inside her company, there will be applications that integrate collaboration and social networks natively with the apps where she does her work. Emma, and other talented young executives, will emerge as key players inside their companies by playing a couple roles:

Content producers and information filters. And this is where the A-Listers of today provide the examples.

Enterprise A-Listers

What does Robert Scoble do? Louis Gray? Chris Brogan? Brian Solis? Even Dennis Howlett? They are influencers, they have the power to bring high visibility to what they talk about and what they share.

What makes a company run? Employees with the judgment to see what’s needed and the ability to influence the organizational allocation of resources.

Currently, this influence is built only on the in-person encounters that occur in meetings and common project work. This won’t go away, but it is a very serendipitous sort ecology inside the organization.

The next generation of employee leaders will skillfully use social software inside their companies to influence the direction of the company and to build out highly visible profiles that will aid their career advancement. Over on the Connectbeam blog, I wrote a post called Five Moves of Power Users in Enterprise 2.0. The post examines how proficient users of social software would operate inside companies. Here are the five moves I described:

  1. SEO your social profile
  2. Build a good-sized social network base
  3. Comment, engage, discuss
  4. Celebrate and communicate the workstreams of others
  5. Share information with a vengeance

Of course, the power in all this only happens if the employee happens to be talented and have good judgment about the company and her peers. Mediocre people will be pretty quickly exposed if they attempt this.

But the point still stands – companies will benefit by having better collaboration and dissemination of colleagues’ perspectives and ideas, and employees will benefit from a higher awareness of the things that make the company. And the social software power users will emerge in prominent roles inside companies.

I’m curious what you think. Please take a second to vote on the future of social software in the workplace:

*****

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How Would Social Media Help You in Your Job?

I’m having a ball with social media out in the consumer web. Blogging, FriendFeed, Twitter, Facebook. I’m learning so much about technology, new companies and people’s attitudes regarding Web 2.0. Along the way, some collaboration and a new job actually happened out of all this fun.

Now why can’t we see some of these same effects in the place where most of us spend a third of our day? We’re seeing live implementations of social media inside organizations (aka Enterprise 2.0). It’s a good sign.

I’m now in a job where I’m thinking about this a lot. And I figured I’d start with myself. Where would social media have made a difference in my two previous Big Corporate jobs:

Both companies were examples of today’s modern company, with a heavy information orientation. It’s been years since I worked at either, but here is how social media could have helped me in my jobs.

May Department Stores

The buying office of a retailer is responsible for picking the merchandise you see on the floor. Buyers also plan and execute promotions, set prices and ensure optimum amount of inventory on the floor and in the warehouse. We also had to communicate with the department managers of dozens of stores.

Here are the social media that would have helped me (if we had the Web back in 1990-1994):

  • Twitter: Yup, I would have loved Twitter. An easy way to fire off updates out to the field of department managers. And they would have sent back news of things they were seeing. Would have been a huge help during the crazy Christmas season.
  • Blog: I would have blogged about the weekly promotions. There’s a fair amount of work that went into them (promo prices, signage, focus of the ads), and documenting all that would have been useful. New products that we bought would have been good to discuss as well.
  • Bookmarking and notetaking: Assuming we had the world wide web back then, I would have bookmarked and noted a number of things for the job: competitor ads and pricing, product promotions I liked, new products I’d seen elsewhere.

Bank of America

At BofA, my group raised debt for corporations. Deals could run anywhere from $25 million to $6 billion. It was an information-intensive job.

The work consisted of three primary activities: (1) win the deal; (2) sell the deal; (3) close the deal via documentation. You had to stay on top of comparable deals, industry trends, capital market trends and general market chatter. Our group was divided into Structurers (me), who worked with clients to win and structure deals; and Distribution, who sold the deal to the market. Distribution always had the best information.

Social media I would have wanted:

  • Twitter: Again! I really would have wanted to see the ongoing chatter of the Distribution guys. They picked up all sorts of incredibly valuable market intelligence during the day. They used to IM. Now I’d want them to tweet.
  • Wiki: Every deal should have had a wiki space, with its “win the mandate” phase, its “sell it to the market” phase and the documentation phase. Wikis would have been good for handling the whole deal cycle.
  • Feed Reader: There were market data publications to which BofA subscribed. Getting a feed of deal information would have been a huge help. We were chasing information down in paper publications.
  • Bookmarking and notetaking: When deal, market or industry news came through, I needed a place to save it. I was always going back to find stuff I’d seen earlier. Bookmarking would have helped a lot. Note taking too – capture some information or thoughts, tag it and come back to it later.
  • Blog: My group wouldn’t have had much use for a blog amongst ourselves. But a blog that updated the rest of the bank as to what was happening in our particular capital market (syndicated loans) would have been perfect. We had other groups asking us often about market conditions.

I’d Love to Hear About You

Maybe you’re already using social media inside your company. Or perhaps you’ve been thinking, “my company really needs…”

If you’ve got any ideas to share, I’d love to hear them.

*****

If you want an easy way to stay on top of Enterprise 2.0, I invite you to join the Enterprise 2.0 Room on FriendFeed. The room takes feeds for Enterprise 2.0-related items on Twitter, Del.icio.us and SlideShare. To see this room, click here: http://friendfeed.com/rooms/enterprise-2-0

*****

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I’ve Joined Connectbeam, and Social Media Got Me the Job

On Wednesday August 13, I start my new job as Senior Product Manager for Connectbeam. Connectbeam provides social bookmarking and networking to the enterprise. The goal is to foster better information management and discovery, and to connect colleagues around projects and common interests.

Going a bit further, here is a note from privately-held Connectbeam’s about page:

Connectbeam’s architecture and core application (Spotlight) were designed to help people in any role, across the enterprise, connect with both the growing pool of information and colleagues with the expertise and experience to help them get their jobs done more intelligently and more quickly. We enable this by aggregating the social metadata that is generated naturally by using the web into a single repository that everyone in the company can access and use.

Current customers include: Procter & Gamble, CSC, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Honeywell, 3M, Intel, Pfizer and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Why Connectbeam?

The problem Connectbeam is tackling greatly interests me. How to manage information to make individuals smarter, help people find information and determine the ways in which common interests establish and build relationships. There are many posts on this blog along those lines. Here are six of them:

  1. FriendFeed ‘Likes’ Compatibility Index
  2. Hey Yahoo! Forget MSFT, GOOG. Change the Search Rules.
  3. Who Is Your Information Filter?
  4. Knowledge & Innovation: The Journey Is as Valuable as the Destination
  5. Tag Recommendations for Content: Ready to Filter Noise?
  6. Social Media Consumption: You Want Signal or Discovery?

I also like Connectbeam’s delivery model. I am a fan of cloud computing, and in my experiences at eFinance and Pay By Touch, customers got comfortable. But I also ran into companies that only wanted applications behind their firewall, which is what we sold at BEA Systems. Security, control and reliability are still important, and recent outages at Amazon S3 and Gmail highlight those concerns. Connectbeam runs as an appliance behind companies’ firewalls.

Connectbeam delivers its model as an integration with existing search engines and other applications. For instance, Connectbeam now has an integration with Microsoft’s SharePoint, the most pervasive collaboration software out there. The Microsoft SharePoint Senior Technical PM even tweeted about it.

I’m a big believer in the ability of enterprises to improve the ways that information is created, disseminated and managed by employees. Those that get this right will be better-positioned in our information-centric economy.

FriendFeed Has Opened My Eyes

I joined BEA Systems to do product marketing for enterprise 2.0. Prior to that, I had done a little tweeting and had a Facebook profile. But not a whole lot of social media. I started blogging in February to eat my own dog food when I was marketing web 2.0 to companies. I needed to immerse myself in the world to really understand it.

Well, blogging has become quite important for me. FriendFeed has become just as important.

FriendFeed opened my eyes to the possibilities of knowledge as the basis of relationships. The ways in which content from a variety of sources is a powerful, addictive basis for learning, conversations and collaboration. How activity streams are compelling reads. I’ve been active on FriendFeed since March, and it shocks me how much I know about web 2.0 and technology in general versus last year. I’ve still got much to learn, and FriendFeed will continue to be a good source for that.

So why can’t companies get better around that too? Having eaten my own dog food on FriendFeed, I’m ready to work with employees and companies to improve the ways in which information is created, tracked and shared.

How Social Media Got Me the Job

You’ve probably seen more than a few posts saying that today’s resume is your Google search results. Your social network sites, content, updates, what others say about you…all of it is searchable.

Like me, Connectbeam CEO Puneet Gupta subscribes to Google Alerts for “enterprise 2.0″. Well one of my blog posts was listed in an alert. It caught Puneet’s attention, so he read the blog a bit more. Liking what he saw, he then investigated my name out on the web. Among the sites he found was one where I was a recommended blogger to follow (thanks Daryl, Franklin, Louis, Mark, Mike, Rob, Steven). Those recommendations were in part made due to the wonderful effects FriendFeed has for bloggers.

It didn’t hurt that I had been involved with enterprise 2.0 at BEA Systems. So after doing some due diligence, he left this comment on my blog:

Hutch:
Would love to connect with you and discuss some ideas.

I reached out to him, did some interviews, and the rest is history.

Looking Ahead

The new job will give me a more structured basis for looking at the ways in which information is managed. I plan to look more deeply at some of the consumer social bookmarking sites.I’m a product manager for Connectbeam, but a lot of my job will involve product marketing too.

I expect working in this area will influence my blogging subjects some. But I’ll blog about other fun stuff along the way as well.

Gotta go – my commute is from San Francisco to Mountain View. Need to battle the 101 traffic.

*****

If you want an easy way to stay on top of Enterprise 2.0, I invite you to join the Enterprise 2.0 Room on FriendFeed. The room takes feeds for Enterprise 2.0-related items on Twitter, Del.icio.us and SlideShare. To see this room, click here: http://friendfeed.com/rooms/enterprise-2-0

*****

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