February 9, 2016
It Only Takes One
I love talking to people and listening to them as they share their story with me. I find it fascinating to hear about what they do, what they work on, how they live, and what they love. There’s always one thing I notice when I have these conversations. When you ask someone what they do you will most often get some story about how they make money. Inevitably the question of what someone does is intrinsically tied to their bank balance. But if that’s the case then you’re asking the wrong question.
I’ve seen many posts before suggesting alternatives to the question about what someone does which will give you a better answer or a more enlightening response. I love those suggestions because that’s when something different happens. That’s the moment I notice something different.
Ask a better question, get a better answer.
Ask someone what they love, or ask someone what a perfect day might look like to them (and feel free to specify that it does not need to even be related to work) and watch the reaction and response you get. You’ll immediately see what I’m referring to. They don’t rattle off some answer related to how they pay their mortgage. No, instead you’ll see a passion ignite in their eyes, you’ll hear a lift in their voice, maybe even a smile will slowly emerge across their face. This is golden. This is why I love to listen to people share their story. I enjoy hearing what people are passionate about. I especially enjoy watching them get excited and feeling that excitement start to resonate in my own spirit. Because in this moment, in that flicker of a spark, you connect with someone on a deeper level.
Their passion, their excitement, their eagerness to share with you something they deeply care about and love is contagious. When you’re passionate about something and you share it with someone else you have the opportunity to go much further than answering the “what” question, you answer the “why” question. Did you catch that? Your motivation and energy to accomplish something which answers your “why” can resonate with others.
Imagine this with me now. What happens if you were to spend time each day sharing your passion, and your driving force with others. This contagious spark spreads. Your passion leaps from person to person, motivating, inspiring, and engaging. Those individuals in turn will share that passion and that experience with another, and another, and another. Suddenly what started as your vision, and your passion, a single solitary flame burning inside you is now a raging inferno spreading farther and faster than you ever imagined. Now you’re no longer alone, now you are a group of individuals brought together by a common goal, a common purpose and a common passion…wait, does that last sentence sound familiar? It should. I used a similar sentence once before in a previous post, only this time I’ve left off the first three words. Here is my previous sentence:
“Every successful community must be centered around a common belief, a common passion.”
You see, that same passion which excites you, and ultimately those around you; that same driving force which answers your “why” and that of others ultimately provides you with the basis of a community. And as that fire spreads your community grows.
People often ask why Mautic is such a successful community. They wonder at how we’ve grown so incredibly fast in such a short time. The answer is easy. In fact, the answer is so easy at times people struggle to believe its true. But it is. The Mauticians which make up our community have a common belief and a common passion. We rally around our goal and the answer to our “why” and we spread like a wildfire. If you still don’t believe this, talk to a Mautician, find someone who knows and loves Mautic and ask them about it. Watch the light in their eyes, the smile on their lips, and hear the excitement in their voice as they tell you how we’re revolutionizing the world, disrupting an industry, and empowering everyone. And then afterwards, well then I imagine I’ll see you very soon in the Mautic community.
Find someone who knows and loves Mautic and ask them about it. Watch the light in their eyes, the smile on their lips, and hear the excitement in their voice as they tell you how we’re revolutionizing the world, disrupting an industry, and empowering everyone.
August 13, 2014
Talk to Me
One of the hardest things to do sometimes is to listen. It’s a challenge to shut out the other things grabbing at your attention and to focus on a single voice. But what makes it even harder is when the person you really want to hear from doesn’t talk.
I like to tell people that one of my tasks as a volunteer community manager is to listen to people. I listen a lot. The task is made more challenging when filtering through the “noise” and listening to the heart of those community members who might be more timid in sharing their opinion or less vocal in their thoughts.
Don’t Be Shy
Being shy is a character trait which I find myself struggling with constantly. I’m an introvert myself so it is a step outside my comfort zone to talk to someone else. I can relate to those feelings. But I encourage you when someone is looking for your opinion and your thoughts and they have specifically asked you to talk to them…don’t be shy. Find a way to communicate your opinion on a subject.
I want people to talk to me. I want especially the quiet community member to talk to me. Don’t be shy, I promise I won’t snap. I want to hear what you think about things, because you are important. Your opinion matters. A good community manager makes it easy for you to share without you worrying about the things which intimidate.
Pick Your Communication Channel
Not everyone likes to communicate verbally. There’s a variety of reasons for that and certainly there’s nothing which says that verbal communication is the only way to effectively communicate. Maybe you prefer email, social media, or IM, or forums, or some other medium (Have I mentioned I know sign language?). Whatever the way the goal is the same, share your thoughts.
As a community manager I try to make sure I’m available in as many ways as possible. And I’m always looking for other ways. Just yesterday I was exploring a new chat application I now have an account there and am looking forward to offering another way for people to get in touch.
Sometimes the problem is not being shy or not finding the right communication channel. Every once in a while the problem is being indirect. Subtweeting is the latest phenomena in this type of communication. The idea behind this is indirectly approaching a subject, saying something without really saying something. It means not sharing the information that matters with the right people. Or sharing the wrong information to the right people. (Saying things so obtusely that even though the person you’re speaking to can control the situation they have no idea you’re seeking action).
This idea involves boldness and courage. Not brazen or public ridicule. Not a false bravado. And certainly not an attempt to make others look stupid so you look better. Being direct may mean handling a situation in private, where no one sees.
Share Your Passion
There are few things I find more exciting then listening to someone talk about something they are passionate about. The excitement is almost tangible and I find myself quickly drawn in by the enthusiasm they share. When someone is asking you to talk to them then you have the perfect opportunity to share your passion. I love it when someone stops me and wants to talk to me about something which interests them. Sometimes it’s in their business life, in their personal life, or in the community we share. Regardless of the area I still share in their excitement.
I want to hear what interests you. Good community managers care about their community. Great community managers care about the people in their community . This means caring about the person and what matters to them…beyond the community. I want to be a great community manager.
In case you can’t tell – I want you to talk to me! I want to hear your thoughts and your opinions. I want to enable and empower you to do more and to find your “voice”. Your voice is important and your voice needs to be heard. Don’t stew over things or hold your opinions to yourself. Our communities will only get better if everyone participates. Share your views. Together we can make our community the best it can be. Because together we can make each other the best we can be.
August 1, 2014
I watch the flames lick around the sticks and branches placed in the fire pit. There’s one part that’s red-hot, the flames are high and jumping in an almost frenzied pace, then there’s an area which has not yet been touched by the heat, and lastly a part that’s already felt the heat of the fire and has been consumed. Around the base there’s the ashes remaining from previous hot spots. As I watch it occurs to me that many projects work in a very similar way. In fact, I work in a similar way.
The Red-Hot Area
The red-hot area is the thing I’m currently all-consumed with working on. It may be a project, an idea, or just something I’m interested in at the time. The passion is high and I’m fascinated with what is being worked on, regardless of the value of the idea, it may simply be something I’m curious about. This is the fun spot. This is where all projects should live until they’ve been completed.
The untouched part of the fire is like my to-do list. It’s the area of the fire that’s not yet been sucked into the flames. I haven’t begun work and maybe I won’t ever get to it. This is a challenge because if it’s on the list then I need to do it, but sometimes I lack the passion or the interest in getting around to it. There’s potential here and sooner or later this part will become realized.
The Partially Consumed
The consumed part is what remains when the fire has moved on. It still maintains the structure of what it once was, almost as if it’s a shell or shadow of it’s previous existence. The consumed projects are those projects which have passed their prime. I’ve lost interest in working on them, they may have been partially successful but ultimately for one reason or another I quit on them. This is the worst state for projects. Shadows of what might have been.
The remnants are the ashes, the remains of past projects which are now dead and gone. Some have been successful, some have been failures. When they reach this stage there’s nothing left to them. You cannot return to them and you cannot rekindle a fire around them. This is the point of no return for the project. If it’s success remember it with fondness, if it’s not, learn the lessons you can from the experience.
So what does it mean?
Ok, so there’s my analogy. I think it’s appropriate but the question is what can I gain from it? How do I apply this to my current situation and how can I use it to improve myself.
First, I must be able to identify where a project is. If it’s in one of the first three stages then I know there’s something left which can be returned to and worked on until its completed. Second, once I’ve identified where a project is I can give it the attention it requires to achieve the goals I’ve set. The untouched projects should be placed in a priority to give me something to start work on as soon as one project finishes. If it’s currently in the midst of the fire then I need to focus on completing it with strength. Don’t leave it partially consumed a monument to a distracted mind. Lastly if I recognize a project to be nothing but remnants then it’s a waste of time to try and build a fire from the ashes. If there truly is nothing left then a fire is impossible and my time is wasted trying.
Sometimes I think it helps me to recognize where things are so I can spend my time most effectively. You may find other ways to identify your projects and prioritize your time. This is one way which works for me. Whatever the method the goal is the same. Spend your time effectively. Live your life with passion and be successful.
July 30, 2014
Why I Love Open Source (Reason 1)
The conversation rages on, discussion and debate abound, individuals pick fights and people take sides. The community becomes embroiled in each minor change and pick up the banner for the underdog regardless of the logic or lack of evidence supporting a claim. At times it feels almost ludicrous. How could such animosity, such anger and personal feelings be so openly shown within a community? I believe the reason is simple and it is one of the reasons why I love open source.
Reason 1: Open source is full of passion.
Why can so much drama be found in open source communities? (Love the logo there BTW). I believe the answer is a single word. Individuals in open source communities hold a character quality which cannot be bought, sold, forced, or enforced. These volunteers have passion. They believe in what the community stands for and they believe in the power of their voice to improve it. They love the efforts being made and they love the goals the community is trying to accomplish.
At times this passion is difficult to control. Moderating oneself on discussions which matter to them regarding something they feel so strongly for is difficult (impossible?). But this passion, this desire to be a part of the discussion and the community is indeed one of the reasons why I love open source. Let me give you a few examples.
Passion implies dedication
At times it can certainly feel discouraging when there is debate and discussion on every point. In fact, if talking is the extent of every decision then indeed the community will fail. Action must be taken to implement change, to make progress, and to improve. This can be easily lost in discussions and debates. It’s much easier to talk about something than to actually do something. I challenge you now – do something!
That was a freebie ‘aside’. Whenever you get to feeling discouraged or frustrated with these frequent examples of passion (through the form of debate or argument) remind yourself of this simple fact. This level of dedication often occurs because the individual is passionate about what you’re doing and what they believe holds value. If they didn’t-they would leave. (I know at times that seems hard to believe.) The next time you feel like someone is arguing just for the sake of arguing keep this point in mind.
Passion demonstrates attention
When someone can post a comment or create an issue and immediately generate multiple responses this tells me there is a certain amount of attention being demonstrated within the community. Individuals who are showing attention to everything occurring within the community hold a passion about the community. They care. Sounds crazy when you read responses and replies but the bottom line is clear. If they didn’t care they would find another community.
Open source communities frequently rely on the volunteers to contribute time and attention without renumeration (no pay). When a community has a significant number of individuals demonstrating such a high level of attention to details and minor discussions it shows a passion for the community. There is little financial gain for these volunteers but they value the community and its future enough to give it their attention.
Passion shows life
The last thing I use to remind myself when feeling discouraged with the seeming endless debates found in open source communities is the fact that without this debate, without this passion, there would be no community involvement. The very presence of these discussions demonstrates the life of the project and the community which holds them. Each open source community I am involved with seems to hold some level of these discussions and arguments. Each also can be overwhelming at times. But if everything was quiet in the community there would be cause for concern as well.
Bookmark this post!
The next time you are feeling discouraged or frustrated with your community for some reason use this post to remind yourself of the value of the passion which drives your community. Passion in open source communities is an invaluable asset. You won’t find the same type of passion anywhere else. This is one of the reasons why I love open source so much. Open source communities are unique and wonderful.
So take a deep breath and focus on the positive aspects. Then, with a clear mind and a cool head, dive in and make a difference yourself.
Above all, don’t let the passion end in a debate or fall into the trap of endless discussion. Break the cycle, contribute more. Get up, get involved, roll up your sleeves and do something. No matter how small, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Just do.
July 23, 2014
The Buzz (Excitement)
Sometimes the excitement surrounding a new product or idea is so strong it’s almost tangible. I’ve had some incredible experiences but one feeling which never gets old is the buzz. The buzz is my way of describing that super awesome sensation when the goosebumps start to form on my arms and the surrounding air is alive with electricity. I live for that feeling. Sometimes I get teased because I’m so passionate about what I do. But I will not apologize for the energy which motivates me and which may be passed on when we talk.
I already said I won’t apologize for my enthusiasm but I think there is something I’d like to share with you which I’ve learned from my personal experience. I love to chase the things which are important to me. Ask me about small business, ask me about the companies which aren’t in the Fortune 500 but have to try to compete with them. I’ve talked to business owners and heard the stories of being unable to adequately represent their skills because of budget or revenues. It’s simply not right. Businesses should succeed based on their skills and their abilities to complete the job best. When barriers unrelated to the job keep the little guy from being adequately represented I get upset. I’ve felt these personal obstacles intimately and have experienced the rejection based on factors completely unrelated to the job. It’s infuriating. Are my feelings clearly on display? I think so. Now that you understand a bit about my passion and where my interest lies maybe you can relate.
I know the common phrase is “Do what you love, love what you do.” There is some real truth in those words. If the feelings I’ve described above are unfamiliar to you and perhaps you don’t relate to the sensations I have shared then I have a question for you. What are you doing?
If you don’t have that goosebump raising excitement when you talk about what you are doing then why are you doing it? If you’re just doing a job to do a job I can certainly relate. The need to pay the bills is a strong one. You can’t pay your rent with a feeling. But here’s the point. Don’t get so lost in the day to day struggle that you live without passion. Make sure you continue fighting for what you truly love. Find those things which you are passionate about and keep your focus on chasing your dreams.
I have to tell you there is nothing that feels the same as when you follow your dreams, and get to share it with others. I’ve been incredibly blessed to be able to begin sharing my passion and my big ideas with others. The response has been incredible and every single interaction just confirms what I have thought quietly (and not so quietly) for so many years. If you’ve got questions, ideas, or just want someone to share your ideas with I would love to hear them. If you work in small business then I definitely want to talk with you. We can share struggles, share successes and help each other grow. When I end my posts with the phrase, “We’re all in this together!” I mean it with my whole heart. We share in our fight to succeed and I love to connect with you. I get incredible motivation from those moments and many times it provides me with the energy I need when I’m feeling down or discouraged.
I’ll leave you with this. Do you have the buzz? Do you live with the passion and excitement and desire to share your heart with others? Do those experiences electrify the air around you? If you don’t find yourself empowered and alive doing what you do, then take a moment and re-evaluate where you are and where you’re going. If you’re unsure what I mean by “the buzz” then please feel free to ask me, give me a call, talk to me, and let me share with you what I’m passionate about. I’d love to share my excitement with you and I’d love to help you find your own.