On being ... the law of attraction?

By Ingrid Sapona

The other day I got an e-mail summarizing the discussion going on in one of the LinkedIn groups I’m a member of. One topic of discussion that caught my eye was the question of what makes a good corporate video. I thought the timing was interesting because I’ve been thinking about doing video interviews of winemakers for my app. So, I decided to see what folks in the group were saying.

As I scrolled through the responses, one of the head shots accompanying a comment showed a gentleman who was dressed in distinctly Saudi garb. Intrigued, I clicked on his name and profile and sure enough, he’s a communications executive in Jeddah. My first thought was “imagine that”.

The fact that there’s someone in Saudi Arabia whom I have never met – and surely never will meet – but who’s in the same on-line of work and is commenting on things I’m thinking about blew me away. I couldn’t help but think of all those news stories about the Arab Spring being fuelled, in part, by people sharing ideas through social media. I realize that using social media to discuss corporate videos is a far cry from using it to offer moral support to people protesting injustices. But still, I suddenly felt I had a better understanding of how people from very different places come together in a global virtual community.

A few days later my sister told me she had been interviewed by someone who asked her how she thinks social media might help her do her job. Her initial response was humorous and telling: she asked him to explain what social media is. When the interviewer told her it’s things like Facebook and Twitter, she politely explained that she doesn’t use them and she can’t see how they’d help her do her job. At that point, my LinkedIn story from a few days before popped into my head, but I didn’t tell her about it because before we knew it, we were on to a different topic.

Then I saw a news story about Obama hosting a Google Hangout, which the reporter described as a relatively new social media platform. When I heard that, I remembered an e-mail I recently got inviting me to join in an upcoming hour-long Google Hangout. When I got the invitation I ignored it because I didn’t know what a Google Hangout was. But, the Obama story made me curious about them. So, I dug out the e-mail and, when I found it was scheduled for that evening, I scrambled to sign up and install and test the software.

A Hangout is basically an on-line video conference for up to 10 participants. Turns out three of the four of us who were in on it had never participated in one – and it was the first time the woman who organized it was hosting one. The four of us were in cities in three different time zones in North America. I had never met the other participants and I had only chatted once or twice before on the phone with the organizer.

As we got started, all of us commented that one of the main reasons we were participating was to learn about how Google Hangouts work. Getting going was straightforward and the technology worked really well. So, five minutes or so into it I thought, “Well, I got out of this what I came for”. But, there were 55 minutes to go and the invitation had mentioned that we’d be asked us talk about our respective businesses, so I couldn’t exactly hang up.

Well, the discussion was great. Everyone was tremendously open. Though we are in different businesses, we quickly honed in on commonalities. We talked about things we’ve tried and things we still feel we need to work on. And, we offered each other support and suggestions. I think we all left with some new ideas and insights. After we finished, I was thinking about how remarkable the technology is that allows total strangers to meet, talk and learn from each other without ever leaving the comfort of our home offices.

Another conclusion I reached after we hung up was that I don’t think it was pure coincidence that the theme of social media kept coming up this week. Given my long-time general aversion to using social media, I suppose I could think is that it’s a concrete example of the old saying that what you fear, you attract. While it could be that, I think that this week’s events were meant to open me up to the idea of spending time hanging out in some virtual communities. After all – it’s a small, big world and it’s right at our finger tips!  
© 2013 Ingrid Sapona


On being ... 50 shades of lazy

By Ingrid Sapona

I was on vacation in Mexico for a few weeks in January. One of the trees outside the condo I was staying in was the sometime home of a rather large iguana. (I say sometime because there was one windy afternoon when it disappeared – perhaps seeking a less swaying habitat.) As soon as the condo owner mentioned the iguana, I looked for it.

The friends I was with were surprised at my interest in the iguana – I guess because they know my general lack of fondness for things that are creepy and crawly. What my friends seemed to not “get” was that the reason I was always checking for it in the tree was I knew if it was there, it wasn’t in the condo.  

The iguana’s conservation of movement was also of interest to me. Other than its disappearance that one day, I only saw it move twice – and both times the movements were slow and minimal. Indeed, to an untrained observer like me, it certainly seemed like the iguana was – well, lazy.

Though the others didn’t share my fascination with the resident iguana, I noticed that with the sun shining down on us and nothing more pressing than deciding whether to order a tamarind margarita or a pineapple mojito, with each passing day we seemed to model our behaviour more and more on our reptilian friend. And, at some point, being “lazy like an iguana” became our motto.

Alas, at the end of the vacation I left the warmth and the iguana behind to return to winter in Toronto. Before I knew it I was back in the swing of my everyday life, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for “lazy like an iguana” behaviour.

Last weekend – like much of the east coast – Toronto got a healthy dose of snow. In fact, it was the most snow we’ve had in many years. And, what made it especially unusual – from my perspective – is that the snow accumulated even in my neighborhood. (Living so close to the lake, I can testify to the truth of the old saying: it’s cooler by the lake in summer, and warmer in winter.)

By mid-Friday afternoon, as I watched the snow piling up on the balcony, I thought maybe on Saturday I’d break out my snow shoes, which have been gathering dust in my storage locker. Once upon a time I was very into snow shoeing and friends and I used to drive to different provincial parks far and wide to partake.

Saturday morning’s bright blue sky and the fresh, powdery snow was glorious. I thought about phoning some friends to see if they were interested going snowshoeing but, frankly, I was too lazy to organize anything and, given the road conditions, the idea of driving anywhere didn’t appeal to me. But, I thought it would be shameful to not at least try snowshoeing in the parkland along the lake. So, I put on various layers, dug out mittens and ear muffs, and grabbed my sunglasses. I also spent more than a few minutes deciding what boots to wear.

When I used to go snowshoeing regularly, I used to wear “city” boots to drive to wherever we’d be snowshoeing but I’d change into thicker, warmer boots (we used to call them moon walkers) to snowshoe in. I still have the moon walkers, but they’re tucked away in a far corner of the closet and I’d have to move a lot of stuff to get them out. Rationalizing that it wasn’t that cold out, I decided not to bother getting out the moon walkers.

As soon as I got outside, I was excited. And, when I saw a few cross-country skiers go by, I knew the snowshoes were a good idea. So, I set about putting the snowshoes on. It had been so long, it took me awhile to figure out the bindings. As I tinkered with them, I realized that because the city boots are pretty narrow, it was going to be tricky to tighten the bindings enough around them. But, eventually I got the snowshoes on and off I went. 

I got about five steps before my right foot stepped right out of the binding. Oops! I stepped back into the binding, snugged it up, and off I went. Eight or so steps later the left one came out. Ok, try it again. A few more steps and my right foot was out again. Damned bindings! This went on for quite some time.

Eventually I realized the problem had more to do with the boots – they were too small for the snowshoes – than the bindings. Ugh – if only I hadn’t been too lazy to get the moon walkers out! Finally, when it got to the point that I couldn’t take more than a few steps without leaving a snowshoe behind, I gave up.

As I headed home – carrying my snowshoes – I realized “lazy like an iguana” is but one shade of lazy. That morning I learned the hard way that even through action you can be lazy…

© 2013 Ingrid Sapona