Reading list: Interesting stuff my friends have written


A number of my friends have written things that I think are worth reading, so I’m sharing them here. Read, enjoy, and please help spread the word!

Take the Damn Coffee, by Rachel Segal

rachel segalRachel Segal, with whom I worked at b5media circa 2008, has written Take the Damn Coffee, a great response to Forbes’ off-base article, Here’s What To Say When Someone Asks To ‘Pick Your Brain’ About Social Media Over Coffee. The article’s thesis is that by meeting up with someone over coffee and letting them pick your brain about your subject of expertise — social media, in this case — you’re letting that person rob you of a real consultation for which they should pay in serious cash and not in a piddly little coffee, no matter how fancy or overpriced.

Do you buy your dentist a coffee in exchange for a tooth extraction? asks the article’s author, Natalie Zfat. Do you buy a lawyer lunch for legal advice?

No, says Rachel, and she rightly points out that as a social media consultant, you ain’t no dentist or lawyer, but in an industry that barely existed a decade ago and will likely be a completely different creature a decade from now. Here’s the money quote from her article:

Take the damn coffee. If you’re actually the successful social media guru you want everyone to believe you are, it won’t factor into your bottom line enough to matter and may actually lead to recommendations and business in the end.

She’s right. In the end, taking the damn coffee is part and parcel of building those connections that create possibilities that wouldn’t otherwise exist. Many of the opportunities that have come my way are the result of my taking the damn coffee, sharing my damn point of view for free, and just damn being there for a friend, colleague, or acquaintance.

It doesn’t matter if they end up “stealing your ideas” in the process. While ideas are nice, they’re vapor until they’re executed, and that’s usually the much bigger hurdle. So go ahead, take the damn coffee.

Read Take the Damn Coffee.

Hilary Robinson’s Polished Professionals and her Conference Confidence workshop


hilary robinsonAs a trained tech evangelist, I’ve been asked for advice of how to handle people and social situations — people in the tech industry have many questions about this sort of thing — and I’ve been happy to help them out. But when I have those questions, my go-to person is my friend Hilary Robinson, who judgement in matters of socializing, protocol, and etiquette I trust completely. Hilary runs Polished Professionals, a Toronto-based consultancy that provides courses and workshops to help businesspeople master etiquette, present themselves well and with confidence, and put their best foot forward. If you’ve ever had an unpleasant customer experience and decided not to give an organization your business as a result, you know the business value of etiquette.

With summer drawing to a close, we’re approaching conference season. Conferences cost your company money and time, and while there, your employees are the “face” of your company. Polished Professionals’ upcoming Conference Confidence workshop will give your employees the tools they need to maximize their attendance’s benefit to the company, present your organization in the best light, and make the most of the face time they’ll have with current and prospective customers and partners.

The workshop will feature sessions on these topics:

  • Making great first impressions
  • Dressing for success
  • Dining etiquette. taught over a three-course lunch with wine
  • Successful networking and relationship building
  • The art of being a thoughtful host and graceful guest

The workshop takes place in Toronto’s Royal York Hotel on Wednesday, October 5th.

For more details, see Polished Professionals’ “upcoming events” page.

Head or Gut? by Alec Melkonian


alec melkonianThe aphorism “better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt” is often good advice, but there are times when it’s mainfestly the opposite. As my former schoolmate from Crazy Go Nuts University Alec Melkonian points out, it leads people to have a conflict where their gut tells them to jump in and speak out, but their head says “don’t do it — you’ll look like an idiot”.

Alec, in order to empower his employees who are more likely to remain silent (he’s a VP at Klick Health), is encouraging them to take the “speak up” approach through gamification. In his essay, Head or Gut?, he explains the simple game-like system that he came up with, and I think it’s interesting. I’d like to the see the results.

Read Head or Gut?

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