Cool Stuff: Freddie the Alligator

For our department Christmas party last year, we went to a pottery kiln.

Yep: We chose it ourselves! It looked like a lot of fun from the description.

And we were right.

Just Kiln’ Time is an amazing place with over 600 objects to choose from to glaze and paint, plus other creative, crafty things to do. They show you what to do, how to do it, and leave you free to go to it.

Unless of course you need some “Agh! I didn’t mean to do that!” advice in a hurry.

But the real point of this post is really just to show you my alligator, Freddie.



What fun little thing have you done lately?

Microsoft MVP: I Have Found My Peoples

Incidentally, I’ve dropped the “Day #” for these particular posts because the mere thought of continuing the tally instantly sapped my energy.

Didn’t notice it was gone? Well…good! …Yeah!

And since I’m being all confessional here, I did find my Yammer peoples before becoming a Microsoft MVP, so this post isn’t exactly about that.

This is about what happens when you bring online connections offline.


Boy, was he ever surprised. From

See, we newly-designated Yammer Microsoft MVPs had mostly just known each other online. A few of us met at Ignite or before, a couple of us have actually worked together, and so forth.

But overall, our biggest thing in common was this enterprise social network.

It makes sense. Yammer is where we met, Yammer is where we had our shared experiences, Yammer is where we talked the most.

And Yammer is global, so it didn’t matter where we sat down to do it.

But with this new year and new designation, we started thinking more and more that we needed to step out into the stratosphere just a bit.

So we had an hour-long conference call. And was it ever fun.


Don’t leave me haaaannning on the telephone. From

We had a huge agenda (got through three items!) and made concrete decisions as well, as well as establish some hopes and expectations.

But what really happened more than anything was this: We cemented our bond.

I’m not saying we wouldn’t be as fine and cemented if we never had a real-life call, or never were able to meet all of each other in person.

Yet even as this is my day job, one thing I will always say about social media is this:

Social media is meant to enhance, not replace.

To carry on your conversation when you can’t see or speak to each other otherwise.

To keep your connections strong when office hours are done and the lights are off.

To keep it real.


She keeps it real. From

So because social was first for so many of us, we really felt the need to balance it out a bit with a more “real life” connectivity.

That and we had so much to talk about that our fingers were wearing out.

When we got on that conference call, some magically-working alchemy came into play, and I believe that by the end, all of us felt even more “cemented.” And more—a pretty substantial bond.

Thank you to my fellow Yammer MVPs for being so awesome.


YamLove swiped from my Yammer network

When Are You Your Most “You”?

Stop right there. What do you do that makes you feel fulfilled?

When I first read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Ring of Endless Light (read it; it’s good at any age), I came across this passage:

Protagonist Vicky is talking with her grandfather about how she feels when she’s outside and part of the sky and sea, and how sometimes she’s very aware of the sky and the sea. But at other times:

“I’m there–but it’s as though I’m out on the other side of myself–I’m not in the way.”

I recognized this as something I’ve said to myself for a long time: When am I my most me?


Enchanting forest found at

In other words, when am I at my full potential?

I’m at my full potential when I’m doing something fulfilling, creative, and satisfying, when I’m immersed in things that nurture me and things I like to associate myself with, things that I know are good for me–yet when I’m doing them, I’m not thinking of myself at all.

There’s no “I” in the back of my head, shouting “Hey, look at me, I’m being creative, aren’t I cool?” Instead, I’m one with the moment, however long that moment is, the vessel through which it all pours, the genius, such as it is, burning.


Look at meeeee! Found on (I don’t know the original source).


I wouldn’t even say I’m always doing anything one could consider creative. Sometimes just sitting around and musing takes me places I’m glad to go.

Take a look at Four Innovation Lessons From Mozart. While one can shoehorn just about any apple and orange together and make it work, comparing Mozart to today’s entrepreneurs is at least a creative idea itself.

The last point in particular speaks to our full potential, our self-actualization:

“[Mozart] wrote: ‘When I am …completely myself, entirely alone… or during the night when I cannot sleep, it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence and how these ideas come I know not nor can I force them.'”


See, even on his deathbed, Mozart was exuding music.

We all have this ability. Whether you sequester yourself in true isolation, recede to a space in your head no matter the distraction, or welcome those same distractions as a buffer, you owe it to yourself to know when you’re fulfilling who you are.

Plus, we do better when we’re feeling good about ourselves.

So spend some time doing what makes you feel good, even if you think it won’t matter to the world or make you any money, even if you think it’s silly or your should-do list is longer than sin or somebody snarks that you have wayyyy too much time on your hands.

As Martha Beck says, “It’s too late to feel guilty about enjoying simple things.”

So tell me: When are YOU at your full potential?

Community Management: An Analog Call to Action

What do you do when you run an online community, but your audience base is mostly offline?

Give a postcard!


Imagine if you got this in the mail. From

Note I said “give,” not send. There’s a reason for this, and it’s bound up in our particular niche and methodology.

Please stand by as we transfer you to the Department of Backstory

We have a train-the-trainer model, which means our staff train someone on your staff to become certified in our training*. That person is now a Certified Instructor and as such, equipped to go back to your organization and train everyone else.

An initial training class can include people from all over their respective state, from neighboring states, and from many different disciplines.

Initial training also lasts 4 days. You have a lot to keep track of!


I looked up ‘trying to keep track of everything” and got this. That makes sense. 

So even though our staff always introduces our exclusive Yammer community during this 4-day span, we wanted something more permanent to remind people to join after the first flush of excitement had died down.

Our Yammer community is completely opt-in, see. We want you to be there if YOU want to be there, not because you’re being (nonviolently) shoved in.


Excerpt of raw courage from Pogo.

Here’s what we did

We designed an over-sized postcard that gets handed out in class by our staff instructors.

First, we answer that eternal question:

Side 1: What’s In it For Me?

Well, here it is:

“You now have access to a professional development network where you can exchange ideas, insights, tips, and strategies to help you deliver the most meaningful and relevant training programs possible.”

It’s all true, too!

Then, we give you something to do with what’s in it for you:

Side 2: TWO Calls to Action!

Because you’re sitting in a classroom when you get this postcard, there are some things that will definitely be on your mind.


  • We provided a place to write down the first thing you want to ask or say when you get in to this community of people who do what you do.
  • We also have plenty of space to write down names of classmates to reconnect with.

And of course, we include simple instructions on how to get in.

What we hope to accomplish

Our own call to action is simple, too: We want to help people remember “that Yammer thing” that got mentioned in class, and get them excited about signing up.

Maybe they won’t today, maybe they won’t tomorrow, but at some point they’ll pull out that postcard again and decide, what the heck, I’ll sign up.

Or hear about Yammer in the myriad of other ways we mention it too, ’cause we’re not dummies.


He’s not a dummy either, he just happens to be wearing a pepper on his head.

What you can do

Use this idea!

You can also actually send your postcard (people still do that!) or other eye-catching doodad through the actual mail.

It all depends on your audience base and how you want people to use your network. Even internal folks might appreciate a fun bit of mail as a desk-drop or in their mail slots.

If you’ve done something like this or are about to, let me know in the comments!

*Want to find out more about our program? Here’s our Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training, all enhanced this year.

I am also indebted to Paul Woods who, upon hearing of this idea, dubbed it “analog.”

Motivation: Thackeray & Injuries

If you know Thackeray at all, you’ll know he had quite the fine, discerning eye toward the frantic facade of high society and the rogues who try to climb into it.

That’s what makes the below quote so juicy:


Thackeray knew a thing or two about human nature.

But my motivation for you today is, even as you acknowledge this foible of ours, make a concerted effort to remembering those kindnesses done to you—and the ones you do to others.

That’s all! Have a great day. d