"It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another."
The quote is from "Our Town," but it can apply to social media (or life) just the same. With so much happening, we should remember to take stock of who we are, where we came from, and who helps us be the people we are in our respective communities. And to recognize that our communities are far-reaching - well beyond our geographic location.
It's entirely appropriate then, that a meme is circulating with an underlying theme of giving thanks to those in our past and present. In particular this latest meme is "Who had a big influence on you and how did that affect the direction of your life or career?" and it was begun by Kami Huyse and Rob Lagasse. I've been tagged by Kyle Flaherty, who paid me a very fine compliment in his post. [Aside: thank you for that, Kyle. I hope I continue to live up to your expectations.]
Andy Ferrara was my biggest influence, only I didn't know it at the time. It's only as my career has blossomed that I've had the opportunity to reflect on Andy's advice and example.
My first consulting gig was doing corporate development on a 3-person team for Boston Healthcare Associates. I was still young and a bit unsure of myself, as I had never done that kind of work before and was responsible for the strategic and financial well-being of my clients.
Andy had an open-door policy and even when he was extremely busy, he always took a few moments to welcome me into his office and make me feel as if I was the most important thing on his agenda. I was talking with him about some doubts I was having, and he said something that sticks with me still:
"Just tell yourself 'I have arrived.'"
That's it. Plain and simple. It's the premise behind The Secret. But it takes a bit of self-confidence before you can really embrace it. And until this year, I didn't really appreciate that.
The other thing that Andy taught me was the importance of listening. One of the main tenets of joining a social network or community is that you must listen first. Andy would sit in a conference room with clients or employees and would let everyone speak. He only offered his opinion at the end of the meeting, and it always seemed that his comments were the most insightful and comprehensive. He didn't open his mouth just to hear himself speak, he really had a reason for speaking.
In the spirit of keeping the meme alive, I'm going to tag a few folks - people that I'm thankful for this year. I've many, many people in mind, but I do want to keep this succinct. I'll be sharing another post shortly about my recent experiences meeting so many wonderful social media mavens in the Boston area.
Julia Roy - no, I'm not tagging Julia because she's been after me to put her on my blogroll, but rather because she is one of the shining examples of someone who combines passion, intelligence and humor to great effect. Her personal brand is sassy yet serious, playful yet intelligent, and always engaging. She uses Seesmic to her advantage and has great boots. I'm very sad that Boston is losing her to New York, but thanks to new media, we'll still be able to benefit from her uber-presence.
Len Edgerly - Len is one of my surprise friends this year. He's half Denver, half Cambridge and entirely cool. I think we became acquainted over Twitter and we found a common interest in the arts, particularly in literature. In his Video Pod Chronicles episode with NewMediaJim, I recognized the Colony Hotel in the background and mentioned it. What has resulted is a kind of mutual admiration society and a new friendship that I hope to nourish.
Joseph Jaffe - How could I not mention the Interruptor? No, not this one. I'm talking about the founder of the company I work for, crayon. Just a year ago I was only a fan of crayon, but earlier this year, Joseph enthusiastically welcomed me to the team (what were you thinking, Joe?). My time with crayon has been exhilarating and exhausting, but incredibly rewarding. I really feel like I'm part of something big, and I have Joseph to thank for that.
Drew McLellan - Probably one of the nicest guys in the blogosphere, Drew tapped me as one of the original core group to write The Age of Conversation, a groundbreaking book that took the work of 103 authors and resulting in over $10,000 raised for charity. Drew's insights into marketing and branding are always eye-opening for me, and his approachability and encouragement always make me smile.
Thank you all, for being a unique and special part of my social media world. You make it a more interesting place and you inspire many others in your own way. I hope you continue the meme and share your thanks with your own communities.