The Virtual Meeting Coach

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Archive for the ‘Web 2.0’ Category

The Virtual Meeting Coach’s Love Song to The Gulf of Mexico

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Want the change. Be inspired by the flame where everything shines as it disappears.
- Rainer Marie Rilke

Okay, I’m breathing deliberately at my desk. I’m taking short walks and breathing deliberately. I’m meditating. I’m chanting. I’m practicing the Power of Now, the Law of Attraction and doing The Work. I’m crying. And I’m still not okay about watching, helplessly, as the Gulf of Mexico turns into a toxic waste site.

I grew up going to the Gulf on vacations to swim with my family from the time I was a tiny girl. Then, when I was a teenager, we moved to the west coast of Florida and my adolescence was spent swimming on Lido Beach and Longboat Key. I had a short stint up in Georgia while I went to college and started a family, but I always went home to the Gulf to find my bearings. And I took my kids there from the time they were little. Even when I moved to Austin, I made as many trips as possible to the east coast of Texas to immerse myself in my beautiful Gulf. My whole life, it’s been my holy water.

So, while I’m now living in southern Oregon, I might as well be right there on the coast of Louisiana because I FEEL what’s happening there – every second – deep in my heart. And I’m at my wit’s end. I feel angry, helpless, and so sad I can barely breathe.

And, the worst part is I’ve been telling myself I don’t know what I can do – from up here – to help. Friends, colleagues and clients tell me they’re feeling the same anger, helplessness and sadness. My friend and colleague, Sharon Drew Morgan, even wrote a totally wacky post in her biz blog this week about Aliens and their possible role in this tragedy.

In fact, it was Sharon Drew’s post that actually shook me out of the trance of helpless rage at BP for failing to take responsibility for what’s happening. The insanity of talking about aliens popped my attention over to my personal responsibility as a driver whose demand for gasoline to power my car continues to fuel BP’s race to produce oil to meet that demand – at any cost.

And here’s a fresh video about the cost. The real cost:

So, What Can We Do – From Right Where We Are – About the Disaster in the Gulf?
If you can watch that footage without wanting to vomit, you’re a better wo/man than I. I can barely stand to watch it. Because I loved those waters. I loved those fish. And I love every single shell that washed up on the pristine, white sands of those beaches  since I first set my little foot on them. I’ve been picking up shells from Gulf beaches since I was three years old – shells left by sea creatures who died a natural death in those waters.

I simply cannot physically go down to the Gulf right now to help with the clean up. I’ve had the same kind of financially challenging year that everyone else has and I don’t have the cash to take off work and drive or fly down there right now to help with the clean up in person.

But, I can do something from right here. I can stand up – in my full humanity – and lead sans  shame or embarrassment. Like this guy:

Who cares if I look like a fool to start with? This is our precious Gulf of Mexico!!

So, here’s my declaration:

I can – and I will – offer every day to help people who sell professional services learn to use virtual meetings to start delivering some of your services without having to get into your cars to drive somewhere just so you can sit down in a room to work with other people. Sometimes we have to, but we don’t always have to do this!!

I can – and I will – keep reminding people through this blog that until we all learn to use these tools in skillful ways, we are just blowing smoke when we open our mouths and speak about “greening” this economy or “saving the environment.”

It’s time now for us to walk our talk! Will you join me?

The Times They Are A’Changin’
If you don’t know how to use virtual meetings to work with clients and colleagues at a distance, you have no other choice but to walk, ride your bike, ride the bus, or get into your car – or fly – to work with other people! But not having another choice is simply no excuse when the tools to work collaboratively – and at a distance – are FREE and I’m here to help you learn to use them!

The truth of the matter is this: Until each of us knows enough to be able to exercise choice with our colleagues and clients – ie., to work virtually sometimes, using live meeting tools and Web 2.0 collaborative applications, whenever doing so won’t damage crucial relationships – each of us must take personal responsible for creating the tragedy in the Gulf.

It is our driving habits that are the driving force in the demand for oil production.
Along with BP and lazy, selfish congressional regulators, it is YOU AND I who must take full responsibility for what our unquestioned – frequently senseless – work routines and habits are now doing to drive the demand for oil that is killing the Gulf and the other precious oceans!

So, how about singing along with me and Don Henley and song-writer extraordinaire Bob Dylan (celebrating his 69th birthday this week)? How about learning to use virtual meeting tools? And how about starting NOW?

Want to Do More Than Just Sing?
I’m starting up a new Madhatter’s Tea Party Group Coaching Program in July. It’s going to be fun…and it’s just not that damn hard!

If you want to participate, contact me this week right here for a FREE 20-minute consultation:

And if not now, when? While we keep fiddling around, the Gulf is burning.

Speaking of fiddling, a million thanks to Diana Fairbanks whose wide-ranging, quirky intelligence and warm friendship brought both the Rilke poem and the Leadership Guy vid to my attention early Thursday. You can enjoy her eclectic taste in music here on her new station at as you ponder next steps….

Human flourishing is not a mechanical process. It is an organic process.

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Everything Sir Ken says in this TED Talk, from February 2010, is just as true about adult learning as it is about our children’s education. And my commitment to this perspective about “informal” learning is central to the program design for the Madhatters Tea Party Group Coaching programs.

If we are to resurrect our local, national and global economies, we’re going to have to resurrect our spirits first. Starting with the spirits of adults! And the resurrection of spirits depends on organic processes, not pre-packaged “scalable solutions.”

Early in the talk, Sir Ken says, “Changing education is about challenging what we take for granted, challenging the tyranny of common sense…. And it’s very hard to know what you take for granted – because you take it for granted…”

Then, delightful, dry Britt that he is, Robinson quotes Lincoln:

‘The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with it. We must disenthrall ourselves and then we will save our country.’ – Abraham Lincoln

Robinson went on to say so many funny and profound things. I captured just a few in text as I listened:

” The idea we are enthralled to in education – the idea that life or learning is or should be linear – is simply false. Every TED speaker has, either implicitly or explicitly, told us this for the last five years!

“Life is organic. We create our lives organically in response to things that happen to us. This is what is true. Yet, we have built our educational systems on a fast-food model where everything is standardized. And that model – as Jamie Olivers’ Food Revolution has been telling us – is depleting our spirits as badly as it is impoverishing our bodies.

“We have to change metaphors – from a manufacturing model based on linearity, and conformity, and batching people – to a model that is based more on principles of agriculture. We simply have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process, it is an organic process.

“We cannot predict learning outcomes. All we can do – like a farmer does – is create the conditions under which human beings can begin to flourish.

“So when we look at transforming education, it’s a process of customizing and personalizing services for people you are actually teaching. Doing this is the key to the future.

“The reformation of education isn’t about ‘scaling a new solution.’ It’s about creating a new movement in education where people create their own solutions with external support based on a personalized curriculum.”

Amen, Sir Ken Robinson!! Amen!! Bravo, bravo, bravo!!

And bravo to the Spring, 2010, cohort of Madhatters and Virtual Tea Partiers! Your willingness to use virtual meeting rooms, video conferencing, Web 2.0 tools and innovative teleconferencing tools to learn together – online, organically, and grounded in your precious and personal passions and dreams – makes my life worth living. As a coach, as a trainer, as a consultant.

As a “teacher.”

I would like nothing better than to be able to use that word, “teacher,” again without thinking of a hapless supervisor on some horrid assembly line like the one Chaplain depicted so masterfully in “Modern Times” – now close to 80 years ago… Can’t we please wake up from the industrial /mechanical trance? The alarm’s ringing loud in the Gulf of Mexico!

April 19th – Madhatter’s Tea Parties Begin!

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Madhatters 6-Week Virtual Meeting Camp
Coming up on Monday, April 19th: the anniversary of Timothy McVeigh’s bombing in Oklahoma City and a Tea Party gun rally on the Mall in Washington.

For weeks I’ve been hearing Yeat’s “Second Coming” in my head.

Also on Monday afternoon, at 3:30pm PDT, I’ll be launching the Madhatter’s Tea Party 6-Week Virtual Meeting Camp. You can still sign up until noon, Sunday the 18th.

Of course there’s always darkness simmering in the bestial recesses of the Monkey Mind. I’m committed to rising above it, friends. Let’s use the internet to connect across space and time in real-time, not to divide us further.

Yes we can.

What Matters Now – On the First Day of Christmas My True Friend Gave To Me…

Monday, December 14th, 2009

What Matters Now

It’s no secret to my friends and regular readers of this blog that I love Seth Godin. For years, I’ve loved Seth’s crazy, irreverent approach to getting people unstuck and into action about what matters most. He’s direct, creative, and funny as hell. And, at the same time, he suffers no foolishness… which is extremely helpful to me. His intelligence just cuts right through excuses, leaving the scraps on the floor in a heap.

This morning, Rene Fabre passed me a link to “What Matters Most” with a message that said, “Now, more than ever, we need a different way of thinking, a useful way to focus and the energy to turn the game around.” Amen, Brother Love!!

It turns out that “What Matters Most” is a sweet, FREE book Seth compiled from the thoughts of a bunch of other smart folks. And Seth’s set it up to see how fast his fans can make it viral. I think he said he’d like to see how fast 5 million people could get it.

I’m playing. Here’s a copy you can enjoy right here, right now.

If you like it enough to pass it on, feel free to
1) send others a link or a Tweet that they can read it here,
2) embed it in your blog
3) download it for yourself from Scribd
4) print a copy and pass it out for free on the street
5) anything else you can think to do with it for FREE.

On the 1st of Christmas, my true friend gave to me…a frrreeee e-book copyyyyyy…. Enjoy!

How to Help People Improve Collaboration Now Using Online Tools

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Here’s a useful, provocative Flash animation in the middle of a McKinsey report on “Using Technology to Improve Workforce Collaboration.”

If you can’t get the full animation from clicking above, go to the report itself here, scroll down to the subhead, “Improving Collaboration,” and click on the graphic to launch the Flash animation. Clicking on any one of the different types of knowledge workers brings up suggestions for online, collaborative, Web 2.0 technologies that can best improve productivity in their jobs.

I’m not sure that the suggestions are comprehensive or even totally accurate. But this is certainly the kind of thinking we all need to be engaged in this year. And this animation is a great place to start the kinds of conversations we need to be having about how we can tweak business work processes in 2010 so we can work together more efficiently and productively. Many thanks to George Siemens and Harold Jarche for their pointers to this report!

Not at all surprising is the fact that virtual meeting tools show up in almost every single occupation!

Enjoy! And what do you think?

So, What’s The Big Deal About Meeting Live Online With President Obama?

Monday, September 7th, 2009

I have to say right up-front that I feel like I’ve been ambushed out of nowhere when I read and hear objections to President Obama’s web meeting tomorrow, September 8th, with our nation’s school children. From 1/3 and 1/2 of our nation’s school children are routinely dropping out of school before they complete a high-school degree program. The figures are higher in blighted urban areas. There, 4 out of 5 students are dropping out before completing their high-school degree. So, maybe I’m nuts, but to me  it only makes sense that the President would do something different to inspire students, teachers, and parents to do something different. So, what gives with the objections to having a national Back-to-School-Meeting?


I guess the biggest part of my surprise about the resistance comes from the fact that I meet online every day – with all kinds of people – in both my business and my personal life.  Apparently one of the reasons that vendors like Go To Meeting are running the same ad over and over and over through the evening news broadcasts on CNN is that a lot of people still don’t know they, too, can use virtual meeting tools easily and safely to meet with groups as small as 2 or as large as ????  (Tomorrow’s meeting will be historic and give us some new data about the possibilities of virtual meetings, too!)

I know from personal, daily experience that virtual meetings hold tremendous potential to support dialogue, discussion, and interaction – even when we can’t be in the same room with other people. Like I say here often, they’re not magic, but almost.

I’m thinking about what else I want to say about the rhetoric of resistance and hatred that seems to be fueling some schools boycotting the President’s meeting.

But for now, if you’re someone who really cares about education – a parent, a teacher, a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle, or a school kid – please help yourself to Wes Fryer’s blog today. Wes has been tirelessly covering all the bases for many years now in the conversation, “How can we think differently about instruction using Web 2.0 tools?”  His passion and the encyclopedic drive of his blog are legendary amongst teachers who have their eye on the future. And for good reason.

Wes’ chart above is old, by Web 2.0 standards, but it still illustrates well some things you need to think about – whether you’re a teacher, a trainer, or any kind of business person who needs to share information in order to help someone else achieve their hopes and dreams – and you can’t always be in the same room with them at the same time. The technologies that support virtual classrooms and other kinds of virtual meetings allow us to view each others’ slides, photos, documents, web pages, and even video.

However, it’s always seemed to me that the most crucial thing we can share in virtual meetings (that we can’t do just watching television or one-way web presentations) is our voices, our thoughts, our in-the-moment-feedback with each other.  To me, this is the real beauty of virtual meetings – their live, interactive potential!

Now that I think about it, maybe that beauty that I value so much is exactly what the resisters are resisting. The interactive potential of virtual meetings spells an end to nation-wide one-way communication and the structures of hierarchy and domination that one-way communication perpetuates. Hmmmm….. Maybe that’s what’s up… You think?


Well, if you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle who would like to attend the meeting live with a classroom of students and their forward-thinking teacher, Karl Fisch, you can check in there tomorrow, and attend with Karl and his class of 5th grade students who live right in the heartland, Littleton, Colorado. The meeting will, of course, be recorded and immediately reposted to YouTube and the text of the President’s remarks will be posted online today ahead of the meeting. It’s unlikely that the President will be able to take live questions from the children – although I hope, somehow, the White House staff figures out how to do that technologically challenging task!

There are tons of materials available to support your talk and interaction with your children and anyone else who attends this meeting with you.  Wes has linked to some of the best on his blog today. Please use one or more of them to help each other make the most of this opportunity to set a new tone for everybody starting back to school this fall, 2009.  They need all our help to get across the finish line!

Building Online Reputation: Quit Marketing to The Crowd That Already Left The Building!

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Who would have thought in just 50 short years we would go from meeting and greeting people in the town square to meeting and greeting people hundreds of miles away – without anyone actually leaving home?

And, in that same short time, who would have thought we would go from buying the biggest newspaper or magazine display ads we could afford to stimulate traffic to our businesses to asking everyone we know what they’re doing to encourage their customers to write about their experiences with them in online directories?

The change is staggering. It’s enough to make my head spin all the way around!

And it’s not science fiction. It’s already happened. Elvis has left the building.

(According to Wikipedia, “Elvis has left the building!” was a phrase often used by public address announcers following Elvis Presley concerts to disperse audiences who lingered in hopes of an Elvis encore.)

As my guests on this third episode of “The Virtual Meeting Coach Show“ like to say, business people who continue to neglect online meetings and other social media – focusing the bulk of their marketing dollars on traditional tv and radio, or newspaper and magazine display ads – are marketing to a crowd that already left the building.

The old models don’t work…and the new ones do.

If the people you need to tell about your business don’t read newspapers anymore, it makes no sense to buy newspaper advertising to communicate with them. But many people are still doing just that.

In their jobs as the Pacific NW internet marketing team for Ticor Title, Matt Sweet and Rene Fabre, spend a big chunk of their time helping Realtors, bankers, and other folks in the real estate industry understand why the old models of advertising and business communication don’t work anymore… and why the new models do.

As Rene likes to say, young and old alike, people all over the world have become “searchers.” We go online daily now to self-educate and to find what we need. So, the question is, how can people possibly choose to buy your products or services unless they can easily find your compelling presence online?

Matt jokingly called this third conversation, “I Get By With A Little Yelp From My Friends.”

Take a look and a listen as the three of us talk about ways to use online review sites like Yelp, Amazon and others to help people searching for things they want FIND YOU in the process of their searching.

FYI: You don’t have to be in real estate to get a lot of value out of this conversation. Anyone who sells professional services needs to be thinking this way to make a decent living in this new economy.

“Like, love or hate this show? Can we improve? Tell us!

Premiere: The Virtual Meeting Coach Show!

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

For over a year, my friend, Tom Carroll, and I have been playing with free virtual meeting tools. Testing them, pushing them, breaking them, seeing which ones work best for what kinds of meetings.

My fascination with real-time virtual meetings comes from my very real, very non-technical experience as a child growing up in a divided bungalow in Chevy Chase where the upstairs bathroom of our home shared a pretty thin wall with the upstairs bathroom of our neighbor’s home.

When I was a curious little girl, I wanted more than anything to be able to “see” through that wall and “hear” what my neighbor, Don Jackson, was doing over on his side. Don was 10 years older than me and generously tolerated my crush on him by actually encouraging me to memorize Morse Code and tap out little messages back and forth with him on the bathroom wall.

I know. It sounds really silly. And it was. But that experience birthed my fascination with “distance” communication and it survives today in my desire to be able to “see” and “hear” what my neighbors around the globe are doing and thinking – without me actually having to travel around the world all the time to see them face-to-face.

Not that I’ve got anything against traveling! I love traveling more than almost anything. But I can’t live that way. After awhile, everyone wants a place they call home. But I still want to take adventures from home, too. What’s the internet for, anyway, if not adventuring?

So, from my home in Ashland, Oregon and Tom’s home in Austin, Texas, we’ve been taking adventures, using all kinds of web conferencing tools to have live, authentic conversations that incorporate all kinds of media.

Now we’ve started inviting people who have something interesting to share to join us.

About a week ago, Tom made this recording I posted today to It’s the introduction to a 4-part conversation I’ll be having over the next couple of weeks with Matt Sweet and Rene Fabre.

Matt and Rene work for Ticor Title in the Pacific NW. It’s their job to help REALTORS and title people from Astoria, Washington to Ashland, Oregon, make sense of the ways that online communication has forever changed their businesses.

Matt and Rene are not quite Ren and Stimpy. But almost. They’re a couple of wild and crazy guys who happen to love exploring what makes Google tick. Their passion – and their work – is finding new ways to use social media to help professional business people make friends and influence people to buy from them. Every week they take their people into free, online meeting rooms at to have raucous conversations about new ways they need to start  building their reputations and connecting to customers – online.

I’m still experimenting with these kinds of interviews, and Tom’s still testing out ways to record them for me, but I hope you’ll take a look and a listen to this one and let me know what you think about the format.

Over the next 3 sessions, I’m hoping you’ll get to see a little more about how vYew works and, at the same time, learn something about how you can use social media to establish a more visible/audible presence for yourself online.

Please share any thoughts or suggestions you have that will help us improve!

“In the company of nudists, no one is naked.”

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

This week I read a stunning piece by Jeff Jarvis in Business Week.

Jeff teaches at the CUNY School of Journalism and blogs at His piece is short but packed a big punch.

He probed around a number of key issues in the conversation about openness – or transparency – and the Internet. The whole conversation of “publicness.”  His opening line was provocative, “In the company of nudists, no one is naked.”

The longer I live here, in southern Oregon, the more I see that what’s most important to people here is having a place to live their lives in “peace and privacy.” Migrants and natives alike.

I moved here not quite three years ago from Austin, Texas, and it’s taken me awhile to appreciate just how deliberately my fellow residents of the “State of Jefferson” cultivate their disconnection from the rest of the nation – and the world. I consider myself a very “private person,” but compared to most of my neighbors, I’m a virtual slut. So, I spend a lot of time trying to calibrate my enthusiasm for online learning and virtual business relationships with the thinking of most folks I’m shopping for groceries and gardening supplies with.

All week I’ve been pondering Jeff’s point about  the obstacle to more transparency in our online relating being “control,” not  “privacy.”

Privacy and Control Are Not the Same Issue

A new friend (who’s a 30-40-something) told me this week she just signed up for Facebook and that she wanted to talk to me about some “virtual meeting coaching.”  She was in a panic about how she was going to keep her real-life friends out of her Facebook. She said she didn’t want them “in there acting like they do.”

When I asked her why not, she said she wanted to be able to keep taking crazy, fun road-trips to the beach with them – without having to acknowledge “in public” that she enjoys their carousing. She was worried that if she let them into her Facebook, they would make her look bad to the other people she wanted in her Facebook and she wondered what she could do about that.

As I listened to her, I heard a perfect testimony for Jarvis’ suggestion that our hesitation about increasing the transparency of our online communication isn’t about “privacy.” It’s about “control” of how we reveal (or conceal) our different faces.

Privacy and control really aren’t the same issue, are they?  What we want from relating “virtually” are new ways to strengthen relationships – without being misunderstood or taken advantage of.

I gave my new friend some personal advice about how I’m handling this challenge, but I’m really interested in how the rest of you are handling it. How are you handling the opportunity to become more and more transparent with your online communication?

Will you help me out by leaving some comments below?

Calling All Cars! Calling All Cars! I Need Some Quick Advice From My Posse!

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

I need advice from my posse – and I need it right away!

I’ve been asked to speak to a group of college profs in about 10 days. They want to hear about no more than FIVE emerging technologies that support online learning.

This is a wonderful opportunity to make an impact on the hearts and minds of people who can make a real difference in the ways their students interact with them online.

The trouble is, we all know there are hundreds of Web 2.0 tools that support online learning. Dozens are truly mind-changing!

I need some serious help deciding which five to talk to them about.

So, would you be so kind as to take five minutes of your time and add your faves -and what makes them your faves – to the Comments here?

Think of it as a contribution to me and also to the next five years of learners coming through Southern Oregon University. That’s a BIG contribution!

If you’ll be kind enough to do this, and include your email address, I will send you a FREE COPY of my most recent e-book, “The Coach’s Short List.”

“The Coach’s Short List” outlines a half-dozen things you need to think about before you plan your virtual meetings. It also provides templates for organizing your thinking and running your meetings. You can read more about the book here.

It’s a $12.97 value for five minutes of your time. If that’s a fair exchange to you, I’ll consider it fair for me, too.

I really need help narrowing the field down to just five technologies to talk about. You can enter your comments below.

And thanks a million for being a live, contributing member of my learning posse!

We have it in our power to begin the world over again.
- Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

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