Tag Archives: Networking

Real Life versus Second Life…

13 Oct

Is it just me or is the world going mad one person at a time (reminding me of the old movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”)?

I’m not talking about the insanity of a gubernatorial candidate in Florida buying the election (with $100 million in trash-talk and ads featuring his 90-year-old mother touting that “Ricky is a good boy”) after his company defrauded medicare of millions.  Nor am I referring to the endless chatter from the far right or left “righteous souls” who preach they know best for all of us sheep from their gold-tinged pulpits on cable TV…  (Can you tell that I’ve had enough of the pontificating and lies associated with the upcoming election?)

No, I’m talking about a much more mundane societal symptom…  Second Life and other fantasy worlds.  There are more and more people who have problems in their real life (1st life) who live most of the time in cyberspace.  Retailers and software vendors love this as people cocoon in their “caves” and escape to fantasy lives in cyberspace (no, I’m not talking about porn.)

Second Life, and even Facebook give people a pseudo-life where they can create a persona and  pretend to be someone else.  I’ve had experience with both sites and I’m sure there’s good value in active playtime for adults, but it’s like everything else – if you take it overboard “without protection” you can end up deep in another world.  In my estimation, there’s enough chaos in real life without creating more in a second or third virtual life.  What do you think?  Read on…


A few months ago, I participated in a real life “game” (research experiment) conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) who wanted to learn how well “virtual teams” (team members living geographically apart who had never met) can work together.  From the beginning the research was set up for failure: it was all volunteer, there were too many teams, communication was forced, and the directions changed weekly. Whatever… but the pivotal reason I mention it was because we had to meet at an office in “Second Life”.  If you’ve never heard of Second Life, it’s a fantasy/simulation world where adults pretend to be someone else (an avatar) and can “fly” between lands and do things that they can’t do in their first life.  I couldn’t believe it!  Here I was, a Project Management Professional volunteering to be part of a serious research project, having to make 200 body part selections for my “Avatar” (don’t even get me started on the naming conventions that go with that!) – choices included such things as flat ears/pointy ears/big ears, perky/huge/small boobs, curly/straight/bouncy/who knows what else hair, etc. etc. etc.  Amazing!  AND, I was going to have to meet with other avatars (with equally cryptic names) in the Second Life office created by the German organizers.

I confess that I’m a bona-fide failure (and I don’t care) in Second Life – my avatar fell out of the orientation room and on to a helipad, and I was lost until I found the coordinates of the meeting. (I did witness several clandestine type meetings of couples and threesomes on the helipad that I didn’t want to know about – even in first life!)

That being said, the German team running the experiment insisted that Second Life is a serious meeting protocol, and I know of several IT professionals using it for “business” in the US.  I’ll admit that I just don’t get the allure!  After this one meeting where half of my team couldn’t connect in Second Life and met on another website – with one guy running back and forth translating between the two – I’ve never gone back to second life and I don’t miss it.  However, millions of adults essentially live exciting lives on Second Life – so much so that the number one profession in Second Life is divorce lawyers for players whose first life marriage is in shambles due to their Second Life addiction. (This is real!)

I know of one hugely overweight man in real life whose Second Life avatar is a seductive female nymph who sells so many designer sunglasses in his Second Life store that he pays his first life mortgage on the proceeds!  It’s quite amazing that even major corporations like Target and Sears have joined in the fray and own real estate and meeting space in Second Life (paid for with real dollars and maintained by real people).


You may wonder why I’d list Facebook as a fantasy site… I do so because I discovered that some people believe that the “Friends” they make and acquire on Facebook are all personal assets – even when they may never meet the majority of their 5000 “Friends”.  It has become a predator-type situation whereby some people “Friend” you just to gain access to the pretty people you have on your friend list. They then approach your friends using you as a mutual friend.  When someone brags about having maxed out with 5000 personal Facebook friends (acquired by mining other people’s friend lists),  don’t you wonder what their real life is like?  I know a guy who makes it his business to become friends with everyone’s “exes” – ex-husbands, ex-girlfriends, ex-employees, you name it – he has to put himself into the mix to feed some narcissistic tendency.  In fact, a friend asked me not to tell him that she is getting divorced because of he’ll friend her ex immediately.

I had someone recently ask to be my “Friend” on Facebook based on mutual friends and I prematurely and ignorantly accepted him as a “Friend”.  Subsequently he contacted me using the Chat facility and purported that we met at a local networking event (which I later found out was an embellishment to gain my trust).  He then started to mine my friend list and contacted some of my foreign-residing real friends from college and invite them to be his friend (using me as the foray).  I DO understand business contacts and potential business uses of friends, but it’s a bit creepy when someone uses their connections to “meet” people in a virtual world and expect to become fast friends. When I asked the guy what he hopes to gain by “Friending” people I’ve gone to school with, his response was to say that “this is how I make a lot of my friends. And you don’t know what my passport looks like – I might go to visit them.”  All I can say is that it’s a bit creepy.

I’ve since defriended this guy and won’t accept future invitation from anyone I haven’t met or who a friend introduces.   In real life, we want to protect our friends and colleagues from harm – yet in cyberspace, those defenses go down. On Facebook and in other cybersites, this presents an open opportunity for those with less than noble motives to move in and potentially behave in ways that they simply could not do (and get away with) in real life.

I can understand with all the craziness in our real world (politics, religion, war) that people want to escape to a fantasy world – but really, what would the world be like in 20 years if the virtual life overtakes real life?

Just a bit of food for thought, enjoy your week!



If you appreciate someone, tell them so…

1 Oct

There are times when I am moved to tears by reading a forwarded email, and today was no exception.  Before I share the email with you, let me ask you a question – do you have any idea whether (and when) you cause positive ripples in the life stream of others?

In these tough economic times, I’ve noticed that people have become more rude and more unappreciative… and that unfortunately includes clients.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve been besieged with an unprecedented stream of emails and been treated with the most disrespect I think I’ve ever had.  Just a week ago, I taught a full-day workshop as a favor to a friend (where they registered over 100 professionals in the course) and despite their per-person charge that netted them at least $10K USD, they paid me less than 10% of the take.  When I questioned the arrangement (I had agreed to teach 30 people maximum), I was greeted with a response akin to “you should be grateful we got you the audience!”  It was disappointing to receive little respect for the energy and expertise I provided… live and learn.

Consulting jobs today routinely offer less than half of the rate I received in 1994 (15 years ago) and then purport that consultants like me should be lucky to get such offers at all. This is despite having published two mainstream books and having 15 years more experience than I’ve had before. Of course, it’s a choice – take the work at the less than 1/2 price or hold out for higher quality, better positioned clients – the problem is that those clients may or may not come before the mortgage is due.  At the same time, the project management training I’m delivering is the best work I’ve ever done – and my evaluations from students show this!  Yet, the clients who hire me to do such training are cold, unresponsive and tell me (in not so many words) that I’m simply a piece of meat who doesn’t deserve the courtesy of a return phone call or email when I ask about confirming dates they’ve reserved (and often cancel on a moment’s notice).  I do realize that it’s a buyer’s market for consultants and training professionals today, but it gets tiring to be treated poorly by those I serve so diligently (and who make a ton of money off of me!)  What happened to common courtesy and professional respect?

The golden rule (treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself) certainly seems to be on long term hiatus today!

Perhaps that’s why it’s so refreshing to receive the email today (it’s coming I promise!) – and I realized that there are many people who do great work and never get the appreciation they deserve.  That’s not right and not fair, but it’s life.

Thank you!Nonetheless, I’d like to say thank you to a few people in my life today:

– My mom and dad who love me tirelessly regardless of whether they agree with what I’m doing with my life;

– My friends: Pat, Jennifer, Janet, Mary, Linda, Nayla, Darja, Carolyn, Kathy, Nicole, and many others (you know who you are) who are there for me and probably have no idea how important you are to my sanity and well-being!

– My kids: Corinne and Alex, who are adults and still find time to call and let me know that they are okay and that I’m still important even though they live on their own;

– My siblings and their partners who take the time to connect with me on Facebook or just to drop a line despite that they live more than 3000 miles away from me;

– Colleagues and acquaintances who remind me that business is not always fair and that they experience the same ups and downs with today’s business climate as I do;

– Supporters who I may not know personally (or may have met once) who drop me an email or leave a comment when they hear that I received an award or published a new post or article;

– Students and conference participants who come to my presentations and lectures and who care enough to stay to hear what I have to say;

– The “Wayne” in the story below who remains anonymous but whose words are inspirational.

I appreciate you more than you know!

p.s., Now here is the email that spurred me to post this today – maybe you’ll also be moved to email or call someone in YOUR life and let them know that YOU appreciate them in some small or large way.  It will make their day or week or month!

PhonePHONE ON THE WALL.  HELLO (author unknown)

When I was a young boy, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood.. I remember the polished, old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it.

Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person. Her name was “Information Please” and there was nothing she did not know. Information Please could supply anyone’s number and the correct time.

My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy.

I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear.

“Information, please” I said into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear.

“I hurt my finger…” I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.
“Isn’t your mother home?” came the question.
“Nobody’s home but me,” I blubbered.

“Are you bleeding?” the voice asked.

“No,” I replied. “I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts.”

“Can you open the icebox?” she asked.

I said I could.

“Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger,” said the voice..

After that, I called “Information Please” for everything.. I asked her for help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.

Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died. I called, Information Please,” and told her the sad story.. She listened, and then said things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I asked her, “Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?”

She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, ” Wayne , always remember that there are other worlds to sing in.”  Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone, “Information Please.”
“Information,” said in the now familiar voice. “How do I spell fix?” I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest . When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston . I missed my friend very much. “Information Please” belonged in that old wooden box back home and I
somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me..

Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle . I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, “Information Please.”

Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well.

I hadn’t planned this, but I heard myself saying,

“Could you please tell me how to spell fix?”

There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, “I guess your finger must have healed by now.”
I laughed, “So it’s really you,” I said. “I wonder if you have any

idea how much you meant to me during that time?”

I wonder,” she said, “if you know how much your call meant to me.
I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls.”

I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.
“Please do”, she said. “Just ask for Sally.”

Three months later I was back in Seattle .  A different voice answered, “Information.” I asked for Sally.“Are you a friend?” she said.
“Yes, a very old friend,” I answered.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this,”She said. “Sally had been working part time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago.”

Before I could hang up, she said, “Wait a minute, did you say your name was Wayne ?”
“Yes.” I answered.

“Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called.Let me read it to you.”

The note said, “Tell him there are other worlds to sing in.
He’ll know what I mean.”

I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

Never underestimate the impression you may make on others..
Whose life have you touched today?
Why not pass this on? I just did…. Lifting you on eagle’s wings.
May you find the joy and peace you long for.
Life is a journey… NOT a guided tour.

Wishing you a joyful week!


Social Media – Friend or Foe?

13 Apr

Social Media (the term used collectively for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Naymz, Ning, even Second Life) has gone “viral” (meaning out-of-control with “hits”).  Did you know that if Facebook was a country it would be the 3rd largest in the world?  And, that it is unremarkable when a teen racks up tens of thousands of text messages on their cell phone a month, yet may be grounded all the while they are texting and tweeting?

facebookIt was interesting to read in the St. Petersburg Times about a reporter who “Unfriended Facebook“.  Yes, you heard me right – she defriended (quit) Facebook outright.  Her rationale came down to that the fake relationships Facebook garnered represented a lazy person’s way of making friends, and she found herself neglecting her real life relationships.

Can you imagine life without social media?  Can you remember what it was like not to be tweeted at, friended (and defriended), connected, tagged, blogged to, linked-in to networks, groups, and invited to join hundreds of fan-clubs (pages) and attend a myriad of events – not even in your geographic area.

It is seldom these days to get phone calls on my home phone from anyone but solicitors or to talk to anyone in person without e-mail confirmation, e-vites, or texting.  And, what happens when it all does NOT work together?  What happens when an e-vite (email invitation) doesn’t work and people feel rejected because an invitation isn’t delivered?  Or when a text message is delayed (sometimes for days)?  Or when voicemails don’t register or the caller id fails?  When any of these things happen, we are so tied up in the e-world that we can end up reacting or feeling something when there was nothing to react to.  In the past, we’d call people on the phone when we’re feeling neglected or rejected to ask about a potentially waylaid piece of mail or a potential missed phone call. And often we’d be relieved to find out that our imaginations created a situation that simply wasn’t.  Mail got misdelivered, phone calls were missed, answering machines failed. It’s just life as humans.

But, with social media we forget that it too is faulty.  Texts don’t always come through (even when the sender gets a “confirmation of delivery”), voicemail and emails get corrupted, cell phones go out of range (too often) – and yet we collectively don’t confirm our assumptions with technology.

So, do you think social media is a friend or a foe?  It all depends on whether it furthers your human relationships or strains the ones you have in real life.  If the latter, then unplug (quit the sites) for a while and see what happens. You’ll be forced to work your human magic on real life people who can talk, breathe, and listen back – and isn’t that what relationships in the real world are all about?

Have a happy week!


Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

Expand your horizons, enrich your life

19 Mar

For years I’ve encouraged technical conference attendees (some of you might consider these to be “nerd” conferences) to read what their customers are reading – I called it reading outside the box – to gain an understanding of what is relevant in other industries. And I’ve always adhered to that as much as possible by reading Fast Company, Travel and Leisure, Time, Financial Times, etc.  It always expands my horizons through continuous learning.  I continue to find new opportunities to apply this wisdom in my life!  Rather than simply reading about other industries, I’ve started to take part by volunteering and helping out with local community events for the City of Clearwater (sporting and cultural events), local charity events, and one of my favorites: Film Festivals.

GIFFThis weekend (Mar 18-21, 2010) is the Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF) in Tampa and tonight’s opening event was a celebratory night of filmmakers, sponsors, students, fans, and industry notables. Not only was the event fun, it was a learning experience to network with non-software industry people who are passionate about their profession.  If you’re in Tampa or the vicinity this weekend, take in a film or two and join the festivities – if you’re a software professional I can tell you that it’s such fun to venture out from our regular environment.  Expand your horizons beyond the “software industry” and you’ll be surprised at how much it enriches your (work and personal) life!

Have a nice weekend!


Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.


Read Carol Dekkers’ other blog (Musings about Software Development) at http://musingsaboutsoftwaredevelopment.wordpress.com

Copyright 2010 Carol Dekkers – All Rights Reserved ———————

Networking and Cultural Intelligence – Necessary or Fluff?

29 Nov

Madrid, SpainIt’s been said that “walking into a room full of strangers” is today’s #1 networking fear, outranking the fear of death and the fear of public speaking which were formerly number 2 and 1. (According to Susan RoAne, networking maven and author of several networking books including Secrets of Savvy Networking and How to Work a Room.)Compounding the situation is the reduction in in-person communication caused by the increased use of internet and e-mails. (It is sometimes amazing what and how people will craft their words and send missives out into cyberspace when they are not face to face with their recipient.) The overall result from less person-to-person discussion is increased shyness and a decrease in ability to network with strangers in a social setting.

What do you think?
Has the internet caused us to atrophy in our social, face-to-face communication skills? Has it made any difference in your own social networking to be able to craft a difficult response to someone using email rather than speaking directly to the person(s) involved? Has the increase in multiculturalism in the workplace had any effect on our ability to communicate and connect with one another?  Where can we find the answers to the most important multicultural team questions?

As the world becomes flatter and flatter through outsourcing, offshoring, and the increased migration of professionals between countries, how are our project teams dealing with the many diversities and soft skills that are critical to success? Is there an appreciation that networking and cultural intelligence skills can be gained through knowledge transfer and practice – or is this all considered fluff?

Would you be interested in attending a 2 day networking and cultural intelligence workshop for technical professionals in January 2009 in Tampa, FL? If so, please send me an email to dekkers@qualityplustech.com.

Have a good week!
Carol Dekkers

Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker.  Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event?  Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit www.caroldekkers.com for details.


Read Carol Dekkers’ second blog (about Software Development) at http://caroldekkers.blogspot.com.

——Copyright 2008 Carol Dekkers – All Rights Reserved ————————————

%d bloggers like this: