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The Calgary Stampede is on my bucket list.  Just like having a successful training event, planning a visit to the Stampede will be quite a lot of work. But I may have only ONE opportunity and I better make that opportunity count.

Part of the reason I think it will be difficult to plan a trip worthy of being on my bucket list, is that the Canadian news is flooded with speculation and footage of the Royal Couple’s trip to Canada. Part of that trip is attending the Calgary Stampede (which is the fourth most popular Canadian event.)  Speculation has it that the Royal presence is expected to increase attendance to the Calgary Stampede. You know what that means: when I go to book anything it will be that much more difficult.

PROPER PHYSICAL PLANNING

I was amazed at the number of articles and ‘planners’ and ‘trip advisors’ that existed for the Calgary Stampede.

That is, I was amazed until I spoke with my friend Penny. She took her boys to the Stampede a few years back and insisted that they ‘do it right’. Her rationale was this opportunity doesn’t come around every day. Penny’s advice was to start researching events, planning (and booking) AT LEAST A YEAR in advance. [Note to self: I guess 2013 is now the earliest we’d be going to the Stampede.]

If you want ‘prime time’ you always have to book in advance and that includes seminars, webinars and events. While last minute bookings do come up, you need to give your audience some notice (and notification).

INTERVIEWING/WORD OF MOUTH

Penny also suggested the best way to start your Stampede experience was with a real Chuck Wagon breakfast before you watch the Opening Parade.  I never would have thought of that, but what a great idea to get into the mood and start the day off right. (And don’t forget to get tickets for the Chuck Wagon Races!)

I have written about instructional design before. You need to talk to your potential audience what are their challenges (so you can address them) AND you should talk to subject matter experts to get their perspective on the challenges and solutions. (I can’t stress this enough if you are a small or medium business. You should look to the 80/20 Rule: for the 20% of the content with 80% of the impact.)

MAKE SURE YOU FIT IN WITH THE “CULTURE”

Another consideration is fitting in. Penny suggests (/insists) that you should be ‘outfitted’ for the Stampede. While some articles suggest assembling quite a lot of ‘cowboy attire’,  Penny’s ‘shortlist’ includes the following: cowboy hat, proper cowboy shirt, jeans and of course, the requisite cowboy boots. I WAS SHOCKED, simply shocked. Why would I buy cowboy boots when my youngest’s feet were still growing??

But think about it. If you were invited to a themed party, didn’t you have more fun when you dressed up and really ‘got into it’?

The training world has similarities. We try to reach our audience and ‘fit’ their culture by speaking ‘their’ language and using examples that fit ‘their world’.  I’ve written posts that stress the importance of being audience oriented. Dressing the part can be part of this: make sure you fit in and make your audience feel comfortable. (Don’t wear a suit to a casual hands-on cooking seminar.)

MY SHORT LIST OF LESSONS LEARNED

Here’s a quick ’roundup’ of the some training lessons learned from planning/booking a trip to the Calgary Stampede:

  1. Research: including TALKING TO LOTS OF PEOPLE.
  2. PLAN/Book in Advance: to avoid disappointment and coordinate calendars (yours and your audiences).
  3. Try to put your audience first and fit in with their culture, use their language and relate to their world.

Don’t expect to ‘wing it’ or you may fall off your ‘high horse’: You need proper planning and preparation.

Now I’m not expecting you to ‘dress in character’ for your session, seminar or webinar… but does anyone have a pair of size 9 or 10 Cowboy boots available??

Until next time: “Ride ’em Cowboy!”

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Image courtesy of Sue Ratcliffe. Sue’s work can be seen and purchased on her RedBubble Page.

My encounter with poison ivy during a hike on the Bruce Trail illustrated how different people learn differently. Teachers, Trainers, Instructors and Educators call this one’s  ‘learning style’.

A learning style describes your preferred method of learning. Typically  those styles are: auditory (learning by hearing), visual (learning by seeing) or tactile (learning by doing).

Now, possibly you’ve all heard the poison ivy warning:  “Leaves of Three, let it be.” But what exactly does poison ivy look like? There are plenty of three leaved plants in the forest.

During my hike, I ran across a NEW sign on the Bruce Trail that described poison ivy: three leaves, shiny leaves, red stem, little yellow berries at some times during the year and other times of the year the plant is just a stick. [NOTE TO SELF: careful hiking in the early spring and late fall->watch out for ‘sticks’. ]

I think there was some sort of a picture. But I wasn’t about to climb through all the green bushes to get closer to really examine the picture.

Wild StrawberriesI continued on my hike: “Leaves of three, Leaves of three…” Until I saw some plants with leaves of three. (See picture to the right.) “ls that poison ivy?” I asked myself.

“Hmm… Reddish stem, three leaves…” But I thought the flower looked a bit like a strawberry blossom. Perhaps this plant was a wild strawberry?

And then I saw a massive patch of three leaved plants. The leaves were so shiny! It was the ‘shiny’ adjective that nailed it for me. So I took the picture at the start of this article to bring home to show to my Boy Scouts (since they have never pointed out poison ivy to me).

So when you are designing your training, try to appease each of the learning styles: auditory, visual and tactile. Slides (with text) and lecture to appeal to the auditory types while pictures, charts and diagrams to appeal to the visual types. Including discussions, exercises and experiments will appeal to the tactile learners.

Now, if you are teaching a lesson on poison ivy, avoid the tactile ‘hands-on’ approach. 😉

Until next time (stay on the trail)…

Do you know what poison ivy looks like? Which learning style helped you learn? Please share your story with us.

PS-I have searched for articles and descriptions of poison ivy and have been disappointed until I found this great post/collection of pointers to content on poison ivy.

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Poison Ivy iPhone picture by Anne Cauley.

Wild Strawberries Flickr Creative Commons Image by Lewis Brown aka ‘Wiselark’.

This humourous video captures the last, (important), ‘painting lesson’ that can be applied to the world of teaching/training.

Well, that is it for painting for awhile. The paint roller incident was completely unstaged! But once it happened I knew I had to keep the camera rolling and finish the ‘take’.

How did you like this video series? Should I continue to shoot video or just stick to writing? Let me know…

Until next time…

There are many lessons that you can learn while painting that can be applied to the world of teaching/training. This lesson was very hard for me to admit.

Have YOU learned any lessons from painting that YOU have applied to the teaching/training world? I’m curious, please leave me a note below.

Until next time…

Just when I thought I had explored all the similarities between painting and training to the fullest, a shower of paint rained down upon me. All covered in paint (head to toe), here are some of my thoughts about some lessons learned from painting that can be applied to the teaching/training world.


Are you curious about the other two things, this experienced painter forgot? Why not subscribe to this blog so you don't miss the rest of this lighthearted series examining lessons learned from painting? You can either 'catch' the RSS feed or get an e-mail subscription: just look on the right hand side of the page.

Until next time...

False Advertising, Exaggerations, Omissions and Little White Lies

ARE STILL:

Lies!

The strong, direct nature of graffiti helps tell a story. In this case, someone believed that the fifty cent paper they purchased contained lies. So, they vandalized the paper box with graffiti to let their displeasure be known.

The IMPACT OF Not-as-Advertised

Still, it just goes to show you if you disappoint someone, chances are they will try to tell a bunch of people. The statistics we used to use were that dissatisfied customers will tell at least 10 people. Now, I would hazard to guess, they’d verbally tell a few of their friends and then they’ll use social media which potentially could reach tens of thousands of people. (How to handle a dissatisfied attendee/student is a discussion for another day…)

While I may not tweet how upset I am after a speaker wastes my time (and doesn’t deliver on his/her promises), it is still a pet peeve of mine. I have seen cases where the marketing copy and the content are light-years apart. Probably because someone drafted the description before they developed their material and no one thought to update the advertising. While that is an explanation, it is not an excuse.

I’m not alone. Others have complained that a TOP WEBINAR MISTAKE is not delivering as advertised. If you advertise a “live” event, you should not broadcast a recorded session.  If you advertise that you are 100% content, then don’t give a 60 minute product or services pitch.

Here is the catch: Once you lose an attendee, (because you are ‘not-as-advertised’),  you’ve just been branded ‘not-as-advertised’. You’ll lose that attendee for a LONG time before they’ll ever give you a second chance (if ever).

WHY AIM TO BE As-Advertised?

Bad news travels, but so does good news. This blog post from Customer Satisfaction and Reputation Management discusses how word of mouth converts sales at 78%. So, if the attendees to your sessions are happy, the chances are that they are going to tell their friends (and you’ll reap the benefits).

GUIDELINES TO ENSURE ACCURATE ADVERTISING

Now to be fair, there are plenty of subject matter experts who really know and show (or share) ‘their stuff’ via seminars or webinars. However, these folks may have never been formally trained to pull together a description for a session (let alone how to design and deliver an effective session). [That is where this blog fits: trying to help those new to teaching and training.]

In order to set expectations for a session, here are my advertising rules or guidelines (without getting too detailed or technical with instructional design ‘speak’ or instructions):

1. Name your session wisely and accurately especially when targeting beginners (use  ‘Introductory’, ‘101’, ‘for Beginners’, etc.) or experts (use ‘Top Gun’, ‘Masters Training’, ‘For Experts Only’, etc.).

2. Define WHO your audience is.

  • Who they are: professionals, students, volunteers? Do they have a certain skill level (be as specific as possible)? You don’t want to have to define common acronyms that someone in the industry would know.
  • What are the prerequisites? Specify if this is an ideal follow-on session after having attended another session.
  • Is your session aimed at those with certain interests or problems?

3. TELL them WHY they should attend. You don’t have to go into the detail that someone trained in instructional design would by formally outlining the purpose and objectives. Instead, tell them what are you going to help them achieve? Outline what knowledge, skill, insight will they have at the end of your session. OR what questions will be answered at the end of the session. If you can outline how that will benefit them that is ideal; however, be careful, if using  metrics! Will you really deliver on making them five times as productive as they are today?

4. Optionally, include HOW you are going to accomplish your promise. Give your audience an idea of what to expect: lecture, demonstration, group discussion or moderated panel. Including an agenda or rough outline will help, just keep it very high-level as you may change it before you deliver the session.

ALWAYS TEST

Once you have written your advertisement your your session and delivered the content, it is always wise to test your promises. Did you deliver as promised? Did you deliver a session with great value, but your marketing copy failed? OR did your content fall short? You need to understand if you need to adjust your advertising, content or both advertising and content.

Once you get all that great feedback, you can feature it in your marketing copy. [For more information on what feedback questions to ask, you can click on the Strategic Feedback System on the right hand side of this page.]

Whether free or fee: try to be clear and concise in defining what you will deliver and to whom. Don’t tell any lies, not even the little white ones.

Until next time…

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Flickr Creative Commons Image by LauraFries.com

Mike Holmes ‘gets it’: he understands how to ensure his protégés learn. He does this by employing a technique his Dad used.

Larry King also knows the secret to stand out from the crowd.

It is so simple and easy, but (speaking from experience) it can be so difficult.

And you don’t need to be a superstar to get it right.

Let me explain…

THE THREE-YEAR-OLD APPROACH

When asked what the most important question was, Larry King answered:

“’Why?’ is the greatest question because you can’t answer it in one word, and it forces the other person to think.”

Toddlers use the ‘why’ question all the time. They are curious and trying to learn about the world around them according to a study done at the University of Hawaii. Your answers to their ‘why’ questions are filling in the gaps in their knowledge and helping them see a ‘bigger picture’.

INSTANT GRATIFICATION

Our curious toddlers then turn into demanding kids (and teens). Let’s face it, kids haven’t changed all the much over the years: they’ve always pushed for instant gratification. And parents always pushed back.

What has changed is that most people, (not just children), now expect instant gratification: they want the question answered, the goods delivered or the problem solved immediately. They don’t want to learn how to avoid the situation, navigate the challenge or reason out the answer. They don’t have time (or so they think).

The problem with this instant gratification approach is that it creates dependence. And in the long run it wastes much more time.

Our parents had a strategy to handle the quest for instant gratification AND we HATED it. They tried to train us to be self-sufficient by asking questions to make us think rather than just giving us the answer.

Great teachers, trainers and coaches use this same approach and ask questions such as, “what do you think?”  “why do you think that happens?” or “what would you do if this happened?”  Answers to these sorts of questions will fill in gaps in knowledge and will give your students a ‘bigger picture’.

GROWING UP

So what does that have to do with you, now that you are a professional? Well, if you are training or coaching, it makes it harder.

People pay you for your expertise, if you are a salesperson, consultant or a speaker. You are very passionate about your ‘craft’ and you love to give in-depth detailed explanations that prove you are an expert.

Here is the hard part: in order for your students to learn and be self-sufficient, you have to withhold the answers. Let your audience reason through alternatives and possibilities. Instead, show your expertise by leading your audience to the answer by giving them additional information or asking additional questions.

THE HOLMES TECHNIQUE: SHOW AND TELL

Many ‘masters’ have received their training at the hands of a very patient, intelligent trainer or mentor. One such person is Mike Holmes.

Mike’s father used the ‘Show and Tell’ technique. But it probably is not what you think.

His father SHOWed him how to do something. Then he’d ask Mike to ‘TELL’, by asking him “Why: Why am I doing it this way?”

After a demonstration or explanation, what a great technique to ask questions of the audience to make them think.

If you are training people, before you let them go ‘hands-on’, ask some questions. Start with the ‘why’ question and follow up with some ‘what if’ questions. And ALWAYS be prepared to deflect the question to another person or bail out the audience if they don’t have the confidence to offer an answer.

SUPERSTAR APPROACHES

You too could be a superstar, just like Mike or Larry.

Enhance your training approach by withholding the answers and by questioning your audience:

  • Challenge your audience with an unexpected ‘why’ question.
  • Rebound a question to gather more information and expose a participant’s thinking with a question such as ‘why do you ask?’
  • Emphasize an answer from your audience with a question similar to ‘why is that answer so important?’

Like the Chinese proverb says,

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for lifetime.”

DISCLAIMERS & CAVEATS

Of course, I have to caution you: if someone asks you a question and there is an imminent safety risk or it is a contentious topic, then use common sense and consider just answering the question.

WHY SHOULD YOU THINK LIKE THAT? Perhaps you could tell me? 😉

Until next time…

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If you are not familiar with Mike Holmes, he is a builder, renovator and a celebrity HGTV host and who has received recent pop-icon status. He uses his notoriety to help educate (and help) homeowners. (Not to mention he has set up the Holmes Foundation a charitable foundation that promotes and supports the training of youth in the skilled trades.) You would probably recognize Mike or his trade marked phrase:  “Make it Right”. Please click here for more on Mike Holmes.

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Postal Why Poster — Flickr Creative Commons Image by *USB*

Mike Holmes — Flickr Creative Commons Image by John Bollwitt posted by Rebecca Bollwitt 

While Kindergarten provides you with the building blocks for life: Ignore the First Rule You Learned!

Before we get to the rule, let me set the stage…

While doing some research on Online Reputation Management (ORM) and social screening for a training session, I ran across a great post from Mark Kaye. He played off the poster/book, “Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten”. Mark first lists the kindergarten ‘rules’ and then discusses how that applies to SEO and the world of social media.

I love Mark’s article but I have to disagree with him on perhaps the most important everyday rule. (Sorry Mark!)

YOUR LEGACY

When facilitating a Junior Achievement session for grade eight students we discussed applying for jobs (as these students were convinced by a budgeting exercise to stay in school and aim for a good job). The facilitation notes suggested that the facilitator should caution the students about the impact social media. (Hmm… where to start on that??)

Your digital legacy does not disappear. You know that and I know that, but some of these bright young students did not understand the impact.

FOLLOW RULES 2 & 3

I followed my ‘digital rant’ with a lively discussion of tagging. The students all understood what tagging was. When I asked what would happen if a potential employer saw Facebook pictures of them doing something silly at a party. They objected, “Well I wouldn’t post that on Facebook!” I countered with, “It doesn’t have to be you: a friend or stranger can post a picture and tag you.” That got their attention. I added, “OR someone may even tag a picture that isn’t you.” Some students looked horrified: now there was silence and complete focus on the topic.

The discussion continued with real life examples, like the Domino’s Pizza YouTube ‘scandal’. Plenty has been written about that scandal and some young people have even copied it. [Links to video copycats are not included because of profane language.]

I cautioned these students on things they had learned in kindergarten: Rule#2 “play nice” with others and Rule#3 “don’t hit people”. If you don’t ‘play’ fair how are others going to ‘play’?  If you slam someone or post inappropriate pictures, what does that say about you?

That being said, I advised them to set themselves up (with profile settings and alerts) to ensure they knew when they were tagged or talked about. (i.e. Rule#10: watch out for traffic.) It is easier to fix a problem, it you know it exists. I explained that a REAL friend will take down that embarrassing picture of you or delete the YouTube video of you talking about the person you have a crush on.

THE LONG ARM OF THE LAW

Yes, managing your middle school or high school reputation to land job is different than managing your reputation to land a job mid-career. But remember that legacy…

Just like Tim Giehll, I’ve found countless blog posts talking about the legal ramifications regarding ‘social screening’.  If you were a small firm reading these articles, you’d be petrified to check out someone’s Facebook. Understanding the downside, large companies (with a stable of lawyers) have set out guidelines on who, how and when applicants can be screened with social media. If you are a small company and unable to do that, you should check out some helpful practical advice from Jerry D. Thurber’s recruiting blog.

But do hiring managers follow those guidelines and advice? Here is some undisputable data from Tim’s article “Screening Applicants With Social Media” :

“According to a CareerBuilder survey of 2,600 employers in 2009, 45 percent reported using social media sites in an attempt to research a candidate with another 11 percent planning to begin utilizing social media account reviews this year.”

Although there may be legal ramifications for employers, you need to ask yourself how difficult and costly it would be to prove you were discriminated against because someone saw an uncomplimentary Twitter tweet or Facebook post.

PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE

That is why, you should listen to your Mother and ‘wash behind your ears’ just as Rita Jackson suggests in her blog post outlining the do’s and don’ts of social media.

AND Ignore Rule#1: Share Everything.

In kindergarten we were taught to share everything: toys, materials and information. We regularly shared family secrets and gossip during Show and Tell. (If you wanted to know anything, you just had to ask a kindergarten teacher.) I recall one day my mother, who had volunteered, was horrified as my teacher allowed a fellow student to outline the graphic details of an unfortunate situation. (New rules were discussed at the dinner table that evening: “What is discussed at this table, stays at this table!” AND “What happens at home, stays at home!”)

For social media and  kindergarten Show and Tell: some things should not be shared. I do agree with Mark that you should share advice, content and value using social media; however, I advise you to share less about your personal life. (I know that too sounds like motherhood, but I can’t believe the number of people that describe situations and  challenges that could impact their personal or professional relationships and reputation.)

THE CAVEAT

Now, having said that all of that: People are people and they are going to believe what they want to believe as outlined in this article “People Filter Information”.

Yes, filtering can occur at anytime. Impressions do count, especially first impressions. So make sure the impression your digital legacy leaves is a positive one:

REMEMBER THIS ISN’T KINDERGARTEN!

  • Follow Rules #2 & #3: Don’t Kiss & Tell as it says volumes about you.
  • Ignore Rule #1: Don’t Show & Tell everything (only some things).
  • Follow Rule #10: Watch out for traffic. Knowing there is a large ‘truck’ going to hit you (i.e. your reputation) will give you a better opportunity react and jump out of the way.

So, what did YOU learn in kindergarten that you can apply today to your online presence? Please leave me a comment and I’ll share some kindergarten anecdotes guaranteed to give you a giggle.

Until next time…

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Flickr Creative Commons Image by Rachel a. k.

It’s FAST,

It’s FIERCE,

It could be DANGEROUS.

BUT you LOVE ADRENALINE and long for notoriety…

That is what attracts you to SKI CROSS

and SOCIAL MEDIA.

NOW Stop!

Put the allure aside and let’s step back. Before you make skier cross or social media your “Drug of Choice” (DOC) there are many facets to consider. With some careful planning you could become a DOUBLE THREAT to landing that coveted position.

Consider this: what if you were equally skilled in a related discipline, could that accelerate you to the head of the pack?

CROSS TRAINING FOR EXECUTION:

Remember the saying, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts”? This is where cross training comes in: and more people are doing it.

The British Columbia Skier Cross (BCSX) Team cross trains its athletes in other ski disciplines: Slalom (for concentration and nimbleness), Giant Slalom (for speed and strength), Super G (to practice jumps at high speed) and ‘the steep and deep’.  SlopeSide is another discipline to consider (to develop a well rounded comfort on skis and superb balance). Anyone able to excel in all these venues will be a GREAT ski cross racer. [Editorial disclaimer: see section on `character`.]

To manage your own online presence or that of a company, takes a variety of skills (and not just the technical ones). Consider what you may face: from an active aggressive complainant to a passive action-less audience. How do you handle the complaint to defuse the aggression and how do you motivate your audience to act on a call-to-action?

Good ‘Sales’ skills are so important: from listening and investigating (before reacting or actioning), to relationship building, to understanding your audience’s challenges or opportunities (before you give them a solution YOU THINK they need). And being persuasive never hurts.

Customer satisfaction skills are crucial to handling concerns or assertions of your audience. The training and experience that one gets in hospitality, retail, service or other sales positions may help in properly handling a complaint and turning it into an opportunity. Over 20 years ago, Bruach Na Haille, a tiny restaurant in Ireland had a power outage that impacted my dinner.  My entree (and some Irish coffees) were ‘on the house’. Their only request was that I return again. Well, I’ve been back… and I’ve sent many, many others.

Awareness building and promotion are other skills that can be built by volunteering in non-profits or by being involved in announcing new products, technologies or services. Look for opportunities to (be credible and) let you passion show through.

Appealing to an audience is crucial. Marketing/Communications and PR (Promotion) positions help develop deep skills in written communications. However, an added background in media, training or performing arts may give you an added confidence and advantage to appeal to the audience and make them feel like you are speaking directly to them. (As the trainers/teachers would say: remember to keep it simple.)

EXCELLING TAKES MORE THAN JUST TECHNICAL SKILL: ADD CHARACTER

Although, great ski cross racers are awesome, well rounded skiers they are fearless, more fearless than their SL, GS or Super G counterparts. Ski cross racers are confident and determined. This is perhaps one of the only sports where you can come from behind and win.

Just like social media, both demand someone who is confident and determined. Remember entrepreneurs: this IS the space where the ‘little guy’ can win.

The article: ‘Five Must-Have Skills for Non-profit Social Media Managers’ outlines a number of skills suggested in the non-profit space. What is interesting is the focus on passion and personal approach (being friendly, patient and responsive).

THEN PRACTICE TO MAKE PERFECT

Like ski cross racers train and then practice: you must too.

  • LISTEN so that you are relevant,
  • CREATE content in multiple media to develop and showcase your skills,
  • CURATE content by  recommending useful  information (not by telling us you had cereal for breakfast),
  • COLLABORATE with others and search for ways to work together.

With social media you must GIVE before you (ask and then) GET. Some non-profit Social Media gurus advise that non-profits need to think of this as “friend-raising before fund-raising”. Think about relationship building and connecting.

ADVICE TO THE WISE

Whether it is ski cross or social media: you can’t really train in one discipline to be the ultimate participant. If you are out in front, one slip and you can lose your advantage that is when you need to dig deep and draw on all your skills and experience.

  • Aim to connect with your audience or be ready to brave the consequences. Here’s what the show’s producer said about the reason the gorgeous and talented  Pia Toscano had to leave American Idol.
  • Realize the more you know:  the more YOU KNOW that you don’t know.
  • Understand knowing the new equipment and technology will important, but it is not the only critical success factor. The landscape, terrain and equipment keep changing and so do the rules: you’ll need to adapt and draw from your skills and experiences.

Accept that things happen FAST and it may be determination that will win the race as it did in this video clip of the Skier Cross World Cup Race at Cypress Mountain. [Note: the blue jersey in the lead.]

Remember: “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over!”

BE DETERMINED.

CROSS TRAIN and build up those skills that will make you stronger, faster, better.

BECOME A DOUBLE THREAT!

Until next time.

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Image courtesy of Gord Palin.

Social Media is just like Ski/Skier Cross. Popularity is exploding. Rules are evolving. Training is not quite mainstream: but everyone is doing it OR wants to do it.

Ever since the introduction of Skier Cross in the Vancouver Olympics, its popularity has risen. I always thought of Ski/Skier Cross as being similar to roller derby on snow, until I researched some links for roller derby.  Skier Cross is more like a steeplechase on snow:  lots of individual racers braving many dangers and obstacles hoping to out survive ‘the pack’ of the other racers.

Here is a great video showing all the action of World Cup Ski Cross.  [Turn down the volume as the tunes are loud!]

Media has promoted the drama of the sport that MANY have unofficially engaged in for years. Typically these unofficial races started with a challenge such as, “Race you to the bottom: loser is buying!” (Typically this is when your buddy had already established a healthy head start down the slope.)

But as a parent of a ski racer, some of that footage reminds me of the old intro to ABC’s Wide World of Sports:  I always cringed at the end. But, as a young skier, that didn’t stop me from trying ‘The Jump’ while visiting Holimont. That was a lesson I had to learn the hard way. (Ouch!)

WHAT’S YOUR MOTIVE?

Like a mom, asks her child “Why you are doing that? What are you expecting to prove?” I am asking you as your coach or mentor, “What are you expecting out of social media?” Are you trying to win something, prove something, improve something or just have fun? Your social media future will involve lots of effort and learning, some disappointment and a bump or bruise on occasion. For more on thinking through your objectives, here is a link to a blog post which may help.

OBSERVE: LISTEN

Just like great racers observe other great racers and try to shadow them while racing Skier Cross, you can learn by listening and following the ‘lead guy’.

Watching and listening is a great step to get started. This will help you find out what works, what doesn’t.  You can determine what you need to be good at and what you need to be great at. You will observe what topics are the most relevant and what content is uncompelling.  And you may determine some methods to get your audience engaged.

JOIN IN: CREATE

Starting out is a leap of faith, especially when you face a wu-tang on a Skier Cross Course.  According to Ski Cross Canada,

A “Wu-Tang” is a very difficult feature to navigate, consisting of a near vertical ramp of 10 feet or more , with a flat top and a near vertical landing, most often placed at the start of a Ski Cross course.

Personally, I think adding a wu-tang it is meant to intimidate skiers and weed out the skiers that don’t have a lot of experience. But everyone has to start somewhere. So the first time facing one, it may seem big, but it is downhill from there.

This is just like social media. No matter how simple the post, the video or the tweet it may appear to be a huge hurdle when you do it for the first time.  Take your time, be yourself.

Next time, adjust as necessary. Learn from your bumps, spills. Accept that you won’t always be right and you won’t always be slick. Accept your mistakes, acknowledge the opinions of others and move on.

If you don’t want to create content, you can always curate content. Find compelling articles, videos or pictures. Comment on them and share them with others. Everyone is always looking for great content!

ACCELERATING YOUR START

Whether you are racing Ski Cross or you are using some form of social media,

  1. Remember what your intent was in ”entering into it”.
  2. Learn from others: their successes and mistakes.
  3. Try it and learn from your own experiences.

As for Skier Cross, I think it is a great spectator sport. It is great, if it isn’t YOUR child, teen or spouse who is racing…

Don’t miss my next blog post which continues exploring the similarities with ski/skier cross and social media. Subscribing is easy, just click the button below “Free E-mail Subscription” on the right hand side of this page.

Until then, enjoy (safely) the last few days of the season!

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