Monthly Archives: January 2013

Good guidelines!

Caliber Pulse

Flaming HashtagHashtags became a part of everyday lingo for active Twitter users, but now they are popping up in the strangest places.  You are likely to find them on your television screen while you are watching your favorite shows, on printed pieces arriving in your mailbox, splashed across other social networks (Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram), and prominently displayed on event banners, billboards, websites, etc.  So what is a hashtag and how do you successfully implement this tactic for your brand?

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Online – Work vs. Personal

Last week I posted about one main difference for me, here is the rest of it.

Writing about my actual work gehts nicht. That phrase keeps being in my head. Literally: it doesn’t go. Meaning: it’s not going to happen. Hard to exactly put in in a phrase and have the sentence flow around it correctly, but that exactly captures the situation.

As I’m re-activating these various blogs and accounts and so on, thought I’d share a bit more about why that is.

My work life does not conform to the patterns I see in social media content.

For one thing, multiple aspects that folks normally write about are absent for me.

After taking away all that, what remains is the very core. Some of this content is analogous to other consulting, some is similar to IT process. Some is universal with any work process.

In those ways, I can see within my experiences that which others write about, even though they’re writing within a whole different work setting. And perhaps sometimes I’ll write things meant to be universal, distilled from multiple bits of various experiences I’ve had.

The whole rest of the time though, my online presence is about the goals of my work, which is to support entrepreneurs, creativity, adaptation, communities, and best possible futures.

And the occasional personal-self bit that might be adjacently related to work. Otherwise, my personal content is available nearby as well- but separate from this. Because it really works well for me to keep those two identities distinct, including online. For me they are different selves, with different goals, different challenges, different support systems, different rewards, different cycles, different everything.

And that’s actually the main difference that prompted both these posts – my interest in keeping two of everything – two Google + pages, two twitter accounts: in order to maintain that distinction. It fascinates me that so many merge the two.

The other part for me is about the fourth wall, like of the theater. More on that in another post… Much of work is theater (heck, much of life is), and in my personal online presence, I take away that fourth wall.

So, was thinking that since I’m the exception, thought I’d go ahead and clarify that so people can interact accordingly. I’m looking forward to sorting myself into the kaleidescope of social media more effectively going forward. See you there!

Thanks for visiting, comments always welcome.

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Film Note: The Company Men

Speaking of the Recession (as I have been in these last few posts, among other things) I just saw The Company Men and feel compelled to write about it.

I wonder sometimes how this recessionary period will look, historically, once more time has passed. Will it be seen as a period of massive change, best and worst of times but a necessary portal into the future – like the beginnings of the Industrial Age? Or will it be seen as a temporarily bad period, like the US Depression, that caused pain and damage, all of which was more than offset by events of the following decade(s)? Or like the early years of AIDS – in which much lasting damage was done because of the ideologies in place at the time? Or (worst case) a period that seemed bad at the time, but was actually mild in comparison to what came after. Like the Weimar Republic in Germany – creating conditions necessary for unspeakable horrors?

In any case, whether constructive change process that bore some cost, or inherently destructive period which could have been avoided/minimized, or something else entirely, the personal impacts felt momentous at the time, and this film does a great job of capturing them.

All the acting is excellent: Ben Affleck (just loved him in Argo recently also), Rosemarie DeWitt (whose work I didn’t know, but who is really great in this), Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner and others.

And I felt like it captured well the changes so many had to go through, the change in the US that happened to many in the middle class/upper middle class. And which didn’t effect (negatively, anyway) the main CEO guy. Ways in which folks helped each other. The kids, responding to the best of their ability. I agree it does hit men harder, because they have their identities more inextricably linked with their work, among other things.

I liked that it didn’t feel as overwrought as Margin Call, another film related to these events. That one had an uneven tone that was distracting, a lack of emotional focus, and an idealogy of some kind overlaid towards the end (just was ready for it to be done by then). Instead, The Company Men is more simply about the emotional impacts and the choices confronting people.

I’m glad it had the ending it did. Those last few scenes – thought I heard Ben’s (I think real-life) Southie (South Boston) speech back in place, also fun.. was his parent’s home around there or something possibly? Or maybe just was something they didn’t sound-edit out. (I’m an expert in all that, having seen Postcards from the Edge, you know). Or maybe I imagined it.

Anyway, good entry into times-of-our-lives film category, IMHO. Hopefully times are getting/will get better, and the pain of this period will become temporary – in which case films like this can be informative as well as entertaining.

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Only India

India: You know, that one, single, homogenous, ever-invasive bully-country that strode across the seas and snatched up many many jobs from the nice US economic systems that existed, and strode back across the seas smirking and proud?

That’s much of the image I guess I’d been creating in my head, by the turn of the Century, before being burdened with any actual information whatsoever.

Then, at Legal Aid, they had National Geographic magazines in the lunch room, and one day I read all about the caste system. And felt superior accordingly.

A while later my daughter (she was around 11-12 yrs old at the time) came across ‘Bend in like Beckham,’ and she really wanted us to watch it. I resisted strenuously, having already seen a number of kid-sports movies, and really not feeling like that Indian gimmick was going to work for me.

Finally, exceedingly reluctantly, quite a while after it came out, I gave in. And loved it. Loved the story, the characters, the setting a little bit even, and Loved the Music – especially the Indian music.. I really think looking back that it was the music as much as anything that prompted what happened next.

We found another Gurinder Chadha film, Bride & Prejudice I think, and watched that – loved it as well (the disconnects didn’t bother me at all at that time). And then What’s Cooking. And then another Aishwarya Rai film. And then, tip-toe-ing in.. another suggested one from Amazon. This was before I was on Netflix; and if I still had cable at that point, I hadn’t found any Indian content there (if there was any), hadn’t found iTalkies – was buying one film, then another. Came across a couple I didn’t care for much at all, and just about figured I was done with all that.. then saw Aamir Khan’s Lagaan. And a very long, rich journey was officially launched.

Today my film tastes are forever changed – I’m more used to having subtitles on than off, because even when I do watch American things, sometimes there’s a cultural dialect or it’s independent and the sound is muffled now and then or whatever. I really enjoy the emotion (and music still) of Indian film, the multi-genre aspect historically, the playfulness and other specific choices often made, the rich character focus, and the details such having a line at the end either replicate an earlier line (coming full circle) or completing a pattern etc…

I’ve learned that there are many languages, multiple regions, close to 50 major cities, a tapestry of rural communities, sophistication and intelligence and subtlety and every other similar attribute to infinite extents; right along with and within all the opposites and deficiencies that are most everywhere in various mixtures; many strengths for the rest of us to learn from and much to enjoy and celebrate.

I don’t know if I have any ancestral relationship to India, and probably never will, but my current country (US) certainly has been much richer for it’s existence, with the Civil Rights movement and many other aspects. Also India and one of my countries-of-origin – Ireland – certainly share a great deal historically.

And after all that, as far as India’s effect on financial services, I mainly put that to entities within the US. Changes were inevitable, they didn’t have to be implemented the way they were.

So I’m happy to have started learning about the global neighbor and friend that is India, and am looking forward to including Indian food (which I also love), music, and film as well as democratic struggles and so much more the rest of my life.

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Workings – Accounting

Returning Online Message to the World. Hello World!

I do accounting, and I don’t talk about it. Almost ever anyway. The one time I do talk about it.. well, it’s this blog post! This is my sole episode of self-exposition, hopefully a foundation for the rest of my social media life going forward. There are links to this, so that other main posts can be as pithy as self-awareness suggests they be. I hope this is illuminating to those interested, while still not getting me in any trouble. (Maintaining that delicate balance is strenuous, hence the singularity of this event).

Accounting is a dynamic, variable, and intrinsically-confidential process that most people in the best of times are unaware of. In the current moment, the accounting process has been rendered even more invisible, because of the paradigms that have sprung up around it.

Talking about it in an interesting way that is relevant to others yet also maintains all necessary confidentiality is generally impossible. Despite that, I’m going to share some information about it this one time, in re-joining the social media world after a long absence.

In my work, I create and maintain accounting structures and practices that enable efficient, correct financial transactions; and that also result in those transactions generating a data trail. I do additional steps with sets of transactions at periodic or project-specific intervals, to put that transaction data into specific patterns. And then I turn that data into information, both to meet external requirements and to provide useful organizational and programmatic information to internal managers and staff.

All of that is done within the framework of GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), as well as federal and state laws (regarding payroll, sales tax, and all sorts of other things), particular structures established within specific grants, and the body of established practice within each entity.

A significant part of the work is also engaging productively with the organization itself, participating in relevant decision-making, sharing information, and implementing change proactively; also helping with the organizational work itself sometimes.

All of that happened a certain way when I started out, in the mid- to late- 1980’s. That established ‘normal’ for me. I thought things would always be that way. I imagine now that, if they had, it’s possible I would have ended up in a certain comfort zone, a set of habits and practices within which I would have been content in a static way, and work would have existed within 9-5 and the rest would be my personal life.

Instead, things turned out differently.

These accounting practices in general have since been subject to a series of pressures that I did not at all foresee when I started out – as is the case with many work practices. I may write more about them at some point, but here’s a brief description.

Quickbooks – which I can honestly say I identified as a very mixed change agent right from the very beginning – operates on the basic premise that accounting as a theoretical framework or structured practice really doesn’t exist. Anyone can do it. There are qualifiers inherent in that statement over time, but that’s the basic gist. Anyone can do it, and any negative outcomes from that process are manageable. If outcomes are to be better managed, you can get help after the fact to fix it. (Stop rant now/)

And while I support all small businesses and entrepreneurs, and I know it’s been an effective tool for many to some extent, I am critical of the messaging and the implementation and the reaction to it by the other entities. (And that last part is something I’ll probably never talk about, which leaves a gap, but so be it).

Outsourcing of financial work has been another huge sea change. I only ever briefly worked for ‘Corporate America’ – but the shift from there of people looking for work has been substantive in the arena I do work within. It’s been just as impactful of the shift from the bottom up caused by the Quickbooks mindset. I was angry at India – you know, that one big entity that is India-of-Outsourcing-Fame – for a time; and then ended up in a discovery process with India, and became very fascinated and enthralled. More about that some time too perhaps. Not angry now (not directed there, anyway!).

And the last huge change has been the recession of course, which has had pervasive effects in the number of employment options for everyone everywhere in accounting, and the related pay scales. I know it didn’t affect me nearly as much as so many, but it’s still been quite a change agent in my life.

My mother has worked in organizational consulting in the practice of nursing for several decades; familiarity with her practice and implementation of it has fueled my belief that I could adapt sustainably to this all, and keep going. And I have done that. Some aspects involved have been SWOT, Social Media, continual learning and the serenity prayer.

I’ve considered other options, and explored some, discarding them due to the long lead-in time required, market aspects, investment requirements, my own interests/skills/strengths and so on.

The main other area I was interested in early on, and partway through my college career – computer technology – has also been very over-populated; in addition it’s been dominated by monopolistic entities and the barriers to entry at this point are as high as my interest level today is low. It still works well for me to simply focus on accounting software, and to some extent the relationships with related other software packages, web technologies and operating systems, although I haven’t done as much with that lately.

Writing and everything about the written word – always a primary interest core to my being – remains as an internally-rejuvenating interest only, for the time being at least.

So as a result of those pressures, and those explorations, and every experience to date, I’m still in accounting but it’s quite different from how it was in the 80’s. Not only no more ledger paper (sigh), but organizational paradigms are very different, cost pressures are huge, and regulations/adherence monitoring is much more significant. It’s a 24/7 continually changing social-media-enriched client-focused experience, very different from how I thought my career would be way back when.

I’m continually grateful that I have been able to continue in the practice of accounting, in a sector of it that I’m happy to be in (nonprofits, and entrepreneurial entities), in physical locations that are often Downtown and always transit-friendly, with organizations that are doing great work and people that are truly wonderful.

The social media result is that I’m here, but talking about myself as others do gehts nicht – it’s not going to happen.

I’m thinking now, after being away for a while and within my current complex work situation, that I may write something once a quarter or so, about distillations and non-specific accumulations that might have relevance.

The whole rest of the time though, my online presence is about the goals of my work, which is to support entrepreneurs, creativity, adaptation, communities, and best possible futures. Sometimes that support lends itself to writing, such as new technologies or new impactful situations etc.. but I like to support the writing of others who have invested much time and energy in doing that well also – I respect their commitment to that process.

There, hopefully we’re all still standing and no lasting damage has been done.I know I feel Better.

So you see, my lack of original writing: it’s just the way my work is.

Although I know it’s true – the one constant in life is change!

Comments/feedback always welcome! Thanks for visiting.

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Clarified content issues – Part I of II

Hello World!

I’ve been away for a while – actually since right before I took on a huge new work project! It as honestly correct as far as timing goes, when exactly my last post was. So there’s that.

And now I’m starting up again, which makes me very happy. Paved roads, where before was less structure, make more activity possible. And all that.

I’m starting off with myself, then will branch out from there.

This is the first of two posts about why my online professional content is different from most on Google +. Because yes, Google + exists and is all that it is and will be, and as I’m activating over there as well, it’s impossible to ignore the disconnects. So I’m writing them down, to process them and then move on to whatever will co-exist with them.

In this post, I’ll share one of the main ones, and then in a longer post will be the other main one. That’s a longer post, already written, now having time pass, unattended processing, cold dawn of a new day (which we have lots of here in Minneapolis, so that’s good), and all that.

The main difference between me and other online work content providers (all still bloggers? or is that too specific I’m thinking?) is that I’m not doing this to gain more business, or to gain business at all. I’m currently booked/ overbooked, and my current client-work-set relationships of variable, part-time projects are all potentially long-term, certainly open-ended, right-of-first-refusal etc… So I may be available for some new situation in the 2014-2017 range, or not then yet even. Or before, but hopefully all current will remain long term. If I didn’t just jinx it, that is.

In fact, that’s why I’ve been off line for almost a year! So this post kind of goes without saying.. but since there’s always a continuing concern about self-promotion vs. being a bot or a real person vs. correct ways to promote others etc.. I just thought I’d explicitly state this once at least.

Instead, my online content is to further the same goals I have in my work: support of those entrepreneurial and nonprofit entities whose work I support, who are part of that collective community with an eye to a positive tomorrow.

Thanks for reading, and for your patience. Comments welcome.

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