Kindness (Day 1: #CrowdsourcingBook Tour)

I thought as I wrote about my #crowdsourcingbook tour, I’d be keeping a diary simply of the day’s events as I worked my way from San Diego to Los Angeles to San Francisco, Napa and Oakland. But already something else is taking shape so I’m just going to go with it.

Today, I was struck by the kindness of others. It all started when I had lunch with a woman I’ve known for years, mostly through online networks. I actually don’t think we’ve ever met in person or at least not sat down before to chat. I was struck with how energetic, enthusiastic and creative she was. And how kind. She generously offered to help me with a project, and together we brainstormed another. I felt lucky to have had the chance to spend some time with her.

Later, I ran into Lisa Stone, one of the founders of BlogHer, at the elevators of the conference hotel. As always, she was incredibly gracious and engaged in our conversation as we rode the elevator. I am always so impressed with how accessible the BlogHer founders are and how generous with their time and attention. Lisa, Jory des Jardin and Elisa Camahort, to me, are the epitomy of powerful, influential successful women who are also kind.

I don’t know why I’d think they’d be otherwise, although I have met many women who have achieved a wide range of degrees of success who are not so nice. And I know how much pressure there can be with the myriad of demands on one’s time and attention. Yet every time I see the BlogHer women, I am struck by their warmth and their attention to the moment, to the person in front of them. They are incredibly kind.

Finally, I went to get my hair done for my book party (will post about the party tomorrow after I get some sleep). I showed up at the salon, and they told me that I was an hour late for my appointment. It was probably my fault – I’m really bad with clocks and calendars. I was so stunned and upset that my best laid plans were screwed up. The guy behind the reception desk was starting to protest in that “well, there isn’t anything we can do” way, but then he paused and went to the back room. He returned with the hair stylist who I had apparently “stood up.”

I was bracing myself for some admonishment for my tardiness or for a snide “Sorry, we just can’t fit you in.” But instead, she looked at me kindly and said “Let’s see what we can do. I’m not sure if I can take care of you the entire time, but let’s just go back and see what we can do.”

No scolding, no refusals. Just the kindest approach that melted away my stress.

“Just breathe, just breathe,” she said gently, and even apologized for not being able to spend more time washing my hair. I was just grateful for being able to get properly prepared for my first book tour appearance. A silly thing, I know, but at the moment it felt important. It felt even more important to be treated so kindly.

Her name is Kelly, by the way, and the salon is called Tonic.

Sandiego-day2

Kindness. It doesn’t take much (or maybe it does for some). A kind word. A kind smile. Making time, giving attention, offering help. I hope I was kind today to those around me to put those good vibes out into the cosmos.

Have you been kind today? Who has been kind to you lately?

Scenes from San Diego

Sunshine and beer…

Just landed in San Diego today from Fairbanks, Alaska. The first #Crowdsourcing Book Party is tomorrow night! If you’re in the area, hope you can make it! (Sponsored by uTest and Hosted by The Daily Crowdsource and My Search Guru. Books and Wine courtesy of Wine Sisterhood.) RSVP FOR FREE.

After the book party? A full day at Women Create Media conference where I’m speaking with Danielle Smith about the process of co-authoring a book.

On the road again…

Landed in San Diego

I’m here in the land of sun, sand and surf, for the start of my #Crowdsourcing Book Tour. As I took the Advantage Rental Car shuttle to the rental office, the bus driver commented on the heat.

“How hot is it?” I asked, resisting the temptation to check the Weather app on my iPhone. This was, after all, real-life conversation.

“Must be 75 degrees,” he said. I checked a little while later. It was 88 degrees, not 75.

Sandiego1

At Advantage, they kindly upgraded me from a Smart Car to a Toyota RAV 4 for a “few dollars more.” Well worth it since I was going to be picking up nine boxes of my Crowdsourcing book and some uTest swag to giveaway and would need to haul it all up the West Coast for my upcoming book parties.

I then got my first lesson in using a GPS device in a car. I’ve relied on my iPhone and Google Maps for getting around the parts of Alaska where there is cell signal and have never actually used a GPS unit. Particularly not one that spoke to me. It immediately reminded me of this video “Tomorrow (GPS).” Worth watching (only 1:10 min).

As I drove to see a friend, Aparna, I realized that I hadn’t remembered how arid San Diego is, and was grateful for A/C, something I haven’t had to use all summer in Alaska.

Sandiego2

Had dinner and an animated conversation with Aparna about careers. I was really conscious of how many times I grabbed my iPhone during dinner. Once to take a photo of my beer because, well, because it was Negra Modelo, and you can’t get that where I live. Plus, it made a cool Instagram image. And once more to take a photo of my meal. Foodspotting, of course! I think that was it.

In this day and age of constant connectivity and uber-sharing to social networks, I have found that we all have the tendency to reach for our smartphones out of habit, carelessness, automatic reflex. And when you’re with someone who totally doesn’t give a hoot about social media , their look of horror when you reach for your smartphone at dinner at a restaurant is telling. But do we even notice anymore?

When you’re with someone who lives and breathes this social media stuff, you can both end up sitting in the same space, across from each other, and barely look up from your screens, accepting the fact that the person you are having dinner with is sucked in by the vortex just as you are or at least resigning yourself to that fact.

I am happy to report that my dinner with Aparna had few smartphone interruptions. Other than my post to Instagram and Foodspotting, Aparana sent a few texts to her babysitter and her husband and later I saw she had sent one tweet about our dinner.

And then we talked. You know, face to face, with voice sans Internet. Yeah, TALKING.

Sandiego4

While I’m excited about documenting my two week tour on all my favorite networks using all those handy mobile apps, I’m even more excited to meet people, connect with people, reconnect with people, and just talk.

If you’re on the West Coast, hope to connect with you along the way!

Next Up: 8/3 6pm San Diego Book Party
Hosted by The Daily Crowdsource and My Search Guru. Books and Wine courtesy of Wine Sisterhood. Sponsored by uTest.

Gearing Up for the Crowdsourcing Book Tour

Any time I travel from Alaska down to the Lower 48, it’s a big deal. I have to get to the airport – either Anchorage seven hours away or Fairbanks, almost a four hours drive. Cell signal is spotty and moose are prevalent.

Moose impact usually totals a car, very often kills the driver. As long as the weather is good, both of these trips are great drives. When it isn’t, it is white knuckles all the way.

In case of an accident, on some long stretches of Alaska highways, there are no houses for miles and no cars for hours. If you do go off the road, you often can’t call anyone for help and just have to sit and wait. In Alaska, we keep our cars well stocked with survival gear, non-perishable foods, blankets, camping matches, water. With barely any radio for much of the trip to Anchorage in particular, I spend hours catching up on podcasts like Managing the Gray by C.C. Chapman and Marketing Over Coffee with Christopher Penn and John Wall. I also like Double X and Freakonomics.

I always try to leverage my time away. If I have one conference, I try to find others in the area or clients I can meet or friends I can connect with while I’m in a city. This time, I turned a single appearance at Women Create Media on August 4 (speaking with my co-author Danielle Smith about c0-writing a book and working with editors and publishers) into a West Coast book tour for my crowdsourcing book. I end my travels on August 14 with a keynote address at Second Life Community Convention in Oakland. Then I fly back home, stay overnight with friends, and drive back to rural Alaska.

What am I looking forward to most? It’s hard to narrow it down. The sunshine. Please let there be sun. Driving up the California coast. The ocean. Even traffic. I actually feel calmer, safer, in traffic. And it is a great time to catch up on my podcasts. Or listen to the news live on air. Or music. I love road trips. I spent over a year on the road by myself from September 2000 to November 2001. You can read about that trip on RVGirl.com. This 12-day road trip is going to be so different from road tripping back then. Today, I’ve got Instagram, Foursquare, Intersect, Foodspotting, Facebook, Twitter and more, all at my fingertips on my iPhone that will probably work much of the drive.

I’ll be keeping a road diary here as I travel. And if you’re along the way between San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Napa and want to connect, let me know. Coffee? Tea? Lunch? I’m game.

Where do you like going when you go on a road trip?

Crowdsourcing Book Parties Confirmed!

• 8/3 Wed  – San Diego – Book launch party with The Daily Crowdsource and MySearch Guru. VisionPulse Creative Event & Meeting Center, 5945 Pacific Center Blvd,. Suite # 510, San Diego, CA 92121. RSVP FOR FREE.

• 8/9 Tue – Los Angeles – Book launch party. LOCATION TBA. RSVP FOR FREE.

• 8/10 Wed – San Francisco – Book launch party with Crowdflower, 2111 Mission Street, Suite 302, San Francisco, CA 94110. RSVP FOR FREE.

• 8/11 Thu – Napa – Book launch party with VinTank and Wine Sisterhood, 1250 Main Street, Suite 100, Napa, CA 94559. RSVP FOR FREE.

Hope to see you at one of these parties! Check out my other appearances while I’m on the West Coast.

Crowdsourcing Book in the News

Here’s are some recent interviews with me about the book and about crowdsourcing:

On Trada’s blog: The Idiot’s Guide to Crowdsourcing

On givezooks‘ blog: Crowdsourcing: Digging Deeper with Aliza Sherman

And here are some recent articles I’ve written about crowdsourcing on WebWorkerDaily:

How to Use Crowdsourcing In Your Virtual Team

What’s Crowdsourcing Useful For?

18 Tasks You Can Crowdsource on WebWorker