Inspiration at work

When you go to a conference, you don’t go only to learn something new or just to network with complete strangers. You want to be inspired!

When you go to a training, you will be more likely to start the change process if you are inspired!

When you go on a business trip and have back to back meetings… you’re looking for inspiration.

People who are inspired are better employees, more engaged, more passionate. These employees are the ones that make a real difference, that challenge the status quo. They are the real change agents. They have the thrill, and want to bring it in their everyday life. They’re the ones you want to hire.

When they come back from a training or an event, don’t ask them what they learned; ask them what inspired them, what they would do differently, what they would like to change. Their insights are invaluable, so don’t kill the emotion and creativity by asking the wrong questions. ‘What have you learned?’ is a buzz killer and doesn’t bring value.

I’m ready to change the way I do things because I was inspired by:

  • the technology my company is creating. Printing on all sorts of surfaces is not new, but when I see how millions of items are printed and that each of them is unique, that’s something. When I touch a 3D printed chain, bracelet, or a super detailed item, I get that thrill. And when I see how a picture from my phone is printed on my coffee with milk, I am amazed.
  • my colleagues’ passion. They want to make a difference, they are proud of their work, and they want to share it with everyone. They invent the most amazing things and are so humble. It’s a life lesson!
  • the genuine desire to learn that I see everyday around me. No matter how much experience you have, that real desire to learn something new, that curiosity is contagious.

I love how each trip or new experience enriches my life. This week was working from HP Barcelona office, next week it will be something else. These things make me see everything from a new perspective, and this is what I’ll look for in all new experiences.

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Lessons Learned from my Mentors

In the past months I gave a lot of thought to my career trajectory: successful moves so far, how to prepare for the next step, how to become better at what I do. As I was going through this mental exercise, I realized the importance of my mentors and of the lessons I learned from them. I don’t know the correct definition of a mentor; in fact I don’t know if there even is one.

For me a mentor is that person that is genuinely interested in my development as a person and a professional, with significant life and work experience under their belt, a good listener ready to give advice and answers to my silly questions without judging, and capable of seeing a situation or problem that I may be dealing with from a different angle. A mentor will also help me push my limits and discover new things about what I can do and achieve. It all may sound simple, but it’s not that easy to find these great folks to support you. If during your first meeting with your new mentor he says: “think of me as your father: you can brag or complain. I’m not your manager.”, you know you hit the jackpot.

And there are a few things or lessons if you want, that stuck with me throughout the years. These are true landmarks that I go back to when I feel lost or overwhelmed or when I don’t know where to start (a task, a project, a new job…).

1. Have authentic conversations. Be genuine and people will respond in a similar way. Don’t just scratch the surface, the essence is underneath. Listed actively, ask meaningful questions, be there, grounded in the conversation. You will discover a new world, and maybe, a new person in front of you.

2. Create your own experiences. Do not wait for people to tell you what to do. Choose where you want to make an impact and take the lead. You own your job, career and life.

3. Think about how you want to be perceived by others and present yourself like that in everything you do, be it a slide, a conversation, a meeting or a formal review. You can transform yourself, discover new abilities and become that person you want to be.

This is not all I learned from these wise people that play such an important role in my life, but these 3 things are constantly in my mind. And this is what helped me find and shape my path. I can only hope it will help you find yours as well.

Your Path

Virtual Teams and the Beauty of Technology

Virtual Chaos, by Diego BellorinI know the topic of virtual teams is very trendy and that there’s a lot of interest around it, but I did not feel the urge to write about it until I discovered that we now have access to technology that enhances collaboration and we don’t use this advantage. There are thousands of articles about how to manage team members who are scattered all over the world, how to motivate them, what are the main challenges, how to overcome them and so on.

My choice of topic is slightly different and was inspired by three things that happened during this last week. So, let me tell you more about the teams I’m part of and most importantly, why I love technology.

1. The context: 1 project, 3 team members (Singapore, US and Romania), 2 clients in UK and Geneva, 1 team advisor in Bulgaria.  We worked for a few months on the project, everything went great, got positive feedback and the team thought it would be a nice gesture to say Thank You to our advisor. But how to do it, when we all were in 4 different countries (and 3 very different time zones)? One of my colleagues had the idea of sending flowers to her. And we did it; it took us more to decide on what flowers to choose than to order and send them out. Our tools? Internet, Paypal, e-banking and a bit of creativity.

Our advisor not only loved the flowers and the gesture, but she sent us back a short video saying thank you to us. It was awesome to get to see her reaction and excitement. One of the best feelings ever.

2. A few days ago there was a face-to-face meeting with my team in the US. They all travelled to one location, but unfortunately I couldn’t. One important detail: it was the first face2face in one location with everyone and I am new to the team. I needn’t stress the importance of being there and participating. But, with some creativity and a bit of technology, we managed it. Being in a virtual classroom with video cameras for each of us was kind of fun, but more importantly, it was really engaging. We laughed, got to know each other and really communicated; overall it was a great experience and this is the way virtual teams should work together, using all available resources they have. A conference call could not be compared to this; these two options are different as night and day. I know it’s easy, obvious and fun to do, but how often does this happen?

3. The simplest thing you can do is to show that you care. When I got a video with one of my colleagues based in Asia singing Happy Birthday to me, it was so unexpected and thoughtful that I almost cried. It’s so easy to do this, to record yourself with your phone and then to send an e-mail, that it’s an obvious thing to do. But how often do we do this?

I did not mention Skype that was my best friend during my husband’s international assignments and travels, Facetime, Viber, Facebook or Twitter… These are tools that we use almost on an every day basis.

I don’t want to boil the ocean and say you should use all tools that you have at your disposal. It’s unnecessary and confusing. But you can focus, be creative and offer a great experience to your colleagues and teams, even if you are all over the world.

*Picture: Virtual Chaos, by Diego Bellorin