The Human Touch

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Covering the latest trends in Mobility, Cloud, Security and Open Source, I just wrapped three Tech Conferences in three weeks.

There were rows and rows of vendor booths, days filled with sessions and workshops – I led a session on “Negotiations,” for example – from which participants could learn and get information.

Learning doesn’t have to be boring.  Any topic can be made interesting and engaging.  As someone confided in me after my particularly boisterous and lively – by design – session ended,

“People come to conferences hoping to have fun!”

And that’s what stood out to me the most.  In spite of all the high-tech talk, the real value sprang from gathering people together with other like-minded people.

One evening, I attended a dinner with a variety of interesting people including some top IT educators from CompTIA, Skillsoft and Netcom.  The dinner organizer, Teresa, put together lists of fun and funny questions to move our conversations away from strictly business, to the more human side of life.  It was a blast.

At one of the other conferences, the organizers rented out Wrigley Field, the historic home of the Chicago Cubs as well as the long-clinging hopes since 1908 for another World Series win.

We met Hall of Famer Billy Williams, had our picture taken with Cubs mascot, Clark, walked around on the actual outfield, and even could have a turn at bat.  I took advantage of each of these opportunities, laughing and joking with my fellow conference goers as we stood in line.  When it was my turn, I promise I really connected with the ball.  Okay, it was a foul fly, but for me that counted!

My ball-bat connection wasn’t the only one that counted.  I connected with some very terrific people doing some great work.  Great conversations forge friendships that can lead to business opportunities.  Look for me to begin to roll-out some communications training courses on-line soon through a partnership with a tech-educator I met.

As I always say,

“Great communications equals great relationships.”

People connecting with other people.  As my three conferences demonstrated, face to face still trumps Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, you name your social media tool of choice.  They may start virtually, but at some point, most communications, like relationships, will need to be solidified in person.

Be it at a meeting or a conference or whatever.  We still like the human touch.  Thank goodness!

Copyright 2015 Gina London.  All Rights Reserved. 

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Daily Danger Zone – or another day, another walk to school.

[To better experience today’s essay, please fill your head with the loud sounds of honking cars…]

We live less than a block from Lulu’s elementary.   You might think that would make for a delightfully stress-free walk to school each morning.

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Lulu, standing just outside our palazzo – ready to run the gauntlet.

But we also live in Italy, where apparently it’s a good idea to create a chaotic intersection on a narrow hill street, just steps away from an entrance to a school.  So our walk is not so delightful.

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Cars converge from three directions at the base 17th century Roman Emperor, Ferdinand the Third.  Above him, it’s two-way traffic. Below him, just one-way.  There are no signal lights. No easy-to-read direction signs. And no sidewalks.

This is looking up the hill toward our house - the green shutters on the right.. yikes!
This is looking up the hill toward our house with the green shutters on the right.. yikes!

I tell Lulu to play “baby duck” – so she stays close to me in single duck-like-file. But many drivers still seem to close their eyes and put one hand on the horn and use the other to gesture for us to get out of their way.

Don't be fooled, this is not a sidewalk, just a little safety space next to the entrance of a lovely B&B. Lulu's school is the gate at the bottom of the hill.
Don’t be fooled, this is not a sidewalk, but it is the little safety space next to the entrance of our friend Barbara’s B&B – just below the intersection.  Lulu’s school is the gate at the bottom of this hill.

It’s nothing like the five-lanes of traffic I used to brave when I drove to work back in Washington, DC.  But this five-minute daily stroll with Death is heart pounding.  So far, we have cheated Him.

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Ferdinand getting his left traffic-waving hand repaired earlier this summer.

But our traffic monitor Ferdinand has not been so lucky.  When we first moved in, he only had a right hand.  And now, as he motionlessly waves us on with his newly attached left hand, I laugh to myself thinking he probably lost that hand…

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..by being hit by a car.

My hat is off to cross-walk guards everywhere! Salute!

Baci, Gina