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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Meet Great Communicators!

(Or in today’s case, “Meat. Great Communicators!”)

Today, I’m kicking off a new on-going series which will profile people who are making a difference through better communications.

But this is not going to only be about millionaire consultants or executives – although there is certainly nothing wrong with that.

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Great communicators can be found anywhere.  So this series will feature a range of people.  Real people who may be making big differences or smaller differences, but together they all add up.

Without further ado, I would like to introduce to you: Alfredo.  He and his wife Monica run Macelleria Alfredo  here in Arezzo.  If you know what “macelleria” means, you know already what their shop sells.

If you don’t, here’s your translation.  They run a butcher shop.  Not any old butcher shop, but one that is built on and committed to customer service.

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There are many small butcher shops here in our small town in Tuscany which also have friendly, caring shopkeepers, but since Alfredo and Monica are special to me, I would like to share precisely how.

Whenever you walk in, you’re immediately greeted.  If there’s a line, no matter; you will still be acknowledged.  Every customer is known by name and preferences.   Whenever I come in with Lulu, Alfredo will hand her a lovely thin slice of mortadella, a light pink smooth textured type of Italian sausage (like Oscar Meyer’s bologna – but shh, don’t say a word).

Last November, when just two days before Thanksgiving, I decided I would try and roast my first Italian turkey, I was cautioned by some friends that it takes about a week to order a bird beforehand.   Not to worry, though.

Alfredo and our Thanksgiving turkey!
Alfredo and our Thanksgiving turkey!

I walked over to Alfredo’s and inquired.  He didn’t have any in stock, but he immediately made a phone call.   (I imagine he was calling some friend at a turkey-farm directly where some poor unsuspecting bird was about to be sentenced to death. Sorry!) He spoke on the phone in rapid Italian for a few moments and then turned to me, smiled and said I could pick up my seven-kilo turkey domani  or tomorrow.

“And it’s a female. Because they are plumper.  More delicious,” he confided to me.

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Yes, sir! It was a ginormous bird that thankfully fit into our oven and came out juicy and delicious!

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Great communications equals great personal relations- which also equals in my case- a tasty roasted Thanksgiving turkey.

Grazie mille, Alfredo and Monica.

If you’re a carnivore who comes to Arezzo and wants to try some authentic Tuscan treats, please pass by and say, “Ciao!” to Alfredo and Monica for me! They’re in the middle of the town’s historic center on Via Cavour.

Till next time, know a great communicator, let me know too and I’ll profile them!

Baci – Gina 

 

Copyright 2014 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Forging Stronger Relationships

I know, I know, perhaps this is as obvious as it gets – but I’m going to say it anyway:  Relationships Matter!

My family in our adopted hometown of Arezzo, Italy.
My family in our adopted hometown of Arezzo, Italy.

I could post all the photos I want of my happy smiling family on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pin-em-up, Snappity-chat-chat, or wherever!  .. But that’s no true indicator of the level of our relationships.

Am I really listening?
Am I really listening?

How much do I genuinely listen to my husband when he is grappling with an issue?  Am I sincerely considering him?  Or am I going over in my head the items I need to get later at the grocery store?  Am I spending quality time with my daughter when she wants to have a tea party on the living room floor?  Or am I merely going through the motions as quickly as I can – looking longingly as the clock moves closer to her bedtime?

Tea party time for Lulu...
Tea party time for Lulu…

Family. Friends. Or Business; it’s the same.  Forging relationships takes effort.

Take time to listen.  Be curious.   Ask about someone’s day at the check-out counter.  Give a friend or a colleague (who is not on a New Year’s diet) an unexpected basket of sweets or flowers.

Don’t wait for others to make the first move.  Go ahead.  You won’t get instant results every time, but I bet you’ll be surprised at the amount of positive reaction and interaction you will receive if you keep your expectations low and keep at it.

A friend of mine in Paris told me that when she asked how long it would take for her to secure a rare and coveted French government subsidized apartment,  the answer was, “Two to twenty years, depends on the line of applicants in front of you.”  The notion was that she should just fill out the forms and wait.

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But, instead, my friend decided she would forge a relationship with the random bureaucrat assigned to her.   During her interview she asked the employee her name, found out they had a few things in common and took it from there.   My friend found a reason to “drop by” the office,  bringing a coffee, dropping off a book, asking about the lady’s day – to forge a relationship.

Instead of two-to-twenty years, it took her about four months.

So, c’mon! Try something like this as an experiment.  Don’t view it as exploiting or taking advantage of another person.  Genuinely try to care.  I’ll bet you probably will find something interesting.

Looking forward to a year of stronger relationships!
Looking forward to a year of stronger relationships!

Like any worth-while undertaking, even ‘caring’ takes practice.

What do you think?  How might I help?

 Til next time!

Gina

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Copyright 2014 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.