Outreach and People

Kyllian gaat tekenen by inferis on Flickr
Kyllian gaat tekenen by inferis on Flickr

This evening I set up an information table in the front of the library to advertise my free classes for adults that take place in the back.  My goal was to increase our presence in the library and to see if people who were in the library at around class time wanted to be students or volunteer teachers.

People were milling about near me or walking by.  Nobody came up to talk to me for a while.   Then a boy walked by and looked at the giveaway pencils I had out.  He touched one but started to walk away.  So I asked him if he wanted one.  This led to a simple conversation, after which he walked away with a big smile and a sharp new pencil.  About 15 seconds later, a man who had been sitting nearby pretending to ignore me came up to ask about classes.  And a small line formed while he and I were talking.

Smiling and having shiny materials did not cause potential students to line up to talk with me.  Seeing me be nice to that boy is what started it.

My conclusion: people want to work with people who treat people like people.

Harnessing Habits

The other day I happened to read two pieces that both touched upon habits.

The first was an article called Warning – Habits May Be Good For You from the NY Times.

  • a branch of successful marketing creates consumer habits, i.e. using Febreze.
  • some people think this is wrong, creepy, etc.
  • a nonprofit partnered with one such marketing company to promote the habitual use of soap in parts of West Africa, which saves a lot of little kids from dying.

Then I read a post called The Meaning of Life from the Positivity Blog.

  • we don’t have to go through life playing out the same old tired, automatic habits.
  • we can choose how to react, and therein lies our freedom.
  • it suggests working toward synergy and also doing what you love.

It was fascinating to read them on the same day because they’re so close to contradicting each other.  I think, though, that they both point to the idea that habits are powerful and can to some extent be controlled.

My takeaway is a whole bunch of questions to ask myself that I’ll also share with you:

  • Are you aware of your habits?  Habits of mind, relation to your environment, treatment of others, technology usage, verbal tendencies, etc.?
  • Is your organization aware of its habits, its automatic actions?
  • How are said habits serving you?  Your organization?  What would you change if you could?
  • How can we make positive change in personal or organizational habits?
  • How can we move beyond writing more policies and procedures to actually change our everyday experience?  Is this a logical place for Social Media to step in?