Buddy’s Big Adventure

By Sandra Clitter  

Monday was a beautiful day for a walk…really, it was. In fact, one of my house cats, Buddy, decided that it was a good day for a walk, as well, and headed out the front door as I headed into the house loaded down with laptops and shopping bags and no free arms. Not a big deal in many households, but it was in mine (don’t worry, this isn’t a scary story). You see, Buddy is 16 years old and is a house cat in the literal sense…he’s never been allowed outside (he grew up in Manhattan – the closest he’s ever gotten to the outside is the walk from the house to the car while he’s in his carrier). I dropped everything I was carrying on the walk (literally), and scurried around to the other side of the shrubbery, trying to get him before he darted off. What I didn’t realize is that Buddy wasn’t really trying to get away, he was just putting his paw in the proverbial pond and sniffing around to see what was outside his normal realm. I scooped him up (he did look rakish with branches clinging to his coat), hugged him tight and dropped him unceremoniously in the foyer in my house with admonitions to ‘stay where he belonged’. He looked at me, sniffed, and headed to his food bowl. Apparently the ‘great outdoors’ wasn’t all that fearsome or great.

Why on earth is she telling this story, you’re asking? Using a trick that a wonderful newsletter writer (Ellen Fisher, Editor of the Women’s Yellow Pages of Greater Philadelphia http://www.philawyp.com) has demonstrated to me via her eZines (if you want a good laugh at the beginning of every month, I highly recommend that you subscribe), I want to take it back to a business lesson. Really…just bear with me a moment more.

Buddy is 16 in calendar years. He’s an old man. He does NOT like change. When I inherited him upon my father’s death five years ago, he hid under the bed for six months – literally. If I move his food dish to the other side of the kitchen, he wails until it moves back. Change is NOT his friend. Yet…on this one sunny afternoon, he chose to investigate, go outside to a ‘brave new world’, and try something different.

This week, I was at a wonderful program put on by NAWBO Philadelphia (http://www.gonawbophilly.org) on Social Networking. A panel of esteemed bloggers was present to give their thoughts on what Social Media can mean to our businesses. Many of the attendees were (how do I put this politely?) on the north side of 40. There was much fidgeting (literally) and gnashing of teeth (figuratively) as terms such as tweets, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogosphere, tweetdeck, microblogging, etc. rang out around the room. Why? Because it’s uncomfortable, and unknown, and yes, overwhelming. Yes, it’s ‘new stuff’. At a time when most of us are experts in our fields and successfully run our own companies, we have to go back to a virtual kindergarten and learn something totally foreign. Those guys even speak a different language!

I started thinking about the best way to approach this for those of us who are “mature” in years and/or in experience. The answer…just like anything else…don’t try to do it all at once…just like Buddy – take a short stroll, test the waters. You can always go back for more (though that option will NOT be offered to Buddy). Maybe it’s not that bad. It will get less scary the more familiar you get. Take a bite…don’t eat the whole thing at one time. The analogies are endless…its no different with this ‘stuff’…one baby step at a time.

My first step: Set up a Twitter account (eeekkk!!!!). I think that the only way I’ll understand it is to ‘lurk’ for a while and see what it’s all about. Apparently, my name is @sandraclitter…can someone verify that that works?

Be brave…take that first step! You’ve gotten this far…you’re reading this blog…now you can stretch a little further!

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