I started a business. It made me want to drink copious quantities, smoke myself into oblivion and hit my head against a brick wall. Instead I wrote a blog.
Site Launch Day: 44
User Count: 69
Going right: Looking forward to talking to prospective investors today. Whatever happens it will be a learning experience.
Going wrong: Daughter can count to ten in Swedish, and yet in English can only say 'poo' and 'bum'
Comment: Clearly have very sophisticated vocabulary and/or sense of humor
Talking about the grief endured on September 11th and the courage demonstrated by many on that day is better left to others - and there was no shortage of people doing it. But the tenth commemoration of this day was earmarked to recount personal experiences of this day and its aftermath. My impressions were different; because instead of only seeing the community spirit and fortitude of nations after this tragedy, I also saw the worst side of two countries.
On that day in 2001, I was watching events unfold as much as we could - on live CNN streaming in the office, in Bagnolet, Paris where I worked as a program manager for a software development company whose engineering teams were based in France......and in California.
The thinking behind this was never to have any downtime - when the French team slept so the American team continued the project and theoretically at least, it meant a sooner delivery of the software to the clients. The boss of this firm, a charismatic Belgian ex-Cisco man Philippe Brawerman (now turned yoga guru), had been named by TIME Digital Europe as the most influential leader in Europe's technology sector in their annual Top 25 list. Two years running. But less than 6 months after 9/11, the firm went bankrupt. One of the forgotten dot-com boom and bust, due in part to the utter breakdown in communications between those two teams. Every evening we had a conference call so that the french team could handover the work to the other team.
French Team Leader (too pompously): 'We've reentered the code which brings us to milestone 2.3.1. If you could bug test it now, that's all that's left.'
American Team Leader (after a long pause): 'But we changed the spec last night because the original isn't structured in the most logical way to take into account the internationalization in sprint 9. So 2.3.1 has been reworked.'
French Team Leader (exasperated): 'We haven't discussed the change in spec. We were unaware of the change, so we unpicked your code and redid it. Quite frankly we couldn't understand your work and thought it was an error.'
American Team Leader (louder than necessary) 'We expected that you would examine it and discuss it with us now. It's uploaded in the spec docs in Mozilla. That was the agreed way of working because it's too early your time to contact you when we log off.'
French Team Leader (voice elevated a couple of octaves): 'But there was no notification email to any of us. We didn't notice the change and anyway, shouldn't we all have discussed it? Unilateral decision making isn't how it works in France.'
American Team Leader (obtusely) 'We were following your instructions from last week, when you stipulated that the code should match the spec and emails weren't a documented form of approval. We can't help it if you don't follow your own guidelines. In America we follow the agreed way of working.'
You see, it wasn't a matter of spec or code, but fierce loyalty to national pride concerning opposing points of view in a very sorry time. Of course everyone hopes that this type of tragedy will not reoccur. But the brutal facts of that matter are, that tragedies do occur - again and again - and people(s) will have different points of view. So how to help teams in this situation?
1. Honesty, Communication, Patience.
2. If you hate the foreign policy of a country, it's not the wisest course of action to take it out on an individual, nor to assume that every individual supports it.
3. Compassion is an essential ingredient for understanding pain. Allow yourself to feel it for people who are grieving - it is your responsibility to turn the other cheek in this situation.
Site Launch Day: 45
User Count: 69
Going right: V. positive experience with Angel investors so far
Going wrong: Hurdles to overcome mainly consist of growing number of competitors in the online space
Comment: In exceedingly lucky position that whilst angel investing would be a bonus and allow scale, there's no huge hurry in funding.
Last week the Twittersphere was awash with stories about a man's suicide. Trey Pennington lived in South Carolina and was well-known as a social media personality. I had never heard of him until he died. And now here I am half a world away puzzling over a man's influence - seemingly even more powerful in death than he was (and he was) in life. In the UK, debate has been raging hotly over the influence and and consequence of the world's move to social media after the London Riots were both fueled and assuaged by the power of tweets.
Now in the US, the debate is that Trey's tweets gave little indication that he was a man of desperation and compared to many suicide victims, he had apparently many friends both - online and offline - to whom he could turn. The focus of many posts is on the superficiality or value of online friends. How can you be so connected and yet so alone at the same time? It's a valid question certainly - but not really relevant in my mind. The real issue is.
Trey, like so many others, used social Media as an enabler and extension of a persona that was out of whack with his true self. Who knows, maybe he felt that his depths of despair were too private to share online - but this huge part of himself, the unshared part, was the part that eventually consumed him.
No judgement, we all like to create something or be someone we like better; looking in the mirror is a tough call. Sometimes we are so used to doing it in real life, in front of the parents or in front of the boss, that it becomes second nature. Equally there are no shortage of twitter advice books which tell you to abide by the 'rules' of business tweeting - no tweeting about what you had for lunch and certainly nothing off putting as far as displays of emotion are concerned.
But if online, as in life, you are not the real you - if you cannot BE the real you - then no matter how many 'friends' you make, wherever you make them, you will always be alone. Ironically the more friends you have who connect with the persona that is not you, the risk is even greater that you will feel alone and will lose yourself.
"Did you read my blog posts?" I texted to my friend.
"Yes." she replied "It's very brave of you to put yourself out there."
Brave. The one adjective I wasn't expecting. But she knows me and has known me in the best of times and the worst of times. And when she reads this blog, she knows that it holds no pretenses about who I am or how I am.
When you are yourself, you make yourself vulnerable and you risk more hurt from rejection because if it happens, people truly don't like who YOU are as opposed to some fictitious persona you have invented. It's scary. But at the same time, this way of operating saves my sanity. It's not brave, it's self preservation. I spend too much of my time involved in this project to pretend to think about what some character invention would have said. This is me.
Investment Impact is growing in its number of voices. We now have tweeters, retweeters, blog referrals and commentators. Whilst I have made sure that Investment Impact attracts like-minded people who want to achieve excellence, are dedicated to a greener way of living and a flexible way of working, I do not want robots. In all cases, I want nothing more than those people who come into this organization or link themselves with this community bring their own originality to the table. This is not LinkedIn where people seem to have 15 glowing recommendations and no faults. Because Investment Impact is nothing, NOTHING without others colorful take on the world. Good and Bad. In fact it's worse than nothing. It's something false, superficial and therefore destined to fail.
If you want a peek at the business that's driving me insane you can click here.
Follow Louisa Leontiades on Twitter: www.twitter.com/moneydecisions