Saturday, 18 November 2017

What If... You Don't Have a Voice? Keep Telling Your Story!


Last night I joined a webinar hosted by Mark Guay with Tim MacDonald on the topic of "How to Build a Life with Impact" one of the topics Tim talked about was the importance of telling your story and 

"Letting the world feel your heartbeat."

I've taken quite a few risks and an unconventional approach with trying to re-skill from sales to Community Management, and I can't say that it's felt like my voice and ideas have always been heard. 

Given that there have been some fantastic collaborations and interesting events in the last few weeks (as well as some exciting opportunities appearing on the horizon!) I thought it would be a good time to stop and reflect on "My Story"    

This time 2 weeks ago I had just finished a Spy Quest Mission to surprise the DigCitSummit organisers who had a Skype call with Westquarter Primary School.

This time last year this event was in Sunny Silicon Valley at Twitter HQ for the 2nd annual Digital Citizenship Summit. 

Two years ago I had my first Skype call with the DigCitSummit organisers and was organising a Thunderclap and reaching out to my contacts trying to create some buzz and managing over 100 volunteers to get the first international #DigCitSummit organised within 2 months on a zero budget.


In 2015 I understand that a Skype call also took place with the Summit Co-Founders and Twitter executives after the Thunderclap went out and they asked, “Who is William Jenkins?”

I'm someone who's had the same ideas since 2010 and have tried to make them work for 7 years (And counting).

Last night Tim MacDonald told some some stories about living a life of impact, the difference between rational and irrational fear, telling stories and community building. During the session I asked:

What if you feel that you have a story to tell, but no one hears your voice?

The advice given in the reply?

Keep telling it!

I had no digital footprint until UK Head of Education at Microsoft told me 

“Social media comes with the job today” 

So I checked it out and got connected. An invaluable resource with getting social was the #Cmgrhangout that Tim established.  

Last night Tim told some fun stories about public speaking and live streaming for the first time and how cringe worthy he felt some early talks were... and how no one likes doing these things to start with. It reminded me of the call I made during this years' DigCitSummit at Mrs Jelland's class (@ElliePrimary1).

I started to blog because he felt so sure that I had a message of value to deliver that I hit the “Publish” button with a level of anxiety that I’ll never forget. 

The same can be said of the call at Westquarter Primary two weeks ago, I got the chance to tell a story to the audience that I had wanted to for some time now: A Nervous Call with a Connected Educator

I have been trying to find ways to implement these ideas but have all but given up trying to explain some of them. Sure, I’ll start to explain the ideas (Whether in this blog or in meetings) but can either get blank looks or resistance. I know that look by now so I just stop the conversation just say:

“I’m not gonna tell you, I’ll show you”

The bizarre thing with this is, if I try to explain the exact same ideas in exactly the same way 12 months later these ideas are not only accepted but are obvious... Go figure?!

I am NOT an early adopter, so have an appreciation about how people with concerns and apprehension feels. 

I should perhaps rephrase that, I am only an early user if I'm convinced that the tech (AND culture!) have value in order for me to reach out to people in my network. 

I am fully aware how busy educators are and how many tools are out there that are underwhelming... and I never take educators time for granted.   

Like my first Skype call, my first post was a little garbled
...but I felt I had a story to tell 
I felt that the SNP and the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum came close to achieving this… and Twitter played a huge role with this. 

A year later I connected with the Digital Citizenship Summit organisers after the first event took place. The #DigCitSummitUK “Pirates” put me forward for the Best New Community Manager CMAD award.

When I had that first call with the event organisers one of my first statements was:

“I’ll help on one condition… that the event takes place in Scotland, ideally in Falkirk and preferably at Larbert High School”
The organisers agreed to this (But I think they wondered what all the fuss was about with the insistence on this location), unfortunately, we had to move the event so it was closer to BETT.

Earlier in the summer I met SpyQuest author, David Goutcher and we discussed all things Pokemon Go. In a follow up meeting David mentioned in passing he was going to the inaugural Falkirk Story Festival and that he would be visiting some schools before then.


The conversation continued and the end of the second meeting I said “I think I can help,” I think David thought I meant with US educators because I was working on data for a Pokemon Go follow up. 

But I saw the Falkirk event as an opportunity to further develop what was started a couple of years ago. 

I saw what would happen at Falkirk because I’d been working on the same ideas since Chris van der Kuyls’ 2015 Scottish Learning Festival where there was a call for educators to collaborate more. 

I saw the potential in this because I’d listened to LI Paper's Community Manager, Kelly Hungerford, and stayed up at 1 am local time to listen and learn to and learn from educators across the pond


This was all there in 2015. I knew what the opportunity was and what would probably happen and, as I had predicted… my voice wasn’t heard: EdTech is Tough – Welcome to Scotland

At the third annual #DigCitSummit I tried to finish what was started. I updated my map of Scottish Schools on Twitter and am also working on a few things that will take place between now and the Skypeathon... These projects should benefit Twitter and Skype. 

And why exactly is it that I'm a fan of these tools? Because I heard at the 2011/12 World Ecomonic Forum that 
"In times of uncertainty, it's not leaders that are needed, it's networkers"

As this is where ideas come from (a message that was delivered at ISTE2013), which educator perhaps didn’t bottle up and take back home with us… But I did (And I wasn’t even there! #NotAtISTE), but my main tools for networking have been Twitter and Skype. Many of the projects I've worked on would not have been possible without them.

Tim and Mark told the importance of stories that had impact, context and empowered and gave some examples with Tim's posts about "No Kid Hungry."

In 2013 I read an article called “This will be the #1 Business Skill of the Next 5 years,” before this I had read Made to Stick a recommendation from Bill Aulet. 

I tried to tell the same story through this


I have “Stories” in in my Twitter handle…  So I never forget the importance of telling a good story, people didn’t hear this story so I tried again using some really memorable and appealing characters. 

I only read this article recently but I sure can agree with the top lesson that Oracle’s John Able learnt from all his projects

“Agree the end before the beginning; this is one of the biggest lessons I learned. Agree the outcome with the business community and make sure everyone has a good understanding of the expected outcome” John Able, 26 years, 300+ projects and 5 key lessons learned

This particular chapter started with Chris van der Kuyl's keynote at the Scottish Learning Festival and included a Skype call with a connected educator two years ago and two weeks ago. 

There were calls for Scottish educators to collaborate more and the aim of the DigCitSummits' on that first call was to encourage students to act locally and connect globally, I hope that I helped with this story too.



I feel that my voice and ideas still struggles to be heard but I'll take Tim's advice and will keep trying to tell it and like many of his videos, webinars and advice his magnets example will stay with me for a long time.

I will be having some interesting conversations about work as a Community Manager early next week, conversations that would not be possible without the advice of Tim, the #Cmgr community and a few others.

I'm so grateful to each and every person that's been part of my story.

“Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” Alan Turing. A message I saw regularly through collaborating with Declara last year.

Please support Tim and his work with #NoKidHungry during #GivingTuesday this year.

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