Update from beyond the Squiggly Lines: What projects am I working on currently?

There has been a lot of news recently. A lot has been happening in this little world of ours – one night a few weeks ago I awoke to a great email from Ross Hill that made me aware that overnight Zach Klein had been hired by BoxeeJeffery from Threadless was joining Digg and that Google had aquired ReCaptcha. That’s just in one night. Certainly, it was cause for a pause and consideration about what had been happening in my own ‘Valley.’ So, inspired by the posts above and also Fred Wilson’s totally authentic announcement about Union Square funding Foursquare I thought I would provide an update of where I’m at and what that means.

The Australian Davos Connection

I’ve been working at the Australian Davos Connection (ADC) now for the past 6 months or so, coming on board in an exciting move as their Community Manager. Certainly, the past 6 months have been a great roller coaster to ride between Future Summit (@futuresummit for the tweeps out there) and the recent Australian Leadership Retreat we held on Hayman Island. If you’re interested, check out our (still nascent) Future Summit Blog and Twitter account – as well as some of the Livestream footage from the ALR.

Twitter Crew at Future Summit

(Photo by @jjprojects)

I’m quite excited about further developing the ADC presence on the web, in the hope of connecting with more of the amazing people (such as yourselves) out there agitating for a better world. Stay tuned, as soon we will be opening the nomination process for our Australian Leadership Awards, which provide successful applicants free entry to Future Summit each year and inclusion in our small Awardees Community, which includes invitations to smaller lunch events and discussions. I encourage you to apply.

Ai-Media and Ai-Skills

Whilst I was at Future Summit, I met Tony Abrahams – CEO and founder of Ai-Media and a great guy doing an amazing job leading the march for access and inclusion in Australia. We got chatting at Future Summit about all the possibilities around inclusion for deaf children in Australia and what that looks like in the classroom environment. Low and behold, a few months later Tony had fully unearthed what his crew at Ai-Media had been concocting these past three years and I couldn’t help but jump on board and help them continue to build the platform for what promises to be a truly paradigm changing innovation in the provision of education access for deaf children in Australia. Ai-Media have developed a system which now allows children in class access to real time, captioned text from their teachers. It’s essentially the same as having subtitles on your TV, only on a laptop in a classroom. It’s an exciting project and I’m proud to be involved. You can see Tony and Alex, the founders of Ai-Media, talk you through the project below.

The role at Ai-Media is involved in helping to build the market platform to allow this service to blossom across the country. I’m sure I’ll be talking to many of you and seeking your advice (yet again) in time to come, but for now appreciate that the technology and people are hear now to make this happen. These surely are exciting times.

Of course, some thank-you’s

There have been a few notable people who have helped me progress and make stuff happen in these new roles which I would like to thank at this current juncture. Ross Hill helps me everyday with his insights, thoughts and friendship and certainly has provided me perspective on the number of activities above.

Pete Williams (@rexster) was the one that helped with the strategy that became the Future Summit twitter/online presence back in May. His help and thought-leadership made moving into ADC a dream and provided me with clear direction at a time when it was at a premium.

Donal, the man (Myth. Legend.) behind Nodecity, has helped ADC no ends in doing his thing and providing connectivity services and access to the internet at both Future Summit and ALR. Without him, we simply wouldn’t have achieved what we did and he deserves the credit for that. The man knows his stuff better than most I’ve met and just nails it time and again.

Col and Derek from Ergo Consulting for their constant support and understanding which I constantly appreciate.

Finally Nathan, for throwing open his digs at Inspire9 and allowing me to take a desk at different times most weeks.

Finally, in fear of making this sound more like an Oscars speech than it already does, thanks to everyone who spins around this community and makes all of these interesting things that take place possible. It’s impossible to mention everyone, so I won’t – but those involved know just what I mean when I talk about the magic that currently floats about Melbourne like a dust cloud in Sydney. Let’s keep moving, keep progressing and making the good stuff happen.

From Vision Drive to Corporate Drive

Recently, my life journey has taken me to some amazing places – including helping to set up www.learnaboutpoverty.org, working at World Vision Australia generally and taking part in some pretty alive communities such as Start Up Camp Melbourne, Melbourne Jelly (intermittently, but I aim to make it a more common thing), The Hive and serving on the Marketing Sub-Committee of a great little Mental Health service provider in the Southern Region, Reach Out Southern Mental Health. But, it has come time to move on in one major aspect of my life so far which bares special mention.

 I have moved on from World Vision Australia and am now working at South East Water Limited. Or, more poetically, I have moved from working at 1 Vision Drive, Burwood East to 20 Corporate Drive, Heatherton.


I feel amazingly privileged to have worked alongside the amazing people at World Vision these past 18 months or so, and I have learned an incredible amount about myself, the International Humanitarian and Aid Industry and grass roots activism. But, I felt it was time to move on and learn some new things, and what better place to continue to cut my teeth than in the Water Industry. These sure are interesting times.

I look forward to my new role with great interest and anticipation, working in the Innovations Unit at SEWL looking to help our organisation ideate and create new business ventures which help further reduce our water consumption as well as drive revenue to continue investments in alternative water technologies. As always, I’ll be looking to see how we need to change as an organisation and hopefully getting up behind a flywheel again to help create momentum and drive a more sustainable future. I will also be continuing as co-editor of the Learn About Poverty blog with my good friends Nigel Preston and Joely Wilkenson-Hayes. World Vision has certainly awoken in me a sense of what is left to be done in the world, and through the blog I hope to contribute in some small way to better uncovering what is happening and what we can do together to make a difference.

As always, I hope you’ll join with me for the ride. Thanks for your support and contribution to my work so far, it has certainly made a difference in my life. Scanning back through my blog posts today in a moment of reflection I was reminded of the amazing comments, insights and thoughts you have shared with me this past year of so since I have been blogging. I look forward to hearing from, and meeting, more of you as this journey through our squiggly reality continues.

Cheers and thanks,

Steve Hopkins

Digital Nomad and my flexi-tools for value creation

What are the tools that you use to get around town and do ‘your thing?’ In the last few weeks, I’ve seen an increase in the number of people posting about what they use to remain virtual in the new world of work. I think we are all heading towards a world which is not so organisation based, but vocational and community based. The first part of that long journey is happening now – with people discussing how they continue to remain productive and valuable (to clients, networks and family) without remaining geographically constrained.

Hugh McLeod wrote recently about Digital Nomands whilst a blog he referred to in that post, Digital Nomads, contained a post from Jay White discussing how he went about mixing his personal and professional life, which I found interesting. Cameron McGrane is also always up-to-date on different ways to get create value from anywhere. So, I thought I would add to the chorus and discuss how I am trying to get a little less ‘place bound’ and more ‘value orientated’ as we move towards a vocational community future.

iGoogle and GMail: Jay alluded to this in his post, and I probably don’t utilise it enough, but the fact that it holds and presents my personal email to me as well as my RSS feeds and other apps means that I can access my conversations (not just my emails) easily from anywhere. In the future, I’m keen to continue adding to the functions I use iGoogle for.

 eLance:I’ve only just discovered this, and truth be-told, I haven’t yet won work on it or contracted work out through it but it is certainly a space I will utilise going forwards. The ability to easily delegate and sub-contract work out is huge for me and promises much. I look forward to experimenting with uses for this in the coming months.

twitter:Is on my Treo primarily, which goes with me everywhere. It’s a mobile community, and allows me to keep in touch with most things going on to a key group of people in my life. It also allows me to connect with new, interesting people for both work and play.

campfire: Again, I’ve just discovered this but look forward to using it more to have (and record) conversations from anywhere. It’s been helpful mainly at the moment working with Ross Hill on a variety of different things, but promises much in terms of creating global discussions (read, facilitating vocational communities).

Monkey on the back: This one is a fun one, but helps in keeping things on the agenda. You can place a monkey on someones back, which kindly reminds people to complete or do the tasks you set them. It’s passive aggressive, and puts a smile on peoples faces rather than invoking that ‘crap, I forgot to do that’ feeling commonly associated with forgotten tasks.

Crumpler bag: This one is often forgotten by many digital nomads, but is probably one of the most important. I upgraded to a Crumpler backpack earlier this year and have not looked back. It carries everything I need: Laptop, cords, books, notebooks, jumpers etc as well as numerous other things which you may or may not need to include on a day out. Check out flickr for more evidence of people using their bags to carry their lives.

I also use a host of others, such as delicious, friendfeed, facebook, amazon, iTunes, laptops, skype and many more. Above, I have tried to highlight some of the other tools which may prove useful for your use in creating a less location based work-life.

Brand Me – The Chris Brogan eBook

I’m not a huge fan of the ol’ eBook – but I’m quickly learning to appreciate and value the contents of them as I go. The latest one that struck me – Chris Brograns ‘Personal Branding for the Business Professional.’

As most of you will know by now, I’m a huge advocate of the Brand Me lifestyle. Tom Peters wrote the seminal article in Fast Company some 12 years ago now, but Chris’s latest work comes from a place of true experience rather than the ‘Practicum/Theory’ piece from Tom. Have a read and see what you think – I particularly liked the following points:

 1) Your Own Company: Each opportunity is a chance to learn a new skill and add a new experience. I too don’t really see a resume in the traditional sense. I want a story to tell someone about what I have done. I try to hunt for interesting projects as often as I can.

2) Innovate and be a scout. I’ve read a lot about this recently. I think it falls upon you as a personal brand to be innovative and blaze a new trail…even if the trail is small/not often used or even entirely uninteresting to most people. The fact that you have created the path is evidence of another option or experience someone might use in their own project. Blaze often, blaze weird things and then see where the path takes you. Often, I find several paths I beat seem to come together to create one really valuable path for my client/project/partners.

3) Read widely: I read often. Someone once told me that the average Corporate CEO reads about 12 books a year. As CEO of Brand You, it’s a responsibility that you must accept. Check out different blogs like 800-CEO-read and build an Amazon wish-list which people can check out on Friendfeed etc etc to build a list of good titles that may pique your business professional bone, then link/blog about them. Get Love is the Killer Ap for a good introduction to the professional-reading world, and become a love cat.

Finally – follow interesting brands on the net. Chris alludes to many in his eBook but some of my favourites are: Pat Allan, who is living the next installment of the brand me life by connecting with a truly (amazing) global vocational community, Col Duthie. who is trying to help blaze a trail of international co-existence between the business, government and non-profit sectors and Ross Hill , who has just gotten back on the blogging-bike to better discuss his growing internet empire.

What are you installing?

I’ve come from a few beers with some pretty interesting thinkers tonight. Many a great thing was discussed over a Mountain Goat beer (or two) but one of the more interesting things to come out of our conversations was the concept of change management, and installing functions to support that.

Mental Model Install 

As you would know, and as many others are discussing now, Brand Me is real. People are defining their working lives not as professions or roles, but brands and value added. What you can do and what value you can create for an organisation are very different propositions. Often, to create real and systemic value in an organisation you have to embed it in the culture of the place (or group). To do this, you often have to introduce new infrastructure – whether that’s mental (new mental models to solve problems), Physical (new office space or way of organising your physical space to maximise flow) or technological (technical introductions or enhancements that help you do work better).

There’s plenty of examples here to draw from. Keith Don, a fellow colleague at World Vision, was hired to project manage our new digital strategy. Whilst Keith had brought a huge amount of knowledge to the role, the key piece of infrastructure he has brought is his strategic frame of view. He has forced many in the organisation to, for the first time, consider WHY they want a new website, WHY they want to do this piece of social media or WHY do people want to do whatever it is they, well, want to do. That strategic framework is hugely important when trying to create an innovation culture. I’ve had the privilege to get beside ‘Kbama’ and push my shoulder against the Jim Collins flywheel to help create change, and through his work we have begun to see mindsets and mental models shift to very cool places. This is just one example of someone installing new mental infrastructure to an organisation. Alice Clements, now of Scaffidi Hugh-Jones, has introduced Skype to her work environment to increase the knowledge sharing and virtual communication between herself and her peers. Col Duthie, of Ergo, moved his whole business to a new physical location to help drive a new identity after a re-branding. He now writes very succinctly and insightfully at the Ergo blog.  The list goes on…

So, when you next go into an organisation, consider this question. What do you, as a brand and person, install that helps move things towards a better outcome?