My Three Words: Health. Hunger. Habit.

livefix chris catania garden

For the last several years, I’ve watched others do the “my three words” yearly mission. And it’s time for me to jump in.

Yes, I’ve thought of my three words before, but I’ve just thought about them.

Until now, I’ve taken little action to crystalized my three words, write them down and truly make them the focus for a year of my life.

So in 2014, I’m doing it.

It’s the end of February and by now many New Year’s resolutions are toast, or hopefully you are still going strong.

If you’re struggling, hopefully this post comes at the right time and it will inspire you to get started or get back on track if you’ve lost some steam.

Let’s be clear, though.

My three words aren’t resolutions. They’re guideposts and word triggers packed with personal meaning and significance.

I’m using them to quickly remind and ask myself:

 ”What are the most important things to do, measure, refine, and think about on a daily basis?”

I can quickly look at my three words and go through a quick and simple rundown in my mind and to see how I’m doing on a daily basis.

I’m aiming to review my three words nightly before my head hits the pillow and I’m using them to help me focus as I start my day.

But I’m not just sharing my three words with you just to do it and say I crossed something off my To-Do list.

No. I’m sharing them with you because I know that by making my three words, and my thoughts about them, public it’s making them more real to me, AND I’m also inviting you to hold me accountable and dialogue about them. (I’m serious. Tweet me. Ask me about them @chriscatania.)

I’ve shared this kind of personal goal stuff before and by whenever I’ve made it public it’s helped immensely. Sharing personal goals publicly has given me that much needed lift and accountability boost to keep going when I don’t want to.

I know for a fact that telling you what I’m aiming for in life in this blog post helps me reach me goals and change my life for the better.

That said, I’ve decided to say no to all the doubt in my brain and I’ve clicked “publish” on this blog post so you can join me and we can help each other. Yes, in case you’re wondering, I do have more details on these words including how I’m measuring success, but I’m not sharing that stuff here.

I want to keep it simple for now. Just three words.

So let’s do this!

Without further ado, here are my three words.

Health.

I chose the word “health” to remind me that I want to focus on developing and staying healthy in all areas of my life, specifically:

1) Physically

2) Mentally/emotionally

3) Spiritually

Those three areas are foundational to be being the best husband, father, friend and co-worker I can be. Yes, there are more details to these “health” areas of my life but I won’t share them here on this post.

What I will tell you is that I know that when life gets crazy and I start to lose focus on what matters, it’s usually because I’ve stopped making it a priority to devout time to nurture at least one or more of these three “health” areas of my life.

Hunger.

There are two reasons why I chose hunger in 2014.

First, I want to stay hungry. Not hungry for food (which isn’t usually a problem) but more like Rocky Balboa in Rocky I and Mr. T in Rocky III, and Rudy in Rudy. (Yes, I’m a big fan of Rocky and sports underdog movies. No shame here.)

Seriously, though, I want to stay hungry for growth. I did grow a lot in 2013 but I want to be more intentional about it in 2014.

I want to feel that rumbling in my stomach and in my soul as I aim for my goals in all areas of my life.

I want to keep my eyes on the prize, be proactive and not let life’s distractions, negative thoughts, and other mental junk food that comes hurling at me on daily basis, stop me from being hungry for what matters in life.

Secondly, having a hunger and a thirst for bettering yourself is exciting and it’s contagious. I love being around people who are hungry for life and learning.

What I mean is that I want to inspire a hunger for others.

I once heard someone say that what you do in life and what you share with the world should inspire others, and what you do should improve the quality of life for others too.

So I’m taking those great thoughts as a personal challenge and I’m aiming (and hoping) that by staying hungry for growing, learning and constantly evolving who I am will inspire others around me.

But, again, let’s be honest. Maintaining that hunger is hard. And that’s why I’m sharing this with you, remember? So we can help each other stay hungry. Do we have a deal? Thanks. I know you’d be with me on this one.

Now on to the last word.

Habit.

I told you before that I purposely don’t do New Year’s resolutions.

Why? Well, because New Year’s resolutions only happen once a year and why should we wait 365 days to change what we’re doing? That would waist so much time.

In my short time on planet earth, I’ve learned from others (and by failing myself) that creating daily habits that I can gradually build on is the better way to go. It’s better than creating New Year’s resolutions.

I’ve learned that aiming for gradual habit change gives us more power to create a lasting foundation for behavior change. When we look at the challenge to change habits as a “one day at a time” (or even one minute or second at a time) thing, it’s not as overwhelming for our brains.

Yes, no doubt, changing our behavior is one of the hardest things to do.

But one thing I’ve learned is that knowledge is power. And taking the time to read and understand what drives our habits and behaviors has helped me reach my goals.

I love reading books and blogs to soak up as much knowledge as I can, and I highly value taking an experimental approach to life in general. That’s why I do these Fitbit and No Sports For A Year Experiments.

I read what others have learned, and try to apply it to my own life,  and I also learn by doing (succeeding and failing) myself.

And when it comes to reading books about habits and understanding how to change them, I’ve had the pleasure of learning a lot from The Power of Habit, Nudge, and One Small Step Can Change Your Life. If you haven’t already, I recommend checking these books out as there is a lot of excellent research and practical stuff you can do to help change your habits.

Alright, these are my three words for 2014: Health. Hunger. Habit.

And Yours?

What are your three words this year?

Thanks for sharing and be courageous today and always, my friends.

Note: The photo above is of a zig zag bridge in the Japanese garden at the Chicago Botanical Garden. It’s designed to get you to stop and think about where you’re going.

Recap Video: Talking with The Community Roundtable about Community Management and Our ESN at Walgreens

 

 

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I recently had the pleasure of kicking off the Community Roundtable’s new Community Manager spotlight series. It was tons of fun chatting with Jim Storer and sharing the inside scoop of the development of our enterprise social network and employee communities journey at Walgreens.

Highlights of the chat include: an overview how how we launched The Wall, our new social intranet, and how we’re using community management strategies to support the business, build trust and drive the adoption of the digital workplace. I hope you enjoy it and I’d love to hear what you think. 

Check it out here.

 

 

Fitbit Experiment Part 4: 11 Things I’ve Learned So Far – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

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This Fitbit experiment has been fascinating. It’s really opened my eyes and I’ve learned a lot.

So, in no particular order, here’s a quick round up of all the things I’ve learned so far; the good, bad and the ugly, and what I’m looking forward to in 2014.

1. Having a daily goal of getting 10k steps helped bring structure to my life. Without a doubt, using the Fitbit One to have a clear, simple and attainable activity metric to shoot for each day helped me live a healthier life and proved to be a welcome ally  to conquer the personal fitness challenges noted below.

When I first got the Fitbit back in September of 2012 I started out with the goal of getting 10,000 steps a day because that was the recommended standard. 14 months later it’s still a worthy challenge to attain, so as my experiment rolled on I had to adapt my plan and evolve things a bit.

Basically I was challenged by the usual suspects to find a consistent time where I could  integrate getting my 10,000 steps in to my regular workout or supplement my workout with getting steps.  For me the biggest obstacles to staying healthy and working out were and still are:

  • Creating a workout program that’s integrated, flexible, realistic and based on SMART goals
  • Staying consistent, maintaining momentum and balancing the demands of work, life and being a new dad

 

2. We need simple metrics to stay healthy. To help battle those above challenges, one of the biggest things I learned is that having two metrics to shoot for helps to maintain momentum. I learned that I don’t always have the time when unexpected events put a wrench in my workout schedule, or I am challenged to adapt to the ever-changing sleep schedule and required dad-attention time of my growing 15-month-old son Calvin.

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As you can see by the image above, I use the Fitbit mobile app to track both steps and active minutes. For my P90x workouts I have to manually enter in the activity, and it would be nice if Fitbit figured out a way to integrate active minutes into the friend leader boards because on some days I’m below 10,000 steps but achieved or exceeded my AM goal, but it doesn’t always show up in the leaderboards.

So what I’ve done is aim to create habits that help me get either  1) 10,000 steps a day or 2) at least 30 minutes of activity a day through running or short-burst higher intensity workouts.

3. Be flexible and get creative. This point became even more true during my Fitbit experiment because I’ve come to realize that it really helps to aim to squeeze in quick 5-20 min walking breaks or sneaky steps, where I get anywhere from 500-1200 steps, or squeezing in a short more high intensity workout like short 30 min run at a faster paced versus a long 60 minutes run. Taking this approach helped to maintain momentum and keep me on track towards having a regular active habit. Doing this short burst approach also lead to longer periods of healthy activity over time.

4. Make a game out of it. Many times during the fall and winter of 2013, and especially early in 2014 with the Polar Vortex clamping down on us in the Midwest, it’s been challenging and nearly impossible to get outside to go for a walk, so we’ve had spontaneous step challenges in our house during which we run around the house to see who can get to 10,000 step first. And when I got close to 3 millions steps I challenge my self to hit it before the one year mark in September and did.

These moments are actually really fun and I would love to be one of our neighbors looking in and seeing us running around wondering whats going on. In addition to gamifying my personal health at home, I’ve also been developing the habit of walking around the house while watching watching movies or my favorite TV shows.

  • Speaking of games, I created a fun little game at work where I challenged myself to see if I could get 10 steps before 5pm on a workday.  Through a combination of taking short breaks from my desk, no longer taking the elevator and using only the stairs and experimenting with walking meetings, I did get to 10,ooo steps before 5pm twice.
  • “10k steps before 5pm” is something that I’ll continue to shoot for this year. Doing this challenge at work I did notice that taking the short walking breaks gave me a welcomed creative physiological boost to my brain to power me through several writing projects and daily deadlines.

 

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5. Getting steps is contagious. The other exciting thing is that I was surprised that my sharing my experience through this Fitbit experiment has led to others in our corporate communications department getting a Fitbit too, which then led to us doing a special Steps experiment and feature story in our employee publication. And when it comes to our Walgreens internal social media programs, I started doing monthly activity challenges and sharing our steps experiences in our employee online communities. This has led to many great conversations about staying activity and now our employee online communities are a great source of motivation and encouragement.

6. You need a community to help you. As I just mention above, one of the most important things you should do when trying to create and stick to healthy habits is have a community to help motivate and keep you accountable.

I still stand by what I said in my last Fitbit post. And since that post the number of Fitbit buddies who are on my leaderboard has gone from 2 to 26.

I can’t stress enough how having buddies is to staying healthy. My community is a mix of friends, family and co-workers who are also striving for 10k steps and struggling with similar life change challenges as me.

I loved using the Fitbit mobile app to build community. Being able to simply click a button on my mobile phone to send cheers and short encouraging messages to my step buddies is awesome and  I love when I get the same from them. It often gave me that much needed boost of encouragement that I needed to get me over the hump and moving in the right direction.

I’m not going lie, on days when I don’t feel like doing  10 steps or I start to see my daily average slip looking at the leaderboards and seeing the faces of my step buddies is a welcomed motivator.

Speaking of community, another bonus in 2013 was the fact that getting steps was often associated with or led to more meaningful moments and social experiences. It gave me opportunity to be more emotionally and relationally healthy by building relationships on the short and long walks and hiking adventures. 

A big thanks to everyone I shared steps with in 2013. You all helped me get to over 3 millions step in 2013 and here’s to 3 million more in 2014. Keep up the great work – you rock!

Feel free to add me to your Fitbit friends here.

7. Tracking your steps can lead to saving money, free lunches and helping others.

In 2013 I connected my Fitbit account to the Walgreens Steps program which is connected to the Balance Rewards Loyalty program. So for every 200 steps I got 20 Balance Rewards points and with all the steps I did I racked up enough points to save some coin on several purchases.

One of my favorite early highlights of  my Fitbit experiment was my experience with Earndit. Earndit offers rewards for purchase or the option to donate your points to a worthy cause. Through the Earndit program I was able to also donate my activity points to help those in need through the American Red Cross. Unfortunately, Earndit stop doing the program in early 2013 and it no longer offers this “donate your points” option.

To be honest, the product discounts that Earndit offers for rewards are not very exciting or valuable to me, and it was much more rewarding and motivating to donate my points. I hope they bring that option back or at least some other company steps up (no pun intended) and provides this great service again, because knowing that getting steps not only keeps me healthy but it also allows me to help others in need was a great motivator.

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8. It’s time for a toddler Fitbit test. I let my son try on my Fitbit and now he wants his own activity tracker. I think this a great thing and it was the first step in my sub-experiment to let him wear a Fitbit for a day, or get him is own, to see how many steps he gets. I would love to do this because 1) it’d be interesting to compare his activity to mine and 2) I think building that behavior and giving him this sort of health data would be valuable for him as he gets older. Stay tuned for more on this.

The Bad and The Ugly

Okay, now for the bad parts of this Fitbit experiment.

8. They need to create a “find my fitbit” app. The one downside of the Fitbit One is that it can be easy to lose if you’re not careful. I lost it while fishing during the summer and had to buy a new one. Somewhere there’s a fish, or a frog that’s really activate now.

As activity trackers and wearable evolve in 2014 and beyond, I hope this will become less of an issue and they will figure out a way to make the trackers more integrated and easier to wear and harder to lose. Of the 450 days that I’ve had the Fitbit I’ve only lost it once. Making sure I have the device with me at all times has now become a regular habit. It would be nice, though, to have a feature where the Fitbit beeped and you could easily locate it, if you did lose it.

flex burn

9. The Fitbit Flex has some defects. Because I was enjoying my Fitbit One so much I bought my wife Colleen a Fitbit Flex for her birthday when the Flex first came out in the spring of 2013. Despite the many benefits of having the Flex, unfortunately, after only having it for 7 months, there have been several things that have made the experience concerning and disappointing.

  • First, around September, the Flex stopped holding a charge like it should. I did a quick search on the issue and found that others had the same issue. I follow these steps to see if it would work to resolve and it did. At the same time I contacted Fitbit support and they sent me a list of troubleshooting steps but the blog post was more helpful.
  • Then in late December Colleen had a nasty rash breakout on her wrist (see above). At first we thought it was a jewelry-related rash, but usually if she’s going to get one of those, the rash shows up pretty quickly and looks different. This one also seemed more like a chemical burn than an allergic reaction. So again, I took to the interwebs to see what others were experiencing and sure enough it was a known issue for others too. It even became a bigger issue as the press picked up on the rash issue but most reports focused on the Force and not the Flex-related burns.

I continued to trade emails with Fitbit support and had to answer a series of  customer feedback and trouble-shooting questions. They immediately offered a refund and replacement device. We gladly excepted and they sent Colleen a new Fitbit One.

All this said, I’m really disappointed with this whole rash situation because I’ve been a big supporter of Fitbit. To have Colleen experience the physical discomfort of the rash and know that her wrist still isn’t fully healed concerns me. I do hope Fitbit takes a good look at why this is happening and makes the necessary product improvements.

Looking Ahead…

So when I look at all the above things I’ve learned and experienced; yes, I still highly value my Fitbit and it’s a powerful tool for keeping things simple as you aim to stay or get healthy.

11. The future is exciting. As reflect on this list and I think about how my Fitbit experiment has evolved, I’m really pumped about the future. For all the issues and bad stuff I mentioned I’m still looking forward to the evolution of wearables and activity trackers, especially AIRO, a new device that tracks heart rate, nutrition and sleep in some very interesting ways.

I’m also looking forward to seeing wearbable devices like Fitbit and AIRO evolve more. We’re still in the early stages of using these devices in our lives and I believe the more we use them the better they will become.

Thanks again for following along! I’d love to hear about your Fitbit and other activity tracking experiences. Share them in the comments below.

 

CMAD: Join Us For A Chat About The Evolution of Enterprise Social Networks

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It’s inspiring and encouraging to see how much Community Manager Appreciation Day has evolved since it was started in 2010.

Four years later CMAD has become the dedicated day to not only give thanks to community managers and recognize them for the work they do, it’s now become a 24-hour celebration where we also roll up our sleeves to talk about the business of community management and how it’s playing an increasingly key role in transforming companies internally and the customer experience externally.

On Monday January 27, you can look forward to a day packed full of valuable and forward-thinking community management conversations happening both online and offline. And this year I’m proud to be on the panel that will be diving into the topic of “The Evolution of Enterprise Social Networks” at 12pm EST on Google+.

During the chat we’ll be discussing ”the evolution of enterprise social networks with topics such as: the beginnings of enterprise social; major advances in recent years; how ESN tools have changed and still need to change; the role of ESN community managers past, present and future.”

Key questions we’ll be exploring include:

  1. When was the first time you used ESNs and what characterized the technology and the experience at the time?
  2. What are some recent major advances in enterprise social in terms of use cases and expectations – not technology.
  3. How has ESN technology evolved and in what ways does it still need to improve?
  4. How important is a dedicated, full-time ESN community manager?
  5. How has the role of ESN community managers evolved? Where do you see it going?

I’m looking forward to sharing stories and learnings from my experience leading the internal social media programs at Walgreens and I’m excited to hear what the other panelists have to share too. Should be a great time!

As prep for the CMAD chat about ESNs, I recommend checking out this excellent primer post by the panel organizer Jeff Ross who leads the internal community at Humana. Also, if you haven’t yet, I invite you to participate in the #ESNChat that Jeff leads every Thursday at 2pm EST.

Here’s more info on the panelists and how you can tune in Google+. See you there and enjoy!

Live Webinar: Talking with The CR About The Business Of Community Management at Walgreens

 community roundtable

 

When you’re building an enterprise social network at a large company and aiming to make your organization more social and collaborative, one of the most important things you should do is surround yourself with smart people who have done or are doing the same thing as you’re aiming to do.

That’s why I’ve enjoyed being a member of the Community Roundtable. The CR network is run by and is full of smart leaders who know their stuff when it comes to the business of community management. Over the last two years, being a member has helped to build and strengthen our internal social media and community management strategy at Walgreens.

It was a pleasure being on the advisory board for the 2013 State of Community Management Report and in 2014 the Community Roundtable is kicking off a new live webinar series called “Community Manager Spotlight” and I have the honor of being the first guest.

I invite you to join us next Wednesday January 29th @ 2pm EST for the 30 minute live webinar to learn how we’ve been using community management strategies to build our internal social media program at Walgreens and where we’re heading as our program grows. It’ll be lots of fun and I’m looking forward to sharing our story with you.

Get more info and register for the webinar here.

Why I’m Not Watching Sports For A Year

 

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It has begun.

I’ve officially started my “Not Watching Sports for A Year” experiment.

As you know, experiments have been at the center of Live Fix since the get-go and I’m excited to embark on this new sports-lated one throughout 2014.

I’ve been pondering this experiment for some time and always wanted to do it.

Back in November I mulled it over and decided that on January 1st I’d kick it off.

Honestly, part of me is a bit concerned about doing this.

And it’s that tugging mix of fear, anxiety and uncertainly and all the other emotions that are associated with not watching sports for a year that are fueling my curiosity to go ahead and do the experiment.

The other reason that those emotions are popping up is that, in some ways, watching sports has been therapeutic, a welcomed distraction to hard times in life, a place to take a time-out so I can tune out and give my mind a rest.

Watching sports has also been a valuable mirror that has reflected back to me important life lessons.

Watching sports has served as the backdrop and setting to many unforgettable moments where relationships got deeper and I bonded with buddies.

I can recall countless conversations with my family, friends and co-workers that are sport-related and centered around the Big Game or where live sports was the catalyst to the break the ice and got us to start talking.

And thinking about all those moments I wondered….

If sports didn’t exist, would we even have a reason to hang out and spend time together?

What else would have replaced sports as the shared event to bring us all together?

I even heard my dad say once that he associated the conception and/or birth of me and all of my siblings with a major sporting event.

That said, how important is sports to our lives?

Can we as humans simply enjoy watching sports, value it as a social connector or a healthy timeout from the craziness of life, but not get sucked into the black hole of sports obsessions and addictions?

Why Do I Watch Sports?

Besides live sports, I also enjoy watching sports documentaries, feature films and bio flicks like the Ken Burns Baseball movies, Bull Durham, Rudy, The Natural, and ESPN’s 30 For 30 series.

All of those have given me a good laugh, wisdom, inspiration, historical context and insight into how to playing or watching sports has impacted someone’s life for better or worse.

For example, I’ve watched many baseball, football or basketball games and walked away with some sort of metaphoric gem or lesson that I can use in my own life. And then watching ESPN’s 30 for 30 and learning the backstory makes the game and the lesson I learned even more valuable.

One last thing that I’m sure I’ll miss this year is watching a game through a strategic lens.

For some people, watching baseball, football, or basketball is boring, a real snooze-fest.

Sure, not every game is a nail-bitter or super entertaining. Heck, I’ve even got done watching a game and wondered if I could get the last 3 hours of my life back.

But for me, most of the time, watching a game of baseball is like playing chess. I love seeing how all the “games within a game” play out.

The strategic and behavioral side of watching live sports is probably what keeps me watching, especially when it’s not a Chicago team.

Most times I just want to see how athletes respond in pressure situations. Seeing how players, coaches, announcers and fans respond in the moments after a live win or loss provides a fascinating view into our minds and hearts.

As an added sociological bonus, social media has given us a great opportunity to really learn from these moments like never before, and I’m excited to use social media during my experiment too.

Something Is Creeping In And Taking Over

But what does concern me lately, and what is also motivating me to do this experiment, is that I’ve noticed an unhealthy mindlessness of watching sports start to creep in and take over. I’ve noticed that sometimes it’s like I’m watching sports to avoid doing something else.

And that’s when watching sports is no longer beneficial. And exploring this struggle is another reason why I want remove watching sports to see what it reveals about the “watching sports to avoid the real issue” factor.

What Have Others Been Saying So Far?

Like a lot of the other emotion-based experiments I’ve done before on live music, this is a personal discovery, an adventure to see what I learn and it’s been fun to see the initial response by some of my friends and family on Facebook.

As you see by the image above, there’s already some interesting comments coming in, and I love how all the comments say different things and present different avenues to explore. And I’m looking forward to learning from more responses and thoughts too.

What About Playing Sports?

For those of you who are wondering, yes, I’m still going to play sports because I believe that there’s still tons of value in playing sports to stay active as we’ve learned from my FitBit experiment.

I’m going to pay more attention to how my non-watching sports habits impact my playing and personal fitness habits. And I do expect to more deeply explore the balance between watching sports and playing them.

I Spent 687 Hours Watching Sports in 2013

You can’t do an experiment without crunching some numbers. You need a baseline so you know how to measure progress and get context. I did some quick math and determined that in 2013 I watched approximately 687 hours of Cubs, Hawks and Bears games.

Over six-hundred hours! This doesn’t even include how many hours I’ve spent watching other sports, other teams, or the pre-game, halftime, post game and the countless ESPN highlight shows, or the collective time I’ve spent meaninglessly scrolling through the ESPN SportCenter apps when I already know the scores ( as you can see by the picture above, that app was the first thing to go this year).

I told that 687 hours stat to my wife and she then asked, “Well, Chris, what can you do with all those hours if you’re not watching sports?” Great question. I’m going to find that out in 2014.

I’m looking forward to personally diving into more of what Eric Simmons explores in his book The Secret Lives of Sports Fans which is about why we are addicted to sports and how watching sports impacts our brains.

Of course, I’m not the first person to do something like this. A few guys who’ve done it before like this guy

But I figured I wanted to do it to see what I would learn about myself, others and the big wide world (of sports) around me.

Who knows, maybe I’ll discover that the right amount of watching sports is good for us, or not?

But what is the right amount? Is there a better or more beneficial way to watch sports? Hopefully I’ll discover answers to those questions and many others too.

What I Hope To Learn

To wrap this intro post up, here’s what I hope to walk away with 365 days from now:

  • Will not watching sports make me more productive? Will it allow me to better focus on developing my creativity, writing and things I’ve always wanted to do, or should be doing, instead of getting distracted by watching a game on TV?
  • How will not watching sports impact all the relationships in my life, friends, family and everyone in between?
  • What will it be like to write about not watching sports? Will I discover new things about myself and why I’ve watched over thousands of hours of sports on TV?
  • I’ve been a lifelong fan of Chicago sports, especially the Cubs and so what will it be like not to watch a game for an entire season? Will this ironically be the year they win the World Series? Will I then not get to watch it? Is this experiment a subconscious superstition?  It’s only crazy if it doesn’t work, right?

A Few Simple Ground Rules

Since many of you have asked, I wanted to share a few ground rules that I’ve set for this experiment.

  • No watching ANY sports on TV, internet or mobile devices, this includes football, baseball, hockey, boxing, the Olympics, etc. This also includes if I’m at a party, a restaurant or a bar and there’s a game on, I can’t watch it. I’m especially interested to see how this rule impacts the social areas of my life.
  • Instead of watching the game I’ll write about it or do something else. I will also post a blog entry here on Live Fix at least twice a month, including shorter updates on Twitter, Google Plus, and Instagram. So feel free to follow along.

I appreciate you joining me on this grand adventure and I’d really enjoy hearing if you’ve done something like this or what you think of my experiment. Thanks for sharing and — Go Cubs!

Video + Notes From Blogwell: How We’re Using Community Management Strategies at Walgreens

Continuing our exploration of community management and social media, here’s a video and the deck from a presentation I gave when I spoke at the Socialmedia.org Blogwell event in New York City.

My talk was about how, at Walgreens, we’re using community management strategies to build relationships, support culture change and engage employees within our internal online communities.

This was the first time I had publicly spoken about our internal social media story at Walgreens, and it was an honor to share some of the things we’ve been doing and how being strategic is a key element to building on our foundation and executing on our playbook.

It was great to also present among other companies like Verizon and TD Bank who also shared success stories and case studies about their internal social programs. It’s encouraging and inspring to see these and other collaborative employee communities and the role of social media continue to mature and develop behind the firewall.

As I mentioned before, when I talked about why I was on the advisory board for the Community Roundtable’s State of Community Management 2013 Report, the role of strategic community management will play an important role as employee online communities become more integrated into organizations.

Without a doubt, I believe employee communities will only grow in importance and prominence as they continue to provide real business value and play an increasingly crucial role in driving engagement, attracting and retaining top talent, empowering innovation and cultivating significant culture change in more and more companies.

That said, on a future post, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the intriguing results of this year’s SOCM report that focused on the value of community management and demonstrated a significant change in the standard “90-9-1″ concept that I mentioned during my talk. I’ll also share how I’m seeing a new type of persona emerge within our communities.

Until then, thanks for checking out the video and I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you’re seeing at your company and in the industry at large when it comes to community management.

Live Fix Radio Episode 41: Live Music Fashion On Stage and Beyond

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On this episode of Live Fix Radio we’re continuing our exploration of live music fashion and chatting with special guests Brittany Abeijon, editor in chief of The Facets Magazine, and JP Chookaszian, Urban Offering as we traverse through the exciting and controversial topic of what fans wear (and shouldn’t wear) when we go to concerts.

Not only do they dish out some crafty concert fashion tips and dapper insights, Brittany and JP both share excellent stories about how Woodstock, Sigur Ros, Jimi Hendrix, Sufjan Stevens, Ray Charles and Lady Gaga have all influenced and inspired their sense of style and personal creativity. Rock on and thanks for listening!

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Show Notes

News and other cool stuff we talked about:

 

Music featured during the show:

  • Sigur Ros – “Inni
  • Lady Gaga – “Born This Way”
  • Of Monsters and Men – “Your Bones (live at Park West in Chicago)”
  • Sufjan Stevens – “Christmas Unicorn (live at metro in Chicago)

 

Got a thought on this show or an awesome idea for a future episode of Live Fix Radio? Drop a comment below or share your feedback and concert stories with us on Twitter @livefixmediaFacebook , Google Plus, or call the concert fan hotline at 773-609-4341.

Live Fix Radio Episode 40: How Listly Builds Community And Connects Concert Fans

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On this episode of Live Fix Radio we’re continuing our exploration of the social curation and list-making platform Listly and chatting with it’s co-founder Nick Kellet about why Listly is an essential community building tool for concert fans, and a great way to share and remember your favorite live music memories.

And of course, we asked Nick to share a list of his most memorable concert experiences which include seeing Kid Creole and The Coconuts, Melissa Etheridge, John Cooper Clark, Blue Oyster Cult, and a funny story of how he ended up as a bouncer for an Anne Lennox show. Rock on and thanks for listening!

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Show Notes

News and other cool stuff we talked about:

 

Got a thought on this show or an awesome idea for a future episode of Live Fix Radio? Drop a comment below or share your feedback and concert stories with us on Twitter @livefixmediaFacebook , Google Plus, or call the concert fan hotline at 773-609-4341.

Cornell Students Using Physics To Predict Human Behavior, Save Lives At Rock Concerts

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I’ve got an excellent update to our ongoing experiments on concert rioting, live music fears and similar concert crisis related explorations.

According to Physics Central a group of students at Cornell University have begun to share their research about comparing concert rioting and mosh pits to the how molecules in gas behave with the plan of “using some techniques of physics to describe and maybe predict human behavior in times of crisis.”

This is really an amazing collection of research that has me thinking about a lot of other possibilities related to our previous experiments on riots, heavy metal shows and even our RIP and mourning explorations where lives were lost because of chaos as frantic crowd situations.

Here’s my favorite snippet from the article:

The project began when one student, Jesse Silverberg, took his girlfriend to a heavy metal concert. Not wanting to get involved in the mosh pit that formed in the audience–people get hurt–he stood aside and was fascinated by the motion of the crowd. The group’s movement resembled something he saw in physics classes, the disordered collisions of molecules in a gas.

Silverberg thought that might be an interesting study, and along with other students, created artificial mosh pits in a computer, using videos of rock concerts on YouTube as the template and converting the crowd into individual particles in the program using automated tracking techniques.

Bierbaum reported at the meeting that while the crowds seemed to be running around wildly, the researchers found two types of people in the patterns, subjects they called MASHERS (Mobile Active Simulated Humanoids). Some “flocked,” meaning they generally followed their neighbors. Animals flock the same way, Bierbaum said. So do fish schools. There is no bird or fish in charge. Those who stayed stationary, passive MASHERS, reacted normally when an active MASHER accidentally collided with them–they bounced–and then resumed standing still.

There’s also some very interesting and fascinating mosh pit data collected here that was used in the research along with this mosh pit simulator.

I also love it how Jessie’s desire to not want to be in the mosh pit led him to the discovery. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at mosh pits and wondered why those happen and what purpose they serve at concert beyond a physical release or just a dangerously chaotic response to how the music is making us feel during the show.

And I’m pumped to see something positive come out of moshing and know that Jessie and his fellow students have given us some great insight through the lens of physics that could really make a major impact on the lives of concert fans.

Lastly, this makes me wonder about what other parts of the concert experience can be better understood by looking at other areas of life or scientific disciplines to find solutions to problems?

If we can compare mosh pits to gas molecules to make concerts safer, what other examples and comparisons can we find to enhance, improve and better understand the concert experience?

Like I said, this is great stuff and we’ll certainly continue to follow this story and share more updates as we dive deeper into the data and uncover more awesomeness.

That’s it for now. Let us know what you think of this study in the comments below and stay tuned for more as we continue to explore this story and have the Cornell students share more about their research and favorite concert experiences on a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Live Fix Radio Episode 39: Bon Iver Tattoos, Crowd Surfing Coachella and A Sublime Shakedown At Lolla

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On this episode of Live Fix Radio we’re continuing our exploration of Bon Iver and the power of the little things and chatting with fellow concert fan Isabel about how this picture of Justin Vernon’s “that was then” tattoo inspired Isabel to get her own tattoo. Isabel’s also tells us why she’ll never forget crowdsurfing during Bon Iver at Coachella and soaking in Cage The Elephant with her dad during a sublime downpour at Lollapalooza. Rock on and thanks for listening!

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Show Notes

News and other cool stuff we talked about:

 

Music featured during the show:

  • Bon Iver  -  ”Holocene” and “Skinny Love” (iTunes)

 

Got a thought on this show or an awesome idea for a future episode of Live Fix Radio? Drop a comment below or share your feedback and concert stories with us on Twitter @livefixmediaFacebook , Google Plus, or call the concert fan hotline at 773-609-4341.

arizona fitbit ultra one steps self-tracking quantified self

Fitbit Experiment Part 3: Why You Need Fitbit Buddies

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This Fitbit experiment has lots of fun and challenging! I’ve been learning a lot about the importance of community in this self-tracking adventure and how to work through failure even when I’ve supposedly set realistic goals.

So let’s jump right in! On this update I’ll share:

1) why it’s important to have Fitbit buddies

2) my latest Fitbit stepping journeys on the trails in Sedona, Arizona

3) my transition from the Ultra to the One tracker and how Fitbit’s support team got a gold star

 

What I’ve Learned From My Fitbit Buddies

Okay, as I mentioned in my last update,  I’ve seen a big benefit in having other people who I interact with on a daily basis also tracking their steps.

And I didn’t expect that my first post would inspire my friend Brittany to get a Fitbit One. But it did and since then we’ve had a lot of great discussions about our experiences.

During our chats Brittany shared a tip with me that’s helped her in the early stages of her own Fitbit step challenge.

For example, each day she tries to walk 100 more steps than she did the previous day. This is a great gradual approach to creating a new behavior, instead of trying to walk 10K steps a day right away.

And I’ve actually incorporated this approach into my own challenge and it’s been working great.

My daily average steps is right around 7,000 steps with the weekends  being when I usually get over 10,000 steps because I’m doing more running and activity around the house or I’m out and about with family and friends.

So my focus has been to look at my activity during the week and see where I can gradually add more steps and not sit too much or miss a morning or evening walk because I’m too tired or unmotivated.

Speaking of motivation, I’ll also be honest and tell you that having friends like Brittany to share experiences with has been a huge factor in keeping on track and not getting discouraged if I don’t hit my daily goal.

The other bonus of having a Fitbit buddy is that my competitive nature has turned out to keep me healthy because I get motivated to make sure that I get more steps than Brittany.

It’s a friendly competition and Brittany’s excitement has inspired and challenged me many times these pasts couple months.

That said, as of this post, Brittany has now been averaging 10K steps a day, and even better, my friend Jennifer has also been doing a great job at increasing her steps, and she is also averaging more steps than me for the last several weeks.

Which brings me to my biggest learning moment yet.

Arizona Was Awesome But…

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The last week of February I went to Arizona on vacation and I averaged 11,000 steps a day and had the chance to run on some really sweet trails like the one above.

Of course, we did a lot of sight-seeing, including an amazing hike up Bell Rock Trail in Sedona. It was Calvin’s first trail hike and it was tons of fun as we all made our way up the trail and then cruised back down again.

We were out and about for most of our 8-day trip so that really helped in getting above the 10k mark each day.

But when I returned to work and the daily flow of my job, I really struggled to hit my pre-vacation average of 8,000 a day.

I came back to a crazy work load and found myself in a lot of meetings and having to get caught up by sitting at my desk more than usual.

And ever since it’s been a really struggle to get back on track, especially with the cold weather in Chicago.

So When The Stepping Gets Tough…

…you rely on your Fitbit buddies.

Yes, that’s right. At several points during my experiment it’s been tough.

But the one thing that has been a huge help and critical to keeping me going and getting back on track has been my Fitbit buddies Brittany and Jennifer.

Everyday since I’ve been back from Arizona I’ve looked at the Fitbit leader boards and seen myself at the bottom of the weekly average.  And in a weird way this has motivated me to get back to where I was before my trip to Arizona.

Besides that, it’s also been inspiring to see both Brittany and Jennifer take off and increase their daily averages.

And in my conversations with Brittany she’s shared some interesting, creative and entertaining details about how she’s raised her daily average.

She explained to me that on certain days she has nightly Fitbit stepping challenges with her boyfriend Brad as they walk around their apartment trying to out step each other.

I loved hearing at that story from Brittany because it’s both entertaining and encouraging to think when we share our Fitbit experiences with others and the benefits self-tracking have the power to inspired others to create that sort of positive and fun behavior change. And I’m looking forward to experiencing that with Colleen too. More on that in a moment.

What’s Better Than Competition…?

But one thing that I love the most about learning more about Brittany and Brad’s experience is that it’s not really about competition. In the end, for me, it’s about creating and fostering community.

Having a mini Fitbit buddy community like the one I have with Brittany and Jennifer and the other Fitbit users is such a game-changer. And unfortunately, so many people try to do something like this by themselves and it doesn’t last or they don’t get a much out of it as they could.

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And one of the other things I like about the Fitbit user experience is that they make it easy to quickly challenge or encourage each other with the “cheer”, “taught” or message.”

All of those functions are in good fun and have been things I both given and received during my experience and it’s been a blast doing so!

And in case you aren’t convince yet, here’s some research data from experiencelife.com

A 2011 study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise found that the exercise habits of people you know have a positive influence on your exercise habits.

Another study, from the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University, surveyed married couples who joined health clubs together and found that couples who worked out separately had a 43 percent dropout rate over the course of a year. Those who went to the gym together, regardless of whether they focused on the same type of exercise, had only a 6.3 percent dropout rate.

So if you’re thinking of starting to do self-tracking or trying a similar Fitbit or other fitness personal challenge, I highly encourage you to find someone you know and ask them to join you in your quest.

This is probably one of the most important things you can do when you’re starting out with self-tracking or trying to develop a new behavior to stay healthy.

If you can’t find someone you know, you can always check out the Fitbit community. And just a quick note for those of you who primarily use the mobile app: You can only connect with the Fitbit community groups on the website login on the main navigation.

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Giving Props To Fitbit Support, Upgrading To The One Tracker

I started this experiment with the Fitbit Ultra and in my first post I mentioned that one week later they discountined the Ultra and unveiled the One.

So over the last several weeks, I was having some issues with my Ultra. It wasn’t tracking or syncing properly.  I did all the necessary software updates and re-syncing but the issues still remained.

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During this process I emailed back and forth with Fitbit support and explained my situation and after I told them I had tried all the trouble-shooting suggestions, they very kindly sent me a new Fitbit One as a replacement.

And I’d like to give big props to Fitbit and their support team for the great customer service. They were helpful and responded quickly in a way that took care of the problem and didn’t put a damper on our experiment.

The One tracker arrived on Friday, and for the last few days I’ve been using the One and I love it! And I’ll be sure to share more about my One experience.  I also ordered the new Flex for Colleen. The Flex doesn’t ship until the Spring and I’m looking forward to sharing some of her experiences too.

That’s it for this update. And stay tuned for the next update as I share some stories about what I’ve learned about earndit and Walgreens newly revamped Steps program.

Now It’s Your Turn To Step Up And Chime In

I need more Fitbit buddies, and I’d love to hear more about your experiences too.  Now, tell me how you’ve been using Fitbit to change your life.

It’s Up To You: A Call To Action For Community Managers and Social Business Leaders

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I’m thrilled to share with you some exciting news as we continue our exploration of community management!

This year I took an active role in helping to develop the research for The 2013 State of Community Management, a yearly industry report led by the Community Roundtable.

I’m honored to be part of the SOCM 2013 advisory board and contribute my community management successes, challenges and other experiences at Walgreens to help create the framework and goals of the survey. I strongly believe that business leaders put themselves at a big competitive disadvantage if they don’t realize the strategic impact that community management could have on their organization’s culture and bottom lines.

And as practitioners of community management we need to continue to communicate and demonstrate this important message to our leaders and the rest of the industry. And gathering data is one of the best ways to further prove and measure the true value of employee and customer communities to those who still see it as an add-on, instead of a key strategic driver, to achieving business objectives.

Why Gathering Data Is Important

And that’s where data and measurement come in, because that’s what gets attention and helps connect the dots for business leaders at all levels of the organization.

It’s only with data that we can begin to gain traction and position community management as a legitimate practice and indispensable science that can not only support but also drive real business results.

And that’s why I’m pumped, and honored, to be a part of the team that’s helping to push things forward. I firmly believe that this repot will help drive us closer to where we need to be by gathering more contextual data and industry feedback on the subject and state of community management within organizations – essentially find out what’s working and what’s not and what are the key lessons being learned.

In summary, these are the main objectives, key themes and questions explored in the 2013 State of Community Management:

  • Prove how community supports business goals and answer two big questions: 1) What do business communities look like and what is the value of community? and 2) What does community management look like and what is the value of community management?
  • Benchmark against other organizations: The 2013 report will focus on quantifying the performance of communities by collecting data about company demographics, community programs, community profiles and community management.
  • Build a roadmap of future community initiatives by delivering data that can be used to better inform community program decisions.

Now It’s Up To You

Okay, now this is your chance to help contribute and influence the present and future of community management by taking the survey, sending in your feedback and letting your voice be heard.

Note: Three survey participants will receive a custom research presentation with performance benchmarks for their organization, worth $7,500 each.

Thanks again for taking the survey and please spread the word to other community managers and social business leaders who might be interested in helping out!

Live Fix Radio Episode 38: New Live Albums from Eels and Mumford & Sons

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On this episode of Live Fix Radio we’re paying tribute to the fiery live performance of late Chicago bluesman Magic Slim, and sharing highlights and stories from the new releases by Mumford & Sons and Eels. Rock on and thanks for listening!

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Show Notes

News and other cool stuff we talked about:

  • Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z’s  summer tour
  • Adelle performs Skyfall first time live at Oscars

 

Music featured during the show:

 

Got a thought on this show or an awesome idea for a future episode of Live Fix Radio? Drop a comment below or share your feedback and concert stories with us on Twitter @livefixmediaFacebook , Google Plus, or call the concert fan hotline at 773-609-4341.