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Do you remember the moment that someone really catches your attention? I think it’s really interesting to examine the moment in time that another human being caused you to pause and listen. A moment in time that you said to yourself, “I want to learn more about this person.” Sometimes it’s so fleeting that you can’t really put your finger on it. Sometimes it’s like a baseball bat to the face.
What I find even more interesting is that it isn’t always for the obvious reasons. Sometimes it’s the nuances that make impact. A few months ago, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Ungeeked Elite Conference in Milwaukee. Of the many interesting people I met there, one of them had a definite impact on me, and I didn’t even get to meet her formally.
Liz Strauss, social web strategist and community builder is a veritable force of nature. Before Ungeeked Elite, I had heard of her, followed the SOBCON twitter hashtag, and read her blog from time to time. In my quest to try to figure out why some people “get” social media (read: relationships) and why some don’t, I found her blog to be a great resource. But it wasn’t the thing that made me sit up and pay attention. It was a story. A story and a matchbook.
Liz came to Ungeeked Elite to express congratulations and show true respect for the conference’s founder and organizer, CD Vann. She told a story about her father, a tavern owner who understood relationships at a level that “strategists” today may never achieve. His patrons considered him “a personal friend”. Liz recalls a few stories here: My Father’s Saloon — A Blogging Story. These are the stories that resonated with me. It was her connection to her father and the way that she has used what she learned from him to become who she is today. Her business card today looks like the matchbook from her father’s tavern. The matchbook read, “You are only a stranger but once.” I love that. I love even more that her father didn’t just convey that message to his patrons in word. He showed them by his actions.
Liz coming to Milwaukee, in person, was what I imagine her father would have done, what I know my father would do. It’s the kind of thing I wish I saw more of these days. Real, actual effort to support others in your network. It’s a little harder, a little more time consuming. It’s an investment of time and effort. It’s the kind of thing that earns my admiration.
I truly believe that if we stop for a minute and think back to earlier generations of truly great businessmen and women, and examine what they did that made them successful in work and in life, I think we’d find that the common thread is that they actually gave a crap about their customers, friends, and community. They put forth the extra effort. They were truly invested in their relationships.
It’s so easy to talk the talk on social networks. It takes more effort to walk the walk. It takes more than just a retweet or a pat on the back to support a community. Dive in. Become part of, well, something, anything. Make an impact. Make an investment in relationships. Help someone succeed. You may find that the returns you get are more than you may have expected. It’s not new. But clearly, some people seem to have forgotten. Liz hasn’t.
That moment when Liz spoke about her father was the moment of impact. More than a successful blogger, strategist, and SOBCON founder, she was the kind of person for whom I’d like to buy a drink, and listen to her story. With a story and a matchbook, she made me want to shut my big mouth and learn something.