This weekend has been the first truly quiet days on my calendar in over seven weeks.  The new baby, run-up to Lotusphere, wonderful visiting relatives, and travel have all combined to keep things going non-stop for the last couple of months.  It's no surprise that therefore, my main instinct this weekend was to do absolutely nothing as much as possible, which I've mostly succeeded at.

All of that intensity at once comes at the start of every year, but the contrast this year to the prior period was stark.  Putting aside the seventeen weeks of bliss we've had with baby Chloe and her blossoming big sister, I had essentially stopped traveling after Australia last August, and only started back up four months later.  We're all, obviously, still adjusting to our new roles and routines.  My instincts when traveling have been off; I find myself so aware of having complete solitude in a hotel room that it feels necessary or even urgent that I do as much as possible in those solo hours.  When I returned home from Saskatchewan a week ago, I was utterly exhausted -- having worked until midnight most nights, in a probably-unnecessary and certainly unhealthy fashion.  Sure, I slept on airplanes and played Bejeweled Blitz to distract myself, but mostly, I was feeling the post-Lotusphere pressure to dig in and get busy on our 2010 objectives.  

Everything around me has suffered a bit, and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I haven't been blogging off-topic at all lately, and even my weekly column in the Chicago Tribune's Triblocal Highland Park edition was briefly stalled.  Twitter -- sure, I can keep up with useful Twitter use most days, though even there, I was shaken a bit when someone I respect, radio tech show host Alex Goldfayn, asserted that nobody cared what airplane I was on in which day:

Other companies, and especially many executives, are using social media to give updates on what meeting they're in, where they are on vacation, or what plane they're getting on. This is more harmful than helpful: it's boring, nobody cares, and you're actually creating  distance between yourself and your consumers. Most consumers in your target market don't live like you. Stop telling them how great and interesting you have it.

Instead, teach them about your products. Give tips, tricks, techniques, suggestions. Take questions. Give something away. Help people.

Whether on social media or in the real world, orient everything to your customers' self-interests, not your own.
While I seem to resemble Alex's remarks, I don't entirely agree with him.  My travel movement-related microblogging has resulted in many a happy social media moment, from better connection to customers, discovery of new restaurants and establishments, and even the occasional in-person meetup.  And for sure, I do not believe all that so-called glamorous business travel is really "great and interesting."  

But Alex is right, perhaps I can put a different angle on some of that.  Of course, the hard part here is, at least for now, I have just one identity on Twitter, where all my worlds collide.  I have toyed with a second Twitter personality, but it doesn't feel as genuine to try to segment by audience.  It seems the exact opposite of what the whole concept of following someone really means, as opposed to being connected or linked or friended or buzzed.

The travel calendar is busy in the next few weeks, with Lotusphere Comes to You in Munich/Hamburg/Dusseldorf/Cologne/Madrid/Barcelona, and presumably more to be added.  For sure, though, I'm going to approach this time period differently than I have so far this year.  Of course, almost by default, these upcoming cities are a little more interesting than Saskatoon in February (no offense, Jason, it was just too cold to do anything!), so that will help.  But I need a bit of a mental shift as well.  Maybe that means lingering over one more beer in Munich, one more tapa in Barcelona, to hear one more story or create one more memory.  The emails and conference calls will still be there; sleep can be managed.  Life, however, keeps rolling, and as I am now reminded, I want to keep living these moments, with all of you as part of the storyline.

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