A Labor Intensive Effort

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Cutting the digital umbilical cord – that’s the first thing that popped into my mind when presented with “Labor”for this summer ending theme. It seemed a fitting thought, an appropriate bookend for how Ibegan the summer with talk of a digital Independence Day.

For Labor Day weekend, however, my purpose in tugging free from my usual on-line fetters lay on the opposite end of the scale. This time my tech-free intentions were all about productivity. Angling into fall, I found myself looking at a pleasantly full roster of speaking engagements along with a considerable stack of writing deadlines. The only way Icould focus long enough to sort my thoughts and get clarity around talking themes and the all-important development of artful, sassy slides to accompany them was to remove all interruptions.

Extricating myself from distractions of Twitter and Facebook, Itook it a step further. I went analog That’s right, the good old-fashioned way – notebook, pen and a comfy seat at the beach. It didn’t hurt that the weather on this particular day happened to be one of San Francisco’s real stunners – clear skies, low 70s (for those measuring by Fahrenheit, of course) and not a cloud in the sky. Normally fleece clad San Franciscan’s flocked to the waterfront at Chrissy Field, providing an even better source of inspiration than the meandering gaze that so often accompanies my on-line train of thought.

I don’t know about you, but when Iwrite on-line, even if I’ve closed off the persistent pings of email and social networks, there is a tendency to wander off my mark into the waist high weeds of digital distraction. I may have a thought on a topic that takes me to a browser search bar, which then leads to the trip down the rabbit hole. Suddenly it’s an hour later, I’ve discovered any number of great YouTube videos about cats on skateboards and perhaps even learned a new word or two, but I’ve likely lost any momentum from the initial sentence that sent me seeking in the first place.

By taking this activity away from the temptations of the digital labryinth those moments of pondering may wander to watch kids building a sandcastle, aerial feats of a seagull or wayward kite-boarder … in either case the distraction can help rest the brain and provide a creative injection.

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Even more important, I find the act of putting physical pen to paper slows the rat-a-tat-tat that usually accompanies my crafting of prose. When at a keyboard my fingers fly at a pretty rapid clip, so thoughts no sooner appear in my mind than they slip onto the screen. As best I try, my hand with pen cannot maintain such a pace. After a few cramped attempts, my rhythm slows and with it more methodical thoughts begin to weave.

The result? On this glorious San FranciscoLabor Day, I formulated three speech outlines, four blog posts … and got a great tan to boot.

About The Author

What began for me as a career telling other people’s stories has evolved into a journey of helping others tell their stories for themselves. I'm a “classically trained” Journalist whose passion for communications began with my first job ripping wire copy in 1982 and has evolved to encompass nearly every platform and aspect of media – from reporting and editing to broadcast management, talent casting and guest booking. I've also curated content for several of the tech industry’s leading conferences. It was after finding myself engaged as an activist for LGBT equal rights that I began to explore the way in which personal stories inform and influence people’s everyday lives and I began using my tech background to teach people to make these connections of personal stories, using new technologies as the medium. Presently I run my own consulting firm in San Francisco, working with companies and individuals helping them navigate the crowded waterways of new technologies with the express purpose of leveraging these rapidly evolving platforms to tell their stories. Through workshops, seminars and strategic consulting services, I walk clients through the story-telling process and towards the kind of deep engagement that comes from truly authentic communication.

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