Not that! Avoid chasing fantasies!

I, umm, slipped?

Earlier today I had the opportunity to decline to make an offer, and I took it.

It felt pretty good, actually… since I have not always done that in my career.

With a lifetime as a consultant, I have felt an obligation to learn ahead of my client and to make quick assessments of my ability to take on more than I have handled in the past.

For a long stretch of my career, that has included teaching technical subjects through formal instructor-led training.

I often had the opportunity to study and play with technologies in ways my clients could not… if only because they had “day jobs” that consumed their available time.

Being a full-time traveling instructor gave me a lot of hotel time, flight time and time in-between classes to study, invent, test things out and learn in the process. Now, I should add that my first company was a training company, and we often looked for marketable courses that would be unique and drive premiums.

Oh, and I was younger then, and the choice of technologies was one of a few client/server platforms, one of a few databases… and the Internet was not enabling advancements as quickly or in quite the same way as it is today.

Anyway, there was an opening for me to make a training offer today, and rather than jump at it I referred my client to another company that provides formal training on the topic instead.

My team could give on-the-job training, or even an ad hoc session or two… we may still do that, but in my past firm we might have jumped right into developing formal courseware and offering open enrollment courses as a result of this kind of “opportunity”.

One of these guys needs a barber less than the others.

In my thinking, an opportunity is a situation with a real structure and real properties to take care of my concerns. So:

  1. A barber is not an opportunity for me because I have very little hair (no concern)
  2. My fairy godmother is not an opportunity for me… well, because I don’t have one (no real properties)
  3. The lottery is not an opportunity for me because I don’t play it (no structure to produce the outcome)

Back to my current situation… we don’t have the courseware, we don’t have years in the classroom teaching this material, and we have no intention (strategic coherence) to begin offering training at this time.

So you can sometimes see “opportunities” right in front of you, but it is critical to make assessments of their strategic coherence to your plans and offers, as well as your ability to make them real and exploit them for your success.

If you don’t, you will waste a lot of time, energy, money and lost “real” opportunities chasing after fantasies that can never help you succeed.

Have you chased after “false opportunities” before? How can you recognize them? What ways can you see that you might take a situation like that and create a different kind of opportunity from it?

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The world was flattened by a Panda

Who wouldn't see this coming?

This is a story about the day the web changed… probably forever.

No, no, not THAT day… the other one.

I first noticed about six weeks ago… and that is a key part of the story.

There I was, minding my business… doing what I love, inventing for people, developing strategies and working with great teams to create awesome and interactive content and capabilities using the Internet.

There is always so much more that we could do, and we all work within our own spaces, right?

I was in a social business setting and in the course of conversation someone mentioned they had googled my name, pressed “I feel lucky” and found a doctor with my name instead.

Now, I am Kenneth A. Faw and he is Kenneth D. Faw… and while we haven’t met, I am sure he must know about me since we have shared the first Google search page for many years.

A GREAT name and a nice smile, too!

He looks like a pretty nice guy, and it seems that he has an established medical practice, the Evergreen Sinus Center in Kirkland, WA. I haven’t been to Kirkland, WA, but I have been to a sinus doctor or two. There is nothing worse than a sinus infection for taking me out of the game.

Since 1993, if you did a Google search on “Ken Faw”, you would have found me at the top. In fact, I used to have the top 3, and then the following 5 after two of his.

I never had to do anything to get it there… after all, I work on the Internet all day, I had a blog for a short stint in 2006, I have spoken in almost 100 conference sessions in the last ten years and I have an uncommon name (I suppose I should say “WE” have an uncommon name).

So that is the key… I never had to do anything to get it there. I never explicitly felt entitled to the “top spot”, but I never took responsibility for being there. I never actually did anything.

I had read about the “Panda” updates to Google search algorithms, but hadn’t thought about them with respect to me before. Then I read this post by Chris Brogan that has a ten-minute video of the implications of the update, and I immediately thought of my namesake, Ken.

This Panda can flatten anything... and it probably should be so.

Then I thought of you… if I didn’t notice how the change happened, seemingly overnight to my personal brand (though it is talked about everywhere), and if I didn’t think about its deeper meanings, then maybe you haven’t either.

Now, you don’t have to be at the top of Google search. Neither do I. But to take anything for granted and then to learn it is no longer the case compels you to decide whether it matters to you.

For me, what’s important is the greater lesson of working in a social, global marketplace and being irresponsible for my identity… not specifically the Google search issue, but where else am I passively ignoring messaging about me on the medium that I use every day?

What are you doing to manage your message? People will find you on the web, especially if you work on it extensively. What do they find? Do you know? Do you care?

Share your thinking with others by posting a comment.