Well I’ve been back a week now after my five week trip around Europe and settled back into listening how bad everything is with the world by listening to Radio 4 again. I do prefer it when I can’t understand a damn thing that is going on – ignorance, as far as the media goes can be bliss.
OK, so in all I spent 3 full weeks (plus a few days) in Denmark and 4 days in Berlin and 3.5 in Istanbul. Without doubt I clocked up more miles in the past 5 weeks than in my firt 13 years at IBM. It may seem strange that this travel has come at such a time with 4th quarter being notoriously hard to travel in for nearly all companies but it was all organised quite a while ago.
First of all it is a great privilege to have been asked to go do what I like best of all to do at work (social media) and especially in Denmark, which for me has been a revelation. On a personal level stress and anxiety was reduced to almost zero. That probably has as much to do with the way of life, much calmer driving, less traffic and lovely food in the canteen. My waist is testament to that.
So I was there to share, for what it’s worth, what I know and do in internal comms with the Danish comms team. Actually they know quite a bit. They really just needed someone with a lack of diplomacy and nothing to lose locally, to kick things off and turn that academic knowledge into actions.
I certainly wouldn’t call myself a consultant of any sort but I guess that’s what the job was, so it was a great learning experience for me to try to advise on what to do rather than just getting on with doing it myself. It was made a whole lot more fun by the people I met and worked with.
So after the first week I vanished from Denmark to re-appear in Berlin at the Web2.0 Expo. This was an award for being nominated a Most Valuable Social Software Ambassador in IBM, along with about 18 others. Seeing all those people that had up to then only been a picture on BluePages. It was even odder to sit next to them as they twittered about what we were doing – usually all I get from others about Twitter is mild amusement if not ridicule.
To see friends like Helena Lindh (Sweden), Andy Piper (UK) and Luis Suarez (Holland, Gran Canaria, US – read his blog) was great, as was to make new friends in Karen Tipping (Australia) Silvia Mihailescu (Romania on assignment in Germany), Jean-Francois Arseneault (Canada) and finally meet Steve Cogan (UK) to name just a few.
The expo itself was ok, great location and venue, good food and even nice weather. The content was probably nothing new for many of us. Indeed IBM’s Gina Poole was presenting “Web2.0 Goes to Work” many of us have seen but was new to the audience, in fact it was well packed. You can also watch a video of Luis talking about Life outside the in-box on YouTube.
It was then back to Denmark and two weeks of workshops and drawing up a plan to get things organised, actually the trip to Berlin was very timely as the discussions we had gave me some ideas on what to do back in Copenhagen – which was essentially bring together keen social media types with the comms team.
After visits to the zoo, Malmo, Roskilde and many cafés for brunch (sorry I still squirm a little over that word) I was off to Istanbul to help cover the Business Leadership Forum for w3 (our intranet site), blog and Twitter – #blf6) with Ethan McCarty our W3-Editor-in-Chief. Again a great honour to be asked to go and continue the work I had done earlier in the year Twittering from the Forum on Global Leadership, where the results of the Global CEO Study were released.
Although I didn’t see a great deal of Istanbul what I saw was amazing. I also got to work with a great bunch of people. To say I was a little intimidated is an understatement. To say the locations for the evening events were nice, is taking the mickey. Apart from having a banging headache for most of the afternoon and evening on the first day of the event (and doing nothing about it, rather silly) it was a wonderful experience. I really like the high octane buzz you get from a fast moving event. Although you want to sleep for a whole days afterwards it is very rewarding.
Heading home (Copenhagen) after the event I had finally got used to and into a pattern with planes. Just being organised at the airport can make a whole heap of difference.
The last few days in Copenhagen were spent enjoying the city, wandering around, visiting the Christmas market at Tivoli and of course packing.
My wife and the kids had a great time. Phoebe especially got to play in lots of new playgrounds and indoor play areas like Experimentarium and The National Museum of Denmark. I think by the end my wife was missing some of her friends and also food in London – although we were really surprised at the number of asian supermarkets around. From what you read on the web you would expect very few. Our hotel apartment was great and really helped us enjoy our stay, as did the welcome we had from the locals and especially the people in IBM Denmark.
And to the Danes, thanks for all the fish (my fridge is full of herring).