A view of Brunel University, Uxbridge
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Last night I did my first stand-up proper talk to non-IBMers and Brunel University to the West London Business group, with Wendy Tarr.

It was a scary thing. I’ve always been a behind the scenes person ever since school where me and a friend would always volunteer to be stagehands on the school play in September, just so we wouldn’t be cast in the actual show – and it worked.

It’s not so much  that I don’t want to be up there, although that is true too. It is the incredible nervousness I get which is uncontrollable.

As for last night, well I think I can live with myself still, haven’t been beating myself up too much about it over night. It obviously isn’t going to win any awards, but no one was throwing eggs either.  Have to say the set-up with a mic on a stand was rather annoying – it got in the way. I had no notes and couldn’t see which slides were on the screen behind me about 20 feet in the air.

I had worked out my opening. I thought, get on the right track and then roll with it. I felt I lost my way at one point, but then at another a strange sort of calm came over me. The brain is a rather crazy thing.

After Wendy had done a great presentation with her always smiling face (I probably have a look for delivering bad news) we had a Q&A session which I really enjoyed.  The question were what I expected (apart from the guy that asked what a wiki was) and I think I probably made up for the poorer performance on my talk. We even had an ex-IBMer there who had worked in IBM for 10 years and said it was the best place he had ever been. He wasn’t a plant, never seen him before, honest, guv.

When we arrived, the guy that was running it, John Bolt, said, “So you guys must go around on the circuit doing this sort of thing all the time, where else have you been?” We both looked at each other and smiled.

After, we grabbed some food (was I hungry now) and a few people came over and started asking questions. It was really nice and everyone was so polite, handed us cards, we apologised for not having any but by this time we had already said, “Google us.”

So what came out of the evening? Well we talked about Jams quite a bit. One of the Uni guys wants to do something with IBM on a Jam. People were amazed at out “lack of policing” the social web and how we encourage people to be brand ambassadors. There was also a perception that IBM is very big brother in the meetings we run, thinking that every recording from a meeting is sent to HQ for someone to vet it. We certainly put them straight on that.

What is obvious is that the fear of getting social on the web is outweighing the benefits it can bring to a collaborative way of working in an ever increasing global economy. Perhaps through necessity we have found that it does work, with the right culture, management and values in place.

Many thanks to John and all the people at West London Business and Brunel University for asking me and Wendy along.

And of course, big thanks to Wendy. It was great working on this with her.

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