Post by Tanya Maslach, contributing Women On Business writer
The other day I enjoyed a bite to eat with a friend of mine, rock star-business woman extraordinaire, Karen Boyle of www.LearningGurus.com. This is a term I don’t use lightly, and although my casual California-lifestyle has imprinted on me a rather equally casual use of the English language, my guess is you easily have a good taste for what this woman is made of.
We spent most of the time discussing business matters and her next strategic steps for conquering the world’s most pressing issues. Switching gears, and between bites of my ginger infused cous cous, I asked her to tell me what she thought of my opinion poll I had sent out earlier that morning. To which she easily answered, “Oh I never got it. I woke up this morning, hit the power button on my laptop and without so much of a burp, or a blink, the thing did nothing.” Her absolute comfort disarmed me. It was 11:30 am and she’d been offline for at least three hours. My head started to spin.
For those who know me well, they know I’m a somewhat animated conversationalist. Hearing this made me dive right in with questions, like “Are you okay? How ARE you doing it? What happened? When will it get fixed?” Fortunately, I reserve this kind of approach to getting information for friendly conversations. In this case, as in most, it’s mildly amusing if not borderline annoying. But it did reveal interesting news.
She wasn’t too worried about it.
What she was worried about was her mom. You see, it was her mom’s birthday and even though she’d spoken with her that morning, she’d sent her a gift card for a chocolate massage as a gift. (Lovely, by the way) She’d planned on using her email to send it. All she was worried about now? Her mom not getting the birthday gift. To heck with all the business she had stuck in the circuitry of her non-working processing chip.
So what the heck does this have to do with business anyway?
First of all, I find it amusing how we’ve come to personalize our gadgetry. Recall, my friend used the words “burp” and “wink” to describe her dysfunctional laptop.
To be sure, technology has a long way to go to take the place of what humans do; wink, burp or otherwise. Yes, I know, there are robots that can do such things, but stay with me here a minute. Technology is a tool, ultimately. It can be used for sparking a relationship, a la LinkedIn and Facebook, but it cannot employ emotion and intimacy to genuinely build, strengthen or maintain a relationship, especially like the ones that matter when times call for it; a mom on her birthday, an informational interview with a VP at a potential Fortune 500 employer, or a challenging product conversation with team members operating virtually across cultural borders.
So get on with your bad self and your iPhone, Blackberry and ultra-cool MacBook Air. Just remember, your gadgetry may get you in the door, but it won’t distinguish you from the crowd ….
Onward and upward!