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I am honored to be nominated by Thorsten Franz via his excellent Blog It Forward post and happy to join the Blog It Forward challenge. I’m also challenged by the fine company and the Blog It Forward questions and hope to to provide a worthy next link in the chain.

I know Thorsten to be a fine fellow, an incredibly supportive ally, enthusiastic and involved, and always miraculously able to pull through at just the right moment when I’m having a bad day or a root canal or something like that.  He also said the finest thing about me: “As far as I can tell, she has a big heart, a powerful brain, and a taste for good whisk(e)y, and what more can you ask for in a person?” All this, and I’ve never met this fine fellow. I only know him via Twitter.

This is the way it is with so many SAP Mentors.  If I encounter a kind word from a colleague, a retweet of a human rights concern that is important to me or my family, support for personal initiatives, or just a simple acknowledgement of some random moment of my day, more often than not I’ll look up the colleague and find that he or she is, indeed, an SAP Mentor.  This is the essence of the soul of SAP – we go above and beyond toil, labor, effort, and other things commonly known as “work” because we’re part of a community. I’m honored to be included by such an outstanding group.

Introduction

My name is Moya Watson and today is my daughter Lucy’s eighth birthday. I myself was born decades ago in California before there were computers or cell phones or Katy Perry — which pretty much makes me a California girl.

/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/computers_earlydays_133194.jpgMy first computer was a Macintosh SE without a hard drive — the box shape you sometimes see used as a doorstop these days. I’ve been working in the software industry since before some of my colleagues were born. My first job was testing German DOS-based software at a San Francisco Bay Area establishment called Power Up Software.  Back in the 1990’s I hand-coded my very first web site and you can find it to this day right here:  http://monkeybrains.net/~moya/

When everything old is new again

It’s amazing to me to contrast this with my daughter, who uses all the very latest iPhones, iPods, tablets, Androids, and even a few Windows devices, largely because of OTIVO — my wife Leanne Waldal’s QA and usability company.  Because OTIVO needs them for testing, we tend to get all the latest devices delivered straight to our house.  Last week’s new thing is old for testing, so our girl gets it.  I like to think in more ways than one.

I often wonder about what our shiny new devices of today will look like decades from now, amongst other relics of the past. 

I hope when we look at them it’s not as waste in a landfill, but transformed into newly sustainable objects, from cradle to cradle to cradle…

/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/ipad_133211.jpg

Random matters

Sometimes I think I must be known for random rejoinders and seeming strangely off- topic but for me SAP brings it all together, because if we’re going to help the world run better nothing in the world is out of bounds, and if it seems that way now it’s just because we haven’t arrived there yet.  My personal favorite blog post I ever wrote on SCN was Michael Wesch and Web 2.0: “Rethink Love” because, among other things, it talks about astronauts and it introduced me to Marilyn Pratt and I wrote it on my daughter’s birthday five years ago.  On a day like today because of the magic and gift of my girl I get to rethink, and I’m new again.

LAURAleanne-waldal-148.jpgThorsten’s Blog It Forward questions

I’m going to be frank and emote what first comes into my head, answering these now without looking at anyone else’s answers first to try to remain authentic.  I’ll probably wish I’d gone back and changed something later.

1.What is the best you can teach others, or share with others?

I ask myself this every day, and it’s a really great question for today.  My immediate reaction is that I don’t know any best way.  In my hyper-valuation of diversity, it’s most important to me that everybody is the best they themselves can be, and to me this means I don’t have the one best of anything to teach.  It’s just me.  Then I need to have my second reaction, because if I can’t respect my own “teachings,” I can’t pass on a good model to my girl. 

So I guess I’ll boil it down to this: Be kind.

2.Suppose you won $ 500,000,000 in the lottery. Let’s allow for two years of reckless spending and fulfilling yourself some dreams – after that initial phase is over, what do you want to be and do?

I’d try to take care of the future of the planet the best way I know: To help the next generations.  I would make sure my daughter is as well provided for as possible, with material concerns like housing taken care of, so she can focus on an extraordinary future.  I would hope she will want to go to college, and I’d make sure college is funded so she doesn’t have to be burdened with debt. This is an incredibly non-hypothetical situation for me — take a look for yourselves what it would cost to save for and go to college today: http://www.archimedes.com/vanguard/csp.phtml.  There’s $300,000 off the top easy.  Double that if she wants to go to Stanford.  Double that again for grad school. How many of us are millionaires? Raise your hands!  This is what it takes to put your kid through college.

So thanks Thorsten — that 500 million will come in really handy towards making a dent in Lucy’s college expenses 🙂

3.Marilyn’s question: Describe an instance when empathy in a project, development, collaboration, work experience, or community interaction turned a situation around (or should have).

Another greate question.  So many things come to mind, including many “should have’s”!

I’ll describe the very first such interaction I can remember where I was actually able to turn it around.

/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/hair_133212.jpgBack in 1988 I was living in Germany and had a thing for getting my ears pierced and hair cut by friends.  It didn’t usually occur to me that people thought I looked unusual, so when people stared I was surprised.  Once, while riding on a bus with dozens of older Germans, I found a woman staring at me with what looked like hostility.  This scared me and I was tempted to glare back – and sometimes, on bad days, this is exactly what happens.  Perceived mean begets more mean; the cycle perpetuates.

Except that this once, I was compelled to do the opposite.  I focused my gaze and directed a sincere and welcoming smile to her.  The results were instant — her face softened and broke into a huge grin.

We became friends, and we’re friends to this day.

I guess this hearkens back to question #1 above: 

You don’t always know.

I might even have been wrong perceiving her initial staring as hostile. 

Expect the best. 

Be open to differences. 

Be open to being wrong. 

Take a sad song — and make it better. 

Reduce, reuse — recycle.

Make the world a better place.

Blogging It Forward

I would like to Blog It Forward to Karin Tillotson, Greg Chase, and Jim Spath:

  • Karin Tillotson because she’s one of those people I knew at first only via Twitter, and I’ve greatly admired her tech savvy both in the SAP realm and beyond as a general “technically women” partner-in-crime.  The first time we were in the same place at the same time, she made a purpose to seek me out and come up and give me a great big hug.  She’s another one of those who gives SAP heart and soul as well as savvy.
  • Greg Chase because he’s also got the knowledge and smarts and mouthpiece and is unafraid to use them.  He’s a moral compass, a straight-shooter, an “affinity” colleague, and has very silly revolving names on Facebook.  He also has a very adorable doggie – or is it two or three, in the meantime?
  • Jim Spath because I know so little about him but just enough to suspect he’s an iconoclast, who, similar to me, may or may not participate in memes.  My great respect for this man.

For you, my friends, I respectfully submit the following questions:

  1. In the spirit of “everything old is new again,” we have some serious issues facing the globe, and crumbling financial institutions may or may not be a passing fad.  Imagine your work life. What will SAP be like in 10 years? What would you be doing here for your daily work then?
  2. What is the best thing you’ve ever given to someone?
  3. Extra credit:  Imagine today is your birthday. What are you going to do and who will you celebrate with?

And finally

Please follow the Blog It Forward Chain in order to be updated when Karin or Greg or any other members of the community blog it forward. Also, please join the fun (see the original blog on how to do it)!

And have a happy birthday!

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10 Comments

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  1. Tammy Powlas

    Moya Watson

    First Happy Birthday Lucy!  So great to know you via Twitter as well. 

    I like your message too to be kind.  I like the way you responded to perceived hostility with a smile.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Tammy

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  2. Kristen Scheffler

    Thank you for your thoughtful post 🙂   There are so many things I loved about it, but especially touching for me was the “Hey Jude”  quote.  My basketball coach in high school had a special affinity for that song, and every road trip home, we sang it to him.  He would break down a little each time, and finally we had asked him, why that song made him sad.  To our surprise, he wasn’t sad at all, but hopeful that we would take the words in that song and learn to live by them to make the world a better place.  I only hope to live up to those great expectations.  Thanks Moya, and a very happy birthday to Lucy 🙂

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  3. Susan Keohan

    Hi Moya,

    I am so happy you took up Thorsten’s #blogitforward challenge!  He is a very special person indeed, as I know you are.

    I saw the picture of you and Lucy on this day, eight years ago, and was immediately overwhelmed with those fine memories myself.  So Happy Birthday to Lucy!

    Of course, you are very modest for not mentioning an outstanding effort of yours, the recent “It gets better” video, which I hope every person will watch, and take to heart.

    AND, you have excellent taste in your #blogitforward people!  I have the great pleasure to know all three, and they are excellent people.

    Thanks,
    Sue

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    1. Moya Watson Post author

      What a nice thing to say Audrey – thanks for letting me know the post comes across as I intended…  Empathy, I think.  Gratitude — also important.  Too often we’re conditioned to think gratitude and empathy mean that people are just being fake or not honest.  Honesty doesn’t at all just mean slamming people or topics.

      Bit of a digression I realize… thanks for providing a road to that tangent.

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  4. Marilyn Pratt

    Pardon for only catching up to this post now.  Thank you for answering the “empathy” question, as you are a role model for many of us in that very topic, and for me personally long before I began to explore it’s meaning in SAP development, design and collaboration. 

    Yes, we met through your pointing at Michael Wesch and Web 2.0: “Rethink Love” in your excellent blog post here ….way back when.  That blog became the basis for a deeper relationship with the ASUG organization and was incorporated into a keynote I gave many years ago to ASUG leadership on Web 2.0 and why it revolutionized the “meaning” of data.  So in many ways you, Moya, are indirectly the link between myself

    Susan Keohan Jim Spath Karin  Tillotson Gretchen Lindquist and many others in the ASUG community.  Bet you didn’t know that!  Good example of “blogging it forward” before the bif concept too!

    And so this blog mark’s the eighth birthday of your daughter, the fifth birthday of your Michael Wesch blog and an anniversary of our friendship.

    I love the question “what is the best thing you’ve ever given someone”.  It’s a very complex question because if we were to empathize with the receiver, really step into their shoes to know, we might discover amazing and unexpected answers.  It’s a question that begs another question really as in:  “what is the best thing one could possibly give you”.   If we did this more with our customers, stakeholders, community, end-users, and then really, really listened and worked with integrity to deliver, we might delight not only them, but ourselves in knowing that we were able to give “the best”.

    For me from a community perspective, it’s simply: relevance, recognition and respect.  Imagine software that delivered those things.

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    1. Moya Watson Post author

      > So in many ways you, Moya, are indirectly the link between myself

      Susan Keohan Jim Spath Karin  Tillotson Gretchen Lindquist and many others in the ASUG community.  Bet you didn’t know that! 

      I did indeed not have any idea about that.  Once again the perspective of Marilyn Pratt is a blessing.  And thank you for answering the ‘gifting’ question — you’re right, it does have to do with empathy, though I didn’t think of it that way at the time.

      Coincidentally — i just saw this for the first time:

      http://www.jd-od.com/2011/11/21/what-would-marilyn-pratt-do/

      #WWMD 🙂

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  5. Suseelan Hari

    Hi Moya,

    I liked the tatoo in that blog! Its awesome and nicely written.

    Keep up the good work! All the best for your future career!

    We all support you and your blogs! 🙂

    Regards,

    Hari Suseelan

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