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Unleash Your Inner Pioneer

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Keynote at the 2012 Beyond BTOP conference in Colorado Springs, CO.

Keynote at the 2012 Beyond BTOP conference in Colorado Springs, CO.


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  • When I think about colorado, I think about pioneers.
  • Here are some of those folk, searching for a better life. These three women are standing outside of their sod house on the NE prairie. That’s my great grandma, my grandma, and my great aunt around 1905.
  • When I think of Colorado, I think of pioneers. I think of those hardscrabble folk who wanted something better, who chose a difficult path to make a change, to learn, or to achieve something great. For many, it was to have a better life. I think of this quote. Or this book. Well, not really, but since there’s a female complement—and it’s a book—I thought I’d make certain both genders were represented.
  • And my family did. That’s great aunts and cousins around 1910. That sweet little girl on the bottom left is my grandma Washburn. She and her aunt and mom left the NE prairie to arrive in Minturn, CO, where this picture was taken. They were just regular folk, searching for something new. Helping each other out, joining other family members and friends in this new adventure.
  • What characterized pioneers was confidence. Moxie. A desire for something better. Someone who pushed boundaries. That’s the pioneer spirit. But hey didn’t do it alone.
  • But …. I was curious. Trailblazing: environmental impact and financial costs (300% more than projected)
  • Do you see yourself in this definition? Nod yes or no. (give them 2 buttons)
  • What about this definition? Do you see yourself here? That’s ok. If there’s one constant theme that has emerged from all of my work with libraries, it’s that you’re modest. It’s a lovely trait. You don’t even know what rockstars you all are. My staff and I talk to a lot of folks at libraries, and we often hear, “oh, I’m not doing anything that you’d be interested in. That’s nothing.” To which we often remark, “something that’s “oh that’s nothing” to you might be an aha! To someone else. And I can tell you it ALWAYS is.
  • One way of discovering your inner pioneer is to think about where you want to go, what you want to do that’s moving you forward. It’s ok to be unsure; it’s uncharted territory.
  • After all of this hard work you’ve done, it’s time to step out and do things differently. You have change in front of you, and your pioneer spirit to guide you. Write on big post-its what you worried (red) and what you learned (blue). 2x for 5 minutes each (10 minutes) SW: read worries
  • Let’s prove that you’re a pioneer and you’re not that lone modest one. SW reads worries without mates. She reads them out loud, asking the BTOP crew to fill in who can help. Calling cards: Calling cards streamlined introductions and helped remind people of new acquaintances and needed visits.
  • Successful libraries: Ask for help Share their worries Accept help Are constantly learning Are pushing boundaries
  • Transcript

    • 1. Colorado Springs, CO November 9, 2012
    • 2. Go!
    • 3. pi· o· neernoun 1. One who ventures into unknown or unclaimed territory to settle. 2. One who opens up new areas of thought, research, or development: a pioneer in aviation.adjective 1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of early settlers: the pioneer spirit. 2. Leading the way; trailblazing They didn’t do it alone.
    • 4. A pioneer isn’t just about “firsts”• First rodeo: 1869• First woman legislator: 1894• First cheeseburger: 1935• First (and only) state to reject an Olympics: 1976
    • 5. pi· o· neernoun 1. One who ventures into unknown or unclaimed territory to settle. 2. One who opens up new areas of thought, research, or development: a pioneer in aviation.adjective 1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of early settlers: the pioneer spirit. 2. Leading the way; trailblazing
    • 6. mod· estadjective 1. Having or showing a moderate estimation of ones own talents, abilities, and value. 2. Having or proceeding from a disinclination to call attention to oneself; retiring or diffident. Synonym: see shy. 3. Observing conventional proprieties in speech, behavior, or dress. 4. Free from showiness or ostentation; unpretentious.
    • 7. The plight of the modest pioneer
    • 8. Activity: unleash it1. Find your partners.2. Ask your partner two questions: • What worries you? (Something you want to implement or do. Do not answer “money or “time”.) • What did you learn during BTOP? - Or - What can you do now that you couldn’t before?1. Write down your partner’s answers. (worry = pink; learn = blue)
    • 9. Find your pioneering partner…1. Add your worries & learns to the wall. (Place worries on one side and learns on the other side.)1. Find learns that solve the worries.2. Place the matches next to each other.
    • 10. Matchmaking with calling cards
    • 11. Go pioneers! Pioneer to-do list  Seek uncharted territory (for you and your library).  Plan for it.  Try it!  Remember you’re not alone.
    • 12. Unleash!Sarah Washburn Sarah@TechSoupGlobal.orgTechSoupforLibraries.org