Mind Grenades

The keynote speaker at the 2013 Special Libraries Association annual conference in San Diego was Mike Walsh, a futurist and author of the book Futuretainment. He did a great job of highlighting some of the challenges we face as the future continues to open new opportunities for information professionals.

As his website proclaims, Walsh

is a leading authority on building business for the 21st century. Constantly traveling the world for the best ideas, Mike combines insights into emerging technology with a pragmatic ‘how-to’ approach to change that provides global business leaders with a roadmap for the future.

One of the key take-aways for me was the idea of a “mind grenade.” Most of us are familiar with the concept of something being so interesting, provocative, or revolutionary that it is “mind-blowing.” That catch-phrase has evolved, so now a great idea is like an explosive device for your gray matter – a mind grenade. Walsh rolled several of those into the crowd, and true to form, they made me think.

In one example, Walsh pointed out that we all have customers that are hung up on a particular pain point – products that don’t gain traction, statistics that are contradictory, or processes that don’t seem to be adapted to an agile, fast-changing workplace. To solve the problem, rather than bringing in more technical experts or marketing professionals, entrepreneurial companies are working with anthropologists and ethnographers. After all, what could be more enlightening than advice from someone who studies the science of humanity?

When you think about it, anthropologists should have some real answers for problems we face in connecting with consumers, so Walsh promoted that as a mind grenade. Here is the rest of his example:

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Walsh continually exploded data points and pushed the audience past the normal trajectory of incremental change. This is a very valuable tool for exploring new of thinking and to become Future Ready! Here few of Mike Walsh’s other mind grenades :

  • If your kids had your job, what is the one thing they would do differently?
  • If you were to map the network patterns of your best people, would they match your official org chart and titles?
  • What is the one big data insight about your business that would make your CEO sit up quick enough to spill his coffe?

You get the ideaso now go out make some mind grenades of your own!


Get ready for SLA 2013 with the CI Division’s conference program

As a past SLA President and a Board member for 6 years, I’m an enthusiastic participant in the SLA Annual Conference which will be in San Diego starting June 8. The whole event gives me a chance to connect with other information professionals and get the inside scoop on what they are doing, thinking about doing, wish they had done and—very importantly—will never do again. I look forward to the event as a professional highlight each year.conference

You never know which session or meeting will provide the ‘aha’ moment. One year, I attended a pre-conference dinner with some of the best and brightest minds in the industry, and I came away thinking that I had learned enough to make the whole conference cost worthwhile before the opening keynote!

In addition to getting the skinny from my colleagues, I HAVE to visit the exhibit hall. As an independent information professional, the vendor products and conversations are an essential part of my conference routine. I rely on their products and services to keep me up to date on what I provide to my clients. This year, I’m particularly interested in current awareness products. So, please let me know what your favorites are—and why.

This year I have a special roommate, Jill Strand, who is running for the Special Libraries Association President-Elect.

I’m plugged in to the Competitive Intelligence Division’s programs, here:

CE Course: Social Media Techniques for Information Professionals
1:00pm – 5:00pm @ Convention Center, Room TBD
Learn which social media tools will give you the best company and industry information. Complement traditional research collection by using social media, such as LinkedIn, Twitter feeds, blogs, social networking groups and other specialized search tools. This is a fully updated hands-on workshop that will help you think of different ways to use social media and unlock its true potential. Bring your laptop and a company to research! Intermediate Level.
Speaker: Scott Brown, Owner, Social Information Group
Moderator: Cindy Romaine, Romainiacs Intelligent Research

And here:
SLA—Competitive Intelligence Division Open House & Business Meeting
8:00pm – 10:00pm @ Marriott, Marina Ballroom D
Don’t miss our 4th Annual Pecha Kucha tournament as amateurs and professionals battle it out over how info pros can connect, collaborate and strategize. Come network with your peers and watch our Chair conduct the shortest business meeting in the form of a PK. We’ll have drinks, snacks, socialization and time to learn more about the CI division.
PK Contestants: TBD
Judges: Cindy Romaine, Romainiacs Intelligent Research; Sean Campbell, Cascade Insights; Lora Bray, CUNA
Moderator: Claudia Clayton, ViewPoint
Emcee: Dr. Craig Fleisher, Aurora WDC
Sponsor: Aurora WDC, Booth #1212

It should be a great conference!  I hope to see to hear about what you are working on and get inspired.

Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation and Leave a Positive Impression

Have you ever had that awkward moment, at a networking event, when you know you should be talking and mingling and making business connections, but you can’t think of a thing to say? We all know the feeling of having nothing to say and hours to say it in. You just want to start fiddling with your cell phone and disappear.

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I just got back from the annual conference of the Association of Independent Information Professionals, which was held in Denver, Colorado this year. AIIP is an international association of owners of information businesses, and many—like Romainiacs—are using skills and experiences honed from the corporate information center to provide their clients with intelligent information on which to make better informed business decisions. There were many fine presenters, providing insight into useful strategies, and I gained some invaluable connections and had many chances to make small talk with strangers.

The point of this post is to let you know about one presenter in particular—Debra Fine, who spoke on:

The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start A Conversation, Keep it Going, Build Rapport and Leave a Positive Impression.

In her presentation, Debra said that she had once been painfully shy, so networking was hard work for her. As she pointed out, however, there are many talented, educated, and wonderful people in the world that are incredibly shy. Maybe you’re one of them, and you sometimes struggle to engage in conversation when you’d rather just retreat to a far corner. What you need is a strategy for attacking the situation, and Debra had quite a few insights to share.


Here are a few tips and recommendations from Debra:

  1. Silence is impolite. Find ways to make other people feel comfortable, which, of course helps you feel comfortable, too. At conferences, for example, you can ask if they’ve been to any interesting sessions, if they enjoyed the keynote, or what was the best swag they picked up at the vendor booths.
  2. Good things come to those who go get them! Tell yourself that it’s up to you to start talking. You will actually be the hero if you start the conversation – even more so if you don’t start talking about the weather or your cats. People will embrace your efforts and appreciate your leadership. The more you practice breaking the ice, the better you get at it, so take the opportunity to improve your skills to size up someone and figure out what to talk about.
  3. It’s up to you to assume the burden of conversion. The first step in becoming a great conversationalist is become invested in making the other person feel comfortable. I think this tip is incredibly valuable. Putting your colleague at ease shows empathy as well as leadership.
  4. It’s better to give than receive. We’ve all watched someone frantically paw through their mental Rolodex trying to place us – bail them out before it gets painful! Give them your name, even if it’s someone you’ve met before. By telling them your name, you let them off the hook and they do not have to be distracted trying to remember it.


Here are a few icebreakers to help you get past that awkward, interminable silence—and to help you find interesting intersections that will broaden your relationships.

Ask your new found colleague:

  1. To describe a typical day on the job. This could lead to talking about your IT team, your computer tools, or some other technology topic quickly.
  2. What got you interested in social media, earthquakes, or whatever the topic of the day is? This could quickly morph into a discussion about ideas you have in common.
  3. What separates you and your firm from your competition?  For a follow up you could probe to see how your new acquaintance sees their landscape. You could find yourself discussing current events in your field, such as recent mergers and acquisitions.
  4. What advice would you give to someone just starting in your business?  You could advance to discussions about mentoring, education, or simply marvel at the technical skills of the newest members of our profession.

Be interested and interesting.

Nod, agree, and look them in the eye. Someone once described an encounter with former President Bill Clinton, and said that while with him, the President made that person seem like the only other person in the room. What a great feeling – someone who conversed with world leaders and powerful titans of industry was taking the time to actually listen! That one-on-one skill is at the heart of networking. You don’t want to just exchange business cards and slide away – you want to make a connection. If you do, to quote the great Dale Carnegie, you will consistently win friends and influence people.

Good luck! And now can we talk about my cat?


Google handles 115 Billion Searches a Month

Google Handles 115 Billion Searches a Month

Whether you are a professional information researcher with decades of experience or just learning your way around the Internet, as the following chart shows, we all use Google. All the time. For everything. But even as efficient as Google is, when you are panning for information gold, you’ll need an expert information researcher who knows where the best nuggets are hidden.

Statista, which is itself a gold mine for information researchers, offers details on the sheer volume of online searches on Google and other top search engines. When you need an information navigator to help you find just the gold nugget you are looking for Romainiacs can help.

In December 2012, more than 175 billion online searches were conducted worldwide. That is 65,000 searches per second, of which 65 percent were handled by market leader Google. According to recent comScore data, the U.S. search giant handled an overwhelming 115 billion searches in December, distancing its strongest competitor Baidu by more than 100 billion searches. About 8.2 percent of global searches were conducted on Baidu in December thanks to the company’s strong position in China. Yahoo surprisingly claimed the third rank, with 4.9 percent of all searches conducted on Yahoo’s sites. It should be noted that Yahoo’s search is powered by Microsoft’s Bing search engine, but comScore tracks the site on which a search is conducted rather than the underlying search engine. With 2.8 percent of searches, Microsoft fell from fourth place in the ranking to Russian competitor Yandex, who handled 2.8 percent of all searches.

Today’s first chart shows the number of searches handled by leading search sites in December 2012.


When it comes to the number of searchers, Google’s market dominance is just as impressive.

In December, 77 percent of the 1.52 billion search engine users worldwide conducted a Google search at least once. That’s 1.17 billion Google users, as opposed to 293 million users of Baidu and 292 million users of Yahoo’s search. Microsoft’s Bing was used by 267 million people in December, clearly distancing Yandex in terms of reach.

Our second chart shows the number of unique individuals using the top 5 search sites in December 2012.



Best Practices: Overcoming Information Overload

Join the call: Wednesday, December 5, 12:00 EST Register here.

Organizations of all sizes are rich in content – reports, news alerts, RSS feeds, wiki’s, videos, newsletters, blog posts, tweets etc. But for information consumers, a lack of organization and context creates a blur of information that causes frustration and makes it difficult to get work done.

Download the paper: myICANN: A case study in empowering communities through information management by Cindy Romaine, Romainiacs Intelligent Research

Content is king and queen

Content–its creation, presentation, packaging, distribution and repackaging–is trending. This chart from BusinessInsider captures the benefits.

The Rise Of Content 4.0