For our panel last weekend during the BlogHer Food Conference (Food Blogging for Change), an hour and fifteen minutes was hardly enough. With so many passionate people in the room, and so much to talk about, we could’ve easily filled an entire day (or two).
Mrs. Q, the wonderful, anonymous teacher who ate school lunch every day for a year*, and I had each prepared some key “takeaways” that we wanted to express in our final thoughts, but at the buzzer we still hadn’t covered them. So today we’re both posting them on our respective sites. (Here’s hers.)
Now, before you think this post is only about food bloggers, let me say this: It’s not. It’s about everyone. Change happens on multiple levels and from all directions, and I believe that every action — and every interaction — makes a cumulative difference, no matter how small. When you make eye contact and say “Thank You” to someone, you make the world a better place. Sure, it’s a tiny bit, but it’s still something, and you never know where it’s going to lead you.
After taking another look through my notes, I realized it’s not about subject matter, expertise, or even a specific topic. It’s all a matter of style.
Nobody likes a downer. Uplift people with your message of hope and optimism, don’t bring them down with fear, frustration, and dread. Pessimism won’t get us very far.
Cliché because it’s true: Enthusiasm is contagious. When you meet someone who is interested and excited about something, don’t you get at least a little bit of that spark? Enthusiasm is kind of like being positive, on steroids.
Asking someone a question engages them. It starts conversations, and you never know where they’re going to lead. (Corollary: Listen to their answers.)
“I don’t know” is okay.
Yes, even if you’re supposed to be the expert, it’s perfectly fine to say “I don’t know.” As long as your next step is to go find the answer.
Then do everything you can to support them. They will, in turn, support you. (Corollary: Be inclusive.)
When was the last time someone told you bluntly that what you were doing was bad/wrong/evil/destroying-the-world? I’d bet that wanted to make you do it more, not less, didn’t it? (Corollary: Don’t preach.)
Be sure to give people the tools to actually do something. For me, that means providing helpful and encouraging information, resources, techniques, recipes, and every so often, issuing a specific call to action. For you, that probably means something else. Whatever your method, it’s important to give people the tools and ability to make change, not just talk about it.
Above all else, be genuine.
Be absolutely, positively, without a doubt, 100% sincere in what you’re doing.
* Mrs. Q is an ally (see above), who has also become a dear friend. We’re actually on a first name basis now — I’ve started calling her simply, “Q” (or, if I’m feeling saucy: “The Q”).