Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Beyond Schmoozing

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

"What does schmoozing mean?" asked a Taiwanese colleague earlier today. My German colleague was confirming that Yiddish and German shared a number of colorful terms in common, and then we were asked about schmoozing.

My German colleague looked to me, as it's a Yiddish word; I said, "It's like networking, only do you know what 'cheesy' means?"


"Do you know what 'sleazy' means?"


"How about 'slick?'"

She just looked at me.

"Well, it's sort of like 'smooth,' but not in a good way."

"Oh, shallow?"


It turns out that, according to Wikipedia's List of English words of Yiddish Origin, my Taiwanese colleague's definition was better than mine, as it just means small talk, and not necessarily slimy small talk, but more likely superficial small talk.

Something Weightier

This posting will disinterest even me if it remains simply schmoozing about schmoozing. Still, the question by my colleague from Taipei reminds me of globalization, and of cross-cultural exchanges that I am lucky to experience routinely.

In the past three weeks, I began planning to co-host a synchronous virtual classroom event with a colleague who's based in Tokyo; agreed to review project plans with a colleague who's based in Sao Paulo; received coaching from a colleague based in Stuttgart; brainstormed on employee empowerment with colleagues from Bangalore and Toronto; and tomorrow, will meet with a colleague based in Madrid.

Today's global train-the-trainer session included a leadership development module on Motivation. I know that I'm motivated more so by the wide reach I have with my work than I am by the money I'm paid to do it....Certainly, I would not be able to work for free, but I love meeting people from all over the world and getting to do creative thinking and acting with them.

Tonight, I checked e-mail to find a note from a lesbian colleague in a faraway country, letting me know that on Thursday, she will represent IBM on her country's National TV, on IBM's inclusive policies for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees in her country.

What a miraculous environment I work in.

What motivates you most to do whatever you do all day?

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