I first met Keeley Sorokti when she agreed to be a speaker for Boot Camp at JiveWorld14. I loved her boundless energy and her approachable personality. Get to know Keeley better by reading the interview below!
Libby: Where do you work?
Keeley: I work at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois for the Masters in Learning and Organizational Change (MSLOC) program and am also an alumna of the program. MSLOC is a professional masters program focused on advancing organizations through the power of people. Our students are professionals from a diverse set of industries and job roles with a common motivation: transforming their thinking about organizational change. We prepare graduates to operate effectively in any environment on strategic change, organizational culture, learning and performance. You can live anywhere in the U.S. and be a student in our program so we leverage technology, including Jive, to facilitate building a strong network of students, faculty, alumni and staff who learn together. We study enterprise social networking platforms like Jive in our Creating and Sharing Knowledge class led by my colleague Jeff Merrell -- participate in the open part of the class by following the #msloc430 hashtag on twitter. It kicks off in January and March every year.
Check us out on Twitter: @NU_MSLOC
Fern Tham, full-time student and MSLOC Community Management Graduate Assistant, was excited to get some JiveWorld swag.
LT: How would you describe your current job?
Keeley: I wear several hats:
- I create our constantly evolving learning and community technology strategy. This includes being the Jive community strategist (with my thought partner Jeff Merrell), community manager (with help from graduate assistants Fern Tham and Michelle Campbell) and technical admin. I never know which box to check when Jive asks what my role is.
- I advise our faculty (mostly adjuncts who are senior learning and organizational change professionals) on how to leverage technology to create engaging learning experiences and become comfortable with social collaboration tools.
- I manage our social media external community strategy by connecting people, content and ideas around topics we study. This includes being the editor of the MSLOC Knowledge Lens and running our various social media accounts. Come learn with us -- #msloc
- Other duties as assigned -- I won't bore you with the details.
I just participated in Working Out Loud week after being inspired by the Working Out Loud JiveWorld14 session with Dennis Pearce, John Stepper and Bryce Williams. To see a week in the work life of Keeley check out: Working Out Loud Week - 2014 (with images, tweets) · sorokti · Storify
Libby: Are you familiar with the Jive WorkTypes? If so, what was your WorkType?
I came out as an Explorer/Planner but I would guess that many people would classify me as a Connector or a Producer. I am usually hard to pin down with these kinds of assessments. When I took the MBTI my only clear preference is J. When I graduated from the MSLOC program my colleagues gave me this Wordle that gives you a sense of who I am (on my good days).
My favorite is Uber-Mom.
LT: How do you think your WorkType plays into how you get work done in Jive?
Keeley: I definitely have to see the forest and the trees since I wear so many hats. The combination of exploring and planning helps me co-create the strategy with the MSLOC leadership team and then execute as well. As a planner, I am often the one who is able to see how making one little design change in our community will have a ripple effect into other areas so I can help to prevent confusion for our users before we roll out a change. My downfall is that I do like to explore and plan but have to remind myself to operate the systems once they are created (or remember to delegate). I tend to want to move onto the next big thing.
LT: Did your team have a chance to take the WorkType Finder quiz? Have you all talked about your results?
Keeley: So I have to admit that I haven't shared WorkType with my team. I work with several PhDs who I know will be a bit skeptical and will wonder what peer-reviewed research the WorkType Finder is based on. See this discussion for more background on this: I don't get it. I plan to share WorkType with my team and our students soon as our community uses many assessments. More to follow from the ivory tower soon.
LT: What was your favorite part of attending JiveWorld this year?
Keeley: Spending a week without packing any lunches for my 1st and 4th grade boys and enjoying a freshly made bed every night was a huge treat. But on a more serious note, my favorite part of JiveWorld was meeting so many interesting and inspiring people. I caught up with fellow Chicagoans Ted Hopton and Christina Zurkawicz at the party on Thursday night where we toasted to the fact that the Chicago User Group is a holocracy -- maybe being in Vegas with Zappos nearby inspired us.
I set out to find fellow learning, change management and knowledge management enthusiasts this year at JiveWorld and succeeded. I can’t thank Frank Pathyil of Jive enough for asking me to share the MSLOC learning and development use case during JiveWorld14 Social Business Boot Camp. This kicked off many other connections throughout the conference and has led to a rejuvenation of the Learning and Development group within the Jive Community.
LT: So how do you use Jive at work (internal community, external community, etc.)?
Keeley: Our internal Jive Cloud social learning community, called The Hive (which I now realize after attending JiveWorld is a very common community name), provides an online space where students, staff, alumni and faculty learn, collaborate and geek out about topics of interest, both inside and outside of class groups. While we still do use the Northwestern learning management system for a few things such as grading, we have mostly moved over to Jive for teaching and learning. There are currently 220 users with plans for adding about 200 more sometime in the next year or two when we bring in all of our alumni. I didn't realize it at the time but we were one of the first cloud customers when we implemented back in 2012.
Jive has enabled students, alumni and faculty to connect and learn together no matter where they live. We see many benefits to using technology that our students and faculty may use at work rather than typical higher education tools. We want our students to become social leaders in their own organizations and are providing a safe space for them to improve their digital literacy skills.
Read more about how we use Jive: MSLOC Breaks New Ground with Jive Social Collaboration Technology
LT: What's your computer situation... Do you use a Mac or PC (or something else)?
Keeley: I use a MacBook Air for work but have PCs at home. I admit that I'm a bit biased towards PCs but have grown accustomed to my Mac, especially Shift + command + 4 for screen captures. I just wish that Apple would make their features a bit more transparent (why hide the usb drive under the keyboard?) and not create a new adapter and power cord for every new model they develop.
LT: How about your mobile device?
Keeley: I'm an android gal. I live in Google Drive and Calendar and like the easy integration with Google. Plus T-Mobile gave me an HTC Android for free several years ago so it was an easy choice -- couldn't beat the price. I now use a Samsung S3.
LT: Pick one word that best describes how you work.
LT: Besides Jive, what apps/software/tools can't you live without?
- Evernote. I wish I had used it when I was going through graduate school for taking notes and storing readings (not sure it existed back in 2009). I wear so many hats both at work and home and Evernote serves as an external hard drive for my brain. I must admit that it looks a bit like my car with a lot of random stuff thrown in there (who has time to make it to the post office to mail that package that has been in my trunk for weeks?). My go-to note in Evernote is called General Work List where I have my list of to-dos. I love that I can access Evernote from all my devices.
- Twitter. I connect, learn and share on Twitter. It has done wonders to help me develop a personal learning network. The serendipity that happens there is amazing. Connect with me: @sorokti
LT: Do you have a favorite non-computer gadget?
Keeley: My french press. Nothing better than my morning cup of coffee.
LT: How do you stay organized? What's your favorite to-do list manager?
Keeley: In addition to Evernote, I depend on Google Calendars for everything. People actually get a little overwhelmed when they see my Google Calendars because I have a calendar (each in a different color) for each of my two boys, our babysitter, my husband has one and several from work.
They all combine into a color-coded mass of rectangles that make perfect sense to me but others find overwhelming. If it isn't on the Google calendar it doesn't exist in our family.
LT: What you surround yourself with is important, what's your workspace like?
Keeley: I consider my office my laptop which enables me to get into the cloud where I really do my work. In my physical office at Northwestern, I have pictures of my boys and some of their artwork on a bulletin board, thank you notes people have sent me, my framed MSLOC diploma, books from graduate school and others I've picked up along the way, a huge monitor and a white board. I sit next to a big window with a view out to a heavily trafficked walkway on campus where I often see prospective students and parents walking by on their campus tours.
You won't find fresh cut flowers out very often and I don't always have a place for everything like Jessica de la Torre. It's not that I don't appreciate beautiful, well-organized spaces -- I just don't usually spend my time creating them.
LT: What do you listen to while you work?
Keeley: I don't listen to anything while I'm in my office at Northwestern other than the chatter of the graduate assistants who sit outside my office. When I'm working from home I often listen to Pandora in the background, usually solo piano.
LT: What's your best time-saving trick?
Keeley: Print out hard copies of things I need to read (or download them into Evernote or Instapaper) and read at basketball, gymnastics and soccer practices.
LT: How do you balance work and life?
Keeley: This topic is a personal passion of mine (probably because I'm not the best at it). I studied how part-time and full-time working parents manage boundaries between work and home for my masters research. I prefer to frame this as work-family integration, or work-life floating, as my colleague Kimberly Scott wrote about on her blog. I tend to move back and forth between the personal and professional parts of my life in order to be able to attend to both as needed. I work from home on Wednesdays which has helped in so many ways. It reduces two hours of commuting and I can pick up my boys from school which they love. Once I get them settled and doing homework I'm back to my work, then drop off at soccer practice and make dinner. Then I'll do a little more work once they go down to bed. Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week.
Another thing I do in order to help me stay afloat is to recognize when I need to step away from work to breathe for a few minutes. The perfect place for reflection on campus is the Shakespeare Garden.
LT: What's your sleep routine like?
Keeley: I'm a night owl but am working on changing that because I definitely don't get enough sleep. I treasure my quiet time after the boys go to bed. My natural sleep hours are midnight or 1am to 8 or 9am (if I don't have the alarm set) which I can't follow during the week because I have to get up at 6:15am. I often end up catching up on sleep on Sundays now that my boys are older.
LT: Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
Keeley: I am an ambivert. When I took the MBTI Myers-Briggs assessment, I landed right in the middle with no clear preference for introversion or extraversion. I often am one of the last ones to stay at a social event, especially if I am involved in a deep conversation about topics of interest. Networking and meeting new people usually energizes me. However, I do need alone time and am very happy by myself for long periods of time (I would prefer to work from home two to three days a week if I could).
LT: What's the best advice you've ever received (and from whom)?
Keeley: After a particularly difficult team meeting, Beth Black, an MSLOC colleague, helped me learn that 'good enough' is better than perfect (as if there is such a thing). I have (mostly) come to embrace 'good enough' as a philosophy which has helped me temper my inner perfectionist and learn how to iterate and get feedback along the way. In fact, 'good enough' can often lead to excellence because it allows you to move more quickly and not get hung up on all the minutia. One of my favorite teachers and now colleague, Dorie Blesoff, shared with me years ago that she recommends learning how to become an excellentist, which feels more empowering and energizing.
Keeley Sorokti, thank you so much for this amazing interview! It's so great to hear how you work best. It sounds like we have a lot in common!
Please let us know in the comments below what you resonated with or ask any questions you have for Keeley!