The Power of Expressing GRATITUDE – Greater IBM Global Virtual Holiday Party

DebbeDAE-Holiday PartyI’ve thought so much about Greater IBM’s Global Holiday Party at Second Life. It  wasn’t just an ordinary party by any means and its rippling influence continues to live on in the hearts
and minds of those who experienced it. We’ve been talking about it…

The setting was nothing less than a winter wonderland that reflected the hundreds — perhaps even thousands of fingerprints; mind-boggling brilliance and innovation; mounds of thoughtfulness and care … and of course, IBM execution second-to-none. The party was also a testament for how far we’ve come as a Greater IBM community in being able to share such  experiences across cultures and the world.

We seemed friendlier. More of us, found a way to be there in avatar or on the phone.
We were bolder. It wasn’t so scary to say hello or volunteer to take a picture of a group.
We’re getting polished at VIRTUAL. We saw a whole new level of virtual spirit.
We were more connected. You could feel the JOY we felt to see so many friends honored.


Passing the Test of Time and Technology
All my thinking affirmed again a trait of IBM’s that is forever burned into my consciousness: We
are all well-taught about the power that comes from saying
THANKS! After I left IBM, I realized many  times that this is not an attribute of every company. Certainly, not today. It is something special.

Fast forward nearly two decades…and the Greater IBM’s Global Holiday Party at Second Life was another shining example in a totally different virtual dimension. The party was not only a celebration, but our Greater IBM  leadership and the whole Greater IBM team invested, significantly, in making this event A BIG THANK YOU to our growing community from the moment we arrived. Beyond all I’ve mentioned already, there was a  treasure hunt with gifts, holiday drinks, huge chocolate chip cookies, and a turkey with all the  trimmings.

Award ProgramWe all gathered for a “recognition and award” ceremony, complete with custom-made “Greater IBM medallions”  for each award recipient — with plenty of time for clapping, jumping up and down, and  dancing for JOY over the acknowledgment of the global winners in categories like…Greater IBM  Relaters, Greater IBM Community Builders, Greater IBM Evangelists, Spirit of Greater IBM Awards.

Each presentation was so thoughtful and specific to the person, helping us all remember so many  contributions that have made it possible for us to be together as a Greater IBM Community across time, difference, and distance. I admit it, I was so  deeply touched to be honored in such a personalized way as one of the “Spirit of Greater IBM” award recipients. I couldn’t  believe it. I won’t forget it — especially, imagining that technology was able to teleport me to a place where I got all choked up looking at desktop in San Francisco. :-)

Essential Ingredients of GRATITUDE
In the book, Thanks! by Robert Emmons, he points out two stages of gratitude that can easily be applied to the Great IBM Global Holiday Party at Second Life and all our contributions as we work to put our differences to work to help create a better world than we know today.

    1. acknowledging the goodness in what has been achieved, and
    2. recognizing the source of this goodness has come from the talents of many.

Emmons also helps us helps us understand what the essential components are to expressing gratitude in a meaningful way, using the French expression “je suis reconnaissant,” looking closely at the translation in three parts: “(1) ‘I recognize’ (intellectually), (2) ‘I acknowledge’ (willingly), and (3) ‘I appreciate’ (emotionally). Only when all three come together is gratitude complete.”

On December 18, 2008 at the Greater IBM at Second Life, all three essential components of GRATITUDE came together. It was complete!

Have you joined Greater IBM?


DDx2 Debbe Kennedy
Contributing Author
Greater IBM Connection
Founder, President & CEO
Global Dialogue Center and
Leadership Solutions Cos.

, Putting Our Differences to Work

IBMer 1970 – 1991 L.A.; Anchorage; Seattle; San Francisco

A Greater IBM…(A Virtual Book Club)

It’s nice to reminisce about the IBM of years ago. I have many cherished memories that stay with me. It was different. It also wasn’t perfect. There were struggles and deeply felt changes—and big giant transitions that shook the very soul of it all. Sound familiar? What I remember most in 21 years is that it taught me that things were most fun when they were dynamic — in the constant state of renewal and IBM became very good at reinventing itself and taught many of us how to do ourselves.

Today, the IBM’s global strategy, new products and services, and IBM’s continued leadership, reveal the new promise in the future and a whole new host of opportunities. Additionally, I personally see a more open, friendlier, more hip IBM. The Greater IBM Connection is a good example. It is hard to imagine if the old IBM would ever have built a business and social network that included current and past IBMers — "outsiders!” And an innovative IBM Business Center at Second Life? Can’t imagine it!

DebbedaeOn July 18, I had a chance to personally experience this new hip IBM first-hand at an event that was hosted by Greater IBM. It had some very special attributes. First, it reflected IBM’s world-renown pioneering spirit. It demonstrated global collaboration and leading-edge technology that brought Greater IBMers together across the world. It also was a shining example of an act of pure kindness and consideration I will never forget.

Greater IBM hosted a "virtual book party" for me at IBM’s Business Center at Second Life to help me celebrate the release of my new book. It was a perfect reflection of a putting-our-differences-to-work experience. There were a few IBM Second Life experts mentoring and teaching as this grand experiment came to life. At the helm was a master IBM Intern, Esteban (from El Salvador) leading the way for everyone. For the most part, it was a group of pioneering innovators from our Greater IBM community across the world showing up to step inside a new way to experience connecting with one another. Adventuresome. Curious. Willing to explore — willing to be vulnerable to go where you might not be an expert. That is what it took.

Gibmdkbookparty2We all had to learn how to operate in this 3-D environment — how to show-up, invest ourselves, talk with one another, experiment with dialogue, and have a  party with free-Putting Our Differences to Work-T-shirts they made for the day, refreshments, and even learning to dance. Imagine that!!!

Flor Estevez, Greater IBM Operations Manager and Producer hosted the event (at the mic). Add to that special guests speakers, Mike Wing, IBM VP of Strategic Communications, J.T. (Ted) Childs, former IBM VP, Global Workforce Diversity, and futurist and filmmaker, Joel A. Barker. All three of them, along with Greater IBM, are featured in my book as exemplary leaders of innovation in the art of putting differences to work. Each of them helped to seed the beginning of a conversation. Most of all, seeing Greater IBMers gather from places around the world to be there to share the conversation and experience was truly moving.

It was a special gathering of firsts for everyone at a Greater IBM! History recorded it…and it touched my heart! Thank you!

Did you attend? What was your experience?

Have you joined our growing Greater IBM community? Learn more here…

We’ve got some new events coming up you won’t want to miss!


Dkatdesk2Debbe Kennedy
Contributing Author
Greater IBM Connection
Founder, President & CEO
Global Dialogue Center and
Leadership Solutions Companies
author, Putting Our Differences to Work
IBMer 1970 – 1991 L.A.; Anchorage; Seattle; San Francisco

A New Kind of EXCELLENCE for a New Time

Hello!  I’ve been thinking about all of you that might stop by. Then I found myself wondering where to start and how to make friends. If you are here, there is a reason — and I wonder if yours may not be so far from mine — or if it is, perhaps, you will tell us about it. Let me start the conversation by sharing a few things that have been in my mind…

There is something powerful about the potential of the Greater IBM Connection across the world. It’s hard not to imagine possibilities when so much talent is coming together. I admit that when I first heard about it, my pioneering spirit was moved. In this gathering, we might spark some new level of innovation or open a new pathway we might not have seen on our own — perhaps even make the world a better place than we know today, because of just the right people finding one another.

I’ve had a grand time building a business and working to make a difference since I left IBM. No doubt many of you have unique stories and experiences that reflect significant achievements in your own right and I hope we get to learn more about where you been and what you’ve accomplished. I must admit I’ve become much more consciously grateful about all I learned and experienced at IBM, some of which wasn’t so obvious in the rush of business during the rewarding years that seemed to fly by.

There are many things about IBM that have grown and changed. It seems friendlier and more open. I love seeing the new values that have the fingerprints of IBM people all over them. It made me proud when I read about how it happened. If I were to pick out one IBM attribute that seems unchanged, it would be EXCELLENCE. It isn’t demonstrated so much in words, as it is in actions, execution, and people. My very first tour of Greater IBM in Second Life proved this point (If you’ve not yet visited, check it out on YouTube). Since then as I’ve watched and Debbe Dae (my avatar) has experienced its many innovations come to life through the mastery of its IBM creators — in every way, the EXCELLENCE speaks for itself.

In reflection, the notion of EXCELLENCE was center stage in my leadership career with IBM. My mentors over the years clearly exemplified this belief in their work, lives and overall successes. Funny, as I’ve visited and gotten involved at the Greater IBM Connection, I’ve thought of many who inspired me. They helped me, by their example, see the difference between mediocrity and EXCELLENCE. While watching them, I observed that building a reputation for EXCELLENCE eliminates questions, opens doors, brings opportunities, and adds an element of integrity to one’s work and leadership that others notice and customers want.

New Questions to Consider… What do you think?
Whether you are new to IBM, seasoned, spent a long time or just a brief time, it seems collectively we have found ourselves at the threshold of a great opportunity to demonstrate a new kind of EXCELLENCE right here as part of the Greater IBM Community. A highly respected customer executive told me one time that leadership has a Germanic origin, meaning to “find a new path.” This seems to be the calling for all who show up here. The question waiting to be more fully answered is how will we come together across generations, cultures, differences and distance to contribute to a new kind of EXCELLENCE at a new time in history with all the talent showing up from every corner of the world?  What do you think about it?

What does excellence mean to you?

What possibilities do you see in what we could do together?

What makes you want to be part of it?

As I ponder these questions more myself, I hope you’ll share your thoughts. Make a connection.
Stop to say hello.



Debbe Kennedy
Contributing Author
Greater IBM Connection
Founder, President & CEO
Global Dialogue Center and Leadership Solutions Companies
IBMer 1970 – 1991
Los Angeles; Anchorage; Seattle; San Francisco

Tips on Cool Places in Second Life to Visit (Trippin’ The Verse)

Where Do I Go? Michael Welcomes back Ian Hughes, one of IBM’s Metaverse Evangelists, who offers a few tips on cool places in Second Life to visit.

Here’s the latest installment of Greater IBMer, and fellow Virtual Worlds pioneer, Michael Rowe’s podcast series, called Trippin’ the Verse,
which features tips and tricks on using the Metaverse (Second Life,
There, etc.)  that we are proud to host on the Greater IBM blog.

Some of those must see places are (links are “SLURLS” that will take you to map of destination and enable you to teleport directly into the sim):

IBM Island:
Hursley Island:
IQ Island:
Dogear-Nation Recording Studio:
Almaden Island:

Jessica Island:
Austin Island:
ThinkLand Island:

Sony Island:
Spaceport Alpha:

Do you have questions about Second Life, Entropia Universe, or other virtual worlds? Please share them with Michael and us here so that he can take your queries up in future episodes.

The Machinimania Challenge Review – A Second Life Filmmaking contest for Greater IBMers

You will remember that last year we set Greater IBMers a challenge to create a 2-min video promoting Greater IBM, using Second Life.  ‘Machinima’ is the ability to create films inside of virtual worlds, or 3D film-making.  This challenge for The Greater IBM Connection was to create a short (less than two minutes) video trailer about Greater IBM that would explain the network and some of its main features, using the 3D virtual world Second Life.  The videos had to be produced by a team of 2-4 people from The Greater IBM network, and teams had to include at least one alumni IBMer and one current IBMer.  Teams received some support tools, including ‘The Art of Machinima’ book & CD, and there were some training sessions in Second Life to share tips and ideas.  The prizes offered were as follows:

First prize:  An Archos
AV500 mobile digital video recorder.

Second prize:  A Fabjectory model of their Second Life

Third prize:  A
$25 Amazon gift certificate

The judging criteria emphasized innovation, concepts and storyline rather than editing skills, to make the challenge accessible to all.  A recap of the final awards ceremony follows.

On Friday, we held an awards ceremony to reward the winners followed by an afterparty featuring a disco and Theme Park.

We started the event with the video intro which one of the teams had kindly prepared for us.

People started arriving in “I Auditorium” on the IBM innovation islands over an hour before the event started.  The dress code was smart, so many people had gone out and bought virtual tuxedos and ball gowns.  As we started, we welcomed the finalists up the red carpet with a round of applause and then watched their videos on the big screens we’d setup.

Next, I pulled out a golden envelope with the results in and announced the winners.

The winners were (click to watch their videos):
1st Lets Connect
2nd The New World
3rd Introduction to Greater IBM and Second Life

A kind attendee posted this video of the event from their perspective here!  Thank you!

Here’s some of the snapshots I took of the event and afterparty:

Finalists watch their videos on the big screen.

The crowd in IBM 7.  Note that people a long way away are not drawn.

The afterparty disco…  Boris on decks…

As part of the GreaterLand Theme Park, Timeless Prototype kindly placed his replica of the London Eye for us.

Bumper Cars at dawn!

162 people attended the premier – a record for a single location IBM event.

Thanks for all the kind comments from everyone, including the nice
people over at Eightbar.

Welcome to the Frontier!

Fellow greaterIBMers, let me introduce you to the frontier. We are witnessing the start of
two initiatives that will be very big: greaterIBM, and the birth of the 3D internet with IBMs $10M play in virtual worlds, announced by IBM’s CEO Sam Palmisano on Tuesday in Beijing. Both initiatives share two key similarities… they are both moving very fast and the models are not “more of the same” from IBM. Let me share the recent story of a couple of greaterIBMers

They decided to run a greaterIBM virtual bloc party in Second Life. One of them learns how to build things in Second Life, builds a greaterIBM Headquarters in 2 weeks in his spare time for $20. They reach out to the community around them to get involved as they really need their help to run the event smoothly and to draw on their expertise. They run the event, which becomes the top story on IBMs intranet, gets mentioned in the New York Times, BusinessWeek and CNet. The builder is immediately requested to write a best practices document and consult with 2 major multinational companies on how to run successful events in Second Life and receives requests from around the world to collaborate with other initiatives.

As part of his preparation for the event, the builder investigates how to use a more sophisticated way of videoing the event, and finds a tool in SL, which costs the huge sum of $0.70! He enlists the help of a colleague who figures it out, makes a short
film of the Bloc Party
which they edit and post on YouTube. It gets hundreds of viewings and is used by IBMs Media Relations group

Four weeks later, Sam Palmisano is due to make an appearance in the virtual Forbidden City IBM have built. The bloc party cameraman is called on to run the virtual camerawork and films Sam, switching between 10 virtual cameras for a live video feed watched
by 7000 IBM employees across China!

Elapsed time from nowhere to subject matter experts: 6 WEEKS!

greaterIBM is at the same stage of development. This is gold rush time and you can hitch up your wagon and join in right now. We have a big mandate to make this happen from IBM but we’re only currently at 850 people. If you formed a community in greaterIBM, for example around Healthcare, by searching for a few like-minded people, ran a couple of conference calls using the events function (ask us and you can use our number), you will be the de-facto topic healthcare leader in The Greater IBM Connection. When the
membership has risen to 5, 10 or 50 thousand people next year, you could be
providing insights and business opportunities for your company from a community
of hundreds of people across the world. People could be emailing you to join in and collaborate with your team and opportunities you never envisaged could open up for you.

Take a 5 minute coffee break, grab a pen and blank sheet of paper and open your mind to the possibilities. Also, watch this space and next week we’ll will show you one way you can get involved with BOTH greaterIBM and IBMs virtual worlds initiative, make incredible new connections, and have a lot of fun!

The energy and buzz around these two initiatives is huge at the moment. How much opportunity would you like? All you have to do is a little work and you can be a 21st century pioneer!

IBMers and IBM alumni join greaterIBM here.