Tag: profile

Why I’ve just closed my LinkedIn account

Update (February 2015): I’ve resurrected my LinkedIn account. Here’s why.

If you’ve ever read the Freakonomics book – or better yet, listened to the excellent podcast – then you’ll know about the sunk cost fallacy:

Sunk costs… influence actors’ decisions because humans are prone to loss aversion and framing effects.

I’ve had a Gmail account ever since I was able to get my hands on an invite – yet I decided to move away recently. Likewise, I’ve had a LinkedIn account since the beginning, but today I closed my account. Just because you’ve used something for a long time and become used to it doesn’t mean it’s still the best option right now.

Here’s my three main reasons for closing my LinkedIn account:

  1. Spammy emails – I’ve tried my best to stop these, but it’s almost impossible. Enough is enough.
  2. I want to own my professional identity – I’m not interested in ‘endorsements’. I’m interested in people finding out about me in spaces I fully control.
  3. The zeitgeist – there’s a growing backlash to LinkedIn. I noticed Audrey Watters deleted her account recently, and then there’s the fact that the company is being taken to court.

So it’s gone.

It’s up to you if you want to do likewise, but know that if you do decide to close your account, you’re not alone!

PS I recently replaced my about.me page at dougbelshaw.com with one created using Mozilla Thimble. You’re very welcome to hit the ‘Remix’ button on that page if you need a new profile!

Banner image CC BY Bryan Mills

My Belbin results – Part 2

In My Belbin Results – Part 1 I outlined what the Belbin process is and listed the nine different characteristics that the process identifies for those who are part of a team. At the end of the blog post I asked people, whether they knew me solely online or also offline, to ascertain which three of the nine characteristics were most like me. Go and read that post (and especially the comments) before proceeding. 🙂

It was interesting that those who know me solely online seem to view me differently from those who know me offline as well. That showed up in my ‘official’ Belbin report as well – there was one external assessor who I’ve only ever talked to on Skype and over the phone.

So what were my results? In order:

Plant – Creative, imaginative, unorthodox. Solves difficult problems. Ignores incidentals. Too pre-occupied with own thoughts to communicate effectively.

Resource Investigator – Extrovert, enthusiastic, communicative. Explores opportunities. Develops contacts. Over-optimistic. Can lose interest once initial enthusiasm has passed.

Shaper – Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure. Has the drive and courage to overcome obstacles. Prone to provocation. Liable to offend others.

The above were agreed upon by all five of my observers, apart from one who came up with ‘Specialist’ instead of ‘Shaper’. As for me, I had down Plant and Shaper, but had ‘Monitor Evaluator’ down as number one. Perhaps I’m not so ‘serious minded’ after all… 😉

The pigeon-holing is interesting but some of the report was intriguing. There were six people who assessed me, if you include the self-assessment; here are the top words and phrases people selected to describe me (in order of most frequent):

  • innovative
  • impulsive
  • creative
  • imaginative
  • opportunistic
  • enterprising
  • provocative
  • encouraging of others
  • persistent
  • outspoken
  • technically skilful
  • clever
  • professionally dedicated

The word ‘aggressive’ also came out a couple of times, but right next to it was ‘calm & confident’ so I saw them as cancelling each other out. Talking to one of the people who assessed me, they explained the former as positive and being akin to ‘tenacious’. 🙂

There’s various other bits of feedback you get, including a ‘strengths’ and ‘possible weaknesses’ report, along with (hilariously) a ‘counselling report’. Here’s some choice excerpts:

Has innovative tendencies and needs to work in a mentally challenging environment. Requires work where he can use his outgoing nature… Needs to work in an environment which offers scope for personal expression.

Could have problems adapting to a supportive and subordinate role when necessary.

Needs to work within a loose framework. Will function best when given the freedom to roam.

Yours is essentially a pioneering profile. You are one of the few people equally read to develop new ideas on your own or in conjunction with others. Your best line of work is one in which you are required to explore possibilities and to take advantage of new opportunities. You have some features of the visionary. But take care you do not become isolated from others and resistant to the contributions they can make to the development of what is new.

For you above all others, it is best to establish the moment of exit. Do not outstay your welcome.

Your operating style is that of one who always seeks to be at the cutting edge of change. So remember that this is a hazardous spot to occupy. You will need to respect others of more traditional habits if you are to win respect yourself.

Does that seem a fair assessment? 😀

The story behind the new design of dougbelshaw.com

Whilst I haven’t tinkered with the theme for this blog (yet!) I’ve changed the landing page when you visit dougbelshaw.com. There’s a bit of a saga behind it. :-p

A tweet from Kathy Sierra directed me to Brynn Evans’ (@brynn) blog where she had a great post about an idea called ‘betacup’. What struck me about Brynn’s blog, however, was the clear and straightforward layout. Summising that she was running WordPress (most blogs, including this one, do!) I looked in the footer for an indication of the theme she was using.

Brynn - blog footer

Hmm… no dice. Another way to find out a blog’s theme is to use the ‘view source’ option in your web browser (View/Page Source in Firefox). Sure enough, this revealed the following:

Brynn - blog theme

In other words, the theme being used was in a folder with the title love_work. Again, summising that this was probably short for Love & Work, I searched Google for it. No joy.

Refusing to be beaten and now intrigued, I looked at the CSS by following the link above. CSS stands for ‘Cascading Style Sheets’ and it is the method used to ‘style’ the blog. Authors often put their details at the top of such documents:

Brynn - blog CSS

Although a little downhearted that it would seem that the author – a ‘Chris Messina’ (@chrismessina)- created a custom theme (meaning it was probably generally available for me to tweak) I decided to visit his website – factoryjoe.com. I was impressed with what I saw:

Chris Messina - profile

I thought this was wonderful. Not only does it link to everywhere Chris is online (and deems important) but it tells a story. Unthinkingly (and to my shame) I set about copying him. I ended up with this (CC-NC-SA factoryjoe):

Doug Belshaw - old profile

I did mention on Twitter what I’d done (in fact my network were very helpful in my tweaking it) leading to this tweet the following morning from Chris:

Chris Messina - tweet about Doug Belshaw's profile

Whilst Chris was a gentleman and agreeable about it, others were a bit more to the point. The outcome was that I realised I needed to do my own thing rather than copy someone else’s design. After all, as someone who makes his living through web technologies, it’s only fair that Chris’ design is unique. 🙂

I spent a while thinking about what I wanted and, to cut an already-too-long story short, with the help of my Twitter network, I’ve ended up with this:

Doug Belshaw - profile

Yes, I’ve had all the comments that I’ve got stubble on my head, it’s a bit ‘noir’, it looks like a dating site, and I look like I work for Apple. Oh, and my wife wants me to point out that she took the photo. 😉

I may not be finished my tinkering yet. Chris has challenged me to incorporate a hCard and I really like the design simplicity of the Flickr blog. However, again, it’s a custom-designed theme…

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HOWTO: Make yourself more visible online by building a Google Profile

I iz hea!I don’t know about you, but I’m never sure where to link to when I want people to know a bit more about me. For example, when emailing someone who might like to know who I am and where I’m coming from, do I link here, to my blog? To my Twitter stream? To my FriendFeed? Sometimes I just pick the one I think most appropriate, sometimes I hedge my bets and link to all of them!

Thankfully, I no longer have that problem. Why? I just link to my Google Profile! It’s very easy to do – simply visit http://www.google.com/profiles/ Here’s what mine looks like:

Doug Belshaw's Google Profile

You should probably claim your preferred username (e.g. ‘dajbelshaw’) ASAP  in case someone else claims it. Once you’ve got it, you can use your favourite URL-shortening site to make it even easier to remember and add wherever you wish – e.g.


I’ve already been contacted a couple of times via my Google Profile and really like the way it brings my accounts together into one, easily accessible place. I don’t think it will be long before typing ‘Doug Belshaw’ into Google will result in landing at my Google Profile. And, I reckon, that’s no bad thing… 😀

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