Thursday, 19 July 2012

The 6 People You Need in Your Genealogy Corner




This afternoon, Marian Pierre-Louis shared this article from Forbes on Facebook. Reading the article I immediately recognised that these six “people” are variants of the Belbin team roles which I used when training senior managers at the Civil Service College.

The descriptions also put me in mind of some leading lights in genealogy. We may not know them personally (though I am privileged to count some of these people amongst my friends) but, because of their generosity in sharing their expertise with the wider genealogy community, we can all have them on our “team”.

Here are my picks for the 6 key genealogy players in my life:

The Instigator: Someone who pushes you, who makes you think. Who motivates you to get up and go, and try, and make things happen. You want to keep this person energized, and enthusiastic. This is the voice of inspiration.

This is Thomas Macentee, genealogy ninja, of Geneabloggers, High Definition Genealogy, Flip-Pal, Wikitree and so much else it makes me breathless. Thomas is constantly pushing at the boundaries between genealogy and technology, innovating, inspiring and encouraging the rest of us to get involved. Thomas is the living embodiment of energy and enthusiasm, all wrapped up in one larger than life personality, with the greatest sense of humour in the genealogy universe. Thomas inspired me to create this blog and my websites. Thomas also showed me how to do it. Every webinar with Thomas is a motivation to “get up and go, and try, and make things happen”. If you haven’t yet caught his enthusiasm and sheer zest for life, check out his back catalogue at Legacy Family Tree webinars.

The Cheerleader: This person is a huge fan, a strong supporter, and a rabid evangelist for you and your work. Work to make this person rewarded, to keep them engaged. This is the voice of motivation.

This is you, Dear Reader! It’s the 23 people who have connected to this blog via Google Friend Connect, the 20 via Networked Blogs and the 40 who have liked my Facebook page. It’s everyone who has ever left a kind comment on one of my websites or sent me a supportive email. It’s your uncritical support and enthusiasm for my work which keeps me researching, blogging and sharing, even when my own family recoil in horror at the very mention of the word genealogy. You are the unsung heroes and heroines who make the worldwide genealogy community such a supportive and nurturing place.

The Doubter: This is the devil’s advocate, who asks the hard questions and sees problems before they arise. You need this person’s perspective. They are looking out for you, and want you to be as safe as you are successful. This is the voice of reason.

This is Elizabeth Shown Mills. When you find a possible ancestor and are about to enter your findings in your family history software, it is Elizabeth’s voice you hear, urging caution and restraint. She reminds you of the genealogical proof standard, the nature of a reasonably exhaustive search and the difference between sources, information, evidence and proof. Like the wisest mother, she does not do it to spoil your fun but to keep you from getting hurt. And she does it all with exquisite Southern grace and courtesy.

The Taskmaster: This is the loud and belligerent voice that demands you gets things done. This person is the steward of momentum, making sure deadlines are met and goals are reached. This is the voice of progress.

I started by having difficulty with this one. The loud and belligerent voices in the genealogy community were the ones I blocked long ago on mailing lists and unfriended on Facebook. And then I realised that it’s me! My harshest critic and the one who lashes me into action is myself. Apart from my professional clients, I have few deadlines but I nonetheless impose them on myself. I set high standards for my own genealogical development and I am a perfectionist when it comes to revising my writing and tweaking my websites. I’m the despair of my husband, whose mantra is “Thursday not perfect”, but I will sit up late on Wednesday night to ensure I meet both goals.

The Connector: This person can help you find new avenues and new allies. This person breaks through roadblocks to finds ways to make magic happen. You need this person to reach people and places you can’t. This is the voice of cooperation and community.

I actually have two candidates for this role - Dick Eastman of EOGN and Cyndi Ingle Howells of Cyndi’s List. Dick started a genealogy bulletin board forum on Compuserve in the mid 1980s. He launched his EOGN newsletter in 1996 with 100 subscribers. Today he has over 60,000. That same year, Cyndi first published her famous list online, with 1,025 links. Today it has over 319,000. Through their efforts, genealogists worldwide have been introduced to new sources, software, societies and social media. Both provide a fantastic service to the worldwide genealogy community for which I doubt either will see much reward in this world. We owe them both an enormous debt of gratitude.

The Example: This is your mentor, your hero, your North Star. This is the person who you seek to emulate. This is your guiding entity, someone whose presence acts as a constant reminder that you, too, can do amazing things. You want to make this person proud. This is the voice of true authority.

This is Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, Megan is the person who made genealogy cool. Megan gets to meet Presidents, appear on TV and rendezvous with FBI agents in parking lots. Megan didn’t need to make up a distinctive name for herself like Madonna or Lady Gaga, she just married well. She is also extremely smart – she has two Masters degrees and has written six books. Oh, and did I say that she regularly gives her money away in grants to help fellow genealogists? To cap it all she’s pretty and a very nice person.

It’s interesting that, although I am a Brit, all my choices are Americans. There is a reason but that’s a subject for another day.

I’d love to know who you would pick for these 6 roles in your genealogy life. Do let me know in the comments.