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Reflections On Retiring my Blackberry after More Than a Decade Together …

First:   Recognize the Need for Change

I work in change management.  We help companies anticipate market trends and position to profitably respond.  Anticipate customer needs, change the product, the messaging, and the communication channels to be sure and get across to the right audience at the right time.  In decades of doing this type of work, it’s crystal clear which industries are better than others.  Who can turn on a dime, who ‘gets it.’  And those are the companies and teams we want to work with.  Do great things together.  Make a difference.  We’re professionally respected.  Good at what we do.  We help people grasp that change is needed.  Make the change. Profit from the change.

But that’s my professional life.  Personally, it’s different.  I’ve embraced all sorts of change – major change – and am proud to be consciously, constantly evolving human being.  In matters of my business, our family, the marriage, relationships … I’m good with change.  I handle it, thrive through it and everything is always for the better.  ‘It will all be good in the end.  If it’s not good, it’s not the end,’ Is my life philosophy.  I don’t sweat the small stuff or pet the sweaty stuff.

But the blackberry … that’s been with me for more than a decade.  It had transformed my life and enabled mobility.  I know this tool, can use it, and have mastered it.  I like it.

For YEARS, my clients, peers, colleagues, acquaintances and now strangers, have chuckled when I reveal a blackberry.  It is indeed a rare sight in Silicon Valley.  I defied the derision at first, defended myself, then started hiding my technology when in the offices of great Valley icons, or in public places.  When the camera started failing, the memory wasn’t working and sync’ing wasn’t happening as it should, I made the decision to change.  To upgrade.  Over a period, no exaggeration, of about two years, maybe three, I browsed available offerings, got a bit more familiar with new technologies, gathered opinions, read reviews, learned a lot.  But when my upgrades became available, I gave them to both kids and waited my turn.  Prepared myself.   I knew that I needed to upgrade and that there were now better devices to choose from.  A client and friend that I greatly respect (after once again rolling his eyes at the worn blackberry in my pocket), told me clearly that the Samsung Galaxy X III was exactly the right tool for me.  And I started to believe that.  Their ad campaign was validating.  It looked cool, capable. Not an iPhone but a touch screen and said to be suitable for a ‘PC’ lifestyle.

And Accept That the Time is Now

Blackberry’s  problems grew more severe.  I was traveling and couldn’t save pictures, connect with my kids;  pictures I took were distorted.  Sync hadn’t worked and none of my appointments were there in MS Outlook.  She was in her death throes and we both knew it.  The time had come.  Verizon told me I was again due for an upgrade… and the Samsung Galaxy X III was at an amazing price.  I accepted that change was needed.  And that the time was now.  January – a fresh new year.  New tool for my life and for my business.  With determination and a bit of excitement, I headed in to the Verizon store.  Interesting that the positives of switching were preparatory. It was pain that prompted actual movement to something new.

2 Hours Outside My Comfort Zone

I took my number and waited in line, knowing already what I wanted, but determined to leave with a functioning phone.  More than a little intimidated by the challenge of transition.  Ensuring my thousands of contacts made it to the new world and remained accessible to me.  Fearful that passwords for server access, email accounts, Outlook sync were set so long ago I no longer recalled any of it.  Hopeful that Verizon could switch me over and I could leave to experiment and get comfortable on my own.

Because I’m in this line of work, I was observing myself as my mood shifted from predominantly determined and excited about a brave new world to fearful and uncomfortably incapable as I first handled the new device.  ‘Back’ was not intuitively obvious. And I wasn’t able to form the question when I couldn’t find it.  The invisible button, I learned later, is on the FRAME of the device, not in the area you’re working on.  On the FRAME!  eMail wasn’t a main icon on the front – it’s in an app.  And you have to know that to click in to the Apps, find it, and then set up.  My contacts didn’t all port over.  We don’t know why.  But I haven’t yet noticed who’s missing …

But the thing was, I was actually afraid at one point.  And it stymied me.  I knew I wanted to make this change but I was so comfortable and in command of my blackberry, the contrast was horrible and stark with this new device I simply did not know.  And I’d waited so long, the helpers on the job had expectations of knowledge several iterations beyond mine.  They didn’t think to explain that ‘back’ is on the device frame because it had been that way so many years in their mindset.  I didn’t know enough to ask the right questions to help myself get more comfortable.  Research such as Apple conducted many years ago, witnessing customers opening product shipments to help them redesign packaging to create a better experience… needs to be done for the Blackberry user attempting this painful transition.  The beauty of a blackberry device is control.  Removing that in one swell foop can induce traumatic level of fear and discomfort that should not be part of the equation, that the Samsung team should seek to minimize.  I left the store believing I could GET comfortable, but far from it.  My hopes hinged greatly on the fact that my daughter was a prolific user that could likely assist me in learning some basic ropes.

And Now … A Whole New World

So now, two months later, I’ve got a new lifestyle!  A working camera, much easier sharing, sharper viewing, web browsing, ease of synchronizing (you don’t have to!  It just wirelessly happens…)   The touch screen dictates some changes in work style – I can view PDF’s, Excel spreadsheets and Word docs much more easily, as attachments, which is convenient.  I do – sorely — miss that QWERTY keyboard and my blazing speed on a QWERTY with thumbs, versus this ‘hunt and peck’ situation with index fingers … but that too, has caused some redefinition of life and work style choices.  It seems easier now to simply use the device as a ‘touch base’ tool – see what’s going on, communications underway, view progress from the various players.  But wait to be back in the office or with my laptop to fully respond, which is not a bad thing.  Family time is more purely family time.  Work is a bit more separate.  Or as separate as it can be for the entrepreneur who owns the business.  Ultimately, it IS all good.  And I know there are so many features I’ve not even peeked at yet!    Let alone mastered.  Onward and upward!

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