Friday, December 23, 2011

The Digital Bridge: Parker Westbrook

Meet my friend, Parker Westbrook.  Parker's a bad-ass... but don't take my word for it, she's just been named Krav Maga Instructor of the Year at Fit & Fearless. 

Yet, despite Parker's physical and mental toughness, there is 1 thing that leaves her a little queasy: technology.  Parker isn't alone, though. For those of us not born into the Net Generation, aka Digital Natives... the online and digital landscape can be daunting.

Now, I'm not a "Digital Native" either, and I'm certainly not a natural-born "techie" so I completely understand the feelings of overwhelm with technology for those of us who haven't grown up on the Internet.  But understanding that digital tools and platforms are critical to the new realities of our world, I've gone out of my way to embrace them.  This has left me in an exciting role of being a bridge between the 2 worldviews (that of Millenials and Non-Millenials) and I absolutely love it!  In being a "digital bridge" I relish being the calm voice, teaching and encouraging non-Digital Natives to harness social media for their own purposes.

Back to Parker.  She's got the training side of things down cold, but she's more than just about teaching people to kick and punch. Parker is driven to empower people to take responsibility for their own personal safety and well-being. Moved by her mission, and since she can't teach 24 hours a day, I began pestering her to broaden her digital footprint to reach a wider audience.

To that end, for the last several months I've worked with Parker to develop her online presence.  Together, we've developed an overarching strategy to communicate her message and I've trained her in using various online tools.  For me, the most compelling tool she's using is podcasting.  This idea was born out of Parker's unrelenting quest for knowledge exhibited by her habit of interviewing "people on the front lines of what’s happening in the world of combat sports, self-defense, and psychology".  When I learned about these interviews, drawing on my background in documentary filmmaking, it was a no-brainer to suggest she begin recording these interviews to share with her audience so they could hear first-hand lessons from assault survivors as well as leading experts in their field.  The results are inspiring podcasts published on her website.  As a part of her digital repertoire, the podcasts not only set her apart, but serve to educate a wider audience.

Working with a tee-tiny budget, Parker's digital footprint is all DIY.  Because of Parker's initial resistance to technology, one of the most rewarding parts of working with her has been encouraging and supporting her to embrace the tools to create and sustain her digital footprint.  When we first started working together she was skeptical about creating and maintaining her own website, etc, but its been fun for me to increase her digital confidence and prove to her that she can do it!

In addition to working with Parker on the digital platforms themselves, its has also been exciting to apply the business principles that we've been learning in the dMBA program - especially the areas of Marketing & Branding.  In fact, working with Parker has been a rewarding opportunity to put the Digital in Digital MBA! 

Thank you to Joni McClain of Love and Light Images for the use of Parker's photo.

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