Working Out Loud in Action – Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez (@elsua) is an enthusiastic advocate of working out loud. Luis Suarez is a Chief Emergineer and People Enabler. Most importantly since February 2008 he has been living a life without email. For more on Luis’ thoughts and insights check out

Luis shares his amazing practices of and considerable passion for working out loud:

  1. You are famous for your many year journey of Living in A World without email. What started your journey of working out loud?
    Thanks much for having me over here and for the opportunity to contribute into #WOLWeek. Exciting next few days ahead!


    I would have to go back to February 2008 (8 years later after I started getting involved with Intranet social networking tools), when I first came up with the idea of “_WHAT IF_ … we would all give up on email and look for better ways of connecting, reaching out, opening up, collaborating and sharing our knowledge across much more effectively?” I then bumped into a blog post from Dave Winer where he first coined the concept of “Narrate your work” (Read it here: and I thought what a perfect way to demonstrate, walking the talk, leading by example, what it would be like finding a new way of working through social / digital tools and that is essentially what triggered the mantra behind working out loud (later coined by Bryce Williams).


    I originally was not too sure whether it was going to work or not, but as I took the plunge and started doing it day in day out I found out that not only was it possible to live a work life without email (7 years later and I am still doing it!), but it was possible to redesign a new way of working where you can become more open, public and transparent on how you get work done and for that matter the colleagues you interact with as well. Once you realise the huge potential of opening up the conversations, there is no way back any more. 2014 and we are still doing it 🙂


  2. You are a master of using social channels, communities and a range of channels to inspire and engage others. What tools and approaches do see as important for those embracing working out loud?
    More than social / digital tools, to me, the key is the mindset, the new set of behaviours that kick in eventually becoming practices. Your work. That is where it all begins. Technology is just an enabler. What really matters is that practitioners out there understand working out loud requires a mindset shift as profound as it can be where you move on from protecting and hoarding your knowledge by default because you feel that’s what makes you indispensable to eventually embrace that other mantra of “default to open”, of embracing the notion that “knowledge SHARED is power”. It’s the realisation for one self that your knowledge is no longer just yours, but from the networks and communities you constantly cultivate and nurture over the years. You and your knowledge become them. They become you.


    Again, social technologies are just the enablers and, as such, they will always be defined by a key aspect of any kind of cooperation / collaboration that happens across the board: context. Figure out where your networks are, where your audience would appreciate more your knowledge and expertise and dive in. Let the serendipity magic happen!


  3. What surprises or disappoints you about working out loud?
    It disappoints me a little bit that not many people embark on it as a new way to redefine how we work and engage with others. Working out loud hasn’t reached out a significant critical mass just yet that could help it become sustainable on its own as a new practice of doing social.


    Fear is a powerful intimidator in this sense, as plenty of people are not really that comfortable just yet in sharing their work load with total strangers, never mind close colleagues, feeling they will be ridiculed, or undermined in their abilities, if they show how they may not be as smart as they may appear. Yet, vulnerability is the new leadership. Acknowledging that we don’t know it all, that we have got limitations & weaknesses, that if we are brave enough to rely on our networks to help us address them we will become much more powerful on what we do are good steps towards ripping off the benefits of working out loud. We just have got to start somewhere… Share!


    That’s eventually what also surprises me at the same time, that once people start comprehending the reach and impact of their working out loud activities with their peers and networks amazing things start to happen: networks & communities become the new normal. Knowledge flows freely, openly, more transparently for everyone’s benefit in helping one another make better decisions, whether individual or collective ones.


    Connections & open conversations abound plentiful, a stronger sense of belonging and trust come along and before you know it you realise two key traits from today’s corporate world, perceived as long gone, come back with a vengeance: caring and empathy. And before you know it, we are making a dent in the universe.


    7 years later, it doesn’t cease to amaze me in awe, over and over again, how energising that can well be for everyone, not just those who practice working out loud.


  4.  You are a very open and generous person. How do you decide where to draw the line on what to share?
    On the really, really, REALLY highly super confidential stuff that some times I get exposed to (like back in the day when HR would send me the pay-slip telling me my monthly salary!) hahaha No, seriously, I don’t typically draw the line. I figured long long time ago that my mission in this world is to share as much as I possibly can of my knowledge accumulated over the years, hoping that someone, somewhere out there, may be able to benefit from it, reuse it and apply it to something else so that it evolves into something bigger: a connection of ideas.


    I got started with Knowledge Management around 1998 when I was co-facilitating a knowledge base for over 450 knowledge workers providing customer support to help them get their work done much more effectively and, back then, I realised that the more knowledge I would make myself available to others, whether my own, or from other sources and fellow peers, the more powerful I would be making those networks and communities around me to make their own informed decisions; helping me then, in return, to keep up with my almost insatiable curiosity to always wanting to learn something new.


    I know it may sound to complicated, but, essentially, to me, it’s always been about feeding your networks, so they can keep feeding you back through that constant and wonderful friction of open knowledge exchanges resolving on that exciting path of living life in perpetual beta, as my good friend Harold Jarche would say.


    Constantly, learning. There are no limits. Only the ones you would want to impose upon yourself and the more you do, the less you would be able to grow as a person / human being in this world.


  5.  If you had to give one short piece of advice to someone trying out working out loud what would it be?
    Start today! Don’t leave it for tomorrow. Don’t leave it for “I wonder what they would say if I start working out loud. Will they make fun of me?”. Don’t wait for others to jump in. Jump the shark yourself. Find a little courage, that extra bit of bravery we all have, but that never gets queried into action, that would help you get exposed to the wonderful world out there and dive in!


    Here’s a tip: start working out loud on your agenda for the day. The meetings you will have with your peers, your teams, your customers, your trusted circles of influence. Or perhaps a sub-set of your to-dos for the day. Let people know what’s in your head for the day and what you will be working on. What excites you, what drives and motivates you to come to work every morning.


    And, if that sounds too scary, work out loud in reverse: instead of doing it first thing in the morning, work along during the course of the day and then write a short post, somewhere where your networks are hanging out with you, where you can reflect on what you did, or perhaps what you have learned, or the amazing people you have met or worked with. Whatever you feel would be relevant for you that you would want to tell the world about. Even total strangers.


    And from there, let the magic happen! 😀


    One bonus question:
  6. Who inspires you with their working out loud?
    At this point, every single knowledge (Web) worker out there who has bravely enough embraced working out loud practices with open arms, understanding they are part of a bigger entity: their social networks, and how they nurture and cultivate them on a regular basis through open dialogue and two-way conversations vs. just broadcasting out loud their messages reluctant to engage back.


    Each and everyone of those Open Business practitioners, I salute you! You have been enjoying my admiration and excitement from all along. Even today!


    For the rest out there, reading this, please do allow me to ask you … What are you waiting for? Jump in! Join us! 😉

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