2014 in Review – Plus Goals for 2015 – Reade Milner

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This is the most transparent post I have ever written. I’ve long been a fan of the year-in-review blog posts, but have always been afraid to write my own, but I’m taking the leap now. This is my honest assessment of my year, mostly relating to social media and business, but there’s some bigger picture stuff in here as well.

Social media reach: 4/5
I was able to grow my influence by several thousand connections including my Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and Pinterest networks. Clever use of hashtags, effective content curation, and perhaps most importantly, writing more often (this was my first year writing for the Adam Smith Blog). I definitely want to see this trend continue.

Consistency: 2/5
I’ve not been very good about regularly posting and engaging on social media. Even with all of the resources a guy could need, my own social media presence has taken a back seat to that of my clients (as has my website, more on this below). I’m making a commitment to improve in this area in the next year.

Blogging: 3/5
While I’ve been consistently publishing a new blog at least once a week for the entire year, I still have not committed to writing on my own blog. Most of this is due to heavy client load as I build my digital marketing business, but that’s still no excuse. I’m already working on my new website, which is expected to be ready by mid-January.

Reading: 4/5
I had a decent year in this category as I exposed myself to lots of new material that really helped me become a better businessperson. Although, I definitely read a lot for fun this year, which I consider a positive. I can’t quite justify a 5/5 because I fell just short of my 50 books-in-a-year goal, though I came pretty close, considering the year I had (wedding, finding out we were expecting one month later, starting a new business, family tragedies).

Focus: 3/5
My use of this term refers to the frequency with which I apply the 80/20 principle to my life and work and focus on the areas in which I am most gifted. While I don’t claim to be an expert at anything, I’m definitely more confident in my skills in sales and marketing than I am in, say, my programming or operations skills. Knowing that, I’ve outsourced a large chunk of those areas of my business in which I don’t contribute as much as a specialist could.

Finally, I’ll leave off with three areas in which I plan to really improve upon with my goals for 2015.

1) Growing my business

Beyond just increasing sales and retainer clients, I am going to make a concerted effort to explore additional revenue streams and strategic partnerships that will make for a more sustainable enterprise. Also, it will be very important to establish processes that allow for me to take on additional work without burning out. This means documenting recurring tasks and off-loading or automating them when possible.

2) Writing more original content

Like I mentioned above, I’m going to focus on establishing a habit of writing every day so that I’ve got plenty of original content for my business blog as well as this one. I’ve already seen small improvements since implementing a 100 word per day maximum (yes, I said maximum). This keeps me from feeling overwhelmed at the total word count. I’m going to slowly increase that maximum as I get more comfortable.

3) Implementing things I read

I’m a big reader and I don’t see that changing, but I really feel like I could make that activity more worth-while by picking out one thing from every book I read to actually implement into my life. Instead of either reading and forgetting or trying to revamp my entire life after each book, I’m going to read each book like a gold-miner looking for that one nugget of information that will help me move the needle in my life and work.

I’ve really gained a lot of value in writing a yearly review. Even if you decide against publishing your self-evaluation for the whole world to see, I highly recommend writing your own, if only for your private records.

Lessons From a Blind Date Gone Wrong – Jed Jurchenko

A few weeks ago, I participated in a discussion entitled, “The Myth of Self-care.” The conversation honed in on the fact that although the word self-care might sound selfish, when done with the right attitude, self-care is actually one of the least self-centered things we can do. Let me further illustrate. A dried-up well in the middle of the desert provides nothing more than disappointment, while a well bubbling over with cool, life-giving water refreshes all who comes to it.

It is very similar with us. In order for our conversations to be refreshing, we must first be refreshed ourselves. This brings me to the topic of the most depressing date I ever went on. Although the story took place many, many years ago, it is still gloomy to think about. It was a blind-date, and we met for the first time at Starbucks. I was looking forward to strong coffee, lively conversation, and meeting someone new, but here are a few lessons from a blind date gone wrong.

 

Self-care for communicators

 

I remember watching the woman whom I suspected was my date walk through the door. First impressions are a funny thing—although I possess no superpowers that I’m aware of—on that particular day, my Spidey-senses went off. A chill ran up the back of my neck, and a little voice inside my head whispered “run!”. Unfortunately, I was far too polite to trust my instincts and instead, stood to my feet and introduced myself.

After purchasing our coffee, my date and I sat down to what would become one of the most depressing moments of my early-twenties. My casual question of “How are you?” led to two hours of one depressing story after another.

This unfortunate girl had been in a car accident a few weeks earlier and was now getting shots into her back to reduce the pain. Apparently, she had scheduled her latest round of treatment shortly before meeting up with me. That day I learned how the medication was making her feel drowsy and sick in addition to a multitude of other problems she was facing, which I no longer remember. However, what I do remember clearly is that by the end of our date, I was drained.

Now, at this point, it’s important to know that I truly did feel bad for her. This girl was going through a major storm in her life and I am always sorry to see others hurting, yet this story also has an important lesson. Because my date was feeling down, what could have been a fun time turned into a gloomy experience. My blind date was in need of some serious self-care, and following this blind-date, so was I.

 

Self-care for communicators 2

 

 

One of my college professors used to say, “You can not impart to others that which you do not possess.”

 

In order to communicate with energy, enthusiasm, excitement, and passion we must first be filled with these things ourselves. An empty well refreshes no-one, but a person who is overflowing is able to freely give to others out of their abundance. You are ultimately responsible for taking care of you, and although the term “self-care” may sound selfish, as you can see, it is in reality one of the most beneficial things that we can do—both for others and for ourselves.

 

With that said, what have you done recently to take care of yourself?

How Not to Confuse Processes and Practices – Glenn Brooke

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Leaders must distinguish processes from practices.

Processes are repeatable, predictable and reduced-to-a-checklist.  You can train low skill workers to execute processes. The intelligence is in the checklist/recipe/formula. They can take a while to perfect, and we often notice far too late that they need to be updated.

Practices rely on the caliber of the practitioner. They are people-centric. They can evolve at least as fast as the environment changes, because you have good people with imagination and creativity and a willingness to let go of what doesn’t work anymore.

Organizations need process discipline because they are table-stakes. The differentiating factor for the most successful organizations will be the quality of practitioners.

Point to ponder: We know how to make better things, faster and cheaper; do we know how to make better people?

We’re at the cusp of an age where few people lack basic needs and our problems aren’t solved by more “stuff”. Deep people, crafted one life at a time, is perhaps the only real hope remaining. I have this quote written in several of my journals:

“The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.” (Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline)

This approach is completely at odds with
Our desire for instant results
Our foolish satisfaction with mass-produced scale
Our short-sighted craving of cheap

Invest in yourself and in your people, and keep working on your craft!