January always brings the promise of new beginnings, the righting of wrongs, and the sense that it’s a good time to reinvent oneself in at least some fashion. For myself, I have a list of both personal and professional resolutions. Here are the most important things I want to do in 2016.
Get less cynical about digital. I’ve been doing corporate digital and social since before MySpace launched and since Facebook was only available at about five universities. I was doing corporate social for IBM back when “social” meant blogs and podcasts only. So I’ve seen pretty much it all: the rise and fall of social platforms, the predictable hype cycle that surrounds most every platform or tool that’s launched, the rush by would-be gurus and self-titled social media experts to be “first” on a new platform. I’ve rolled my eyes and gnashed my teeth at the speaking fees commanded by some social media “thought leaders” who in my opinion aren’t worth listening to at all, much less paying for. And I’ve gotten pretty cynical about this whole space, to be honest with you. My private emails and Slack exchanges are full of smart-assery and derisive comments about the hype cycle around The Next Big Thing whenever it comes out and everyone’s hyping it. I don’t think I’m very good at hiding my scorn for the gurus, if they’re ever mentioned in a work conversation. Yeah, it’s safe to say that I’ve become a real cynic when it comes to social media. And objectively, 99% of that skepticism is well-deserved.
But I’ve been thinking lately that maybe I ought to be taking my Jerk Hat off just a little more often. Maybe I am missing out on hearing some good ideas from someone who might have something worth hearing if I wasn’t so busy being cynical. Or I might be late to the game on something that might be really impactful, just because I ignored it in my jaded skepticism when it first started to emerge. It can’t hurt me to be a bit more open-minded when something new comes along, or to hearing what someone else has to say. My BS-o-meter will stay finely tuned, of course… but maybe I’ll change its default setting in 2016, from “automatic” to “wait and see.”
Write more. It’s ironic for someone who a) used to be a very active blogger, and b) makes a living telling companies that they have to produce good content at a regular cadence in order to be effective, but I don’t write very often for the Voce or Porter Novelli blogs. I’ve been trying to make more of an effort in the last couple of months to post more, but I can and should do better. You’ll see me posting much more often for our blogs, maybe even doing a few podcasts, in 2016. On the personal side, maybe this is the year I finally get to putting one or more of the novels to electronic paper that have been rattling around in my brain for years; I keep saying I’m going to do it, and I never have.
Expand my knowledge. The digital space changes fast — we all know that. While it’s pretty much impossible for anyone to be an expert at all aspects of a profession (and I’d frankly mistrust anyone who positioned themselves as such), there are some key pieces of the digital space that I’d be more comfortable if I understood better or knew more. So I’m going to ramp up my learning on analytics and measurement in 2016, for starters. There are other things that either have come along or will come along that I should know more about, but analytics is the space more clients are asking about and it’s the thing I should bone up on the most.
Brevity. I seem to be constitutionally allergic to writing concisely — always have been. The length of some of my emails is a running joke inside Voce, and when I am asking our editor about word limits on blog posts, it’s a given that I am talking about maximum words allowed, not minimum. I’m going to work on saying more by saying less in 2016. (ed. note: dude…)
Be the biggest loser. My weight has been a challenge for me for a while now (wouldn’t we all like to be thinner or fitter?), but in 2015 I got really sloppy and put on pounds at an alarming rate. I gained almost 50 pounds from the beginning of 2015 — and it even got so bad that my doctors began giving me The Speech about weight loss. And they’re right – I need to lose weight. The consultant’s lifestyle isn’t always very conducive to healthy living, but 2016 needs to be the year I stop making excuses and start being healthier. I’d love to lose 100 pounds and probably should lose at least 80, but if I’m being realistic, I’ll be happy being down 50 or 60 pounds at the end of 2016 from what I was at its beginning. I’ll be a happier person, and a more energetic professional, if I can do it.
Start using productivity tools. I am one of the last of a dying age; I prefer to take handwritten notes, keep everything in notebooks, maintain handwritten to-do lists. But even I am having to admit now that some of the digital or online tools could probably help me. So I’ll start to learn the preeminent ones and experiment with some that are coming up.
Network better. I work from home, so my networking opportunities are usually limited to my 3 year old, my dog, my wife, and my 13 year old if it’s one of the days where I’m not too uncool to talk to. I have used my home office as an excuse, and I haven’t gotten out to network nearly as often as I did when I worked from an office. That’s got to stop. So in 2016, I’m going to get out more. I’m going to join the Detroit chapters of one of the big professional organizations in communications — and I’m going to actually go to meetings. I will get to more conferences and actually talk to people in between sessions instead of scurrying to the next place I have to be. I used to be pretty good at networking; five years in a home office have dulled my skills, and it’s time to once again refine them.
Filed in Voce People