What’s Driving the Future of PR and Communications

What does the future hold for PR and communications? Check out the Relevance Report.

New from the USC Center for Public Relations this month, it’s full of innovative ideas on what’s ahead.

Global. Mobile. Video. Data. Emotion. These are just a few of the trend areas accelerating in the year ahead.

The biggest learning for me? It’s the parallel and seemingly paradoxical rise of data and emotion as drivers of influence. Data drives better decision making, while emotion is a prime influencer of people’s opinions and behaviors.

Find out more in my latest blog post on the USC Annenberg Alumni website.

It’s about what you’ll learn in this insightful report, with nuggets of wisdom from Annenberg’s Bob Feldman and Heather Rim as well as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas Friedman.

The post is part of being a proud Annenberg Alumni Ambassador this school year. It’s a thrill to share the best of this distinguished school for communication and journalism.

The Relevance Report gives timely insight into trends that will impact society, business and communications. It features thought pieces from communications leaders who identify the issues, ideas and innovations that will be relevant to the communications industry in 2017.

What is Social Savvy?

“If a company or a person does something great but no one knows about it, does it really matter?”

That’s a question I asked in my very first blog post.

Yes, there are random acts of kindness intended to be done under the radar. Yet, hearing about them can be inspiring when others share the news, like my sister did on Facebook.

While getting coffee in her Connecticut town, she overhead another customer buying a gift card for the police officer outside who was directing traffic. That’s an instant day brightener. And maybe it will inspire others toward similar acts of kindness.

Data and information are collected about us every day, according to The Reputation Economy by Michael Fertik. The question is what we want that data to say about us as a person and as a professional.

Do we want it to open doors or close them? Do we want it to augment the hard work we do every day or detract from it? Do we want it to make our life better or make it harder?

More and more, everything we do has implications for our own personal reputations as well as the companies where we work or that we own. This is both in real life, or IRL, as well as how that becomes represented in social media.

This means we each have great power to do good in the world, to a larger extent than has ever been available to us. And it also means we have the potential make major missteps.

This means each of us needs social savvy.

What’s that?

SOCIAL SAVVY: the vital ability for people to personally brand and market themselves successfully in social media in our ever-evolving world.

This skill is important throughout our lives.

It applies to high school students who are preparing their college applications or moving into the working world.

It applies to college and grad school students who are getting ready to transition into the working world.

And it applies to people throughout their professional lives. For corporate professionals in particular, the stakes for social media are higher.

Social media can help or hurt careers. It can add to or detract from a corporate reputation and an employer brand. It can make acquiring top talent a breeze or a burden.

The risks are high, but so are the rewards. And in our ever-evolving world, no one can afford to sit on the sidelines. The pace of change is too fast for that.

Corporate professionals often ignore or short-change social media. Why? They don’t have the time, they don’t see the value and they don’t want to make a mistake.

Developing social savvy is how professionals can create and implement a social strategy to highlight and share their own thought processes and achievements, along with those of their organizations.

Social savvy is a powerful way for corporate professionals to build their personal brand, advance their career and embrace their future.

What are some examples of social savvy? What does it look like?

  • Using social media to build and amplify your personal brand, the unique value that you bring to the world
  • Positioning yourself in the most favorable light, for a number of career and life paths
  • Positioning your employer or company in the most favorable light
  • Advancing your career through a positive social strategy
  • Helping others advance their careers
  • Helping your company achieve its goals
  • Building your employer’s corporate reputation and employer brand
  • Knowing what to do and not to do in social media
  • Seeing the links between real life and social savvy
  • Knowing when and how to engage with critics

How are you demonstrating social savvy?

Don’t Ditch Social Media

Four friends checking their mobile phones at the same time.

Social media got a bad rap during this year’s election process.

Fake news, Twitter trolls and cyber bullying came under fire.

Among American social media users, the Pew Research Center reported that 65% expressed “resignation and frustration about online political conversations.”

It’s enough to make anyone want to quit social media for good.

But don’t do that.

Why?

Because of your 100-year life.

What’s that about, you ask?

Well, more than half of babies born in developed nations in the 2000s can expect live to 100 or beyond, according to the medical journal The Lancet. And if you were born before then, your life will likely be a lot longer than you think.

A new book called The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity got me thinking about this.

Authors Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott are from the London Business School. They look at how anyone at any age can and should plan for their greater life expectancy, turning the extra time into “a gift and not a curse.”

When lives were shorter, people lived a three-stage life – education, work and retirement. These stages were compartments that didn’t overlap.

As early as 1978, Richard Bolles wrote about them in The Three Boxes of Life and How to Get Out of Them: An Introduction to Work/Life Planning. He advanced the idea that you needed to incorporate all three stages across your entire life.

He also wrote What Color is Your Parachute? It was chosen as one of the 100 All-TIME best and most influential non-fiction books published since 1923.

With how quickly the world is changing, Bolles’ advice was and is spot on.

  • We need to embrace lifelong learning, actively developing new skills as technology and globalization accelerate.
  • We need productive work to provide purpose, meaning and economic sustenance throughout our lives.
  • And we need leisure time to enjoy our lives and the people in them, and to refresh and renew ourselves.

Gratton and Scott explore this concept in writing about the interplay between tangible and intangible assets. They define an asset as “something that can provide a flow of benefits over several periods of time.”

Tangible assets “have a physical existence” and include things like housing, cash and investments. Intangible assets are things like “a supportive family, great friends, strong skills and knowledge, and good physical and mental health.”

The authors say that intangible assets are “key to a long and productive life – both as an end in themselves and also as in input into tangible assets.” They divide them into three categories of assets – productive, vitality and transformational.

One of these intangibles – a productive asset along with skills, knowledge and peers – is your reputation. “When a company has a positive brand, or a person has a good reputation, it is much easier for others to interact with them,” the authors say.

“A good reputation can be enormously important as it enables your valuable stocks of skills and knowledge to be really utilized in a productive way,” they continue. “It can also have a profound impact on your professional social capital.”

Why? “A good reputation will be one of the assets that enable you to expand your horizons,” the authors say. “It is the combination of portable skills and knowledge and a good reputation that will help bridge into new fields.”

They go on to write that “over the coming decades, it is likely that reputation will be based on a broader range of inputs. As future careers embrace more stages and more transitions, then inevitably this will create a broader range of information.”

Enter social media.

“Social media will increasingly broadcast your image and values to others and allow others to track and monitor performance,” they say. “So it is inevitable that you will need to curate a brand and reputation the covers far more than just your professional behavior.”

Everyone will need to signal their skills, their capabilities and their values during a longer life that potentially has multiple transitions. And transitions can take many forms – from one functional area to another, from one company to another and from one type of work to another.

Social media makes it easy to do this.

Over time, you can share your skills and abilities through many platforms – a Twitter feed, a YouTube channel, an Instagram stream, a LinkedIn portfolio, a Snapchat story or a personal blog. And these platforms will continue to change and evolve, with new ones emerging over time.

If you want to make your life’s transitions easier and more fulfilling, then social media is a must. And this doesn’t mean being on a few platforms to share photos with family and friends. A deliberate strategy and a plan for your personal brand in social media is imperative.

But where do you begin? Which social media platforms should you use? How do you curate and create content without it taking over your whole life?

Those will be the subjects of several upcoming posts.

3 Ways to Push through Fear

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Here be dragons.

It’s been more than 500 years since Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European explorer to navigate the coast of what’s now California.

Yet dragons in the form of swells and currents confronted me every time I went stand-up paddle boarding this spring and contemplated venturing beyond the marina.

The conditions were never right. Or at least that’s what I told myself. The waves were too big. There were too many big boats coming and going. I didn’t know how to navigate the open ocean.

Yes, as a kid I’d made it though the shark level of YMCA swim classes. I still remember the trauma of having to do a back dive to pass one of the classes. And yes, time proved that I was correct that I’d never, ever again need to know how to execute a back dive.

But fast forwarding to the present day, it was getting a little boring paddling around the Redondo Beach marina, as scenic as it is. I mean, how many laps can you paddle back and forth past the sea lion barge before you want to venture further and try something new?

So my husband and I decided on a three-pronged approach. We’d take another lesson to get some coaching. We’d go in the early morning, when the water was calmer. And we’d be prepared to fail – in this case, to fall off our boards.

Here are three things I learned from this today.

  • Take the counterintuitive approach and relax. This is similar to when your car skids and you need resist slamming on the brakes. Instead, you should just lift your foot off the accelerator and steer into the skid. It’s not the intuitive approach.

“Paddle boarding is a weather sport,” our instructor from Tarsan Stand Up Paddle Boarding reminded us. So you have to go with the conditions. Move with the water. Stay relaxed.

And that’s the last thing I wanted to do. But breathing, focusing and staying in the moment helped. Before we knew it, we were past the small swells at the breakwater and out into the ocean. We did it. Amazing!

  • Try something, see how it works and adjust the approach on the fly. Our instructor gave us a few strategies. Stay low, with your knees bent. Kneel on your board if you have to. The paddle is a great stabilizer, plus it floats (who knew?). And think of your paddle as an extension of your arm.

Try leaning left. Leaning right. Padding straight into and over the swells. Wiggling toes when they go to sleep. Trying something to see what happens. Adjusting the approach as needed.

  • Go further every time. The best way to make progress is to keep pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. Just try something new and see what happens.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your career, your family or your hobbies. More often than not, it will be like today – much easier that anticipated (or dreaded, in my case) and a whole lot of fun.

And who wouldn’t like more fun in their life?

How Gritty Are You?

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Did you catch two great books that came out this month? Grit by Angela Duckworth and TED Talks by Chris Anderson were both released on May 3.

More to come on TED in a future post, and for the 6-minute version of Grit, watch the TED talk. Dive into Grit the book for more on the science behind the concept. This answered 3 key questions for me.

First, what is grit? Duckworth defines it as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” More than talent and intelligence, grit is what ultimately makes people successful in achieving their goals.

She said in her TED talk that “Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Are you curious to see how gritty you are? Test yourself on the Grit Scale.

Second, what can be life-changing about grit? You don’t have to possess natural talent or off-the-charts intelligence in order to do great things. In fact, “natural talent” may simply be the outcome of a lot of hard work behind the scenes that ultimately comes to appear effortless.

If you have passion for something and decide to persevere no matter what, you have an excellent chance of achieving your goal. So says the science in Duckworth’s studies.

Third, what does this mean for your life? It means you don’t have any excuses. You can no longer say you don’t have what it takes to accomplish a goal in your area of passion. You have to own up to the fact that you didn’t work hard enough.

Does that mean you should never throw in the towel on something? Of course not. There are times when you need to cut your losses and move on. Just don’t do it too soon. Give yourself time to move beyond the inevitable period of being bad at something new, with thanks here to Erika Andersen.

How has grit made a difference? A few years ago, my daughter was struggling in her first AP class in high school. She missed the deadline to level down to a regular class. A few academic advisors later told her they could move her to a lower class and suggested that she avoid future AP courses.

To my surprise (and delight), my daughter said no. She wanted to finish the course. And finish she did. She eked by with a passing, but not great, grade in the course. But she got a qualifying score on the exam, one that will give her college credit. And she went on to take other AP courses, with better grades and better scores. All because she chose to persevere.

You’ve probably faced times like those in your life and your career. I can think of more than a few. When launching a new way to work with social collaboration a few years ago, I had moments of terror. How would we do it? How would we manage through the inevitable mistakes? How would we make it successful?

The day our beta test launched, I decided I would start a blog. The purpose? To create a safe learning environment for others. To role model the use of the new platform. And to learn by doing so I could advise other leaders on starting their own blogs.

It wasn’t easy, admitting what I didn’t know. Making mistakes. Asking the community for help in how to perform seemingly simple functions, like creating hyperlinks. Or launching a project on Social Media for Innovation in partnership with Gerry Ledford of USC’s Center for Effective Organizations. But that’s how I learned.

A fierce level of tenacity existed among the people on my team at the time who were leading the project – Michael Ambrozewicz and Thyda Nhek Vanhook. And we had tremendous colleagues in our I.T. organization, starting from Frank Palase to Brian Ulm and many, many others.

How did we do? I knew we’d achieved success when people started talking about the platform in meetings. When I’d walk by a conference room and see a platform screen displayed on a monitor. When I worked with our CEO to launch his leadership blog. And when nearly 90% of our employees were using the platform to do their daily work more efficiently.

In those moments when you want to shut down and walk away from a seemingly unsolvable problem, what works best is to do the opposite. Take some kind of action. Any action. Get feedback from others. Adjust your path. And keep moving forward.

How do you persevere on your most important goals?

Leaping or Lagging?

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Leaping is my theme for 2016.

It was partially inspired by Tara Sophia Mohr from her book Playing Big.

What’s a leap?

It’s something that “has you playing bigger right now, is simple, and can be completed in one to two weeks, gets your adrenaline flowing, and puts you in contact with the people/audience/customers/stakeholders you want to reach through your playing bigger.”

So when I finished my April adventure yesterday, I wrote a blog post about what I’ve learned from blogging every day for the last month. I knew I needed to share it more broadly than my usual tweet, sometimes supplemented by a status update in LinkedIn.

Yet I didn’t want to do it. The tweet was easier. Been there, done that. The LinkedUp update was fine. Then it was time to try out InstaQuote for an Instagram post of the post’s image and title. Okay. Easy enough.

The bar got harder with Facebook. I’ve only shared a blog post among friends once before. I don’t want to be “that person” in social media. The one that people get tired of hearing from and quietly put on mute. To spare your feelings and theirs.

And then I remembered a great post about in Inc. by Chris Winfield. In writing about how to stop procrastination, he got to the root cause. Why do we procrastinate?

Because “we believe that taking action will cause us a certain amount of pain.

Yep. I was trying to avoid pain. Of potential ridicule. Of being ignored.

Chris recommends a powerful way to move beyond it. Ask yourself, “What can you do in the next three minutes that will move something forward? What’s one small action that you can take right now?”

It’s very similar to David Allen‘s system for getting things done. It’s all about clarity on the next action.

For me, it was a Facebook post. What’s the next action for you?

12 Things I Learned from Blogging Every Day for a Month

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At the beginning of this month, I started an April adventure. What was it? To complete each of my daily dozen tasks every day for an entire month.

Why did I do it? To experiment. To create change. To get more done. To make decisions. To enjoy life more.

Here’s what I learned. Most of it was from blogging every day for a month, the one activity I did faithfully every day.

1. It’s easier doing things on most days, rather than every day. Sometimes the day’s schedule precluded doing everything on my list. And some activities shouldn’t be done daily, like lifting weights.

Days when I traveled called for extra creativity. For exercise, that meant getting in some steps while waiting at the airport. It also meant packing lighter “athletic” shoes that would fit in my bag so I could use the hotel fitness center.

They were a pair of slip-on Keds that took up a sliver of space in my bag compared with my usual workout shoes. A podiatrist might disagree, but they worked for 30 minutes of walking on the treadmill. The longer-term solution? When I replace my current workout shoes, I’ll get a smaller, lighter pair.

The benefit of doing an activity every day is that you don’t have to think about it. That makes it easier to do on a consistent basis. But once it’s become a habit, it’s easier to do it on most days of the week, rather than every day.

2. To make a new habit stick, focus on just one each month. Some days had a breathless quality of racing through activities to check them off the list. Some were already automatic, like taking vitamins. But others required chunks of time, like blogging, reading, exercising and sleeping. Even doubling up on activities didn’t fully do the trick.

What will work better? Focusing on one area each month. That’s inspired by Gretchen Rubin‘s year-long happiness project. She focused on one area of life each month for a year. In the final month, she combined all of her newly established habits and rituals.

So I’ll take my daily dozen, with a few tweaks, and assign each to a month over the coming year. The month of May? It’s a tossup between healthy eating and sleep.

Four years ago, on Mother’s Day, I became a lifetime member of Weight Watchers after losing nearly 50 pounds. And while thankfully I’m not the person who regained all of the weight and more, I would not keep my membership (within 2 pounds of goal) if I went to a weigh-in today.

It’s a struggle, this constant vigilance and self-care. The words of a Weight Watchers leaders still ring in my ears, “It ain’t over ’til you’re over.” How true.

So this May will be the month of healthy eating. Back to the healthful simplicity of the “power foods” – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nonfat dairy and lean protein.

3. Clarify what you most enjoy by analyzing how you spend your time. What do you most love to do? One of mine is writing. It’s usually a guaranteed flow state, every time.

My April adventure clarified this because blogging was the one activity I did daily (other than taking vitamins, which I’m choosing not to count because it was already a well-established habit and takes only a minute to complete).

Whether it’s writing a report a work, or an inspiration for a community charity organization or this blog, I love to write. So I’ll focus on areas where I can do more than that.

4. Celebrate progress. One of my purposes in blogging daily was to clarify the focus of this blog. It began as an exploration of the future of corporate communications. Then it evolved into a learning journey, with a focus on the data analytics aspect of a career pivot.

And while I didn’t fully crystallize the focus of this blog, I did make progress. I know what I can take off the list. While I’ll still devote learning time to reading blogs and books about data analytics, along with some online courses, that specifically won’t be the focus of this blog.

I’ll continue to write about learning in general. It’s something we’ll all need to do throughout our lives, regardless of the the specific subject.

In my work, I’m intrigued by the intersection between data science and communication. As I find a way to link the two in an interesting way, that may be the subject of some future blog posts.

5. The more effortless you make your goals, the easier is it to accomplish them. With WordPress on my MacBook, iPad and iPhone, I could draft and post to my blog wherever I was. My Spanish is app is the same – all I need is 10 minutes and I can do my lesson for the day. My library is with me all the time with my Kindle app. And so on.

This is where I was especially proud of my employer and the vision to connect people with their world, everywhere they live and work. (Opinions on this blog are mine.) This is a great enabler – perhaps the great enabler – of what’s the most important in each of our lives.

Other enablers? Keeping my yoga mat and workout gear in my car. Having my PFD (personal floatation device) stacked beside that for standup paddle boarding sessions.

6. Complimentary activities help you get the most out of your day. For me it’s walking on the treadmill and reading (or streaming favorite TV shows on my DIRECTV app).

Thinking about 3 things I’m grateful for in the last 24 hours while brushing my teeth (thank you, Shawn Achor).

Maximizing family interactions by sitting in the dining room while I’m reading or writing or whatever so when my teens stroll by and want to engage (yes, they can be like cats), I’m there. This works in an office environment with colleagues, too.

7. Don’t try to do too much. Yet doubling up on activities only works to a point. Sometimes I struggle with enjoying the present moment. Being fully there. Not racing ahead to the next thing that I feel needs to be done.

By consciously limiting the number of things and activities I commit to, I know I’ll do better in that smaller set of activities. Given my goal to blog daily, I feel the quality of my posts wasn’t always what I wanted it to be. I didn’t have time for research, for reflection and for revising.

But I did learn some helpful strategies. When I finished one post, I’d start a new draft post and jot down my ideas in a brief outline. Then when I re-opened it to start writing, the initial thinking was already done.

This goes back to the principle of taking small steps. It also relates to my Spanish studies. While I’m not devoting big chunks of time to it, I can spend a few minutes a day. Studies are showing this goes for exercise too.

8. If something isn’t working for you, let it go. I don’t have to do everything. If something isn’t a fit, I can let it go.

This is one of the reasons I’m excited to read Angela Duckworth‘s book on Grit when the pre-order downloads to my Kindle app on May 3. This guru of tenacity and perseverance says it can be okay to quit. Just not on your hardest day.

One of my daily dozen was 2 minutes of power posing, inspired by Amy Cuddy‘s book on Presence. I’d like to think it made me stand up and sit up straighter during the day, and to take up more space. Why? To feel more confident and live life more fearlessly.

But I don’t need to do it every day. I can save it for times when I have to give a big presentation or otherwise tackle a tough challenge.

9. Relationships with people are more important than checking tasks off a list. When my daughter or son wants to talk with me, I stop what I’m doing (as hard as that can sometimes be) and I listen and chat.

Here I’m inspired by Shonda Rhimes and her Year of Yes. Whenever her daughters asked her to play, she’d stop what she was doing to spend time with them. It doesn’t take long. But it means so much.

My daughter and I have had lots of chats this month – on the road and at home as she’s been choosing her college. It’s been a learning experience. Sometimes you don’t end up where you expected, but there can be a whole new world of possibilities. It all depends on your perspective.

10. Intense activity can’t solve all of your problems – or the world’s problems. There are still sad moments. Anxious moments. Frustrating moments. We live in a world that seemingly gets crazier and more unpredictable every day – with events that are beyond our control.

Keeping busy all the time won’t solve those problems. But it will help you make progress in your own life. And that’s what makes us happy.

11. We can still control an awful lot in our lives. Our minds – with thanks to Carol Dweck and her growth mindset concept. What we do – or don’t do – every day. How we show up and share our gifts. What we choose to do and who we do it with. Being clear about what we can control and what we can’t.

12. Love is all there is. My sister Katie shared this with my last year during a very sad time her family’s life. This was a favorite saying of her mother-in-law Sylvia, who was unexpectedly near the end of her life. It makes me smile through tears to think of Sylvia, Katie and the rest of the family.

But in the end, what could be more true? Love really is all there is.

As someone who’s all about achieving goals – sometimes with a relentless zeal that my immediate family enjoys teasing me about – this one made me stop and think. Especially this month as I figured out how to cram a lot in every day.

Life truly is about the people and the relationships.

And there’s always something to love about others. No matter who they are. It helps to remember that everyone is carrying a heavy load and traveling a difficult path, even if their life appears perfect on their Instagram feed. I’ve learned to be kinder to myself and to others.

Because love is all there is.

What’s Your Birthday Ritual?

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How do you celebrate your birthday?

As I contemplated mine today, I wondered what others do. Yes, there’s the fun of celebration, cake and congratulations. Yet what else makes the day extra special? What sets the stage for your next year ahead?

I’m not sure if this relentless focus on goals has to do with being a Taurus or an ENTJ. Or maybe the two are related.

But regardless, here goes . . .

Looking back. Just as I do as New Year’s Eve approaches, I reflect on the last year. I handwrite a list of highlights. How do I remember it all? My calendar and Evernote are helpful in jogging my memory.

This has a few benefits. First, I get to enjoy reliving the best moments of the year. And second, it makes me realize I accomplished a lot more than I might have thought.

Giving thanks. It’s easy to forget the blessings in our lives. A daily list of 3 things I’m grateful for in the last 24 hours has helped bring those blessings to the fore.

Happiness researcher Shawn Achor recently suggested a great twist on this. While you brush your teeth at night, think of 3 things you’re happy about.

And on a birthday, it’s the perfect time to take stock more broadly of what you’re grateful for. Family. Health. Career. Optimism. Perseverance. Possibilities. A favorite pet. Cupcakes. Anything that makes you happy.

Looking ahead. The logical next step is to look to the future. What’s exciting about the year ahead? What was learned in the previous year that can help shape the one ahead?

What are the bright spots that you can build on? This is a great concept from Chip Heath and Dan Heath in their bestseller Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.

This is where you look for small things that are going well, you learn from them and apply them more broadly.

Enjoying the moment. What would make your day special? What would you most enjoy doing? While I love my career and my work, I take a vacation day on my birthday when I can. And I try to resist my usual tendency to over schedule.

What did that mean for today? Looking back and looking ahead. Enjoying a workout by the beach. Stopping by a beautiful local library. Spending time with family. Talking with my mom. Responding to heartwarming birthday wishes. Writing my daily blog post. A nice dinner with my husband.

Remembering my commitment not to over schedule, we’ll go standup paddle boarding and on an excursion over the weekend. I’m savoring the unusual feeling of not being rushed. The to-do lists and chores will still be there tomorrow.

Reading about what others do on their birthdays gave me a few new ideas.

Danielle LaPorte has 10 great ones. My favorite? “Make some outlandish wishes based on how you want to FEEL in the coming year. Desired. Free. Top of your game . . .”

Kevin F. Adler offers up 9. My favorites? “Have a party the evening before your actual birthday.” “Go on an adventure.” And “do something special that you’ve been wanting to do, but haven’t.”

This got me thinking about bringing something special into every day. Why wait for your birthday? What you can to do to enjoy every day?

What Did You Learn Today?

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What do you write when you don’t know what to write?

This is similar to the concept of what to do when you don’t know what to do.

On my list of daily dozen activities in my April adventure are posting to this blog and writing down 3 things I’m grateful for in the last 24 hours.

Today I wasn’t sure what to blog about. It was a full day of meetings on highly disparate topics that involved many different people. I started to synthesize it all.

Then a thought occurred to me. What if I changed “what am I grateful for?” to “what did I learn today?”

Here goes.

An editorial calendar is a must to sustain daily blogging. It’s easier to post daily when I know in advance what I’m going to write about. When planning for a particularly busy day, I outline and start drafting a post the night before. But I’ve learned this month that an editorial calendar is even more important.

Collaborative work spaces help build relationships and momentum. Visiting a company location with an open-environment workspace this week reminded me of the value of face-to-face interactions. I moved around the floor between meetings and sat in high-traffic areas. At least 3 chance conversations helped accelerate some of the projects I’m working on.

People will share the most fascinating things if you ask questions and listen. Today was a lot about asking questions and hearing what a variety of people had to say. Now I’m synthesizing all of that input, identifying areas where more information would be valuable and doing follow-up actions.

No one has all the answers. Often in life, there’s no single right answer. There are a range of options, all with upsides and downsides. Talking with a lot of people helps generate additional options. It also reinforces that we’re all figuring things out as we go along. But working together, we’re stronger.

Be humble. This is one of the most important learnings through my career pivot. Often I’m researching concepts that are new to me or asking others a lot of questions. It’s part of being bad first that Erika Andersen articulated in her book of the same name. And it sure is humbling. Yet I’m also humbled by how generous and patient people are with sharing their expertise and perspectives.

What did you learn today?

Can You Change in an Instant?

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Is it possible to change in an instant?

Conventional wisdom says no. Change involves multiple steps. Change takes time. Change is hard.

Yet there is one thing you can change in a moment. What is it? Your mind.

You don’t need more than a moment to decide you will think in a different way. You will act in a different way. You will see the world in a different way.

Endlessly inspiring in this area is one of author Gretchen Rubin‘s “twelve commandments of happiness.”

Here it is . . .

Act the way you want to feel.”

Not feeling so good, physically, emotionally or spiritually? Start acting the way you’d rather feel.

If you want to feel happy, start acting that way. If you want to feel energetic, bring a bounce to your step. If you want to feel valued, start by appreciating someone else.

And if changing your life in an instant seems too far fetched, try these tips from Nicolas Cole for how you can improve your life the most in a single day.

His best advice?

“Be today who you want to be tomorrow.”

Who do you want to be tomorrow?

Just start acting as if you already are that person.