What’s Your (Social Media) Theme for 2018?

Happy New Year!

Did you make any resolutions? Or set any goals?

A theme for the year can help you achieve them. What’s a theme? It’s a single word you pick to characterize the kind of year you want to have.

As you think about how you’ll build your career through social media in the coming year, the focus of this blog, a theme can help you in four ways.

Motivation. A theme is a personal rallying cry you can apply to everything you do, in social media and in real life. It can help motivate you to take small steps towards your goals, day after day.

Focus. A theme tells you what’s important. And what’s not. It helps you decide in an instant if you’re spending your time in the most important ways to you.

Integration. A theme brings everything in your life together, both professional and personal. Your actions support and build on each other in an integrated way.

Meaning. A theme gives meaning and purpose to every action you take. Your reason for choosing your theme gives you the “why” of your goals and actions.

2018 is year eight for me of having an annual theme. My latest theme came to me while participating in Seth Godin‘s online marketing seminar over the summer.

Seth is a bestselling author and entrepreneur, with an incredible blog on marketing, respect, and the way ideas spread. Everything in Seth’s course focused on his view that “marketing is about creating change.”

Toward the end of the class, a book arrived in the mail. It was called Footprints on the Moon, with a cover photo of Neil Armstrong. One of the sections was called “Buzzer Management.”

Parts of it went as follows:

“I started the quiz team at my high school. Alas, I didn’t do so well at the tryouts, so I ended up as the coach, but we still made it to the finals.

It took me 30 years to figure out the secret of getting in ahead of the others who also knew the answer (because the right answer is no good if someone else gets the buzz):

You need to press the buzzer before you know the answer.

As soon as you realize that you might be able to identify the answer by the time you’re asked, buzz.

Between the time you buzz and the time you’re supposed to speak, the answer will come to you. And if it doesn’t, the penalty for being wrong is small compared to the opportunity to get it right.

What separates this approach from mere recklessness is the experience of discovering (in the right situation) that buzzing makes your work better, that buzzing helps you dig deeper, that buzzing inspires you.

The act of buzzing leads to leaping, and leaping leads to great work.”

As soon as I read it, I knew my next theme had to be BUZZING. I have a habit of holding back, of waiting for perfection. And in that waiting, the world rushes by. Faster and faster, with each passing day.

It’s not comfortable, buzzing in before I’ve completely formulated my thought. But it’s exactly the reminder I need to weigh in and share my point of view. Sooner rather than later. And even if it’s not perfect.

Not in a reckless way. But in a faster way. In social media for career building, the topic of this blog, it’s still important to to keep it “light, bright and polite” in the words of Josh Ochs.

My theme gives me the extra nudge to keep learning and experimenting, while continuing to be positive and constructive in my approach to social media.

Other years’ themes have come in different ways.

Last December our family went to Disneyland over the holidays. It was crowded. Wait times were long. Our family of four ended up making it on only four rides. Yes, I calculated the per-ride cost, but I’ll spare you the painful details.

Because there was a big upside. One of the rides inspired my theme. We ended up in the front row of Soarin’ Around the World. We had a bird’s-eye view of some of the most beautiful scenes on the planet.

And there was my theme – SOARING. All of the definitions worked: to fly or glide at a great height, to rise or ascend to a height, and to rise or aspire to a higher or more exalted level.

I’m happy to say that my theme inspired and focused my efforts. It helped me to achieve several personal and professional goals during the year.

What first prompted me to choose a theme word was a particularly intense work project in 2010. I poured significant energy into designing and delivering a first-ever, week-long leadership development program for my employer. I put my heart and soul into it, giving it the energy and attention it needed to be successful.

But in the process, I seriously neglected myself. My life had become to full. It was like an overstuffed closet. As a result, I made several changes to my life in 2011.

It began by thinning my calendar of commitments, letting the clock run out on too many community activities. Next I brought thinning to my stuff, clearing out clutter and saying farewell to things I no longer needed. Then I applied thinning to myself, focusing on better nutrition and exercise, ultimately becoming a lifetime member of Weight Watchers.

My theme word was THINNING. Often we need to let go of the old to create space for the new. That’s what my theme word did for me that year. It opened up the space I needed to achieve new goals. The next year my theme word naturally evolved to BUILDING.

It wasn’t until after I stumbled upon the idea of a theme word on my own that I realized others promote this practice too.

Best-selling author Gretchen Rubin wrote A Fun Way to Shape the New Year: Pick a One-Word Theme. And nutrition professional Melinda Johnson says to Try a New Year’s Theme Instead of a Resolution.

As you build your career through social media in the coming year, a theme can focus and inspire your efforts. Beyond that, it can be a rallying cry for everything you do.

I’m excited to see what the act of buzzing will bring. As a start, it will free me from always thinking I already have to have the answer. In today’s world, we’re all seekers, looking for the answer amidst constant change. That makes experimenting, testing and iterating more important than ever before.

What’s your theme for 2018?

What’s Your Social Media Game in 2017?

It’s a new year. It’s time for a fresh set of goals. And it’s critical to think about them in novel and different ways.

In your professional life, how will you use social media to achieve your goals? How will you use social media to tell your story about your wins?

To start, think about how social media will change for professionals this year. Check out the post, along with Dorie ClarkAlexandra SamuelBryan Kramer and William Arruda for some fascinating ideas.

Then ask yourself these 4 questions to make your own social media game plan.

  • What are your company’s big goals? Is your CEO sharing the company strategy with employees this month or quarter? How about other C-suite leaders? Access any and all public information about your company’s strategic plans for the year. Be clear on the top goals and the order of priority. And be sure what you share in social media is public information only.
  • What are your team’s goals? How do the company goals translate into your department’s goals and ultimately your team’s goals? Where does your team help drive the strategy toward execution? What new and different approaches can you and your team try this year?
  • What are your professional goals? How do your team goals translate into your own professional goals? What do you need to accomplish this year? What stretch assignments do you want to tackle? On the development side, what do you want or need to learn? How will you accomplish that?
  • How will use use social media to achieve your goals and tell your story? Does social media play a role in achieving your goals? If it hasn’t before, could you incorporate it this year? When you achieve goals, how will you use social media to tell your story? What conferences are you attending? Where are you speaking? What are you blogging?

At this point, focus on “what” your goals will be. Don’t worry about the “how” at this point.


If you’re not sure about how to execute a goal, that can stand in the way of setting it in the first place. And just because you don’t exactly know how to do it, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

You’ve probably had many “first times” in your career. What did you do when your boss asked you to take on a new project, something you’d never done before? You can reflect on and use those experiences in the same way when you get to the “how” part of actually accomplishing your goals.

A former boss came to me some years ago and said the CEO wanted to do an employee engagement survey. My boss asked me to lead it.

That was beyond my role at the time as a corporate communications leader. There was a moment of terror, but after a few minutes it sounded like a fascinating project.

In thinking through the “how,” I realized I could build on the communications-related surveying I’d done, engage with experts and partners, create a team, map out a plan, execute it, learn and adjust as we went.

With so much information available online, you can research any topic and come up with ideas. Being able to figure it out is a skill that becomes more important every day.

I’m ever inspired by a talk that business leader Mark Cuban gave at my employer’s headquarters many years ago.

Most striking were his words about client meetings and commitments. A client would ask for something, and the group would agree it would be delivered the next day.

Later, Mark and his colleagues would look at each other and say they had no idea how to do what they’d just committed to. But they had all night to figure it out. And figure it out, they did. Time and time again.

If they could do it, so could I. And so can you.

For now, take some time to set your social media goals for the year.

Here are mine:

  • Amplify my employer’s social media strategy through its Social Circle, by sharing 3 posts each week.
  • Share appropriate highlights of my work in social media, by posting something at least 2 times a month.
  • Learn about how social media is changing and evolving, by listening to 5 podcasts each week during drive time.
  • Help others by sharing and commenting on their valuable content, at least 3 times a week.

Each goal is measurable, with a number attached to it. As the year goes on, I’ll assess if this is the right frequency or if tweaks need to be made.

None of my goals have anything to do with followers. In part that’s because I can’t completely control those numbers. Sure, the goals I’m pursuing are likely to attract followers. But I’m focused on actions I can 100% control on my own.

Here I’m influenced by Gary V‘s ideas on Building a Personal Brand, a Udemy course I finished today. One of the biggest takeaways? “Consistency almost trumps everything,” Gary says.

Another pearl from Gary? This one is for combating fear of failure: “Spend all your time in the in-between space, the time between starting and stopping.”

What’s your social media game plan for the year?

Don’t worry yet about the “how” of making it happen. “How” will be the subject of many future posts.

What’s Your Daily Dozen?

Daily Dozen

Do habits make us who we are?

Habits inform how we live our lives each day. And over time that adds up to who we are.

Habits underpin the goals we set, often at the start of a new year or season.

Whether it’s exercising more, working better or spending time with loved ones, goals are achieved bit by bit, in the smaller tasks we repeat on a regular basis.

And don’t underestimate how small changes add up. Small Move, Big Change by Caroline Arnold shows the power of “micro resolutions.”

As part of my own year-end rituals, I’m starting a new tradition. It’s called a Daily Dozen, for 12 key habits I’m committed to doing each day.

Some of them are well established, like walking 10,000 steps each day. Others are newer, like power posing for 2 minutes every morning.

The daily dozen concept came from Walter Chauncey Camp. Known as “the father of American football,” Camp devised a set of 12 exercises called the daily dozen while he worked for the U.S. military.

Here’s my daily dozen  12 exercises for body, mind and spirit:

3 morning pages. Thank you, Julia Cameron, for the brilliant idea of writing 3 long-hand pages every morning, about anything, in a stream of consciousness.

The practice of morning pages clears your minds, helps you solve problems and sets the stage for a highly creative day. Completion time: 20 minutes.

1 power pose. Thank you, Amy Cuddy, for the research-based practice of standing in a power pose for 2 minutes. Your body language really does shape who you are and how you think about yourelf.

But why wait for a stressful situation to try power posing? Pre-emptively, I’m doing a power pose every morning. Arms stretched out, excited about what I’ll do each day and what each one will bring. Completion time: 2 minutes.

2 sets of arm weights. While I understand why weight training should be done every other day to rest tested muscles, it’s hard to remember to do something every other day. It’s easier to do something daily, because it doesn’t require a lot of thought.

So I’ll split up my arm weight regimen. One day I’ll do 2 sets of weights, followed by a different 2 sets the next day. That way it’s daily, but different each day. Completion time: 5 minutes.

2 vitamins. This one’s easy. I’ve been taking vitamins for years. It takes seconds, it’s good for me and it gives me a small sense of accomplishment. This fuels the ability to meet other goals.

Have you ever added a task to your list after you completed it, just for the satisfaction of crossing it off as done? This goal is a similar concept. Completion time: 1 minute.

1 reasonable to-do list. Too often my master list of everything that needs to be done serves as my daily to-do list. Instead, I’ll make a daily list, the night before, of my top 5 priorities for the following day.

Taking inspiration from Tony Schwartz, 1 of the 5 will be a top-of-the-day key project to devote my first focused 90 minutes. Completion time (for the list): 10 minutes.

5 fruits and veggies. This comes from Michael Pollan’s mantra to “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” In my case that’s berries with breakfast, salads for lunch and fruits and veggies for snacks.

This is how I lost weight a few years ago. It is painfully true that the really hard part is not losing weight, but maintaining the new weight. Completion time: negligible.

30 active minutes. Successful weight maintenance is easier with daily exercise. That’s been a habit of mine for quite some time. And I’ve upped the ante with my green-day challenge to reach 10,000 steps every day.

It’s also fun to mix it up and try new forms of exercise. This year I’m looking forward to more stand up paddle boarding and yoga. Completion time: 30 minutes.

3 family member time. Life is full with a spouse and 2 teens in high school plus 1 rescue dog. Sometimes it feels like group texts are our most often used means of communication and connection.

So I sit in the dining room in the evenings, to connect with everyone during homework and dinner time. Besides chatting for a few minutes about everyone’s day, I can do my “homework” from the office while they do theirs. Completion time: variable.

1 blog post. Initially I considered posting daily. But this would not be sustainable with my family and work commitments. What I can do is devote 30 minutes daily to blog-related activities: ideating, reading, researching, writing, posting or publicizing. Completion time: 30 minutes.

30 minutes of reading. Reading helps you relax, focus and learn whether it’s my daily news ritual or reading to write a blog post. A great idea in Stretch co-authored by Karie Willyerd is to read from 3 different continents, to develop a global perspective. Does The Economist count for multiple continents?

When pressed for time, I can read on my iPad while on the treadmill (see “30 active minutes” above). And reading time counts as blog time (see above) if I’m researching a post. Completion time: 30 minutes.

3 things to be grateful for. Inspired by happiness and habits guru Gretchen Rubin, I end each day by writing down 3 things I’m grateful for. The list goes at the end of my morning pages (see above), hopefully creating a continuous loop of positive thoughts and actions. Completion time: 10 minutes.

7 hours of sleep. This may contribute the most to my well being. Life often feels like a trade-off between being close to caught up on the to-do list and caught up on sleep. But I can accomplish so much more when I’m well rested.

Sleep Cycle to the rescue, here. This app wakes you up at your lightest sleep point during a 30-minute interval that you specify. And it doesn’t subtract restless time, like another tracker I tried, which makes me happier. Completion time: 7 hours.

What’s your daily dozen?


This is my 50th post since launching this blog on New Year’s Day 2015.

While I didn’t hit my goal of 2 posts a week, I’m proud of maintaining this blog during a busy and transformative year.

With 2016’s theme of leaping, I’ll post and publicize twice a week for a total of 100. Game on!

What’s Your Theme for 2016?


Do you want to achieve more focus in the new year?

Then pick a theme for 2016 – one word that sums up your goals.

Five years ago I chose my first annual theme.

I’d just wrapped up an intense time at work, designing and delivering our company’s first leadership development program for our CEO and CHRO. This labor of love involving long hours was all made worthwhile on the final day as the 30 participants shared how the program changed their lives.

In the community I was involved with our local education foundation, leading a refresh of our strategic plan to raise money for local schools. There was also a grade-level job for my daughter’s cotillion. And co-leading my son’s Cub Scout den. Plus a bevy of youth basketball, baseball and soccer games.

Not to mention all the related parenting responsibilities for elementary- and middle-school-aged children. (And here I’m bucking a trend the Wall Street Journal reported on, about people hiding their children’s ages. Why be that coy when our own ages, addresses and more are just a few clicks away?)

Life was full. Life was good. And life was a bit too much. Too many things to do and not enough time to do them in. Not enough time to enjoy life as it happened.

That’s why my theme for 2011 became thinning.

First was thinning my calendar. The clock ran out on some of my community commitments. No new volunteer roles made it onto my calendar for a while.

Second was thinning my surroundings. Well before Marie Kondo‘s fabulous The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I pared down possessions. Gave away things that were no longer needed. Said farewell to items that were no longer valuable.

Third was thinning my body. I started eating healthier foods and exercising more. Several months later, I was 50 pounds lighter. That called for more thinning of my wardrobe.

And it also created space for the new in my life. New clothes. New experiences. New perspectives. All by focusing on thinning and having less in my life so I could truly enjoy what I had.

From Thinning, I moved on to Building. Shining. Reinventing. Transforming.

Yes, this year’s theme was transforming. Having led so many change projects in my career, I’m fascinated by reinvention, revitalization and renewal.

My company was being acquired in an exciting, transformative deal. So I looked forward to how that would transform my career. And it did, opening up new opportunities in marketing.

Our family had transformational moments with our youngest child starting high school and our oldest teen visiting colleges, taking standardized tests and applying to schools.

We finally transformed our mid-century (e.g., outdated 1950s) kitchen with new cabinets, counters, appliances and flooring. And we’re installing more water-conscious bathroom appliances, here in drought-resilient Southern California.

My exercise routine was transformed with forays into stand up paddle boarding, cardio barre and yoga. Now if I can combine paddle boarding with yoga in the new year, I’ll be all set.

My community involvement transformed with leading inspiration for my chapter of National Charity League and serving on a mayor-appointed committee in my city.

And I wanted to transform my writing and social media presence by launching this blog on New Year’s Day 2015.

Did I transform as much as I wanted? Of course not. There’s always more to be done. But as I reflect on the last year, I’m happy to see progress. And that is what life is all about.

The theme for 2016?


Leaping into what exactly?

For starters, leaping into a new and exciting role at work. It melds skills I honed in corporate communications with newer skills in the areas of measuring brand health, advertising effectiveness and customer experience.

Next is helping my daughter prepare to go to college in the fall. To become more independent and make her own decision. To figure out how to create a good life.

And then there’s this blog. It’s still a work in progress. My focus is changing and evolving, along with my professional and personal life.

Writing this blog grounds me and gives me tremendous joy. It brings more flow into my life, where I lose myself in the ever-engaging process of thinking and writing.

My leaping theme is inspired by Tara Sophia Mohr and her book Playing Big.

Mohr writes, “A leap 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.”

My first leap is posting to this blog twice a week, sharing it on social media and getting feedback. My other leaps? Those will be the subjects of future posts.

What’s your theme for 2016?

Year-End Rituals


One of my favorite year-end rituals is to take stock of the last 12 months.

How did I do on my goals? What am I proud of? What am I grateful for?

It’s something I write free form and by hand, as a numbered list. It’s roughly chronological, but several items inevitably creep in out of order. That’s okay. It could be a metaphor for how life plays out.

My camera roll, calendar and to-do lists all provide digital breadcrumbs to capture the highlights of the last year.

When I started to reflect on this year’s goals, I didn’t feel I’d achieved as much as I set out to do. The year started with a few big question marks.

What was going to happen when the company I work for was acquired by another company? Where was my son going to go to high school? Where was my daughter going to apply to college?

For the last 5 years, I’ve chosen a theme for each year. It’s a personal rallying cry, and all of my goals for the year fit in with it in some way. This will be the subject of another year-end blog post.

Then comes my life vision statement, as a reminder of why I’m on the planet and how my theme keeps me focused on that reason for being.

And then there are goals in the categories of health, family, career, finances, spirituality and social/community.

Health. Everything starts with good health – for me and my family. I did pretty well with near-daily exercise. And it was fun trying new activities, like standup paddle boarding, yoga and cardio barre.

My green day challenge with Fitbit is ramping it up to a daily action. And the new exercise shoes I break out every Jan. 1 are in my closet, ready to go for my 2016 workouts.

This reflection makes me thankful for good health. It always makes me think about what I could do better next year. My biggest opportunity is sleep. That is, getting more of it. My goal was at least 7 hours a night.

It was frustrating to see minutes subtracted for restlessness on my Fitbit, so I stopped tracking sleep. I wanted credit for every last minute in bed.

It’s time to try Sleep Cycle over the holiday break. I’m eager to see what it feels like to be awakened during the lightest phase of sleep, within a 30 minute period of my choosing.

Family. This has been a year of transitions. Our son finished 8th grade and needed to choose where to attend high school. He decided to continue at his same K-12 school and increase his academic commitment. Happily, heading into winter break he’s on a better path, scholastically speaking.

Our daughter started her senior year in high school. She made her list of colleges, finished most of the apps over Thanksgiving weekend and is wrapping up the few due in January. Much to our surprise, she already received a letter of admission. But for the most part, it’s a waiting game until March.

It’s like anything in life. You do your best. You focus on what you can control. And then you do your best not to worry about what you can’t control.

It’s time for her to finish her first semester strong, enjoy experiences with her friends and keep up with her job and other activities.

Also in the family arena was doing fun activities with my spouse. We worked through the NY Times-inspired 36 Hours book with weekends ranging from Malibu to Hollywood to Dallas.

We visited colleges in Seattle over spring break, went to our nephew’s graduation from college in San Francisco and returned to our alma mater for a UCLA football game at the Rose Bowl.

On New Year’s Day 2015 while I watched the Rose Parade, I decided I wanted to go the following year. That’s where we’ll be on Jan. 1, 2016.

For this, thanks go to author Laura Vanderkam and her advice to create a list of 100 dreams – or activities within a few hours of your home that you can do on weekends to make them more special.

Career. On New Year’s Day of this year, I launched this blog. My purpose was to explore the field, the function and the future of corporate communications, against the backdrop of our rapidly changing world.

Part of that change was a pending acquisition of the company I worked for. The deal closed in July. The goal I set at the beginning of the year was to contribute to the success of the merger of the two companies. Beyond that, I wasn’t sure exactly how the rest of the year would take shape.

But I’ve been surprised and delighted to find myself in a new role this fall, doing new things and working with new people. What a tribute to the company I’ve joined and the focus on developing people.

Finances. While I did save the max for retirement, I now need to focus on diversifying my investments for better performance. I’m looking forward to a financial planning day over the holiday break.

Refinance our house before interest rates rise? Check. And my goal to buy a new car? Well, let’s just say that some goals come to fruition, but not in the way that was initially intended. We got my daughter a car this summer, so she can drive to school and work. It makes all of our lives better.

Spirituality, social and community. A few highlights here are that I enjoyed my involvement with a mother-daughter charitable organization, a city committee on traffic safety and leadership of the women’s employee resource group at my company.

There were a few other community and civic involvement activities I pursued but that didn’t come to fruition. They became learning experiences in what I’d do differently next time.

Looking ahead. This year-end wrap up had many benefits. It made me smile to remember good times with family, friends and colleagues. It made me proud of several accomplishments. It reminded me that I can bounce back from adversity. And it highlighted how much there is to be grateful for.

Start Now


With 18 days left in the year, it’s tempting to put off new goals until New Year’s Day.

But now is a great time to get a jump start on what you want to accomplish in the new year.

Whether it’s physical or fiscal fitness, revitalizing your career or community involvement or enjoying time with family or friends, start now.


Skip the crowds. Being a contrarian and doing things when others aren’t often leads to a more efficient and pleasant experience.

Gyms aren’t busy right now, as they will be the first few weeks of the year. Now is a great time to enjoy a workout when others aren’t.

You can mix up your routine in early January to avoid the crowds. Exercise outside or change the time of your workout so you aren’t waiting for a machine or a spot in class.

Build momentum. Rather than feel like you’re starting from zero on Jan. 1, build three weeks of momentum heading into the new year.

It’s easier to continue along a path you’ve already started. And you can accelerate faster if you’re already moving.

Developing momentum builds commitment and confidence in achieving your goals. My Fitbit green-day challenge is energizing me to add other goals to the mix.

Develop a new habit. Science now says it takes 66 days to form a new habit, rather than 21 days, to establish a new habit.

Even with that longer lead time, if you start now you’ll be more than a quarter of the way to establishing a new habit by the new year.

For forming new habits, Gretchen Rubin‘s Better Than Before is a great place to start.

Combine complimentary goals. If one of your goals is to read more, think about how what you choose to read can drive other goals. For my learning project, much of my reading will be about marketing.

And I can read while I’m walking on the treadmill, bringing another goal together with my green-day challenge to hit a series of fitness metrics every day.

Set goals, not resolutions. The concept of New Year’s resolutions makes me cringe. A resolution sounds negative to me, like something you resolve to do or not do whether you like it or not.

It sounds punitive. And because sheer willpower is required to keep a resolution, they’re also a recipe for failure. Willpower isn’t a sustainable strategy.

Goals on the other hand feel more positive. They are affirmative statements of what you choose to do and what you will do. They can be aspirational and inspirational.

Just as you set performance goals in your professional life each year, now is the ideal time to be thinking about your goals, desires and dreams for the new year.

Just start. You don’t have to be perfect to start working on your new goals. Just begin. The future will come into focus as you do.

Take this blog, for example. I’m in the process of shifting the focus from exploring the future of corporate communications to learning about the process of learning.

The future isn’t completely clear or totally defined just yet (if it ever will be). But I’m blogging in the meantime, as I figure out the path forward.

“Take action now and learn as you go” is the valuable mantra from Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future.

What could you start now that would turn into a positive new habit by the time you ring in the new year?