Each year around this time, I've been running a post with twenty-five lessons learned from the past year away from full-time corporate life. With prompting from a Brainzooming blog reader who is a long-time friend and incredibly kind supporter, here's this year's edition of lessons from another year away from corporate life.
25 Lessons Learned in Year Five Away from Corporate Life
- Some things aren't going to change. Lots of things will get worse; change the hell out of all those things.
- When it comes to business development, there's a huge difference between enough business and enough possibilities to yield enough business exactly when you need it.
- You have to replenish the wind in your sails . . . you can't afford to simply coast forever.
- It's nice to have someone who will call B.S. on you in a constructive way.
- Someone new and unfamiliar with what you do may be exactly the right person to throw you the huge challenge you've been avoiding even considering.
- It's fine to have a positive attitude and firmly believe you won't deal with the same issues that other entrepreneurs do in their companies. When reality shows your positive attitude to be ill founded, get over it and learn quickly how others dealt with the issues now befalling you.
- Sometimes your family obligations are going to have to take a back seat to doing what you need to do for your business. Other times, family obligations will be so important that you'll turn your back on business without even a thought. There's no hard and fast rule (at least that I've found) for predicting in advance which will be which.
- When a future opportunity goes away for no apparent reason, be vigilant for the often subtle demonstration in the future that reveals exactly why the opportunity had to go away.
- Make very few statements about how you will ALWAYS do something or NEVER do something. Things will change. Then you're left figuring out how to make a graceful change to what you've been proclaiming with such certainty.
- It's vital to improve your skills at saying no to the right things.
- Maybe I can only write in less than 1,000 word chunks. And putting together one hundred 500 word chunks doesn't seem yet like it's a practical way to create a book. But, I did say, "Yet."
- There have been many more opportunities this year to teach people how to do their own Brainzooming. Those experiences have been invaluable in shaping how we present the material and helping to realize "teaching" may be the important piece of the business that didn't seem nearly as important when we started.
- If you would have ever asked me before we started, I don't think I'd ever have included nonprofit organizations as an important client group for us. Yet, our relationships with the nonprofits we've worked with closely have been tremendously rewarding. It's one thing to work with someone who is looking up two or three layers in an organization to get things done vs. an executive director who may have fewer resources, but can make things happen once the direction is created.
- I never thought it would get challenging to write either list posts or recaps from conferences I attend (considering I'm typically generating 100 or 200 tweets as a starting point). But for some reason, both of these forms became real blocks in the past year. It's important to recognize, however, I've stuck with blogging as a form of creative form expression longer than I have probably any other form in my life. It seems as if it's time to reinvent the boundaries and what's within them.
- This is the year where I feel I've done less practicing what I preach than at any time since the business started. Thus, the renewed importance of surrounding myself with people who will keep me honest in doing for ourselves what we'd readily recommend to others.
- The coming year has to become the year of recasting content. There is value to deliver from the body of work in blogs, presentations, and workshop material. The job now is to create it.
- Feeling alone and not liking it isn't a new lesson. In fact, it was one of my biggest concerns in starting the business five years ago. In several ways, however, this past year was the year of feeling alone.
- Easy answers and good answers aren't going to be the same. When I wade into social media channels, it seems people are much more intrigued by easy answers than good answers. That leaves me focused on the smaller portion represented by where the two intersect. I just can't pump out easy answers that aren't good ones.
- I’d never considered the possibility that the golden egg may be golden inside and look plain outside. If that’s common, how many golden eggs have I walked by in my career?
- If you want to learn things you would never suspect about your business, categorize and re-categorize information about what you do. Simply putting different labels and different sorts on even skeletal data can tell you volumes.
- As much as some people get excited about paying attention to things that are changing, I get excited about paying attention to things that aren’t changing.
- I wrote perhaps the most revealing post about myself ever this year. It was the one about the twenty-five steps I go through on every presentation. Now that all the steps are spelled out, I can actually tell where each presentation is and how far away it is from reaching a happy place.
- I never realized how often I’d be thankful for my ability to act oblivious when I’m really not oblivious to what’s going on around me.
- When you’re getting four hours of sleep on a consistent basis, it’s harder to shift mental gears whenever you need to do so.
- It only takes one reader writing a very sweet and completely humbling email to get me to do just about anything differently. This one’s for you, Jennifer Nelson! – Mike Brown
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