Reflections on 2023 and the future ahead
Actually, I can't tell the future, but I can share what's in my head...
It's been a while since you last heard from me, and I am sorry, but on the positive, this is a jam-packed edition. The following are the ten ideas going through my head as the year ends. I hope you find at least one of them helpful.
1. Working hard is not enough. 2023 started like any other year, and then a couple of weeks in, I was laid off. I spent the next few months looking for work. It was eye-opening as I skated past two other recessions without issue. I always thought if I worked hard, contributed generously to the bottom line, and kept my head down, things would take care of themselves. Well, I learned a good lesson in taking anything for granted. Namely, that, being a good performer would protect you. I now know it doesn't matter.
2. Take advantage of opportunities to invest in education and training. Sure, we all learn daily - by reading and interacting with others. But what many of us put off is the investment in time (or money) of improving skills in an organized fashion. I used HubSpot for ten years or more, but it took my getting laid off to seek certification. Don't wait - invest in yourself and your skills. It's also why I was so excited to join CLI and build some of that type of content.
3. Think about your portfolio. If someone asks you what you're most proud of building, have some solid examples to showcase. Keep notes of what you build, screenshots, examples and, if possible, files. Things on the internet only stay for a while, even with archive.org - so make sure you have clips of your speaking or an ebook you contributed to. It's nice to have these things to show whenever you need it.
4. Kids change everything beyond any prep. My wife was several months pregnant when I lost my job. It was stressful. I knew my life would change from becoming a dad. I knew all about the lost sleep and a new schedule. Nothing, no books or advice from others, matters in the end. Every child is unique. Babies test your relationship in ways I never considered. Also, working for a flexible company makes me thankful every day. Ultimately, being a dad is the best job I'll ever have, and I wouldn't change it for the world. However, it's certainly been a lesson in adaptability, flexibility and patience.
5. Always replace yourself. Building a team from scratch again reminded me of some fantastic experiences and training. Checking your ego at the door and working to elevate your employees has been a long-time mantra of mine. I was fortunate to learn the lesson that great bosses are the ones who are not afraid of you replacing them. Give your employees the insight to learn, the space to grow and the tools to bring new ideas or avenues to your goals. I have been fortunate to have had great and horrible bosses to learn from to ensure I strive to be the best version of a boss I can be. I am so lucky for the team I have at CLI.
6. For years, I have been touting the value of CX and community, and especially the idea of centers of excellence. I see even more people talking about it; more importantly, they are finally happening. I couldn't be more excited to see companies understanding how community is the lynchpin of customer experience. CX is more than support or customer success. It's the new frontier and where the future of the community industry lies.
7. Community, the term and the concept needs to change. It must grow and accept its place in the business ecosystem to survive. Call it however you want, but the "community for community's sake" argument may finally be dying. People see the importance of measuring impact and how community has real implications for a business. Many companies are learning a hard lesson as the economy gets tough, and the difference is those brands with strong communities surviving it much better
8. AI is a much bigger deal than most people realize. I am not an alarmist, but most people cannot wrap their head around what five years looks like from now. I am not saying I know either. But this is not the first tech change many of us have seen, but it is the quickest leap in recent history. For those who recall these tech changes, we know the impact will have many consequences we can't foresee. Many see AI as a tool to assist them. In my view, that only lasts until AI can learn from those interactions and replace them. The new economy will focus on experience, specifically in-person experience, which will be a growth area and should also be the focus for many in the community space. CX will be the highest growth field in the coming years.
9. Events are back and will continue to grow. However, the difference is that every major conference needs to consider hybrid. Either they do it well or don't bother. Experiences must be more intentional about including questions from the online audiences and providing networking opportunities at a distance (think matchmaking networking booths). It is another revenue stream for operators of significant events that the pandemic opened, and this door will be open for a while. I also see mini-regional events growing even more and may start to sync into these more significant events. It's an exciting time ahead
10. My final thought comes as we do some home renovations with dust flying around me. Contractors need to be more accurate on timelines. I always knew that, but it's a good lesson to ensure you time things with a buffer you can live with. And if you are doing significant renovations - try to do them BEFORE the baby is born.
Anyway, these have been my thoughts/reflections on 2023 heading into 2024 - I hope the coming year is full of all the great things you seek.
Happy Community Building!
P.S. I have left Twitter for good. Come and find me on Threads.