My 3 words for 2015

As another year rolls over, I look back at the three words I chose for the previous year to see how I did, then look at the new words for the coming year. I tend to pick words that are verbs when I can, because reciting them works as a subtle imperative for me to actually do them. Let’s see how 2014 went.

Discern. Did I get better at measuring and filtering? Did I do a better job of quantifying myself? Yes, actually. I spent a lot more time measuring sleep tracking and a variety of other things, and professionally, it was a banner year for measurement. Measurement habits are definitely something I can carry into 2015.

Decide. Did I get better at making decisions? Yes, but they weren’t always well-informed. So I got better at the end result of decision making, but the decisions felt less correct this past year than they have in the past.

Discover. Did I get better at making discoveries? Quite a bit. It was a terrific year for new creations, new inventions, and for learning entirely new topic areas.

Overall, two out of three ain’t bad. So how do we top that? We come up with 3 new words, of course!

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Agility. Agility is about being able to react nimbly. In order to do so, you must be flexible and you must be alert. These are two areas where I think I’ve got some growing to do in 2015, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Research. Over the past week, while on vacation, I’ve working on a new book. Each day, I’ve sat down and cranked out a couple thousand words, and it’s felt absolutely wonderful. This year, I want to dig in more on the topics I care about. That means less casual reading and more in-depth study. Fewer listicles and more scholarly papers. There’s a world of knowledge out there, growing daily, and it’s something I feel an urge to tap into.

Kaizen. Radical change rarely happens, save for cataclysmic events. Tiny change, incrementally done, often sticks because the commitment grows quietly in the background. Instead of 30 day challenges and “make the leap”, this year I want to break up improvement processes into more increments so that they become second nature almost immediately. For example, instead of a big “drink more water”, the first tiny increment would be, drink water first thing in the morning, before coffee. Later down the road, I’ll add a little something in, but that’s an easy habit to start.

What are your three words?


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The hottest marketing job skills of 2015

LinkedIn recently published their data-mined list of the hottest individual job skills of 2014, based on recruiter interest and LinkedIn profile data. Here’s the raw list:

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Do you see a trend? I do. Let’s cluster them together by broad topic areas like marketing, data analysis, and technology skills:

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That’s impressive. Of the top 25 skills, only two are not in the buckets of marketing, data analysis, and technology – and they’re down at positions 15 and 17.

So these are the hot skills of 2014, of the year that was. If you wanted, as Wayne Gretzky would say, to skate where the puck is rather than where it was or where it is now, what would you pick as the top skills of the year ahead?

My recommendation is simple: combinations of these skills. Being proficient in one skill set is likely to get you a good job somewhere. Being proficient at two? That makes you nearly indispensable.

Suppose you had a background in statistical analysis and data mining, AND a background in network security. You could build and identify security problems just as they broke out and started trending, putting you far ahead of the pack.

Suppose you had a background in business intelligence and mobile development. You could engineer the next generation of business intelligence apps, the sort of apps that people would love to use.

Suppose you had a background in Perl/Python/Ruby and SEO/SEM. You could code infrastructures or make ridiculously sticky content because your content would be more interactive and more fun than the standard swill.

This is where the puck is going or could go, and these combinations of skills are what will differentiate the top performing employees from everyone else, make or break the next wave of startups, and redefine your business. Look for them, test for them, and grow them in your companies!

If you’re a marketer looking for the next big thing, the next big thing is you. Pick out a skill on this list that you don’t have and grow it alongside the marketing skills you already have. You’ll be virtually unstoppable.


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Choose a marketing-free zone

Stop Sign with Divided Highway

Today, I want to flip things on their head a bit and advocate against marketing. I want to advocate for a marketing-free zone. In our efforts as marketers to experiment with as many different marketing channels as possible, we have a tendency to let marketing spread to everything.

Everything becomes marketing. We fill our social feeds with marketing. Our blogs and personal websites become marketing vehicles. Anyone who’s ever had a friend or relative in Amway or other network marketing knows the feeling of all-marketing-all-the-time.

The problem with always-on-everywhere marketing is that you have no outlet for relaxed creativity or personality. Everything has a production quota, an editorial calendar, a schedule, and an assignment.

The challenge I would pose to you is to choose which channels and places will be marketing-free zones. For me, these are places like Path, my personal Facebook profile, and Instagram.

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I reserve these places for stuff that isn’t about work or marketing. They are free of schedule, free of editorial review, free of everything except whatever I feel like creating. Sometimes I’ll go weeks without posting a photo to Instagram. I’ll share stuff that’s important to me as a person on my Facebook profile but not relevant to marketing or business.

I would urge you to be just as clear in your own channels. What’s off-limits to you? Where will you post work-related stuff only by choice and quality rather than obligation? Where do you feel free (within the bounds of ethics, law, and good taste) to be yourself? If you don’t have a place set aside that’s a marketing-free zone, make one as soon as possible. Your intellectual freedom and creativity will thank you!


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