Welcome to the new year! Will it be any different for your career? If you do the same things as last year, we know the answer. You will experience incremental growth at best, not the quantum leap you may hope. Desire a different outcome? Here are five simple but powerfully divergent things you can do to grow your career and/or organization in the new year. Which one(s) will you implement?
1 Codify what You Observe in Your Field
Years ago, Jim Collins in Good to Great wrote about the “hedgehog principle” –the importance of being the one who not only worked hard, but looked around and made critical observations about trends, principles and dangers. His advice is still as true today as ever.
Application Example: My wife is a director at a prep school. As part of her job she reads hundreds of college admission essays each fall and winter. She observes that these letters fall into several categories ranging from being an immediate “turn-off” to “highly engaging” (and likely to get the attention of a college admissions department.) One particularly noxious essay style is what she calls the “Superman/Superwoman essay” in which students write about how “no one else would step up” to meet a social need but they did. Unfortunately, this type of essay comes across as self-serving and narcissistic. Over breakfast today, we began to explore several other essays types, good and bad, that could be codified and used as examples in student trainings, and in one-on-one student college counseling. This approach would not only help improve her department but could also be shared with a far wider audience of counseling colleagues, teachers, students and parents.
2 Create an Assessment to Answer a Question or Benchmark Needed Skills
When we wrote our book, Fire Your Excuses (shameless plug,) we also invested in developing a free assessment of the book’s key concepts that yields a 20-page personalized report. It has since been taken thousands of times. This quickly grew our email list and gave us valuable data about where our readers and corporate audiences fell on these scales. What assessment could you develop for your field? Tip: Start small with a “paper-and-pencil” type inventory and expand from there.
3 Become the “Ultimate Resource” (Even if You are Not an Expert)
Do you have a passion for education, reading or training? Even if you don’t feel comfortable being that educator yourself, you can quickly position yourself as a resource for your colleagues and your field. Start with a list of must-read books, articles, podcasts. Example: In 2015, I created a list of the 50 Books Every Entrepreneur (and Intrepreneur) Should Read. I posted it on my website, LinkedIn and Twitter. Then daily for the next 25 business days, I also reached out and let the authors know they were featured on the list. Several wrote back personal emails of heartfelt thanks. This led to a number of business friendships with top thought leaders in my field that I would otherwise have enjoyed. Today this list stands as one of my most shared posts ever!
4 Offer a Short Course
Never before have there been so many free webinar platforms you can use to share what you are learning. Zoom is an excellent choice if you wish to offer a short one-hour course on a subject of expertise. Offer a series of three or four webinars, for example, once a month, and I guarantee someone will want to either hire you to coach them or ask about your product—even if you don’t have one to offer! If you work for an organization, start internally by offering a webinar or live course and see where it goes. For the next step, create a video course and workbook based on the pain points you discover by surveying others in your field.
5 Create a “Gathering Place”
If there is one theme I have noted over my more than two decades as a speaker, consultant and psychologist it is this: People feel isolated and alone in their business dreams. You can perform a huge service and “put yourself on the map” at the same time by offering a free gathering to share ideas. Have a conference room, use it! If not, host a business-related but “no-host” coffee or breakfast gathering at a local coffee shop or restaurant. Your cost will be minimal and you will make great new friends and, very likely, business connections too.
Make this year extraordinary. As Alan Weiss, noted business coach says: “Pull the trigger. An imperfect decision can be fixed, but a non-decision will never happen!”