Looking Forward to 2015


When I published my 2014 year in review, I promised I would elaborate on the process I followed to find my reason why, the meaningful thread that emerged at year end. I also said looking forward is more my thing, so here we are.

Rather than doing resolutions, I tend to take steps upon which I can build toward goals. 2014 was a year of building — more making sense, being mindful and in some ways bold, than connecting. I do miss the connecting, the meaningful thread that emerged for me.

I was doing it, what it takes to connect. I was reminded when some friends tweeted about it recently  how the whole connecting ideas and people came to life. Talk can change our lives because it is such a good mechanism to share learning experiences.

The events we put together were perfect places to both be social and build a network based on interesting content and relevant conversation. They were also an incredible lab to test ideas — both the community and the company where I was working at the time benefited greatly. It was about designing a life that works.

When we learn, we tend to become more engaged with something. In turn that delivers enjoyment and creates commitment to do something. Why on earth do so many brands still insist of pushing sales through social when the opportunity is so clearly to create value?

This is one of the many reasons best-selling author Tim Ferriss rocks content and tops the marketing charts the one way that makes sense: by providing extreme value to people. See an example of the work he puts into launching a book:

Most online marketers have a short attention span, a weak filter, and an inability to communicate face-to-face. They salivate when they hear the word “viral” and send out 40 links a day to their friends on Facebook and Twitter. They unknowingly sabotage their own credibility and ensure people won’t pay attention to them when they need it most.

The marketers who will last are the ones who think relentlessly long-term, put out quality content, and recognize the value in building deeper, real-life relationships with their peers.

Care about both: the product and service around it, and what the experience of connecting customers and brands looks like. You want to identify how to get the best signal, making things work out for everyone. The level of detail and attention put into a plan and in market iterations (I am in the agile marketing camp) needs to border the obsessive.

How many brands and businesses can say their customers want them to succeed?

People want you to succeed when you create value for them, will take action when they are rewarded for doing so. I met Tim Ferriss at a Mediabistro circus event a few years ago and I learned about his secret first hand: create something people need. 

Part of my process to get to why is to pay attention to what gets the creative juices going from morning into night. This blog has been very much part of it, yet I now feel it is not enough anymore.

Looking forward to 2015

Most of the new year resolutions Louis Gray came up with (for you) make a ton of sense to me, so I am making note of them. Reducing clutter and simplifying and using intelligent data to understand how to become better were already on my list of stepping stones.

Moving more

I've been running about 6-7 miles daily for at least 12 years — I am a lifer with running, having started in high school as part of training for handball (big in Europe), volleyball, and football (otherwise known as soccer.) In the last twelve years I have been the most consistent, participating to 5 10-mile long distance runs and countless 5k's.

This year I want to vary more, add other forms of movement. In the past, IMX Pilates was a great complement and I still do some floor exercises to maintain good posture and move from the core. For the social aspect of it, I am inclined to take up some form of dance this year.

Sir Ken Robinson is right, in our education (I would add lives) we have too little movement. Being in Europe during the holidays made me realize how little I move at home, even with the daily run and the steps I take.

Learning to move your body in harmony increases confidence, we live too much in our heads these days.

Staying still

I realize this sort of contradicts my previous point; split the difference philosophically or spiritually, whatever appeals the most to you. To me it means adding meditation to mindfulness.

Running is a form of meditation for me: I kick myself out the door in the morning (I am not a morning person) and then let my mind rest for an hour or so, mileage and speed may vary.

Meditation proper is so much more and I love it as a process. Some resources I found helpful are:

  • the untethered soul by Michael Singer — starting from the voice inside your head to how we are constantly trying to make ourselves feel better, this was one of the most inspired books I read; it was a recommendation from a friend with whom I have done good work (best way to get to know someone, if you ask me)
  • The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt — how do I love this book? Let me count the ways: 1) the author is a teaching psychologist whose research delves into the emotional basis of morality, and the way it varies across cultures; 2) the material re-connects me with my knowledge of neurological development and Martin Seligman's research on happiness to which I participated; 3) it is about ten great ideas discovered by civilizations and examined through the lens of scientific research (hat tip Cal Newport)
  • A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield — this is written more in a guide format and focuses more on the process of meditation, important if that is what you want to learn. Kornfield is also a teacher and psychologist; I detect a theme. The book is filled with stories narrated with a good dose of humor and addresses the question and process of finding a teacher as well

Quality is important to me, and meditation is a path to it.

Reading better

I already read a lot — for work and for pleasure. Some years I manage to read up to 120 books, mostly thanks to strong fiction writers. I also find that mixing fiction in keeps my creative juices engaged. See what fiction writing can help you learn about social interaction as an example.

Thanks to Shane Parrish, I am re-learning how to read a book — or anything for that matter — to get the most out of it. Time is precious, and I figured out that when I focus on quality of experience as I go along the benefits multiply. Becoming a demanding reader is all about asking questions.

Life is about asking questions as well, and I am as curious as they get. Yes, I do re-read as well, for I find new meaning in what I have loved before in different stages of the journey. My top re-read books:

  • The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri — I read it in Italian, one book per year in high school and then again in University, where I met someone who was in Italy learning Italian just to read Dante; such luck of the draw I had to be born there!
  • Siddhartha by Herman Hesse — one of the common themes in Hesse's writings is the division of the world into masculine and feminine. Narcissus and Goldmund also by Herman Hesse brings this division to the fore through a fascinating journey.

More under 12 books that changed my life.


[image via]