What I’ve learned 2016 - Simple & Powerful Stuff

I’ve decided to take a look at what I’ve learned this year. First there’s list of observations and strong life lessons. Those are epiphanies. I can honestly say I feel those things in my gut. However trivial they may be on the intellectual level, I can say I really know them now.

To be honest, this list is rather for myself rather than for reading by anyone. Read if really interested.

Sales, sales, sales

Did I mention sales? It’s the most important part of business. (and not only business). Not only you have to do it all the time. You need to know who you’re selling to. And what. And why do they need it. And what problems do they have… And I know this should be obvious. After 2016 I can say I feel this in my gut.

Fear is always there

It’ll never go away. Fear of all kinds: of failure, of shame of making fool of yourself, of doing poor job, of judgement. It’s always there, everybody experiences it. If you have a body, you feel anxiety. The only thing to do with it is to accept it and act despite it.

That problem you’re putting off

It’ll be back. No matter how hard you try to look in a different direction. No matter how busy you’re are. It’ll come in the least expected time and bite you in the ass.

It hit me a couple of times this year. In the form of things we haven’t dealt with in the company. Problems we knew we have but were to busy to tackle. Sales, team culture, training, market research. Not done.

You can’t put off the thing you’re meant to do

I’ve “decided” a few years ago that I’ll dive into photography once I’m “retired”. Well it turns out I can’t stop it. I see things and I feel urge to grab it. I just can’t stop it and I’ve decided to stop fighting it. In this case I’m not that sure it was me who made the decision to continue photographing. It sort of happened and was communicated to me by the Muse.

Vision is important

The big one, the grandiose. People may not get it. It may seem awkward or unreasonable or strange to others. It doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that it’s true. That it’s authentic for you.

This kind of vision is what gives sense and meaning to your life. It’s what makes decisions simpler (not easier!). It’s what draws other people to you. It’s what fuels change (that is hard).

Slack / free time is the lubricant

I’m so damn productive. I have a full schedule and everything’s planned. TODO lists, calendars, priorities, blah, blah… Like a machine. BUT I’ve noticed that there’s plenty of things getting unstuck only when I deliberately decide I have nothing in particular to do. Just making myself available to whatever that comes my way. It turns out that there’s plenty of things I can push forward, that previously somehow never got onto my schedule. And they’re often fun!

Being present

To your emotions, to the moment. Especially to the people in front of you (not around you).

Appreciating yourself

You’re fine. The world around is fine. It’s the way it’s supposed to be. There’s nothing wrong with you or the world around you.

Meditation

It’s huge if you do it consistently. Just a little but each day. It grounds you. In yourself and in reality.

Power of rituals (and sprints)

There's something powerful in doing something every single day. Not most of the time. Not trying. Just doing it every fucking day. There's no room for excuses. There's no wondering, thinking or second guessing. Just pure action!

In parallel it’s hugely powerful to do sprints. To decide that for some time - a week or a month - you’re closed for the world. Because you’re focusing on one project. That’s powerful. (And btw. doable for everybody, don’t bullshit yourself into “I can’t”).

Physics is simple (for me)

This year I realised how easy it is for me to understand and reason about natural phenomena. Even more easy than to some physicists.

I also realised how great was my physics teacher in primary school. I somehow failed to recognise that during my 36 years long life. She had ha huge talent for explaining stuff, showing experiments that seemed extremely simple and natural. Now I understand that it was her gift and hard work. So much she made it seamless.

Storytelling

This is huge. We all have information and abundance of choices. We pick from those options through the lens of stories. Stories that break through the noise and reach us. Stories are also what we spread to others.

Writing, photos and video making are all about story telling. They’re just different forms of it. That’s all I’ve realised this year. I have no idea how to start telling the stories.

Dogs are lovable

I never had a dog. Never spent more than a few hours around them. Until this year when I’ve had the opportunity to spend almost a week in the company of 2 great dogs. With great personalities and I’ve come to appreciate them.

Technical & specific skills

Below’s a list of technical or “operational” skills. I don’t even know how to call them. Those are the useful, but minor things anybody could catchup anytime.

  • Adobe Illustrator - I’ve used Photoshop, Flash and Lightroom before. Somehow Illustrator eluded me for years. Now I needed it, I’ve put in the time to learn and it’s cool.
  • Mailchimp - I knew it’s there, I did create some automated emails with it before but this year I’ve sent out my first mailing and got the feel for how it works.
  • Facebook Ads - It finally started to work for me. Unlike during previous trials.
  • Content Creation - editorial team organisation. Publication calendar. Content review and publishing. I’ve organised the work of a team of blogging programmers for over 6 months. Plenty of learning here.
  • Content Marketing - how it works, why it works. How it’s extremely useful in supporting sales and recruitment. How it penetrates places otherwise inaccessible. How it helps to build brand awareness.
  • Trade show Exhibiting - For the first two times I’ve been an exhibitor on an industry conference. I now understand how it can serve recruitment, building and refreshing relationships.
  • Relinquishing (some) control - I’m a control freak. I know. I usually operate with the assumption that “if you want something done right, better do it yourself”. But because of priorities, because of the work on my approach and focus I gave up control in some areas. Guess what? Nothing exploded and I was less busy.
  • Markdown tools & workflows - I’ve explored the area of tools used with Markdown way of writing. Both for individual writing, for publishing and for collaboration.
  • Marketing - I further expanded my fluency in marketing. Everything starts to come together. From market and client research, through value proposition up to the brand story, messaging and advertising channels.
  • Remarketing - I always hated it but this year I decided to try and play with it. Unfortunately it seems to work. I can’t say I’ve had success with it this year, but I did have some first experiences.
  • Photo postproduction - I’ve started post-producing my pictures regularly. Thanks to that I’m starting to feel it.
  • IT Recruitment - I can honestly say I’ve conquered the IT recruitment topic. All aspects of it except for head-hunting.

There’s probably more but I don’t remember right now. I must say I’m quite happy with what I’ve learned this year. I like the direction of all this learning. It positions me the right way for upcoming goals and challenges.

Michał Nowak

I'm an entrepreneur with a visionary and a strategic twist. I have a passion to unleash potential we all have in us! I'm a manager, photographer and an engineer.

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