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  • Tom Birchard

Reflections From a Year of Blogging

Wow, it’s hard to believe it was just over a year ago, on September 13, 2020, that I sent out my first blog post! When I first setup the website and blog, it was a way to evolve the journaling process I’d been doing for several years. The thought was if I package up some of those thoughts and share them publicly, it will improve my writing and hopefully something I write will help someone from time-to-time. It was also intended to be a way to build some courage by sharing publicly, I’ve never been a big social media guy and this felt like a better conduit to share than some of the common platforms. Finally, because I’ve moved around a lot it’s difficult to stay in touch with everyone, and I thought this could be a good way to maintain some sort of contact with people I respect and that mean a lot to me.

I’d say for the most part from my perspective, this “experiment” has been a success. As I think back on a year of blogging, here are several reflections…

· Consistently Producing New Content is Hard – I certainly underestimated this one going into it. I never had any issue writing something in my weekly journal, but coming up with the idea and then putting together something I feel comfortable sharing publicly is a whole different ballgame. This gives me a whole new respect for writers of all kinds (books, articles, newsletters, etc.) who have been doing it a long time and still continue to regularly share compelling thoughts and insights. This is also one of the reasons I’m going to reduce the frequency of these to monthly, coming up with new content is hard and so is writing well. Which takes me to my next reflection

· Writing Well is a Skill – I’ve always considered myself a decent writer with my frame of reference being people I work with and other friend/family. Putting this together has exposed me to a variety of writers that are on an entirely different level than me. Some of these make it into my book and article recommendations I share. They say “practice makes perfect” which I think is part of it, but like any skill there are fundamental principles and best practices that can help you be more effective. I now think of writing as a combination of science and art. My hope is that by reducing the frequency of these posts, I can carve out some time to improve the quality of my writing. Think of it like a golfer who play a round every day but never practices or gets a swing coach. He almost certainly improves thought some of the repetition and self-learning, but also likely perpetuates some bad habits while being totally unaware

· “Man in the Arena” – If you’ve never read Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” I’d suggest stopping and reading that rather than this blog post haha. While I don’t think that blogging puts me squarely in the arena, it has helped to reinforce that actually creating and producing something is far more difficult than critiquing what someone else is doing. You can see this dynamic at play in many areas of life, one that comes to mind on a Sunday is commentators second guessing player and coach performance in the NFL

· Different Reach by Platform – My goal was never to have a bunch of readers or subscribers. However if you look at my most-viewed post it’s “The Red Queen Effect” with over 1,300 views whereas a recent one like “Resume vs. Eulogy” has 15. The difference…the first time I posted on Twitter was a thread on leadership that went sort of viral and “The Red Queen Effect” was linked to one of the leadership lessons. Most people trying to build a large following or subscriber list will start on a platform like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn where the platform lends itself to liking, sharing, and adding followers. They will then pivot into their own newsletter or something like that. I mostly took the opposite approach which means much of what I put out there won’t be consumed by many, which is both good and bad depending on the goal. Another aside with the social media platforms, I dramatically underestimated how addicting it is to see the likes and new followers come in. I’d previously recommended “The Social Dilemma” documentary which touches on a lot of this and the science behind it. Getting hooked at times myself definitely makes me look at Rory growing up and how he interfaces with the ever-changing internet in a different light

· Serendipitous Connections – An unexpected benefit from blogging has been some the connections I’ve made from people reading something I wrote and reaching out. By putting myself out there, people can start to get a peek into how I think, process information, and communicate. One small example was a CEO of a company in Switzerland reaching out after reading my post on articulating your personal purpose. He shared his purpose and explained how he shares that with new team members to accelerate trust and to align early on. Hopefully a few of these serendipitous connections develop into meaningful connections and relationships. Technology allows someone to find people they resonate with that may not live in the same city, state, or even country and you can turn those from virtual to real-life friendships if you choose. I don’t think this should necessarily be the goal or you might be inauthentic in what you share, but can certainly be a byproduct if you create something that someone else finds value in

I’m sure I could come up with more but those are a few reflections after a year of blogging.

Thanks for reading and see below for some recommendations from things I’ve come across the last couple weeks.

· Book - Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir – This is by the same author who wrote “The Martian”…I never read the book but really enjoyed the movie. Great book, Weir is an excellent writer and while this books gets pretty technical/scientific at times, I found it compelling and to be a page-turner right to the end

· Movie - The Courier – This movie is based on a true story from the Cold War and includes Benedict Cumberbatch who I really like as an actor. Really good movie and available on Amazon Prime. If you enjoy spy thrillers I’d definitely check this one out

· Article - Inequality, Interest Rates, Aging, and the Role of Central Banks by Matthew Klein – Solid article on 3 seemingly disconnected economic factors with some significant implications if you peer into the future

· Short Video - Jameis Winston's Unique Preparation – Fun video that’s less than 3 minutes and shows a peek into some unique Quarterback training. Ashley tried to get me to do the strange movement Jameis does at the 1:23 mark in the video but I refused 😉

· QuoteOnly when we are face to face, able to look one another in the eyes, can we form the kinds of connections that expand our world views, deepen our self-awareness, and ultimately lead to our greatest achievements and most meaningful moments. Brian Grazer

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