At some point over the last couple of weeks, I passed the milestone of writing this “regular” blog for a year. I may allow myself an extra hot cup of tea for this achievement.
This last couple of weeks I’ve been out and about doing “stuff” related to business and #2 Son’s swimming career. I’ve also been walking Ziggy the Office Wonder Dog when time allows. What I haven’t been doing is writing any blog articles.
I’d like to tell you that the recent silence is because of existential angst concerning the nature of writing on the part of the author, but that wouldn’t be true. I just haven’t had the time to write and, aside from the dingo walking, the universe hasn’t granted me much space to think beyond my daily task list so far this month.
Today then, I’m coming to this piece in an even more stream of consciousness fashion than my usual effort. However, I think today’s essay should be about what I’ve learned by having the discipline to write at least semi-regularly over the last year.
Well, first off, it’s not easy. The same way we’ve all got about 90 seconds of a stand-up comedy routine in our heads, the difficulties start when you attempt to extend that material to a two hour set at the O2 Arena. Clearly, some people successfully do it but statistically speaking, your chance of success is effectively zero (okay not quite zero but very nearly). Our brains just aren’t wired in the right way, or we realise the amount of work involved and decide to do something else, like walk the dog. If you’re not, at the very least, a trained journalist, copywriter or in the habit of cranking out short stories, writing mildly engaging stuff even to a self-imposed regular deadline can become like a weekly visit to the dentist. However, for you, I’ll plough on.
Other points. The body of work that you put out there does build up. To read all my blog material from scratch now will require a morning of your time. (As I write this I’m wondering if anyone apart from me has ever read it all!) What I’ve discovered is that the body of work becomes like your DNA. Any individual piece might not tell you anything special but taken as a whole all these blog pieces give you an insight into the way that I see the world and how I operate the business. It probably also gives enough material for a psychiatric conference, but that’s another story.
It surprised me to discover that I have an actual audience out there. I always publish on LinkedIn and Twitter, and I get the odd comment. However, the fascinating thing and the bit that makes feel that this isn’t all in vain is the direct messages and emails I get pretty much daily now with questions, comments and, in one spectacular case, a gag that I couldn’t possibly use on here (it involved elephants).
Better yet, when I do my headhunting day job, when I approach people more often than not now, they’ve looked at the website and read the blog, so the number of “cold” introductions I have to make to potential candidates has fallen noticeably.
When it comes to approaching potential clients, the same thing happens. traYou have to understand that you can’t please all the people all of the time and that some people actually like things to be dull bland and uncontroversial (most bosses I’ve ever had for instance) but stuff them, there are plenty of consultants posing edgy black and white photographs of themselves online and agreeing with people, so I want to corner the market in clients who like people with actual opinions and original photographs.
By the way, I illustrate almost all the blogs with my own pictures. The next website update should reduce the number of stock photos. If you want pictures of actors in white coats looking down microscopes, I’m going to have to disappoint you.
Finally, there’s a bit of professional pride. I went to art school, and I can paint a bit, but I knew I could never make a living at it, likewise, with this writing thing. I’ve practised a bit and have found a voice, but I’m not a writer. I’m a consultant who happens to write as part of his marketing campaign if I’m honest. That said when I look at the utter mince published by various gurus – many of whom seem to claim tangential associations with the hiring business themselves to the extent that they expect you to pay to hear them talk – then I feel like Hemingway.
Has it made me better off then? Yes, yes, it has.
So there we are, hope to have more with you next week before I disappear on my hols.