Hello, 2014!

Happy 2014!

I was doing bills last night (first time in nearly 30 days with all the holiday rushing around), and I was surprised by the new digits. 2014. It came out first as 2013 (unsurprising), 2004 (got one part right), 2011 (what?!) and finally …2014.

To which I can only say: Change … it’s harder than it looks.

I’m eager for new experiences, and learning. A little trepidatious about everything ahead, but generally … excited. In fact, I thought it would be fun to share just a little bit of what’s going on with me personally and professionally and then ask you to help me shape this journey.

I spent the holidays in Santa Fe with the family, visiting my sister-in-law and also my amazing literary agent. While I had initially conceived of the next writing projects, I hadn’t done enough substantive work on it so I got my ass proverbially handed to me (gently, oh so gently) for my procrastination. I see now I was afraid to start, because I want it to be “done right”.

In between watching the Jason Bourne series (and SERIOUSLY… how is it possible no one told me about this movie series before, so Jane Bondish!?) we designed a little writing workshop where ideas were vetted and challenged by several people. The skeleton of the idea grew stronger. I’m now digging into this with gusto. And, even with some discipline as I carve out hours every day to focus on it. As is normal fare, the plan is to share ideas as they are developed, and you’re every-so invited to question / prod / share, and all that to provoke the next level deeper insight.

My aim in the next work (s) is two-fold:

  1. One is to unpack ideas more fully. As writer-friend Drake Baer points out, I use distinct words like purpose, networked power, enlisting, alignment, onlyness, and so on… but generally move right along to the next idea without elaborating or explaining the nuances so readers can make those ideas more their own. Unpacking will let me explore more fully what is meant, what it’s not, and what’s the implications.
  2. Second, to lead with stories. Thus far, I’ve done what most management thinker types do– they share a thesis, they provide some evidence and then they conclude. But great writers are more storytellers. They actually find the stories that illustrate a point and then fully develop those stories teach and guide the reader to their own understanding. Any emphasis or elaboration is done then after the story provides a shared context.

I share all this because in naming my desired new actions, I’m hoping you’ll help me hold true should I wander away from the goal… . I’m about to enter the phase of learning called  “conscious incompetence” where I know that don’t know what I’m doing. So feedback and lessons from you will help.

The blog is going to continue to be my main home and community well. It started in it’s very early form in 2003, got renamed as Yes & Know in 2011 (by you) and so now I enter Year 11 of sharing. It’s always changing, and since starting off, I now get to write for Time, HBR, LinkedIn and so on. But this blog is more clearly than ever home base. All content gets posted here. With over a 1,000,000 following me across all  (G+, Twitter, LI, etc) the different platforms the volume has gone WAY up in the ether. It’s super hard to have any conversation of meaning. But this community’s signal-to-noise ratio works. I read all your comments and hope that I give back in ways that work for you. I recently took a reader-question on “how to tackle the new thing” and genuinely loved that “by request” idea. (Though I wish I had written a shorter piece.) Maybe we can do more of that in the year — what do you think???

If I have one wish for the community — a metric per se, it is that more of the just-wandering-by-“looky-lookers”-online find their way to stick around — to subscribe, and engage in conversation. There’s 1,400 subscribers right now. It doesn’t seem like we’ve yet hit a critical mass for learning and exploring together.

Ideas are never finished or sacred. But the idea here is that, when shared, we can learn together. I hope 2014 continues to be a year where we help one other to navigate these times — to be able to make that dent in the world, to put the power of connection to work and to know how to thrive in the social era.

So hello there, 2014. Hope yours is off to a great start!

12 Replies

  1. Dear Nilofer: Would love to learn more about the new book project as you get further into it. And if you need a copy editor–I’m available!

    The Bourne movies ARE great fun…at least the first three. Happy 2014 to you.

    1. You’ve probably figured out from my writing that I DO need a copy editor. 😉
      Thanks for the offer! and yeah, watched all 3 first ones (we got warned off the 4th one) in 24 hours.
      The song by Moby is now my writing theme song.

  2. First of all Happy 2014.

    Bourne series of movies are great fun and I still have to one more to watch.

    May be this question might be repeated one but I want to ask anyway as I discovered your site, HRB writings and twitter feed recently. Simply put, how do you decide what to write? You may want to answer this question in context of writing book vs a magazine article or blog positing.

    1. thanks!

      Well to be honest, you do.

      People’s questions give me the inspiration for everything. I see questions people are struggling with on Twitter. Or I’ll meet an entrepreneur out of Stanford’s program and hear a question he/she asks and be inspired from our conversation. Obviously when I’m running workshops, I take notes from what people ask and something will spur the next thing. For the upcoming books, etc I’m pursuing they are very much questions that follow the Social Era book I did back in 2012 with Harvard Press. What forms advantage — can you prove that? What allows people to live from a deep place of purpose? Is it humanly possible for everyone / anyone to lead? Those kinds of questions are big enough / chewy enough to take on as books. Some things are less chewy and work as blog posts.

      So … well … you do.

  3. Nilofer, I must say you have taken the toughest first step. That of accepting your being in the state of “Conscious incompetence” for it does require letting go of your ego and saying the simplest and most difficult phrase…”I don’t know”. You must meet so many different people with each workshop you take. what do you think is the biggest achievement for you at the end of a workshop. Also would love to know the subject of your upcoming book. Maybe that will help phrase the appropriate introspective questions. And a writing workshop…hmmmm sounds interesting 🙂

    1. My workshop I hand picked who could be of help. This was after going to a project workshop that was not just ‘meh’, it was downright awful. I wrote about it recently. So just be picky about whether the person leading knows how to lead. People can be domain experts but not good at facilitating growth for other people.

      1. As for @ibm, as the resumes I was hiring from account, women in tech is rough. However, they are getting college degrees faster than men. Time will tell.

        On to @gm, the US ranks 30th worldwide in the treatment of female workers. Working Mother gives kudos to GM’s hourly female workers, but this is a nationwide ranking.

        Volvo had a women-majority team (80%) design a car (a concept car)
        BMW’s global design staff is at 30%, GM is 20%.

        Depending on the data set, women make up approx 50% of the US labor force. The US automotive manufacturing breakdown of female employees looks like this:

        All Employees – 20.9%
        Executive/SeniorLevel Officers & Managers – 16.0%
        First/Mid Level Officials & Managers -18.5%
        Professionals – 24.8%
        Technicians 13.7%
        Sales Workers – 13.0%
        Office & Clerical Workers – 58.7%
        Craft Workers – 4.2%
        Operatives 21.8%
        Laborers – 27.4%
        Service Workers – 11.1%

        Is GM the equal of Kimberly-Clark’s 40% Execs & 25% BOD, making these numbers more abysmal for the other US Auto sector manufacturers?

        Raising the US out of 30th in the world will require Eunice Kennedy Shriver commitment from all US women, men won’t give up the power, even if it’s in their best interest.

        Is a purposefully made ineffectual (token) female BOD member better than none at all? Millions of small wins will do more than GM’s CEO will ever get past her BOD *or* she’ll prove me wrong and be the next Thomas J. Falk.

  4. I was first introduced to the four stages of competence by Michael Vance in the 1970s (aging myself) through his fantastic workshops Adventures in Creative Thinking, Creative Leadership, and Management by Values about his time with Walt Disney. 2 comments for you: Stage 2 beats the hell out of being in Stage 1 and more importantly choosing to step back into conscious incompetence leads to new growth, increased creativity, and finally new conscious competence. Thanks for regularly modeling for me how to continue to grow, be interested and very interesting. Nilofer, I love your work and look forward to receiving each of your posts.

    1. How incredibly enticing — “new growth, increased creativity and finally the learning” —
      because what it actually FEELS like is “I suck, holy shit and I’ll never get there…”
      Thanks for sharing, Tom, and so you know I look forward to every comment / conversation we have.

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