Happy Christmas Folks, I hope like me, you’ve managed to switch off the news and enjoy important time with your families. I always think a good sign of a well relaxed Christmas is when you can’t remember what day it is. I’m pleased to say I’ve achieved this!
All in all I’d say its been a good year (particularly considering the cards we were dealt over the last few!). As a business we started to bounce back from Covid near the beginning of the year and by the end we were posting 70% increases in revenue YoY from 2021!!! If anything I’d say the final part of this year has been a little ‘too’ busy so I’m looking to work on that going into 2022. One of my goals for ’22 is to create space to think as its where some of my best work happens.
Right let’s get on with it. Here are the last 11 years:
1). I Stopped Checking Emails in the Morning and at Night
A practical one to kick off with. When I was at Uni, (*cough 23 years ago) we queued up on campus twice a day to access our email. Fast forward 20 years and due to smart phones we are ‘always on’. Somewhere along that timeline I convinced myself that I must check my email every five minutes in case the world had collapsed, or I was missing something. About a year or two ago I realised how bad that is for your wellbeing and changed up my habits. I’ve iterated these changes over time and feel that I’ve now really got to grips with this.
So, firstly I don’t ever check email after 7pm. This is MY time – if someone from work needs me, they can call, and I’ll answer. By doing this, I’ve escaped staff resignations, clients cutting budgets and all manner of things I find much easier to deal with in the light of day, but would have stressed out about massively at night. This all leads to a better night’s sleep – probably the single biggest impact on my wellbeing. In the morning, I refuse to be a slave to my phone, waking up, grabbing it and letting people into my life the minute I wake up, still feeling groggy. At the very minimum I carry out my morning routine (exercise, breakfast, shower), then I check the emails when I’m ready. On a great day, I don’t check until about 11am after I make sure that I’ve carried out a significant piece of work that’s been looming or requires my undivided attention. I feel so much better for these two small changes so I’m kicking off this year’s blog with it in the hope I might inspire a few more to follow.
2). I Started Gardening
I’ve made no attempt to hide my mental health journey and in fact this year I was recognised as a global role model for this (https://inside-out.org/leaderboard/) which was amazing. In dealing with my own wellbeing, one of the surprise additions to my hobbies has been Gardening. I don’t know if it’s simply being outside, or the delight you get when you really take in the beauty of a rose petal with a drop of rain on it but I get an enormous sense of good feeling from tending to our garden. For fear of sounding a bit too tree huggee, I’ll move on, but I will say that if you’re struggling with your own mental health then I can heartedly recommend throwing yourself into your garden. By the way, we don’t have a huge space with lawns and flowerbeds, most of my work has been pot and planter based so don’t let that be an excuse.
3). My Kids
Obviously these munchkins should really feature every year but this year feels like its been different. Everyone with kids will know its just phase after phase and I really feel we’re in the best we’ve had so far. Alexa is now 5 and Oscar is 6. After the horrific journey we went on in 2018/19 we decided we were happy as a family of four and that we wouldn’t ‘go again’. This huge decision (which took a lot of soul searching) has led to us being able to focus in on what we have now, the amazing bundles of fun we’ve created. I found years 0-4 quite tough if I’m honest. When they went to school and started to develop their own personalities it all changed. They started engaging in conversations, reading, writing, drawing things that don’t just look like they’ve put a pen on a piece of paper and wiggled it around a lot. They tell you jokes, laugh with you, jump on you, play games with you where they actually know whats going on and they started to show an interest in sport (something I’m super passionate about). I’m trying not to be ‘one of those parents’ that goes on and on about how great their kids are but its hard….because they are ;)
Do you have very little time? Do you detest having to go round shop after shop looking for something that might fit or suit you? Enter Stichfix. It’s a subscription service for buying clothes. Essentially you have a stylist who looks after you and for a tenner a month (deducted if you buy any clothes). They put together a box of goodies for you to try on and send back if you don’t like them. I’ve had everything from trainers, to jackets, tshirts to chinos. The more time you spend telling them what you like the more accurate your fix is likely to be. This has been an absolute winner for me and a little bundle of excitement each month (which I think is fair for all of us at this time).
If you fancy trying it here is £15 from me if you signup (aff link) https://www.stitchfix.co.uk/invite/bph7rk8gzv?sod=i&som=w
When Clubhouse was launched it happened at exactly the right moment in time. As an audio based social media app it was first to mass market (most others have followed now). It was clever in that it created an exclusive feeling by being invite only and having some big celebs using the platform. It was also launched around the time the Pandemic broke and most of us were stuck at home, many with a lot of spare time. I jumped on relatively early and although I loved it in those first 6 months, I find it very hard to get involved now. Many people have lost interest and the platform is dominated by a few (slight grey) areas of interest such as crypto, nfts, coaches that can turn you into millionaires and dating. That said, I’ve always managed to look past the negatives and find the reasons you might still get involved…and there are few; Social audio is amazing when you have time. Its authentic, its great for learning and its good for building relationships quickly. You can even pick up clients if you demonstrate consistent value. If your target audience is on it then I’d say its probably the best place to spend your time. Earlier in the year I wrote a piece about the platform for Smart Insights, including an interview with an influencer from it (now the app’s cover picture) Abraxas Higgins. You can read that here:
My view on audio: We’re in the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’ (Gartner Hype Cycle) right now. A few, dedicated and die harders are still banging the drum but most have fallen away. Over the next year or two we may see a resurgence for Clubhouse or perhaps another platform stealing the audio market. One thing I strongly believe is audio is here to stay (just look at the popularity of podcasts)
6). Marketing Funnels & New Zenler
At the beginning of ’21, thanks to the emergence of Clubhouse, I started to get immersed in the world of sales/marketing funnels. It’s an area of digital marketing that is at the absolute fore-front of anyone in the coaching profession but relatively unknown or used by any other industries. I became fascinated in it and studied it for months. When I built my own site
I created a number of funnels which revolve around giving away something of value (usually video content or a whitepaper called a lead magnet) and capturing someone’s email. You then use specialist software to market to those leads, taking them down a funnel as you do. After spending days researching the best products on the market and watching endless YouTube reviews, a friend told me about New Zenler which is the software I ended up using (and absolutely loving). The product is in beta invite currently but you can access it here: https://www.newzenler.com/invite/FtFj2O
If you want to see more – I did a full product review earlier in the year for it here:
7). Designrr & Canva
So the latter I realise that I’m late to the party on but I like to think I’m before the curve on the former. They both help you immeasurably if you don’t have a design bone in your body (like me), well that or the luxury of a designer on tap, ready to make all your lead magnets and social media content for you.
Canva has about a billion different templates you can borrow and adapt for your own content. If you need to create images for the likes of Instagram or even find cover photos for your latest blog/linkedin article then you can’t go wrong. The main thing that’s blown me away is how good the mobile app experience is. Hands down, the most impressive business app I’ve ever used. The ability to manipulate complex images on a screen that’s only a few inches wide amazes me everytime I use it!
Designrr helps you create the lead magnets I talked about in the marketing funnels point. You can take a pre written blog, or a word doc just like this and create a well designed ebook with it.
8). Crystal Knows
A few years ago we took our team at Optix on an away day to learn about personality profiling. The main aim of this was to ensure people understood that just because they see something in a certain way, doesn’t mean other people do. In fact, its pretty likely they don’t. We learnt about four different colour types (called Insights), Yellow (Inspiring), Red (Dominant), Blue (Detailed) and Green (Caring). Everyone is a mixture of these four colours. This profiling is well worth the money to do properly but if you’re not quite ready for that then you must check this out.
Crystal Knows is a game changing tool you need to know about. You can signup for a free trial here: https://s.crys.io/s/GOq1KA - again I also did a review on it if you’d rather see what it does before deciding:
TLDR Version: It’s a Google Chrome plugin. It reads people’s LinkedIn profiles and works out what their personality type is. It then provides you ways of engaging and communicating with them including how to sell to them in email, phone and meetings.
This tool is a must have for anyone in sales or recruitment. I use it every day, multiple times.
9). Flexi Hose
Every year needs a gimmick right? Well this year is no different, although I’d argue this is far from a gimmick and deserves every accolade I throw at it. Did it change my life? Yes, actually it did.
How many times have you picked up your hose and cursed as it winds itself round things and causes you to yank it and have to recoil to where you came from, just so you can get where you want to go? How many times has it created some sort of knot in itself which stops the water coming out? How many times have moaned at having to wind the damn thing back in again after use? Enter the Flexi Hose (aff link). I don’t over egg this, genuinely every time I’ve used this its put a smile on my face. They say it’s the little things right. Here’s why:
1). It is tiny when it has no water in it making it easy to store
2). It has an amazing end which shoots out about 10 different water jet types (great if you have kids or a dog)
3). It never gets caught on things as you take it round the garden
4). Best of all, when you turn the tap off and let the water out, it shrinks back to you by the tap. Flipping genius.
So there we have it, another year passes.
I hope you’ve all had an amazing 12 months and have made some goals for 2022. I did mine yesterday and they revolve very heavily around the things that make me happy in life. I’d encourage you to do the same.
I’d love to know the things that changed your life this year however small. You never know what someone else can take from the smallest of your pleasures, so do feel free to share in the comments below.
See you on the other side.