The Herald Bulletin

January 9, 2014

Susan Miller: As 2014 begins, move forward — but look back


The Herald Bulletin

---- — People often view a New Year as an opportunity to forget the past and march boldly toward future goals. Hence booksellers see a surge in sales of productivity titles, and strategic planning consultants see their billable hours soar.

Despite this future focus, the New Year might be more accurately viewed as a cross-roads moment, where we gaze back at milestones from the previous year and consider how they might guide our journey in the year ahead.

Have you ever been stuck driving loops in one of those turnarounds because you failed to pay attention to the lane markings? The same can happen if you don’t consider how you’ll merge insight from last year with aspirations for the year ahead.

We live at a moment when “innovation” may be the most overused word in the dictionary. Nothing stays new for long. Recent reports indicate that Facebook may soon be as retro as dial-up Internet.

While staying abreast of change is important, it’s also wise to consider the past. What worked? What didn’t? What tactics moved the enterprise forward and what tactics simply generated noise?

Here are some 2013 insights that will guide my course in 2014.

◆ Realize the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and bloom where you’re planted. I longed to work for a nationally renowned higher education institution.

Fortunately, Providence intervened and the potential “career” ended up being a three-month, part-time engagement last summer. During that time, I learned why the “dream job” would have been a nightmare.

◆ Focus marketing efforts deeper, not broader. With thousands of channels and platforms available, it’s impossible to have a presence everywhere and your message and dollars can easily be diluted.

Consider the two marketing strategies that yielded the best results for your business last year and allocate more marketing dollars toward those tactics.

◆ Leverage Linked-In. Check the profiles of people you want to meet before contacting them. It’s an invaluable tool for helping you reach out to potential networking partners, clients or media contacts because it provides insight into their backgrounds, areas of interest and achievements.

◆ Say “yes” to opportunities and invitations. After a 14-hour day in D.C. last spring, I opted out of joining colleagues for some follow-up conversation in the hotel restaurant. I was tired, cranky and secretly wanted to see the premiere of “Dancing with the Stars.”

My decision to watch those “stars” caused me to miss seeing Indiana Jones himself, as Harrison Ford dined at the table next to them!

◆ Make time for friends because they’ll support you when things go wrong. My friend Carlene generously traveled with me to New York City last fall for an exciting media event that didn’t turn out as well as anticipated.

I joke that Carlene kept me from walking off the top of the Empire State Building following the debacle. Friends will stick with you during the highs and lows of work life.

Happy trails as you begin your 2014 journey!

Susan Miller is owner of Ewing Miller Communications, an Anderson marketing firm. Her column appears one Thursday each month.

Contact her at susan@ewingmiller.com.