Musings & Threads. What I Learned from Hummingbird...so Far.
What I Learned from Hummingbird...so Far.
"And, WHAT was I thinking?"
You know all the angst, all the pressure you feel about everything going right? Agonizing over each piece. Well, it doesn’t matter that much! What we have preached all these years in marketing is really true—it’s the sum total, it’s the overriding message, it’s the long game, not the short game, it’s being true (read -- not lying)! That’s what really matters.
Anyone that knows me is getting a hardy chuckle at this moment, because they know that I am merciless with myself and absolutely do sweat the small stuff--constantly. And, okay, truth be told, I do check the analytics, in fact I look at them as often as I know they will be updated, at least. BUT, amazingly, the data continues to confirm what I knew in theory, but didn’t really believe—including all of the above.
I learned other important lessons as well that I had the luxury to test—mainly because I didn’t have others (read -- paid others, whose professional success depends in part on mine) breathing down my neck, looking for the quick “ROI” or answer—is this working? I was free to try new things without any more pressure than my own. I will confess that a few of our contributors are pretty high strung. They are used to being high achievers, and want to see evidence of their success immediately….meaning right now, today. Also, quite frankly, none of us want to embarrass ourselves.
What we have all learned together is to have patience.
We have learned to have the capacity to review and explore reader dynamics together and make changes, and try something new.
Happily, not too often, we even recognized when a concept we thought is good is just not working—no one likes it but us. Let’s let it go.
Or, it happens sometimes that a writer simply loses interest in their own concept. It doesn’t have “legs” for them personally. Or it’s too hard—it’s work! That’s okay, no need to force it.
There were also other lessons. These were among the most meaningful. I have found that these lessons actually pertain to professional initiatives across the board. While this was my “microcosm” I can easily say that the behaviors and trends I saw represented a constant, regardless of milieu.
Friends, many of them past colleagues, are simply amazing supporters. Some of them seem to have no end to their loyalty and kindness; to their wanting your project to succeed, to their rooting you on every chance they get. They are analogous to your advocates or sponsors in the corporate setting.
Interestingly, you also see the flip side, as some others with regard to support—not so much. Not even a mention or kind word. Not very different from what we saw prior in other business situations. They have a hard time supporting others, unless there is something specific “in it for them.” It’s hard not to be disappointed, but you have to get past that. It’s really nothing new.
Some contributors are so tuned in. They send ideas, their content—all neat and tidy, and good!! Before you ask! Like gifts—they are gifts!!
I learned to be able to ask just once and then not focus on those that don’t follow through. That’s okay. Just like in the past, you have some resources that truly become partners. I learned to focus our energy on them.
If I could have a drumroll, it would likely be here. Kindness can and should be incorporated into everything you do. What does that mean? Specifically regarding contributors and their work, and outside requests for publication and review, I have found that people are somewhat blown away when you actually listen, think about what they are saying or their initiative or request, and collaborate with them on how they can do/be their best, and achieve even more than they were hoping for. They are amazed to be valued. They are amazed to have their views heard. They are buoyed by appreciation of their talent, ideas, initiatives, achievements, and by being valued. There doesn't seem to be an end to capacity when kindness is genuinely employed.
WOW. It made it so apparent how un-valued even very successful people have been made to feel by their previous or current employers, companies or positions.
I realized how hard it is to put yourself out there—exposed. I saw how anxious some people become. Who can blame them? I see how shy they are about promoting themselves when they are so good at what they do, and confidently promote others.
I realized that creative writing is really hard. Writing fiction is incredibly challenging.
I learned to value, give space to, and welcome opinions that are not consistent with my own.
I learned the importance of something I already knew, but is worth repeating here-- Never compromise on quality and/or integrity.
WHAT was I thinking? This is a lot of work. In my heart, I know that it doesn’t have to be THAT much work. The blog doesn't HAVE to be this good! I recognize that is on me--it's me that must make it so. (Is that so bad?) Well, that is certainly something to think about.
The most important thing I learned however, is that having a concept, that you bring to life yourself, with the help of other great and talented people, is just exhilarating. Words do not do it justice. Starting out it all seems so formidable. Yes, you have your business plan, and your outline, ideas and strategies. But, “What, no IT department?” “No Legal on staff?” “What do you mean, ‘I’m sorry the template doesn’t accommodate that function, you can write the code yourself.’” But you are determined. You have grit. You muddle through. In some ways, it feels like the ultimate achievement--the greatest thing. Your measures don’t have to be monetary--having measures and meeting and exceeding the goals you set—it’s just so validating!
What I learned about myself is that I still love juggling several projects and sinking my “curious” mind into many different things, sometimes all at once much to the chagrin of my coworkers. It seems that starting and publishing a blog was the perfect foray for me—into a space where I can be part editor, part writer, part publisher, part data geek, part website guru, part marketer, part artist, part photographer, part psychologist (really), avid reader, friend, research analyst, business person, self-effacing deep thinker, humorist, story teller. I highly recommend it. In fact, if you are a workaholic that never cries “uncle,” it doesn’t get much better than this.