What I’ve learned in 2007

Everyone is doing these 2007 wrapups, which are great ways to get more traffic to old posts. I should probably do one of those for my video show, but I have something else on my mind. I’ve put a few over on my link blog, but only the very best ones I’ve seen.

2007 was an incredible year for me in terms of life teaching me lessons. The lessons came at me fast and furious, so here’s some that had an impact on my life.

1. Having a new child in the family is a real joy. My only regret? Every day is going by so freaking fast. Neither Patrick nor Milan will ever have another day just like today. Neither will you or I, for that matter.

2. I lost a few good friends this year. Lesson? Today might be the last. Make the best of it and make sure your insurance is up to date (which we updated recently).

3. Pay attention to the “unimportant” people in your life. Last year this goofy guy walked into the CES BlogHaus. I introduced him to a few people and did an interview with him. He wasn’t famous. Didn’t have a blog. Hadn’t started a business or done anything that anyone would qualify as “important.” But between January and now he’s become a New York Times best selling author and he’s gotten me onto CNBC and the New York Times. All cause I paid attention to him back when he wasn’t “somebody.”

4. If your company doesn’t have a story to tell watch out. Keys I’ve learned? Every employee better be able to tell the story. The story better be reflected in the pitch the CEO does. Mike Arrington better understand the story if you want him to help you out (and Mike is just a metaphor here for any journalist or blogger). Your VCs better understand the story. The story better not change. For instance, the story behind Channel 9 at Microsoft hasn’t changed in four years. It was a community and an openess project that helps people get over their fears of Microsoft just like how Lenn Pryor was scared of flying (a pilot told him to turn on channel 9 on United Airlines). Does your business have a simple, compelling, story? My next thing will.

5. Are two employees of yours pulling your company in two different directions and messing with your story? You’ve got to solve that and solve it fast. Make one of those people work for the one who is closest to your business’s story. Don’t have a story? Fix that and fast. It won’t end well.

6. Everytime my ego tells me I’m important for some reason bad things happen in my life.

7. On the other hand, everytime Loren Feldman or Valleywag beat up on me good things happened in my life. Including even this past weekend. We’ll talk at CES about the latest good thing. So, bring it on in 2008!

8. If Marc Canter wants to take you out for a meal, go. The dude knows the best restaurants in tons of cities around the world AND knows how to make each one an incredible experience.

9. Revenues cover up a variety of sins. No revenues? You better be freaking perfect.

10. The one who has the most friends on Facebook, Twitter, Upcoming, Yelp, Plaxo, Flickr, etc does NOT win the game. But, the one who FOLLOWS the most people on each of those DOES have a better life!

11. When people were courting me to join them invariably they’d pitch me with “do you want to make a lot of money?” I always hesitated on that question. Why? I know lots of miserable wealthy people. The right question? “Do you want to have a ton of incredible experiences and great friends?” Now THAT I can say yes to, and do often.

12. If people are loyal to you, reward that loyalty. That’s why Rocky Barbanica and Shel Israel are two great friends.

13. When your wife asks you anything about stuff like whether or not she should go back to work, or whether she should buy a new jacket, or have her mom come live with us (which just happened) the ONLY correct answer is “do whatever makes you incredibly happy.” I’ve said that quite a few times this year and it’s ALWAYS paid off. Luckily I married a woman who always makes the right choice, so that’s easy to say.

14. It’s easy to build an audience by tearing other people down. It’s far harder to build one by building them up. Why is that? Humans love messes — it’s why we slow down on the freeway when there’s a big wreck. Building up people and companies is a lot more fun long term, though.

15. When my audience has said I’m wrong they are right at least 90% of the time (and probably more).

16. The more I read, the more interesting my life becomes.

17. Learning to swim through noise is one of the best skills I’ve learned in the past few years. Got me ready for Twitter. As I type this post there is a new Twitter arriving on my screen every two to 10 seconds!

18. Dealing with continual partial attention is a skill that psychologists and other mental health professionals will be studying for years. I’m learning that it does destroy productivity, which is why I force myself to do at least one video everyday. That turned out to be a brilliant decision (thanks to Andrew Baron of Rocketboom for telling me that). Thanks to Linda Stone for bringing continuous partial attention to my attention. Speaking of Linda, her dinners had a deep influence on me.

19. The world of media is undergoing deep changes that few people really understand. Everytime I show people my cell phone and explain it’s now a TV station their mouths hang open — they can’t believe that I can send video to the world from a cell phone. For free.

20. The two things I got most excited about (iPhone and Facebook) have ended up being the two biggest technology stories of 2007. I’m seeing less and less utility in Facebook, though, and what’s funny is when I met some people in the London Underground they said the same thing. So, Facebook will probably be the story of 2008, too. Will it keep its users? Will it find a good business model, etc etc?

21. Blogging is still a fad. Heheh. But now it’s a Twitter fad. A Tumblr fad. A Pownce fad. An Utterz fad. A Seesmic fad. A Kyte fad. Bring on the fads!

22. I’m not a good manager. The one employee I didn’t screw up this year was Rocky and I’m too scared of him to mess with him! :-)

23. Living life in public +is+ weird.

24. The best clients are ones who believe in you from the start and don’t need to be sold. That was true back in the 1980s when I worked a camera store counter and it’s true today with Seagate and, now, AMD who is sponsoring our CES shows.

25. There is absolutely no way to thank everyone who participated in this grand experiment this year. One thing that does is create a karmic imbalance that pressures me to step up my stuff for you next year.

26. If I do something really idiotic, it gets viewers. If I do something really smart, it gets participants. Ask anyone who has been linked to by Digg and they’ll tell you the difference between a drive-by reader and someone who sticks around and participates. That said, being an idiot did get me in that famous Bubble video! :-)

27. If your business is being run right the people who bring results to the boardroom table are probably getting more and more responsibilities. If they aren’t that’s a sign that the business isn’t being managed well and the right things aren’t being measured (or reported).

28. The worst thing I did all year is not answer your emails.

29. When your audio sucks on your video nothing else really matters.

30. There’s nothing worse than an A-list blogger who thinks he/she knows it all. Yes, I’m looking in the mirror.

31. I did six Amazon Kindle videos. The one where I was a jerk got 10x more traffic than the other five, where I was much fairer.

32. Everytime my wife tells me to do something (or not to do something) and I don’t listen to her bad stuff happens. It’s amazing, but true.

33. Whenever someone says that they are unsubscribing (or unfollowing on Twitter) my subscriber and follower numbers go up (and I’ve compared to my friends and they also say the same is true). Me? Maybe if you aren’t making some people mad you aren’t being interesting enough?

34. I didn’t exercise enough in 2007.

35. I wasn’t nice enough to enough people. Everytime I treated someone rudely they went to Valleywag or Uncov or Fake Steve Jobs and told the world what a jerk I was.

36. No matter whether I did something idiotic or brilliant Dave Winer kept being my friend. So did Buzz Bruggeman. Chris Pirillo. Jeff Sandquist. Shel Israel. Rocky Barbanica. Teresa Williamson. Francine Hardaway. Loic Le Meur. And a bunch of others — this list could go on for pages.

37. I miss my friends from Seattle. Chris Pirillo. David Geller. The Jeung’s. Steve Ball. Buzz. In 2008 I’m gonna come to Seattle more often to reconnect.

38. The interesting stuff that’s happening is going on outside the valley. What I find is interesting is that everyone assumes that things like Twitter and Facebook are happening only in the Valley or in San Francisco. That’s not true, just watch http://www.twittervision.com to see how wrong that assumption is. I want to go to China, Russia, and India in 2008 and I bet I’ll get to at least one of those places.

39. Big mistake? Not spending more time working on posts. The ones where I thought about the post for hours turned out great. The ones I banged out really fast without thinking too much? They are the stupid ones.

40. Not spending enough time with Patrick/Milan — they both bring such joy to my life when I hang out with them. Not to mention that Patrick is quite a geek and is figuring out stuff that I haven’t yet (I don’t play World of Warcraft, for instance, but he’s getting to be darn good at it). Gotta go.

I’m sure I’m forgetting about 1,000 other lessons I learned in 2007, but there is a limit to the length a blog post should be.

Happy New Years to each and everyone of you!

It’ll be interesting to see what lessons I learn in 2008. One thing for sure: you’ll get to learn from my mistakes as I make them! (And you’ll get to throw metaphorical fruit at me for doing so. Heheh). Take care and see you in 2008!

125 thoughts on “What I’ve learned in 2007

  1. Hi Robert, thanks for the words of wisdom and for your uncompromising honesty. The balance of work and life, plugging in to the family, and really listening when someone is talking to you are few a things I constantly work on.

    Regarding good audio, I’d add a set of headphones to the list too. Not sure how it would work on your Nokia but someone will have the answer.

    Best regards in the new year!

  2. Hi Robert, thanks for the words of wisdom and for your uncompromising honesty. The balance of work and life, plugging in to the family, and really listening when someone is talking to you are few a things I constantly work on.

    Regarding good audio, I’d add a set of headphones to the list too. Not sure how it would work on your Nokia but someone will have the answer.

    Best regards in the new year!

  3. Nice post. When you demonstrate a lot of self-awareness, honesty, contemplation, I am impressed with what I hear.I dont think Ive ever altered my opinion of someone by reading 1 post before, but I have now. If you can kepp your defenses down next time there is some controversy, and respond in this thoughtful a way, my criticisms that you dont actually engage in naked conversations will evaporate :)

  4. Nice post. When you demonstrate a lot of self-awareness, honesty, contemplation, I am impressed with what I hear.I dont think Ive ever altered my opinion of someone by reading 1 post before, but I have now. If you can kepp your defenses down next time there is some controversy, and respond in this thoughtful a way, my criticisms that you dont actually engage in naked conversations will evaporate :)

  5. “Everytime my ego tells me I’m important for some reason bad things happen in my life”

    That is so true for me too. Great thoughts. Wish you a happy new year.

  6. “Everytime my ego tells me I’m important for some reason bad things happen in my life”

    That is so true for me too. Great thoughts. Wish you a happy new year.

  7. Love this list (esp. 1, 2, 8, 13…). Miss you too!
    Please do come to Seattle and bring the family with you.
    Happy New Year to you, Maryam, Patrick and Milan.

  8. Love this list (esp. 1, 2, 8, 13…). Miss you too!
    Please do come to Seattle and bring the family with you.
    Happy New Year to you, Maryam, Patrick and Milan.

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