Lessons Learned 2018

December 20th, 2018

Part I of II

During the 14 years I wrote a monthly newsletter, the December issue focused on the ’10 Things I Learned’ the previous 12 months. While Fast:Forward ended a year ago, I am inspired to share these 2018 lessons:

Experience Speaking – Last month during an alignment meeting, a boss gave this advice to my client, his high-potential employee: ‘You do a great job interacting with peers and those who report to you. However, always know where the line is, and don’t ever cross it.’ Then, fully transparent, he shared his own story from some 20 years before, when – having had a few soda pops – he climbed on stage at a function, took the microphone and told jokes about the competition. A few weeks later he didn’t get a promotion and learned that while most people laughed and applauded that night, a senior leader watched quietly from the back of the room. That person nixed his opportunity… feeling he wasn’t mature enough for the assignment. ‘It took me two years to overcome that 10 minutes,’ he said.

Long Runway – One of our strategic goals this year was to diversify and add new clients outside of the energy industry. The first action steps were launching a new website and creating a couple of marketing flyers. Next up was contacting several target companies and starting to develop relationships with key decision-makers. While it’s been a slow process, we added three new clients. I also was vetted and approved by another large organization and look forward to having an engagement down the road.

Civil Obedience – The political race for the U.S. Senate in Texas saw incumbent Republican Ted Cruz face a strong challenge from previously unknown U.S. House Rep. Beto O’Rourke. Crisscrossing the Lone Star State by van, Beto energized the electorate and turnout soared. The incumbent held on by a few percentage points, while Beto created a brand and might be a candidate for another office in, say, 2020. Regardless of whether you’re Red or Blue, it’s exciting to see more people heading to the polls and exercising their right to choose.

Go Team – Kathy and I spend fall football Saturdays in Austin for UT home games… tailgating with our kids and good friends. At the TCU game in September, more than 100 people – Horns and Frogs alike – attended ‘Papa’s Tailgate’. We drive from Houston the night before or morning of, depending on kickoff, and assist three other couples cooking the day’s food. It’s a wonderfully joyful experience, especially for those of us who bleed burnt orange. The best part – regardless of whether Texas wins – is having conversation with people we don’t know that well and see at most a half-dozen times a year.

Frozen Tundra – I’ve never liked cold weather. Give me Houston humidity. So, of course, I made three business trips to Canada the past six weeks, including twice to far northwest Alberta… a 75-minute connecting flight beyond Calgary. Of course, I purchased thermal gloves, wool socks and a Patagonia ski jacket that’s good to 10-below in order to survive. (My client who lives in Kansas City jokes that I start wearing a sweatshirt once the temperature dips below 70, while he’s still in shorts when it’s 50. That’s not much of an exaggeration.)

Tomorrow: Web 3.0 is here

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