Someone is Always Listening and Your Words Have Impact

About 1% of the posts I write get more than 100 social shares. Probably 50% of the posts get no shares beyond my auto scheduled social posts.

It is enough to want me to give up writing at times. But there are always moments that keep me pushing forward, and they always come from the most unexpected places.

Like the time that I wrote this blog post that had about 500 views when published. I considered it a failure for months. Then at a conference the CEO of another agency told me that he loved the post. He said that he sent it around the office and made it required reading.

My post on setting goals in life didn’t get spread like I thought it would. But it has impacted several friends who were looking for new challenges.

The same thing happened a few weeks ago when I wrote about website surveys. It received a few nice social shares, but not a lot of website visits and little meaningful commentary. Then I received an email from a company associated with these products. They said that the post made a big impact and “shook things up” with the company. So that post served its purpose!

As an analyst, I have trained my brain to look at numbers as the only indicator of success. The bigger, the better. And if I don’t go bigger with each piece of content, I feel like I wasted my time.

Of course, this is idiotic. Like seriously, so stupid that I can’t even believe my own feelings.

How can I be upset if even one person took the time to read the post in the first place?

This blog exists to generate a meaningful impact for individuals! That is the avatar I have in my head when I write these posts.

My obsession with aggregated numbers often gets in the way. Because it is freakin' hard to measure having a meaningful impact on individuals.

Some of the best blogs out there get no shares

I am not the only one who feels this way. I have been learning from Kevin Hillstrom at Mine that Data for as long as I can remember.

His writing has had an enormous amount impact on my career trajectory. It has given me a new way of thinking, and let me mature beyond my years as a business person.

Yet I read his site through my Feedly account, rarely visiting the site. I will leave a comment once every few months, but most of the time I just nod my head in agreement with what he is saying.

To Kevin, I am nothing that he can measure. I am a whisper in the wind. A silent admirer.

And from the looks of his comments section, I am not the only one. Yet I hear Kevin Hillstrom name dropped all the time at geeky analytics conferences (I’m looking at you, Yehoshua).

That is why a few years ago I sent him a thank you note out of the blue. Just to tell him how thankful I am that his blog exists. My hope was that a heartfelt message would be more important to him than a website visit or a comment.

Your words have impact in ways you could never imagine

This post started as a way to frame up a scenario that I never thought possible. I got an email from a friend halfway across the world a few months ago that I never expected to see (details removed to protect anonymity).

Hey Jeff,

Your G+ post back in 2013 really inspired me and I wanted to let you know about this. I knew Avinash’s “career model” thing before, but I felt your example a lot closer to me. I’ve worked at online marketing agencies for more than 7 years now and I just decided that I’ll quit and start working on some own websites and projects. What I mean by “I just decided” is that I already quit in September so now I’m just living on my savings and hope that my projects will make me money sooner than I’ll run out of money. So it’s pretty serious ;-D (well I don’t just hope I actually work too 🙂

I had no idea what my friend was talking about. What Google+ post? What could I possibly have said on that network that would have this type of impact?

So I wrote back saying something like (paraphrasing of course):

This is an awesome story! WTF Google+ post are you talking about?

He replied with a link to the post, so I went back and re-read it. Honestly, I do not remember writing this post. Probably because my mind was racing in a million different directions as I tried to adjust to the next chapter of my life.

Here is the post, mildly altered to remove names.

Leave it to +Avinash Kaushik to so accurately describe something that has been near and dear to my heart recently – how to have a fulfilling career.

As some of you may know, at the end of October I left my steady and decorated career as Vice President of Marketing after 8 years of working with my company. During that time I helped the company see record growth, added 45 new jobs, and I personally hired and managed 20 people during my time. It was an amazing ride for several years and I rarely had time to look down on our way up.

Then I started to reflect on what had happened during this growth period. I realized that the more we grew and matured as an organization, the further I was moving away from what gave me personal job fulfillment.

Using Avinash's framework for a magnificent career post, I now realize that I was being pulled more toward what the company needed than what I was personally passionate about.

The company needed me to manage people, assist in sales and help scale the company for growth. This meant far less time creating killer SEO/PPC/Analytics and Web development projects. And more time managing the people who would complete these projects.

While I am told that I am a quality manager, I am not passionate about this being the main aspect of my career.

Once you make the realization that your employment is not fulfilling your passion, it becomes difficult to think of anything else. At that point it is best to start searching for what will give you fulfillment moving forward and start taking actions to get there.

During my reflection period I determined that I am passionate about teaching the world how to become better digital marketers/analysts by sharing my experiences and conducting experiments to better our collective knowledge as an industry.

This is when Jeffalytics was born and where much of my free time has gone in the past year. Writing my thoughts and sharing ideas on Jeffalytics has exposed me to a worldwide audience of digital marketers, opened up the opportunity to teach at my alma mater and now I am even speaking at the same conference as Avinash this January in Hungary.

Building an audience on Jeffalytics while also working on some entrepreneurial projects is my ideal scenario for having a magnificent career. While it's unfortunate that I felt the need to leave my position with an excellent company to get there, it was something that I feel I had to do in order to realize my dreams.

Thankfully the management at my company understood the decision and I remain a shareholder in the company despite leaving my day to day role.

When it comes to your own career, sometimes the hardest decision to make is one that seems odd to other people. Many business associates, friends and family members were downright shocked to hear that I left the company I helped build.

Surely, some people still don't understand the rationale behind my decision to leave steady employment. I'm just hoping that I can refer them to this post in the future and they can see why I made this choice and wish me best of luck into the future.

Looking back, I was concerned about the wrong people reading this post. Or having my words taken out of context, so I only shared it privately on G+. It received no +1’s, no comments, no re-shares. There was no way to quantify this post using any of the metrics we have available as marketers.

But seriously, screw quantifying! My words had a real impact on others, even when I thought nobody was listening.

Want to leave an impact? Start writing

You can do the same. Start by challenging yourself to write something once a week. People will start to notice (even if they aren’t vocal). You will make an impact. But you have to write at least weekly to stay in good form.

I decided to deploy this strategy in early January, and I have had nothing but positive results. Website traffic is up, social shares and other key metrics are up.

Better yet, I am sharing stories like these with a larger audience, in hope that others find a source of inspiration or a fresh perspective.

That impact will last for years into the future. Writers never die.

P.S. What blogs inspire you? Leave a comment here to let me know. Even better, leave a comment there and let them know. They will appreciate it, and it may be the fuel they need to keep on inspiring others.

(Cover Photo Credit to Jeff Sauer)

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