I can’t help feeling a bit nostalgic at this time of year! And when I look back at the last three years, and I go through all the things XCentral has achieved, I think we have so much to reflect on and be proud of.
But, I have also been reflecting on my personal learnings from the last 12-months, so I thought I would share what they are…
1. Length vs. Quality
This year XCentral completed the #ModernBiz campaign with Microsoft, Lenovo and David Koch. It was a humongous campaign, and I learnt first-hand what it's like to be in front of a camera, and to have to try and sound half intelligent (often hard at the best of times).
Filming for the first episode, I knew in advance the questions that were going to be, so I spent ages writing down answers and trying to remember them. I was attempting to learn the perfect answer. Well, that failed, because it was too hard to sound natural while reciting a pre-scripted response. The initial episodes were around 15 mins in length. We had a ton of hits on the video, but nowhere near the numbers we wanted. Microsoft and the Media company called YouTube in to consult with them in-person, and we learnt that people prefer to consume video content in approx. 5 min chunks. So everything was heavily edited and as a result of the changes we ended up with nearly half a million views on the videos, and that was a fantastic result.
We live in the world where things need to be shorter; short tweets, short videos, short messages, quick replies, fast answers and the list goes on.
But, my lesson is that the alternative to long is not always short. The real alternative is to make it better quality!
Quality is hard to deliver consistently. It is about cutting the fat, trimming the waffle and making a succinct point to be "not boring".
Not being boring is clearly important on TV / Video. However, the lesson has also been applied to what I do each day. I no longer focus on length, I concentrate on the quality of the message.
The length can be short, and it can also be long, and in fact, text written at length has its place. However, the question I find myself asking now is: "Am I clear? Am I being succinct in communicating my point?"
Typically, people are very busy, so I'm sure that anything I can do to save people time will be well received!
2. My Best is to be Repeated
By anyone's measure, XCentral has had an insanely good year! We won the Microsoft Australia's Managed Services Partner of the Year; we have done the ModernBiz campaign; we have been selected to be part of a numerous amount of key supplier initiatives both locally and internationally. We have had near 70% growth, more than doubled our headcount, moved to new premises, and introduced an array of new systems/products that benefit both XCentral and our customers.
In fact, the last three years have been good, very good. So what I've learnt is that having achieved so much, we now have to keep on doing it, again and again, every year!
We have a saying at XCentral "Show me, Don't tell me". The statement is to do with not just saying you have done something, but showing evidence of action. When I consider my best, my only choice moving forward is to do it again. A cycle of my best, followed by doing it again and showing evidence of more good work, and so on. For people to know who I am, who XCentral is, this is perhaps the best way for me/us to be understood. My best and our best is, and will always be, repeated. There is no other option.
3. Staying Above the Noise
The speed of technology advancements, new product releases and product updates is advancing faster than ever before. It is a bit like white water rafting sometimes! My customers are in the raft moving at speed down the river, and my job is to interpret the situation and keep progressing them down the river in a safe fashion.
To do that, I need to stay up-to-date and always have the right information, at the right time. I achieve that through combinations of things like attending conferences both nationally & internationally, using Feedly, which is a location to centralise blog articles, news and all kinds of knowledge. I am consistent in being across multiple genres such as technical, security, business, innovation, political and so on. In fact, my Feedly gives me around 5,000+ articles a day. It is an inordinate amount of information, but it is stored, searchable, and I have specific information that I scan for daily.
However, amongst all the noise, the salient factor is always to understand business owners as their issues are the foundation for building solutions. It also means that when new technology gets released to the wider market, or advancements happen, I am equipped to think through the application of bonding the technical to the business issue. What will this solve, what will this improve, how can this benefit X?
All this is required so that the succinct advice I provide is always spot on, and thus, it's this that allows me always to repeat my best.
I have learnt this year that quality beats quantity every time. But staying on top of the sheer volume of information available to deliver the quality communication, the quality advice, and the quality outcome means engaging with the right things, at the right time. And having a clear plan or strategy in place for deciding what are the right things, events and people to connect in with is paramount.
What all this leads to is a place of confidence where I am doing my best, and hopefully repeating my best all the time.
I am not trying to claim to be a super-human (well, maybe a little!!), I am just explaining that having these three things front of mind all the time, enables me to stay focused and relevant. And that's what I believe people want from me, and XCentral as their technology/business partner/advisor.