In 2006, I published the first article. Conversation Agent celebrated 11 years this month. I was inspired by an article on Recode about Google's Anniversary for the random facts bit. Before we form thoughts and insights, facts are coming at us randomly...
I'm not releasing anything special, the journey itself has been remarkable.
1. Community: For the first four years using the native comment plugin the back and forth with readers was very active ― 10,354 nuggets, which very often became quotes in subsequent posts. After I installed the Disqus plugin, due to the timing coinciding with the explosion of social networks, the comments decreased considerably and the spam increased, making it easier to just close the comments.
I opened the comments again for this post because I'm a strong believer in the power of community.
Lately our community is the weekly Learning Habit. Newsletters and emails are more intimate in a world where everything, including our personal (and private) data are now public it seems. Any announcements will be to the community first, so make sure you subscribe if you want to stay in the loop (see also link on the sidebar).
2. Themes: The theme has always been marketing that makes business sense, initially focusing more on brand strategy, communication, influence and behavior, and plenty of examples on social and digital success stories both for B2B and B2C. Because I build brands and give businesses relationship advice, all these elements are really about how business intersects with technology and human behavior.
I was an early adopter, experimenting with social media in 1997-on, and I could see behavioral sciences (decision making and culture), the art of connection and relationship building and economies of network were going to become important ― so I shifted the themes and topics I write about in the last 3-4 years.
We started by connecting ideas and people and flowed into how talk can change our lives. Much work still ahead of us as we experience exponential change and the blending of humans and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Is technology helping us discover new opportunities?
3. Learning: Writing more than ten million words has been valuable training. This site has opened up amazing opportunities ― I was among the founding expert bloggers at Fast Company home page, writing about customer conversation an breaking stories on Comcast Cares and Dell's comprehensive outreach after the Hell story. I also contributed to MarketingProfs Daily Fix, The Blog Herald, and Social Media Today. My articles have appeared on SmartBrief leadership and social media newsletters, Communication World (CW), IABC's magazine, and Philadelphia Direct Marketing Association magazine.
In addition to publishing extensively, I've had the privilege of sharing ideas and insights at conferences all over the world, including a solo talk on influence at SXSW. Teaching is a high form of learning, and learning I did to prepare. In the fragmented cultural environment we moved to, it helps that I love learning from books.
4. Work: Conversation Agent has been a lifeboat in a sea of change, a place where to put ideas not welcome in corporate (when I started it), nor on the agency side (last few years), leading eventually to stepping out on my own.
When my father died quite suddenly after a diagnosis of terminal cancer after Christmas 2015, I took some time to reflect and consider the future. Time is all too short.
5. Guests: Over the years I invited my friends as guest, both to guest post and to engage in conversation. Along with community, this is another aspect I'd like to bring back in some form.
6. Spirit: We don't talk about death and we don't talk about love enough. Yet they are the two things that kept things in perspective and nourished humankind ever since we can find evidence in writing and illustrations. We talk about food, travel, and style much longer before we talk about spirit... all the while yearning for an ounce of inspiration.
7. Humor: My humor translates better on stage than it does in writing. But I wrote a few posts with a funny angle over the years. So not so good.
8. Consistency: For ten years I published five to six days a week. In the last year or so I decreased to two or more per week. This reflects my nature and way of working ― systems and habits vs. just goals and tactics.
9. Culture: I wrote a meaningful actions manifesto to summarize what I value and as a compass to navigate the complexity of work and life in a kind of fourth dimension.
10. Present: I have a few things I'm working on and will talk about them when ready. Alignment is very important, and many are not experiencing it at the moment. Some things we cannot help, but we can take control of the ones we can. What we value, how we work, how we take care of our environment and learning make a big difference. Coherence matters. This is what I'm thinking about right now.
11. Future: It's hard to predict where we will be or what the future holds. We can prepare and adjust where necessary. Conversation Agent will continue to be a sounding board, one voice thinking out loud with a self-selected group of professionals and practitioners who share in the curiosity and multidisciplinary approach I take to work... and life.
Thank you for being along for whichever part of the journey.