2016 was a very interesting for many of us. I know upon reflection, we can pretty well say that every year, but last year the universe really seemed to rock for many people. I know little about stars and planetary alliance, but apparently that had something to do with it. Or maybe it was just people pissing each other off.
There were many political and cultural challenges (Trump, immigration, gay marriage, legalisation of cannibis and Syria to name but a few), which prompted outrage, annoyance, confusion and hurt. And there were many amazing artists and icons lost (Bowie, Ali, Fisher, Cohen, Cole, Lee, Rickman…the list goes on). And whilst we didn’t know them, they entertained us, changed us, made their mark on the world. Why? Because they had the courage to use their own voice. Sometimes it was used well, others inappropriately. Regardless, they had the guts to stand up and be counted.
The year was tough and tricky in many ways, but the tides of change have been fuelled.
And so this year, unlike other years, I think resolutions should be less about losing 5 kilos or being nicer to the mother-in-law, and more about taking a stand and being brave and honest enough to change the world.
It’s yours for the taking
I know YOU have something to say, otherwise you wouldn’t be hanging out here in business-land. If you wanted mediocrity or solitude or the quiet life, you wouldn’t have opened the doors and hung your sign. Whether it’s through your blog or podcast or book or music, you have something to say and share that noone else can – because it’s truly and utterly yours.
And the world needs that now.
We need authentic irreplaceable voices.
We need ideas and messages and voices that can’t be replicated or created by computers or churned out by underpaid VAs.
We need noise and disruption and positivity and creativity that hasn’t been seen before.
And we need it now.
So in this world of ‘automated everything’, your challenge is to raise your voice and be heard. You need to write like no robot ever could and turn out content that a machine couldn’t possibly dream up.
Because fresh, human, real, interesting voices have always been the winners. They have always been the things that connect people with people. They have always been the catalyst to make us think, laugh and cry. And they will continue to be the things that poke and prod and prompt audiences to ask the question “Why?”
Take a stand
So, in this year when automation will be increasingly apparent, where every second business is telling you to automate everything so you can sit back and relax, take a stand and consider the real human connection you wish to have with your people. There is definitely a place for some routine communications to be automated – I’m not saying there isn’t – but there is NO place for mass-produced content.
If you’ve chosen to run a business, you have chosen to change the world. You have chosen to connect humans who need or want something with that thing. Therefore, the content you produce for that business should be artful and valuable, not just “here’s the thing, here’s what it does, this is why you need it and here’s how much.” And it definitely shouldn’t be “best of breed” or offering “disruptive excellence.” Business jargon – *blurgh*.
Making a living and supporting your family matters. Your business matters. Just don’t pimp it out at the expense of art and your own flavour. Use the one thing that is truly yours to make your business sing – your voice.
Using the internet to sell or market your business can rapidly lead to this notion that everything must be automated. The lure of ‘quicker, faster, easier’ is intoxicating, but don’t forget that the web is full of real people with real problems and feelings. They need a real person to offer them ideas and solutions. Someone who understands the complexities of a human being.
So don’t get caught up in the trap of producing content for content’s sake. Content is not an abstract thing that just needs to be done as part of your working week. Content is the conduit for connection with your audience, the real people who need you.
This year, make it your task to set your voice free. Your unique expression and humanity is needed in a world of automation, unrest and insecurity. It’s time to rise up and be heard, even if it’s only initially in your own small community. Small pools can create big ripples. Be strategic and thoughtful but don’t let strategy get in the way of connection.
Don’t be afraid to speak out and be you. There’s noone else you can be, after all.