Thursday, January 23, 2014

An Open Letter to Jon Acuff


Dear Jon:
       Thank you for being awesome. I have enjoyed reading your books, blog posts, and tweets. If I were to completely switch gears in my career I would probably take a page out of your playbook. The problem is you've made it seem so simple. It’s almost like one day you weren't there and then all the sudden you were. You didn't do this intentionally, but it does seem that way. All credit to you for capitalizing on each opportunity given. Honestly, I never saw the “exit stage right” from the Lampo Group coming. It was a gutsy call, but then again… you did just write a book about quitting your day job to follow your passion. Back to the problem at hand, you have made it look crazy simple to get out there and be noticed. You've been quietly building this huge user base foundation and now you are reaping the benefits of a very well timed and executed plan. Seriously, you are kind of like a rock star in my book (full disclosure…I don’t actually have a book).
          In all seriousness, you have helped me create a sense of passion for communicating. You are a great example of following your dreams and not stopping when the first dream becomes realized. Will I ever be a bestselling author, have over 1000 twitter followers, or speak at awesome conferences… I have to think probably not, BUT that doesn't mean I won’t try.
          Thank you for being a great example of never giving up and making things happen. Thank you for being awesome.

Your friend (kind of, except we've never met),

Nate

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Fear of Being Irrelevant

One of the biggest fears I have is one day constantly changing technology will become too much to keep up with and I will become irrelevant. I believe I was very fortunate to have grown up during the tech-boom. Considering the pace at which technology is evolving, things are being less intuitive to me. I used to be on, what I considered, the cutting edge of social media and new technology, but now there is so much available, I don’t even think I know half of what’s out there.

I remember the Christmas morning my brother and lifted that huge box off of the table and there sat an IBM tower and monitor. Years later the internet was mainstreamed and I had a chat conversation with someone in Germany. I had no idea what they were saying, but I was typing messages to people across the globe. With that came my first email account, an AOL account nonetheless. I was a freshman in college when Mark Zuckerberg allowed the rest of the nation’s colleges to join in on what Harvard and Stanford had privately enjoyed for a short time. Twitter seemed like an easy jump and now I’m sitting with a little over 700 followers (not breaking records, but I can appreciate that number).

So why do I feel insecure about the future? I have one of the coolest jobs on the planet; I get to teach college students. Something I have noticed recently is the way my students think has changed a degree or two. The way their cognitive powers work have shifted a bit and I don’t think this change is good or bad, just different. I constantly have to update the way I teach my course (which is probably how it should be done anyway), but this updating is much more frequent. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but I would venture a guess that this generation of students is the microwave generation and used to instant results. Maybe I fall between the toaster oven and the convection oven, but I don’t think I’m quite in the microwave group and this scares me a bit.

Last semester I met with a student every Wednesday for almost the entire semester. This student has a vision for a company she wants to start. It’s fun to help people shape their dreams and give guidance, especially when it’s a super-cool tech start-up. This experience led me to think about the increasing amount of freshly minted graduates (or some who didn’t quite finish) who take risks to start their own company. If there is ever a time to go for it, now is the time. And this is why I’m worried about the future….

If I cannot keep up with these young minds and their constantly shifting and developing technological platforms and ways of analyzing problems, how can I be relevant to anyone? It has been suggested that there will be a generation who rejects interactive technology as we know it today, but I don’t see that happening. We have created too much infrastructure around the way we live to just drop it completely.


My resolve is to do the best I can to stay sharp, to spend the time it takes to learn new technology, and to never be afraid to ask someone for help. I refuse to be an ostrich with my head in the sand. I refuse to let one of my biggest fears become a reality. I refuse to become irrelevant. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

4 Goals For 2014

New Year's goals are often made, but
StatisticBrain.com says only 8% of the goals
are achieved. I have been in that 92% all too
often, but this year I'm going for a different
approach. Instead of trying to fill a list of 10 or
14 (for those of you in the "14 for 2014" camp),
I'm sticking with some basic, but challenging
goals. I'm not going to overdo it by setting
myself up for something that can't be
accomplished. However, I'm not going to set the
bar so low it can all be accomplished by March. 

Progress reports will be posted every first day
of the month. If you want someone to help keep
you accountable for your goals, comment
below. I'll send you a message each month to
check on your progress. Let's tackle these goals 
together.

Here are my goals for 2014...  

1.  Finish writing my dissertation
2.  Run ten miles a month 
3.  Read one book a month (part of @JonAcuff's #EmptyShelf challenge)
4.  Post once a week on nbcopeland.com