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What were you thinking? A Year in Blogs. Did what you read reveal what you were thinking?

Angela Lane & Sergey Gorbatov

Now and then we publish a blog, a journal article, a white paper. We write because we think a topic is of general interest.

But writing isn’t reading. This started out as a blog about our most popular posts in 2021. And while we’ll get there, it became more interesting to ponder “why?”. We were curious. Is it a window into the minds of hundreds of our readers, and what mattered to them in 2021. We think so.

Sure, there are confounding factors. LinkedIn confirms that publishing a post on a Tuesday gets more views than, say, Thursday. We are still unsure about it… Another piece of advice (and here our own observations confirm) is that colorful graphic gets more “likes” than a somber headline. But we were curious about the topics that had readers go beyond LinkedIn marketing. Clicking a link, waiting to be redirected, and reading the 700 to 800 words beyond… why would they bother? what were they thinking? what resonated?

For example, we expected the blog about a great resignation (on leaving your job in a smart way) to do well: it's topical and personal. But it didn’t make this cut. I (Angela) was personally intrigued with transparency in career conversations. That blog did well enough, but nothing out of the ordinary. My fascination with this topic isn’t shared! Sergey was surprised that the Career drifter or chaser? blog did not attract much attention. Chasing promotions or drifting along are common; could it be that self-awareness is lacking?

So, in the spirit of curiosity, let’s count down our top three blogs. But most importantly, let’s consider the “why”.

Coming In At #3

Our third most popular blog, entitled “Ban Feedback From Your Vocabulary”, dealt with a subject that we love: feedback. We encourage leaders to give it and employees to seek it. This blog encourages readers to find ways to give others the information they need for development and growth (aka feedback), without criticism or fear that are its frequent companions. Offer ideas. Share thinking. Invite a conversation. But whatever you do, don’t say the “f” word.

We exaggerated, of course, to make the point. But this resonated? Why now?

The appeal of this idea is, we think, that it encourages us to aspire, based on insight. But it isn’t our typical “here's what you need to change”. In a year when the lifting was heavy, the idea of being given “feedback” to act on, feels like piling on. One more thing to do is just too much. In 2021, I can’t take on another challenge. But I want to grow. I need insight and support. But maybe I need you to be gentle with me.

Coming in at #2

We loved getting “under the hood” of what it means to be a great networker in Don't Be That Guy! The Ten Behaviors of the “Positive Networker”. And so did you!

In this blog, we laughed at the expense of the colleague that only connects when he needs something: help with a project, an introduction to a headhunter, a reference … We pleaded, as the saying goes, "don't be that guy". And offered some ideas for how to be a positive networker.

Connection is important. All of us want, and need, connection, and the last 18 months have taken a toll. At a time when we have been isolated and disconnected, any blog on networking might have resonated. But we think it might have tapped into something deeper. As people around the world rethink priorities for work and life, it is the positive connection, with the intention of doing good and being of use, that resonates. Readers want to understand the skills of the positive networker. Beyond self-centered networking (the type that gets the bad rap), readers want to give to others, while they nurture themselves. No wonder this struck a chord.

And in the 1st place …

Finally, and perhaps most telling, in the first place, was “Don’t Short Your Career. Play the Long Game”, a post about how we have the power to manage our career over time. This article encourages us to be choiceful. You can decide to accelerate your career now, if you want to. Or you can give yourself permission to take a break from advancement, decelerate, and deal with things that we need your attention. This is a blog about conviction: “slowing down” isn’t a problem, if it’s intentional. If it’s my choice, nothing is lost or taken away. It isn’t inertia but a strategic move. And one rooted in my taking control.

In times when many of us had too little control of our circumstances, the idea that we take charge over our career by choosing to play “the long game” was an important one to readers. They are taking power back.

What were you thinking?

Do you recall an article, a book, or a blog that particularly resonated with you. Did you listen to a story or podcast that stood out amongst all the noise? Why? We would love to hear from you.

These were our top three blogs for 2021. As we move into 2022, we hope to provide interesting reading, provoke your thoughts, and partner with you to better understand high performance, professional development, and career success.

Here's to a year with an edge!

Photo from 준섭 윤 from Pexels

The opinions expressed here are the authors, and do not represent the views organizations with whom they are affiliated.

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