My Only Career Plan
Digital Strategist, Founder of Know Your Social
Digital Strategist, Founder of Know Your Social
Phase One: Listening to the call for adventure
Birthdays are a funny thing.
Why should we make a big fuss because we’re turning a year older?
Isn’t it just another day in the year with nothing special about it?
How it all started
It was a Tuesday, on the 23 September 2008, when I turned 24. I was on holiday in Israel and on this warm summer evening, my friends wanted to celebrate my birthday.
I blew out the sparklers, cut the cake and shared a few words.
This year’s birthday felt a bit different. Turning 24 had triggered something in me. There was only 1 year to go to 25 and I was NOWHERE close to what I had imagined I would have done or would have achieved or would have become by the time I hit 25.
My image of a 25-year-old felt different from the reality I was living. I was not feeling like an adult; not feeling accomplished; not feeling like I had done/achieved/experienced a lot; not feeling like I had it figured out.
This was the beginning of my quarter-life crisis.
The quarter-life crisis
From the outside, my life looked great!
I had just started a new job.
Was on the way to implement my first product launch in Libya (new country woohoo!).
I was finishing my University Master’s degree.
I was still young.
Had great friendships.
It looked like I had it all and had it all figured out.
In reality, though, I was confused, lost, and had no clue where I was going or what I should be doing.
I decided to take action.
Phase Two: Accepting the challenge
Fast Forward to the present day…
A bit more than 10 years later, I’m now turning 35 and the feeling of not having achieved much is still there. 10 years later it is still difficult to define who I am and where I should be going, especially when trying to describe what I do.
I thought I should have all of this figured out by now! I guess not. But, I’m OK with that.
So who am I?
I lead digital customer experience at Vodafone.
But I’m not only a product manager.
I mentor startups at an accelerator.
But I’m not only an advisor.
I help businesses grow.
But I’m not only a consultant.
None of these roles defines me fully… yet, at the same time, all of them do!
There is one common theme among all these roles, however. They all developed from personal interests that I discovered on my own, not through any official course of study or anything. It was self-learning that led me to each of these paths.
Forging my path through self-learning
The more I progress as a professional, the more I become aware that life is a continuous work in progress. Complacency isn’t for me. When we become too comfortable with where we are, we are in danger of standing still. I can now appreciate all the small things I’ve done along the way, the lessons I’ve learned to get here and the struggles I’ve been through to become who I am today.
My quarter-life crisis caused me to ask new questions, discover new interests and come out as a new person… a work in progress one of course!
I no longer consider my feelings of uncertainty or continual change to be a moment crisis. Instead, it is the force that compels me to want more.
It’s a place where we constantly want to become better.
It’s a daily activity to stop, think, learn and grow.
I am now a new version of myself who is constantly learning, growing, changing, intellectually evolving and (hopefully) improving. I am a self-learner. A person who is not afraid to not be defined by one thing but pushes to learn more and something new every day.
But there is one problem.
It’s quite difficult to keep up a habit of learning and focusing on quality content.
This led me to start finding new ways to learn.
Phase Three: Claiming the treasure you seek
As you may have guessed by now, I’m obsessed with learning!
That’s the one characteristic which defines me the most. This Need to be constantly improving.
So, here’s the system I have in place to constantly keep learning.
Books are a great way to explore a topic in detail and I’m constantly juggling between 3 or 4 books.
Think about it, you spend a few days with the author thinking about an idea, considering its implications and learning.
The point is not about reading 10 books or 20 books or 50 books. The point is about reading 1 book, taking away something and applying it.
And that’s what LEARNING is actually about. Taking a new idea and making it yours.
I also like to read the real, physical book and have a copy of it on my bookshelf. This is like a souvenir of an idea which I can recall whenever I see the book cover in front of me.
How do I find which books to read?
Mostly from recommendations on Podcast.
This is my way of spending some time with my virtual mentors while commuting in the car. Bonus points when podcast guests share what books they’ve been reading.
This is what the podcasts feel like: having a weekly coffee with Chase Reeves at the Fizzle show (I don’t want to know what’s in his coffee!), sitting down with Dave Gerhardt and David Cancel to learn from the Drift crew at Seeking Wisdom, trying to absorb from the brilliant mind of Seth Godin at Akimbo, and the listening to the thoughts and ideas of the many others who patiently take the time to record their shows and interview guests.
Podcasts for me are also a way to adopt virtual mentors. These are people who you know that you could learn from, whose philosophy and approach to one particular topic you’d like to absorb or learn more about.
How do I find out which podcasts to listen to?
Mostly from recommendations on blogs.
Through blog posts, I fill in the gaps about tactics which are not covered by the books I read and without the need to invest as much time as reading a full book. I also find that blogs are ideal for quick topical research across various authors to discover the latest and greatest trends.
There’s one major problem with blogs though. How do you find the right quality content among the 500 million active blogs and 2 million daily blog posts being written?
Content overload is real and it’s a big time waster.
So, how do I discover which blogs to read?
Mostly through Zest!
4. The Zest 🍋 platform
Through Zest.is I am now able to get a daily stream of quality marketing content. Content which has been suggested by marketing professionals and vetted manually by the Zest team with some AI magic thrown into the mix. The team told me that only around 1% of the suggested content actually gets approved.
And that’s not even the best thing about it!
The best thing about all of this is that it lives as a Chrome homepage extension. Every time I open a new browser tab I get a fresh stream of quality marketing content to go through. And obviously, I can search through the years of approved content or filter by content tags (product, blogging, email, growth… there are 31 tags in total!)
Thanks to Zest I’ve finally found a way to organize my haphazard daily content input into a neat process!
And, now there’s Zest Enlight.
Zest Enlight takes curation up by a couple of notches by matching the content with my actual tastes. With Zest Enlight I have all of this available on my iPhone and ready with super-relevant, superior-quality content.
So now I’m not even having to choose from the 1% accepted quality content… the algorithm is now surfacing content for me based on my preferences and past behaviour. Bliss!
And thanks to my friends at Zest 🍋you can get Zest Enlight FREE, FOREVER if you sign up before the 1 May 2019. More than 4,000 self-learners have signed up to it in the Beta period.
Phase 4: Do it all over again
The rise of the self-learning tribe is here!
You can chart your own career path, too.
Don’t worry too much about what content you’re going to go through.
Read and learn everything you can absorb. Over time you’ll develop a muscle and it will be clearer what you should read more of.
Just start today.
My quarter-life crisis started in Israel triggering me to become a self-learner. It’s curious how 10 years later I’m feeding my hunger for growth with the help of a startup from Israel.
It took me 10 years to write this post. I hope it inspires you to become a self-learner.
Always be curious.
Always be learning.
Quick! Join the Free Forever Zest Enlight Beta now… invite closes on April 30th
Hi, I’m Matthew, Digital Strategist and Founder of Know Your Social. I work closely with Startups who struggle to talk about what they offer. Through a very simple process, I help them clarify their message so their business starts growing.