From the "This Day in History Department":

Twenty years ago today, I encountered my first Monday as a business owner. I remember making coffee, watching the morning news shows for story ideas and then pulling out my Rolodex® (remember those!?) and starting to make calls and write letters to build a book of business. Only a few people were on "public" email back then. Wow. Thanks to everyone who's been a part of it!

In honor of the occasion, I've come up with the first in a series of periodic Top 20 lists.

A Random Inventory of Lessons Learned

  1. Revise and edit your own work before asking some else to. They'll be nicer and more constructive  You know you are chippier when someone does this to you. [Get revision strategies here]
  2. Never underestimate the power of taking a deep breath.
  3. Sometimes your best decisions are made when you think you have nothing to lose.
  4. If you don't know why you're doing it or what you want to happen after you do it, don't. [How to determine purpose]
  5. "No" means "new opportunity". h/t Mark Burnett
  6. Spellchecker and autocorrect are not your friends. Re-read, read aloud and whenever possible, get someone else to read your stuff, too. Then press send. [Damn You, Autocorrect]
  7. A lot of the stuff I thought was super-important when I started this business I see now kinda wasn't.
  8. Forget Digger Phelps’ highlighter matching his tie, aka "The Tielighter". The writing utensil you really need to coordinate with your wardrobe is a Sharpie. Especially for your shoes.
  9. On business trips and at conferences, never wear the same shoes two days in a row, even if it means you have to check your bag. [Speaking of bags, I just got this new carry-on from CaseLogic.]
  10. Avoid situations in which you wish you'd said something--or worse, when you're asked why you didn’t. Good advice and valuable insight never go out of style. [Tips for communicating in high-stress situations]
  11. A corollary to the pissing contest with a skunk adage: Don't engage with overly emotional people because you can't win and you probably can't make them feel better. This goes double in crisis communications situations.
  12. The Boy and Girl Scouts are right about one thing: Be prepared.
  13. I used to love post-mortems after things went wrong. Now I prefer to figure out the next thing we can do to mitigate damage and get back on the path to progress.
  14. You're never too poor or too smart to have a great accountant and attorney.
  15. There's no shame in admitting you don't know or need more time.
  16. Don't dis the custodial or mail room staff. When things go South, these people can truly save your ass.
  17. I'd rather lose a gig because I'm priced too high than lose my shirt (and my sanity) because I'm priced too low.
  18. It's easier to write long than short. Learn to write short.
  19. Before you take that call, stand up, take a breath and put a smile on your face.
  20. Manners matter. Be nice and play fair.


Big ol' tip o' the hat to Tremayne Cryer, the man behind the Tremayne Company, for my kick-ass animated GIF anniversary badge.