My 4 Biggest Professional Disappointments of 2013: Thoughts and Reflections

by Marcus Sheridan

Behind every cloud, there is often a light--waiting to burst through.

Behind every cloud, there is often a light–waiting to burst through.

Last year, one of my most popular articles came as a completely different look into my world, as it discussed my 3 biggest professional disappointments of 2012. Knowing just how much response that article received, and knowing that 2013 has been another year of professional ups and downs, I decided to give readers another honest and transparent look into my world, with the hopes that those of you that may feel like you’re alone in your struggles realize that we are all in this together, just in our own, individual way.

1. The Book

Ahh yes, the book. The book that every single friend I have in this industry has asked me about over the last 6 months. The book that I’ve talked about many times. The book that came as a direct result of the New York Times article in March.

Well, the book isn’t close to being done.

Nope, not even close.

Far and away, this is a huge disappointment for me, and to be honest, I’m not quite sure why I haven’t buckled down to get it done. Yes, like everyone, I have distractions. I have my wonderful wife and 4 kids. I have client work. I have other obligations.

But still, if I wanted to complete the project bad enough, I know I could. I also know that not having a published book is limiting my brand, hurting potential speaking engagement opportunities, and negatively impacting my ability to help more people and businesses to reach their potential.

Needless to say, completing the book is my most important professional goal for 2014, and the fact that it has taken this long is truly inexcusable.

2. Unsuccessful Clients

About 50% of my personal income is generated through consulting work. Companies of all sizes and industries hire me to help them with their content/web marketing efforts. Before any engagement, I do my best to vet each prospect so as to make sure we’re a good fit. In this vetting process, my most important “qualification” is that they are willing to take content marketing very, very seriously—ultimately spending the time and resources to produce the content that we plan together.

Despite my best efforts though, some companies just don’t get stuff done. Whether the obstacles are real or imagined, it’s easy to come up with reasons as to why an article, video, or eBook never gets published. If this becomes a habit, the company will likely fail with content marketing, leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

In 2013, I had a very high number of clients achieve dramatic results with their content marketing efforts. That being said, I had another group that never quite reached their potential—something that bothers me and pushes me to do a better job in the qualification and consulting arena in 2014.

3. Less Blog and Podcast Content than I wanted

Along with not getting my book done, I’ve been bothered this year by my seeming inability to create as much content as I would like. As I’ve analyzed this issue, I feel like I’ve identified the problem: Email overload.

You see, I built a brand on accessibility. I try to be personal. I want people to feel like they have a friend in Marcus Sheridan. This being said, in some ways my greatest blessing (the brand) can be my greatest curse. What I mean by this is that I get many personal emails every day from readers of The Sales Lion. Each one has a problem that requires time and attention. Some are clients. Some are just potential clients. But the majority are people with a question and need, looking for some advice.

These are the people I deeply appreciate and enjoy as a writer and teacher. But they also distract me from producing other content—be it another blog article, a podcast episode, etc.

My good friend Mitch Joel is very well known for the fact that he, for the most part, does not answer comments on his blog. Does he do this because he is an unfriendly guy? Of course not. Just the opposite really. But Mitch has a very clear understanding of time. He also knows that when it comes to his blog, he is often left with a choice: He can spend his time answering comments, or he can spend his time creating more content.

For Mitch, the answer is to produce more content.

Keep in mind that Mitch’s case is unique to him, but the example is certainly symbolic to all of us in some way.

Time is finite. We only have so much of it. Therefore, life’s great challenge comes down to how we use it.

In 2014, I need to change this up a bit. Because I’m so paranoid about answering emails from readers, as well as keeping clients happy, I’m not spending enough time producing content. This is exactly why I’m going to be setting aside more “time blocks” this coming year where I don’t look at email whatsoever and focus all of my attention on one simple act—writing.

4. Personal Health

Those that know me know fitness and health has always been a part of my life. I also believe that personal health is a big factor in our professional success, which is why I include this as part of my list.

When I look at 2013, although I feel “OK” about where I am with my health, I’m not completely happy. Although I work out on the elliptical for an hour just about every single day, I’ve continued to put way too much junk into my body this year. Whether it’s soda or fast food (I eat out multiple times a week), I’ve simply got to do better in this area.

Furthermore, I recognize that I’ve gotten sick way more than I should this year—something that came to a head at the La Guardia Airport in NYC earlier this month. After 3 days of major travel, speaking, and having the flu—I literally passed out while waiting in the security line, and lost control of many of my senses—breathing included—over the next 5 minutes. Eventually, the paramedics showed up and they took me out on a stretcher, administered some tests, put some stuff in my body, and later I was allowed to fly home.

Rarely in my life have I ever been scared about my health, but when I was laying on that airport floor with sweat streaming off my forehead and panting like I’d just ran for my life, fear was certainly present in a way that has made me think differently about things.

In the past, “good health” to me was simply about keeping my weight down (I was a chubby kid), which I’ve managed to do successfully for well over a decade now. But as I get older, I’m getting more and more impressions that “health” is way, way more than just a number on a scale, and it’s time I did more to put my body in a position to feel great, and fight off sickness, all the time.

Your Turn

Hopefully those that have read this post aren’t thinking that I’m “focusing on the negative” with these words. To the contrary, they’re simply an honest look at where I am, but also where I’d like to see things go. Furthermore, 2013 was an amazing year in many, many ways. Personally and professionally, I’m in a wonderful place. The blessings have been profound. And never have I spent so much time with my family as I did in 2013.

But now I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you’d like to share, what were some of your biggest disappointments of 2013? And what are your plans to turn things around? As always, I appreciate everyone’s support of this blog, you’ve made this a very special year for me, and for that, I’m extremely grateful.

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