Releasing_2017_Print-Media-Centr_Historians will surely count 2017 as part of the “Dumpster Fire” era, but putting aside the future’s inevitable judgement, how was your year in terms of business? I hope you found some marshmallows to roast over the flames.

My marshmallows — let’s call them “wins” now since I don’t even eat marshmallows — include a revitalized professional life and a steady stream of opportunities produced by friendships and work with people I respect and like.

Attending Print 17 was another win, and a pretty big one in terms of getting to see several of my friends from the Printerverse in-person.

My biggest takeaway from 2017 was a refreshed appreciation for the practicality of kindness and cooperation. Here are a few others:

You Are Special

In popular science writing, I sometimes find the “cosmic perspective” a bit much when humans talk about our sun like it’s just a so-so star in a vast universe. I get what the conceit is meant to accomplish, but put some respect on Sol’s name. Minds assign meaning and value. From the Earth-born life perspective, our sun is a big deal. Because it’s our sun.

The same is true of my story. And your story.

It might seem mundane or boring compared to the person tweeting next to you (with way more retweets), but it’s special to you. Because it’s yours. Let the other person be Betelgeuse. Appreciate your solar system, buddy. And you can strategically and mindfully share your story to entice guest stars who might come bearing money or access.

In 2017, sharing my story has helped me deepen existing relationships and build new ones.

Yes, We Will Replace You

Despite the whining of torch-bearing knuckle-draggers, 2017 was direct and clear when reminding us that across politics, entertainment, journalism, and business — including the print industry — we need to make room for new people. As we clear out the rot that enables abusers and predators, while impeding others, we’ll get a better class of “geniuses” and “stars” drawn from young people and from formerly excluded people of all ages. Many of the latter are almost certainly our “stars” in the more upscale timelines and universes. I hear Farai Chideya hosts “The Takeaway” in a few of them. Good stuff.

And we better hurry. All deliberate speed is not cutting it. Only a few days ago I received a promotional email from a company saying “Andy, I thought you would enjoy our new webinar titled…” and listed a title that included the word “Voodoo” as a pejorative adjective and a picture of a “voodoo doll” with pins in it.

Dude. You shouldn’t send garbage messages like that at any time of the year, but certainly not during my annual pre-New Year review of Haitian history. Your marketing sucks. Your attempt at “personalization” sucks. You didn’t have anyone on staff who was qualified or empowered to stop you. And now you’re dismissed. Wail about “political correctness” if you want, but even if you don’t care about offending people, consider your craft. If you need help, I’ve got some tips (and a few jabs) in “More Than Diversity — A Layer Above Personalization.”

Paper, You Are Special and I’m Never Replacing You

Quiet paper is my refuge. On days when 2017 served an always-on digital stream of ugly behavior and word salad, I was reminded of this.

See you in 2018!

Andy Solages_Print-Media-CentrAndy Solages connects people and organizations with technologies to improve professional experiences and business results. Andy is a monthly contributor to Print Media Centr’s News from The Printerverse and a regular participant in #PrintChat on Twitter.

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