I’m a Gen Xer. I came of age in a time where most technology was in the hands of ‘experts’. Communication came from channels like television, newspapers, magazines, and mail; one had to have access to those means in order to get messaging out. As a young communication professional, I was part of that ‘club’ and it felt special. As the technology used in the print and direct mail industries was changing rapidly, it was easy and even exciting to keep up to date with those innovations.
As the ability for any individual to communicate with a broader audience expanded, distributing that communication stopped relying on ‘experts.’ Anyone with the desire to put something out into the wider world could –no longer needing the expertise of producers and publishers of television, newspapers, magazines, and mail to do it; instead they can utilize any number of constantly developing and evolving digital platforms.
That’s really the crux here. Communications channels had been relatively stable for years. With the advent of social and mobile, they can vary greatly from one day to the next. It’s incredibly challenging to keep up with each new tweak to the existing models, let alone the latest additions, and the technology that drives them all. I came to this program to focus my attention on this space; to give myself the space to think about, analyze, engage in material that would just be whizzing by me otherwise.
After so many years in the same company (granted, the culture has changed many times over the years, but still), my exposure to what I think of as the outside world has been limited. I’ve not seen how other companies and organizations work, how they use technology. Where I’d once thought that my years of knowledge and experience at this company were an asset, I’ve come to realize how much I’d been yearning to get fresh perspectives, to think differently, to even imagine myself doing something very different.
One year in and I’m excited at the way my mindset has shifted. Where I’d felt somewhat stuck and afraid of what I didn’t know, I’m more confident in my ability to learn and grow. I’d seen myself as one of those ‘experts’ in what I’ll call analog communication. Now I’m seeing myself as becoming one in digital communication.
There is one thing that I struggle with immensely, and that is self-promotion. The way that people talk about themselves on LinkedIn still strikes me as impolite. That’s probably the biggest behavioral change from this more social, more mobile world that has been difficult for me in my career. I’ve not gotten comfortable yet with singing my own praises in such a public way. I’m committed to figuring out how to do this in a way that feels natural and genuine to me, in order to get to the next stage in my career.
Sometimes I wish I’d done this sooner, but this feels like a great time to be a student again.