Six years ago I enrolled in Sarah Arrow's 30 day blogging challenge to grow my email list. It was a lot of fun struggling and it worked. So when Sarah told me that the challenge had a next level, I was game. I expected a month of writer's block, analysis paralysis and missed summer outings because "no thanks, got to blog!". But that wasn't quite what happened...
Learning How to Write
Don't laugh, but writing is a big part of my career (proposals, research reports, academic papers), but I did all this without structure. My writings used to live in my head, simmering inside my brain until some structure emerged and then I would rush to pen it all down. Or rather, type it up. Often it worked. But some of my work is better left unread.
Yes, of course I was told to make outlines. But I just didn't because I thought that it was too much hassle.
So when Sarah, in her very first lesson, started with outlining... I went noooooo.
Immediately after saying no, I got stuck. I just could't get the simple How-to post out of my brain. Cause it didn't have time to simmer. And the next day, I got another prompt for another post. So I had to change ways. And made an outline. So after wasting away a full day (8 non-billable hours), I wrote not one but two posts in another hour.
The first one was about what you can do when you can't convince your peers that they have to do something about emerging change (here).
The next one was a listicle of 10 best-case future scenarios. It was put together in one hour and even got praise and comments. I mean, my posts NEVER had that effect. So I was really happy. Because my work is about making the future a better place, that's what drives me. That's why it's important to me that people actually read my posts and do something with them. More on that below.
Thank you, Sarah, for making that happen!
Like many of us don't remember how we looked everything up B.G. (before Google), the next generation won't know how to come up with good stuff without ChatGPT. I don't look upon ChatGPT as an escaped Demon from Digital Hell to make us stupid and anti-social. No, I think ChatGPT is a tool for higher productivity. I've been using it in my classrooms to get learners to do so much more in less time. So I know for a fact that I'm a better teacher with it.
And what fun, in the blogging challenge, you learn exactly what you can and cannot do with ChatGPT. Sarah gives you the promtps, so it's really easy. Which made me think...
You know, these strategy meetings that people have one of two roles: a) dominating the discussion with ideas you already know, and b) waiting silently and giving their opinions outside, when they stand in line for coffee or water. I wondered if I could get the second group confident enough to join the discussion with a little help from A.I. Judge for yourself: here is the 10-minute hack to strategy meetings
Another cool thing? Well, Sarah prompts you to take different perspectives. That's very cool, because different perspectives are the only remedy to reduce your blind spots. The trouble with blind spots is that you don't know that you've got them. It happens to all of us, and to tell you the truth: experts have the biggest blind spots. In my work, blind spot reduction is one of the keys to success, so I'm quite well-versed in other perspectives (check the bad future brainstorm for an example). But :)
But when Sarah asked me to create a Don't-post... Being Dutch, I am allergic to people telling me to don't do stuff. And for the same reason, I also like to tell other that they can't do stuff. A trait that does not go down well in inclusive environments. So I'm learning to ditch this. But I digress.
So when Sarah asked for a Don't post, I wondered how I could make such a post without it ticking people (read: me) off. I remember sitting on the couch. One eye on Clint Eastwood having another Mexican Stand-off. The other eye on my tablet, doodling. Out came Bob, the friendly blue foresight blob, who would sprinkle his don'ts in the cutest way. Take a look at a new genre: foresight funnies!
Making New Friends
The coolest thing, however, was making new friends. In the blogging challenge group, there are people who actually read your work and comment. You already know how important that is to me. Because I want to give you the tools to make good decisions about your work future, so that your business does better, and therefore your suppliers do better, and that way, step-by-step, we make the world better.
That is why I am very grateful for having met Avil, The Invisible Mentor. She not only helped with her comments, but also created a post about predicting the future. And for Jenny Maguire, who bakes the most gorgeous cakes. She created a post about the future of baking and is a live example of what I mean by making better decisions. Ladies, thank you!
Finally, when the challenge was almost behind me, Sarah and I were talking about how to get more leads from the posts. She suggested a funnel, created entirely from blogging challenge posts.
I went over my posts, and without me knowing, I had several funnels. One for academics (a short one), a long one for scenario planning, and another good sized one for future customer profiling.
My funnels aren't salesy. Instead, they are chockfull with content: how-tos', step-by-steps, tips, resources, interviews, use-cases. In fact, I think that the one benefit of the challenge was getting my knowledge out of my head onto paper.
It's the basis for a book (oh yeah, outline that!) , funnels, and much more posts.
So if you want your expertise to help you, do the blogging challenge - next level!
And if you want to learn more and practice foresight, read my blog :)
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