My 2014 was better than my 2013. Here are some reasons:
Take This Job and Love It
I began 2014 gunning for a full-time job, but to repurpose Hemingway’s quote about bankruptcy, I decided to go freelance gradually, then suddenly. I was a freelance journalist for about a decade, and by the end of that cycle I was exhausted with the lack of money, the solitude, the irregular hours and extremely irregular payment schedule.
Content strategy consulting is a much different beast. There are client meetings, office visits, collaboration sessions and other social elements. And when I need to concentrate, I have the flexibility to work from home. From January to June I was gradually busy, followed by a sudden whoosh of projects and presentations. By the end of it all I was tired, but also a bit smarter and a bit richer.
Along with doing, I was able to augment my brain by reading:
* Why We Fail (Victor Lombardi)
* Service Design (Andy Polaine)
* Exposing the Magic of Design (Jon Kolko)
* The New York Times Innovation Report
* UXPin Guide to Minimum Viable Products
I also attended UX Thursday, the best $100 I’ve ever spent on a conference.
Adventures in Mid-Fi
In June I found a bass player for my indiepalooza cover band. Shortly thereafter I found a drummer. And by November we were sounding pretty darn okay. More importantly, we’d agreed on a name (SubPox). But then we had to switch drummers (amicably) and the mad rush of December happened. But I feel 99% confident we will play live in the spring of 2015.
Along the way I bought a life-changing reverb pedal and a life-affirming delay pedal. Together they cover most of my guitar noodling requirements. Which means I’m only two more pedals away from not buying any more pedals for a very long time.
All The Pretty Pictures (and Pixels too)
* Hearing Richard Turley, Erik Spiekermann and Andrew Zolty talk at Design Thinkers in early November.
* Enjoying Pulse Room by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer in a nearly empty Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal in July.
* Playing all the indie games at the AGO’s Fancy Videogame Party in February.
* Admiring all the kickass KAWS at This is Not a Toy exhibit (Design Exchange).
* Seeing the work of Tori Foster at Pari Nadimi.
* Experiencing Jacqueries on a warn August evening.
* Nuit Blanche-ing with Between Doors plus Everything and Nothing.
* Touching a bunch of fun stuff at digiPlaySpace in the TIFF Lightbox.
* Loving and not loving the Douglas Coupland exhibit in equal measures at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
* I was Handling Editor for an RRJ feature that won third place from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in the “Specialized Business Press Article” category.
* On June 16 I shared embarrassing moments from my Grade 5 diary at Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids in front of many people at The Garrison. In August my performance was broadcast on CBC radio.
* I wrote about hidden gem Black Mirror for Hazlitt.
* My byline appeared in Applied Arts and Report on Business.
* I volunteered a few times at Story Planet, but it wasn’t until I took part in an Alpha Workshop that I really felt useful. Twenty kids collectively develop a story up to the crisis point and then each writes their own ending. The whole thing takes two hours and somehow it works.
* I went to see Guillaume Morissette read at The Ossington and I’m glad I did.
This Content Isn’t Going to Strategize Itself
As I’m fond of mentioning ad nauseam (because I have SEO-whore tendencies just like everybody else), I organize the Toronto content strategy meetup. This year we were able to get Karen McGrane to give a guest talk. She was very generous with her time and insights and I’m grateful I was able to have dinner with her beforehand.
The Other Stuff
* My friends Graeme and Nadine had a second child in February.
* My friends Adam and Bri got engaged in December.
* I built a foldaway cabinet standing desk thingie.
* My friend Chris threw a delightful house party in January.
* I went to the RC Harris Filtration plant during the February long weekend for an ice-tastic walk.
* I had the “SuperBeautys 2” breakfast special during a 28-hour trip to Montreal in July. It isn’t a great year without one of those.
* I quit Facebook on October 11. I thought it would be a three month absence, but I now think I’ll never return to big blue.
* On April 11 I reached peak Galaga at Get Well with a score of 150,650.
* I finally bought a super-slim Bellroy wallet and it was worth every penny.
* I’m now the sort of person who owns a wheelbarrow.