January can be tough for a lot of reasons. Daylight hours are short and the weather is often gray. The excitement of Christmas and the new year are over and settling back into daily responsibilities can be daunting.
I wanted to share a suggestion for battling the Winter Blahs: running with podcasts.
Body and Mind
Running (or another form of exercise) is known to be a good way to boost moods and to reduce anxiety. I’m recommending running because of its availability. There’s no gym or equipment required and as a solo activity, it’s always available on your schedule.
Podcasts have been around a long time now and are enjoying a kind of renaissance lately. I’m new to the podcast party but have been making up for lost time, listening in to all kinds of shows whenever I find the chance to listen. Podcasts really work for mood when paired with running.
Running provides an extended amount of time to listen to a show or shows without mental distractions and while your brain is enjoying those exercise endorphins. Choose a podcast that’s inspiring or challenging and double down on the positivity. An engaging podcast can distract from the pain and monotony of a long run too. The two activities really are complementary.
Favorite podcasts to run to
TED Talks – Everyone loves these talks and for good reason. They’re smart, inspirational and uplifting. Most presentations translate well into the audio-only format and range from 15 minutes to 45 minutes.
Interviews and Biographies – By surrounding yourself with great minds you gain a new perspective for what’s possible.
History – Podcasts are a great format for learning important lessons from history without cracking open a thick textbook. These shows offer a peak into history’s best stories and characters in an entertaining way.
Spiritual Development – Sermons and interviews work nicely for a 30-60 minute run. Especially when you’re running outside, this can be a great time to connect with the Lord and to gain an eternal perspective on the stresses of the day.
Business Skills and Case Studies – See what you can learn by listening to show regularly and hearing what other professionals have achieved.
Some podcasts are quite long or take several episodes to tell a story. You can use that to your advantage by linking podcast listening with your runs. If you only allow yourself to listen to a certain show while you’re running you’ll have another reason to get out and run.
Download episodes on wifi before you leave instead of streaming to save on data and to avoid interruptions when you’re outside of good cell coverage.
Because I wear several hats at work, I tend to be kind of a jack of all trades but a master of none. That’s okay for most applications but I’m resolving to go deeper in a few areas.
I recently took the Strengths Finder test to better understand my own style and how I interact with others at work. One of my top themes as identified by the test is a desire to learn and continuously improve. That rings true to me because I do like to take on new challenges and stretch my thinking. (I love trivia too, Jeopardy rocks!)
I find that when I’m learning a new skill, there is a progression of understanding: 1. There is no understanding but there is an interest in the results 2. Borrowing knowledge from others, I can mimic tactics to get some of the results 3. Because of thorough understanding of the dynamics, I can create original ways of driving the best results
I usually end up somewhere between 2 and 3 before moving on to the next skill. This tendency to skip around to new topics leaves me with a fairly wide breadth of basic knowledge within the Marketing discipline but few areas of true expertise.
Because remarkable results are usually only achieved with original tactics, I’m required to partner with an expert to get the results that I want or I fall short of being great. I’m all for outsourcing, letting the pros do their work. But for personal reasons, I also want to contribute. I want to become an expert that people go to when they recognize a need for a special skill.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working to identify one or two or three skills that I can commit to and really dig into this year. So far, I’m thinking writing for persuasion and HTML…
When considering options for continuing development, the resources available are plentiful. I’ve taken classes, attended conferences, read books and considered grad school. But the best value that I’ve seen for staying sharp is RSS. Using Google Reader, I can stay on top of the latest trends in the markets that I’m working in, monitor the reputation of my company, get inspired by some of the most outstanding voices in Marketing and find out about the latest tools and resources. RSS isn’t hard to use at all and yet I find myself being one of the only ones at my company using it. That’s a shame. A lot of time and money is spent on learning through conventional channels despite the ease and cost savings available on the web. This isn’t one of those niche technologies that will benefit a small group of technophiles for a short time. RSS is really valuable and not using it is a major detriment to any company with a marketing function. Google has made it about as easy to use as I can imagine it to be. What more will it take for RSS to go mainstream? It may be that it is simply priced too low. If it’s free, the feeling goes, it must not be that valuable or powerful. If that line of thinking is right, this is an exception to the rule.