When I was at the NHL, occasionally someone would ask me “what is the hardest part of your job?” I think they were expecting I’d say something about the hours or balancing the demands of the 30 clubs and the various league departments, but that really wasn’t the hardest part. Nope. The most difficult thing then, and now, is staying current. With all of the change that occurs on a daily basis in the world of digital media, I find that I spend, in 5-10 minute bursts, several hours a day doing nothing but reading newsletters, blogs, and web sites (not to mention several daily newspapers – you remember them) and trade magazines.
I’m sure many of you use an RSS reader of some sort to help get through the volume of things you read regularly. I use Google Reader and I looked at the “trends” tab this evening. Over the last 30 days, I’ve received around 14,250 items from my list of 66 subscribed sites. Of those, I read 2,116, roughly 70 a day. Of course, not many items come through on Saturday and Sunday so the total is really closer to 100 a day. Those are the ones I read in depth – I had to look at every headline and decide if the in-depth look was warranted. Obviously many of these items led to my reading other sites to which I don’t subscribe so they’re not in the previous numbers.
All that so when a client asks about trends or some new technology, I don’t stand there with my mouth agape. Frankly, I feel like the more you do know, the more realize how much more there IS to know. As I wrote before, it’s really OK not to know – uncertainty makes me want to chase down answers which is how I learn – but MAN! The information deluge is overwhelming my mental levees sometimes.
Staying current is the most important thing one can do, whether a consultant, an executive, or just a citizen. While I know folks who don’t like to let the facts get in the way of a good story, the reality is that most great decisions are made because someone gathered as much information as possible and did an excellent job of synthesizing it to draw a conclusion. There are times when one doesn’t have much to go on and that’s when the value of experience really pays off. But when it comes to information, particularly in rapidly changing times, the more the merrier!