Somewhere around 1999 or so, Mary Jo Foley told me she was leaving the print magazine business to become a full-time blogger. I didn't know what the heck she was talking about. How can you build a career -- and a business -- around a blog? Ironically, I soon found myself on a similar journey.
By around 2001, I was starting to catch on. My own magazine at Ziff Davis had imploded. Instead of joining a sister publication I walked away from the magazine business -- determined to figure out how to reinvent myself. The journey took far longer than imagined. It included helpful stops in the worlds of higher education; CIO Summits and more.
By about 2007, I was quietly hitting my stride in the blog world -- and my future business partner Amy Katz was really starting to master the digital media business landscape. So, we launched a blog-centric business in 2008 and really (I mean: really) enjoyed that market. We eventually sold and exited that business. And by May 2014 we were both ready to unplug and recharge.
Reheated -- Or Freshly Baked?
But now we're back with After Nines Inc. And I think a lot of people were somehow expecting me to start blogging 10 times per day (live from conferences) again. And some folks were expecting Amy Katz to build a business based on all the sponsorship models she had previously created.
In reality, we didn't disappear from the IT industry only to come back and do the same thing over again. Instead, we're doing... (stay tuned).
You Have to Go Cold Turkey
Now, onto the main point of this blog: Sometimes to reinvent yourself you have to go cold turkey and stop absolutely everything you're doing. Disappear. Recharge. And listen for opportunities you may have otherwise overlooked.
We hear it all the time in the I.T. market. Boundary CEO Gary Read, for instance, used to work in the traditional enterprise software sales market. But now he's focused on Big Data and cloud-centric IT monitoring, where every business engagement needs to be re-earned every month. Customers don't want long-term software contracts extended over three years. They want instant trial, instant sign-up -- and instant exit if the stuff doesn't work.
In some ways, Amy and I are on a similar journey in the I.T. market. But we're also experimenting quite a bit before we reach a destination that isn't quite in view yet. A case in point: Tech News Today Anchor Mike Elgan contacted me during my mid-2014 hiatus, asking if I'd like to co-anchor the Netcast each Tuesday. The live video show mostly covers consumer-oriented tech developments worldwide. But I'm more of a corporate IT guy who has covered B2B since around 1992.
Still, I saw Elgan's outreach as a prime opportunity to reinvent myself, jump into a different market, and break from my past. I've really enjoyed the Tech News Today journey so far.
Meanwhile, Amy is back into strategic development mode -- plus day-to-day numbers crunching. She's building a range of models that will potentially carry us forward, prioritizing R&D against monthly expenses to really control our monthly burn rate.
Same People, Different Vision
Some things remain unchanged: Amy and I are still completing each other's sentences as we debate and chart the path forward. In other ways, things are completely different. We know the Rabbit Holes we don't want to go down again.
Read between the lines and we intend to get really, really, really, close to key folks in a key business circle (or circles). And we intend to eliminate so many of the layers that create distance between us and our potential clientele. Then we intend to re-earn that clientele's business each day.
When we draw that new circle -- or, say, open the bar for drinks -- I suspect you'll be among the first to know.
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