Getting Back on the Road

What's the fastest way to re-discover your talent -- and get in touch with a market? The answer came to me this morning -- from Conan O'Brien and Howard Stern, of all places.

During his satellite radio show, Stern asked O'Brien to rehash the dark times -- NBC's decision to boot O'Brien off the Tonight Show and reinstall Jay Leno in 2010. Instead of opening old wounds, O'Brien described how he recovered from the career setback, rebuilt his confidence and put the past behind him.

O'Brien's simple answer: Get back on the road. Get back in touch with what's really happening in America. And sharpen your skills without a safety net -- performing live standup to sometimes hostile crowds.

Inflection Point

For most of 2014, I quietly mulled what I wanted to do with my professional career. I spent 2008 through early 2014 or so telling VARs and MSPs to chase and embrace recurring revenue. By May 2014 I had essentially burned out on that message (though it remains relevant back in the channel), resigned from my position at Penton and disappeared for a bit. My longtime business partner, Amy Katz, reached a similar career inflection point at the same time.

By Sept. 2014 we re-emerged with After Nines Inc. We've got several compelling business ideas but we didn't want to rush into anything. We're determined to piece together a few technologies that we can use as a foundation for a range of potential market moves. It's sort of like building Apple iOS first -- so that you have a foundation upon which to build any type of app.

The Sound of Silence (No More)

Still, I faced another -- far different -- career challenge. Could I rediscover my voice (actually, develop a new voice) in the online world? I've made reasonable progress with our blog, weekly podcast and Tuesday co-anchor role on Tech News Today with Mike Elgan

But to really find my online voice... it's time to go offline -- and return to the road.

This time around, I'm mixing in events that I have never attended before -- as long as they don't conflict with family commitments at home. Yup, my family actually gets to approve or veto my travel this time around. Approved stops so far include TechDay, GigaOm Structure Data -- and a few more that I'll disclose in the weeks and months ahead. 

What's my goal? Network like crazy, develop new views and expertise, and share my observations with you. Pretty simple. And the effort could lead to so much more... both for me (selfishly) -- and for what After Nines Inc. may potentially build next (for you).

I hope to see you soon.

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