Debra Swersky
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Toss the Titles

Back in October, after my classes at Babson had ended, I started ingesting content: books that were not assigned to me, podcasts that I had never previously listened to, and blogs that I was interested in. Without having a class to go to, I was trying to fill a professional development void. I didn’t become a Twitter junkie, rather I selected a few outlets from which to take in information that would help me progress my career. It was hard. There is a lot of content out there… and it comes in all shapes, sizes and topics. I am, like most people, easily overwhelmed by the firehose of Twitter, but I managed to filter my recommendations, test out my resources, and figure out a routine for taking it all in… and processing it! (It’s easy to find time to ingest, but it’s not easy to actually process the information.)

I have friends that are content junkies. They have a bazillion tabs open, read tons of articles, comb Twitter for interesting things to look at and, generally speaking, are very knowledgable people. I met up with one of these friends this past week and was caught off guard when he told me that his New Years resolution was to expand his network, figure out his career path, and define his next steps in life. I’m not surprised by his New Years resolution - lots of people struggle with these three things (especially those of us who have backgrounds in start-up organizations). But, I had falsely assumed that my content junkie friends were ingesting information similar to what I had selected. Very false. Very naive.

My feeling is that there are only so many hours in the day to take in information, and there is only so much time to process what you’re reading, listening to, or watching… so I’m trying to be as selective as possible and focus on the books, podcasts, or blogs that will move me forward in life, spending the time to get the most out of each one. In my perspective, it’s not the amount of information you can take in, but how well you know that information. The same can be said for my content junkie friend at his job… it’s not how much you’ve done at your job, but what you’ve done at your job and become really good at. 

Coming from a “little miss everything,” understanding this lesson and applying it to my career has been quite the journey. So, the suggestion I made to my content junkie friend was to become a junkie about his own content. I suggested writing down everything that he has worked on, regardless of position title, completion or success. (Get it, “Toss the Titles”?) With all of his activities documented he will better be able to see what he enjoyed, and where he thinks he excelled. That information will then be useful in helping him to direct his career and networking efforts, and define his next steps in life because it’s not about the position that he held, it’s what he did while in the position that counts. If for nothing else, this exercise will make rewriting his resume much easier. 


Debra Swersky