In Song, Writing, and Speaking — Words Form the Basis of my 2024.
Every December, I give the incoming year a name — been doing it for a few years now. But unlike most things that we name — in hopes that whatever it is will eventually become worthy or deserving of that name — this naming is more an act of time travel.
I do my very best to look into the future, visualizing the year to come; measuring the ups and downs, the things attempted and experienced — looking for a thread. Once I find it, I head back to the present. But what I bring with me is different than just a “theme.” This name doesn’t just set an intention, it’s the word that sums up the outcomes I see for the year to come.
Now all of this might sound like naive positive thinking, or some other woo-woo mysticism. But I’d argue that it’s nothing more remarkable than good old-fashioned optimism combined with a strict adherence to a pre-decided intention. Like going to a buffet, with the word steak on your lips, and going ham when you eventually see it.
When you know what you’re looking for, you’ll know it when you see it.
Which is how I got the name of my 2024: Verses.
THE WORD(S) THAT DEFINE 2024
What kind of intention does Verses set for my 2024? For starters, it’s about being heard at a larger level — saying things that really resonate with people in different ways.
I have a voice — I want to do something with it while I can.
Through working with brand messaging over the years, I’ve witnessed firsthand how important every word is. This year, I want to put some of my own important words out into the universe for people to hear.
I want my verses to change the way people think and act in their day-to-day.
To that end, I know (at least) three of the big things I’ll be working on over the course of 2024, and wanted to share them with you here.
Writing my new book
After the 2019 release of my book 6-Week Cycles, I immediately started writing the next one. 5 years later, it’s…ehhh, it’s almost there. Coming together nicely, some would say.
Where my first book was narrowly focused on how my team and I work in cycles, this new one is about the bigger picture of work-life balance and the ideas I’ve tested over the last 14 years of working for myself. Some to calamity. Others to great success. Both I believe are deeply instructive.
I don’t envision releasing the book in 2024, as I’d like to find the right publisher. But, I will be sharing some of it with you, released from time to time as new articles on my site, LinkedIn, and through my email list, where I hope you’ll read them, find them valuable, and share them with your friends.
A new way to play old songs on an acoustic
Not succeeding at music hit me hard. I was 13 when I started playing guitar and formed my first band with my brother when I was 15. We wrote and recorded albums, played shows across the US, and were out there meeting new people every day.
I truly loved it and thought it was the thing I was meant to do.
And at the time, the Chicago scene was ready for a new big band to emerge. You could feel it!
And while I thought it was going to be us, it turned out that privilege would belong to other groups we performed with like Plain White T’s, and a little group called Fall Out Boy.
I walked away from music for a long time, all guitars packed in the attic, focused on business and art, and you’d never, never hear me sing.
Then, in 2017, I decided to go to my first local open mic and get up on stage again. Seven years later music has once again become a whirlwind of new friendships and some of the sweetest memories I’ve made my whole lifelong.
But when I started playing again, I put my twist on it.
For me, it’s not about loop pedals and synths, it’s about what one person can do with an acoustic guitar only. In this world of so much digital influence, it’s about being authentic and honest with the basic materials at hand.
I found two elements with my return to music that are synonymous with the work I do for clients.
- It’s about being real and raw. Similar to the way I work with companies on messaging. Take away all the fancy design or video around a brand. At the core, I want to know what they’re saying, in black & white.
- It’s about doing something new.
In Billy Madison, there’s a scene where Billy draws a blue duck and says he drew it because he’s never seen it before.
I love this concept. Like working in 6-Week Cycles, writing the 1st sentence on client’s websites, or figuring out how to revolutionize the tourism industry — I’ve never heard a rap album…..on an acoustic guitar, with percussion.
Seemed like a good reason to do it.
It’s taken seven (SEVEN) years to reconfigure a Grammy-winning rap album down to one acoustic — but I’ve done it. At the close of 2023, I cracked the final three songs on the album to bring this multi-year endeavor to a new beginning.
In 2024, I plan to make a video of the album, straight through, in its entirety.
Speaking at conferences
2019 was my TEDx talk and things were looking up!
I was ready to launch my speaking career. Then 2020 hit, and one month after the world shut down my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.
I moved in to help her and my father (who was shortly also diagnosed with cancer) and I left all of that behind. Worked remote, built my business around brand messaging, and eventually entered the tourism space when it was stable again.
But I lost my confidence — my voice — during that time. I couldn’t even fathom the man that got up on stage to talk about naming my years, my It Would Be Cool To list and love for back to the future. It felt like it had slipped away.
In 2023, I found a new love and we moved in together — a big part of this next year is because of her encouragement and her support.
With the return of confidence and the most supportive partner I’ve ever known, this next year is about speaking. I have two talks: one about messaging, the other about work-life balance.
And as we go through 2024, I will be actively seeking out more opportunities to speak — and will keep you posted on when and where I’ll be sharing them.
THE VERSES TO COME
2024 is a year of new verses for me. From the observations in my book, to the songs I’ll be sharing, and the dreams I’ll be talking about from the stage — I can’t wait to share these new verse with all of you.
What are you naming your 2024? I’d love for you to share the name with me.
You can of course put it down in the comments, or join my email list.