I can’t express the amount of gratitude and thankfulness that I have for the folks who have helped me build what I have this year.

I got married, found an amazing home, scored some personal victories professionally, and even found the time to give back to my community.

With the wins also came some losses. With the help of friends and family, I found ways to learn from everything, all for the sake of becoming a little better, faster, and stronger for the new year.

The biggest lesson for me: Alignment is everything.

I learned the hard way this year that continuous alignment with project contributors and stakeholders is critical towards success… content-type project or not. Even if you do everything right from an authoring or development standpoint, things always get in the way— it’s just a part of life.

Taking the opportunities to review expectations, discuss concerns, and adjust for success is incredibly necessary as it may offer opportunities to set projects back on course. If anything, frequent check-ins allows for dialog to make sure that projects aren’t running completely off of assumptions or an outdated brief or specification.

It all starts with just talking to people whenever any inkling of trouble arises. It’s so easy to get stuck in “your zone” working on things that it makes it also easy to potentially neglect what your client or team really wants or to shine light upon concerns and problem that can really slow down a project.

Having the courage to tell your management that something’s not right and that it needs adjustment is the other side of the alignment coin. Especially as content strategists, who have a connection with the best interests of the user and the organization, we have the duty to fulfill any need for realignment or to establish strong project alignment from the get-go.

Now, if your management doesn’t listen, that’s a whole other issue. You won’t find those answers in my blog…yet.

A solid place to start could be by having the right tools at hand. One of my favorites is a stockholder protocol worksheet by Kevin P. Nichols. Try it out sometime. Adjust it to your project at hand and you’ll receive the information you need to remain on-point throughout your content endeavor.

With the bad also comes the good:

Here are a few projects from this year that I’m particularly proud of.

  • Growing the content discipline at Stephouse Networks: We’re a small telecommunications company in the Northwest, but we’re doing what we can to influence wireless design and internet service here in Portland, but also around the world. I’m proud to continue to plan, build, and manage content that inspires our customers while empowering our team. I’m thankful for my fellow teammates and authors who believe in me— together we continue to build content that generates revenue and lowers costs. Let’s keep the momentum rolling into 2014!
  • Blazing new paths for content with Wild Alchemy: I had the opportunity to do some deep-rooted content work to help influence Wild Alchemy’s new product offerings and web presence for the new year. I’m looking forward to continue working with this talented team.
  • Demonstrating content best practices with CPUsage: My friends at CPUsage trusted me to create a content model and maintenance plan to rework their web presence for a recent business model pivot just in time for a great relaunch at TechCrunch: Disrupt 2013. I’m excited to see where they take the company into the new year.

What’s next?

Like my pals at Wild Alchemy will tell anyone— once you build momentum, you need to keep it going.

You can also find me in San Jose in February for the Intelligent Content Conference 2014. Let me know if you’ll be there.

Here’s to a fantastic year. Spend it well with friends and family and I’ll see you all in the new one.