Year in Review 2012


Year in Review 2012Well, did we have a fun ride?

It’s been real.

It’s been quite the year.  It’s been a year of ups and down and significant change.   The irony is that I am in the business of change.  More precisely, I’m in the business of business transformation.

As part of the Microsoft Enterprise Strategy team, I help customers shape their business for success.  This includes shaping and maturing business capabilities, as well as innovating in their process and products with technology.  It’s hard-core business skills mashed with technical prowess.

But I spent the bulk of last year mostly helping customers transition to the Cloud.  Talk about transformation.  I was lucky enough to see how so many businesses transformed themselves to do things better, faster, and cheaper, and really figure out what they’re great at.

Most importantly,  for many businesses, this meant figuring out their unique value in the world, and how they can do what they do best in a grander scale.

Gee, that sounds a lot like personal transformation.  Yeah, it’s like that.

Anyway, so what did this last year mean for Sources of Insight?

It meant a lot.

At the start of the year, my traffic was about 100,000 unique visitors a month, but now it’s around 175,000 unique visitors a month.   That’s just a measure of volume though, not value.   What I really care about is how many people are using the insights and actions to be more effective in work and life.

That’s harder to measure, but I enjoy the notes and stories that people send me about their success.  Keep sending them my way.

Top Posts of 2012

Here are my three top posts for 2012:

  • 101 of the Greatest Insights and Actions for Work and Life –  This is a hard-core roundup of some of the best actionable insight you can use for instant impact.   What you don’t know can hurt you.  What you do know can help you.   This is a must read.
  • How To Scale as a One Man Band – I wrote this in response to so many people being asked to do more with less.   One of the worst scenarios out there is the single-mom, struggling to make ends meet.   So many people are struggling to make ends meet, and survive in their job.  This article boils down the keys to amplify your impact, do more with less, and rise above the noise.
  • I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends —  I wrote this post in response to friendship appreciation day.   I think the key in this post is the types of friends who help us make our way in this world.

Key Insights for 2012

I added a few new words to my vocabulary including I added a few words to my vocabulary including entheos (The God Within),  pono (that feeling of being right with the world), and ikigai (the reason for which you wake up in the morning.)  In addition to some new vocabulary, I also learned some game changers and ideas I use on a daily basis:

  1. 3 Paths of Happiness: The Pleasant Life, The Good Life, and the Meaningful Life  — This is a big deal.  If you were caught up in the idea that happiness is just one path, you’re missing out.  The pleasant life is feeling good in the moment, the good life is living your values, and the meaningful life is giving your best where you have your best to give for the greater good.  Draw from all three.  The good life and the meaningful life help you deal with the setbacks in life … they help you stay YOUR course.
  2. How Will You Measure Your Life? —  Some people spend a lifetime trying to figure this out.   Clayton Christensen gives us a great yardstick  … “the people whose lives I’ve touched.”
  3. Ikigai: The Reason for Which You Wake Up in the Morning – Have you found your inspiring mission that helps you spring out of bed?  I think it’s related to the previous point.  Anything that starts with, “I help people …” is off to a great start.  For example, “I help people grow their greatness.”
  4. The Iceberg of Conflict – What? You mean there’s more to conflict than just the tip of the iceberg?  If you want to get past conflict, that don’t get stuck at the tip – dive deeper to the assumptions and aspirations.
  5. The Polarity Framework: Solve Problems, Manage Dilemmas – Have you ever wondered why some problems just won’t go away?  Many things in life are actually dilemmas, not problems.  Once you treat them as such, you can better balance how you deal with them.  Most importantly, you can find a sustainable approach.
  6. The Value is in the Change – Value is in the eye of the beholder, or the stakeholder, and your challenge is to create a change that drives value.  This is true whether you are creating value for yourself or others.  Once you realize that the value is in the change, you embrace change and make the most of it.  Thrive on change, and use it as a way to flow your value.
  7. What is Your Message?  Your message is a powerful thing.  It’s a verb.  Nike’s is “Just do it.”  It’s something that people can latch on to and run with.  The stickiest messages change people’s lives or help them live better.   What’s my message?  “Grow your greatness” or “Live with skill” .. or, “Stand on the shoulders of giants.”

I’ve learned some additional things, and got some great reminders.   For example, I never really internalized the power of cells before.  I heard Tony Robbins say it long ago that the quality of our life is the quality of our cells.  Now, I get it.  Now it makes so much sense why circulation is key – the power of cells, circulation, and blood is vital to our life force.

Related to health, another thing I learned more deeply is the power of lean functional muscle.   There’s nothing like it.  And there is great inner strength that comes from growing strong.

I also underestimated the power of unique value.  If there is one theme I see show up in this new digital age it’s unique value at scale.   Individuals and businesses of all sizes can share their unique value at scale.

I’ve also learned the power of feedback and how better feedback helps people rapidly improve in ways they can’t predict.  And it’s amazing how a lack of effective feedback can very quickly be somebody’s downfall.  This is true for business, too.  Data-driven decisions can really help people gain competitive advantage.

I’ve recognized the power of habit and the power of mantras, but what’s really sinking in is just how much our thought habits shape us.  Our ability to break loops is a key to transformation and change.  I also have a rekindled appreciation for the power of our environment to shape us, just as much as we shape our environment.

I think the most important lesson I learned is the value of making space.   Like Covey says, if we don’t make space for the big rocks, we’ll never fit them in.

New Quotes Collections for 2012

I added several quotes collections.  In fact, in looking back, now I’m surprised by how many quotes collections I added:

  • Buddha Quotes
  • Change Quotes
  • Confucius Quotes
  • Personal Development Quotes
  • Positive Quotes
  • Project Management Quotes
  • Richard Branson Quotes
  • Stephen Covey Quotes
  • Zig Ziglar Quotes

You can access the quotes collections from the Great Quotes page.

Featured Guests

One of the strengths behind Sources of Insight is standing on the shoulders of giants.  That includes drawing from great books, great people, and great quotes.  On the people side, this year I had several featured guests, many of them best-selling authors, share their best insights and actions for work and life:

By the way, if you didn’t get a chance to read Rob’s  post, What I’ve Learned About Love, you’re in for a treat.  It’s deep. It’s detailed.  It’s the kind of insight you wish somebody gave you when you started out in life.

What’s Ahead for 2013?

Oh, the places we’ll go.  The big thing on my mind is the power of transformation.   In fact, that might just be my big theme for this year – “transformation.”   Like a phoenix, it’ time to embrace the change.  I think what I learn around business transformation can help people with personal transformation … with skill.

Here are some additional themes on my mind:

  • Back to the basics.   I’m a fan of getting back to the basics.  On Sources of Insight, the basics have always been helping people “stand on the shoulders of giants” and drawing from “great books,” “great people,” and “great quotes.”  I haven’t done enough “Lessons Learned” series this past year.  I want to do more.  I think the Lessons Learned series is important to share and scale the path of greatness.  You can see past lessons learned on the Great People page.
  • Build better habits.  First you make your habits, then your habits make you.   I’m realizing just how important the little habits are.  “Thought” habits can help us spiral up or down.  “Thoughtless” habits can, too.  I’ll be sharing some extreme insight on shaping habits for greatness.
  • Meaningful mantras.   Mantras are some of the best thought tools around.   According to Wikipedia, “A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of creating transformation.”  How sweet is that?  And how perfect for a theme of transformation.
  • Business skills for life.   I think this is one of the best ways I can help people.  Strategy skills can really change your game.  I live strategy on a daily basis.   This would be a great way for me to share and scale skills for work and life, with deep lessons from the world of business.
  • From effectiveness to greatness.   I’m a fan of greatness. Little wins add up.  But there’s nothing like going for epic wins.  There is nothing like going from effectiveness to greatness.  (Stephen Covey wrote a book on it – The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness.)   I’m going to put a lot more emphasis on greatness this year.

It’s time to get your great on.

Photo by emdot.


  1. Whoa! That’s something!!
    And the look forward is even greater, I am especially interested in Business Skills for Life theme.

  2. I loved the way you wove what you do at Microsoft into reflections on life. When we can find that connection so that all parts of our lives reflect our basic inner truth, then some amazing things happen. Like what happens here on your site. I am definitely going to spend some time reviewing your links here–a treasure trove of wisdom. I also like your anticipated theme for 2013–transformation. I’m headed up to my cabin tomorrow for my end of the year “retreat.” New Year’s Eve I will choose a word for the year.

    Best wishes to you for the new year.

  3. @ Alik — If done well, business skills for life can really help people make significant impact in multiple ways.

    Really, a lot of business skills come down to focusing on strengths, unique differentiation, flowing value, and competitive edge.

    Business is ripe with proven practices we can use for intant impact. Think of all the techniques for prioritization, maturing capabilities, managing a portfolio of assets, etc.

    @ Galen — Thank you.

    I’m a fan of spending more time in my values, and living my values at work. Some of the key values I live at work are adventure, freedom, and excellence. This shows up in how I drive projects where I take on big challenges and turn them into epic adventures for the team.

    Your cabin retreat sounds like a great way to cap the year and bootstrap the new one.

    Happy New Year!

  4. J.D. I agree with Galen, there’s such an interconnectedness in all that you do. You’re capacity for learning, communicating, and teaching is simply mind-blowing. This is a unique blog, truly unlike any other. I especially liked what you said about volume vs. value and what really matters is people taking in and taking on the lessons you share here. Congratulations for a stellar year! Wishing you the best in 2013.

  5. JD, thank you for this post. 2012 has been a wonderful year for me in many ways. My life has been enriched by your wisdom. My favorites have been the “quotes” mega-posts and yes, I remember Rob Boucher’s post. Beautiful. I am also very grateful to be introduced to your book “Getting results the agile way”.

    Thank you for being, JD. Looking forward to a grand 2013.

    Love, Vidya

  6. @ Sandra — Thank you.

    I’ve had several breakthroughs this past year, among the trials and triumphs, where I see some things with a lot more clarity. For example, I realized that we make a living by selling our time or stuff, or selling other peoples stuff. If you start from that frame, it helps you recognize the role you want to play, and the strategies you want to use.

    I realized how vision + certainty creates attraction.
    I realized how value is truly the short-cut to clarity.
    I realized how crucial immersive learning is.
    I realized how our habits truly make or break us.

    I also realized how one of my mentors was ahead of her time. Long ago she said my unique gift is “I can help anybody do anything better.” She’s former CIA and has amazing insight. I didn’t see what she saw in me, but now I see it better.

    @ Vidya — Thank you — you always flow from the heart.

    I think you very much project a powerful past year — and trajectory for the new year.

    Onward and upward!

  7. Nice round up for this year J.D – before we head forward to the new year. 🙂

    It’s my first visit here, so I guess I get to see all the goodies here. Thanks for sharing them with all of us, and wising you a very Happy New Year ahead as well. 🙂

  8. @ Harleena — Welcome to my humble abode.

    Please, make yourself at home … enjoy a look around. I try to keep the site experience as simple as possible, but dive deep into timeless and timely topics.

    The About tells the story of the site, Articles is a fast map of the top posts by category, and the sidebar is a fast jump to key features, like Great People.

    One of the most powerful freebies on the site is the 30 Days of Getting Results program. Each day is a lesson and exercise for mastering productivity, motivation, and time management.

    Best wishes for a Happy New Year.

  9. A great post, and a great inspiration! I too have been reflecting on lessons learned, and a look ahead to a wonderful New Year. One of my key lessons? Doing things that scare you actually makes you stronger, they are never as “scary” as you thought they would be, and it also leads to things you never imagined!

    I read your ‘about’ page, and was impressed with the clarity of your mission, vision, and values. A great blog that I will follow!


    Ang 😀

    p.s. Thank-you for stopping by my blog!

  10. @ Ang — Thank you.

    I like that — scare yourself to strength.

    You reminded that when I was younger, if I ran away from the monster in my dreams, the fear grew stronger. Once I faced and embraced the monster, fear melted away. I actually never had a fear-based dream after that.

    This “take the bull by the horns” approach spilled over into life, and it served me well ever since. It’s funny how little experiences can lead to life-long strategies for success (or just the opposite.)

    You also reminded me about the power of pushing past our limits. We never really know what we’re capable of until we try to push past our limits, and we often surprise ourselves — when we truly give it our all.

    Here’s to surprising ourselves in the new year!

  11. Your work made a really significant impact on my life and work last year, so I’m looking forward to what 2013 holds engaging with Sources of Insight.

  12. @ Aaron — I’m glad to hear it’s helping.

    I’m taking things deeper this year with more focus on strategy and project management. The skills we learn from strategy and project management go a long way in work and life.

    The common thread will continue to be personal effectiveness and skill … after all, life’s better with skill.

  13. Wonderful post J.D. So nice to see that you take the time out to see what works and what didn’t in 2012 as it prepares for a very nice 2013. Enjoyed this post.

  14. @ Kim — Thank you.

    Taking a look back, definitely helps set the stage for the road ahead. In addition, I’m actually working on a very deep post on trends for 2013.

    It’s taking way longer than I expected, but there are many significant shifts that I think people need to be prepared for, or potentially take advantage of.

    Best wishes on your 2013 adventures!

  15. JD,

    I loved this post! I always love reading other people’s year’s in review… it’s a great learning experience.

    I love what you’re doing here (first time here!). I’m definitely going to be back for more!


  16. @ Brendan — Thank you.

    Things will heat up this year. I finally wrapped up my trends for 2013 post, and I see a lot of opportunity for change, innovation, and transformation.

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