My Year of Learning

If 2014 had a theme for me, I’d say it was a year of Learning – with a capital L. I did a lot of it, and on many fronts. I learned how to start my own business and how to build my own website. I learned how to manage collaborative work projects, and how to produce estimates and invoices using FreshBooks. I learned about the value of attending local networking groups, the incredible potential of social media, and I discovered that I truly enjoy the process of developing my business network through both those channels.

I learned to be flexible about my business plan. It turns out (to my surprise) that the world of marketing is completely fascinating to me, and that it’s a natural fit with my communications venture. Given the multilingual services I offer through Verbaccino, I’ve developed a particular interest in global marketing, an area in which I intend to acquire some real expertise. If there’s one thing I learned back in graduate school, it’s how to become an expert on a particular topic: how to seek out relevant information, evaluate it critically, formulate a theory and then communicate it to an audience. That said, I know how much I don’t (yet) know. Grad school also taught me that individual knowledge is necessarily limited, possibly biased, and that theories have to be reviewed whenever new data enters the picture.

I have a Ph.D. in linguistics, not marketing, but I’m a good student. Fortunately, there are lots of opportunities for me to learn about my new chosen field – and to learn from the best. I’ve always been a bookworm. So these days, I’m reading lots of books and articles by current thought leaders, especially in social media marketing (e.g. Mark W. Schaefer’s Social Media Explained) and global marketing (e.g. Pam Didner’s Global Content Marketing). With the advent of online business, marketing has become such a rapidly evolving field that publications from even five years ago can seem obsolete. I’ve learned the importance of following websites such as Marketing MagazineBrand QuarterlyMarketing Profs and Social Media Examiner, and blogs such as Jeff Bullas’ Blog and the {grow} blog, to keep up to date on the latest industry trends.

Another resource I’ve learned to value is the excellent selection of podcasts that are freely available. Some are actually hosted by top experts in the field of marketing, others feature them as special guests in an interview format. Since launching my business in May of 2014, I’ve listened to my fair share of different podcasts, and I’ve developed some favourites. They include Michael Stelzner’s Social Media Marketing, Pat Flynn’s AskPat, Mark Schaefer & Tom Webster’s Marketing Companion, Loz James’ Content Champion, and Marketing Smarts by the Marketing Profs. All of these podcasts have given me valuable insights on how to become a successful marketer in the Digital Age.

Of course, there’s no substitute for real face-to-face interactions when it comes to learning and developing as a business owner. That’s why I’ve joined a few different networking groups in my geographic area. They’ve all been a great source of inspiration and growth, both personal and professional. More than that, I’ve had the good fortunate of becoming acquainted with some qualified translators who specialize in languages other my own. Now, in addition to French and German, my team of translation specialists includes someone for Chinese, for Russian, for Persian (Farsi) and for Azerbaijani (Azeri). All these translators are people I’ve come to trust and respect, both as friends and as colleagues. So I feel very lucky indeed.

I’m also privileged to be a Founding Member of the Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals (CAMP). These are exciting times for CAMP. It’s a new, rapidly growing organization with excellent volunteer opportunities. Shortly after I joined, I offered to take charge of the CAMP Twitter feed (@campspeaks), which struck me as being in need of attention. In the space of a month or so, I’ve managed to grow the number of Twitter followers from about 1100 to almost 1700 – all organically, I’m proud to say. Finding relevant content to tweet about has been a great way to learn about the Canadian marketing scene and to make some industry connections. There’s definitely an art to curating content in a way that’s useful and engaging. It takes an equal measure of practice and intuition, which is something you develop over time. And, of course, all these lessons I’m learning can be transferred to my own business.

I’ve learned that word of mouth is still the most powerful tool for generating leads. Case in point: my most recent paid project was for a fellow CAMP member who had heard good things about my volunteer efforts and got curious about my business. As it happened, he needed someone for a translation project. Verbaccino got the job, and I’m pleased to say the project went very well. As my own business grows, I may not always have as much time to volunteer with CAMP (or other organizations) as I do now, but in the meantime, I’m happy to help where I can. It’s giving me excellent hands-on experience, as well as good exposure to potential clients. In that sense, my volunteer work isn’t a completely altruistic endeavour, but rather a mutually beneficial one.

So if 2014 was my Year of Learning, what is 2015 shaping up to be? Without a doubt, this will be my Year of Learning Even More. For instance, I’ve just joined a new Toastmasters club. It was almost inevitable, really. Over the past months, I’ve come to know several experienced Toastmasters through my local networking groups, and I admire their public speaking and leadership skills. So I’ve decided to give Toastmasters a go. Who knows. Maybe as a result, I’ll decide to start a podcast of my own. Why not? After all, as an entrepreneur, I have to be prepared to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. I’m on a steady, non-stop learning curve, which is only just beginning. And I love it.

What new things are you going to try this year? I’m looking forward to your comments!


@KathrinBussmann, @Verbaccino

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4 thoughts on “My Year of Learning

    1. Thank you, Michael, for always providing such valuable content. Your podcast is a treasure trove of information, and your skills as a host are second to none. Here’s to many more episodes!

    1. Thanks so much, Mark! Goodness knows I’ve still got a lot to learn, and things are constantly evolving. Any expertise in field of marketing definitely requires a commitment to continuing education, especially when it comes to social media. So I choose to learn from the best, and that definitely includes you. Keep up the excellent work! 🙂

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