Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Blogful of Thanks - 2013

This is the 3rd year that Treasury Café has been in existence at Thanksgiving time. While I might mention a personal experience here and there, regular readers know that for the most part we focus on the topics at hand and try hard to deliver useful, informative, and empowering content.

However, in keeping with the tradition of this blog, today we make an exception with respect to topic, though our content objectives remain the same.

For Those Who May Not Know

In the US, the fourth Thursday in November is called Thanksgiving, and it is one of the national holidays. Wikipedia can explain its history better than I, but essentially its roots are in harvest festivals that many cultures hold.

Nowadays it is a holiday where families get together, often traveling in order to do so (in many US airports the busiest travel day is today), eat a large meal, watch football, and in general just hang out together.

I like Thanksgiving because of the low-key nature of it. Unlike other holidays, stores do not have rows and rows of merchandise to sell, and media advertising blitzes are minimal - at this stage they are already focused on if Thanksgiving did not exist. You might find that grocery stores play it up a bit, stocking up on turkeys, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie along with other things, but that's about it.

It's all about the people.

A Time For Gratitude

The primary emotion of Thanksgiving is gratitude. During the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we often get caught up in the pressures of too-long to-do lists, the various frustrations of daily life that arise and need to be dealt with, etc.

However, after taking a deep breath or two, and focusing our attention on higher order matters, we often realize that despite all that stuff going on we actually have a lot to be grateful for. It is important to remember this, as it keeps us humble and open to what the world has to offer.

This is no less true with respect to Treasury Café. Please allow me to tell you all about it.

Inside the Mind of a Blogger

A new blogger's primary fear is that we will write it and no one will come. Writing that first post takes a lot of time, effort and thought, for several reasons. First, we haven't done it before, so it is more conscious. Second, we don't entirely know what we are doing, so it involves a lot of concentration (think babies walking for the first time). Third, there is the technology aspect, which is all new as well.

So once the "Publish" button is hit, we kick back for a second and go "ahhh, I did it". That gratifying feeling lasts all of about two seconds, and is then swiftly replaced by a nagging question - "Is anyone going to read this?"

All of a sudden we are no longer in control. Some of us might call friends, or post on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. But the ball has been is in the potential reader's power at that point. We are at the mercy of the audience.

One of the most comforting things to a blogger, then, is to find out real people in real places are reading what we have posted. There's someone out there!

Comments Hall of Fame

The most noticeable way we know there are readers is when someone leaves a comment. This not only lets us know someone has read it, we also get to take the blog topic to a new level because there is another perspective now in the mix!

For this reason, my sincere appreciation goes out to the following:

Denisha Lacey is a returning member to the comments Hall of Fame. She and I met initially through her Treasury Café comments, and from there we have connected on other networks, and managed to meet in person for coffee or tea a few times. I am not sure how she was able to comment this year, as in this span of time she got married, started a blog, graduated college, moved halfway across the country and became a Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) to boot! She is an up and comer with a lot of fire in her belly and a desire to continue learning, improving and growing. For these reasons, there are probably no limits to what her future holds and the leadership roles she will fulfill in that future.

Samantha Gluck and I first met each other on Twitter, and after trading re-tweets and mentions I made my way to her blog and she made her way to mine for a little comment exchange. This is the classic maneuver that all those social media advisors keep telling you to do - build blog traffic and relationships by commenting on other people's blogs. In this case it worked (I will tell you more often than not it does not work). However, in our exchange I got the better end of the deal, because Samantha is a real live actual writer, and so my comments section benefits from her excellent craftsmanship.

Whitney Clark and I have interacted quite often through Twitter, though it is difficult for me to recall where or how that orginated. We have lots in common, as her firm manages money, which finance people like me think about often! People in her firm have also pioneered using Mind Maps in financial planning. While I have not used them for that, I am a fan of the technique for innovation purposes, writing, and other activities. By day she is the awesome social media manager for Wheaton Wealth, and by night she wishes that Chicagoland was below zero all year round!

Others to thank include ejones who I believe I may know, Anonymous (who seems to turn up in lots of places!), Ron , who I would like to tell that I put money in the Red Kettle today and sent a warm thought out about your brother, Brian Okello, who is learning about financial analysis, John Marc Thibault, a master of probability who kindly added to one of my analytical oriented posts, Blair, Kelly Boros, Mike Lehr, Otabek, Muaath, and Chris Farmand, who is an accountant interested in innovation, and therefore a man after my own heart!

Finally, the first blog comment after my first Thanksgiving post was from maddie, who was my first real social media friend. Here is what I said about her that year, when talking about my "firsts":

"My first E-mail dialogue was with maddie. However, to say that she was my first blog-generated e-mail correspondence really does her a disservice, because no matter what happens - in all the rest of my life - I will always have a special place in my heart for maddie.

I ran into maddie by way of another blog. Through that blog, she reached out to me with the wisdom and advice of someone who has "been there, done that" and really took me "under her wing". maddie is really the first one, and to some extent the only one, who provided the "somebody believes in me" feeling with respect to Treasury Café. And I tell you what, during the first couple months of blogging, you need that feeling! Thank you, maddie!".

Unfortunately for me, maddie dropped out of social media right after her post-Thanksgiving comment on Treasury Café that year. Even though her blog site wouldn't even pull up anymore, I kept it on my blogroll for a year and half afterwards before I could bear to take it down...a very sad day for me. I miss her, and hope she is happy and doing well in her post-social life.

Shout Out Hall of Fame

The other big way for a blogger to know that others are reading is when people mention your blog in their blog, or in other social media settings. This has the added touch of attracting new readers to your site, who might come back in the future and/or leave comments.

For this reason, my sincere appreciation goes out to the following:

Wally Bock is someone who connected with me after I commented on his blog. He has had a longtime focus on leadership which I covered here on Treasury Café in "A Life's Worth of Leadership Lessons". Since a lot of the posts we cover here are about case studies of statistical distributions and financial strategies, replete with formulas, spreadsheet images and R output, mentioning Treasury Café would not seem to be a particular fit for his topic areas. However, on occasion we do cover issues with respect to managing the team, or being a valued partner, or working within the organization, and these have often been included in his "Midweek Look at the Independent Business Blogs" posts every Wednesday. Always willing to accept a challenge, he also found a way to work the Working Capital series into his Zero Draft blog about writing.

Rene Michau, from ANZ Bank, found me very early on in the life of Treasury Café. He was the first blogsite "member" and the first to include Treasury Café on a blogroll (which is yet another way of saying, "I read this and you should too"). He will often include Treasury Café posts in hisonline newspaper. You may have noticed that most of the connections I have made were through blog comments and Twitter, but early on Rene found me "out of the blue" somehow and thought I was worth staying in touch with.

Devan Perine, from EnMast, connected on Twitter in what amounted to a retweet contest - I'd retweet her, she'd retweet me, and so on over a long period of time. At some point she asked me to do a guest post for their site, which focuses on small business issues. I was happy to do so ( Hire for Fit, Not Just for Skills ), and learned through that process that the challenge in guest posts is that you cannot assume some level of past exposure, so you need to write something of interest to that audience while introducing any background as concisely as possible.

The Masters In Accounting website lists Treasury Cafe as one of the Top 50 Finance and Accounting blogs. The site is chock full of info on college programs from all over, so the fact that it made it on that list in the face of all that research is an honor. Note: there are a lot of other good blogs on that listing, you may want to put some into your Reader if you use one.

In the Twitter world, special thanks for unprompted Treasury Cafe tweets and retweets go to Zachary Jeans and Sandra Feinsmith.

In the print media world, thanks for mentions of Treasury Cafe and/or its author to Ira Apfel at the Association of Finance Professionals, Dan Bland at Corporate Treasurer, and Katharine Morton at Eurofinance. Writing print articles or serving as a source has been a new experience for me this year, so I am especially grateful as it has broadened my horizons.

And Finally

Thank you for reading this blog! One of the things that I have been most proud is the fact that Treasury Café has been read on every continent except Antartica (if you know someone there, please get them to visit!). It is amazing to me that we can reach out anywhere in the world, form connections and work together like we can these days.

I am very grateful for your visit, and the fact that you come back. I am very lucky to have you and to be living in these times.

Thank you!

    ::Who are you grateful for this year?

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