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a couple of years ago

51 business tips I learned in 2011

With a nod to the fantastic meme started by my chum, Graham Hunt – 51 things he learned from selling properties in Spain last year, and continued by Sarah Arrow, on 51 things she learned from delivering goods, and Angelika Davey, who teaches German lessons in England gave her perspective on the year… 

…here’s my personal take on some of the things I have learned over the last year.

This includes the good, the bad and the just plain old ugly!

1. Sadly, never ever underestimate the ability of distant family members to be selfish douchebags, especially where money is involved :(

2. Words With Friends taught me a lot about my friends personalities – how do they handle victory, but more importantly, defeat? Are they competitive, sulky, smug, gracious or worst of all, reluctant to play for fear of losing?

3. After a dozen years in the NE of America, the realisation that I really dislike the seasonal oppressive hot and humid summers followed by long, bitterly cold winters finally hit me – time to move in 2012!

4. We had more clients than ever before in 2011 (big and small) and hope this trend continues in 2012

5. Proving you CAN run a successful small consulting business in a recession…

6. But in the process discovered that clients unfortunately will manage their cashflow by taking a lot longer than normal to pay and find every excuse in the book for doing so!

7. We learned that patience, firmness and polite persistence is the order of the day if you want to successfully close out all the account receivables.

8. The warmth and helpfulness of the BOTB and Prospect Network online communities delighted me. Thank you all for the help and encouragement this year – this expat certainly appreciated the advice as well as the British humour and banter!

9. Videos of cancer conference highlights were fun to do but very time consuming, especially when we switched from iMovie to Final Cut Pro.

Stand out from the crowd!

10. Their popularity surprised me – I expected up to maybe 50 hits so several over 500 was unexpected.

11. My favourite and most useful gadget of the year was the iPad.

12. The iPad freed me from the tyranny of the awful bloatware that is MS Office, as well as dragging a laptop around.

13. My favourite and most used mobile apps were OmniFocus, text editors, Instapaper, Simplenote and Instacast, all synced via Dropbox.

14. My favourite iPhone app was Animoog – synth music FTW!

15. 2011 was the year of text files and Dropbox syncing; I loved the Simplenote to nvALT and Elements to Byword integration. They rocked!

16. My productivity improved immeasurably with daily TextExpander, Launchbar, Alfred and Hazel use.

17. Keyboard Maestro will probably be my app of 2012, once I master its intricacies – scripts and keyboard strokes are much faster than interminable mouse clicking!

18. I’m still searching vainly for the perfect CRM system that fits my scientific and technical needs…

19. As well as a go-to file repository – Evernote, DevonThink and Yojimbo are all useful tools, but none have stuck or become integrated in my daily workflow.

20. Cloud sharing of client reports via Dropbox, Box and Let’s Crate become solidly mainstream and reliable ways of sharing data and information.

21. My Pharma blog continues to go from strength to strength. It’s also good for business.

22. The switch from Typepad to WP platforms wasn’t as awful as dreaded.

23. The shared hosting was a disaster though, with too much downtime and too many frustrations trying to log-in.

24. I really loved Scrivener and the ability to import OPML data from iThoughtsHD and Index Cards via Dropbox for reports (thanks Ann Godridge for the suggestion!).

25. Markdown (MD) and Multimarkdown (MMD) became my preferred go-to way to write up notes, blogs and reports on a variety of platforms synced via Dropbox.

26. Brett Terpstra’s Marked app became a solid core of my text and MD workflow with easy conversion to HTML for blog posts.

27. I tagged maniacally in 2011, which made finding files through Search so much faster than the clunky Windows method via folders. This also improved productivity and saved a lot of time!

28. Merlin Mann and John Gruber’s Obsession x Voice talk from SxSW was one of the most inspiring things I listened to all year. Great stuff – highly recommend it!

29. I discovered the Mac Power Users podcast and wish I had found it earlier.

30. Don McAllister’s Screencasts Online was another of my favourite finds for learning how to do things better and more efficiently – highly recommended!

31. Instagram was a big hit for photos and great fun to use.

32. Google+ was meh.

33. Google Hangouts were cool though!

34. I exercised more (walking and cycling)

35. And cut out a lot of carbs

36. Resulting in losing a whole dress size…

37. But strangely, I didn’t lose much weight >.<

38. Facebook turned out to be a surprisingly good way of keeping in touch with family and close friends around the globe…

39. I still hate the UI, UX and shifting privacy settings though…

40. But have gradually learned to live with it rather than rant about it.

41. Twitter is still my favourite social media tool…

42. However, the number of LinkedIn shares I consistently get from the Pharma blog was much more than expected.

43. I became addicted to Fantasy Football.

44. The world didn’t end after cutting the landline and cable tv

45. But it did save a lot of money and encourage more useful pursuits such as exercise and education.

46. We attended more cancer conferences than ever before and learned a lot about biomarkers and exciting new products coming through the oncology pipeline

47. And travelled to many new places, both foreign and US.

48. This meant I met a lot of interesting and dynamic people.

49. Still whatever the values of social media, you can’t replace real life face to face meetings for quality interaction and dialogue.

50. Our Pharma blogs were in the news and kindly mentioned by Matt Herper of Forbes Health and also by Adam Feuerstein of TheStreet. They are also great guys in person, having met them both for the first time in 2011 also.

51. Finally, the people whom I thought were pleasant and interesting on social media usually turned out to be the same in real life – go with your gut instinct!

So that’s it from me – what did you learn last year?

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Sally Church

Sally Church PhD is a scientist interested in improving cancer outcomes through research and more targeted, less toxic drugs. She runs a small boutique consulting firm based in Miami, FL that provides strategic advice to Pharma and Biotech companies in strategic analyses, thought leader market research and business intelligence. You can find out more about her insights into cancer R&D on her blog at http://pharmastrategyblog.com