30 things I know now I’m 30

19626113722_9a9fb6b985_zI turned 30 yesterday. I know, right? Scary stuff. However, rather than linger on the end of my 20s and the impending slippery slope down towards middle age and beyond, I thought I’d try and something positive…

With that in mind, I decide to pick out 30 things that, as a 30-year-old man, I definitely know. Some are related to work, some are not. Some are serious, some are not. Either way, I hope you enjoy reading them.

Before going onto my 30 things though, reaching this landmark age has also got me reflecting on what I’ve achieved in my life. Off the top of my head I know that I’m married to my best friend, have a house and guinea pigs, have photographed some of my musical heroes, have got GCSEs, A-levels, a degree, an NCTJ qualification and all three levels of the Duke of Edinburgh award, have worked in local government and higher education, have played some awesome and some terrible gigs in a variety of bands, have grown and maintained a beard, have ran a half marathon, have been to four different continents and have found acceptable ways for a grown up to still wear band t-shirts. Not bad really I guess.

So, in no particular order, here’s 30 things I know, now that I’m 30…

  1. Cake is great; there are loads of varieties to choose from, most taste amazing and it brings people together, and when you bring people together good things happen.
  2. Local government is also great; during my four years in the public I learned an awful lot of core skills, saw just how much local government is responsible for and met some fantastic people. Once you’ve been on the inside, you really learn to value it.
  3. Knowing how to switch off and minimise how much work you take home – either physically or just in your head – is one of the best skills you’ll ever develop. For me, it’s putting on some metal at the appropriate volume and blasting it out. I highly recommend it – Pantera, Slipknot and Beartooth are all particularly good.
  4. Before you hit ‘reply all’ stop and think. Does everyone really need to see you saying ‘Great, thanks!’? In fact, does everyone really need to see what you’re planning to write. From the many reply alls I’ve been cc-ed into, they can probably live without it!
  5. Crisis situations are equal parts scary and loads of fun. Done right and it gives comms teams the chance to really shine and prove their worth. Done wrong, well, you know what happens then.
  6. Roy Keane has the most terrifying stare going, which makes him really difficult to interview. I know this from my time spent as a freelance football reporter.
  7. Evaluation is really, really important – make sure you do it! Without it, you’ll never learn and you’ll never get better.
  8. Some modern journalists are now genuinely being paid based on how many click-throughs they get onto their stories, which is why so much online journalism is click-bait nonsense. This makes me sad. And also makes me glad I didn’t end up as a journalist.
  9. Commuting on public transport is a brilliant time to do some reading – make the most of it! I now drive to work and don’t read anywhere near as much as I did when I was a regularly disappointed traingoer.
  10. Aston Villa used to be good. In 1996 we finished in the top four, won a trophy and looked fantastic. Now I hate football.
  11. Instead of constantly trying to compete with your peers, try talking to them and learning from them. It’s much better.
  12. Social media is, when it comes down to it, just another communications channel. Therefore, while a social media strategy might be a good thing, if it isn’t driven by an overarching communications strategy then it ain’t gonna do much good.
  13. Sometimes stuff doesn’t get done. Sometimes stuff gets done and then isn’t followed through. Yes, it’s frustrating, but in most cases it probably wasn’t that important either.
  14. Want to put something on your organisation’s social media channel(s)? Put yourself in the shoes of your audience and check whether it passes the ‘so what?’ test. If it doesn’t, you need to get that drawing board back of the cupboard.
  15. Social media is not a golden bullet to solve all your problems. However, done well, it might help you at least chip away at them.
  16. If you’re ever lucky enough to get some time with senior officers in your organisation, make sure you give them the most value you can. Then do the same next time you get some time with them.
  17. It’s ok to leave a job. In fact, knowing when you’ve achieved as much as you can in a role and that you are ready for a new challenge is really quite powerful.
  18. Internal communications is often overlooked but is actually really important and really hard to do well.
  19. Be yourself. I’m an introvert, which means I might not say as much as my colleagues in meetings. But that’s fine.
  20. I knew I was an adult when I allowed myself to like whatever music I wanted, rather than just sticking rigidly to the tribal allegiance to specific genres that permeated my teenage years. My ears are much healthier for it!
  21. Speaking at conferences is actually quite fun. Even for an introvert! I just like being able to have some quiet time afterwards, that’s all.
  22. Unconferences are even more fun – my trips to them have been some of the valuable days out of the office I’ve ever had.
  23. Polenta chips are AMAZING! If you’ve never tried them, change that as soon as you can!
  24. Guinea pigs are hilarious and the best pet in the world that isn’t a dog.
  25. Spelling is important. I once spelt Morecambe incorrectly throughout an entire report…of a Morecambe match…for a national newspaper. Whoops.
  26. Buying a house takes AGES.
  27. Don’t argue with idiots. Because they’re idiots.
  28. I hate driving, especially in Birmingham. I also really hate driving a car that isn’t my own.
  29. Life for a 30-year-old man in 2015 in the UK is actually alright.
  30. Life is best when you find the right person to share it with. I can’t, and won’t, imagine life without my wife. With her there, I know I’ll be fine.

How about you? Anyone got any more gems from life that I can take with me into my new decade of existence?

(Pic: Nigel Bishop @ashroplad on Twitter)


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