2016 in review: the numbers and some lessons behind them

2016 in review TalentGrow Halelly Azulay

Man, 2016 was not a meek year. It will be a year to remember for sure 

For me, it was a productive year in some respects and disappointing in others. Of proud accomplishments and some set-backs. And it was a year marked by a huge distraction (the U.S. presidential elections) and endless small ones (Facebook, squirrels, etc.).  

First, let me thank you for being engaged and for reading and watching and listening to my content. You are the reason I produce my blog, vlog, and podcast to publish content just about every week. I appreciate your interest and would love to get more input from you about what you’d like to learn more about (and less, too). I want this to be a place you can count on getting great insights and actionable tips you can use to be a better leader, communicator, and human. The thought of helping you be the best version of yourself gives me purpose and meaning. I'm grateful!

As I considered the best way to summarize the year of 2016, I thought I’d review the year I’ve had in a list of numbers. Then, I’ll expand a bit on three of those items (see the asterisks) to draw some lessons from them as I look ahead to 2017. Please chime in below in the comments to give me feedback or input. I would love that very much! 

My 2016 Year in Numbers 

31 Newsletters 

32 blog & vlog posts on the TalentGrow blog, plus articles and book sections published elsewhere 

25 podcast episodes of the TalentGrow Show 

53 presentations and workshops* 

22 cities 

20 states 

8 guest appearances on other podcasts and radio shows 

Got to meet one of my podcasting/blogging idols, tim ferriss!

1 change of mind on the topic of my next book – went from Everyday Courage to Networking* 

1 unaccomplished goal: I didn’t land a TEDx talk as I had intended… yet* 

2 Mastermind groups joined – one all female, one all male (other than me, of course ;) ) 

6 conferences and professional development programs attended for learning and networking 

1 new podcast opt-in free tool launched 

1 podcasting/blogging idol photo op – with THE Tim Ferriss!! 

2 international trips (Hawaii and Israel) 

Halelly Azulay blonde

1 book translated to Mandarin 

1 new home purchased 

1 raging SoCal wildfire causing home evacuation (no damage, thank goodness) 

2 times going from brunette to platinum blonde and back 

1 entirely too distracting and disturbing national election cycle endured 

A lot of hiking and CrossFit classes (I tried counting but it’s impossible. I average 2-4 hikes and about 12-16 CrossFit classes per month) 

250 lbs. lifted in new personal record in the back squat – woot! 

TOP 10 most downloaded podcast episodes published in 2016 

  1. Ep034: How to be a Great People Manager – Learn from One Manager’s Leadership Development Quest with Jeremy Epstein 
  2. Ep036: Fierce Leadership, Radical Transparency, and Deeper Human Connectivity with Susan Scott 
  3. Ep037: How to make better, faster decisions with Jeff Annello 
  4. Ep035: Workplace Poker – how to handle backstabbers and promote yourself positively (without being like Donald Trump) with Dan Rust 
  5. Ep031: The Coaching Habit – How to Say Less, Ask More, and Lead Better through 10 Minute Coaching Conversations with Michael Bungay Stanier 
  6. Ep25: How to be a more engaging communicator 
  7. Ep26: Career Success & Philosophy with Don Watkins 
  8. Ep22: How to hand-craft your dream job and how to make work better with Chip Joyce 
  9. Ep038: 10 conversations every leader should have with every employee [solo] 
  10. Ep027: From Busboy to Big Kahuna with Kimo Kippen 

(Be sure to check out next week’s solo podcast episode wrapping up my year in podcasting and issuing you (and me) a networking challenge for 2017!) 

TOP 10 most viewed blog/vlog posts published in 2016 

  1. 4 common listening sins to avoid (if you want to build or strengthen your work and personal relationships)
  2. Top 10 Takeaways for High Performance from the Tim Ferriss Show Live in L.A.
  3. Haters gonna hate: why courageous leadership is not a popularity contest
  4. Paralyzed by fear? How I talked myself off of a cliff and what you can learn from it to overcome your fear
  5. 'Be yourself' or 'Fake it till you make it'? How to straddle the leadership advice debate
  6. [Vlog]: 10 conversations every leader should have with every employee
  7. 4 reasons to say NO to mediocrity
  8. How to be happier: 4 tips from Positive Psychology (heard on the TalentGrow Show podcast)
  9. FOCUS: The secret to crushing your goals in 2016 and beyond
  10. 3 tricks for breaking through procrastination

And now, some Lesson behind the numbers 

*53 presentations and workshops in 22 cities and online 

I speak at conferences and business meetings, as well as facilitate workshops (typically ½ day, 1-day, and 2-day in duration) for my clients. The topics range widely, but the most common topics in 2016 were  

  • Navigating Critical Conversations 
  • Networking Foundations 
  • Effective Virtual Teams/Leading Virtual Teams 
  • Communicating Assertively 
  • Influencing with Integrity 
  • The 3 Keys to Communication Success 
  • Facilitation Skills/Presentation Skills/Meeting Facilitation/Consulting Skills 
  • Negotiating with Confidence 

I have seen an uptick in requests for both how to be successful in virtual work environments AND for delivering my content more via virtual technology vs. in person. I think that this trend will continue in 2017 and beyond.  

Personally, I plan to increase the number of talks, workshops, and courses I create and deliver on the topic of authentic networking (without the ‘ick’ factor). Why? Read the next section to find out.  

P.S. Do you have a need for a speaker for your next meeting or some leadership and communication skills workshops for your organization? Let’s chat! 

*1 change of mind on the topic of my next book – went from Everyday Courage to Networking 

When I started 2016, I set a goal to write a book. I struggled a lot in choosing a topic. Finally, with the help of a specialized goal-setting coach, I settled on ‘Everyday Courage’. I worked diligently to research this topic and began writing blog posts related to it (you can read those here, here, and here). 

But… something was off. The more I looked into this topic, the more I experienced doubt it was the right one.  

This was difficult because I had publicly claimed it, and changing my mind about it felt like it would call my integrity and commitment into question. I am a very committed and driven person and this felt like weaseling out or quitting, which are two things I REALLY REALLY dislike in myself and others. 

I felt very conflicted and stuck. It was painful. 

But a catalytic moment came when I was at the ATD (Association of Talent Development) 2016 International Conference in Denver, preparing to co-present with my friend Alexia Vernon about “Stepping into Thought Leadership”. There was a networking piece in our presentation that I was responsible for and I came alive thinking and talking about it.  

And when we walked the halls or ate meals throughout our few days there together, I would be stopped in the halls every few seconds by someone I knew who greeted me excitedly with a hug. Seriously. It almost became a joke that we kept getting interrupted because of how many people I knew everywhere. 

Alexia, in whom I’d confided about my ‘crisis’, said to me one evening: “Why don’t you write a book about networking? This is clearly something you do authentically, naturally, and well. You could help a lot of people!” 


Of course, she was right. It felt so right. So obvious. [Thanks Alexia! It’s good to have smart, intuitive friends.] 

I felt called to write and talk about networking all the time. It felt so much lighter and natural than this heady topic of courage. And really practical and helpful. How come I hadn’t thought of that before?!  

Sometimes you need external counsel when you’re stuck in your own spinning head. 

So, I decided to pull the plug on the courage book.  

Not because I no longer believe it’s an important topic, because I definitely do. But because I think I could get more momentum and be more uniquely helpful to more people with the topic of how to make networking less icky and more awesome. 

[Incidentally, my proposal to speak about this topic has been accepted for the ATD 2017 International Conference in Atlanta. Such a delightful full circle, amiright?] 

Plus I’m already in the process of negotiations with my publisher about my future networking book. Hooray! 

The lesson for all of us here is this: Don’t be flaky with your goals and change them willy-nilly, but also don’t be rigidly tied to them if they no longer serve you. Be willing to (thoughtfully, intentionally) pivot when you feel it’s what’s needed. Goals must be dynamic and on purpose. 

*1 unaccomplished goal: I didn’t land a TEDx talk as I had intended… yet 

My other big goal for 2016 was to land a TEDx talk. I’ve not succeeded in accomplishing this goal this year. I networked with a lot of TEDx speakers, organizers, and volunteers. And I submitted several applications. But I didn’t land one, yet. Definitely a disappointment, but that’s life. 

So what am I going to do? Keep thinking about it and figure out whether it’s still an important goal to pursue or whether I’ve moved past it and it’s no longer important. I’m still unsure about this one. 

So – how was your 2016? What big and small successes have you enjoyed? Have you quantified, documented, and celebrated them? You’ve got to!! 

What about set-backs or disappointments – you need to look at them square in the ‘eyes’ and let them teach you lessons. What big lessons have you drawn? What will you do differently in 2017?  

I’d love to hear all about it – please chime in below in the comments and share with us about your year, your lessons, and your plans. 

I wish you a happy, productive, fulfilling, healthy, and fun 2017! 

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