Ten things that changed my life in 2017

Tom Johnson and Alastair BanksIt’s that time of year again folks, the time to reflect, feel grateful and commit to writing. A quick look back at the blog last year and I can’t believe this is now my ninth year of doing this! I have to say it’s incredible having the memories and being able to read back over previous years. If you’re so inclined you can always take a peek here:
’09, ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13,’14,’15, ’16

Right so this year is going to be super hard to condense. Lots of things could have made the list but I’ve had to choose carefully. Remember this is work and pleasure and is made up things that genuinely changed the way I do or think about things. There are a few materialistic things thrown in with deeper stuff but thats all part of the fun of writing this, there are no rules.

So in no particular order:

1). Launching my Udemy Course

Back in April and after spending a number of days filming and editing my first course on how to get the best use out of LinkedIn I finally pressed the button to go live and really didn’t know what was going to happen. I try and live by the mantra of just do it and if it fails, you learn. The worst that could happen was that I’d have lost that time. Since April, over 10,000 students have taken my courses from 143 countries and I’ve just (last week) had my course enrolled into Udemy’s business program which means employees from companies all over the world will have access to my content. In 2018 I’ll be launching further courses so watch this space. If you want to know more, I put this page together explaining the courses in more detail: https://iambanksy.co.uk/linkedin-training/

2). Personal Training with Tom Johnson

I’ve known for years how important fitness is to your overall effectiveness in life but like so many I’ve procrastinated on it, always finding something supposedly ‘more important’ to do. Nothing brings home the need for extra energy and fitness like coming home to a 2 and 1 year old after a 10 hour day at work. Tom is an ex-international and Exeter Chiefs rugby union player. When he approached me to help with his new business, I took the opportunity to ask for his help in return. Working together over the last few months has been an absolute eye opener. The feeling of intense energy an hour or two after a session is addictive and looking and feeling stronger helps in every way, especially mentally. Tom has loads of exciting things happening this year so make sure you follow him on www.tomjohnsonlifestyle.co.uk

3). Slack

For years I’ve been praying for something to come along and replace email. I think its still a way off but this amazing communications tool is definitely putting a significant dent in the amount of email traffic internally in my business and that my friends, is a GOOD thing. I don’t know if this can or will become a legitimate tool for comms with external parties but I’m excited to see because I really need another cc in my life. 😉 Check out slack at www.slack.com

4). Instagram

Ok so I was late to the party, I get that. Technically I’ve had it for a few years but really only started to use it properly this year. What I like about this platform is that it cuts away a lot of the rubbish you see on other social networks and really gets people to think a bit more creatively about their updates. Its harder to post a picture or video that is meaningful than it is to write a tweet or a FB update. With the advent of instagram stories which I’ve dabbled in but not got into a regular routine with, this platform has the making of it all for me. You can follow my story on www.instagram.com/banksy6

5). Directors Breakfasts

This year we started running networking events specifically for directors and we’ve done so almost every month without fail. I recognised a while ago that most of the events I get invited to are based on a topic, not your position in a business. This felt wrong – what better people to learn from than our peers. So I started the directors breakfasts looking at the digital landscape – a safe place for fellow directors to come together, to learn and to discuss their business. In Q4 of 2017 we had our first ever ‘big directors breakfast’ which we held at the Deer Park Country House Hotel. You can find details for all directors breakfasts in 2018 on our website: www.optixsolutions.co.uk/events – I’d love to meet you there next year.

6). Bose Quiet Comfort 35 Headphones

Saying these have changed my life my seem a little futile but they really have. They’ve changed travel for me for good and that is a big thing in my life. I spend a fair bit of time on trains, planes, walking round cities etc and wearing these little beauties literally takes me to a different place. The advert of the girl dancing in the middle of a city with all the noise taken away is so accurate. If you like music, if you like to be in your own thoughts and if you like the hustle and bustle of every day life taken away then you must get yourself a pair of these. Pair them up with an audio book or two and you’re benefiting from learning at the same time as experiencing these extraordinary pieces of tech. You can buy them on Amazon here (aff link)

7). My New Car

I’ve had a few nice motors over the years but its quite rare that one comes along that really puts a smile on my face. Thats what happened this year. We were actually looking for a landrover discovery for Lizz when we visited our friends at Castle Motors in Liskeard. We ended up coming away with a 3 door BMW M135i. Don’t ask me how that happened. This pocket rocket is quicker than you need but thats not what I like most about it. Its just seriously well thought through. Everything is ergonomically where you think it should be. We have a Mercedes as well but I have to say the Beamer wins that battle all day long. In fact Im a massive convert now. This could be a love affair with the brand for a long time.

8). The Speaker Circuit

I remember the first time I had to do a public speech (well at Uni) and that gut wrenching feeling, not wanting to eat anything before because you’re so nervous, worrying what people will think of you etc. Understanding its importance, I’ve since been honing that skill and began to do talks for external organisations whenever they’d have me. Constantly putting myself outside my comfort zone. Its only in the last few years that people have asked for me to speak at their events and been prepared to pay for me to be there. It just goes to show that you don’t become an expert at something overnight. Its taken me twenty years! In 2017 I spoke in Barcelona & Rome as well as on a number of Exeter University’s courses including its MBA. My proudest moment was being asked back to talk at London Business School on their Summer Entrepreneurship Program (part of the MBA). These talks all help me develop, both in my knowlegde of the industry but also how to handle rooms of people and sometimes difficult questions. I know its not everyones cup of tea but if you can make yourself do this, it will reward you more than you can imagine in the long run.

9) YouTube

Last year I told you about my new YouTube channel and how I spent a whole year uploading a video tip everyday. That was an invaluable exercise which taught me so much but what I couldn’t have anticipated were some of the indirect benefits. My most successful video is one I created about the FODMAP diet for people who suffer with IBS. This now has front page exposure for key terms and has had over 25,000 views. Its the comments that get me though. That one video has obviously had a profound effect on a number of people who have expressed their thanks in the comments to me. I feel like a few hours of my time to create it have been unbelievably worthwhile and I’m thankful for that. At the back end of this year and because they’d seen other videos I created (indirect again) the Exeter Chiefs asked me to do a behind the scenes vlog from one of the premiership games. They were incredibly giving with their time and access for which I could go fully behind the scenes to give the fans an awesome view of the club. The video went on to be watched over 20000 times within the first week. I’m now focusing on more creative videos less often. You can check out my channel here: www.youtube.com/alastairbanks – please do subscribe and like where possible as it all helps 😃

10) My Family

This isn’t a token mention, my immediate family have impacted my life more than almost any year in 2017. With the birth of Alexa last year and Oscar growing up into a beautiful, well mannered young boy I’ve loved spending time with them more than I can articulate in this post. When you’ve had a tough time at work, coming back to two small people with no care in the world you quickly realise there is more to life and although they might not consciously be doing that for me, I thank them for that. My wife lizz has once again been my rock this year. She’s taken a bigger role in Optix and we started our own business Alacrity on the side too. Somehow she manages to mix being a full time mother of two, with these businesses and looking after me (and that’s not easy believe me)! Superwomen is not a great enough accolade.

So there you have it guys, my run down of 2017. I keep meaning to write down what Im grateful for more regularly, maybe that will be on the list next year but for now this excercise really does remind me how useful and important this can be to show what you’ve achieved and whats had a big impact on you. I recommend it to all of you.

What significant things happened to you in 2017? I’d love to hear about things that have had a positive impact on you and your families. I wish you a very happy new year and successful 2018.

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