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  • feedwordpress 17:34:22 on 2021/06/16 Permalink
    Tags: , , mentorshio   

    The Mentor / Mentee Value Exchange 


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    Mentor_mentee

    Originally posted on David by Design

    For the past five years or so, I have been informally mentoring people. I’m happy to report that some of the earliest are ridiculously successful and I still keep in touch. I’m also a mentee to a few people I look up to. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

    Understand Your Motivation Before You Become A Mentor or Mentee

    You’re entering an informal agreement and you should know what’s motivating you and clearly articulate that to the other person. In my case, I realized I had not been seeking out mentors so becoming one was an intentional act.

    Embrace That It’s A Two Way Learning Street

    Regardless if you decide to seek or provide mentorship, you are accepting the role of both teacher and student. As a mentee, you will be teaching your mentor on a daily basis. Understand this dynamic works both ways.

    Be A Mentor Means Being An Active Listener

    If you want to become a valuable mentor, you either are a serious active listener or want to get better at it. Don’t become a mentor if you don’t value listening. It’s the number one requirement.

    Being A Mentee Means Being You

    If you’re not comfortable being yourself, you may not be ready for mentorship. Being a mentee means bringing your true self to the informal arrangement. There’s no room for anything less.

    The Mentor/Mentee Value Exchange Transcends Professional Development

    Being professional is a core value of my being. I strive to act ethically. I’m also a follower of radical candor and encourage mentees to explore a degree of personal life as part of professional development.

    Trust Is The Literal Foundation Of Mentor/Mentee relationships

    In every engagement where I have been both mentee as well as mentor, I seek to build trust. It’s the bedrock of the Mentor/Mentee value exchange. And it also flows both ways.

    Don’t Become A Mentor or Mentee If You Can’t Make The Time

    Time is our most precious asset and it’s limited. We have demanding projects, family duties, self-care, etc. all competing for time. If you can’t prioritize being either, you aren’t ready for it.

    The Mentor/Mentee Value Exchange Is A Human Investment

    In the age of crypto and a red hot housing market — becoming a mentee or mentor is an investment in another human being. If you value the ROI that comes with human investment, you’ll benefit from being either.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:25:04 on 2021/06/06 Permalink
    Tags: career transition,   

    Six Thoughts On Career Transition 


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    This past week I “celebrated” a year of career transition. It seems like a strange thing to celebrate as I didn’t find career transition, it found me. But unless you’re one of those rare creatures in life where everything goes according to plan — a career transition is just like one of any other’s life curveballs like the end of a relationship, or an accident, or maybe getting some news from the doctor that impacts your health and lifestyle. During this time, I have kept busy with contract work and conversations — lots of them. Not just career-focused conversations, but relationship reinforcing ones. I realized that this is not a topic people discuss openly, even though so many people go through it in some shape or another. There’s something not right about that — it’s like not talking about any other significant life milestone or even death for that matter. The fact is, some version of career transition, reinvention, reframing, or transformation comes for all of us — or we come for it. Either way, it’s a learning experience.

    So, I took to Twitter to share a few things that I have learned during my career transition experience. Here are six things you’ll learn if you keep an open mind and heart:

    You’ll find out who’s really in your corner:
    And it will be surprising. Some of the surprises will be pleasantly unexpected and truly wonderful. Others will be a surprise that you didn’t see coming. The good news is, knowing who is truly in your corner is AWESOME.

    You’ll experience loss, gains, and personal growth:
    Life without the security of full-time employment (if this has been your career path) is transformational. Some days you wake up feeling like you lost something — other days, you take in the gifts. Either way, you grow.

    You’ll learn to lean:
    On others for support. That’s something I’ve traditionally been not great at and have taken pride in my self-sufficiency to an extent. But career transition underscores the importance of connections, relationships, and even being vulnerable.

    You’ll learn:
    A ton, if you’re really smart. I’ve been much more observant of how others are navigating careers and life and challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone. Since a career transition naturally removes comfort, it’s a no-brainer.

    You’ll adapt:
    A forced career transition + a global pandemic + a summer of social unrest + a year of “new normal” = adapt or die trying. Having had Covid induced pneumonia on top of it all tends to underscore the old adage “that which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”.

    You’ll get perspective:
    And that’s the most important thing. A career is a huge deal because we spend so much time doing it. But I have other identities… father, partner, brother, friend. Your perspective on life broadens and if you allow it, becomes enriched.

    I hesitated greatly when I hit the publish button on the first tweet of that thread. But then I thought about all of the people and leaders that I admire. They aren’t the ones with iron-clad armor who are always ready for professional battle and climb up the corporate ladder, stepping on others to climb higher — they are the ones who embody strength through relatability, who lean into their humanity and genuinely care about others. They aren’t afraid to share their experiences and help others along the way.

    And the thing about transition is that it’s temporary. Like that butterfly about to emerge from the chrysalis. It’s a period of incubation between here and there. We’d all be better off openly discussing the in-between moments as much as the milestones because there’s a lot we learn during the transition.

     
  • feedwordpress 00:18:18 on 2021/02/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , ,   

    Right Message, Right Time: P&G’s “Lead with Love” Delivers. 


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    This past week marked something of a milestone for The Recount – we launched a pilot marketing partnership with P&G, a company I’ve worked closely with over the past ten years. We’re testing out Twitter’s Amplify program, which pairs quality editorial with contextually relevant marketing content. The initial portion of the partnership centers on a unique creative asset: A 60-second film called “Lead with Love,” the centerpiece of a major campaign focused on P&G’s commitment to making the world a better place in 2021.

    Yes, I’m writing about the power of advertising here, and I’m about to praise a long time partner. For those of you already rolling your eyes, you’re welcome to move right along…but my point has to do with the ability of nuanced and intentional commercial speech to shift the tone of discourse in this country, something I believe we all desperately need. As P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard has said to me countless times, advertising can be powerful speech, and companies have a duty to wield it responsibly.

    “Lead with Love” begins by referencing Plutchik’s eight primary human emotions. For those of us who didn’t realize such a list existed, they are Joy, Sadness, Fear, Excitement, Anger, Disgust, Surprise, and Love. Babies and young children play a starring role, and the soundtrack is a heartstring-plucking rendition of The Cranberries hit Dreams. After walking us through images of children experiencing a range of emotions, the film urges us to “lead with love,” paying off the concept with a promise from P&G to commit “2,021 acts of good for our communities, for equality and for the planet” this coming year.

    The first time I saw this campaign, I took it at face value, and I’ll admit I was a bit underwhelmed. “Lead with Love” is a great tagline, and the film, as with nearly everything the company does in longer form advertising, is flawlessly executed. But at first blush it lacked the emotional power of some of P&G’s earlier work. If you haven’t watched “The Best Men Can Be,” which confronts toxic masculinity, “The Look” or “The Talk,” which take on racism, or “Thank You Mom,” which makes me tear up every single time I see it, you really should. They’re just a few of the campaigns P&G has created that break any number of norms in the ad business – they’re more short films than commercials, they take a stand on hot button issues, and they pack quite a punch.

    But like all good pieces of media, “Lead with Love” stuck with me. Each time I thought about it, fresh realizations pushed through. The campaign launched at a time when our nation was convulsed in divisive rhetoric. It focuses our gaze on the future – an implicit recognition that for the past four years, our politics has been driven by fear. That fear reached a menacing pitch as powerful forces questioned the validity of our recent presidential election. Given all this, many marketers had already pulled their ads and were waiting out the social unrest. Very few were willing to support news organizations – it was our job to cover all this, after all, and the news was distressing. But instead of playing it safe and cancelling the campaign, here was a consumer packaged goods company – whose products were used by nearly every voter in the nation – asking all of us to forsake fear, disgust, and sadness for the simple power of love.

    In normal times such a message might come off as overstated or even clichéd. But as our nation’s worst impulses crystallized into unrelenting images of hate and anger on January 6th, the campaign’s message came into a sharper relief. In the context of the capital insurrection,”Lead with Love” becomes a simple yet powerful rejection of fear as a principle actor in our lives. And the company behind that message is cast in a light of both leadership and cultural relevance. I’ve said over and over again that it’s time for business to lead. With “Lead with Love,” P&G is giving us all an example of how to do just that.

     

     

     

     
  • feedwordpress 22:31:55 on 2021/01/17 Permalink
    Tags: , , content moderation, , , , , , , section 230   

    Stop Talking About Section 230. Start Talking About The Business Model. 


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    No. No. No.

    For the past several years, I’ve led a graduate-level class studying the early history of Internet policy in the United States. It runs just seven weeks – the truth is, there’s not that much actual legislation to review. We spend a lot of the course focused on Internet business models, which, as I hope this post will illuminate, are not well understood even amongst Ivy-league grads. But this past week, one topic leapt from my syllabus onto the front pages of every major news outlet: Section 230. Comprised of just 26 words, this once-obscure but now-trending Internet policy grants technology platforms like Facebook, Google, Airbnb, Amazon, and countless others the authority to moderate content without incurring the liability of a traditional publisher.

    Thanks to the events of January 6th, Section 230 has broken into the mainstream of political dialog. Slowly – and then all of a sudden – the world has woken up to the connection between the disinformation flooding online platforms and what appears to be the rapid decay of our society.

    Difficult and scary narratives need a villain, and the world’s found one in Section 230, pretty much the only law on the books that can reasonably be connected to this hot mess. No matter if you’re liberal or conservative, it’s pretty easy to logic your way into blaming 230 for whatever bothers you about the events of the past ten days.

    For folks on the left, the narrative goes like this: The insurrectionists were radicalized by online platforms like YouTube and Facebook. These platforms have failed to moderate disinformation-driven conspiracy theories like QAnon, or the blatant lies told by politicians like Trump. (When they finally did – two days after the coup attempt – it was far too little, far too late!). The reason they can get away with such blatant neglect is Section 230. Clearly, 230 is the problem, so we should repeal it! Unfortunately, our President-elect has endorsed this view.

    The conservative view ignores any connection between political violence and 230, focusing instead on seductive but utterly wrong-headed interpretations of First Amendment law: Big Tech platforms are all run by libtards who want to crush conservative viewpoints. They’ve been censoring the speech of all true Patriots, kicking us off their platforms and deleting our posts. They’ve been granted this impunity thanks to Section 230. This is censorship, plain and simple, a violation of our First Amendment rights. We have to repeal 230! Naturally, our outgoing President has adopted this view.

    The debate is frustratingly familiar and hopelessly wrong. The problem isn’t whether or not platforms should moderate what people say. The problem is in whether or not the platforms amplify what is said. And to understand that problem, we have to understand the platform’s animating life force: Their business models.

    It’s The F*cking Business Model!

    Three years ago I wrote a piece arguing that Facebook could not be fixed because to do so would require abandoning its core business model. So what does that model do? It’s really not that complicated: It drives revenue for nearly every modern corporation on the planet.

    Let that settle in. The platforms’ core business model isn’t engagement, enragement, confirmation bias, or trafficking in human attention. Those are outputs of their business model. Again, the model is simple: Drive sales for advertisers. And advertisers are companies – the very places where you, I, and nearly everyone else works. They might be large – Walmart, for example – or they might be small – I  got an ad for weighted blankets from”Baloo Living” on Facebook just now (HOW DID THEY KNOW?!).

    When advertising is the core business model of a platform, that platform’s job is to drive sales for advertisers. For Facebook, Google, Amazon, and even Apple, that means providing existential revenue to tens of millions of companies large and small. This means that “Big Tech” is fundamentally entangled with our system of modern capitalism.

    And killing Section 230 does nothing to address that fact.

    Let’s get back to the distinction I drew above – between moderating content (the focus of 230) and amplifying that content, a practice Section 230 never anticipated. To understand amplification, you need to understand a practice that nearly all advertising-driven platforms have adopted in the past ten years: Content feeds driven by algorithms. The Wall St. Journal seems to have just woken up to this practice, pointing out in a recent technology column that Social-Media Algorithms Rule How We See the World. Good Luck Trying to Stop Them. The piece does a fine job of pointing out what anyone paying attention for the past decade already knows: Our information diet is driven by algorithms we don’t understand, serving not the health of the public dialog, but rather the business model of social media companies and their advertising customers. The conclusion: We’ve lost all agency when it comes to what we consume.

    All About Agency

    But before feeds became our dominant consumption model, we happily outsourced our agency to journalistic media brands – and to the editors and journalists who worked for those media brands. Some of us still curate our news this way – but our ranks are thinning. Back before platforms became our dominant media platform (all of ten years ago!), anyone who wanted to read the news had to exert a critical, if often fleeting form of agency. We decided which media outlets we would regularly pay attention to. We chose to read The New York Times or the Post (or both), The Wall St. Journal or The Economist. Media brands stood as proxies for a vastly more complicated and utterly overwhelming corpus of information we might potentially consume. The job of the journalists at those media outlets was to curate that information into a coherent diet that conformed to whatever that media outlet’s brand promised: “All the News Fit to Print” if you’re the Times, aloof neoliberal analysis if you’re The Economist.

    But that’s not how the vast majority of Americans get their news these days. If anything, Facebook has given tens of millions of people who otherwise might not seek out the news an illusion of news literacy thanks to whatever happens to show up in their feed. For those who do want to chose a news diet, we might parrot the agency of the pre-feed days by following this or that new brand on Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter. But in the feed-driven environment of those platforms, articles from The Economist, The Times, or The Journal must compete, post for post, with the viral videos of flaming Zambonis and titillating proofs of elaborate child pornography rings shared by your friends. Given the platforms’ job is to drive revenue for its advertisers, which group do you think gets more amplification? You already know the answer, of course. Hell, it turns out Facebook has known the answer for years, and has consciously chosen to show us low quality information over accurate journalism. How do we know? It has a “News Ecosystem Quality” index – a SOMA-like tuning fork for its algorithms that dials up quality information whenever things might turn a bit too ugly. Let THAT sink in.

    Given all of this, it’s seductive to conclude that the best way to limit bad information on platforms is to ask the platforms to moderate it away,  threatening them with repeal of 230 to get there. But that’s a terrible idea, for so many reasons I won’t burden this essay with a recitation (but please, read Mike Masnick if you want to get smart fast).

    A far better idea would be to coax that critical layer of agency – the human choice of trusted media brands – back to the fore of our information diet in one way or another. And if we don’t like our choices of media brands, we should start new ones, smarter ones, more responsive ones that understand how to moderate, curate, and edit information in a way that both serves the public good and understands the information ecosystem in which it operates. (Yes, yes, that’s a self serving reference.)

    As a society we’ve at least come to admire our seemingly intractable problem: We’re not happy with who’s controlling the information we consume. The question then becomes, how can we shift control back to the edge – to the consumer of the information, and away from algorithms designed to engage, outrage, and divide?

    I’m of the mind this can be done without sweeping Federal legislation – but legislation might actually be helpful here, if it contemplates the economic incentives driving all of the actors in this narrative, including the businesses who currently pay Facebook and its peers for providing them revenue.

    In short, I think it’s time to hack the economic incentives which drive the platforms. Section 230 is a dodge – we’re obsessing on a 26-word law that offers nearly every contestant in the dialog a convenient dodge from a far larger truth: No one wants to threaten the profits of our largest corporations. And given I’ve been on for a while, I’m going to stop now, and get into how we might think differently in the next installment. Thanks for reading, and see you soon.

    —-

    This post is one of a series of “thinking out loud” on our current media ecosystem. Here are a few others:

    Media and Marketing Leaders: It’s Time to Stand Up For Truth  

    Facebook Is Finally Admitting It’s A Publisher

    Marketers: Your Role In Social Discourse Is Critical

    Marketers Have Given Up on Context, And Our National Discourse Is Suffering

    An Open Letter To American Corporations: It’s Good Business (and Smart Marketing) To Support Quality Journalism

     

     
  • feedwordpress 18:28:47 on 2021/01/01 Permalink
    Tags: africa, , , covid, , , , , , , , , spacs, ,   

    Predictions 2021: Disinformation, SPACs, Africa, Facebook, and a Return to Tech Optimism 


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    Never in my five-plus decades has a year been so eagerly anticipated, which makes this business of  prediction particularly daunting. I’m generally inclined to be optimistic, but rose-colored glasses stretch time. Good things always take longer to emerge than any of us would wish. Over 18 years of doing this I’ve learned that it’s best to not predict what I wish would happen, instead, it’s wise to go with what feels most likely in the worlds I find fascinating (for me, that’s media, technology, and business, with a dash of politics given my last two years at The Recount). As I do each year, I avoid reading other folks’ year-end predictions (though I plan on getting to them as soon as I hit publish!). Instead, I just sit down at my desk, and in one rather long session, I think out loud and see where things land.

    And off we go….

    1. Disinformation becomes the most important story of the year. In some ways, this is foolhardy – like predicting that the election would drive 2020, only to see it overwhelmed by COVID-19. The topic of disinformation feels a bit cerebral and hard to pin down – not as concrete as a pandemic or an election cycle. But I’m convinced 2021 will be the year we all realize that our media/information ecosystem is broken – with disinformation, propaganda, and brazen falsehood its most pernicious externality. Businesses are waking up to the threat this  poses to their bottom lines (and to society at large), most scholars and policymakers are already there. In the words of former Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, speaking on a recent Recount podcast: “In a society where there is no ability to distinguish between the truth and the lie, democracy will be lost.” 2021 will be a year where we search for the root causes of our failures over the past few years, and at the center of that failure is a communication system that mindlessly manufactures disinformation. A free and open democratic economy can’t run on bullshit. I’m personally devoting 2021 to exploring how we can navigate the collision of technology platforms, unfettered capitalism, broken media models, and feckless regulatory oversight. More on that soon…

    2. Facebook’s chickens come home to roost. Related to #1, yes, and it’s certainly passé to beat up on Facebook. As an OG in the space (“Facebook Can’t Be Fixed,” et al), I’m reluctant to go there once more – our troubles are bigger than one company alone. And for years the company has steamed ever forward, its fortunes unaffected by endless cycles of bad PR. But in 2021, the good ship Facebook will start taking on serious water. Incoming President Joe Biden will set the tone with his distaste for the company, and company’s tone deaf approach to communications will finally fail to deliver the company a pass. (If you missed it, you must watch this insanely scripted game of dodgeball between journalist Tamron Hall and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg). The company’s own employees are increasingly uncomfortable with their leadership, and its consumers and marketing partners are increasingly looking for alternatives to a platform they see as toxic and unwilling to change. Toss in policymakers’ thirst for an easy target and a media industry tired of the doubletalk, false narratives, and outright lies, and 2021 will be a dismal year for Facebook – in particular in the United States, where the company will likely admit that it has failed to grow user engagement. And that, to put a fine point on it, will tank the stock, full stop.

    3. AI has a mid-life crisis. The past few years have witnessed the shining resurgence of artificial intelligence – breakthrough after breakthrough has led to justifiable optimism that AI-driven innovation will solve both the mundane (Look! It can untangle corporate supply chains!) as well as the divine (Look! It can cure every disease known to humankind!). All of this and more is likely true, but humanity has yet to fully comprehend the potential negative externalities of AI, much less mitigate them. Chastened by our last bout with externality ignorance (see Facebook, above), 2021 will be the year society takes a step back and thinks hard about where this is all going. Setting up the narrative is Google’s mishandling of its relationship with leading AI critic Timit Gebru, but by year’s end, the AI narrative will be as much about hand wringing and regulatory oversight as it is about revolutionary breakthroughs.

    4. Then again, a wave of optimism around tech-driven innovation takes root. This is the counter narrative to five-plus years of a “tech as bogeyman” trope. 2021’s optimism will be driven by two major factors: First, a belief that we’re on a path to correct the worst mistakes of the past decade (see #1 – #3 above). And second, a slew of long-developing and real world proofs that technology-driven breakthroughs will bring serious benefits to society at scale. Candidates include biotech and bioinformatics (the core technologies behind the COVID vaccine), blockchain (though I’m certain bitcoin will have at least one of its several crashes this year), and lithium batteries (giving us hope on climate change and driving my otherwise random prediction on gas-powered cars, below).

    5. Google does in 2021 what I predicted it would in 2020. And what was that? That Google zags. I wrote: “Saddled with increasingly negative public opinion and driven in large part by concerns over retaining its workforce, Google will make a deeply surprising and game changing move in 2020.” I think this is even more likely given Google is fighting off a terrifying array of massive regulatory actions, and desperately needs to avoid looking like Facebook in the eyes of its employees, consumers, and business partners.

    6. Nothing will get done on tech regulation in the US. Blame antitrust. Whether or not Biden decides to continue Trump’s FTC and DOJ actions, he will likely start his own, and keep the focus on antitrust, rather than more thoughtful legislation around disinformation, machine readable data portability, or privacy. There will be some movement – net neutrality will probably get reaffirmed and we’ll fix Trump’s H1-B messes, for example. But by year’s end folks will realize that antitrust suits are essentially kabuki, an exercise designed to go nowhere and maintain the status quo. When Facebook is aggressively calling on Washington to regulate the Internet, you know they’ve done the math and concluded nothing is really going to change. Everyone’s talking about how it’s about time for the government to step up and do something, but I’m deeply cynical about anything changing in 2021. That doesn’t mean we won’t (or shouldn’t) make progress…just that it won’t happen in a year.

    7. A “new” social platform breaks out in 2021. I’ve made versions of this prediction in the past, but my timing was off. Given the handcuffs 2021 will place on the traditional players in Big Tech, this coming year presents a perfect opportunity for a breakout player to redefine the social media category. There’s plenty of VC money ready to invest here, and both Tik Tok and Snap  have had their moments in the sun. It won’t be some ripoff version of what already exists (sorry, Parler). I’d either look to something like an evolved Signal, an app that already has a growing user base, or a from-nowhere startup that gets super hot, super fast because it’s fundamentally rethought social media’s traditional, serotonin-driven models for engagement and advertising .

    8. The markets take a breather, and SPACs get a bloody nose. Back in 1987 I was a cub reporter covering the technology industry. One of the first stories I ever wrote involved a software startup run by a fellow I immediately judged to be a hustler. In our initial interview, he laid out how he was going to use financial engineering to take his small company public via a shell company. It struck me as dodgy then, and it strikes me as dodgy now. I have plenty of industry pals who are involved in SPAC mania now, and as far as I can tell, they’re on the up and up. SPACs can be a healthy and innovative approach to financing companies. But alas, this SPAC trend stinks of easy money and honeytraps for unsophisticated investors and shady operators. So in 2021, SPACs will lose their luster, driven in large part by several spectacular failures (or worse). Related, overall stock markets won’t crash, but by year’s end, they’ll sputter as tech stocks fall out of favor and society begins to realize how much debt needs to be worked through before true growth can reassert itself.

    9. 2021 will be prove to be the last year of growth in gas-powered automobiles. There, I did it – I wrote a prediction I wish for, rather than one I can back up with my own lived experience. That said, the aforementioned breakthroughs in lithium battery technology will lead to a wave of new options for vehicle buyers, and in the long lens of history, the early 2020s will be celebrated as the period where we finally overcame our addiction to burning fossil fuels. Please, MAKE IT SO.

    10. Africa rising, China…in question. A few years ago, I predicted China was going to crash, but I now realize the world needs China to counter US hegemony. With that in mind, the breakout continent of 2021 will be Africa, home to many of the fastest growing countries in the world, and the focus of years of Chinese investment and diplomacy. After four years of US neglect, the Biden administration will realize it’s dangerously close to losing Africa altogether, and announce a massive investment in the continent. Biden’s China policy will be fascinating to watch, but I’d not wager a cent on where it lands this year.

    11. Everyone loses their shit, in a good way. Because we deserve one big ass party, damnit, when this pandemic finally lifts. This is the easiest one to predict, because, well….I’ll be right there with you. Until then, folks, stay safe, wear a f*cking mask when in public, and do what you can to help others get through what is still a dark damn time in our history. See you on the other side.


    Previous predictions:

    Predictions 2020

    2020: How I Did

    Predictions 2019

    2019: How I did

    Predictions 2018

    2018: How I Did

    Predictions 2017

    2017: How I Did

    Predictions 2016

    2016: How I Did

    Predictions 2015

    2015: How I Did

    Predictions 2014

    2014: How I Did

    Predictions 2013

    2013: How I Did

    Predictions 2012

    2012: How I Did

    Predictions 2011

    2011: How I Did

    Predictions 2010

    2010: How I Did

    2009 Predictions

    2009 How I Did

    2008 Predictions

    2008 How I Did

    2007 Predictions

    2007 How I Did

    2006 Predictions

    2006 How I Did

    2005 Predictions

    2005 How I Did

    2004 Predictions

    2004 How I Did

     
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