Make 2012 Your Best Year Yet

Fast Company wants you to have a banner year in 2012. As our gift to you, may we present our very best advice and tips on how to work smarter, manage your career, and lead a more meaningful life.

Make 2012 Your Best Year Yet
[Image: Flickr user Vicky Brock]

Fast Company wants you to have a banner year in 2012. As our gift to you, we present our very best advice and tips on how to work smarter, manage your career, and lead a more meaningful life. Click through below for more. 


Work Smarter

Do sweat the small stuff. The combination of an insane attention to details and neurotic focus on customer experience is what sets the great companies apart from the good, Box CEO Aaron Levie reminds us. Organizations that adopt this level of intensity will always have superior offerings, an instant differentiator from the indistinguishable competition. 

Embrace gratitude as a business strategy. Almost everyone suffers from Gratitude Deficit Disorder. We want to know that we matter, that our efforts make the world a better place. And so do your customers, vendors, coworkers, employees, friends, and family. So make an action plan to communicate your appreciation in 2012.  

Figure out your social media strategy already. Twitter still give you hives? Not sure how to connect with your customers on Facebook? Accept it: Social media is not a fad. Syncapse CEO Michael Scissons answers the most commonly asked questions about developing a social media strategy. 

Brand early, not often. Branding, done right, is a rigorous process, and shortcuts almost always end up costing more in the end, says Emily Heyward, owner and partner of Red Antler. An early investment in branding is no different than taking the time and money to set up a proper operating agreement or purchase efficient machinery that won’t break down. 

Don’t botch your pitches. We all have something to pitch–your startup to VCs, yourself for a new job, or your product to customers. In any situation, one rule applies: The better the pitch, the better the results. Here are five rookie mistakes that will sink even the best ideas.


Make LinkedIn work for you. If you’re not a digital networking ninja, you’re missing out on the best way to steer your career. Tips from LinkedIn SVP Deep Nishar. 

Give kick-ass presentations. If you’ve made it this far without getting good at presentations, the time to work on it is yesterday. Take advantage of these seven (somewhat snarky) new rules for public speaking in the social media era.

Create Stars

Attract the best talent. Digital companies are hiring–and in fact are in hot competition for certain types of employees. But you don’t have to be Google to attract top-tier talent. HUGE CEO Aaron Shapiro offers advice on luring the cream of the crop to your office.  

Hire based on spirit–not just skill. A leader can be coached on how to become more influential and engage their team to achieve great results; an employee can be trained for technical skills. But spirit is the set of “soft” skills that can’t be trained effectively. You have to hire for them. These are hard to find, but are necessary for a company to excel.

Motivate your employees with workplace flexibility. Organizations that employ a healthy and robust work/life flexibility will win the talent war. Start with these pain-free ways to move your company toward greater flexibility that benefits you as well as your employees.


Keep your MVPs. If your once-stellar employees are starting to shine a little less brightly, it may be time to rethink your approach to accountability and rewards. Interpersonal Frequency CEO Harish Rao suggests putting more focus on the relationship than the size of their paychecks.

Live Fully

Make small steps toward improvement. Build a strong foundation for 2012 with this simple yet effective list of 5 things to do every day for success. 

Get your workout in–and not just for the sake of the scale. For artists, entrepreneurs, and any other driven creators, exercise is a powerful tool, says author Jonathan Fields. It can transform the persistent uncertainty, fear, and anxiety that accompanies the quest to create from a source of suffering into something less toxic, then potentially even into fuel.

Don’t let the Internet kill your productivity. You’re probably reading this during your workday as a distraction from whatever it is you’re supposed to be focusing on, which is likely sitting open and untouched in another window. Imagine how much you’d get done and how many fewer hours you’d have to work if the Internet weren’t eating up all your time–follow these easy steps and you can make it happen.

Quit that dead-end job. Leaving a career you’re not excited about to pursue your passion is the greatest escape there is–but one that’s totally possible (even in this economy). Here’s a step-by-step guide to making your dreams a reality.


Mean It

And finally, for the lazy or merely goal averse, here’s the one resolution you should make for 2012

About the author

Erin Schulte is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in Fast Company, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Harper's Bazaar, and Entrepreneur, among other publications. You can find her on Twitter @erin719nyc.