Taking Two Steps Back

2stepssmMany times over the years, I’ve taken one step back to look things over, re-evaluate, re-think, re-direct.

We all do that regularly, usually focusing on one or two things. Because we get in ruts, or find that something that was once working no longer seems to be effective. Maybe a tall or grande tweak is needed.

Of late, I’ve had a growing sense that it was time to take 2 steps back. Some venti-sized re-evaluation of lots of things.

The curse of being analytical and natively introspective. Oh, well…

I’ve been on my own as an entrepreneur for three years now, building a consulting business and getting increasingly immersed in social networking. I see these on-line approaches as a primary way to grow business opportunities in the future, for me, my clients, and others in my network.

But now it’s time to step back from it all and look at the whole landscape. How are the pieces fitting together? What is providing value on the blogs and on Twitter – what can be improved or re-directed? What is creating business, and what isn’t? What is helping me to grow better as a person – or, what is not?

eyechartBy and large, I think I’m on the right track, but sometimes, in the day-to-day rut, a clear vision gets blurred. Today, I have a long-overdue eye doctor appointment, a vision checkup. But this month will, hopefully, be a much larger “checkup” to try to sharpen the focus on more than just my physical sight!

Can you help? Actually, yes. One of the most valuable things I’ve ever done is connect up with so many of you, both on-line and (in many cases now) off-line. Some of you probably have a pretty darned good idea of where I’m adding value, and where perhaps I can be more effective. Feel free to give me your thoughts in the comments, or if you prefer, via e-mail (stevew at stickyfigure dot com). I’ve been around the block enough to know that I definitely don’t have all the answers, and that there is great wisdom in a broader community.

Yes, I’m still writing/working/networking during this process. But behind the scenes, I’m trying to get a better read on the eye chart. Any help you can provide is most appreciated!


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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

9 Responses to Taking Two Steps Back

  1. Karen Swim says:

    Steve, it really seems to be that kind of year for so many of us. I am blown away by how closely this post mirrors my own self-reflection and tweaking. I can share from my own journey that the “aha” came directly from the mouth of my client and it was the thing that was always there, the thing I resisted the most.

    You have the curse of being a many of manyi talents and as such provide insight and value on a number of fronts. However, I see you as a trailblazing leader in social media for pharma /healthcare. I have gained a great deal from your willingness to play and then make sense of that for a very stodgy market. Translating the space in a way that makes sense to a tightly regulated, slow to change industry. As to whether that pays the bills is a whole other story! 🙂

    On a personal level, I am a huge fan of your personal writing and join your mother in wishing you’d just publish already!

    I’ll give this some more thought (it deserves it) and share my thoughts with you. Hey you DID ask 🙂 Whatever you do Steve, you will do it with your typical manner of excellence and grace.

  2. Liz Strauss says:

    Hi Steve,
    I think that what I could be hearing is a shift that we’re all starting to realize we’re going through. We ourselves have become the product and the problem with that is that you can’t “be the product and see the product” at the same time.

    It’s hard to get a fix on how well we’re doing when we can’t just our position in the market the way that we might if we were looking at a product that isn’t us. Could that be what you’re dealing with here?

    I’m finding a few friends with candor, generosity, competence and my best interests are what helps me when I get at this point … as I often do.

  3. Tom Martin says:


    Agree with Liz’s thoughts re: become the product. It’s funny, but a trend I see in SocMe world is that to be considered a “player” you have to publish content via blog/twitter, etc., that folks can use as a way to benchmark your true insight and value as a resource.

    The effect of this is that the great ones, like you, have as Liz pointed out, become products, which clouds your point of view because you’re supposed to be counseling “products” not being a product.

    I also agree with your need/idea to step back and really try and bring it all in focus. I follow a similar process — I call it a ThinkAbout. You can read about it here http://budurl.com/lsba

    I think you’re embarking on your own ThinkAbout and like the rest of the folks, I look forward to seeing where you find yourself at the end.

  4. Jeanne Male says:


    It seems that Karen, Liz and I are all in the Optometrist’s office with you! Taking a step back to see what comes into focus includes a lot of squinting and sometimes help from friends who serve as vision correction. You have often served as a needed lens to help me focus during the past 13 years (already!) in my business.

    So much of our lives are spent working and it is increasingly acknowledged that “meaningful work” is key to happiness and well-being. To answer your tweet request, I can offer a zero-based assessment to prevent a myopic view. So, while taking a step back it’s helpful to examine:
    – what you value in what order (e.g. service, money, recognition, self-actualization, belonging, etc.)
    – what you hope others will remember you for (legacy)
    – your skill sets (word-wrangling, etc, etc) and
    – what you would do if you knew you could not fail or would do if you had no bills to pay.

    Only then, look at the pieces; in light of this broader perspective, do they fit together? What pieces should be spun-off, what’s missing that can replace the spin-offs, and how can those pieces fit in a way that serves others and magnifies what you can contribute? There’s no guarantee of success for any of us…but you are one who can do anything that he puts his mind to doing!

  5. Ann Handley says:

    I wish you’d write more. I wish you’d blog for me more, too, actually. But I digress there… I see you as someone with good thoughts/perspectives on things.. but squeezed for time. How can you re-order your life to write more? (Can you dump those pesky clients?!)

    ; )

  6. Steve,

    I tried to leave comments earlier today and our firewall at work ate them. So as promised, I’m back to beknight you with my rambling musings. All of the good stuff that I was gong to say has now been essentially said by this point.

    I did want to pass on that we only just connected on Twitter, though I’ve been reading you for a while. In that time I’ve come to decide that you are one of the good guys: you do it right more times than not, you call it what it is without being deliberately provocative, and your smart. It’s a rare combination and I think an appreciation of that is what has led you to the point now where you have a following. Folks who would join you whichever direction you should decide to go and just be happy to be along for the journey.

    You might want to look into some private security. 😉

    Do what you need to do, and thanks for sharing with us.

  7. @Karen: thank you for your kind words. I do feel like I’m going in a lot of directions and the problem is – they’re all compelling to me (plus a couple others).
    @Liz: it’s definitely the case that I can much more easily “see” someone else’s position in the marketplace than I can my own. Someone needs to invent a 1-week “Objectivity Pill”! In the meantime, the best solution (and better than the pill anyway!) is good friends who have clearer vision.
    @Tom: the “ThinkAbout” concept is cool – very progressive that your company encourages it. I am some combination of amused-flattered-appalled to be called a “player” in SM, however – I’m just a regular guy trying to figure out how this stuff can be most useful.
    @Jeanne: you need to write a book.
    @Ann: Still trying to figure out how to juggle clients, partners, biz-building endeavors, writing, and foundation-building for the future. I feel like a Dutch boy with 10 fingers trying to plug a dam with 12 leaks sometimes! And I’m not even Dutch (van Woodruff?)
    @Kevin: I’m kinda speechless. Your words are very kind and mean a lot to me.

  8. cbwhittemore says:

    Geez, does this ever echo my thoughts lately. We definitely need to get together for an in-person session.

    I’m also thinking that – given how many of us are with you for your eye exam – this may represent another social media paradox: it’s hard to gain distance/perspective because so much of the value we offer is up close/intensely immersed and in multiple directions.

    See you very soon!

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