It’s been a little over six months since my last update. That previous update came a year after switching careers due to losing my job of 17 years. It seems like a good time for another update. As per usual, a lot has changed while a lot has stayed the same.

Work is good, and my team has grown

When I started with Xplor Education as a copywriter, I was still determining where my journey would take me. Before I joined the marketing team, it consisted of a director, a manager, a copywriter, and a graphic designer. Then I joined the team along with a marketing website operations manager in July 2021—how things have changed.

The director moved on, and the manager filled that role. I moved into the team lead role after we hired two more copywriters after the original copywriter moved on. In the spring of 2022, we hired another graphic designer. We then expanded our team with a marketing lead and a community lead.

A woman looking at a network of interconnected team members (represented by circles connected by lines)

The team went from a five-person team to a nine-person one in a year. It seems likely our team may continue to grow in 2023—time will tell.  Despite Xplor being Brisbane based, only three members of our team live in Australia. The rest of the team is scattered across Korea, the Philippines, the US and Morocco. We’re very much a remote team, but as I’ve written about before, we function very well.

A little praise goes a long way

Xplor Education has been my first experience working in a corporate environment. It was a startup that did extremely well—and continues to do so. I’ve previously written that one of the things I enjoy about Xplor is the ‘praise’ channel in our company communication platform. It gets a lot of traffic.

We also have quarterly awards. Anyone can nominate a co-worker for embodying our core values:

  1. Make life simple
  2. Build for people
  3. Move with purpose
  4. Create lasting communities
A dimly lit bar with a bright red neon sign that says WIN

I recently learned that even when you don’t win, you still win. When you submit a nomination, you include a reason or example of why you’re nominating that person. The person who collects the nominations shares the feedback anonymously with you. Here are a few things my co-workers said about me last quarter:

  • Dean is the best person that truly shows the care for people, thus he truly deserves to be called Build for People. He motivates each individual team members while ensuring that we work collectively as a team. He even extends beyond work and make sure each one is taken cared of both physical and emotional.
  • Dean puts the customer at the heart of all the materials he makes (with the marketing team). He always wants to make sure marketing work is of a standard and that it genuinely helps our customers and builds trust and rapport.
  • Our Marketing team lead, he’s always making sure to explain the complicated tasks through a recorded video (like a tech guy).
  • Dean has been doing a lot of work over the quarter ensuring that the customer experience is always forefront of everything we do. It seems like small tasks but they are making a difference in our day to day lives and customers are noticing too!
  • Without him, the Marketing team in the education vertical would be just people punching a clock.

I’m not sharing this to boast. I’m sharing because it feels good to have your efforts noticed. As I previously wrote, I worked at my last job for 17+ years. Not a single member from my department contacted me during the 2–year period my termination hung over me.  

An illustration of a person in the centre being ignored by the four people surrounding him.
Image courtesy of Freepik

My job is to keep our team running smoothly, not to please my co-workers. But I try to do both. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care if my team members appreciated my efforts. I work hard because that’s what I know. And I’m privileged to work with a great team of people who constantly go above and beyond for the team and the organization. 

Coming from an environment where I was never a part of meetings, nor were my efforts noticed or appreciated, this has been quite a change. One I’ve enjoyed being a part of. And I try to make an extra effort to thank my team members and co-workers in the praise channel. When you work with such a great team, it can be easy to take it for granted.

A yellow road sign displaying the words No Problem

You know, it’s the little things—even when using our company communications platform. When someone replies to a task request with “Sure!” it may not seem like a big thing, but it makes a difference. And when you thank someone for helping out, and they reply with, “No problem!”—that’s when you know you’re part of a great team.

You win some, you lose some—but you can also help others win

In my last update, I was still doing an extra ten hours or so a week for another client. That was manageable in the beginning. But after becoming the marketing team lead with Xplor, working 40 hours/week, finding the time to fit in those extra ten hours/week became harder.

At the end of April, I was reminded that freelance work can end at any time. I got a message on April 27 that the person who’d hired me was moving on to a different company at the end of the month. On April 30, my freelance contract was terminated. 

A man at a desk, but his computer and monitor is covered in police tape. The monitor says "we no longer need your services."

Though rather abrupt, it was a good thing. I was feeling a bit burnt out. I enjoyed working with that client and learned a lot from them. But it was a good reminder not to get too comfortable with freelance contracts.

Since then, I haven’t looked for any new jobs on freelance platforms. I’ve only accepted the occasional task that comes to me via channels in Korea. I still haven’t started focusing on the Korean market. I’m building my business and reputation slowly. When the time seems right, I’ll switch my focus.

In August, a Korean client contacted me via LinkedIn. They had a large amount of steady editing/proofreading work, but I was too busy to take on that volume of work. I offered to contact some fellow editors/proofreaders. They accepted, and I reached out to one I felt was qualified.

I follow several fellow copywriters/editors/proofreaders online. (Side note: I need to do a blog post on people calling themselves proofreaders despite a plethora of typos and grammar mistakes on their homepage. But I digress.) I felt a couple of these online contacts might be well-suited to this job.

A man reaching across his desk to shake a woman's hand.

I reached out to my first choice, and they expressed interest in the gig. The client who contacted me and this fellow editor/proofreader I’d reached out to were able to strike a deal. A year or so ago, I would’ve jumped at this job. But it felt good being able to help a fellow freelancer and a client who’d reached out to me for editing help.

Though I enjoy blogging, cutting down on the frequency has been good for me 

After a year of blogging weekly, I decided to cut back to blogging once every 3-4 weeks. Well, that has turned out to be every four weeks, and I’m not going to lie by saying I don’t regret that decision. Actually, I doubt anyone noticed, but due to a miscalculation on my part, it’s been five weeks since my last blog post. I’m happy (or sad?) to report there has been no flood of angry messages asking when my next post will be up. 

Blogging takes a lot of time and effort. Now that I’m working a steady 40 hours a week, it’s nice to have some time back in the evenings and on weekends. Writing my daily Instagram posts takes up more time than you’d think. I enjoy blogging, and it’s been a great experience, but I couldn’t have maintained that pace.  

A person typing a blog on their laptop with a cup of coffee on the desk.

Though I can’t do it with every post, I’ve experimented with translating some of my blog posts into Korean. Living with a professional translator has its perks! Unfortunately (or, I guess, fortunately), my live-in translator is too busy to translate all my blogs. But if I ask nicely, hopefully, I’ll get a few more translated in the coming months.

Still going strong with Instagram posts

As I mentioned above, my daily Instagram posts are still going strong—despite commanding a lot of my time. I enjoy it, and I view these posts as a kind of portfolio I can refer future clients to. They’ll be able to see:

  • My ability to identify mistakes/errors in English (even when they’re not obvious)
  • My ability to fix or improve those mistakes (without the need for consultation)
  • I am consistent—I haven’t missed a day of posting in over a year
  • My desire to be helpful—I offer help with small tasks for free
  • How I can improve copy in a wide variety of areas

I continue to add to my collection of examples. As the pandemic eases, I find myself going out a little more often. I continue to drive my family crazy as I pause to snap pictures of examples I stumble across. And I continue to receive submissions from friends and followers every week. My collection has grown to 900+ pictures, meticulously saved and cataloged weekly. 

Korean packaging the microwave pasta containing the phrase Spawn of a Pollack
Let’s turn “Spawn of a Pollack” into a safe swear for the next time you stub your toe in front of the kids!

I love that people not only think of me when they see examples of awkward English but also take the time to take pictures and share them with me. Posting daily on Instagram wouldn’t be possible without your support—thank you!

All work and no play makes DC CopyPro a dull boy

I previously mentioned that I value streaks. I’m happy to report that all my streaks are still intact. At the end of January, I bought a used rowing machine to aid with my weight loss. I’ve been doing both Keto and intermittent fasting for over two years now. I don’t eat carbs, and I only eat in the evening, usually a homemade shake at 5 pm with a handful of almonds and then dinner between 7–8 pm. Despite this strict regime, I noticed my weight loss had stalled. 

I can also say that I’ve managed 30 mins of rowing almost every day since purchasing that used rowing machine. I’ve rowed every day I’ve been home, including during my mild bout of COVID back in April. I’ve only missed my rowing machine sessions when I’ve been physically away (camping or trips). A quick check indicates I’ve only missed seven days since I started. Since beginning this routine, I’ve gotten through several series on Netflix.

  • Cobra Kai (need to watch season 5)
  • Better Call Saul (finished)
  • The Blacklist (up to season 9)
  • The Walking Dead (currently on season 6)
A person standing barefoot on bathroom scale.

I’ve also lost a fraction over 8 kgs (about 1 kg/month). But a recent trip to Jeju Island, coupled with my son’s and wife’s birthdays, have resulted in a couple of “cheat days” as of late. But those are in the past, and I’m committed to strict Keto until Christmas. I hope that’ll help get me back on track to getting below 80 kgs.

I still use Duolingo every day while I do some stretching. If this blog had come out a week later (it’s already a week late), I would’ve been able to share a screenshot of my 1,500-day streak. I’m also still meditating/napping daily—my app shows a 439-day streak. Despite those meditation sessions often turning into 15-minute power naps, I still find value in them. A quick break in the day is a nice reset.

After doing a push-up challenge last December, I decided to continue doing 100 push-ups a day. I can also report that I’ve maintained that streak (you can still do pushups in tents and hotel rooms). To date, I’m just shy of 30,000 push-ups for 2022.

A bearded, topless man, flexing hard, showing off his well-defined muscular body.

Those are all the significant updates I’ve got for now. But if I’ve missed anything, you wanna chat about my Netflix choices, or you want to ask me about something, drop me a comment!

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