Last week Dick Cassin and the FCPA Blog celebrated 10 years as the leading voice in compliance. Everyone who has followed Dick in the world of blogging in compliance owes him a debt of gratitude for his groundbreaking blog, which he envisioned as a Bulletin Board for the Compliance Community. Just like many others, I began my blogging career in compliance sending in a piece or two hoping it would make the grade. Still as generous today as he was in the beginning, Cassin accepted my work. Most significantly, Dick encouraged me to start my own blog.
From those first small steps, I began my own blogsite, the FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog, while continuing to contribute to the FCPA Blog. I also began blogging for Compliance Week and the SCCE Blog. Last month I made it through my 2000th blog posting. To say that I ever thought I would see this day or this many blog posts, would portend a level of clairvoyance that even Carnac the Great could not conceive of pontificating upon.
So today, I want to write about some of the things I have learned on this journey, which began in late 2009/early 2010 after a serious automobile/bicycle event (Box Score: Hummer-1 Tom-0) where about the only thing I had on my hands was time. While at home convalescing I started to explore the world of social media, engaging on Twitter, webinaring from my home office and blogging. I was so un-savvy in this arena that about the only positive thing my then teenaged daughter could say about me was “Dad, you are so unhip, you are retro. But that is cool too.” The first thing I learned was that even a complete computer misfit and social media idiot could set up a blog on WordPress. It is not only easy but free. I cannot say with any pride that some of my early blogs were very good but I can say that for a lawyer, whose only skill was to be able to perform word processing in Microsoft Word, I could type and then upload a blog post into WordPress. At that point in my blogging career, that was a major accomplishment.
I learned there are some great people out there blogging in the ethics and compliance space. I have met some fabulous colleagues through my blogging who have not only been incredibly supportive but whom I now cherish as good friends. One of the earliest fellow bloggers who has become a friend is Scott Moritz, who was with Daylight Forensic and Advisory LLC and is now the Global Leader of Protiviti Forensic. Another who gave me a great push from those earliest days was Francine McKenna, she of the blog site Re: The Auditors and who is now Transparency Reporter at Marketwatch, A Dow Jones Company. These two were very generous and supportive early on and continue to be so today. I have tried to pass the mantle of support along to others who came into compliance after I began my journey. From my experience, the more you give in compliance the more you receive back.
I learned that there is way too much white noise in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) space. There are reams and reams of information, sometimes useful but many times not. What I have tried to do is synthesize some of the most useful for the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), compliance practitioner or anyone else who does the day-to-day work of compliance. There are many, many things you can know but a far smaller subset of what you need to know. I try to bring to the compliance practitioner what they need to know, in the everyday practice of doing compliance. One of the most important messages I try to convey is that compliance is a business process that a company must engage in for compliance to be effective. That is why the subtitle of my blog is Business Solutions to Compliance and Legal Challenges.
I have learned that blog posts, which I thought were the most important, may turn out to be the least viewed blogs. Conversely, posts I did not think would be of great interest turned out to have the largest number of one-day hits. What have been some of the top blog posts that I have written over the years? The top five are a widely diverse group:
- Design Thinking in Compliance
- Where Else? JP Morgan Chase Investigation Into Hiring Practices Expands
- It’s The Great Pumpkin: Lessons In Process Validation And Oversight (my personal favorite)
- A Dash Home for the Ages – Using Start-Up Techniques to Further; and finally
- Communicating Culture Outside the US – Part 1
Like I said, a diverse group.
I have learned that by committing to something, you become much better at it. My first year of blogging, I tried to put out 2-3 blogs per week but beginning in 2011, I committed to a daily blog post. Once I made that commitment, blogging became a part of my workday. Once it became a part of my workday, it was like any other project or assignment. I had to set aside the time to work on it. It has made me a much more efficient and better writer to know that I need write something during my workday. Yes there have been times I was up at 5 AM to write a post or stayed up way past my school-night bedtime trying to crank something out but those situations have become few and far between as I became more disciplined about my blogging.
But most of all I have learned that blogging is fun. It is fun because it is a challenge to write about something in an informative and engaging manner. It is fun to tie a Shakespeare play to a compliance and ethics theme. It is fun to read a week’s worth of Sherlock Holmes’ stories and tie a compliance topic to a story each day for one week. It is fun to find out what happened on ‘this day in history’ and use it as a hook to grab the readers’ attention. It is always fun to infuse some good old fashioned rock and roll into a blog post (and be called the Compliance Rock and Roll blogger).
Where will the next 2000 blogs posts take me? I have no clue but if they are as much fun as the first 2000 have been I hope that you will continue to join this journey exploring all things compliance (and a few others).
Reflections on 2000 blog posts; what does it mean, where will compliance go and where will the next 2000 blog posts take me?Click to tweet
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© Thomas R. Fox, 2017