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Recapping 2023 — Lessons Learned Professional and Podcast (Thinks Out Loud Episode 406)

Photo of woman shifting calendar from 2023 to 2024 to illustrate the 2023 recap

2023 has been an amazing year, filled with plenty of positives — as well as plenty of opportunities. So, what have we learned? What are the big lessons from 2023? What should we be thinking about as we head into the New Year?

This episode of the Thinks Out Loud podcast, “Recapping 2023” takes a look at the key themes, topics, and trends from 2023 that will shape the world ahead in 2024.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you.

# Recapping 2023 — Lessons Learned Professional and Podcast (Thinks Out Loud Episode 406) Headlines and Show Notes

Show Notes and Links

Digital Strategy

Search Marketing

Artificial Intelligence

Content Marketing

Bypassing Gatekeepers

Being Human in a Digital World

You might also enjoy this webinar I recently participated in with Miles Partnership that looked at "The Power of Generative AI and ChatGPT: What It Means for Tourism & Hospitality" here:

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Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Shure SM7B Vocal Dynamic Microphone and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 23m 03s

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Transcript: Recapping 2023 — Lessons Learned — Professional and Podcast

Well, hello again, everyone, and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. This is episode 406 of The Big Show. And thank you so much for tuning in. I very much appreciate it. We’re getting down to the wire on 2023. This will be our next to last new episode of the year.

We plan to do this episode, next week’s episode, and then we’ll take two weeks off where we’ll share some revisiting posts, some of the best of 2023 for you. buT I’m thrilled you’re here. Thanks so much for listening. And what I intend to do the next two weeks is recap. 2023, what were the big lessons learned both professionally and personally for me as we head into the new year?

So I hope you’ll enjoy those. Or I guess I should say these, since this is the first of those two recap episodes. So, you know, obviously the biggest story of 2023, I think bigger than anything, is we are now officially in the post pandemic era. You know, we lived with the pandemic for a number of years, obviously, and the realities of it, and there are still health concerns we need to be conscious.

I think if there’s one lesson we’ve all learned through this process, it’s that taking health situations seriously is much more important than I think we did in the before times. So I’m not going to dwell on that a lot, but I think it’s a very real fact of The world is, if not back to normal, at least is in a new normal, at least is in a place where this is the way the world works now.

The other big story related to that, and one that I don’t intend to talk much about because it’s not my core area of expertise, is that the economy is still very weird. The economy has been weird for several years. And there are all kinds of arguments being made about what is the cause, and is it a real problem with the economy, or is it a vibe session, you know, are people just feeling vibes of a recession?

I’m going to tell you, I don’t know the answer to that, I’m not going to speculate on that. I will say, as I’ve said in the past, such as in our episode a few years ago, where I talked about doing business in the weirdest economy ever, The key point is to listen to your customers. It doesn’t matter if this is a recession.

It doesn’t matter if it’s an expansion. It doesn’t matter if it’s just vibes or if it’s legitimate in terms of the economic indicators. What does matter is how are your customers behaving and are you responding appropriately to those behaviors. So what I would encourage you to do Is focus less on the macro environment and focus more of the micro environment on what is going on with your customers and what is the data that you have telling you and what is the data about their behaviors telling you.

I don’t mean ignore the macro environment. I simply mean paying close attention to what your customers and your prospects and the people you talk to every day are doing. That’s probably more beneficial to you than some bold proclamation of, Oh, we’re not in a recession or, Oh, we are in a recession. Look at what’s going on in your world and respond accordingly.

I will tell you for us, we’ve had a great year. We’ve added a bunch of new clients. Go And I, I think we’ve done a really good job. I think those clients would say we’ve done a good job in helping them drive new revenues or save costs or both. So it’s been a very successful year for our company. From a business perspective, we are not seeing significant effects other than.

The uncertainty is making the sales cycle a little bit longer. People are being more careful about when they choose to buy or sign up with us or the like. But it’s been a very successful year from that perspective. One change that has definitely persisted since the pandemic and I haven’t seen a lot of evidence it’s going to change back dramatically.

Is at least on a personal level, my travels have dropped dramatically. I still travel a fair bit. I went to 12 cities this past year, including two new ones. I went to Kansas City, Missouri, which I’ve never been to somehow. And to Birmingham, Alabama for the first time this year. But a lot of the same places you would expect.

Metro New York City, Denver, Raleigh Durham, Charleston, Chicago Long Beach, California, Houston. Dallas I’m probably leaving out a couple there, but I, I took a number of trips, but only went to about 12 places, including two new ones, and no international places in 2019 2023, personally. If you compare that to 2019, I went to 18 different cities, including two international, multiple times each, I traveled a lot more.

And even in 2020, before the pandemic hit, I’d gone to seven cities, including two international cities, before mid March. So, that’s, you know, a big, big difference. between where we were before the pandemic and where we are after the pandemic. It doesn’t mean business is bad. I’m just doing more things virtually.

I’m doing more things remotely and I’m seeing that with our team as well. As for the podcast, I think we’ve had a tremendous year and I, I talk about the podcast sometimes about why I think it’s been a great form of content marketing for our business and where there are opportunities for other businesses to do the same.

We published 48 episodes of the podcast year to date. This will actually be the 49th episode. 37 of those were original episodes. This will be the 38th. Next week will be the 39th. And 11 revisiting podcasts. So things where we took existing episodes and put those out with some updates. Next year we expect to do more.

Next year we actually expect to cross 42 episodes and we’ll probably do about 10 revisiting for the year. So that’s something that has definitely been real positive. We find that generally speaking, new episodes do better, but the revisiting episodes sometimes take podcast episodes that are really popular.

And make them go bigger. Now the reason I’m talking about that is twofold. One is it shows that content reuse can absolutely work in terms of, you know, creating something with some legs, creating something that’s sustainable without having to create new content every single time. The other is sometimes those revisiting episodes were actually bigger than the original.

So one of our biggest episodes of the past year Was episode 368 that talked about how to drive business using digital, digital. And the episode of revisiting how to drive business using digital was much bigger. Together, they were collectively the biggest podcast episode of the year. The reason I bring that up is sometimes things just have to hit at the right time.

And I’m going to come back to these episodes in a minute because I want to talk about some of the big themes that we’ve learned about from the various episodes that we’ve posted. What I will say is that we continue to find podcasting to be very successful for our business and something we’re going to do a lot more of as we go forward into 2024.

We have achieved more than 7, 000 listeners above where we were in 2022. And by the way, thank you so much for that. That’s really huge. It seems like what we’re doing is working and is helping us find new folks. It has also generated leads for us and it has generated business for us. So I’m very, very pleased about the podcast as a content marketing initiative.

I like to talk a lot about how you can market in a world where Google does not exist. And I can tell you that most of the podcast traffic does not come from Google. It comes from places like Spotify or it comes from promotion that we do on LinkedIn. So we’re getting some real benefit there. And in the spirit of the hub and spoke model that I talk about a lot, we self host the podcast.

We use a service called Blueberry. But we have the podcast available via the website, and it’s a big driver of traffic for us there. As well as the listeners that we get on Spotify, as well as the listeners that we get on places like LinkedIn and the like. So it’s working out really, really well.

Some of the things we’re going to do different next year with the podcast is we have actually recorded the first two interviews that we’ll be hosting on the podcast in the new year. And in 2024, we’re going to do an interview segment, maybe once a month, maybe twice a month, to see how it works out.

We’ve already got the first two interviews, as they say, in the can though those episodes will launch in January or very, very early February. So, I’d love to hear what you think of that. I, I think they’re pretty cool. I think we’re talking to some cool people. And I would encourage you to give a listen, and let us know what you think.

What can we do better there? What can we do differently there? Before I get into the last of the lessons learned, or some of the things that I would encourage you to focus on, and some themes that undoubtedly were big, big themes for the year, I do have one bit of personal news that I’m super excited about in terms of accomplishments for the year.

Which is that I completed the manuscript for my first book. Which will be out in the first quarter of 2024. We we literally just started the design process today. We are in editorial review. We’ve got beta readers who are reading the manuscript right now. And obviously there will be some changes made after we get feedback from those folks.

But I’m super excited to have that done, have the manuscript done, and if you stay tuned to the end of the episode, I will tease the title for you, so stay tuned for that in just a few minutes. Some of the things that we’ve learned in 2023, particularly around podcasting and around the themes that seem to matter, the big topic ideas that seemed to matter to you all.

First, and I know I’ve mentioned this before on other episodes, but just as with any other form of content marketing, consistency matters. We have delivered a new podcast episode basically every week, either an original episode or the revisiting episodes, but we’ve made it a point to get an episode out every week.

And that has had tremendous, tremendous effects in terms of lifting the podcast. Again, I mentioned more than 7, 000 listeners beyond above where we were last year. That’s huge for us. The other thing I would say is that most of the episodes have a longer shelf life than you’d think. Even though our traffic and listenership goes up month after month, the most popular episodes tend to be the ones that have the longest shelf life.

They’ve had the longest period to grow their own audience on their own. So November’s traffic was the highest traffic we’ve ever had for a podcast. But the individual episodes with the most listens were things that we’d recorded back in January or released back in January and February and March.

The ones that we’ve released later in the year tend to take four to six weeks to reach their pinnacle, you know, to reach their peak. So it’s something that has really surprised me. In that it’s not necessarily the most recent episodes that do the best. We occasionally have one or two that really break through quickly on their own, but they generate some traffic for some time to come.

And we have plenty of episodes from 2022 and some from 2021 and some from 2020 that continue to drive real numbers week after week, which is a pleasant surprise. Because, of course, for the most part, we’re not promoting those. They’re just generating that organically over time. What I will note is there are some themes that consistently do well, and I don’t think any of these are going to shock you.

First and foremost, the biggest topic of the year, as you might imagine, has been anything to do with artificial intelligence. And I’m going to break out some specific episodes you may want to review as 2024 in a minute. But there’s just been anything around AI has been just tremendously successful.

Drilling down further into that, of course, digital strategy more broadly. That should shock nobody. We are a digital strategy consulting firm. So that seems likely that that’d be something we would do well and people would respond to. Anything to do with content marketing and content strategy, again, for the most part, has done well.

Highly related would be anything to do with search marketing. We do a number of posts, we’ve done a number of episodes related to how you can bypass gatekeepers, how you can bypass big tech. Those have done tremendously well. And increasingly, the episodes that we have done on how you can remain human and how you can be a more human brand in a digital world have done Very, very well.

And that’s personally very gratifying because I think that’s an important part of what we do as marketers is we help people connect with their own humanity. So some of the specific episodes that I would suggest have done well would be things like the most important trends in marketing in 2023, or How to Drive business using digital or what we learned from Big Tech’s earnings.

We do a theories of those. A Big Trends episode we did that asked does marketing have a future? Another that we’ve asked we’ve said that customer experience is cool. On search marketing, a whole series about will ChatGPT kill Google? Is this the end of Google? Rethinking search marketing in the age of AI, which was probably one of the biggest episodes we did all year.

We asked whether AI and ChatGPT will kill your search traffic. And we asked, is Google telling us that organic search doesn’t matter any longer? Again, very, very big episodes, specifically on AI. We had episodes like Big Trends, the early innings of AI and marketing, and is ChatGPT going to steal your job?

Now, for the most part, those episodes were ones that we published earlier in the year and did well across the entire year. Some, though, were published more recently. One of those was Rethinking Search Marketing in the Age of AI. Another was about Anticipating Radical Shifts in Consumer Behavior from Artificial Intelligence Adoption.

And how you can add AI to your team. Those did tremendously well, and I would encourage you to give them a listen. By the way, I’m going to link to all of these in the show notes. From a content marketing perspective, we did one called The Future of Content Marketing is Already Here and What AI Will Do to Content Marketing that did tremendously well, as well as an episode where we looked at our own podcast as a podcasting and content marketing case study did really, really, really well.

We had a couple of posts in terms of bypassing gatekeepers, how to escape big text web. And what Taylor Swift can teach you about bypassing gatekeepers that did tremendously, tremendously well. We did a couple of digital strategy episodes that did quite well more recently about revisiting the word of the year in digital is integration.

And ask the question of, do you still need a website? By the way, the answer is yes, but give a listen anyway. And in terms of how you can be human in a digital world, three episodes rose to the top. The first of those was techno optimism and building a human brand. The next was building a human brand in the age of AI.

And the last, and the one I really want to recap with, was day one, today is a new day. Which, as we head into a new year, is what I would tell you to keep top of mind. Today is a new day, every day you get to start out from a new place, even if something bad happened yesterday, even if something bad happened in 2023.

You’ve got a whole new day, you’ve got a whole new year coming. It’s a great time to revisit and say, here’s where we want to go from this point forward. So I would encourage you to remind yourself of that every single day and recognize we’ve got a new day ahead of us and we can do anything we want with it.

Book Announcement

As I mentioned a moment ago, one of the things I opted to do with my year was to write a book. So I would encourage you to look out for my new book, which will come out in the first quarter of next year, and that book is called “Digital Reset: Driving Marketing and Customer Acquisition Beyond Big Tech.”

You’ll be able to find that in bookstores, both real and virtual, sometime in Q1. And I just want to say thank you for all the kind words and encouragement I’ve gotten from all of you during the process. I’ve spoken to quite a few people in person about this and quite a few people online about this.

And I just can’t say enough in terms of the how much thanks I give for the support and encouragement you’ve all provided me. In the spirit of being human and transparent, writing a book is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I could not have done it without the support of a great number of folks, so I just want to say thanks in advance to those of you who’ve given me encouragement along the way, and congratulations to you, because the book’s coming, you’re going to see it, as I say, in the first quarter.

Show Wrap-Up and Credits

Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week I want to remind you again that you can find the show notes for this episode, including links to the episodes I discussed, as well as an archive of all of our past episodes, by going to Again, that’s Just look for episode 406.

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Show Outro

Finally, and I know I say this a lot, but we are 406 episodes into this show. I am so thrilled that you keep tuning in and that you keep listening and that you keep commenting. You are the reason we do this. You’re the reason we make this happen every single week. So please keep your messages coming on LinkedIn, on Twitter, on email. I love getting a chance to talk with you, to hear what’s going on in your world, and to learn how we can do a better job building the types of content and insights and information and community that works for you and works for your business.

So with all of that said, I hope you have a fantastic day, a fantastic new day. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and I will look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then, please, be well, be safe, and as always, take care everybody.

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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