7 controversial revelations from 2011

A protestor at Occupy Seattle
Photo courtesy of Flickr user jbhthescots

COMMENTARY No matter how you look at it, 2011 was a turbulent and eventful year. The global sense of panic from the financial crisis has more or less settled into a pattern of uncertainty, fear and confusion. If you're a control freak like me, this isn't a good time, that's for sure.

Nevertheless, each of us has had to find a way to carve out a personal and professional niche in which to live and work, day to day. If we didn't, we'd go crazy -- or crazier, as the case may be. From my perspective, which is that of someone who's spent his entire life trying to figure out what the heck is going on, I've sure had a lot to process.

2011: Year in Review

I've asked an awful lot of questions, come up with a few answers, and been genuinely surprised by a number of observations and revelations. Overall, I learned a lot this year. I learned from our nation's struggles, from the executives I consult with, from blogging, and from just plain living.

Looking back, a number of those insights really stand out. Here are my top seven:

You can't make a living in social media

You heard it here, folks. Granted, all companies monitor social media, but 82 percent of them are primarily searching for competitive intelligence, according to a Forrester Research survey. Not exactly what all the social media zealots out there would have you believe, is it?

As for all the social media marketers and entrepreneurs who think they've really got something big going on, that's just wishful thinking. Check out what Michael Crosson, founder of LinkedIn's 250,000-member Social Media Marketing group, had to say in an email on the subject:

Social media as a business itself is essentially a B2B service. If it is not used for a commercial purpose, then it is not generating revenue and therefore not a viable alternative form of employment. There are a limited number of people who are doing very well...but the average citizen would have a hard time of making a living at it.

Crosson should know. As the founder and moderator of one of LinkedIn's (LNKD) biggest groups, the man doesn't get paid a penny for his nearly fulltime efforts, a practice he believes is industrywide.

The gender pay gap is a complete myth

I know this subject is a source of heated debate, but according to U.S. Department of Labor data and analysis, when men and women make the same career choices, they actually earn about the same. According to a study commissioned by the U.S. Labor folks: "The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers." That's right, the gender pay gap is a complete myth. You can read all about it here

Life is precious, but mortality is a good thing

I have some very personal feelings about this subject, but here's an example we can all relate to that will drive the point home: Steve Jobs. As flames go, this man burned very brightly, so his time on Earth was indeed precious. And yet, ever since he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he became even more driven by the knowledge of his mortality.

Here's what Jobs himself had to say on the subject of mortality: "Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful, that's what matters to me. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose." More on that here.

To me, it seems that immortality would take something very precious away from living. That's my deep thought for the year.