I started this blog, From Bob’s Cluttered Desk, in August of 2011. I can’t say I had a grand vision on where I wanted to go with it, or if it would be something I would even stick with. I literally decided in a single day that I wanted an area in which to occasionally opine, and set the category up in the news management system we were using at the time. I really thought that it would be something I used only periodically; and not something that would become an integral part of my life.
Today, just over 6 years later, with the blog surpassing 5 million article reads last month and the posting of this 1,000th entry, I look back on an experience that has literally redefined my personal brand and reputation within the workers’ compensation industry. I hope that you will forgive me as I engage in a bit of self-indulgence and take the opportunity to look back on some of the more notable moments and experiences of this most unexpected journey.
The LexisNexis Top Blog Designation – I had only been writing the Cluttered Desk for 4 months when LexisNexis named it as one of the Top Blogs for the workers’ comp industry in 2011. It was a complete surprise, and I am forever indebted to Robin Kobayashi and the folks at Lexis for that early recognition. They continued to list me as one of the three or four top bloggers in the National category for the next few years, until they stopped that program. Those designations gave some very strong credibility to this effort.
The John Plotkin Experience – If there was one single event that helped push this blog to wider national recognition, it was the controversial firing of John Plotkin from Oregon Insurer SAIF Corporation. Quite accidentally, this forum became an outlet for outraged employees and frustrated citizens of Oregon who were incensed by the improper treatment Mr. Plotkin experienced. It became, for our industry, a top topic across the nation; and for two years was, for me, the single most mentioned topic at every conference and business meeting I attended. I wrote over 60 articles reporting and opining on the story as it progressed, and to this day they remain some of the most read works on this site. Overall the Plotkin saga has generated over 800,000 article views.
The National Conversation – A discussion with a state regulator that lead to the publishing of “Who Will Lead the National Conversation on Workers’ Comp?”, brought us to the creation of the Worker’s Compensation Summit to accomplish that goal. It was for me another personal high watermark in the evolution of the Cluttered Desk. The three meetings we facilitated were eye opening and widely acknowledged, even earning an invitation to testify before a committee at NCOIL and a notation in a US Department of Labor report last year. I look forward to returning to that activity in 2018.
My First Keynote Invitation – While I had occasionally been invited to speak at conferences prior to blogging, it was nothing compared to the opportunities that have arisen since that time. In fact, my very first invitation to be a Keynote Presenter came in direct response to a blog article called “Breaking the Cycle of Entitlement: How Do We Get Better?” I was contacted by a friend on behalf of the Michigan Self Insurers Association the very day it was published, asking if I would come to Detroit and speak on the topic.
My Favorite Posts and the Cathartic Quotient – I am sometimes asked which articles in the blog are my favorite. While I am probably known for my quirky and at times questionable sense of humor, the articles with humorous tones are not my favorite works. While funny and offbeat posts are fun to write, the articles I find myself the most fond of are those that are more personal in nature. Strangely, authoring the Cluttered Desk has at times proven unexpectedly cathartic, and it has served as an effective vehicle for clarifying and defining emotions related to personal situations. To me, articles like “I Know Why They Call It The Long Goodbye”, which I wrote the morning my mother passed away, allow me to express my feelings in a release of sorts. I think these types of articles also serve to provide a more personal connection with readers. I often have people tell me they appreciate getting to know my friends and family through my blog. The only other blogger in our industry who probably wrote as personally was David DePaolo. In fact, the article I wrote after his untimely passing is in this group of personal favorites. Other articles I have an affinity for that are along the same reflective lines are David’s Dash and Life Stories Lost, Learning About Life and Disability from a Blind and Toothless Cat and Rest Well My Furry Friend. The latter two stories are related to Coal, a blind and toothless cat that my wife and I were blessed to adopt late in his life.
Workers’ Recovery – My harebrained one man campaign to rebrand our industry was born on the pages of the Cluttered Desk. Regular readers know I believe the workers’ compensation industry is not correctly named for the challenges we face in our second century. I maintain that our industry should be called Workers’ Recovery. Additionally, Claims Adjustors should be Recovery Specialists and Injured Workers should be referred to as Recovering workers. This simple change would provide an immediate culture shift, and have a healthier impact on new workers entering our complex and confusing system. For the first couple years, I carried that banner alone. But more recently others are picking up the message and spreading the idea. Among those people is Mark Pew, one of the most talented and prolific speakers in our industry. Last November, at the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference in New Orleans, Tim East, Director of Risk Management for The Walt Disney Company, noted and praised the idea during his Keynote address. That was, for me, a tremendous high point.
Yes, this blogging experience has taken me in a direction I never envisioned. The 999 articles prior to this one have been read, at the time of this publishing, 5,021,213 times. I’ve managed to post on average 3.2 articles a week, equaling an average of 167 per year. The support and friendships I have found as a result of the success here are appreciated more than I can possibly convey. Yes, it has been a great journey indeed.
Thank you for indulging me for a few minutes. And thanks for making the past six years and 1,000 articles so much fun.