Op-Ed:

The Things We Learn

By Igor Raffaele, Founder of The Habtic Standard

When we set out to create The Habtic Standard just over a year ago, we were young and full of good intentions. We had just emerged from our research cave, bearing stone tablets with the exact recipe to keep the promising field of corporate wellness from devolving into a jungle of gurus, workshop peddlers and consultants.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. We were going to change the world.

Today, we don’t feel as young. As far as learning experiences go, the past year has been a masterclass.

We learned that ‘decision maker’ is a slippery genus. Corporate structure parcels out responsibility and actual independence very, very carefully. We learned that our target audience isn’t a person, but a gestalt of kindred spirits. The lesson was about the nature of change, that it can only come from a coordinated effort of like minds, rather than a single center of power.

Our audience continues to surprise us. Praise and condemnation come from a staggering variety of backgrounds. The genuine passionate engagement we have seen is a testament to the necessity of a serious conversation about how shifting away from stakeholder value can only benefit everyone.

We learned that the words ‘we’ll just stick a different look on every issue’ start an incantation that gives birth to dark, eldritch forces that can never be unsummoned. If you value your sanity, never allow anyone on your team to speak them. Not even as a joke.

We learned that you care. A magazine with monthly issues, a handful and a half of articles, and zero marketability in its topics sounds like a suicide mission. And yet, here we stand. 

Visitors reach us for up to three weeks after each issue is published, long after we stopped paying for visibility around the launch window. They come for the content, unbidden by clever social advertising tricks. Once we eliminate the impossible explanations, whatever remains, however improbable, seems to be that the content has value that drives you to these pages week after week.

We learned that we were so very wrong about the nature of our work. The Habtic Standard is not an easy catalogue of best practices for corporate wellbeing. The world of wellbeing and the machinery of corporations are complex enough on their own. Then they meet the hurricane of human diversity. There can be no easy catalogue of instructions to get on the right track. There is no right track that will work for everyone.

We learned that we were so very right about the nature of our work. While nothing was quite as straightforward as we had hoped it would be, there clearly is a place for the discourse we’re trying to build, based on science and unaffected by commercial interests.

We put together a year of monthly issues, each with a unique theme and style. Our 5000 Twitter followers may not look like much if you’re a Kardashian, but they’re all interested, engaged and organically acquired. No tricks, no nude selfies.

The body of content that has been published in The Habtic Standard isn’t going to disappear with the Fall collection. It’s the opening salvo in a long campaign to bring the most reasoned, mature insights on what it means to look after employees rather than profit in a corporation, from the point of view of their mental and physical wellbeing. Each one is a joy to read even 12 months after its publication. Chances are, that won’t change 12 months from now.

The most important lesson that we learned this past year is that there is no end to the astounding work that can be performed if one has an abundance of inspiration, and a complete lack of common sense for when it’s time to quit.

The things we learn are new insights to lead the way. They are lessons we shouldn’t have forgotten. The things we learn are the point of the journey, and they stay with us long after the last destination has been reached.

Over the last year, The Habtic Standard has been a challenge like no other. Self-funded, independent, insignificant against the bullhorns of fortune cookie gurus who desperately need the solution to one of our world’s most urgent challenges to be that people should smile and do a handful more jumping jacks.

And we are set for the next 12 months. Sitting here, right now, I can’t do justice to what we may accomplish together in the next year.

We are not where we wanted to be at the start of the journey. We are so much farther. We are not what we wanted to be when we set off on our quest. We are so much better. It’s because of you. Thank you for the last year.

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