Category: Work

I didn’t do the reading – @thisisseth

A great post from Seth Godin.

But doing the reading matters. It’s the shortcut to being better at your craft. And it’s respectful to those you’re working with, the ones who cared enough to allocate the time.

I’ve worked in organisations where no-one ever did the reading – so much time wasted, so many poor decisions.

Strangely, no-one ever confessed “I didn’t do the writing”.

Read the rest from Seth, here.

 

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Get better clients

Some thoughts:

From Seth Godin:

When the people we serve present themselves, when they offer us their attention and their trust, we need to work to see two things:

  1. Who they are. What do they fear, what do they believe, what do they need?
  2. Who they can become. Which doors can we open, how can we support them, what will they leave behind?

and…

But if people aren’t choosing you, talking about you, asking you for more… it’s either because you picked the wrong axis, or because you’re not better enough. …

Better’s not up to us. It’s up to those we seek to serve.

Tom Albrighton has thoughts on becoming better enough:

Professional life is like this. You borrow some knowledge from here and there, but mostly just keep going along, doing what you do.

Then, before you know it, people start asking you for advice. To you, your answers seem obvious and banal. But people seem to like them. (Your younger self would have liked them.)

You have become the expert. Or, perhaps, the expert has become you.

or …

Instead of presenting ourselves as infallible oracles, maybe we should admit that there’s no certainty to what we do; no one right answer. We contend with luck and failure just like our clients. But we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and work hard nonetheless.

Maybe, it’s down to hard work and focus. Execupundit offers:

The don’ts followed today may be more productive than the do’s.

and…

“Urgent and Important” tasks? Easy choice. Those get tackled first…

 

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Don’t charge by the day … or, worse, per word

About a year ago, I had a long discussion with a prospective client about this. The simple fact is that charging by the day, or per word, creates an immediate conflict of interest: the client is motivated to go short while you are motivated to go long.

I was reminded of this by a marketing mail from John Niland’s VCO Global:

Charging for time is easy. It’s familiar in many sectors: from the oldest profession to the newest. However, there are three problems with hour/day rates:

1: While on the surface, a day-rate is easy to agree with your client, it creates a fundamental conflict of interestin most relationships. Your client wants the fewest days possible: you often need more time to do a quality job. Furthermore, the client is likely to involve you later rather than earlier, in order to save cost…

The webinar being promoted looks interesting.

 

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Seth on Trust

Seth Godin on trust … and how easily it’s lost.

 I’ve wasted many hours over the last few months trying to work my way through some significant bugs (workflow and data loss) with them, and each of the many customer service people I’ve worked with have pushed me to do more testing, and they’ve clearly stated that my problem is unique. This ‘bluff, stall and get used to it’ strategy is the sort of thing one might expect from a traveling salesman. Yesterday they finally let me know that in fact it’s a known issue, that it affects many people with hardware and software like mine, and I’m stuck with it. I can’t easily rip it out, and I can’t happily work with it either.

Interestingly, I recently had a similar issue with Sonos. They were, admittedly, a little slow to respond, but worked hard to resolve my issue (album tracks losing their correct order and appearing alphabetically under each album). And, as a result, they’ve retained trust and an advocate.

 

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1,000 True Fans

All you need is 1,000 true fans.

I originally posted this ten years ago, over on BurningPine.com, but came across it again, today. I think it’s still relevant for creators and sovereign professionals, especially with regard to the discussion on passive income streams. The original posted (as linked) has also been updated  …

1,000 True Fans

What a beautiful concept from Kevin Kelly.  A consequence of all that Chris Anderson talked about in The Long Tail is that it is easier for creators (photographers, musicians, writers, whatever) to reach directly to their audience, their market, their fans.  Cutting out the middle-man, and the middle-man’s filters, has never been easier.  What Kelly offers in this insightful post is something of a bridge or staging post between impoverished artist and mega-star.  Simplistically put, all an artist needs in order to provide a living is “1,000 true fans”.  Kelly defines these as follows:

“someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.”

Crucially, Kelly suggests that the true fan will spend one day’s wage per year on your product, nominally pitched at $100.  Thus, 1,000 x $100 = $100,000 = a reasonable living.  Of course, the real figures will vary by geography, by muse and by the size of the artistic unit: a six-piece rock band will require a higher income (= a bigger number of true fans) than, say, a poet.  However, it’s a great concept.  Simple, elegant and worth pondering.

Kevin Kelly — The Technium

 

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Passive income streams for sovereign professionals – Forbes.com

Here’s a useful post from Abdullahi Muhammed on Forbes.com: 4 Passive Income Streams Freelancers Should Create To Secure Their Futures.

One of the ongoing challenges that sovereign professionals face is the direct relationship between time and money: if you work, you earn; if you don’t work, you don’t earn.

It manifests itself in other ways, too. When you’re busy you can quickly hit an earnings ceiling: there are no more hours to work and you feel like you’re leaving money on the table.

A useful goal, therefore, is to create passive income streams: ways to generate revenue even  when you’re on the beach. An obvious example is the successful novelist or recording artist who earns royalties from a popular back-catalogue.

Abdullahi offers four routes to passive income, here.

 

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Focus! How to get things done – @Chris_Bailey

Anyone who prescribes meditation, coffee and wine deserves attention.

Yesterday’s Times has an interview with Chris Bailey on his new book, Hyperfocus: How to Work Less and Achieve More.

Our inability to focus, because of our digital aids to productivity, is the bane of our times.

In a fascinating article, Bailey prescribes:

  • Set yourself no more than three daily tasks
  • Do a phone swap
  • Set an hourly awareness alarm
  • Switch environments when you need to
  • Ditch brain training apps for meditation
  • Buy a cheap alarm clock
  • Save your first coffee for work
  • Play a song on repeat
  • Take a mindful shower
  • Have a glass of wine

It’s definitely worth a read and some consideration. Over a glass of wine.

The interview is here.

The man, via TED, is here.

The book is here.

More open plan

Just adding to my earlier post on open plan. Here’s Wally Bock’s Three Star Leadership, via Execupundit, with a wealth of articles on the subject.

His own summary:

People seem to want a one-size-fits-all answer to the question about what makes the best workspace. I don’t think there is one. I think the answer depends on the people involved, the work to be done, and the size of the team.

Read the full breadth of perspective, here.

 

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The ins and outs of open plan

The debate over open plan office layouts rages on.

For many organisations, the advantages of real-estate savings, increased collaboration and organisational flexibility seem overwhelmingly to the good.

To this, today’s Times adds research from the University of Arizona that suggests open plan is good for the participants’ health as a result of higher levels of activity and lower levels of stress.

On the other side of the argument, the Economist’s Bartleby column reported some possibly counter-intuitive findings: Open offices can lead to closed minds. A report published by the Royal Society – The impact of the “open” workspace on human collaboration – found that face to face interactions decreased by around 70% once open plan was introduced, as:

“transitions to open office architecture do not necessarily promote open interaction. Consistent with the fundamental human desire for privacy and prior evidence
that privacy may increase productivity, when office architecture makes everyone more observable or ‘transparent’, it can dampen F2F interaction, as employees find other strategies to preserve their privacy; for example, by choosing a different channel through which to communicate. Rather than have an F2F interaction in front of a large audience of peers, an employee might look around, see that a particular person is at his or her desk, and send an email.

 

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