Work and play

We went on a beautiful hike this morning. You can get an idea of the vibe from the pic below.

When I got back I had a look at my phone: Meeting requests, complaints, fires to put out all over the place from work.

The contrast is jarring. But at least with a software based business it is possible to travel and work at the same time.

I need to practice juggling the two because I’m loving the hikes but I need to pay for it somehow!

Asking

There is a fine line between asking for consideration, for attention as part of a smart marketing campaign, and becoming annoying with pestering. I have been asked by an ex-colleague I trust and like to vote for his work in a survey for his piece on diesel emissions. This is fine by me because I know him and he had my attention anyways. But self-promotion is often not so clearcut.

I am of the belief that given a choice it is always preferable to let the work speak for itself. That way if you are good enough, others will take the time to knock on your door to find out what you do. You won’t have to bother anyone out of the blue.

Of course this is not the only method for selling something to someone, but it is probably the pinnacle I am trying to aim for.

Trawling for peers

If I follow you on Twitter, I have been trawling through your followers and people you follow with a feverish obsession!

You see, I just re-joined twitter after a long break. Although @chimpwithcans was posting my blog posts automatically, I was not using the service actively. Now I have started actively following and posting, I am trying to find the best people to follow. Trying to find peers.

I am not interested in how many followers a person has, but I am interested in whether they are my type of person. This is hard to measure though. It involves experimentation, dedication to reading posts, trying out following people who I think may be of interest. Dropping those who are not.

I think it could be worth it. Finding a peer group and working with them, intentionally and on a regular basis, would be a great thing to get out of social media.

 

Bit by bit

When you are trying to make a contribution, there is not shortcut – particularly if you are not part of an ‘old boys network’ automatically getting your foot into the door – instead you have to start with becoming skilled. This takes practice and effort. Nothing more, nothing less.

Take the wildlife artist who can show a progression from school day sketches to celebrated conservation art: see link

Or the ESG researcher who has worked their way up to be in charge of a whole department: see link

The question then becomes not “who do you know” but “what can you do”. That is far more fair on all involved.

Networking

The concept of ‘networking’ has always been a hard pill for me to swallow. It always seemed like it was forcing something that wasn’t there naturally. The smooth handshake and business card, wearing a suit with a flash smile to win someone over – it’s just not me.

I have a different perspective now. Networking and leveraging your network is something that defines us as humans. It calls back to our tribal roots and it is unavoidable. Essential.

However, the pace at which networking operates is much slower than I thought when I was younger. A good impression here and there adds up over time, until you get referrals, or you give referrals to someone in your network.

A strong network should have some key attributes:

  • Everyone you feel is in your network needs to trust you
  • You need to be able to contact anyone in the network at any time
  • Autonomy is key – a pyramid is not a network. Networks are best when they are flat structures, with everyone feeling equal peers within the network.

A network is extremely valuable. Greater than the sum of its parts, it is a safety net to weather any storm.

Fractured life

At the moment I have a total of 4 WordPress blogs including this one. Two I have temporarily disabled, one is supposed to be for studying – tracking my CFA progress but it isn’t really working – and this one is for everything else.

I am realising that the fracturing of my own attention does not work – I cannot possibly maintain all of those blogs, so I will have to consolidate. I will maintain this blog alone.

It is a liberating thought to think I will only have this one to think about and focus on.

Motocross – a.k.a – Fitting in the writing

Life gets in the way of our goals and dreams on a daily basis. As we get older what was once a clear freeway in front of us is now littered with obstacles to manage – a child to feed, a wife to care for, an illness to recover from. In fact, once adulthood gives way to middle age, life resembles a motocross track. It’s all jumps, bumps, woops, berms, ruts and corners to manage.

So how to fit in writing amidst the chaos? A couple of thoughts:

  1. Forcibly push it into your schedule and stick to your guns. Simple and effective, but it might annoy someone who isn’t expecting it.
  2. Realise there is more time than you think in a day – particularly if you are diligent with focusing on what is important.
  3. Carry a note book with you and use it. Writing something small every day – little ideas and observations – will add up over the long term. Referring to a book of notes when you blog or write a story will speed up the process and feel more like drawing from a bank account than conjuring something from thin air.

Of course this is not an extensive list. To juggle responsibilities successfully is the end goal – when its done well a busy life can feel like launching a scrambler into the air on a tabletop jump, rather than coming short and tasting dirt through your helmet!