Seth writes a blog post EVERY DAY, and actually writes 4 or 5 each day, and selects what goes into the queue for publishing.
It occurs to me, that when I get a grand idea, I’ve been expecting myself to think up LOTSof material to flesh it out completely. While a long blog post has value, and sometimes Seth posts some very long ones, a short note can also keep the flow going.
From now on, I’ll try to emulate Seth and keep them to a much smaller bite.
Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates
We can make ANY business work BETTER!
Small Business IT Projects | Office Automation | Workflow Behaviors
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It’s REALLYIMPORTANTthat people fall out of your network, and here’s why: Those that are falling out will NEVERcall you for help, you can’t count on them to help you, and they can’t be relied on for anything other than a brief comment on their social media feed (again I mention an acquaintance with 2,485 “friends” on Facebook, I say “acquaintance” because it’s only a collection, and I’m only a tiny part of that collection, and not someone that he [the empirical “he”, could just as easily be “she”] wants to stay in touch with).
For example: Say for instance you have 1,000 people in your network (just to keep the math easy). If by chance you lose your job, how many can be RELIED UPON to help you? You have NO WAY OF KNOWINGif the unreliable ones haven’t been filtered out over the past 2 years. There may only be 600 that are partial toward you and willing to help you, and the other 400 may only be tepid at best. If you need to hire some people, who are you going to call? The folks you know and trust always get the call before an agency.
The people in your network that YOUcan help will tend to ENGAGEYOU in conversation, or at least acknowledge that you have attempted communication with them or reply to you. If after 2 years of you offering help quarterly, a person falls out of your network, manager-tools, & career-tools argue that they never WERE in your network of people that YOUcan help. I agree.
I wish there was a faster way to find this out, but as my dad says “Them’s the breaks!”. Those people may attempt to contact you sometime later, but you certainly don’t OWEthem anything. You may decide to put them back into regular communication, but it’s certainly up to you (and I would). If then, they stay in touch, keep them in your system and communicate, offering to help them. But if then, he or she resumes his or her bad habit of ill communication, and after 2 years falls out again. Oh well.
If half your time is spent getting better at what you do (and I believe you should spend it that way), that other half of your time needs to be spent actually working on projects, and introducing yourself to people. I think you should instead of daily working on ALL of these things (and making yourself crazy in the process), you should do these things weekly in order to develop a weekly-biweekly workflow. Here’s what I mean:
[Sample weekly-biweekly schedule]
Spend Monday introducing yourself to prospective clients, when you get home or back to your office, send a thank you email to the people that you made connections with and communicate with your network. Tuesday, develop some systems. FOCUS EXCLUSIVELY on systems or homework. Wednesday meet more people, and thank them, communicate. Thursday develop systems. Friday meet more people, and thank them, communicate.
Weekends, spend time with your family!
The next week, reverse the schedule:
Monday develop systems; Tuesday meet people, communicate; Wednesday develop systems, Thursday meet people, communicate; Friday develop systems.
That’s a nice weekly-biweekly flow where you won’t feel too rushed, but will get some things accomplished. Over 2 weeks, you spent 5 days developing systems, and 5 days meeting people and communicating. Of course, a project or projects will mess with this schedule a bit.
If you are working for someone else, (not freelancing, or consulting) ask your boss if you can try something similar, by grouping some of your tasks into day-long efforts. Show her this post if you like. There really is no such thing as multitasking. It’s fractional-tasking at best, and the more you do it, the more scatterbrained and worse you get at it. Working all day at a work function (or similar work functions) can REALLYbreak loose a clogged workflow!
Small Business IT Project Analyst, Office Automation Expert
Herbert, McCrumb & Associates
We can make ANY business work BETTER!
Small Business IT Projects | Office Automation | Human Behaviors
Visit us at http://www.hm-associates.com
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My blog post of course, with my pithy / brilliant remarks in RED.
Dunbar’s Number suggests that we can only keep between 150 and 200 social relationships, maximum.
Now we all know (and supposedly care about) FAR MORE people than that. Here’s where Dunbar’s Number and the problem of communication come together:
How do you stay in touch with 500 people, let alone 1000, 1500, or 2000?
Let that sink in…
If you rely on your memory, your communications will be sporadic at best, and likely they will be quite shallow and superficial. Where’s the love? Will they think you really care about them at all? Unlikely.
YOU NEED A GOOD SYSTEM TO REMIND YOU!!!
I say “good” system, because it doesn’t need to be perfect. All you need to be is better than everyone else, and almost EVERYONEis really terrible at it. Sorry folks, even you sales types are really, REALLY bad at it too!
It’s time for the math again (I apologize, but it illustrates the problem and solution properly).
If you have let’s say 500 to keep the numbers manageable, (they get crazy if we go bigger, and WE ALL NEED TO GO BIGGER!) school chums, work associates from over the years, family members, extended-family members, neighbors, and close friends that you’ve made from any of these sources, and of course your mate.
Daily communication to your mate. Try to say something nice to her / him everyday.
OH! I need to emphasize this: Make your communications (other than to your mate) during the WORK WEEK! If you communicate all 7 days, your family will feel ignored, and won’t feel the love from you. At all costs, keep your communications for the work week! Try to save your marriage, and your relationships with your kids.
Okay, that said, back to my normally scheduled post…
Say you’ve got 40 people from the above list that you need to communicate with monthly. (500 – 40 = 460)
Your mate, daily. 460 – 1 = 459
And the rest, (459) Quarterly 459 / 12 weeks = 38.25 communications per week
Now, let’s add back in the rest: daily communication with your mate: 7
Family, close friends and neighbors 40 / mo / 4 = 10 / week
That’s 38.25 communications per week for School chums, extended family, and work associates. 7 per week for your mate, and neighbors, family and close friends 10.
That’s 56 per week (11+ per DAY) !!!
That’s a LOT of communication.
It works out to 2,920 INDIVIDUAL communications per year!
Quite literally, ALMOST NOBODYis doing this!
How long, (without a system in place to remind you) before people start to fall between the cracks?
How can you help anyone if they forget you are there? Remember, I’ve already stated the [completely true!] premise that almost everyone is REALLY BAD at communicating. How can you remind them that you are available to help them, if you are forgetting that THEY exist? Unless you are communicating regularly with those folk, what kind of relationship do you have with them. “I know them, or used to. They know me, or used to.”
That’s NOTHING, and worse than useless:It sets up the premise in your mind that “My network of friends, colleagues, family members and acquaintances is valuable to me”. It’s nothing of the sort. Unless you communicate regularly, they (because ofDunbar’s Number) aren’t even going to think of you, and you won’t think of them until you get into trouble!
I have one friend from Junior High School (called Middle School in a lot of places), that has 1441 friends on Facebook and undoubtedly many more from other places. It’s a collection, worth absolutely nothing, because he will [Facebook] friend a person, and never speak/message/type any personal (“Remember when…?”) communication with them.
I have another friend in the film industry (filmmaker, actor, director, special effects, etc.) that has 1,200 contacts (not a collection, but VALUABLE to him in that he communicates with them REGULARLY. He has a system that reminds him at least quarterly, if not every six-weeks.
I CHOOSE NOT TO, because I don’t like the interruption in my daily / weekly workflow that Outlook enforces. I may be working on a project or several projects that I can’t take my attention off of during a particular workday or days. I usually have time later in the same week to crank out those correspondences. I much prefer using an Excel spreadsheet (with conditional formatting) to help me keep on track.
Send me your email address and I’ll freely send that spreadsheet (without my contacts, sorry) to you for your use.
Here’s a situation that happened to a friend of mine recently. Let’s call her Jain (spelled like PAIN for the anguish, if not burns suffered). She goes to Starbucks for a coffee. Drinks some on the way to work, then upon arriving at work, decides to warm it up in the “OMG! That’sWAYtoo powerful!” microwave. She then proceeds to accidentally spill hot coffee all over her clothes (thankfully, she wasn’t hurt). All this happens fifteen minutes before a meeting that SHE MUST ATTEND!
Of course, Jain has to quickly go home and change, and raceback to work, risking life and limb (and not to mention an expen$ive speeding ticket)! to get to the meeting.
I propose a backup plan:
Keep an extra set of clothes (yes, underwear too) locked safely in your bottom drawer at work. If you don’t like that, a gym / garment bag in your car will work nicely too (unless it gets TOO hot), if so, bring it in and stow it under your desk. You never know WHATkind of accident can happen, and it will save face for you to be prepared. If your boss sees this kind of an effort, she may be impressed at your foresight, and allow better opportunities to come your way.
I think he’s a brilliant comic, but how much of his writing does HE think is great or even good? By Jerry’s own admission, only about 10% of what he writes, does he start working with for his stand-up act.
That is 90% FAILURE folks!
That is an ASTOUNDING number of bad, weak, and not-quite-right ideas. I think this is a valuable lesson for ANYONE (and by that I mean, EVERYONE)!
It CLEARLY shows that you can have out-sized returns on that (good) 10%!
He makes the point that he has always thought of his career as a series of projects.
I have been thinking about this idea for the past year, and should have published earlier (that way, I could have stolen HISthunder!)
Live and learn.
I believe that project work is a big part of the employment model for the present and future.
I think the model is: Projects (Consulting), Contracts, W2 (Full-Time), and Part-Time work. Following, is a list of (semi-disjointed) items that I think will be important as we work our way(s) through this model.
GET USED TO LOWER PAY
If you are over 40, you will start seeing W2 employment disappearing, either among your friends and acquaintances or personally. The grand experiment in W2 employment is over. Many companies (all sizes: large, medium-sized, and small) don’t want to pay big salaries and big benefits to employees.
When a résumé show 20 years or more experience in “X”, the employer (or recruiter)DOES NOT THINK:
“Wow! That is just what I need!“. INSTEAD, HE OR SHE THINKS:
“Old person. Wants a lot of money.” They are RIGHT! YOU(and/or I)AM AN OLD PERSON, AND DO WANT A LOT OF MONEY! We are all in this together.
If you are not old now, God willing, YOU WILL BE!
That doesn’t make it right or fair, it is just TRUE!
None of this is consistent either, which makes it even more frustrating: You never know where age-discrimination will rear it’s ugly head.
You’ll eventually (or sooner) be made an offer that will insult you. It will be W2 work that is beneath you, and for far less money than you were getting previously. I cannot tell you what to do here. Before acting on it, give it a day to sink in. What will be the opportunity costs (a better offer coming in, your side-business picking up, etcetera) vs. Just getting some income?
In general, all jobs are being commoditized. Old and young…THAT’S GOING TO AFFECT ALL OF US!!!
When every job is a commodity, like coal, grain, pork bellies, etc., the lowest bidder wins.
Now, you may only be working on “Emergencies“, and your expertise may repeatedly be called into question, and your fee may be disputed, but take heart. Deliver a quote, then if the client balks in any way, politely leave (“I’m only delivering a quote today, I need to check on another client, blah-blah”). If you are in fact the “go to” person, you will get a call back, when the “Emergency” becomes intolerable, whether it’s within a day, a week, or a month later, and they’ll agree with your terms.
GET USED TO DRIVING FARTHER THAN YOU EVER THOUGHT YOU WOULD
If you’re over 40, you will likely drive A LOT farther, for less money. There can be a slight benefit to this if you are doing 1099 work (Contracting/Freelancing), as you are able to write-off from your taxes this mileage as “expenses incurred while trying to make some money”. If it is W2 work, you’re kind of screwed for that, but hopefully the benefits will make it worth the ride.
Either way, your backside is going to feel the effects. Your temperament will be tested too. Look at it as an exercise in Zazen (seated meditation).
THERE WILL BE JOBS, PROJECTS AND CONTRACTS THAT YOU WILL HATE
I am recently working on a long-term contract that, quite frankly, doesn’t make me feel good. Not about my self-worth, not about my business, not about their business (that I am trying to make better), not about the people there. Not about the drive. None of it. Do I feel right about taking their money?
I am certainly EARNINGit, but not in a way that makes me feel any kind of good. There are certainly lots of loud arguments going on.
People in the area of psychology have learned that it takes at least 5 good interactions (i.e. joking around, “Good job”, “Good morning, nice to see you”, etc.) to erase a single bad interaction (yelling about screw-ups in production, hollering at vendors, etc.). It doesn’t even matter if YOU ARE NOT THE FOCUS of the problem, if you hear it, YOU FEEL IT!
There seems to be some debate on the exact ratio (100:1 vs 5:1)
Still: even a 5 to 1 ratio is a terrible ROI (Return On Investment, for those that don’t know). Mindful kindness matters.
This client’s culture, has raised voices EVERY SINGLE DAY. That is not good. It is not good for any business. If there’s a problem, and yelling is always the way it is dealt with, people will naturally hide problems until they reach critical mass, leading to (you guessed it) more yelling.
That’s not effective management, and it’s certainly burning bridges with the goodwill of people that you will likely need again at some point in the future (à la Seth Godin’s recent post: Weight thrown and the slippery slope).
Are the business’ customers hearing any of that yelling?
The employees certainly are, which brings up the next point.
There is a recent experiment that shows that stress is contagious!
Because of this, it is almost certain that the business I am helping’s clients can FEEL what is going on. They may not know what is actually happening, but just walking in, they will FEELthat something is not right.
You want your business to feel GOODto your clients. You want them to feel safe, and to know that you can handle their needs. THATis going to be the only thing that differentiates many commodity and finished goods businesses from each other.
If you can deliver the exact same product as another company, that’s possibly closer, why would a purchasing manager ever choose YOUR company?
On to the next item.
THE CULT OF YOUTH
Craig Ferguson (his writers) figured it out:
We Deify Youth
After watching and listening to this monologue, I’ve realized that Craig, (et al), is absolutely right. Beyond that, there is the implication that, living long enough to be old isn’t a reward anymore. It used to be much, MUCH harder to get over the age of 50!
Honestly, white hair and beards are still revered in older cultures, but that’s changing too with globalization.
Living to be older is actually the natural goal, but we’ve corrupted it. Now, even if you do everything “right” and manage to reach old age (an objective opinion as to what is old, let’s say 70), you can still be “Behind the 8 ball” (screwed!).
Aren’t we all trying to get OLDER?
If employed (or even unemployed), start your side-business NOW!
Start saving money on your taxes on things you are already using (Internet, cell phone service, software, etcetera). Then if, and/or when you have no W2 employment, either from being fired or downsized (or the new and clever marketing phrase “workforce reduction”), you’ll have something to grow!
If you have enough clients that you can voluntarily leave, even better!
If you are in school, don’t spend too much money on it (you’ll put yourself in debt for half a million dollars! Really, do the math…). Get enough education that you feel confident enough to start a business, only acquiring enough information and confidence in your abilities. If you can get these things and experiences elsewhere, that’s fine!
This has NOTHINGto do with being degreed (which is a different game)!
Find something you like and/or are competent to do, and become the “expert” in that field. That way, you become the “go to” person for that specialty, and can command a lot of money for your products and/or services. You may need to do this several times, for many projects. Eventually, something will stick, and you’ll be the person everyone wants to talk to and hear from.
I can’t emphasize this enough:STAY IN CLOSE COMMUNICATION with friends, colleagues and vendors from school, past jobs, projects and contracts. When one of your friends or colleagues makes it big, they will remember that you were on their side before they went large. If and when YOU make it big, you’ll need people that you know and trust.
Be friends, and stay in touch with people that are experts in what THEY do! It is easier than ever these days, using LinkedIN, Facebook, texting, email, etcetera. Later, I may post on how to do this from Evernote and other mobile applications.
Work your “career” as a series of projects. Successful or not, you will learn from each experience, making you worth more in terms of getting it right. I wish I had worked my early career this way. Alas, it’s not too late to get it right!
That’s all I have for now. If I think of anything else, I’ll post “Part 2”. Please post back (the contact form at the bottom) for any omissions or deletions that I may have missed.