Tuesday, 30 June 2009

We’ve all gone Plural

When I first started juggling my own multi-dimensional portfolio, it seemed pretty radical. I didn’t know of anyone else who was mixing managing a band with running a marketing project for a fashion brand and co-devising a book for kids, all on the same day.

Now everyone seems to have gone plural. The radio presenter in Ireland who interviewed me on Saturday also has a business portfolio that embraces communication training, psychotherapy, coaching for talented individuals, plus he’s a voice over artist for the Dublin train network (he really does say ‘mind the gap’). Then there’s all the jugglers I met researching my book. The woman who juggles her jewellery business with a TV company, another who mixes freelance marketing consultancy with further education.

But plurality is not just a choice for the self-employed, it’s increasingly an option for those in organisations too. As I’ve been advocating for a while, if those in organisations are able to embrace plurality it can make them a greater asset to their employers. A recent article on WSJ.com cites examples of where the downturn has forced workers to become more versatile, applying themselves to other roles and in turn becoming more valuable to employers. But plurality doesn’t mean that by doing more than one thing you need to dilute your core competence; it’s not a case of ‘jack of all trades, master of none’; it’s about your work life authentically mirroring your own real talents and abilities.

In my radio interview at the weekend, the presenter asked a good question; traditionally people like hiring specialists, so how do we deal with communicating our breadth as jugglers when we turn up at meetings or go for job interviews?

I deal with this in my book; it’s about having the courage to knock down some of the myths in business about single-focused specialism. The answer is once again being authentic about your talents. If you have what seems like a disparate bunch of balls you juggle, try identifying a spirit or ethos that unites them all. Ask yourself ‘what unites all I do?’ - is it that you coach people, you solve problems, you’re an adept project manager (whatever the discipline), or you’ve got a great creative mind. Work out the answer and put that at the heart of your professional DNA and your personal brand.

Or of course you could just take the easy route like me, and when people ask what you do, just tell them ‘I’m Chief Juggler’.

* Necklace designed by Amity, AllThoseThrees

Friday, 26 June 2009

My office this week

My office this week, courtesy of Windsor Hotel in Nice. A great place to juggle and be inspired...

Brainstorming On The Beach

'Are you going for business or pleasure?' asked the woman on my flight to the South of France this week (I replied, 'A bit of both').

That question got me thinking, about how 'Work' and 'Play' have got mixed up and how that can make us more productive in ideas generation and staying fresh. Here's my 90 second video post from Nice:

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Staying Fresh

I blogged yesterday about the importance of not being a workaholic when you are sweating hard in your job. Not only does that benefit your lifestyle it also benefits your business and your productivity.

Because if you’re looking for innovative ideas, solutions and strategies you need to stay fresh. Freshness is part of my professional DNA: I offer my clients a fresh perspective in helping them exploit their market potential. So I have to stay fresh myself, I can’t get stuck in a rut. I need to dip in and out of projects, assignments and working practices to ensure I stay stimulated and inspired and continue to be good at ideas.

It’s like Kevin Roberts of Saatchi & Saatchi said to me on a rooftop in Paris last year – ‘inspiration out is a result of inspiration in’ so you need to keep on getting inspired yourself if you are going to inspire others. And it’s very unlikely that you’ll do that sitting at your desk or in your office, so you need to get out.

Today I’m off to the South of France for a couple of days. With an agenda, an empty Moleskine and an environment where I know I can generate good ideas, it’s my annual ‘awayday’, an investment in my personal development. My way of staying fresh.

So try implementing some initiatives to ensure you stay fresh. You don’t have to go to the South of France, try what currency works for you. Have a personal brainstorm in a coffee shop, work from home one morning or just break the routine. It can make a huge difference to your success and productivity.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Build Your Sweat Equity (Whilst Avoiding Burnout)

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we’re all having to work harder than ever to survive and succeed. I was interviewed by a journalist on this subject this morning; considering how we avoid becoming workaholics as the job market gets tougher.

Of course, it’s a given that in order to be successful you have to excel at all you do; to over-deliver to your boss, your clients and organisation. There are no short cuts and putting your feet up is not an option.

Success is all down to what I call ‘hard graft, or what Gary Vaynerchuk has billed ‘sweat equity’, but whatever you call it, it’s about investing time and effort in your talent to ensure you’re a success. It’s like the local coffee shop owner who gets up early 7 days a week to open-up for their customers; it’s like the time I got up at 4am to get the first Eurostar of the day to Paris to interview Gary V. It’s what you have to do if you’re going to ‘hustle’!

But remember that sweat equity doesn’t have to be about being a slave to the corporation, working 12 hour days at your desk, 5 days a week. Instead it’s about the mental commitment to your job, having the right attitude and approach to all you do. It’s sweating to yield results: coming up with ideas, super-serving clients, leading teams, winning business, whatever.

But Sweat doesn’t mean your life, family or health has to suffer. Planet Juggle is not all-or-nothing territory: it’s about working hard but working smart. That might mean you’re checking emails or doing research at 10 o’clock at night but you can do that at home on your iPhone with a bottle of wine, once you’ve had dinner with your husband or read the bed-time story to your toddler. But when the pressure gets turned up, be prepared to get up at 5 am to attack that to-do list, get on that ‘plane to salvage that client relationship or to prepare for that key meeting.

How do you avoid burnout while you’re building sweat equity? Here’s 5 tips:

1) If you’re going to sweat, first make sure you love what you do. And if you don’t, reframe your work life so you do, because there is nothing worse than sweating over something that you hate.
2) Make sure you find time for ‘play’ when you are working hard, whether a run, the gym or just some fresh air at lunchtime.
3) Step back from the day-to-day once in a while for a reality check. Ask yourself if you are fulfilled, are you getting the results you want? If not, change tack.
4) Get some ‘me time’. Don’t spend all of your commute on the BlackBerry, pick up a novel or listen to a podcast once in a while. Spending every minute of every day obsessed with work will not consistently yield results. You have to stay fresh, so get stimulated from other sources.
5) You may be happy working 24x7 but what about your partner or family? Don’t get so narrow in your focus you forget those important people around you. Ask how they’re doing too.

Happy Juggling…….

Thursday, 18 June 2009

The Joys Of Book Signings

One of my first book signings was at SXSW in Austin Texas this year (above) where I sat at The Barnes & Noble booth next to Jeffrey Zeldman and some random people came and bought my book. Not that many came to buy a book, I had quite a few ask me about completely other books, I guess they thought that I worked there.

So I really appreciated writer Kelsey Timmerman’s very funny video on ‘Book Signing Vs Book Club’. Kelsey is author of ‘Where Am I Wearing’ A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes, and you can visit his website here. Here’s the video

When You’ve Got A Meeting, Get A Head-Start

When you’ve got a manic day full of meetings, try starting the meeting 10 minutes before you get there…

I don’t mean have the meeting without the other person there, just THINK about the meeting before you arrive.

Whilst I’m a great fan of thinking on your feet, when you’re gear-shifting from one meeting to another, from one completely different project or discipline to another, it can get mentally taxing getting in gear, in time. I still see people at meetings get put on the spot being asked what they think and they’re still worrying about the actions from the last one or what they’re having for dinner, they’re not there yet.

How can you better cope with that challenge? Think about what the meeting is about, what you have to contribute and what you need to get out of it before you arrive (that may seem a bit bloody obvious but when we’re busy, we forget what’s obvious). For most of us, arriving at one meeting from the last, all we’ve done is check our emails in the back of a cab with no time to mentally prepare for what’s next.

If you take just ten minutes to get mentally engrossed before you arrive, living and breathing the project/team/client, you’ll arrive hitting the ground running.

If not, it can take a while to get going. So use your commute across the office, in the lift, on the tube or in the coffee shop before to scribble – literally or mentally – your bullet points for the next meeting.

Try it, it works.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Create A Sustainable Economic Model And A Sustainable Lifestyle Model (in other words - Juggle!)

At the heart of ‘Juggle!’ is the belief that you can be successful in business without sacrifice the quality of your life.

The goal is in having both a sustainable economic model and a sustainable lifestyle model. What the hell does that mean? It means: make enough money and be happy.

The key is very simple: do stuff you enjoy. Be passionate about it (and don’t do the stuff you don’t enjoy).

Mixing up your passions and diversifying your business interests creates sustainability for both the commercial viability of your business and for having fun.

My friend Mark runs a small business. The company makes radio documentaries; represents clients in music publishing …and …… works as a developer building family homes.

We might expect radio and music go together, but not radio, music and property. But diversification is good for the bank balance as well as being good for the soul. It’s corporate juggling. Mark has succeeded in mixing up his passions, ideas and talents in a business portfolio. And without all three balls to juggle, he wouldn’t have a solid business.

How does he ‘get away’ with that breadth? Because he is good at what he does, because he has imposed no limits on the business. He’s an expert in certain areas but also a trusted pair of hands for music and entertainment projects. He’s a juggler. It's the same with a load of other people I know. The photographer who also works in a camera store, the jeweller who also works in HR 3 days a week, the commercial illustrator who teaches at college.

Try rethinking your role, job or freelance life to stay viable - and to stay stimulated.

Monday, 15 June 2009

DO IT! Take the leap...

Success in realising your professional – and personal – goals is about having the confidence, balls and tenacity to DO SOMETHING about your dreams, goals and aspirations.

So you have to be good at taking the leap, to action your ideas.

To re-invent your business, win that new client, change your organisation, take up that new hobby, organise that date, book that trip to Paris. Whatever.

Ideas alone are not good enough. You need action.

It’s like that bloke I know who runs a shop. Every time I go in there he’s talking about giving the shop a makeover and a lick of paint. He’s always talking about it, what colour to paint the walls, when to do it, but it doesn’t get done. Ditto my friend who keeps on talking about putting on a charity night at the local pub; my supplier who talks about changing the company’s name and launching a new website; my friend who talks about quitting her job to follow her dream.

So stop talking about and start doing it.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Some people STILL don’t get it! ‘Work’ is a mindset, not a place you go.

So I was in my neighbourhood coffee shop this morning and I bumped into a friend. ‘Not working today?’ he asked.

I told him I was very much working. But he didn’t get it. But where’s your office, how can you be working having an espresso, he asked. ‘I AM my office’ I told him.

Because work is not about walking into an office, sitting behind a desk anymore. It’s about finding whatever currency suits you, what makes you productive, what delivers RESULTS. Time and location are less important.

We must ditch this culture of productivity being measured by how long we sit in an office and instead recognise that you can work anywhere, that you might have the best – most valuable – ideas in the shower or on the train, and that there is a correlation between getting out of the office and staying fresh, stimulated, motivated and productive.

So start getting OUT of the office….

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Making sure you're available

If you're going to market your services, make sure you’re available for new business.

If you have a website, an advertising campaign or marketing materials that promise services and invite responses and enquires, make sure you have the resources to deal with those.

Our local hardware store had a bunch of flyers on the counter from a local handyman keen to get some new customers. My wife gave him a call week ago and left a message. No response. She left another message yesterday.

Maybe the guy is busy and can’t deal with customer demand. Maybe he is not good at returning calls. Either way, it doesn’t look we’ll be customers.

So make sure you can deal with new biz demand, even if it means calling people back to say ‘sorry, we’re now too busy’.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Books In 140

I’m a fan of Twitter for a whole host of reasons: connecting with new people; keeping in touch with my network; getting tip-offs on news stories and blog posts; communicating with followers. As a fan of brevity, I love the format of 140 characters.

Toronto-based Erin Balser - @booksin140 on Twitter – does interviews with authors conducted by DM. She recently interviewed me about 'Juggle!' and you can see the interview on her website here.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Paint your wall orange today!

To stay fresh and stimulated, consider making small changes to your working day, your working life or your working environment.

- Paint your office wall orange
- Get some flowers
- Tune in to a radio station you haven’t listened to before
- Walk a different route to the tube station
- Have something new for lunch
- You get the idea….

Small changes will inspire new thoughts, reinvigorate your day or get you stimulated.

I just painted my office wall orange and I’m enjoying the change.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Remember, it's about Work/Life Integration (not 'Balance')

This morning I randomly stumbled (that’s the story of my life) across the work of Stewart D. Friedman. Stewart is Professor of Management at Wharton and Director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project. He’s a former advisor to Vice President Gore and Jack Welch on work/family issues.

What interested me about his thinking is that he shares my view on the myth of the work/life balance; that realising fulfilment and increasing productivity is about integrating the different elements of our lives, rather than neatly segmenting them. This resonates not just with my own experiences but with the ‘jugglers’ I interviewed for my book. There’s a really interesting interview with Stewart below. He talks about the stress of the 24x7 environment and how we create boundaries between the different parts of our life. And he makes the point that is at the heart of my book – if you reframe your working life into something you love, you’ll be happier and more productive. As ever, it’s not about working longer hours, but working smarter.

“The big idea is that it's possible to create value for the different parts (of your life) -- for work, home, community and your private self, the domain of mind, body and spirit -- in ways that you probably didn't think about before. It doesn't have to be a trade-off. Most people operate in a world of thinking about sacrifice as a necessity, that you have to give up something in one part of your life in order to achieve success in another part”.

Watch the interview here.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Juggle Tapes on iTunes

'The Juggle Tapes’ is a series of videos featuring people in business that have been successful juggling different disciplines and roles in their working lives. The series explores how entrepreneurs put passion at the heart of what they do, to go beyond a job title to ensure their work identity reflects their personality. The series is now available as a free download at the iTunes music store by following this link http://tinyurl.com/itunesjuggle

The series includes: Martha Lane Fox, Mike Southon, Gary Vaynerchuk and Kevin Roberts.