Grabbing Freedom is Entirely Possible

alaska glacier
I got to see this view the other day while working and playing.

I’m looking at a mountain view this morning in Alaska enjoying a week of work and play with the family. Yesterday, my boy and I worked side by side at a coffee shop like a couple college kids studying together. We got to enjoy a full day of work and hanging out. He’s a smart kid with a lot going for him.

The freedom and the work are both fun and I think about the Economist article about how work is transforming. With over 53 million freelancers and increasing, people are figuring out that the rules have changed. You can design and go make things happen for yourself in your life.

I figured it out more than a decade ago and even spoke many times on the subject. But people tend to take a while to shift.

We all have the tools for production. You can drop your laptop and walk into a Wal-Mart in your slippers and get a new laptop for $150 to be right back in business. It’s astounding and enables immense freedom.

Does it really matter where I write these articles from?

Does it really matter with what device?

Does it matter even when?

I have been all over, posting from various mobile and laptop devices and scheduled content for publishing.

And, it connects me to my clients, friends and family all over.

It’s Friday and I am thinking about how easy freedom is to grab for anyone that truly wants it. We want that along with meaningful work. And the truth is, there’s not anything holding you back except your desire and courage. If you have those things, then your mindset may have to change. And that’s a hard thing.

But if you want that freedom, then you can design your life and business. It doesn’t have to be the same as someone else. It doesn’t have to meet your parents’ expectations or friends’ perceptions. You can discover what you care about and what helps other people to get what they are wanting.

For me, I figured out a while ago that I liked systems and process. I realized every serious business owner and executive wants to be efficient and grow revenue. And I have solved that problem repeatedly in all kinds of different scenarios.

There’s not a ball and chain holding you down. It’s the end of the week and you can take time to breathe and reflect on what you want. If you could get more free, how would you do it?

What do you want?

Letting Go of Old Technology Systems

obsolete systems
How much dead technology are you keeping around? From Cory Doctorow’s Flickr photostream.

I can only imagine how much pushback employees at Coca-Cola gave when their management decided to pull the plug on voice mail. Can you see the arguments for keeping it around? Lots of defense of the status quo.

The reality is that a whole generation is in the workforce now that has not used voice mail, faxes or phone trees. Cloud computing and mobile devices allows everyone to build their own brand, businesses and workflow from anywhere.

But, our human condition doesn’t pace well with technological innovation. While we can invent and create totally different ways to work, people don’t like to change. It’s because they think relatively rather than absolutely. We accept what has been in place rather than think about what we would do if we had a white sheet of paper to start.

Sure, we talk about being agile. But how many people actually embrace this?

Technology is a weird thing. It can help you today if you are on the latest and greatest. But it can also hook you to a fault if you can’t let go of old systems that are not relevant any longer.

What would happen if you got rid of voice mail today in your business? For that matter, what other technologies could you consolidate or eliminate?


christmas reflections
Reflect and remember. From Alexandra Alexandrova’s Flickr photostream.

The year has flown by for me and I wanted to simply take a moment and be thankful for the many blessings, friends and kindness I have experienced in this last year.

When I step back, I can only smile. Life and work can get pretty exhausting and it’s great to know that in this big wide world, we can help each other get better, have the freedom to pursue our dreams and think big.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I hope you get some time of reflection and express the gratitude for the people that have helped you along the way this year.

– Don

The Difference Between Working and Building

Yes, you can disguise it and simply work harder. That’s the heads down way of looking like you are winning.

But are you building something? Are you advancing your assets, growing your systems or increasing your value from one month to the next?

Ideally, you can get the work of the day done and push on the larger goals of building something as well. That would be great leverage and use of your time.

But when you have the freedom to choose how to expend your time, the temptation to merely work at the cost of building something great for yourself is high.

I guess it is because of the sacrifice it takes to invest in something that is not immediately gratifying. That and the extra work of creativity and persistence towards what would be comparatively ambiguous makes the choice even harder.

If you are serious about building then keep your far off goal near by having it written in a list. It may be to expand locations or have a pipeline of business. It’s not just going to happen if you simply work on the mundane.

The important thing is to write that goal down and list out the steps you have to do to get there. Then slice up the tasks and make sure you do one of those things every day. The best habit is to make those tasks your first thing in the morning.

This way it won’t get lost in the slog and demands of a typical day. It’s the big project that has a long-term impact and something to show for work that you can invest.

That choice is on your doorstep every day. Months pass quickly and when you look back, if all you have to show for your work is paycheck, then the future is nothing more than a grind.

Keep your eye on the bigger target of building with a bit of investment in your efforts each day. It makes your work meaningful for yourself.

How Working Harder Can Work Against You

wasted effort and work
Minimize the waste of your hard work by always questioning.

When we lived in a more static world, working hard had its reward. The target – selling a customer, launching a product or winning market share – remained intact because things that were true a month ago would be true the next month and thereafter.

Salespeople could work the same channels and relationships with their approach because the world was not at the buyer’s fingertips. Thus, there was a symbiotic relationship between the seller and buyer for information and purchasing. They exchanged them without questioning the reality of the situation.

Once requirements or markets were defined, you could lock in and work hard. The harder you worked, the more of a reward you earned. It was a tactician’s game for the taking.

But tacticians rely on a degree of certainty to be able to execute and work hard at their game. But what happens if the game keeps shifting?

We have a world of broad and infinite choices and the collective conscience of people obsolescing things quickly. What was once a fashionable social channel, industry purchasing model or information exchange method may not be true today.

This is a problem for people that are not continually questioning their strategy and approach. If you simply put your head down and work hard without looking up to see if your assumptions are still true, then you can expend a lot of wasted energy.

The better strategy is to stay agile and continually question what you are doing. It is a worldview that does not rely solely on today’s picture of reality. Instead, there is continual feedback and questioning. You have to ask the hard questions of yourself while doing the work.

Is there a better channel to sell into? What can a simpler more powerful technology do to your position? Are your rewards diminishing despite your efforts?

If you don’t ask those questions while working, then you have blind persistence. Things are changing around you or the world is giving you feedback on your approach. This is when you have to redirect your hard work and ensure you test out new strategies to continue to refine and funnel your work.

If you don’t question your approach and assume that you are likely not doing something far more effective, then you can end up investing time in fading and losing strategies.

The best strategy is to continually pivot while working to ensure you are staying on the cutting edge and tapping into high impact opportunities. It’s not easy in a changing world, but it’s the only approach that will allow you to remain relevant and profitable with your work.

What are you doing now that needs a tweak? What’s stopping you from adjusting?

Results From a Strategy of Depth

having depth can build something special
Are you systematic in building on your assets or are things flitting and changing continually?

One way to play the game of gaining attention is to keep a look on the horizon and do things first. Of course, this is a relentless pursuit. You have to stay on top of what is coming out and continue with trends that shift and turn.

There is that elixir of novelty that can be enticing for us all as we try a new tool or social media platform. But it can also spread you thin as you are building and rebuilding around novelty. What happens when it has worn off?

The investment of your work can fade quickly and the cycle starts over. A strategy of depth is harder. You have to stay committed and persist when fanfare is all around you.

This applies to long service to great clients, thought leadership published on your platform or building connections on a lasting platform one person at a time every day.

Depth is harder to do, but it can be rewarding when continuous change tends to push up against your work. It’s a mindset of asset building and ensuring purpose behind your ideas and efforts.

When you think of handling change, do you have mainstays and assets that will persist and grow in value?

Connecting and Timing

connecting timing and attention
Being tuned into the right timing makes an immense difference in a world of inattention.

When you think about the click moment, much of what has to happen comes down to connecting and timing. That interpersonal touch which puts you on the same wavelength with another person is important to get any traction. No connection then no reason to make something happen together.

The timing is the other part. With people being more distracted than ever, it’s hard to get on the same frequency. You may have to be more precise with your touch points. Consistency matters and if you can be relevant and personal, then your message and value may have a chance to be entertained.

Getting attention is everyone’s challenge today. My guess is that if you had undivided attention for thirty minutes and there was a real pain for your customer, your sales conversion would be pretty high. The problem lies with getting that permission, connection and timing down.

We can’t stop the world or force people to pay attention. But we can stay on task and ensure it’s easy to connect and we create timely experiences when customers are ready.

How do you stay in front of your prospective customers?

The Illusion of Control

open handed control
While we cannot control reality, we can remain open and ready.

Being in a connected world sure does make control hard. It’s difficult to anticipate what crises or demands on our attention and time will happen next Tuesday.

The fact that people can reach us on a whim and pile on work for us is not to be lost in our pursuit of control and order.

In fact, our lack of control is something that should be acknowledged. Any feeling we have of it is an illusion. We cannot control reality or the motives and actions of others.

When it comes to our work, what can we do? We can’t grip tighter and hope that control can remedy any lack of order.

No, the best strategy is to remain open to what can come. We can control things like what we commit to, how our workspace is ordered and setting good agreements.

Then as requests or work flows into our lives, we can be ready. Being ready looks different for everyone, but at its basic level it is anticipation and focus without rigidity.

You can keep your mind ready to solve problems.

You can continue growing with books and knowledge.

You can have resources built up as part of your tool set.

You can nurture key relationships that will help you and you can help.

I think it can be a major paradigm shift for someone that tries to control their environment. The problem is that it’s hard to anticipate how people and problems will affect us.

As you are thinking about how to create more opportunity or control, then acknowledge how reality works. You can work on yourself and control your readiness. That is not an illusion. That is within your control.

Simple But Hard

Do the hard things now
Do the hard things now

Making something happen of significance is often not complex.

In fact, it’s pretty simple, but it does not discount how hard it is.

Getting out and connecting in real relationships opens doors for opportunities. It’s simple. But for some, it’s hard. Doing it a hundred times in a quarter will make good things happen. Actually doing it at all is another story altogether.

Writing meaningful content that others can benefit from is simple. You sit down and get going. The concept doesn’t have to be discussed. The execution is hard because of the resistance.

Being direct with an employee or customer that is out of bounds in their treatment of others is simple. You have a conversation and tell them the truth. So why do people avoid bullies and jerks? Because it’s hard and scary.

I don’t think we have a lack of knowledge on what to do in many situations. There is not a magic formula all the time.

Doing the work and being in the hard moments is a matter altogether. It’s not an issue of knowledge. Often it’s having guts, sweat and determination.

When you find yourself procrastinating or rationalizing, you are making the point laid out here.

Trying LinkedIn Again

The modern rolodex in LinkedIn
LinkedIn appears to be a better Rolodex than it used to be.

I have not been on LinkedIn in quite some time. I left it a while ago and provide my reasons here. It became more of an attention suck than a true place to connect and exchange value.

Recently, I kept getting invitations from people on LinkedIn to connect. After seeing the pattern, I decided to put up a preliminary profile, hang out and see what happens.

If you have been following me, you know I like to get rid of things that don’t bring value or work. I like maximizing systems for my business and my clients that create huge impact. That is my litmus test of a system that has value or not.

What I hope to see this second time around is:

  • Exploring projects together with potential partners or clients
  • Sharing my network and having others share theirs
  • Easy place for people who want to connect to tune in
  • Another place to share my thoughts from this blog area with interested people

What I don’t want to see happen is:

  • Recruiters trying to get me a job
  • People I don’t know tapping me to meet someone I know
  • Being overwhelmed with useless content
  • Creepy spying from others

I spend more of my time on this site creating content my clients and readers can use to grow their business. I also hang out on Twitter to see what is happening in the world and share what I am thinking and learning.

LinkedIn has been around quite a while. It looks like it has had a major facelift over the years. I am hoping the culture has shifted from the new form factor and real value can be exchanged. We will see. In the meantime, I will test it like all other systems, technologies and solutions I experience for its usefulness and value. You can find me at this LinkedIn address.