Career Fuel: What do they remember you by?

Positioning, Storytelling and Epitaphs for building a networ and career

One of the inevitable obligations for celebrities launching a new film, book, or live tour is the press junket.

The press junket ranges from long-form podcast interviews, to chat show appearances, or answering a few quickfire questions over email.

A common question in the last of these is ‘how would you like to be remembered?’

It’s the epitaph question. Thinking back about one’s entire life.

But what we don’t do so much is ask this each year, month or day; or for each chapter we go through in our lives.

Not asking ourselves this question can make things much harder than they need to be.

How would you like this person you’re meeting for coffee to remember you?

Or perhaps more pertinently: what are they going to remember you by?

As frustrating as it can be, it’s probably only going to be one thing.


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When is it hard to do, or easy to finish?

This can often be the case for freelancers doing work for a client.

Hard to do as it’s not always aligned with our vision, our identity.

We have to work to find the balance; fulfilling client requirements while injecting our own skills, style, and approach.

The good news is this work can be easy to finish.

There’s a deadline, accountability, a feedback loop, and probably a payment.

Our own projects are often the other way around: easy to do, hard to finish.

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5 common myths about coaching

A fruit partnership, the duo of Mango and Avocado

During my journey into coaching, first as a client and then as a coach, I’ve spent quite a bit of time navigating a landscape that can feel a little confusing. 

As coaching is still a relatively nascent area (particularly in certain countries, cultures and industries), a lot of people aren’t very familiar or experienced with it as a discipline. 

For those who are, there are still various connotations, concepts, and interpretations to contend with – both with coaching in its broader sense and within more nuanced scenarios or contexts. These variances aren’t necessary a bad thing (there are certainly many flavors of coaching), but it can still make the navigation process difficult.

And although there are a number of well-recognized training and certification programs available, as with other practices that are still emergent, the industry itself is largely unregulated. Again, this adds more variables into the mix.

This post aims to help dispel a few myths and provide some practical guidance – whether you’re exploring working with a coach, or considering becoming one yourself.

Note: This post comes from my own experience certifying as a coach, speaking with other coaches (certified and non-certified), and researching the discipline and various coaching programs with as an objective view as possible. It’s not intended to be exhaustive – I’ll certainly cover the topic of flavors/types of coaches in a follow-up post.

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Workshop Slide Deck (guided): Lifecycles in products, companies, and careers

Introduction

This is a workshop session I designed and facilitated in Summer 2018 (annotated and abbreviated version, with some classroom exercises and notes included for other educators to reference).

Here’s the Slideshare version, although this annotated one is far better of course 😉


I created this as part of the growth & change management module of the AMP NYC accelerator program which ran here in New York City over the summer of 2018. Including the exercises, it was about 40 mins in duration, and can easily run up to 2 hours if you want to dive deeper into certain parts of the content.

Lifecycles

This session is all about lifecycles – mainly in building products, services, and businesses, but also in careers and life.

Let’s jump straight in.

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On the guestlist: Making season 1 of the Tickets podcast

A few weeks ago I received an email from someone telling me they’d just finished the whole season of the Tickets podcast.

There’s a mix of gratitude, pride, and slight trepidation in knowing someone has invested their time into something you’ve designed and created.

In this case, it involved 10+ hours of their time and a closeness and intimacy to the work that the direct voice of podcasting is rare in providing.

Having done a lot of live events and consulting work of late it also reminded me of the value of creating something that is able to live forever. It’s out there, anyone can access it, and it’ll stay out there, available, until I decide I no longer want that to be the case.

That’s empowering, and a little scary too.

This post is a summary of the 16 episodes of the podcast series I started in New York in the long Winter of 2017/18.

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Tickets Podcast: SXSW’s Todd Hansen on live event programming and spotting talent & trends

Listen now:
Apple Podcasts | Castbox | Overcast | Spotify | Stitcher | Acast | Google Play

In the Spring of 1987, a group of music fans and journalists organized a small live event in Austin, Texas. They were pleasantly surprised by its success – around 700 people showed up.

That first edition of South by SouthWest has become a 10 day conference and festival with over 28,000 attendees heading to Austin each March.

It’s now one of the most recognised and respected live events on the planet, and its core tracks of music, film, technology and education inform as well as reflect what’s happening in modern culture.

Today on Tickets I’m joined by Todd Hansen, SXSW’s head of conference programming.

In this conversation, Todd shares insights into the programming team’s process, what makes for a compelling keynote, and how to handle one of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs showing up at 1 day’s notice. We also reminisce about a surprise gig from a member of purple royalty straight out of Todd’s hometown of Minneapolis.

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My Podcast Gear: recording, editing, and publishing

I’ve learned a lot from creating a podcast series: from asking good questions and improving my spoken delivery; to sales, marketing, and audio engineering.

As much as podcasts are a hot trend right now and plenty of people are jumping on podcasting in part because of that, I do genuinely believe there are many skills that can be built by getting involved in podcasting. So much so, I’d like to see every school include podcasts on the curriculum.

One of my earlier learning curves in starting my podcast was figuring out what equipment I needed, especially as I was working on tight a budget (this was a side project after all, and I’m a lean startup kinda guy...)

After a couple of early recordings using just my laptop’s mic (surprisingly passable, but only just), I invested in a more robust setup which I still use today.

My main point of reference for deciding on my podcast gear ended up being this Kit list from Tim Ferriss. I didn’t buy the whole lot from this selection but it definitely helped me figure out how high-end I needed to go to get the results I wanted.

After being asked a few times of late what I use and how I got set up, here’s a quick post covering my podcast gear, as well as some background on how I edit and publish.

I’ll put together a follow-up on distribution and marketing too.

And if you’ve got any questions on any of this feel free to drop me a line!

Here we go…

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Why Penn & Teller ignored the audience

One of Penn Jillette’s least favourite terms in show business is ’this works’.

It’s easy to let the audience (whether fans, critics, or business people) decide what works, and effectively write your act. This can be counter to the work of a creator.

When Bruce Springsteen wrote Born to Run some people said he was writing songs about girls in cars. Then, once in a while, he’d write some songs about girls in cars.

Was that what he was really doing as an artist, or was he listening to what the audience said they thought he was doing?

Penn believes bad reviews don’t hurt you that much, but good reviews really can. 

In good reviews, people are more likely to speculate on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. It’s easy to agree with them, and you can soon find yourself doing just that.

If they’re wrong about why, that’s rarely good for you in the long run.

So Penn & Teller decide not to read their reviews.

Of course, nowadays is a little different to when Born to Run was released.

We create a lot of things in full view, with other people. Comments are open, feedback is everywhere. 

The challenge now is how to let other people inform the work in the right way, rather than the way that hurts you.


Penn Jillette on The Moment with Brian Koppelman

Bonus: Penn & Teller, live, and upside down…


Navigating Uncertainty: Climbing the Ladder, Going out to Sea

When we are learning something new there are usually some guardrails in place.

We’re learning how to DJ in the safety of our bedroom, not headlining Barclays Center.

We’re committing our code into a test environment, not straight into the App Store.

Our Spanish conversation practice is with a peer in the local coffee shop, not a televised interview with Alfonso Cuaron.

Sure, things can go wrong, but we can fall back onto the patterns and techniques we already know, refer to the guidebook, or ask our teacher.

It’s the Ladder of Certainty.

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Location Arbitrage

Go back 15 years or so and this was only a serious day to day consideration if you were an international trader looking to take advantage of fluctuations in currencies and demand for particular goods.

For the rest of us, it may have come up as something to think about when going on holiday (cheap sneakers! cheap beer! My UK Sterling is worth 1.5 dollars! ah…the good old days…)

Now, millions of us are thinking about it.

And you’ve guessed it, the internet has changed everything: the range of new careers it’s created, the careers it’s changed, and the rapid enablement of true remote work.

One of the reasons to be based in London or New York or Tokyo was because you could earn more there than other places.

If you’re working in a traditional company setup this is generally still the case. Being located in the major metropolises still adds a premium on your salary that generally outstrips the increased living costs.

It’s also true if you’re a freelancer where it’s important to be able to deliver your work in-person, in real time.

You take advantage of being in that location.

But what if it makes no difference where you are located to deliver the work?

For a growing number of people, the upsides of living in an expensive major city are reducing.

They can choose to take advantage of location arbitrage.

If you choose to be a solopreneur, do you need to be in New York or Singapore?

Probably not. You may choose to be there for myriad other reasons (and don’t get me wrong, there are a lot), but unlike before you now don’t have to be.

As this shift gathers pace, a lot of people in major cities are going to start thinking more about location arbitrage.

It could be splitting their time between the city and another place 60-120 mins away (I’m pretty bullish on the growth of this for co-works and other real estate and community-led projects), taking 3-6 month sabbaticals (an evolution of Tim Ferriss’ ‘Mini Retirement’ concept perhaps), or just splitting town completely.

Doing work that is location agnostic suddenly bring a whole bunch of 2nd and 3rd order effects into play.

Here’s one to start: Marc Andreessen recommended getting to the center of an industry as quickly as possible. This still stands to reason – but what if there is no one clear center? What happens then?

Being in a major city may actually feel like a disadvantage.

Bottom Line: It’s worth keeping an eye on location arbitrage, and even more so on its knock-on effects. That’s often where the most exciting stuff starts to happen.