Taking inspiration from Russell M Davies in his recent article in Wired, I’m creating regular ‘week notes’ to keep you and whoever else chooses to care posted about what I’m up to.
It has been 22 weeks since I chose to create the Cowshed and Purple Cow Ideas Management. Whilst in the big picture, 22 weeks is not much, the changes and experiences I have gone through have been inspiring and awesome*.
I have to confess that when I took my first steps I was a little overwhelmed with my options and the ‘noise’ that filled my peripheral vision; most of which was created by the influx of social media that floods my inbox and feeds on a minute-by-minute basis. With so many opinions all vying for attention, it was pretty hard to cut past the emotion and get to the heart of what mattered. Since the election, I’ve been regularly reading people’s comments on the political situation we face; hardly ever have I read an opinion that is positive (regardless of who you support) and the constant back-biting can’t fail to make me question some of the individuals thinking behind their comments. I remember listening to somebody’s comment to the BBC Breakfast Programme who said that whilst celebrity endorsement didn’t affect their vote, it did affect how they viewed the celebrity. However, after several ‘pruning’ sessions and getting out there in front of people, I’m now happy to be at a point where I can mentally filter out what I don’t need and concentrate on the essence of what matters… typically that’s people and what makes them ‘tick’.
Although some of the finer details have changed along the way back, I can still confidently reflect on my decisions to create my business and hold fast to the reasons why it exists then and now:
- To spend time with my family and appreciate the importance of creating more meaningful relationships with them,
- To pursue the vision I have for myself in the future and create a business model that supports that,
- To serve others, be it professionally or personally, in a way which creates positive and remarkable changes in their businesses and lives,
- To appreciate life; accept that I live in a diverse culture of experiences and opinions, and learn from everyone I meet.
Of course, it’s important to be able to pay the bills, but for me, money is a by-product of all of the above activities. From the very beginning, it has always been my view that I work to live, and not the opposite – very much in the same way we should work ‘on’ our businesses and not ‘within’ them.
So, back to week 22…
The last few weeks have kept me busy and by Tuesday I realised I am in the fortunate position of looking for my first member of staff. One of my sales targets I set myself was to work on at least three major projects and have a number of smaller jobs to keep me ticking over. With five major projects and numerous smaller projects, I’m already ahead of my game with a number of ‘what if?’ scenarios ready in the wings should I need to change strategy.
When I worked at Dell, I picked up a number of successful sales tactics which have helped provide a strong support mechanism for me – I learned from my good friend Dave Sobel that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” – never has this been more important when I need to know how I can provide a steady workplace environment for someone else to join.
I was up in London on Thursday attending a Microsoft Cloud conference at BAFTA; with such an impressive venue and a few presenters visiting from MS Corp., I had high hopes for an inspiring session. Instead, I died by PowerPoint and came away lacking any idea on the real-life practicalities of the technology outside of ‘box shifting’. Now, I have to be honest, I left after the first half (when you work for yourself, your time becomes even more valuable!) but had the pleasure of sharing a coffee with another delegate who also couldn’t stand any further uninspiring presentations. What started out as a precarious visit into the City proved to be a very fruitful meeting with my new friend Alex, and I think he would whole-heartedly say the same.
After listening to how his business has developed and talking about what drives him, I had him pulling out some paper and filling it with ideas and strategic actions that he had already planned to use that evening at a networking event. The energy that came from that meeting was infectious and I always love watching ‘the penny drop’, the eyes light up, and the language and tone change to something that others would find hard to ignore.
Having sent him on his way, I chose to walk through the City through St. James’ Park and appreciate the beautiful gardens in full bloom that spring afternoon. I’ve found over recent weeks that it’s important to enjoy the simple things in life. A few people have said that I’m quite ‘child-like’ and I see this as a strength. Being able to look at the obvious without prejudging it isn’t always easy but it’s incredibly powerful. For example, feeling comfortable questioning a hesitation allows you to find out how people really feel – something which makes a big difference when building long-term relationships.
By ignoring the feelings that typically hold us back, the opportunities waiting for us seem a lot easier to spot. And so it is that the time I’ve enjoyed putting into developing relationships with others have helped grow me as an individual and have allowed me to grow my business in the way that I have.
I’ve also been spending a fair amount of time at the British Library researching for my clients; I am of the firm belief that you can’t form a sustainable business model without understanding the market properly beforehand. It’s amazing how much information is available at a few clicks of the button but equally amazing how many people I’ve met who can’t tell me what the opportunity is even after they’ve thrown cash at it.
In a time of recession, tougher times exposes excellence. Many choose to see it where it weeds out those who shouldn’t be in the game, but I’ve met at least a handful of businesses that are struggling not because they’re incompetent, but because other businesses have financially strangled them. It’s these times that force us all to work out whether we’re in the right job and assess whether are strategic plans are relevant and for the good of our sanity.
Positive thinking has never been so important; that’s not to say you should ignore some of the stickier situations we face but if you don’t think and talk positively about what you are doing for the greater good, why is anyone else going to want to conect with you?
Hopefully you’ll appreciate my weeknotes and I know there’ll be plenty that I’ve missed out along the way. I encourage you to offer up comments on your weeks or questions about anything discussed so that this blog serves an on-going purpose for readers.
* I make no apology for using the word ‘awesome’ because I’m using it in the true sense of the word… not because I’m a throw back from some cartoon about mutant turtles or enjoy time travel in a phone ‘booth’
- Russell M Davies (a good sense of humour and interesting approach to life)
- Wired (a fantastic read and well worth subscribing to)
- St. James’ Park (get yourself up there if you can to enjoy the spring flowers, the very cute ducklings, and the crazy tourists who take photos of greedy squirrels!)
Susanne Dansey is the Managing Director of Purple Cow Ideas Management – an organisation that facilitates a paradigm shift in the collaborative nature of the ICT Industry. You can follow her on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook.