Categories
flexible working future of work Newsletter work culture

The Shift: Professional Reinvention🕵🏻‍♀️

• Four big trends at work
• Practical strategies for reinvention – meet your possible selves 

How do you reinvent yourself professionally during precarious times? 

A friend has stopped hosting corporate events because of the pandemic and isn’t sure she wants to go back to it, given all the restrictions – where’s the fun? She’s figuring out her next step and doing another job and a ceramics class – enjoying working with her hands. I’m also in transition, not so much reinventing as repositioning myself, so I’ve been digging around to see what resources can help. 

Catch up on this talk on professional reinvention with Herminia Ibarra, a professor at London Business School, if you’re contemplating a career change or thinking about how to redefine your current role. She takes an evidence-based approach and shares some tools and practical strategies (via The RSA Good Work Guild/Polymath Festival).

Four big trends

  • Longevity – we’re living longer, and we want to do different things, so we’ll need to reinvent ourselves a few times – including reinventing retirement. Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott are leading thinkers on this: The 100-Year-Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity.
  • Technology is disrupting things – gig work, freelancing, portfolio careers, and remote work – which wasn’t really a thing 20+ years ago when I started working. It’s creating opportunities and changing how companies operate.
  • Work change – the pandemic has disrupted our routines and created space to ask the big questions: what matters? What do you want to do? What is worth doing? It’s also a reminder of our mortality. My neighbour (in her 60s) has quit her corporate job to co-run a brasserie and jazz bar with her best mate here in Hastings. She doesn’t want to spend her life commuting and has more time for herself now her kids are at uni.
  • Social expectations – in a survey of 5000 people (aged 20-60s) asking about a career change, by far, the most significant trend was a shift towards more meaningful work. We want meaning, passion, and balance – and to create our own opportunities.

Professional reinvention is a transition which can be unsettling – but it’s also exciting. 

A psychological and social process:

Moving away from something without not yet having yet left it, while moving towards something without not yet knowing what it is. That’s the magic of it and that’s the challenge of it. 

Transition takes longer than you anticipate, and it’s a messy, non-linear process of experimenting and learning. It’s about knowing what you don’t want anymore, but you can’t pinpoint what you’d like to do instead – or the goal posts are shifting. It’s also under-institutionalised – there’s no set pattern and the steps are unclear.

As she calls it, I’m in the ‘messy middle’ phase – an exciting and challenging period between old and new – oscillating between ‘holding on’ a bit longer and ‘letting go’ and taking the leap. Psychologists call this ‘fertile emptiness’ – you may be busy exploring things or having quiet time to reflect and do inner business. I’ve been doing both over the last year. You can’t shortcut it. Play, explore, and delay commitment.

3 things you can do

Get out there and start activating some of these possible selves. 

  1. Get some side projects – experiment with your ideas. Take on projects at work or advisory roles externally, work with friends, do voluntary work, give or take a class, start a side hustle, write a book, speak to a headhunter… Bring those possible selves to life.
  2. Shift your network – our identity is the company we keep. Find mentors and kindred spirits – this helps generate ideas and shapes the messy middle process.
  3. Make sense out loud – create new experiences and self-reflect out loud to help yourself figure things out. Talk about it with others, it’s hard to self-reflect in isolation. 

As adults, we’re more likely to act our way into a new way of thinking than to think our way into a new way of acting.I love that. Get out of your head and do stuff. It’s a really productive phase of taking action rather than getting stressed about not having clarity or knowing the outcome.

There are all kinds of constraints – financial mostly, and of course we can’t get into every career in our 40s, but from what she’s seen during her research: “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Lots of positive comments about her book Working Identity changing people’s lives along with Charles Handy’s The Age of Unreason.

For more on multiple selves check out psychologist Hazel Marcus.

Follow her research @HerminiaIbarra.

I’m taking a break from publishing the newsletter in August – going on a pilgrimage locally with a friend and seeing my folks – can’t believe it’s been a year! I’ll be on board #Ship30for30 in mid-August and sharing essays on Twitter🚢

Have a great summer!


5 things🖐

📆What really happened in Iceland’s 4-day week trial? It’s complex: this project was about understanding the impact of fewer hours, not specifically the 4-day week. Key lessons: Regardless of the type of work, productivity does not slip if we cut hours. We unquestionably waste time at work (and in the UK, we work some of the longest hours in Europe). We need more trials like this – sign this petition to encourage companies to join the 4-day week pilot in 2022.

Nicole Michaelis’ on teaching content marketing, running a business, and UX writing at Spotify (includes tips and advice). Super practical and encouraging career advice, and she tells it like it is! Fantastic example of a one-page resume that has inspired my own on Canva. 

🤾🏻‍♀️When we allow ourselves to work and live at full throttle, scarcity is bred very quickly. I personally think [it] destroys our psychological freedom and the ability to enjoy the successes that we do have in life.” Dr Pippa Grange on how we can let go of fear and lead more fulfilling lives. I love what she says about the power of small acts of intimacy to unlock teams’ performance (she’s worked with some of the biggest names in sport and business). 

Well done, Simone Biles and Ben Stokes, for taking a break from sport to prioritise your mental wellbeing and have a rest. Physical health is mental health. 

👩‍🎤How the desire to maintain a personal brand may be harming your business. A deep-dive into the darker sides of having a personal brand as a business owner: distraction, burnout, cancel culture and the tricks that followers and algorithms play on you. There’s a lot at stake in the world of the digital entrepreneur. Ellen Donnelly on how creator culture is distracting us from our craft – “at least make your job your job, not talking about it.” 

🛣Remote, hybrid or in office? How to travel the (messy) road to the future of work. As we move to a ‘new’ normal where remote work is possible if not required, it’s important to recognise that the likely leaning toward hybrid work conditions will be a messy road to travel down. Minter Dial on what needs to happen to make hybrid work work. “Trust is the glue that makes remote work work – how trusting and trustworthy are you as a leader?”


The future of work is now

Let’s build it. The Shift is your guide to running a successful minimalist business🚀 Start living and working on your own terms.

Your weekly dose of inspiration, ideas and solutions✨

• Question or comment? Fancy doing a guest issue or contributing a section?
Email nicci@niccitalbot.io.
• Tip me – this is a one-woman labour of love, all donations gratefully received.
• Book a Classified Ad.

To offset the carbon emissions of this newsletter and my online work, I plant 12 trees every month via Ecologi. I encourage you to do the same in your country – here’s a list of climate action groups. We’ve got 10 years to sort this out – no time to waste🌍


Categories
Newsletter

The Shift: #29

How to do your own performance review

In December, I do my annual review and create a roadmap for the year ahead. I don’t make new year’s resolutions, but I find this process helpful for planning and setting goals. When you’re freelance, you don’t have a linear career, pay rises and performance reviews (they don’t work anyway) so this is a good habit to get into. It’s more fun and will make you feel excited, energised, and in charge of your career.

Given the year we’ve had it feels more relevant now than ever – and it’s an opportunity to build on all the good habits you’ve created during the pandemic and beyond…

You will need: A hot drink, notebook and pen, 3-4 hours’ peace. You can do it by yourself or with friends. Think about all areas of your life – work, money, health, relationships, spiritual… What do you want in ‘21? Aim high and think big. Then add specific, measurable goals to help you get there. What skills do you need to learn? Who can help you?

I’ve found some great resources. Squiggly Careers/AmazingIf – 20 questions to ask yourself. And this free booklet by YearCompass – am sending everyone a copy for Xmas. If you prefer to do it online check out Chris Guillebeau’s spreadsheet template here.

Two questions to get you started

• What went well this year and what didn’t?

• How was your time best spent or wasted?

Here are my answers. 

What went well 

• I finished my book project, The Science of Growing Up Happy. 8-months intense work and had its challenges, but I enjoyed the process, teamwork and have an end product. I want to work on more projects like this next year.

• I had my best financial year of self-employment.

• Joined Peloton – daily exercise helps with everything else.

• Started this newsletter and learning/tweaking as I go.

• Did some mentoring and enjoyed it – want to do something more formal.

• New meds have improved my RA. I’m less tired and have more energy.

• I found a good therapist.

What didn’t go well

• Precarity – Being at the whim of agencies who want you to be set up in a certain way, i.e. limited company and now PAYE/umbrella for clients. I wasn’t eligible for government support this year. So, I’ll simplify my set up, do more on the #FairDeal4Freelances campaign to protect freelancers, and develop other income streams for quieter periods.

• I’ve isolated myself working at home. I was shielding at the start, so not my fault, but I can make more of an effort to network online. I’d love to do some experiential/immersive events so will use Eventbrite to find things. I want to broaden my social circle and mix with people of all ages. As they say, you’re a by-product of the five people you spend your time with. Who inspires and energises you? Who do you want to spend more time with next year?

• I signed up for a language learning app and haven’t started it. Ditto for other courses. This is a pattern – I try to do too many things at once then feel overwhelmed.

• Scrolling and swiping. Bits and bobs. It can fill a day and you’re not sure what you’ve done at the end of it. Less time on social media. I also love the idea (thanks Squiggly!) of a Goal-den Hour – one hour of deep work a day with no distractions.

• I read tons of articles but haven’t read that many books lately – and when I do, they’re usually business books. So, to read more widely and for pleasure again – not just for work, like I used to do as a kid.

I’m not travelling to see the fam for Xmas this year – too far to go for a short period of time and I don’t fancy being on packed trains. It’s a bad idea! So, I’ll have plenty of time for this.

Once it’s done, keep it somewhere you can see and review it regularly. Your priorities will change, and things will drop off. Every quarter I treat myself to an away day – book a hotel/spa break and give myself time to think. You can also email it to your future self via Futureme.org to review this time next year… 

“They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

Andy Warhol

Things to do

💪  What’s your curiosity profile? Harvard Business Review. I’m an unconventional thinker. I question authority and have an independent thinking style. Intellectually hungry, like to learn, seek new experiences and relationships.

🤨 Are you an extrovert, introvert or ambivert? Ted. I’m an ambivert – an excellent place to be. I know when to talk and when to listen.

🎧  20 career questions from AmazingIf – episodes #114 and #115.

✍️  YearCompass – The booklet that helps close your year and plan the next.

📹  Grit: The power of passion and perseverance Ted – Angela Lee Duckworth’s theory of ‘grit’ as a predictor of success.

🙇🏻‍♀️  24 Big Ideas that will change our world in 2021 – LinkedIn’s annual review. Lots of food for thought here to help you shape your work and ideas in ’21. Share your thoughts with #BigIdeas2021.


My Bookshop

📚 I’ve set up my shop on Bookshop.org, an online bookshop with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops and authors. Great to have an alternative to Amazon – please support it! Bookshops connect communities and help keep our high streets shining – we need them more than ever right now. I’ll be posting my recommended reads here


Thanks for reading!

👋 Hi, I’m Nicci – a journalist and writer based in the UK. I write The Shift, a newsletter on work culture, creativity + tech trends. If you like this and want to read more, please consider becoming a paid subscriber here. Or if you prefer, you can buy me a coffee here. Find me online @niccitalbot.

Categories
Newsletter

The Shift: Issue #24

Bored and Brilliant; Creative Coalition 2020 Festival; Reasons to be Cheerful; Lemn Sissay on Daily Acts of Creativity.

Can boredom lead to your most brilliant ideas?

Here’s Manoush Zomorodi’s story – journalist, entrepreneur and author of Bored and Brilliant.

Her son and the iPhone were born three weeks apart in June 2007.

While everyone was busy with this new toy, she was stuck at home with her hands full of something else sending out constant notifications.

Manoush Zomorodi – Bored & Brilliant Project

A colicky baby who would only sleep in a moving stroller with complete silence.

She walked 10-15 miles a day and got fit but was bored out of her mind.

Three months into this daily routine, something shifted. As she walked her mind wandered, she started daydreaming and coming up with ideas.

She finally got an iPhone and created her dream job hosting a public radio show (on the hustle beyond Silicon Valley – it’s excellent, check it out here).

She could be a mum and a journalist.

In the playground and on Twitter at the same time.

She got busy again. But when tried to brainstorm ideas and how to boost audience numbers, she couldn’t think of anything.

When was the last time she’d had a good idea? She realised it was when she was out walking her baby.

When you fill all the cracks in your day with scrolling and multitasking, you don’t let yourself daydream and be bored.

What happens to the brain when we get bored or if we’re never bored? She spoke to neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists, and the results were fascinating. See more.

Categories
Newsletter

The Shift: Issue #20

Big Tech: The House antitrust committee report; Instagram at 10; No Filter; The rise of the Meta Me; Microcopy + UX writing.

This week, the House Antitrust Subcommittee released its long-awaited report into online markets – how Big Tech (Google, Amazon, Apple & Facebook) have developed monopoly and are abusing their power to stifle the competition. It’s a brick at 400+ pages (+ 2,540 footnotes) and evidence-based – conversations with previous and current employees, users & sellers – a greatest hits of bad behaviour. Amazon has been described as “a data company that just happens to sell things.” An inside look at the acquisition of Instagram by Facebook – here are the most revealing bits. There’s more focus on Google than the other three with some notable omissions: Microsoft, TikTok and Spotify. TikTok is Chinese owned and a baby, so doesn’t yet have the size and breadth… Read more.

Categories
Newsletter

The Shift: #Issue 19

The rise of the creator economy; the ‘unbundling of work’; paid newsletters; the Second Renaissance is coming…

Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen enormous growth in the Creator Economy—independent creators making money from online content. It’s down to the rise of the gig economy, better tech—5G, faster internet, and new social networks & products. COVID-19 is speeding things up – we’re at home and online more.

There’s also been a shift in consciousness towards caring more about being happy in our jobs, having control over our time, and being our own boss. We want to make a living doing work we’re passionate about that creates change. Gen Z’ers grew up with the internet and social media and place a high value on self-expression. I can see how my daughter and her friends interact online.

According to Li Jin, we’re in the process of the ‘unbundling of work’ i.e. moving from companies to independent solo businesses.

A new report from Signalfire takes a deeper view of the ecosystem to give us some context, a history of the creator economy and trends to watch. It’s a fascinating read—useful for investors looking for opportunities and creators needing help… Read more.

Categories
Newsletter

The Shift: Issue #18

How to be productive WFH without going crazy; The State of Remote Work 2020 Report; Inbox Zero.

I did some training this week on ‘how to be productive working from home without going crazy’ with Thanh Pham, founder of Asian Efficiency.

Marie Kondo’s relative, surely!?!

I’ve been working from home for years and enjoy it, but am curious to know what else I can do to improve my set up and make it more fun. We’re six months into this global WFH experiment, and after this week’s government U-turn, it looks set to continue for another six months.

So, what have we learned so far? Will WFH be a permanent thing for companies or just a byproduct of the ‘interim economy’—a term used to describe the theoretical two years it could take for the economy to bounce back after lockdown? A new report on The State of Remote Work Q3 2020, highlights some significant and emerging trends. Read more.

Categories
Advice. Opinions. Conversation. Newsletter

The Shift: Issue #7

A Conversation on Creativity With Dannie-Lu Carr.

What tools do we need to deal with life’s challenges and work creatively in the face of adversity, so we can come out stronger at the end of it?

Dannie-Lu Carr is the founder of three signature online programmes: Flaming Leadership, Warrior Women and 28 Days of Defiance and also a Published WriterAward-Winning Theatre DirectorSinger-Songwriter and the founder of Creative Wavelengths™—a new language for creativity. Her work is described as “brilliant, not for the faint of heart… for courageous souls…” We first met 10 years ago at a women’s networking event in London, and thought she was a real dynamo with an enormous heart. 

TS: You coach on leadership and personal impact with a focus on empowering women and LGBTQ. What stories do you want to bring to light, and what was the catalyst to start your consultancy?

DLC: My work on fearless leadership and personal impact is really about giving people back their sense of self and the tools to speak articulately about their ideas and points of view. I work with people to develop and trust their judgement and dare to put themselves forward to galvanise innovation and change where it’s needed. We still live in a very hierarchical world mostly, which can unnecessarily intimidate, undermine, dominate and control. Nobody wins with this way of working.

My goal is always to create a more level playing field where ideas can be shared, and we can respect points of view. The best people to lead these changes are those who haven’t automatically been given the metaphorical floor historically and understand how it is to have a different insight about how things were in the past, hence the predominant focus on women and LGBTQ.

The catalyst to start my consultancy was about giving people the tools to deal with challenges without them having a devastating effect and also to work creatively in the face of adversity so they can weather through and come out stronger.

What’s your coaching style? What techniques do you use to help people get past their blocks and seriously step up?

My style is informal, honest, to the point. It’s the best way to cut through the nonsense noise in our heads and environments—the noise that creates a lack of confidence and procrastination. I have a ‘just do it’ approach once people have unpacked what is really going on for them and have the clarity. I use a range of techniques, but probably the edgiest is bringing my theatre training (the honesty of communication and saying what is) to the business world.

Teaching is a two-way thing. Any advice you’ve taken on board that has changed your outlook or challenged your thinking?

I always say that I endlessly learn when I teach. When I am advising and coaching others, it isn’t unusual for a voice to kick off in my head that says something like, “this advice you’re giving to Jane you need to do this with X in your own life”. The biggest thing I have learned to do is to be humble when someone points out my own shortcomings rather than get defensive. To take a ‘fair enough, I have to own that’ position is always gold. Usually, the things that fly at us as the most uncomfortable to swallow absolutely hold the most wisdom and insight for us. 

Your online programmes: 28 Days of Defiance, Warrior Women, and Flaming Leadership are described as brilliant and “not for the faint of heart, for courageous souls.” What’s your creative process, and who or what has inspired you?  

First, I listen to my clients. I’ve always got my ears pricked for their challenges, wants, etc. Then things churn around in my head for a bit and my subsequent process is that I then raggedly sit on the floor amidst a heap of pen and papers and brainstorm in an intense burst. Or several of them. That’s how I nail and fine-tune. Then I take the ideas out to the world, and it goes from there. In terms of inspiration, people inspire me all the time. I think people can be magnificent with their insights, ideas, resilience and drive. There are a tonne of women out there, past and present, who are/were incredible—Jude Kelly, Anita Roddick, Malala Yousafzai, Jacinda Ardern… I have an endless list, to be honest. When women stand up strong and in their boots, they can be so powerful. 

Someone said you have a form of ‘business magic’ in terms of how you approach problems and conflicts at work. Can you give us an example? 

In short, I listen to as much as I can before I address where the assumptions and unconscious biases might be for all parties involved. This flushes out the emotion that can give any of us humans blind spots. Then I drill into—what is the actual issue really at play here? Then last, how can this be articulated to feel you are expressing yourself fully while respecting the other person’s point of view? That’s pretty much my framework. 

You’ve written a brilliant book on assertiveness. We can swing between unassertiveness and OTT behaviour. How do we find the middle ground—i.e. getting what we want without rubbing people up the wrong way? 

This is a huge passion of mine. It’s actually very easy to find a middle ground, but we don’t have that many role models in terms of people who practice this. It is one of the major reasons that I really rate Keir Starmer. He executes the middle ground with aplomb. It’s about taking the personal emotion out of it and being in an adult position. It isn’t about point-scoring. It is about addressing the issue at hand as honestly as you can while remaining aware of your potential impact on the other person. Often, we feel like we are assertive when we are falling short. And people get confused between assertive and aggressive when they are actually very different states of being.

You’re the founder of Creative Wavelengths™ a new language for creativity. What is it, and how can it help us to raise our creative intelligence?

I have spent about five years developing Creative Wavelengths—it is nine keywords that pinpoint exactly what is happening around any creative process and/or collaboration. Creativity is often shrouded in mystery, and the surrounding language is very imprecise, which causes issues with people taking it seriously or holding the value of it and what it needs. Having a shared language that is time-efficient and gives permission for a deep and precise conversation allows us to elevate our understanding of creativity and therefore raises our overall creative intelligence and our ability to cut through the noise and access the critical insights for innovation and deep resonance. 

Any business problems you’d like help with right now or opportunities for collaboration?

I’m always open to discussions and potential collaborations. We are living in a very unpredictable world, way more than ever before, and we need smart and courageous people to come forward and tackle these issues, rather than being stuck in a place of victim and fear. I’d like my clients to recognise that coaching and consulting is the most critical thing to invest in and come away from the old mindset that it is a luxury and therefore the first thing to go. How do they expect to weather storms like this without access to understanding and adopting new ways of doing things? Rhetoric, of course. 

THE LIST  

Oh wow. I could write a book on creative inspirations… here’s a handful of some of my favourites:

BOOKS

Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace

Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

PODCASTS

Reasons to be Cheerful 

Woman’s Hour

The Tim Ferriss Show

The Brutal Truth

WEBSITES

Forbes

The 99 Percent

TED

Harvard Business Review

www.dannielucarr.com