Categories
Freelancing future of work Small business Wellness

Thoughtful exit interviews: how to offboard yourself

My summer work project ended with a bang last week. I was given a day’s notice via email and asked to quickly hand over to the new in-house copywriter. 

I get it – budgets and a new project manager, but it still took me by surprise as we were in the final stages of the work. I also felt a handover was a bit out of my scope as a freelancer – surely this was the PM’s job? So I asked my hiring manager for advice. She backed me up and said she’d speak to the PM. I told the copywriter I was happy to chat but checking the process first (also not clear if I’d be paid for this). 

I was onboarded quickly to fill a gap during the holidays and the project ended as abruptly. Here I am three months later, waiting to be paid for work that started in July. I enjoyed the work but the transactional nature of it has left me feeling frustrated and a bit fed up – where’s the humanity? All a bit soulless. Adland can be like this and it’s something I struggle with. I like to build relationships with the team and see the final end product.

It’s made me realise how important offboarding and exit interviews are with clients, so I have a process and checklist for my personal sanity and mental health…

  • Review the final project – what went well, what could have been improved?
  • Get a testimonial from the PM.
  • Say thank you to the team (people move around all the time, you never know when you’ll be working with them again). Ask to see the end product if possible – for my portfolio.
  • Send the final invoice.
  • Give feedback to HR and ask them to fill in a quick survey if they have time.
  • Leave a review on GlassDoor to help others. 

I may not get a response from the PM, but at least I’ve wrapped things up my side. 

Onboarding and offboarding is something companies need to think about more as the freelance revolution grows, and they need to manage freelancers at scale. Even better, hire a Head of Remote as my hiring manager was in a different country and not involved day-to-day.

Good communication is crucial for remote teams and having a handbook means new starters feel connected and can jump right in. Otherwise, it’s easy to feel disconnected and undervalued – which won’t foster good work. 

I’m also wondering if I need to tighten up my T&Cs and ask for a part payment upfront with overseas suppliers (I’ve been burned in the past). I’m grateful for the NUJ – if I end up chasing payment I know they have my back. Union membership is worth every penny.


Pandemic social fatigue

Is it just me, or is going out exhausting? I went out for a meal last week at a new restaurant, and we ended up sharing a table with a group of guys who’ve just moved here. Sensory overload. Too bright, too loud, too many people. I found it a bit overwhelming, so I guess I’m just out of practice.

I’m not alone – a piece by Lisa Milbrand on why socialising is more exhausting now for both introverts and extroverts and how to get your mojo back. 

Wishing you a relaxing and restful World Mental Health Day🎗 🧠

I’m not going to overload myself this quarter. I’m focusing on what I have, taking care of myself, reflection and R&D – the key to the productivity puzzle, Bojo…

Take care,

— Nicci

P.S. The most beautiful thing I’ve heard lately.


🔗🖐 5 Things 

★ Global Study on Freelancing: 75+ research partners and 1900 freelancers. It’s a big tent – 31% were over 50, and 64% were full-time freelance by choice. Most have a solid workload, but ⅓ are struggling (consider timing and context with Covid). Tech workers are the happiest. Freelancing is large and growing, but the platforms must continue to add value — great to see the expansion into coaching and education.

— Global Study on Freelancing

★ Facebook outage: offline for over six hours on Monday and on Friday. I enjoyed the break, but it highlights the issue of small businesses putting all their eggs in one basket and selling their services via social media rather than websites and customer service software. Excellent piece on how Facebook is acting like a hostile foreign power, and it’s time we treated it that way. Wow to the new cover of Time👀

— Facebookland: The Largest Autocracy on Earth.

★ The future of work should mean working less. Now we have space to reimagine how a job fits into a good life.A call for creating policies to keep work in its place: Universal Basic Income, rights to housing and healthcare, a living wage, and shorter hours at full pay. Human wellbeing is more important than productivity.

— The Future of Work Should Mean Working Less.

★ Headlines Network: free workshops starting in November to support media workers’ mental health in partnership with Google News Initiative. Great to hear they’re working with MIND to tackle mental health stigma in the media. Free, weekly 90-minute sessions: tips and tools for wellbeing and space for a chat – looking forward to it.

— Headlines Network

★ “There is no such thing as info overload. The overload is from ‘noise,’ and your ability to segment and ignore that noise will be a crucial survival skill for the future of your career and personal sanity” – Rohit Bhargava. A deep dive into how we develop this skill from Nir Eyal’s perspective as a tech insider who wrote Hooked: how to build habit-forming products. Clever tips on how to improve your attention and limit distraction. 

— How to Survive in a World of Information Overload


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Categories
future of work Neuroscience Portfolio careers Wellness

Tame your inner critic🙄

I’ve joined a Newsletter Mastermind, and ‘not feeling ready’ came up on this week’s call. “I’m on my 100th issue, and it’s the same every time – the day before it goes out, and I still don’t know what I’m going to write about. Yet somehow, every week, it gets pushed over the finishing line.” It turned into a discussion on how to be ‘inner critic ready’ led by @ReddyToGo – he’s the man.

I said I’m the same. Working on things last minute (writing this on Saturday night) or running late. I had an argument with a friend once about my lateness, and she said: “It’s because you don’t feel ready.” She was right. I was trying to do too much – hustling hard in London at that time. It’s probably the most helpful thing anyone’s said to me. 

Tame your inner critic

The inner critic mixes negative critical comments from our parents, siblings, peers, and teachers when we were growing up. It isn’t a bad thing, says writer and author Jennifer Nelson“Researchers agree that a little self-awareness can be a reality check, but a constant barrage of self trash-talk is debilitating.”

In her talk on listening to shame, Brene Brown says it relies on you buying into it – tell yourself something often enough, and you’ll eventually believe it to be true. “Shame needs three things to percolate: secrecy, silence and perception of judgement.” 

It can be an issue for portfolio professionals as we’re working on short term projects in new environments with different teams. You’re expected to hit the ground running, be an expert and produce good work quickly. But each project is different and team dynamics and nuances take a while to figure out. You’re learning as you go and you make mistakes. You also have to put yourself out there, pitching for gigs, negotiating rates and dealing with rejection.

The inner critic is a feature of the tricky brain. Unfortunately, we can’t fire them, but they can be an extra rather than centre-stage…


Some strategies to help you deal with your inner critic

(and have a better, more productive relationship with yourself)

  • Give them a name. There are two actors in constant conversation – the nurturer and the critic. Mine is called Nancy. She’s an out of work theatre critic (failed actress, really) who never has a good word to say about anyone, except Cliff Richard. She’s 6”2, wears heels, diamante and a purple wig (a bit Dame Edna). Except she always wears black. @readyforthefuneral. She’s had no work during the pandemic and is taking her frustrations out on me. My nurturers are the Caring Committee – Spock, Jarvis, Oprah, Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Mr Miyagi, Gandalf, Sean Bean, & Ted Hastings, who rally around to big me up. Never a dull day! It helps me distance myself from the drama and be a calm witness. 
  • Be mindful. The cure is empathy, says Brene. Say to yourself, “I understand, but those thoughts aren’t true.” And replace ‘I can’t’ with ‘I might’. Notice negative thoughts when they come up and write them down. Look for moments in the day when others see the effort you’ve made. Write them down. If the conversation is getting a bit one-sided, I know I’m tired and need a break. 
  • Stop ruminating – I had some negative feedback on a piece of copy this week. It wasn’t quite right, so we had to redo it after a call with the client. A bit disappointing as it’s a new gig and I wanted to make a good impression. I felt a bit flat, thinking about what I could have done better. But I’ve only been on the job for two days and don’t have much context. I let myself replay it for a bit, then distracted myself with something else: went for a walk and watched something on Netflix. Learn and let go.
  • Set deadlines – No over-editing and over-researching, i.e. procrastinating. Anne-Laure at Ness Labs says she only edits her articles once before publishing them. The aim is to get the conversation started and tweak things based on feedback. I like that. Nothing is set in stone online. 
  • Dress smarter – it’s easier to silence your inner critic when you’re looking sharp and feeling good. We had a good discussion at TPC this week on personal branding, and this came up. Fiona’s tip: Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. She’s also big on ‘fake it till you make it.’ 
  • Finding your why – LA-based writer, activist and wellness expert Katie Horwitch says the inner critic is a filler for uncertainty about your purpose. Get clear on the common thread in all you do and what you’re offering the world. What’s your story? Workshop it. It’s easier to do this with others than on your own. Others see things in you that you don’t. 

Nancy and I had a bust-up this week. She went off on one when I told her about the project feedback. Then I mentioned my podcast idea – interviewing hip hop entrepreneurs about their lives and work, and she sighed and rolled her eyes. “You don’t have the time, energy or contacts for that. You’re not in that world! Forget it, darling!” 

“Don’t patronise me. That’s the point. I don’t want to interview people like me. We have enough echo chambers out there….I want to do something different. ” 

We’re going for tea with the committee later, so let’s see what they have to say about it.  

She’s not coming on holiday with me (not till she apologises anyway). 


5 things🖐

👩‍💻LinkedIn Marketplace (launching Sept) – a new service for freelancers. Connect with employers, showcase your services, and do deals directly via the platform (initially focusing on design, marketing and software development). Good to see Microsoft investing in developing a bigger content platform with Creator mode, Services, Open to Work, trending stories. A bit of competition for Fiverr and Upwork.

✍️And some great tips from Ben Legg, CEO & Co-founder of The Portfolio Collective, on how to make the most of LinkedIn. Interesting comments on ageism. Noted and actioned! Thanks to Claire Moss for sending her notes. 

👨🏽‍🎤Personal branding. How do you make yourself stand out from a sea of competition? What makes you memorable? It’s much more than your logo. A deep dive into finding your why with brand gurus Fiona Chorlton-Voong and Alex Pitt. More on the inner critic and celebrating your differences. Inspiring to hear Alex’s story on launching her branding agency, Strange. 

💰Self-belief, reinvention and hard work: How to earn £100k+ as a freelance journalist. “I did it. So why not you? I had an end game, creativity and a pathological inability to take “No” for an answer.” Andrew Don on his 40-year journalistic career, self-belief and reinvention in his new book: The Bounty Hunter. His 10 essential ingredients to help you make serious money as a freelancer. 

🇮🇹All the Voices of the NUJ – a project helping international writers who are new to the UK by matching them up with a member who speaks their language. The guest speaker was John Worne, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, who talked about the joy and pleasure of languages. He flagged a few issues members have raised – it’s sad to hear languages aren’t being prioritised in the UK curriculum.

I’m trying to learn French and Italian, and Nancy pipes up frequently with her helpful comments. Along with my secondary school French teacher, Mrs Marchant, who told me not to do it at A-Level as I’d struggle. A fascinating chat about how being bilingual can put you in two minds: having different personalities in each language, and not taking it too seriously. Play with it and have a go🇮🇹


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.

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Categories
digital health Neuroscience technology Wellness

The Shift: How to build a life 😍

How to build a life 

In my 20s, I left a journalism job in Peterborough to freelance in London. I wanted to work on women’s magazines and thought I’d be happy once I got my dream job in the big city. The reality was quite different. Precarious work on low pay was stressful. When I landed shifts on glossy titles, I didn’t enjoy working in an all-female environment that felt competitive. I wasn’t very happy but I stuck at it – living the dream, right? I’d be happy once I was sorted with a proper job and a home. Then I could relax and enjoy London for all it has to offer.

I now prioritise my happiness and realise it’s a skill we can work on. I can’t control my thoughts or the outcome of my pitches and projects, but I can control how I spend my time. Rituals and habits are the building blocks of my day. I do the Writers’ Hour with London Writer’s Salon and a walk/run. I thought having a routine and doing the same things every day would stifle my creativity but I think you can boost creativity through constraints – as long as they are the right ones that make you happy (for me, that’s working remotely and being around for Julieta, and having a studio space I love).

The challenge is to stop thinking I can be happy by being busy. Trying to do too much leads to time poverty, which means I don’t get joy from anything. So, being mindful about how I’m working and creating little moments of joy to boost my energy and bringing that to others. Yesterday, I told a friend I love her to bits and I’m happy she’s in my life. It made me feel great (and her too). I need to do this more often, as well as writing down the things I’m grateful for.

What’s the secret to happiness? After looking at thousands of studies Arthur C Brooks, author of How to Build A Life concludes enduring happiness comes from human relationships, productive work, and the transcendental elements of life.

Make a list of the attachments in your life you need to discard. Then make a plan to do just that. The fewer wants there are searching inside your brain and dividing your attention, the more peace and satisfaction will be left for what you already have.

I’m getting rid of stuff that doesn’t bring me joy.

Enjoy this issue 🙂


Tools for thought 

😍Wellcome Collection’s On Happiness, a season of free events, activities and two exhibitions: Joy and Tranquility – bringing together voices from across cultural, scientific and spiritual fields to reflect on happiness. All very timely – how do we rebuild happiness for our current times?

🎞Short of the Week: Steve Cutt’s Happiness. The story of a rodent’s quest for happiness and fulfilment through the tropes and traps of modern society. The dehumanising effects of capitalism and consumer culture. Surely his best film to date 🙂 Soooo much juicy detail in the background.

🧠Ness Labs – Build a lab for your mind with neuroscience-based content and conversations. How to practice unbounded learning, self-education, a library of content, a weekly book club – expand your antilibrary. Co-working sessions and meetups with a brilliant community.

👀 How to help your kids be responsible digital citizens, from a tech exec (and mom). When you give a child their first smartphone, don’t send them into the digital world unprepared. Practical tips (and a template) from Jennifer Zhu Scott on how to be a digitally responsive citizen and make smart choices – whatever your age.

📕Sarah Hawley’s biggest project to date is Growmotely, an all-in-one global platform for remote hiring. Brilliant podcast: Conscious Culture – The Evolving Future of Work. ‘We’re just warming up so I imagine it’s going to get juicier and juicier!’ I’m also enjoying her new book: Conscious Leadership – A Journey From Ego to Heart.

Have a great weekend 🌈

Nicci 


The future of work is now

Let’s build it. The Shift is a newsletter about humans, technology and wellness. Rethinking how we live, work and play. Weekly curated tools for thought and ideas to share ✍️

Question or comment? nicci@niccitalbot.io
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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 🌍