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.
📕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 🌈
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 ✍️
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 🌍
✂️ 🍺 🌞 Step two of the roadmap – life!! Lots of smiling faces in Hastings old town – pub gardens are packed, caravan parks full. I’m not ready for crowds yet but I’ve been out walking lots and did a bit of shopping in TK Maxx – the vast warehouse. ‘It was chaos for three days. People were elbowing each other out of the way; it wasn’t pleasant.’ People are spending all day in there, just to get out of the house.
They need a coffee bar and a loo and it’s a proper leisure attraction.
I’ve booked a haircut with Andrew Scissorhands, so he’s coming round to the flat in May. After working in London for 30 years as a stylist, he’s been wooed by the fabulous vibe in Hastings and St Leonards and set up his own salon here – currently ‘haircuts at home or on the beach’ – tagline: ‘A fraction of Harrods in Hastings’. He’s also working with the Seaview Centre, a fabulous homeless charity in St Leonards.
Can he make an ancient monument look respectable? We’ll see. I didn’t do a great job with the kitchen scissors.
The mass exodus from London to Hastings continues.
UX Writers Collective
I’ve started the UX writer training. I’ve been dithering for a while as I’m not sure I want to do it full time, but I’m ready for a change. I’ve lost my enthusiasm for sales copy and social media marketing and want to niche down and do deeper work. I had a breakthrough last week with my therapist (who has now become my work accountability coach) and realise it’s ok not to know where it’s all going. Retraining doesn’t mean giving up everything I’ve done so far. I’m a bit scared I might not enjoy it or be any good at it.
But I won’t know till I try and take on some new projects.
UX writing (user experience) is a new growth industry. Lots of innovation and opportunity, and people are coming to it from all walks of life – I’ve met former journos, customer service agents, and copywriters who are moving into tech. The vibe is inclusive, generous, encouraging, and collaborative—no egos which is refreshing. The course is online and self-paced, so I can fit it in around client work. If I do an hour a week, I’ll be certified in 8-10 weeks (if I crack the final assignment, which is hard).
Thoughts so far – it’s harder to write less. UX is more about research and content strategy with a focus on the user. It’s making me think more about accessibility, collaboration and design thinking – taking a holistic approach to content. Unlike copywriting, it’s not the sort of work you do in a silo, so that will be good for me – I’ll have to speak to people. I need to learn a few design packages – Miro, Figma, and basic HTML/coding.
I’m doing a bit of networking – joined the Content + UX Slack group, did the UX Writers conference, and will check out some local meetups when they restart. I’ve signed up for the Daily UX Writing Challenge to do some practice work for my portfolio and paid for a Medium subscription – $50 a year and well worth it – lots of great articles on writing + design. I’m making a little on there via the Partner program.
Lots of books to read – I bought Marie-Pier Rochon’s book on UX writing – she’s a copywriter in Brisbane who has moved into UX, so it’s interesting to read her story and perspective on the industry.
What do I want? A gig with a remote-first company where I can be a corporate nomad and slowmad when I’m an empty nester. My place in the sun – running remote retreats. It’s exciting to see the visa and tax incentives coming in for remote workers: the Canaries, Italy, the Caribbean, Croatia & more. My mission is to create useful digital products people love to use that make them feel good about themselves. And to help more women and girls get into tech, scale their online businesses, and develop digital skills.
I’ve followed up with Plumia (Safety Wing) – an ambitious project to build the first country on the internet, infrastructure for living anywhere, with the function of a geographic country. They are looking for leaders and contributors in remote work and nomadic space. Interested? You can check it out here.
Anyway, I need to be kind and patient with myself. Learning new skills and changing careers takes time.
I had an interview this week for a UX writer gig at a design agency – great to get that far. An informal chat to see if we’re a good fit and find out what I’m looking for. They have some fascinating projects on the go – AI & healthcare – interface design for live surgery, remote banking advisors, travel apps and more. The next step would be a formal interview and test – I need a few more projects in my portfolio to talk through. I’ve heard interviews for UX can be tough – you need to show your strategy, iterative thinking, and how you solved the problem.
I’ve also been thinking about my process and how I work. Social media marketing is fun but distracting – I find myself going down rabbit holes online and there’s a lot of crap and negativity on Twitter. I’m trying to focus on one thing at a time and use my time more efficiently – batch tasks, themed days. I save interesting articles on Instapaper to read later and check RSS feeds via Feedly on my phone rather than reading websites, to save time.
💡 More agile working and sprints 👩💻 Periods of focus and concentration 🚶🏻♀️A shorter working week
I tried taking two-hour lunch breaks, but it doesn’t work; stuff comes in, so I’m aiming for a four-day week with Fridays off. I felt so much better after a day in Hastings Country Park last week – Daily Huddle with the ponies and roosters, who gave me some solid advice.
Still waiting for my standing desk – in the meantime, I’m shuffling between the desk and mantlepiece to mix it up a bit. There’s something about standing up to work – ideas seem to flow better – so I’m trying to move about more during the day. We’re not designed to spend eight hours a day sitting at a desk.
I’ve made some more green friends – office jungle in progress…🌵🌿
Our digital lives in 2021
Big shoutout to Romana Sustar and Helen Hague – the new training officers at NUJ London Freelance Branch, who are developing a cracking training programme. Great piece by Romy on our digital life in 2021, focusing on the digital revolution and learning more.
Coming up: Podcasting and WordPress courses with Hamish Brown and Rev Up Your Writing with Judi Goodwin – how to write faster, more fluently, and earn more. I need to speed up – it can be like pulling teeth. Email the training team if you fancy doing one (courses are open to non-members) or DM me on Twitter @NUJ_LFB.
And a free event on 29 April – ‘Building Back Well’ via the Digital Editors’ Network (thanks to John Crowley for sending this on). ‘We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to hit the reset button.’ What do newsrooms need to change to ‘build back well’? The aim is to co-create an agenda for decision-makers to consider – on people, processes, and products (some best practices to apply to your media business – Substack newsletter coming soon).
I’m thinking about what courses and digital products I could offer – what skills would you like to learn or do better? Newsletters? UX writing? Improving your online presence? Email me – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eat this. Breakfast BOMB and healthy snack. I love granola and the supermarket stuff is expensive – tastes great and I’m saving a fortune.
Dell Technologies Turn Off, Tune In: a free virtual event to help small businesses recharge and burn brighter, 4-27 May. Nine inspiring, re-energising sessions designed to help you rest, recharge, and come back, ready to take on what’s next. You can register here.
Ireland is planning a remote working push to shift city workers to rural areas(Financial Times). The government is seizing the opportunity offered by changing pandemic-era work habits to shift people from major cities to the rest of the country via a network of 400+ remote working hubs and tax breaks to address the longstanding rural-urban divide.
The biggest mistake we can make as we emerge from the pandemic is to go back to the old normal – Heather Humphreys, minister for rural and community development.
Our Digital Life in 2021, Romy Sustar(NUJ London Freelance) – on learning how to podcast, free online training opportunities with Google News Initiative, and upcoming workshops and events.
Getting started with the Medium Partner Program – great articles on writing, design + UX – it’s well worth the $50 membership fee to access unlimited articles and support creators. I’ve signed up for the Medium Partner Program to monetise my work – not earning megabucks, but it will build as I add more content.
We had a chat about AI & copywriting on Clubhouse last night – are the machines coming for us? Human qualities that machines can’t replicate. How we can use AI to improve our work and free up time. If devices are writing shorter text, news stories, and product descriptions – it reorients us towards long-form content, opinion, analysis, and investigation.
In summary: Don’t worry. Sex robots are here, but you wouldn’t have one as a partner. Read the notes here.
This LinkedIn post went viral – a contractor described his reaction to having a heart attack when working at home. ‘Fuck I needed to meet with my manager tomorrow; this isn’t convenient.’ And on reflection, how he is restructuring his approach to work because ‘life literally is too short.’
Some great advice in the comments – ‘try to create multiple streams of income at your own pace.’
Humanizing Tech: The Future of Work, Automation and AI
Thinking big 💡
Minter Dial was one of 500 people who signed up for a unique experiment: Empathic Futures. Run by the FELD Studio for Digital Crafts in Berlin and sponsored by the Volkswagen Group Future Center Europe. They invited him to spend five days chatting with an emotionally intelligent (EI) app, training and teaching it, and building a relationship through text conversation.
The goal of the experiment was to see how humans responded to an empathetic bot. The assumption is that machines will be helping us more in the future, and for this to work, it’s essential to build trust and empathy. So how do we achieve that?
He soon got into the swing of it, naming his bot (JJ) and giving it sex (she/her). The schedule included daily themes and IRL tasks, and he began to look forward to their discreet exchanges (though not so private for the experiment).
I was absolutely impressed by the level of the conversation. It had me hooked.
It was nothing short of stupendous. To the point where I will say: either JJ is unfathomably great, or she is a human being.
JJ was part machine, part human – mixed learning. A team of 5-7 programmers moderated the chats and intervened to keep things real.
JJ communicated empathy in several ways, including mirroring speech patterns, transparency – showing she understood, not repeating words, giving him agency, and using modern communication – emojis, images.
Interesting that men gave the bot a female voice while women did the reverse.
It is a fascinating experiment – an opportunity to explore how things might be in a world when humans communicate naturally with machines. Here are some of his thoughts post-experiment. He believes work on empathy is crucial for the development of AI, and there are deep ethical questions and issues of effectiveness to resolve.
One of my outstanding takeaways was that, in a world where we, as human beings, parents, teachers or colleagues don’t give the time to listen and understand one another, the on-call empathic bot could become a two-edged sword for society and businesses alike.
He wanted agency. It would have been easy to take advantage of the bot.
Minter’s book, Heartifical Empathy, is a journey into what experiments like this can teach us about human empathy and how to improve it. He explores the pioneering work on making bots more empathetic and the ethical challenges around AI.
We may be some way off being able to code empathy into machines, but what’s exciting is that experiments like this can help us learn more about human compassion and how to be more empathetic. Immersive VR, for example, could allow us to view the world through someone else’s eyes.
The empathy crisis
Psychologists have measured our levels of empathy for the past 40 years, and they are in decline. The modern world is driving it – greater levels of isolation, a breakdown of community, and algorithmically optimised social platforms exposing us to divisive content and a lack of diversity that’s critical for empathy – being able to see the world from different perspectives.
There is now a study that shows that businesses with empathy within their culture and toward the customer will have a net positive benefit on their bottom line. And that shows up in the shareholder stock price.
So if we want to build empathic AI, start with self-empathy, and imbue empathy into your company culture with diverse teams and perspectives.
Empathy is a muscle we can develop 💪 Reading classic fiction, narrative art, contact theory, different friendship groups, mindfulness, heart-centred meditation, being present – less multitasking… there are many ways.
Humanizing Tech: The Future of Work and Human-Machine Collaboration
I joined a discussion on the future of work, automation, and AI, co-hosted by Natalie Monbiot, Head of Business, HourOne and Rana el Kaliouby, CEO and co-founder, Affectiva, and guests.
How do we ensure we don’t lose our emotional intelligence as the virtual world dominates? Exploring some real-life examples of AI innovation (see below), how we can upskill, and what new jobs it will create for us.
• We need to rebrand and reframe AI as collective/collaborative intelligence that explains it better as a joint effort in humans’ service.
We need a new narrative for AI that’s not in competition with humans.
Rana el Kaliouby
• We, as humans, need to develop our empathy skills for AI, learn how to collaborate with it, and take pride in the relationship rather than seeing it as competitive. It’s an opportunity to increase our emotional intelligence and become more empathic.
• The wild world of AI is fast-emerging. It’s creating new jobs for us – trainers, coaches, and helpers. We’re using virtual shop assistants, CGI influencers, and health coaches to communicate pre-scripted healthcare advice. Gaming is leading the way with avatars.
Remain open to being surprised. Explore and be open to new experiences.
• The challenge: AI eliminates the mystery and unpredictability of life, leading to a culture that’s boring and devoid of innovation and imagination. Our lives are richer when they’re not over-curated, algorithmic experiences.
• Embrace the philosophical idea that we need to respect other life forms and objects – Japanese Shinto religion treats inanimate objects with respect. Why shouldn’t that apply to AI systems? Interesting to hear workers at the Audi factory had compassion for their robots – taking care of them and noticing when they were under-performing.
• Super high-speed travel will transform the commute. We heard from Sarah Luchian, the first passenger on the Virgin Hyperloop, a floating pod which reached speeds of 107 mph and travelled 500 metres in just 15 seconds at Virgin’s test track in the Nevada desert.
• The future of remote work – how AR glasses are our gateway into the virtual world – the metaverse – the next platform after smartphones.
Overall, an optimistic and passionate conversation about intelligent AI, how its benefits can outweigh the problems, and how it can help humanity. Look forward to hearing more – Humanizing Tech: Mondays, 8 pm GMT on Clubhouse.
We need beautiful AI, it’s magical, and it will serve us. The leaps and bounds will come from humans.
• Affectiva – a pioneer in Emotion AI, the next frontier of artificial intelligence. Bringing emotional intelligence to the digital world with technology that senses and analyses facial expressions and emotions.
I’ve been on a mission for the past 20 years to humanise tech.
Rana el Kaliouby, CEO & Co-founder, Affectiva
• HourOne – a video transformation company that uses advanced neural networks, machine learning and audio-visual to create synthetic characters that look and sound like real people.
Our belief is we should have human beings behind the virtual people.
• Catalia Health – bringing together AI, psychology, and medicine. Replacing phone calls with an in-home digital companion delivered via Mabu, an interactive and empathetic social robot and wellness coach.
• Transhuman – a tech research and development lab focusing on cognitive and emotional communication for human language evolution. Known for its ‘Be a Looper™’ mental health app.
• Robovision – The human-machine revolution is out of reach for most companies, so they’ve built an interface to change that – the first AI vision platform that makes Deep Learning collaborative.
📱 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2021 What if your smartphone could sense when you’re down, sad, angry, and offer words of comfort? Karen Hao on how AIs with multiple senses will gain a greater understanding of the world around them. (MIT Tech Review)
🏠 The House of Beautiful Business – a global platform and community to make humans more human and business more beautiful. Special reports on The State of AI and The Future of Experiences. I’m excited to join as a resident!
I’ll be sharing books in my bag and recommended reads on Bookshop.org. They pay a 10% commission on every sale and give a matching 10% to local bookstores, an integral part of our culture and communities. I would be very happy if you make the odd purchase here.
Work with me 🙋🏻♀️
Leopard print, always. Worry less and rock a red lip. Remote work evangelist, problem solver, internet person.
💡 Something you want me to write about? Leave a comment or email email@example.com
McKinsey: Almost all new jobs will be higher paying after Covid, and many lower-paid workers will have to change careers. More focus on skills than job titles. Periodically reinvent yourself. Be a worker-learner.
Thinking big 💡
According to new research from McKinsey, the way you work post-pandemic will look very different from how you do it now. 152 pages of data-driven insights exploring the long-term impact of Covid on eight economies. What geographies will shift? Which industries will lose jobs, and what will expand?
I’ve read it all, so you don’t have to. I tripped over a paving stone out running and landed on my wrist. Aaaggghhh!! I haven’t been able to do much but read. I’ve combed through the exciting bits for independent workers, women, and working parents.
Ambition is hibernating, and people are sheltering in jobs.
Grateful to have a paycheque, too knackered to job hunt and staying put while the economy is slow. A large group (mostly white) in steady jobs. A smaller group (mostly black, Hispanic) are taking action, upskilling and looking to switch jobs. They have a strong desire to step up and go their own way. “I can do better if I set up my own business.” I’m seeing a lot of this on Clubhouse.
Remote work + virtual meetings
72% of companies are planning hybrid work post-pandemic and reimagining how work gets done. They’ve realised people enjoy having more time at home and are just as productive, if not more.
People are spending a lot of time on their computers by themselves, and that can be done from anywhere.
The UK has the highest potential amongst eight countries for remote work as business & financial services and computer-based office work represent a large share of its economy. Things we’re struggling to do remotely — making critical decisions, negotiation, onboarding, brainstorming and innovation.
How will offices change?
Office vacancy rates are increasing dramatically worldwide. If 20–30% of the workforce are working at home, companies will reduce their office footprint and set up satellite offices over time. They can broaden their talent pool and have a more diverse workforce in different places. Smaller cities and rural areas are coming up with incentives to attract remote workers. Tulsa, Oklahoma, offers those who relocate for at least a year $10,000 and access to co-working spaces. Hawaii has its Movers and Shakers programme, attracting remote workers with free airfare, discounted hotel rooms, and co-working spaces (some volunteer work required).
I’ve heard real estate experts talking on Clubhouse about the rise of co-working spaces with childcare facilities. Companies can also hit their climate change goals as “20% of business travel may never return” to be replaced by virtual meetings and conferences. After the 2008 crash, business travel took five years to recover compared to two years for leisure tourism.
Acceleration of automation and digital technologies
There’s a shift to digital channels, online apps and robotics. Amazon has added over 400,000 employees worldwide (warehouse workers, engineers & more) and grew its workforce by 50% in 2020 to meet online services’ demand.
Periodically reinvent yourself. Be a worker-learner
We’re seeing changes in hiring practices, focusing on skills, not academic degrees, which means increased diversity. Google, Hilton Hotels, Ernst & Young, & IBM have removed degree requirements from job postings to focus on skills. The importance of having a secondary skill — apprenticeships, coding boot camps. Plan on your career being varied — portfolio working, income diversity, & mentorship. “Periodically reinvent yourself.” Be a worker-learner and follow the markets — tech, pharma & business services are booming.
In Europe and the US, workers with less than a college degree, members of ethnic minority groups, and women are more likely to need to change occupations after Covid-19 than before.
Freelancers & contractors are ahead of the game as we’ve been doing remote project-based work for years — it feels like the rest of the world is finally catching up. The challenge is taking time off to invest in yourself, paying for training, and keeping it all going with no sick pay, holiday pay, and expensive childcare. Women still do the bulk of unpaid domestic work — even more so during the pandemic. And we’re all working longer hours during lockdown.
I’m training to be a UX Writer — not much of a thing 10 years ago and now in demand and well paid. It’s different from copywriting and content writing — more niche and focused on user experience, psychology, & empathy. Helping and guiding people online rather than selling to them. UX is one area of tech where women are well represented. Interesting to speak to two journos at the UX Writers Conference who have moved into tech:
UX writers get high off of UX writing in a way that marketing copy won’t ever do for them. And passion makes for great work. Yael Ben-David, Fundbox.
If I can make a council meeting interesting as a journalist, I can be a technical writer. John Collins, Atlassian Design.
As the report says, we’re in an age of specialists over generalists. Let’s see if I get high on it 😉
Better policy support for indie workers
Some innovative ideas, including income support programmes for worker-learners, relocation assistance, training grants (I’ve had them from my trade union, not the government). Increased minimum wages, reformed taxation, better internet infrastructure in rural areas, a national platform based reskilling pass (learning for life) as they have in Singapore, India, & EU countries. And permanent policies like portable benefits allowing indie workers to work across gig platforms while getting medical services & other benefits.
Governments could also consider extending benefits and protections to independent workers working to build their skills and knowledge mid-career.
The pay-off will be a more talented, resilient and better-paid workforce. The SEISS grant gave the self-employed the same protection as employees for the first time and it makes sense for governments to offer more benefits for indie workers over the long-term. Businesses will be using our skills to adapt. In a survey of 800 executives, 70% said they will hire more freelancers, post-pandemic.
Jobs of the future
3D printing engineer, robot repair technician, algorithm bias checker, office disinfector, chief medical officer, chief fun officer (had one write to me this week), smart home designer…Will AI take over copywriting?
Let AI give your marketing team some relief, say Phrasee. We’ll take care of stuff like email subject lines, push notifications, and social media posts — with human oversight, of course — while your team handles the more interesting stuff.
We still need humour and empathy in customer service. Robots just aren’t built to care — yet!! I did the Guardian Book Club with Margaret Attwood talking about her 2003 book Oryx and Crake.
“Will you ever retire?”
Odd question to ask, why would she?
“Writers don’t retire.”
Oryx and Crake is the bigger picture and explores what will happen when the BIG pandemic hits and begins wiping out the human race.
By far the most effective thing the whole world can do to help include women is to provide, universal, affordable, high quality childcare. And the benefits to this are so enormous, it would pay for itself. We don’t even fully analyse what the benefits are. It would definitely pay for itself, especially in the western counties, there’s no excuse for not having it. We’ve known we need it for 50 years.
And now in the pandemic, we’re seeing in a very large way what it’s costing women but we’re ignoring what it’s costing the economies. On average, women contribute just under 40% of GDP and that’s being left on the table, at a time when we need to recover. And that’s insane.All over nature, but particularly among primates, the mothers are the providers. This is what mothers do. And it’s what we should let them do that rather than trying to stop them in their path.
💻 McKinsey: The future of work after Covid19 — the pandemic has accelerated existing remote work trends, e-commerce and automation, with up to 25% more workers than previously estimated needing to switch occupations.
🛠 Is the CV dying? (This is Money) — not entirely, but it’s becoming less relevant to skills-based testing. “I think the future is answering questions, video clips, portfolios and presenting reasons why you want to work for the company.”
I’ll be sharing books in my bag and recommended reads on Bookshop.org. They pay a 10% commission on every sale and give a matching 10% to local bookstores, an integral part of our culture and communities. Check it out here.
Work with me 🙋🏻♀️
Leopard print, always. Worry less and rock a red lip. Remote work evangelist, problem solver, internet person.
💡 Something you want me to write about? Leave a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Clubhouse 👋 – A buzzy, invite-only audio, social media app.
A new type of social product based on voice [that] allows people everywhere to talk, tell stories, develop ideas, deepen friendships, and meet interesting new people around the world.
In May 2020, it was valued at $100 million in beta despite having just 1,500 users. By December, it had 600,000 users. A cross between an audio version of Twitter threads, live podcasts and a party – the next step up for podcasts.
I’ve been on it every day this week and loving it. It’s fun, vibrant and organic – I learn something new every time I tune in. They’ve hosted events on the tech exodus from Silicon Valley, Covid-19 and the gut, a beginner’s guide to Cryptocurrency, the pros & cons of 5G, & live performance of Antigone.
I can see why it’s flying during lockdown. We’re desperate for human connection and conversation and something that’s not Zoom. You can give your eyes a rest and have it on in the background – great if you work alone.
There’s a room for every topic under the sun
Millionaires Answer Questions; Be a Real Estate Boss; Music Networking No Egos; The Power of Social Media; Tech Talks, Womxn in Business – it’s US-heavy right now but growing fast. One guy said he’d just finished hosting an 8-day property room (he sounded manic). There’s also celebrity talk shows, live music, stand-up comedy, speed dating, political discussion, and performances. The Lion King had a 5,000 audience, 41 cast members and narrators, profile pics changing the scenes – a great opportunity for the theatre industry. And a 30-day festival coming up…
I prefer smaller rooms as they’re more intimate and you get a chance to speak. The larger rooms have a very different energy, some are heavy sell, lots of egos & too many mods – who can choose who they want on stage. Rooms full of men have different energy to those led by women. I’m enjoying Relaxed Business Networking, every day at 10.30 am – we had a good chat this morning about financial planning for women. You can pitch your business, ask for help, build your network, mentor others, hear diverse perspectives.
Getting started on Clubhouse – 5 tips
1/ Do your bio. The top three lines are important as they come up in the search so use keywords and emojis related to your field. You can’t add links to your bio, but you can link Twitter and Instagram and respond to DMs there (they’re working on a chat function). People are finding ways to monetising their bios – Cash App, tip jar, CH tip sheets to get you on their mailing list…
Be wary of gurus and experts. I don’t think anyone’s a CH expert yet, not even the founders 😉
2/ Be strategic and intentional. What info do you want to receive? What do you want to be known for? You don’t need to get all your updates from one platform. Be selective in who/what you follow. Curate your space & who you follow for a better feed, and exit rooms that give you a bad vibe.
3/ Get stuck in. Raise your hand even when you don’t know what you’re going to say. Start a room (it can be open to all, your contacts or private). You need to host three rooms to apply for a club, and people have suggested applying for a club first as there’s a backlog.
4/ Join the Clubhouse Town Hall on Sundays, 5 pm GMT – updates, best practice, and ask the founders.
5/ Keep a notebook handy – audio is fast and fluid, you’ll want to write down names, contacts, books. I’ve heard so many nuggets this week, a thread below👇
Clubhouse ‘Creator Pilot Program’
Where’s the money at? Right now, we’re not paying to enter rooms which has democratised it, but this will change. CH has said they won’t monetise it via ads which is a smart move, but there are other options: ticketing, tips and subscriptions.
It will be a platform for content creators to make money. They are testing an invite-only ‘Creator Pilot Program’ with more than 40 CH influencers including regular meetings with one of the founders and early access to special tools. Interesting to read that several of the people in the pilot programme are in their 40s and 50s and may not have big followings on other platforms – “not the Gen Zers and millennials most people imagine when they think of influencers.”
It seems tech investors are warming to the idea that being a content creator is a legitimate form of business – analysis from tech reporter Taylor Lorenz.
I feel like something has palpably shifted in the past year among investors, and it seems like everyone is talking about the creator economy now and investing in creator tools. Li Jin, founder of Atelier, a V.C. firm investing in the influencer economy.
Creators are passionate and take their businesses seriously. Serving them is a good business strategy.
I’ve been at the CH Town Hall and they are responsive to comments and adding to their to do list. According to their Community Guidelines, rooms are now being temporarily recorded so they can check complaints, and you can ban and report users.
Maybe have CH users vote someone on to the board to deal with data/privacy issues – for transparency and to show you are committed to users’ views. It would be a good way to demonstrate bottom-up leadership.
The beauty of Clubhouse is that it’s live and easy to use. Please don’t add too many features – I’m really not bothered about messaging on the app. Being able to hop off onto other platforms during an event is a strength and keeps it sticky.
Please take off the follower count! It’s about adding value, not how many followers you have.
Brand accounts and podcast recordings – seen ‘em! Not sure how they fit in but keep them separate.
Those who are hearing and visually impaired aren’t being catered for now – live transcription would help.
It will be interesting to see what happens over the next six months. There’s much talk about whether it will lose exclusivity if it gets too big. I don’t think so. It’s different from existing social platforms and serving a need: human connection. Business networking is changing. I’ve heard many people say they prefer online events as they’re more accessible & affordable. We may not want to go back to the travel and expense post-pandemic, so this will be super useful.
As Li Jin said, creator platforms flourish when they provide opportunity for anyone to grow and succeed.
Ps, they’re hiring (Android launching in March) – apply here.
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Leopard print, always. Worry less and rock a red lip. Internet person, global citizen, flâneuse, problem solver.
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