April 24, 2008
Does that idea of “working from anywhere in the world” grab your attention? It always gets mine. With the right kind of work, all you need is a laptop computer and a hot spot plus a cell phone. Maybe you only need access to a computer once in a while. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
I think that somebody needs to offer remedial classes on “How To Work From Anywhere In The World!” I’m not very good at it yet.
My sons and I are traveling to Cincinnati for a soccer tournament. The work I need to do while I’m gone is writing and posting articles and having one coaching session. Already I’m over my head!
When I planned to have my coaching call by cell phone, I forgot about the time change. I’ll be driving to a soccer field at the normally scheduled time, so I had to reschedule the session. My wonderful client was understanding so we changed the session to a different day. But come on! How hard should it be to plan one coaching session?
I have a laptop that’s eight or nine years old and I want to bring it along. But I realized that many of my login sites and passwords are automatically stored in my desktop computer so I might not be able to send out my newsletter or work on my blog-zine.
So I’m writing this during a break in packing early Thursday afternoon. We fly out this evening. I know! What was I thinking?
For all of you struggling with time management problems, take heart. We usually manage the day-to-day stuff because we get into habits and a rhythm. It’s the occasional big event with hard-to-predict time requirements that throws us.
It’s okay, though, because I’m learning. I’m learning that “work from anywhere in the world” is a great marketing argument but a big challenge to pull off. I’m learning that, while it’s fun and exciting to take care of all the little details when your business is small and starting to grow, it can leave you jammed when other things come up. I’m guessing the “work from anywhere in the world” crowd have some excellent employees or virtual assistants keeping things running smoothly behind the scenes while they’re hopping the globe.
Some day I’ll be very good at this. I’ll have everything I need on a new, fast laptop. I’ll have figured out what I need by going places, doing some work while I’m there, and learning each time. If I need to publish something while I’m gone, I’ll know when, where, and how I can do it. If there are things that need to get done that I can’t manage while out of town, I’ll have a virtual assistant to handle them for me.
But this weekend I’m hopping on a plane with my old laptop so I can test run this idea. If I get to work on upcoming articles, I’ll come back to a comfortable schedule. If not, boy am I gonna’ be rushed!
May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,
April 18, 2008
Look out world! I am armed with pass codes and HTML!
For those of you whose eyes glaze over when talk turns to the internet, I offer a disclaimer. My big accomplishments this week are all web-related. But be heartened! One scenic turnout in the road led me to a good idea for technophobes.
First, biggest, happiest, and best accomplishment – I learned how to edit my SteveCoxsey.com web site! My web guy is actually a programming and database expert, so websites are a small profit center to him. I like to make little changes here and there, much faster than we could work out. He got brave, and I got brave, and he decided to show me some basics with Front Page last night. I can edit and reformat and change themes and colors and completely screw things up now!
My other accomplishments might seem small by comparison. It was such a little idea I just let it float around in the back of my head for a while before deciding to act. I got three new URLs. I redirected two of them to my blogs. My “Anything But Marketing!” blog on TypePad can now be accessed at AnythingButMarketing.com. This “Twisting Road Travel Log” on Blogger can be accessed at TwistingRoad.com.
Why does this matter? In part because it’s neater and a little cleaner. When I reference a blog the name is the URL. This looks nicer in my e-zine, which I send out in simple text format. That’s the use for my third new URL. I set up a basic free page at OnTheTwistingRoad.com for my e-zine. Eventually I’ll build a “squeeze page” that gives a better enticement for people to sign up. For now there’s something functional at that address.
What’s the point? I can focus on creating a free offer and design the squeeze page to give a free report or free audio or whatever I come up with to people who sign up. It’s another step to building my list, with many more to follow.
Other technical accomplishments weren’t as important. Unless you consider the lighting store adventure I wrote about in Wednesday’s edition of “Anything But Marketing!” Finding those halogen replacement bulbs was a huge accomplishment when you consider the effort it took!
I tweaked my DiscoveryLookout.com site so it is more consistent and flows better. Playing with the little bit of HTML code I’ve learned is fun and takes over my time.
Which brings me to the idea for technophobes. Coaching colleagues will talk about needing to set up a web site but having little knowledge, or they’ll talk about the price of hosting and having a web master design a site for them. Many don’t have a point of comparison and it seems like a lot of money to invest for a basic informational site. A few weeks back I talked about this to a friend who helps a couple of businesses maintain and update their sites. She got back in town this week and was able to give me some ideas yesterday.
She doesn’t have the expertise to design a web site from scratch, but she works very well with templates. She doesn’t know extensive HTML coding, but she knows enough to customize parts of templates and add things the business owners need. The technophobe-friendly idea is to purchase a templated site for a reasonable fee or buy template software. With the free help of a friend who knows a little HTML coding, or the affordable help of someone who is not a web master but can do web maintenance and updating, a technophobe can set up a site fairly quickly for just a little money.
The best part is that this approach lets you learn little steps and be comfortable gaining skills and mastery. The second best part is that it lets you have quick access to and control of your site, which you’re going to want. Trust me!
Technophobes of the world, take heart and move forward into the ominous world of web technology. Technophiles of the world, step up and guide us into the future! And teach us while you do it. And only give us as much as we need each time, and only charge us for the little bit we need!
You may now de-glaze your eyes.
May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,
April 11, 2008
I’ve gotten in the habit of writing what I’ve learned each week along my own journey as a solo entrepreneur. Sometimes I get a “big picture” view of things that helps me move forward. Sometimes I learn one small thing and another little piece falls into place. Sometimes I re-learn something I already figured out but then forgot. Okay, maybe it’s more than sometimes.
As I sit here thinking about what I learned this week, I can’t come up with anything about being a solo entrepreneur or about my business in particular. But I can come up with important things I haven’t learned!
On Wednesday night I had the great pleasure of facilitating a resource group conference call for students in training through MentorCoach. We struggled with many questions about the line between coaching and consulting or training. In its pure form, coaching helps a client find answers and does not present the coach as an expert on any subject. Providing information or suggestions crosses into consultation or training.
I know I enjoy brainstorming and am able to share specific information when I work with clients, and I don’t want to limit my way of helping to a small box. I want to use coaching skills but not be primarily a coach. What I didn’t learn is what to call that role and the kind of service I want to provide.
I want to find information on personal growth, especially around the idea of living authentically in a way that honors a person’s gifts and passions and values. I want to find exercises and techniques for helping people reconnect to creativity and go through self-discovery. What I didn’t learn is what format to use for sharing information in a way that works best with my own gifts, passions, and values.
I want to encourage creative career choices and help people find the way to work in unique ways that they love. I want to encourage people who can’t find a way to make a living doing what they love to make sure they find work that allows them to do what they love and keeps it at the center of their lives. What I didn’t learn is how to bring something fresh and new to the field, or how to present myself in order to do that.
I want to write on different topics. Most are related to personal discovery and personal growth and stretching oneself to take on new challenges. But I want to write on other topics, too. I want to travel sometimes to see a place and meet interesting people and tell their story. What I didn’t learn is how to do that in a way that leads to income.
That’s the biggest thing I didn’t learn this week. I didn’t learn all the steps to fill in between a free e-mail newsletter and a free blog-zine on one end and paid services on the other. That’s due in large part to the fact that I didn’t learn what it is I really want to be doing to earn money! I want to write, and I want to work directly with people, individually and in groups. But I didn’t learn what that’s going to look like.
So I end this week with lots of questions and not many answers. Which, oddly enough, is the beginning of an answer. I like the fact that coaching moves people forward and helps them accomplish goals. But I also want to work with people who have no easy answers, and need to marinate in their questions for a while, because the discovery is slow and may run very deep.
I wonder what that’s going to look like!
May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,
April 4, 2008
A few years back we lived in a different city, another nearby suburb in the area between Dallas and Fort Worth. When we moved into our little (actually tiny) house, we were surrounded by open fields. Our house and the neighbors’ house were the only ones there – former model homes in a development that was stalled for years because of a court case over ownership of the land.
Over time, the Farm to Market road that passed by old farmhouses and lots of open land was widened to two lanes plus a turn lane. Traffic lights went in, and so did convenience stores, strip malls, and housing additions. The other Farm to Market road that intersected it a few miles north, the one that took me to the lake by passing through a couple of old country towns, eventually got widened, too. Now it’s the main street of an upscale suburb with Starbucks, a gourmet grocery store, and a huge shopping, dining, and entertainment center. The drive from the old house to the lake used to take less then twenty minutes. That same drive would be almost twice as long now, with all the traffic and those darned traffic lights.
Since we didn’t move far, I still drive in the area close to the old house, sometimes several times per week. A friend was talking to me the other day about a new strip mall in that area and said it was just down from the new funeral home. I was totally confused and couldn’t figure out where she was describing because there were no funeral homes in the area. She told me the intersection again, so the next time I went that way I looked closely. There was a new funeral home, next to the new architect’s office, down from the new church.
This reminded me of a day when we had lived in our old house for a few years when an elderly lady at the corner gas station was completely lost. She was explaining she was looking for the old main street that had the feed store on it. The feed store had moved into a big new building on the Farm to Market road and the old building was being renovated. With all the new construction in the area she couldn’t find her familiar landmarks. She didn’t get out to drive very often, but it was a month or less since she last drove and things had changed that quickly. I let her follow me up the road about a quarter of a mile, and then I turned to drive her by the old feed store. From there she said she would be fine.
Things change around us constantly, even if we want to live in a rut. Sometimes people choose ruts because they’re predictable and comfortable. But the rut you start following today will not be the rut you follow in ten years, even if you try. The business I co-owned was very different the day we sold it compared to the day I joined it. The year I spent returning to a therapy practice after selling the business was a distant experience to the seven years I spent as a therapist before the business.
Last summer while on a road trip I took a slight detour to show my sons the house my family lived in for many years of my childhood. The rural area outside the small town now has a car dealership on one corner and small shops and offices on the road to it. There were so many new houses I drove by my old house and had to turn around to find it. Once again, I felt like that elderly lady, in a familiar place but with so much new information the familiar was hidden.
This week I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to me to pursue a creative career and be a solo entrepreneur. It doesn’t mean safety or predictability. It doesn’t mean the comfort of the known. It means adventure, and challenges, and the freedom to fall. It means I step into new territory every day, even if it’s just figuring out how to position something on my web page by learning one piece of HTML code. It means I can look at people who are successful at similar things and learn from them, but I don’t just follow their path. I figure out where those skills and accomplishments will be important on the trail I’m blazing for myself.
Life’s going to change around me whether I want it to or not. If I don’t keep up it’s going to leave me behind. I’d rather be out there exploring and learning and trying new things. This way I’ll be more comfortable with changes and can take them in stride. And I’ll be in charge of more of the changes, making them happen to improve my life.
May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,