Going Independent: Are You Ready to Make the Leap?
August 1, 2017
Emily Stringer, Manager, Executive Advisory Services at MBO Partners
George Hallenbeck, Director of Commercialization, Center for Creative Leadership (CCL)
00:06 Introduction of the event, MBO Partners, and the speaker
04:00 Webinar agenda
06:29 Understanding the current landscape of independent work
07:30 Increased demand for agile workers
12:30 Knowing what it takes to succeed
17:59 Fit: Embracing what you don’t know when it comes to being independent
39:21 Readiness: How to face the challenges of an independent worker
47:10 Transition: Where to begin
53:10 New CCL projects coming soon
1:00:00 Closing remarks
Independent working provides greater freedom and flexibility, and even the possibility of increased satisfaction and wellness. However, independent work is not for everyone. What is it about going independent that is so challenging? Find out more about how you can assess whether independent working is a good fit for you and learn how you can gauge your readiness for success.
In this webinar by George Hallenbeck, the Director of Commercialization at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), he discusses why you should empower yourself with the knowledge to be informed, confident, and prepared in making decisions when it comes to being independent, and even get a chance to earn more. While being an independent agile worker has become the right path for many to follow, it is a choice to be considered carefully.
This webinar discussed three critical considerations in pursuing an independent career:
- Assessing Fit (Is this right for me?)
- There’s a difference between being an independent worker, particularly if you’ve been working in traditional roles.
- Learn more about the realities and challenges you’ll likely face and what it takes to weather them and succeed.
- Assessing Readiness (Do I have what it takes?)
- Succeeding long-term as an independent worker requires a strong dose of disciplined self-leadership.
- Three skills that differentiate independents who thrive at what they do.
- Making the Transition (Where do I begin?)
- How to determine your destination and plot your course.
- So where exactly are you going on your journey to independence?
- How do you get here from there?
- Do you make a big leap or take a series of small steps?
Are you interested in attending the next webinar in the Starting a Consulting Business series? View our upcoming events.
Emily Stringer [00:00:07] Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to today's webinar, Going Independent: Are You Ready to Make the Leap, featuring George Hallenbeck of CCL. George, next slide, please.
Emily Stringer [00:00:22] My name is Emily Stringer and I will be moderating today's webinar. A little background on me, I've been with MBO for about 7 and a 1/2 years. As a Consultant Services Advisor, I respond to requests from independents like you who are curious about MBO service offerings. This is done through consultation appointments where we learn more about your background and needs, and determine if MBO services are the right fit for your business of one. Next slide, please.
Emily Stringer [00:00:53] MBO's mission statement is to make it easy for independent consultants and their clients to work together. For a high-level overview, we offer a complete, all-inclusive business operating platform for independent consultants. We take care of the administrative items that are typically outsourced to a number of different vendors, such as incorporation, contract review, liability coverage, invoicing, expense review and processing, tax withholding and payroll, and access to tax-efficient portable benefits. Additionally, we have recently launched our proprietary marketplace for independents called MBO Connect, which allows our consultants and clients to find each other for product project-based work. Next slide, please.
Emily Stringer [00:01:43] Now for a few housekeeping items on the webinar setup, first and foremost, you can see your controls listed here. Secondly, we will be emailing a slide deck and a recorded copy of the entire webinar to all registrants in the next week. Last, we will be taking questions, that will be addressed at the end of the presentation. Any questions that we do not get to will be answered via email after the presentation. Next slide, please.
Emily Stringer [00:02:15] If you want to follow the presentation on Twitter, use #MBOWeb to submit your questions and comments @MBOPartners. Also, you can find George online at @CCLdotORG. Next slide, please.
Emily Stringer [00:02:32] At this time, it is my pleasure to introduce you to our speaker, George Hallenbeck of the Center for Creative Leadership, or CCL, for short. George works at CCL as the Director of Commercialization, where he leads an innovation platform called All Access Leadership focused on enhancing, reimagining, and creating product offerings that empower and enable clients to deliver and experience CCL's intellectual property in ways that match their needs and strategies. George earned his B.A. in Psychology from Colby College and M.S and Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Colorado State University. George has co-authored 7 books, including FYI for Learning Agility, and Learning Agility: Unlock the Lessons of Experience, and has another forthcoming book as well. He has written numerous white papers and journal articles, as well as pieces for publications such as BusinessWeek Online and CLO magazine. He regularly participates in other thought leadership efforts, including speaking engagements, webcasts, and blogging. George, I'll let you take it away from here.
George Hallenbeck [00:03:49] Thank you very much, Emily, and thank you, everyone, for joining us today. Greetings from an unusually snowy and cold Greensboro, North Carolina. It's exciting to have the opportunity to share with you all what the Center for Creative Leadership or CCL, as we also call ourselves, is learning about independent work and how that can help you succeed in an independent career.
George Hallenbeck [00:04:11] Today, we're going to be reaching out directly to those of you who are interested in independent work and are contemplating making that leap either part-time or full-time. So we'll guide you through some key considerations to help you assess whether independent work is a good fit for you, gauge your readiness for success, and also prepare you to make a smooth transition. For those of you who are listening, who are already engaged in independent work, we're hoping to provide you with information that will give you a deeper insight into the unique challenges you face as an independent professional and also key you into some of the essential skills you'll need to hone for your long term success. And so with that in mind, we'd like to see who is in attendance today. So we're going to start with a quick poll.
George Hallenbeck [00:04:57] You can see your options there on the screen, so please respond, and then we'll close that poll in about 30 seconds or so. And while you're responding, I want to let you know that following today's presentation available to you today will be the slides that we're going to feature in today's presentation, as well as some follow-up resources as well. And at the end of the webinar, I'll also tell you about 2 future webinars that some of my CCL colleagues are going to be doing within the coming months with MBO Partners as well. So look forward to sharing that information.
Emily Stringer [00:05:35] George, it looks like we're about 75% voted here, so we'll give everyone about 15 more seconds to get their answers in. So far, it's looking like the majority of those in attendance are currently full-time employees. And we will cut voting right here, so to quickly go through our results, it looks like we have 36 are full-time employees. We have 20% who are part-time independent professionals or freelancers, 18% who are full-time independent professionals, 16% who are full-time independent professionals who have been at it for 1 to 5 years, and 10% who have been full-time independent professionals for 5 years or more.
George Hallenbeck [00:06:20] Okay, great, thanks for that breakdown, Emily. All right, well, let's get started with the content. All right, first, I'd like to share with you a series of stats, and this first set of stats gives you an idea of what the current landscape is like for doing independent work. And each of these comes from the most recent state of an independent report from MBO, which provides a lot of useful information.
George Hallenbeck [00:06:47] First, there are a lot of independents out there, 40.9 Million in America alone, and that's up 2.8% from the previous survey. Second, they account for a significant portion of the workforce, about 31% of the private workforce in the US. And third, while the population of independents is diverse across all sorts of demographics, including age, gender, occupations. There's an increased growth in high earners coming into the profession, approximately 1 in 5 full-time independent reports, an income of more than 100,000. And that's an increase of almost 5% from the previous year and definitely seems to signal a trend.
Here's the future outlook, and that also appears robust. These are some stats from a recent report from Ranstad and they predict that by 2019, as much as 50% of the workforce will be comprised of what they call agile workers and they define that as anyone working in a temporary contract consultant or freelance capacity. And they predict that that percentage may reach as high as 70% by 2025, driven in part by individuals who are really looking for greater opportunities for career growth as well as income. Also to that, they see that the demand is increasing from employers with 46% of current employers expressing a greater commitment to building and utilizing an adult workforce, and that's a whopping 155% increase over the 4 years. So clearly, the independent economy is going to be a big part of our future.
George Hallenbeck [00:08:25] Now is the ranks of independent workers grow in both number and diversity, we're starting to get a better understanding of the benefits that they're experiencing. And here are 2 or some more statistics from MBO State of Independence report. And so 70 percent excuse me, 77 percent of all independents, both full and part-time, say that they're happier working on their own. And 70% of those full-timers say that working on their own is better than their health, which is very good to know in these stressful times. Now, 43% of full-time independents say that they actually earn more money working on their own. And 40%, nearly half of full-time independents say they feel more secure working independently, which I think that last statistic is particularly noteworthy because one of the biggest concerns that people have coming into independent work is will it be secure? So we have almost half of people who are in that line saying that actually, they feel more secure. So I think that's very interesting.
George Hallenbeck [00:09:29] Now, given these facts we've just reviewed, it's really not a surprise at all that there are a lot of individuals out there who are currently full-time employees. A lot of you on the webcast today who are really having curiosity about going into independent work. And as I was researching other studies focused on independence, freelancers in the broader economy, I was really struck by this particular estimate from McKinsey that as many as 1 in 6 individuals working as a full-time employee is interested in switching to independent work. And so that's a pretty big number when you stop to think about it. Even if a portion of those 1 in 6 people made that switch in the coming years, it would really mark a significant shift in how a lot of us are choosing to work and live our lives. So we're curious people at CCL and so we wanted to see if we could replicate a similar finding. So we decided to ask that same question of individuals who've engaged with CCL as part of the leadership development. And the response that we got surprised even us some. So the over 200 alumni who responded, 56% expressed an interest in someday engaging in independent work and the remainder thereof that pie chart. 33% said that they had at least some interest, you know, kind of put themselves in the maybe category. And only 11% said that they really didn't have any interest at all. So that 56% said that they had a definite interest. 39% expressed an interest in doing independent work full-time and then remaining 61% percent on a part-time basis. So if you do the math, it would actually suggest that the McKenzie status is conservative at best if you take the 56% who responded yes and multiply that by the 39% who aspire to full-time independent work, then that's over 1 in 5 in our own sample.
George Hallenbeck [00:11:24] Now, it's exciting to think about all the individuals who can make that switch and get on a pathway to greater satisfaction and success, and it's also to be thinking about all the great impact that they could be having working with their clients, giving back to the communities they live in, etc.. But the optimism, I think, that I feel in my heart is also tempered by the fact that not everyone in that 1 in 5 is necessarily going to achieve the satisfaction and success that they seek. And further to the point, some of them are probably better served staying on a more traditional career track, after all, anyone who's closely involved in doing independent work will tell you that it's not for everyone and definitely not for the faint of heart. So we could leave it at that, but that would be unfair.
George Hallenbeck [00:12:13] And so what I'm going to spend the rest of the webinar focused on is really giving you a closer examination of just what it is that's challenging about independent work and also what differentiates those who are able to rise to those challenges and deal with them successfully. So over the last year, I've really taken a deep dive into this and I've had the pleasure of conducting in-depth interviews and doing a lot of other research with a wide variety of individuals who have made the leap to doing independent work, sometimes somewhat spontaneously and others after a lot of years of planning but no matter who I talk to, there's one phrase that I've heard over and over from just about everyone, and that's I didn't know what I didn't know.
George Hallenbeck [00:12:55] There's a lot that really comes as a surprise to people about doing this work, as 1 person put it, they said. The facts of life that operates in the world of independent and freelance work is just different. And until you experience it firsthand, those differences can be difficult to grasp. Not only did these individuals who made the transition to independent work get faced with new and often unforeseen challenges, but they also had to summon new strategies and skills to deal with them. And on top of all that, they were faced with making these adjustments quickly so that they could stay alive and thrive in what they were doing and they had to do it all on their own.
George Hallenbeck [00:13:33] So put that all together, and I'd like in that achieving success as an independent is somewhat like an ongoing exercise and knowing what to do when you don't know what to do. And if you've ever been faced with that challenge, that's certainly not an easy task. So as we've learned, especially from some of those staff that I should start with, there's an awful lot to be gained personally and professionally from being engaged in independent work. But by the same token, it's also a long, windy and at times treacherous road. And that's a fact that's nothing that we can change. It's just a reality but we do feel that there are two things that we can do about that. First, we can give you a map and in a moment I'm going to uncover the 4 primary challenges that are unique to independent work that we've identified from our research. These challenges will still exist and you'll still need to face them. But we figure it's much better than you have an opportunity to address them with your eyes wide open in a state of readiness rather than be blindsided by them and have to learn the hard way. The other thing we can do is we can give you some driving tips, along with the 4 steps of challenges that I just mentioned. There are also 4 distinct sets of skills that combine together, help you to deal with those challenges.
George Hallenbeck [00:14:52] Now, the good news, too, is that these are also developable skills that you can work on honing while you prepare to make the leap to independent work. Now, along with the information I'm going to share with you. There are also a few interactive exercises that will have for you as well to really help bring some of this material more fully to life. But the outcome that we're aiming for today is to empower you with the knowledge that we give you, to put you in a position to make an informed and confident decision about pursuing independent work. And should you choose to go that route, enter in as prepared as possible? We figured this will give you the best shot at hitting the ground running and achieving your goals for satisfaction success as quickly and as easily as possible. And again, if you're in the position of already being engaged in independent work, we hope to give you a clearer perspective on the challenges that you face and also help you with acquiring some new tools for dealing.
George Hallenbeck [00:15:52] Now going for a frame, the rest of the presentation around 3 key questions, first is the question of fit and the key question here is independent work right for me? is this something that I should be embarking on?
George Hallenbeck [00:16:06] Next is the question of readiness. Do I have what it takes to succeed as an independent, especially from day 1? And finally, there's the when and how of actually making the transition, something that's easier said than done. A lot of people are overwhelmed by the prospect of this. And the question that we heard most often from people who are contemplating this is just very simple where do I begin? So if I go through these questions, I want you to hold two images in your mind that for me, frame the difference between independent work and more traditional full-time employment in an organization.
George Hallenbeck [00:16:42] Now, as I introduce these images, don't think of them as better or worse than the other, just different. So traditional full-time employment can be thought of as something like sailing on a fully outfitted yacht in an enclosed harbor, you've got shipmates who you may or may not enjoy having on the boat with you to help you sail the boat. The land is always clearly in sight. And along with that, you've got sonar, maps, navigation buoys, all sorts of resources to help guide you safely on your journey.
Now, by contrast, working independently is more like being in a personal sailboat out on the open ocean, the tools you have are more basic. You're surrounded by the endless expanse of sea and sky, and it's just you on the boat. So with that in mind, we will now turn our focus to the question of fit, in other words, is this for me? And that requires examining 2 separate things, the situation in yourself. So we'll start with the situation and the more specific question of just what am I getting myself into here? The next set of slides will examine the 4 primary challenges that independents encounter on their career journey.
When it comes to being in business for yourself, talent and passion aren't enough to succeed, that can come as a surprise to some people. They're necessary, but they're far from sufficient for your success. And when it comes down to it, really, it's the things that they didn't teach you in school that often make the difference in achieving sustainable success. A friend of mine made this observation based on his own life experiences.
George Hallenbeck [00:18:22] His mother was a professional pianist. She attended conservatory to play concertos and sonatas and could do so with exquisite skill, but initially struggled to find steady and satisfying work. He remarked that it's like they taught her everything about being in a world class concert pianist except how to actually land a gig performing with an orchestra. She eventually found her way. But again, it was a tough road. So here are some of the specific challenges that we heard that fell into this bucket of being willing to embrace what you don't know, those things that they didn't teach you in school.
George Hallenbeck [00:18:58] One is just simply getting enough clients to earn a living. Another is balancing the competing demands of delivering to your clients but also having to be engaged in ongoing business development. There's also the challenge that comes with having to juggle multiple, multiple projects simultaneously. And another one that we've heard a lot is the challenge of marketing yourself and the value of what you deliver to others. So let's build on this last one a little bit. The first step, paradoxically, to making sure that your talent is recognized is to actually shift the focus away from yourself and take a fresh look at what your clients need. Potential clients are just looking for a skill that you offer, they're looking for a problem to be solved and often an urgent one. So get beyond the need for specific something and really try to hone in and understand what your client is ultimately trying to accomplish and also why that's important to them. And when you can convey your understanding of what the problem really is and then position yourself as someone with the ability to solve it, then you're really getting somewhere. And as you further hone this ability to offer distinct and compelling value proposition to your client, it then really becomes part of your own personal brand doing your work. There's one freelancer put it. She said, your expertize gets you noticed it gets you in the door, but to get the gigs ultimately based on how you make people feel about you. And that's what that value proposition is all about.
[00:20:29] Next is the challenge of navigating ambiguity and uncertainty, and this takes many forms, but there's a common theme of having to deal with the unexpected. One thing is dealing with fluctuations in the business cycle, your own personal business cycle as a company of one. People variously described this as the peaks and troughs or the ebbs and flows or on and off or up and down. But there are definitely fluctuations that you have to deal with. Also, your schedule from day to day can be very erratic and unpredictable. Also, too, you can have to deal with rapid changes in circumstances that are beyond your control. For instance, you might have a big client who makes up 70-80% of your work, and all of a sudden they might shift direction or just not be needing your services and the amount that they were previously. You can definitely get some curves thrown at you. And another challenge, too, is deciding what clients to accept or reject. This comes as a surprise to a lot of people who start out because they think that the decision often is going to be made just on well, is the client able to pay me enough? But there are other considerations that come into play, such as does this represent the work that I'm really interested in doing or that I want to represent my brand? Is it going to stretch me sufficiently or is it just going to get me caught in a rut? Also, too, there's the consideration of is this too much for me to handle? Am I getting in over my head and will touch upon that one again in just a minute? but these and other challenges are ongoing. And frankly, they never really end because it's impossible to completely dispel the fuzziness and fog that are really just part and parcel of a freelance career. It's just one of those facts of life that we mentioned earlier and successful freelancers.
So they found some effective ways to manage those uncertainties. And for many, it starts with looking within and finding wisdom in their experiences, and getting guidance from their values. But really, introspection can only get you so far. And if you engage in too much navel-gazing, it's only going to get you more lost in the fog. So outside approaches are also needed. And savvy freelancers, a lot of them take pride in their independence and self-reliance, but they also recognize and accept that they can't do it all on their own. So they put energy into seeking out others. And this includes engaging in ongoing dialog with other freelancers about the career decisions they face and how they've approached them. They also place a high premium on having one or more professional mentors so it can really be counted on as a source of clear feedback and unbiased advice, you know, people will just really kind of give it to him straight up. And as one from a freelancer we spoke with put it, he said that no doubt if you're facing a challenge, someone else out there has had that same experience and they can help you learn from it.
Before introducing the next challenge, I'm going to show you 2 slides that each highlight a single word. And when that word appears on the screen, I want you to take a moment and in the chat window where the question window, I want to you to enter in what you associate with that word. Now, when the opportunity comes up, don't overthink it. Just write down what comes to your mind. And so also to when I introduce this first word, I'm just going to qualify it a little bit in terms of the context that I want you to think about it. So if you're ready, I'm going to advance the slide and then just be ready to respond in the question window.
So the first word is a network, and I want you to think of this as a noun, as in your professional network. So go ahead and just type in your associations with that word and we'll just take a second for you to do that. Emily, any other instructions to provide them?
Emily Stringer [00:24:22] Well, we have quite a few answers coming in, so I think everybody's got it down pat. So a couple of things I see coming in. Collaborators, personal branding, safety net resources, professionals, diverse and strong, but room to level up, connections, relationships, support, is critical to your existence, a group to form new ideas with people I know, ongoing resources, potential leads, connections that matter, connections, connections, connections. That's where my inspiration peers.
George Hallenbeck [00:25:08] Good, good. Diversity of response to.
Emily Stringer [00:25:12] Yes.
George Hallenbeck [00:25:12] Good, good, great. Keeping up with the stream of information that I'm sure is coming your way.
Emily Stringer [00:25:19] Oh, they're coming quickly. So I will let you carry on from here. George.
George Hallenbeck [00:25:24] Great. Well, thank you for that, Emily. And get ready 1 or 2 more keystrokes on that, because now I'm going to show you the next word and then you can respond to that. And that word is a community, so jot down your associations with that word. And. Emily, I'll be interested to hear what's scrolling across your screen on that.
Emily Stringer [00:25:47] trust, team, people, support, love, diverse, peers, lots of support. Many people are typing in support, team, clients, those I live and work with, neighbors, expertise, support, professional contacts, similar interests, support, support and trust, social networks are my first network, trust, culture, people with a common center of interest, relationships, new market, business leads any group of people that form a similar interest, Facebook, leads. So we've got lots that are coming through. It was an opportunity to serve. That's a good one.
George Hallenbeck [00:26:36] That is giving back that. And, you know, we're going to have a poll in a second, too. And that is one of the things that we heard from some of our respondents and reasons that they're interested in doing freelance work is that opportunity to give back, particularly for later career folks. And so that's great. So a little bit of a shift there. I heard from connections to support also some more kind of more positively, emotionally kind of laden terms there, and also an even broader circle of people, it sounded like, as well.
Emily Stringer [00:27:11] Yes, I agree. That is correct, it was quite broad,
George Hallenbeck [00:27:16] So thank you all for sharing that. I really appreciate that. And I look forward to kind of going through all the details when the webcast is over.
George Hallenbeck [00:27:25] So give this as a try as I move forward with the presentation where you might normally think of network substitute community for that in its place and see how that begins to shift your perspective. Because when you do start to shift your focus from the idea of building a network to instead of fostering community, I truly believe and again, what a lot of the freelancers we spoke with shared with us, is that it really opens up new possibilities. As I just highlighted a moment ago, your independent colleagues can serve as a key source of career mentoring, guidance, and support. There's that word again, but the community can also serve as a source of inspiration. Now, many freelancers and independents are very creative, idea-driven people who are seeking to innovate, and CCL through our research understand innovation as a process of connecting ideas to ideas, ideas to people, and then finally people to people. So in other words, being innovative is not a 1 person endeavor, not a lone genius huddled away in their attic or office or something, but rather it's a process of really getting out with people and connecting. One freelancer put it this way, he said it can get lonely doing this type of work. You want to play with things, you want to get ideas and inspiration from other ones, from others. Otherwise, you can get in a bubble and really start to get stale. You cap it off by saying, let's face it, my next great innovation isn't going to come from talking to the kitchen wall.
George Hallenbeck [00:29:01] Now, it's certainly ok to think of some members of your community as competition, but they're also often a valuable source of potential partners and collaborators.Find the right people to partner with while at the same time still maintaining your independence. And they can really help you accomplish more than you expect. Sorry, I'm just having trouble getting my side to advance here. One moment, something for us. Thank you for your patience there. So this other freelancer said that there's one thing you can accomplish just on your own. Fashion designers work like this. Musicians, too, but you can't play all the instruments on your own record. My ambitions are bigger than what I can create with my own 2 hands. And so achieving my dreams will involve leading others to help me do that. That's one of those instances where the community can really play a hidden, invaluable role.
George Hallenbeck [00:29:55] Finally, there's the challenge of dealing with what I would call messy and unpleasant situations, and you're going to encounter these on any job that's nothing particularly new. But what's different here is that the majority situations you encounter independent have to do with clients, which, depending on what you've done previously, might represent a new challenge for you. The other difference is the more critical one is you're solely accountable for dealing with the situation. At the end of the day, it's all on you. And so the messy and unpleasant situations, the people we spoke with, the related to us, were varied in nature, and some of these included dealing with demanding and difficult clients, having clients ignore or reject your advice, not getting appropriate credit for your work, overcommitting to too many stakeholders and clients, and also getting over your head saying yes to work that you should have said no to. And this one of our freelancers who had to said and in response to particular situations that I shouldn't have done it. My ego was bruised, I got paid, but I didn't get hired by that client again. So those are some tough lessons to learn. So those are the 4 challenges that I think are important for you to assess in terms of if I encounter these, is this something I'm really prepared to take on? And one thing I encourage you to do is think back to in your full-time role, you work in a more traditional role, how you handled these similar types of situations and challenges. I think that can give you a good insight into how you might be likely to hand up handle them in your independent career.
George Hallenbeck [00:31:38] All right, we've got an opportunity here for another poll and we're going to shift to another question with regards to fit, and this is now kind of shifting the focus back to you and really asking yourself, why am I interested in this? And these were the top 5 things that we heard from our sample of CCL alumni when we asked them what their interest was in doing independent work. So the poll is now open, so please respond to those. And you can see that there's a common theme here and in that is that for a lot of people, doing independent work is really more of a calling than a career and that it's really about more than material things like making money and such. In fact, that doesn't even make the list here. That was number 8 on our list when we polled our alumni. So be interested to hear how these things resonate with your own interest in independent work. Emily, what is coming up on our poll?
Emily Stringer [00:32:46] Sure. So as of right now, we are about 70% voted on this particular topic. Let's give everyone about 15 more seconds here before we close out this poll. So what we're seeing far and away, our number 1 response, being able to pursue work that really interests me. So we have 39% there. We have 26% at freedom and independence. We have 19% flexibility. We have 10% at new learning experiences, people in challenges and 6% add variety or diversity of work. We can go ahead and close that poll out. So those are our finals.
George Hallenbeck [00:33:32] Great. And again, thank you again for your responses. So I do it again is something that we hear often is that there's a passion that people have for their work and they're not always able to have that met in their day job. And so going independent gives them an opportunity to really do the work that's most fulfilling and challenging to them. And that is definitely one of the exciting parts. Get ready to use the question window again, because we're going to have you take that response that you just gave and dive a little deeper. What I'd like you to do now is I'd like you to intervene in the response window, the completion to the question of, I'm interested in making the leap to independent work because with up to, if you can, 5 or 7 specific responses. So just dive a little deeper. On that poll response and like the earlier exercise, don't overthink it, just come first with what comes to your mind and be interested to see the kind of diversity of responses that we get from that. But take 30 seconds or so here and see if you can enter and just jot in 5 or 6 different reasons why you're interested in making the leap.
Emily Stringer [00:34:51] We have a good variety coming through here. I want to pursue my dream. Another is to make a living. Another is that I am called to do this, as you were mentioning earlier, George and I think that's so true for many consultants. I want to focus on work that I am passionate about, freedom to choose to focus on. Oh, this is moving so fast. I, I lost that one. Tend to build a long-term career plan to finally get the opportunity to pursue my passion, to add value to clients, to have focused projects. I want to be happier as you get older and you find yourself out of work, it's difficult to find a new job opportunity to be in control of my time and money flexibility as I grow older, to come out from under my boss, more control of projects and life. So we're seeing a lot of work-life balance seem to answer here. Yeah, and I'm more in control of my time.
George Hallenbeck [00:35:58] Yeah. Managing your time, you know, people. And I think that's just a shift that we're seeing in society too, that, you know, people feel like they want to take back some measure of control and achieve that balance that's so elusive from them. So great. Well, thank you for those responses.
George Hallenbeck [00:36:14] Now, take the responses that you entered in, and I want you to mentally sort those into 2 different piles. One, I will call running two responses in terms of running two independent work and then the other overcall, running from responses in terms of running from more traditional full-time employment. Now, an example of a running to response would be something like a better opportunity to express myself creatively or again, actually, the majority of the things that I heard, Emily read really did sound more like running to responses. But there are those running from responses like, oh, I don't have to deal with my boss any more. Now, it's ok to have some of each. But I would say that if you see that more than a third of your responses run into that running excuse me, fall into that running from the category, then you might want to examine your motivations a little bit more closely. And it's really a case of there really is no grass is a greener phenomenon with doing independent work. Like I mentioned earlier, the facts of life are just different. And one set of hassles and dislikes will most certainly get replaced with another. And to think of otherwise is really, I think, setting yourself up for some expectations that are going to be dashed fairly quickly. Now, the difficult boss motivator is definitely a good example, because guess what, as an independent, you still have a boss. In fact, you have multiple bosses and not only includes the clients you have, which can be as we've seen from some of the messy and unpleasant situations, responses can be difficult in their own right. And then you have another boss, which is you. And that can also be a difficult challenge to face. So, again, just encouraging you to put things in perspective in terms of what your motivations are. But again, heard a lot of positive running to responses and what Emily had to share that.
[There's one more consideration with regards to fit, and that's really assessing whether you're meeting the prerequisite for running a successful business. And this is where talent and passion do matter. You do have to choose something that you are or at least can feasibly become good at, and you have to find satisfaction in that as well. Other otherwise, I think it's going to be a pretty unpleasant experience. But that's not all. It also has to be something that there's a market for. Somebody else has to see value in it. So we've got our picture of our air guitar player here. And so you might love playing air guitar. You might be a phenomenal air guitar player, but it's hard-pressed to think that you're going to pay the rent playing air guitar or even giving air guitar lessons. Now, that's an extreme example, but the point is to make sure that your talent and passion have an existing and reachable market so that you can be rewarded appropriately for those skills that you bring. Now, I'm going to shift the focus from the question, a fit to the question of readiness. In other words, do you have what it takes to address those challenges that you'll face in doing independent work?
George Hallenbeck [00:39:32] And of course, answering that question requires knowing what skills or different make are difference makers for success as an independent. Now, in addition to analyzing the challenges faced by independence, we also zeroed in on the skills that help them address those challenges, and those also fell into 4 buckets. Now, I'll discuss each of these briefly, along with a quick tipped age or development, and then we'll wrap up with a few considerations about making the transition. And then I look forward to hopefully 10 minutes or so where we can take some questions.
George Hallenbeck [00:40:02] Now, many successful freelancers project authenticity. In fact, when I've had an opportunity just to really sit across the table from people, they just exude a really grounded sense of self. And they also realize that given the shifting circumstances of independent work, this is something that they have to look at on an ongoing basis. So they're really tuned in to really kind of finding out where they're and really what's driving them. But it's very much of a different process of independence. One of my favorite insights came from a freelance filmmaker that I spoke with, and he made this observation. He said you need to you need time to figure out who you are when you're not working full-time for a company. So much of your identity and self-esteem get wrapped up in that and some people really find it hard to shred. And that's supported by the number of people who remarked to us how much they change personally and professionally as a result of their experiences doing independent work. So not only requires you to have a good sense of [00:41:06]weirdnesses, [0.0s] you begin your journey and face new challenges but also to continue to evolve that self-awareness as you go through your journey and independent work.
George Hallenbeck [00:41:16] Now, a practical approach for strengthening your self-awareness, but that also pays some dividends for your work is to invest in developing a personal mission and vision statement that also captures your core purpose. As I mentioned earlier, just about everyone will tell you the independent work is not for the faint of heart. It requires grit, discipline, stamina, and a healthy risk orientation or to deal with all those ups and downs and uncertainties that I mentioned earlier. Just about everyone we've encountered measured themselves as recently high in these qualities coming into independent careers. But they also admitted that they had to dig even deeper and develop even more resolve to move forward and achieve their success. And part of the solution really lies in just accepting the realities of independent work and not fighting it.
George Hallenbeck [00:42:07] One person put it this way, she said. Risk is the biggest thing you have to be comfortable with, that you can't get hung up on things like my when will I get my next paycheck? Or who will be working on this project? You just kind of have to learn to roll with it and not fight it.
George Hallenbeck [00:42:22] Now, a quick tip for becoming more resilient is to reframe failure. It's not uncommon for us to beat ourselves up over our mistakes or failures or even worse, try to brush them aside and seek to put the blame elsewhere. But in all this effort to either wallow in the bad things that happened or try to rationalize them away, a lot of people miss out on the opportunity to embrace failure as a learning experience. And when we look at failure as a necessary and beneficial, albeit painful, part of the process of being successful, we can allow ourselves to look at our actions more clearly and open ourselves up to the new insights that we can gain from our experience.
George Hallenbeck [00:43:02] Back to the sailing metaphor that I mentioned earlier, a sailboat out in the open water actually doesn't sail in a straight line to its destination. It actually tacks back and forth in a series of zigzags. Even then, there are shifting currents and constant changes in weather that forced continual course adjustments. And even these conditions can sometimes conspire to knock you off course completely, in which case your destination altogether might change.
George Hallenbeck [00:43:30] [00:43:30]And such [0.2s] is the case with independent work. It's an ongoing process of metamorphosis, adapting, and making changes so that you can grow and thrive. And one of the biggest warnings we heard repeatedly is not to get stuck in a niche, either with your clients or with your skills. Staying relevant and competitive involves continual efforts to nimbly adapt your skills and offering to meet the changing needs of your clients in the market. Pause or stubbornly stick with what's worked for you in the past and you're going to find yourself playing catch up. One person we spoke with shared that you might have an idea of what you want to accomplish, but it may well become another thing over time. It's about the intersection of what you have to offer and what the marketplace need is. And you need to be open to your offer morpheme. The ones who do it best and engage in this fancy footwork actually seem to welcome the changes. One person put it bluntly, she said, I can't stay in my comfort zone. I always have to be reinventing myself and taking on new challenges.
George Hallenbeck [00:44:31] So how do you embrace change, especially when there's a lot of ambiguity and confusion surrounding you at all times? Try adopting what we call a rapid prototyping mindset. And you can see a lot of this out there in the literature about lean startup and other approaches to doing innovative work. When you met with situations are initially confusing. Sometimes it just helps to jump in and just start trying some things out. Don't get frozen in the fog. Try a small-scale experiment that will help you develop clarity and confidence over time. And the principles of practices of rapid prototyping will then allow you to fail fast on your way to being successful.
George Hallenbeck [00:45:13] The final skill I want to highlight is community building, and this is more than just the corollary to the challenge of fostering community, it can also help you with each of the 4 challenges that were highlighted earlier. Of course, many people find this to be a difficult task. It gets to a lot of core fears that we have around taking social risks and also getting rejected. It can also be very time-consuming, but part of the solution is to reframe networking, as we mentioned earlier, reframe it as community building. It can really begin to shift your perspective and your corresponding behavior.
George Hallenbeck [00:45:44] There's one person that we talked to shared, she said community is something that you're a part of, not something that you join. I think that's pretty profound because the people in the places and the things that we feel connected with are really critical in shaping our identity. Part of how we define who and what we are is based on the people we surround ourselves with. An identity is a critical component of self-awareness. So in some ways, investing in building a community that you're a part of is also an investment in your self-awareness. It tells you who you really are.
George Hallenbeck [00:46:17] Now, one of the hang ups that encourages excuse me, discourages people from community building, especially when seen through the lens of more traditional networking type behavior, is that it's somehow disingenuous. But one of the people that we spoke with had this advice. She said, find your own authentic way to network and be a giver. Networking doesn't come naturally to everyone. So find your own way to be natural. And that's something that's supported by Adam Grant's research at Harvard. He looked at people who exhibited behaviors associated broadly with either being a giver or a taker and found significant differences in how those people fared across different circumstances. The bottom line, those who operate from a mindset of generosity and helping others, find that favor return to them many times over. So be a giver and grow your community.
George Hallenbeck [00:47:11] So thus far, we've taken stock of questions that help you frame your fit in your readiness for independent work, but the final one we're going to address is really where you go from here, particularly with one or more of the critical readiness skills that I just outlined. Now, it's hard to get your feet moving in any direction, let alone the right one, without some goals to guide you.
George Hallenbeck [00:47:33] Now, as we've learned, too, given the nature of independent work, the goals you have and how you choose to pursue them are often going to be in a constant state of flux. But you have to start somewhere. So having clear goals and working diligently and nimbly to pursue them is also a good way to pursue the concerns that you might have about transitioning into independent work. Identify those risks, those fears, those things that keep you up at night with regards to your transition, and try to mitigate them by making the focus of your goal-oriented behavior.
George Hallenbeck [00:48:04] Now, fortunately, there is decades of science out there that teach us a lot about how to make and pursue goals effectively and CCL has really captured that and accessible and actionable format. It's a 5 step process of some very basic things, but very important things to keep in mind. And the first is focused, now when you're motivated and excited to develop and change the temptations to take on a bunch of things at once. Now, that might be very well-intentioned. It might be very ambitious, but when it comes to be successful in pursuing your goals, it's not necessarily a good strategy. Instead, we recommend focus in your efforts on a select few areas, maybe even one that will really yield an impact, and also tap into your underlying energy and passion when you're doing something difficult. You have to have that intrinsic motivation and then that will really get you headed in the right direction. But also, as we've been a theme, consider what you're getting into. How hard will it be to make a change in this area? How long is it going to take me to make that change successfully? So a quick reality check might possibly lead you to identifying an area of focus that, while still challenging, has a better chance of success that's associated with it.
George Hallenbeck [00:49:19] You then need to choose the right kind of goal, different types of goals with different types of purposes and 3, in particular, are relevant to development, behavioral goals, those focus on changing how you act. Competency goals are really targeted at improving a skill and outcome goals, helping the specific target. Now, 1 type of goal is not better than the other. Just consider which goal is the most appropriate for the area of focus that you've chosen. Third, have a plan, it seems obvious, but a lot of people just go straight into doing mode, and that's consistent really with the hustle and adaptability associated with doing independent work. But it doesn't apply as well to intentional goal-focused behavior change. So no need to get too fancy. Just have a solid plan. And really, at the heart of it, that includes four specific elements. First, identify your tactics. In other words, the specific steps that you're going to take. Second, line up your resources. What will you need to help you make the change? Third, track your progress. You might have to recalibrate as you go along. So get a constant set of data flowing to help you know, where you are you're at relative to your goal. And third, when you reach that goal, make sure to celebrate. After all, you've worked hard and you've earned it.
Now, even with a plan, the path is always not a straight and easy one. So things will go wrong and you just have to anticipate and plan for that. And when things do go wrong, make an effort to really dig in and learn from what happened. And most importantly, don't get discouraged. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, get your bearings, and just keep on moving ahead. And then finally, just do make sure that your arms and legs and your head and heart are in motion and that you're really taking active steps toward reaching that goal. Always better to do something than nothing. So that's a high-level treatment that would help you get you started. But there is a lot more detail below those 5 simple steps. And one resource that is going to be in your follow-up materials directed towards is a really fantastic publication from CCL called Change now that really takes you through that 5 step process in a very interactive and fun manner.
George Hallenbeck [00:51:40] So that is what I wanted to share with you today. And I hope you found this information informative and helpful. And I would really urge you to take some time to reflect more deeply on what you've learned, including what questions that I have ever resolved for you, or perhaps and I hope actually some maybe new questions that are brought to mind and then really put your plan together for contemplating some next steps. And there's also a lot that I couldn't share with you today, as well as a lot that we're going to continue to explore here at CCL. So I encourage you all to stay in touch and share your questions as well as what you're learning on your journey. Again, I'm so excited to kind of go through the chat responses and everything to hear what people are sharing but definitely look forward to maintaining a dialog with anyone who's interested and here then to offer some additional resources that we're going to share with you in the wake of today's session, the slides, those will be available and the old providing with some information on that.
George Hallenbeck [00:52:43] And also we put together a quick resources appendix, especially as it relates to some of the specific skills that we targeted in the readiness section. In another month or 2, we're going to try out a little interactive scenario we're working on to give you sort of a realistic preview of a challenging situation that you might encounter in doing independent work to see what you can learn from going through that. And then also in another month or 2 as well, I'll be doing another CCL blog on top competencies for independence. So be on the lookout for those. And then also coming up in March and May, my colleagues, Jessica Glazer and Lynn Miller, who both rock, are going to be doing some MBO webinars, and Jessica will be focused on developing those networking skills that you need to build that thriving community, support your independent work. And Lynn will focus on creating your professional brand, which is closely tied to the skills of authenticity and self-awareness.
George Hallenbeck [00:53:48] So we look forward to you joining us for these events. And I really thank you for all the time that you've invested today. So now, with 5 or 7 minutes remaining, I would love to hear any questions that are in the queue that I can address.
Emily Stringer [00:54:06] George, thank you so much for the wonderful presentation. Before we jump into questions, we do want to capture a little information from our participants so that we can route the correct information to the correct folks after this presentation. So we are going to launch a couple of quick polls just so that we can get information routed. So we are going to go ahead and get that up on the screen. So first and foremost, would you like more information about George Hallenbeck in CCL, yes or no, we'll give everybody about 30 seconds to chime in here. We need to move pretty quickly. 5 more seconds. And we will close that poll. Next, would you like more information about MBO Partners and our services for the self-employed? Yes or no? We'll give you about 30 seconds here as well. 5 more seconds. And we will go ahead and close that one down. And 1 more, since this is relevant to those who are aspiring to become independent contractors, are you interested in receiving an invitation to our proprietary marketplace? MBO Connect and we'll give you about 20 more seconds here since we're mostly voted already. And we'll go ahead and close that down and jump right into some questions.
Emily Stringer [00:56:18] So first and foremost, we've had a couple of questions pop up about how will I get more information from George or how will I get more information from MBO? The answer to that before we go any further is that we will be sending out follow-ups within the next 24 to 48 hours to those who have requested information. So beyond that, we will jump right in. So we have a question about difficult clients to circle back to that, George. So when do you fire a difficult client and when is that appropriate?
George Hallenbeck [00:56:51] Wow. You know, I would say probably one consideration is, you know. How big a role does this client play in your mix? Are they critical to helping you maintain your business? You know, that's a consideration. But also, I mean, I think you have to get into what is the root of the problem? Is it that they're just not a good fit for me, that they're being unrealistic or they're just perhaps troubles in getting alignment on what it is that you need? I mean, one of the things that I hear most often from people is one of the biggest challenges they face is getting clear guidance and direction from their clients. And that is something that I think in general can be worked out through communication. So if it's a fixable problem like that, then it might be good to reconsider and dig deeper to see if we can kind of get aligned. But if they're just driving you nuts and they do not core to your business or the brand you're trying to build, then you might have to make that difficult call.
Emily Stringer [00:57:53] Great, thank you for that feedback. Another question that has popped up several times for me, when am I getting my slides, just a friendly reminder for those who missed it at the beginning, we will be getting those out to all registered participants within 7 days. Moving on to our next question for George. What is the best way to decline in opportunity or role that the client has undersized or over anticipated?
George Hallenbeck [00:58:20] Undersized or over anticipated. So if I understand correctly, it sounds like maybe the scope is either, well, one or the other. And I think, again, another thing is to be very clear and definitive about what it is that you offer and what you don't. And I think if you've done that job upfront, kind of set the boundaries on your work. If the client can't correspond to that, then again, it puts you in a position of saying no, but at least it's one where you've set a very clear expectation with them as to what I can do this, I can't do that, or I'm really focused on this versus not on that. And I think that can make that easier. And then also, if it is a matter of scope, that is something potentially that can be negotiated.
Emily Stringer [00:59:04] Great, I think that's excellent feedback. Moving on, we have time for about 1 more question. Since we're 1:59 pm, I have limited resources for marketing my practice. What are a few inexpensive yet effective strategies for marketing my business?
George Hallenbeck [00:59:20] Hmm. I'm going to go back to that community bucket. I mean, if you are putting the word out there and also I think, you know, really selling your passion and what it is that you're trying to accomplish, people who believe in you will be sure that with others. So, again, I think, you know, yes, you need certain things to allocate to, you know, establishing, you know, setting up your website, putting yourself into a search engine, etc.. But I think working for that community, building that community of support and enthusiasm around you, that's a big investment.
Emily Stringer [01:00:00] I agree that is our top recommendation as well, going back to those who, you know, are former employers, former colleagues, is always a great place to get started. So with that said, we are at our 2:00 deadline. It is our hard stop. So, George, thank you for all of your wonderful feedback today. This is a hot topic with the consultants that we speak to on the regular. So we very much appreciate it. A quick reminder to anyone who is joining us late, we will be emailing out a slide deck within the next 7 days. You will see that in your email. For those who have requested information, we will be following up with you within the next 24 to 48 hours. So, George, thank you to our attendees. We thank you as well. And for any questions that we did not have an opportunity to get to, we will take the time to answer those as quickly as possible via email. So thank you all for joining us. And we look forward to seeing you on our future webinar presentations.
George Hallenbeck [01:00:59] Thanks, everybody.