Tag Archives: self-employment

Building strong personal career paths – do you have a case study to share?


Readers of my blogs will know that I am an avid reader.  I’ve just made my way through ‘Do more great work’ by Michael Bungay Stanier.  It’s a misleadingly small book!  It looks small, and from the outside could be mistaken as the kind of book that you can wiz through.  But it’s taken me about a month to read!  In the process, I’ve been discovering some strategic and tactical things I can, want and will do differently, and looking back over my notes, realize that I have even implemented some of them already.

So many of us could do with some help in determining our ideal career.

Helen Chapman, of Pelican Coaching & Development, recommended the book to me in the first place, and I have found myself recommending the book non-stop to people I’ve been talking to:

  • Participants in a NetIKX seminar on Information and Knowledge Management competencies that I chaired – where we got onto how people could and should think about what career path they wanted to steer in life – and engage their line managers in personal review & development discussions accordingly.
  • Someone I met at the DIA conference that I spoke at in Nice last October, that I’ve kept in touch with and who inspired me by the innovation she brought to her work.  I know she reads my blogs: ‘R’ you will know who you are J
  • Two of my local LinkedIn trainees, experience consultants and trainers, who are bravely re-examining what unique offering they can bring to their clients in order to represent that effectively in their LinkedIn summaries and other marketing activities.
  • One of my ex-colleagues who is being made redundant and, like me at that point, realized he’d never thought closely about what he could do in his career, if he had a complete choice, and how difficult it is to begin to do so.

Re-thinking our careers is both scary and exhilarating but there is help available.

Michael Bungay Stanier’s book is a very good, exercise-filled guide to discovering what’s important to you in your work and how you might get to do more of it.  There are other books too that have helped me and that I’ve recommended to others: Steven Covey’s ‘8th Habit’ that I’ve referred to in previous blogs, and ‘Book yourself solid’ by Michael Porter which also has exercises to help you discover what’s important to you and how to get there.

An important piece of advice in many of the books is to find someone, a ‘buddy’ that you can test your ideas with and who can encourage / support you as you embark on this journey.  Sometimes it’s easier to find someone who isn’t your partner or a close member of your family, as they may be finding your re-thinking as scary as you are!

I have found some seminars / workshops quite helpful as well, as they are often safe places to explore new ideas for what you want to do.  In the UK, the government sponsored BusinessLink seminars are examples of these, although the range of seminars has recently been cut back.  I also was fortunate to attend very good ones organised by DBM; I particularly enjoyed ‘Start your own business’ by Andrew Halfacre of Lighthouse 365

Local networking groups can also be great places to explore new ideas about your way forward: many of the people attending are going through similar soul-searching! Though if you are in full time employment, finding the time to attend can be a challenge.

Re-thinking our careers is worth doing whether an employee or self-employed

The extra year that I had with my employer following which I knew I would be made redundant was a tremendous opportunity for me to mentally prepare for my new life.  As I already had some idea of what I would like to do, it also changed my attitude towards my day-to-day work: I could approach it with a ‘self-employed’ attitude.  I believe that people who have consciously re-thought their careers, and decided to pursue them within an organisation, bring so much more to their work, and can gain so much more personal satisfaction from it.

I would be really interested in learning of case studies that people would be willing to share.

I’d like to collect some case studies from people who have re-thought their careers, or are in the process of doing so, and hear your experiences of what has or has not helped you in your personal journey.  Do get in touch if you would like to share your case study with me, and, with your permission, I will share your case study, or the approaches you have found effective, either anonymously, or with your name.

Related Blogs & Notes

1. Taking control of your working life as an employee;  a first 100 days approach? http://wp.me/pAUbH-1h

2. Personal reflections on living through change and… reaching ones potential http://wp.me/pAUbH-E

3. Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, using process improvement, knowledge and change management to enhance team effectiveness.

Follow the links to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, and about Elisabeth Goodman.

Aptitude, Attitude, Plenitude and Servitude – key assets for strong team members and the self-employed


Continuing on my voyage of discovery as a self-employed consultant seeking to help teams become not only more effective but great at what they do, I’m learning so much from the people I meet as well as the books I’m reading.

Special thanks to Simon Brooks of Contacts4Business for starting me on this train of thought.  As others have also said, we can be very good at what we do (our aptitude) but it’s our ‘attitude’ that will distinguish people from each other, get us noticed, and help us work with others in whatever team situations we find ourselves in.

I’m still reading the 8th Habit by Stephen Covey (it’s taking me a while because there is so much good material in it).  He likes to talk in blocks of 4, and in terms of a holistic approach embracing the body, the mind, the soul and the spirit.  So, looking for 2 other attributes for success, I thought of plenitude and servitude.

Plenitude – it seems that to be a successful self-employed person, you need to have a diversity of offerings for your potential customers, and to be generous with them.  Who knows where the potential positive leads might come from.

I’m now following Ian McKendrick on twitter and I really like his attitude: ‘Share the love’.  The more you share with others, the more they will share with you.  It’s a bit like Stephen Covey’s concept of ‘abundance’.  We can find ways to share with our potential competitors that will benefit us all, rather than concentrating on being secretive and keeping everything to ourselves.  Although of course there is a role for confidentiality as well.

This all leads nicely into ‘servitude’.  For many if not most of us, there’s no greater satisfaction than helping others and finding that you’ve made their life better in some way.  This applies to helping our team members, and helping our fellow self-employed acquaintances.  We can help others benefit from our aptitudes, and in turn, we will benefit from theirs.  I really like this concept of strong team leaders being there to help and support (or serve) their team members to become ever more effective, if not great…

And finally, for those that are curious, I think my 4 concepts might to Stephen Covey’s like this: aptitude = body, attitude = mind, plenitude = heart, servitude = soul…

The focus in the work that I do is still on aptitude: how teams can make better use of their time and expertise, but thanks to Simon, Ian and Stephen, I’m going to continue reflecting on how these other aspects can make them (and me) even more effective.

More information on http://www.linkedin/in/elisabethgoodman

Is the key to empowerment to adopt a self-employed attitude?


One of the preoccupations in large organisations is how to encourage individuals to be more ‘self-empowered’.  In the words of one of my HR colleagues, it can become a bit of an oxymoron if employees choose not to be, whilst employers are telling them to be…

Having started on my journey of being self-employed whilst I was still ’employed’ I discovered how liberating it can be to think about the unique capabilities that I could offer, and the difference I could make to my (internal) customers.

Perhaps one way to foster more empowerment in an organisation, is to encourage all employees to think as if they were self-employed, and consider who are the customers that they are relying on for their business, and what unique value they are bringing to them.

Their managers and colleagues would then be associates or partners that they would choose to work with because of the complementary knowledge and skills that they bring.

Their annual objectives would begin from the unique value that they can bring rather than those cascaded down from senior management.

The result might be that they decide that their future lies outside of the organisation, but if they chose to stay how much more empowered they would be…

(A consultant’s) Life is like a game of Rummy..


Rummy is one of our favourite family card games.  For those not familiar with it this site might help http://www.pagat.com/rummy/rummy.html.

My husband and I were mulling over this at breakfast today.  To be effective as a consultant you need to be able to spot the opportunities that might ‘win’: you might be lucky enough to win from your starting hand, but it might be something in your hand that you had not spotted straight-away, or a chance card that you pick up on the way and decide to try your luck with.  And of course you need to pay attention to what’s going on around you!

Dafydd Wright at RSA http://www.thersagroup.com/ told me to look for any trends in the jobs that I was turning down, because that would be a good indication of what people wanted (and that they thought I could offer something in).  I am in fact finding that there is a pattern in the assignments that are coming my way, which luckily I have not been turning down… and they are all to do with business skills for information professionals, and information strategies for business.  This isn’t quite the cards I’ve been leading with, but I’m finding it very exciting to reconnect my original Information Management skills, with my business skills.  So, I’m reconsidering my ‘usp’..

I’d love to get feedback from the people who know me, and the people who don’t on any aspect of this posting.  I like this analogy too, from Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get.”