Lifestyle Design, Human Optimization

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Freelancing Series - 3 - Dealing With Volatility

 

Back again. Quick moment - I think this is the most consistent blogging I've done :P. Anyway...back to the action:

Things had come full circle for me. I had a client, lost a client. Had some confidence, lost some confidence. Wasn't feeling great thinking my ~2 months of work had disappeared.

I'll be 100% honest - when I thought I'd lost Phalanx for good, I was really down. I woke up at 11am for 4 or 5 days straight. I watched a ton of Netflix. I went out drinking with friends a few days in a row. All things that just avoided facing this issue. It may not seem like such a traumatic event from the outside, but it rocked my world.

I'd left a great job with a great company to "make it" on my own. I thought I was doing all the right things, conserving my cash, making my client money, going above and beyond, working on my health etc... and it all kind of fall apart before my eyes. My income went from x to 1/5 of x. They were my flagship client! And best or worst of all, the CEO and I had gotten super close. So it was this really painful conversation where he let me go but didn't want to, I felt really invested in the company's success but powerless to help and just man...sucked.

I told myself - "hey, you know what, this is part of the game". It reminded me of the time I was fired from a job, I was sort of dazed & confused for a few days, and talking to some good friends helped me regain my sanity. I try to be brutally honest with myself and others and just admitting to myself I'd had a huge setback was big.

One thing I knew would help is soliciting opinions from a range of people - funny enough, a bunch of them were my fellow Sumos. Credit to all of them, it was super helpful to bounce ideas off a few folks. I think net-net I made a few mistakes:

  1. I had too few clients, probably the most obvious
  2. I looked too far ahead --> things change :P
  3. I didn't make any Plan B's

I guess when things are going super well, the sun is out and birds are singing it's not fun to plan for a doomsday scenario. And I didn't at all. I didn't even stop to think what might happen if this client died on me out of the blue. Lesson for the future for sure - always have some warm leads.

So I had to address these items in order - first, get new clients. Now, beggars can't be choosers, and sometimes choosers can't be choosers so I had to take what was available to me. Really fortunately, I'd been in talks with a crypto company to do some general strategy consulting for them, and while I wasn't overwhelmed with their idea, I really like the guys and the crypto space is interesting. My first material action was to email them and set a time to formalize what an engagement would look like.

I wrestled a lot with the fact that this crypto company isn't directly in the "human development" arena that I want to dominate, but cash is cash. I had to be a realist. Plus, I think the intersection of blockchain and behavior design will be a fascinating space for me to explore more once life settles into a bit of a rhythm. That's at least what I tell myself :)

Next, a former Sumo who I had taken on as sort of a marketing mentor, actually had some surplus work that he was able to hire me onto as a junior person. This one came out of left field, but I'd been warming up the oppty for a while - previously really for the mentorship aspect, but it materialized as both that and cashflow. That was sick! 

Second and third problems, looking too far ahead/not planning for contingencies. The first thing I did was extend my free room & board another month to May 1st instead of Apr 1st. At the very least, I still had no idea where I'd be moving after Portland. Additionally, now that I had some real cash flow again, the prospect of income and no expenses for a full month was impossible to turn down. A reserve of a few thousand dollars would also pay massive dividends in the event I lost another client, which I'm sure I will. It took me about 10 days to plug that hole this time, and I hope to do it even faster next time.

Taking a step back at the work "stack" I have now, here's what it is:

  1. Cardinal Designs - Shopify Web Dev
  2. Crypto Company - Strategy & Product Management Consulting
  3. ex-Sumo Project - Paid search and related marketing work

How many of those have attachments to my desired field of Human Development? None. But it's coming...

More on that next time!

 
Will McLellarn