Want to land a (better) job this year? Not getting traction with your current resume? Got the resume blues and not sure how to shake ’em?

Here’s an answer . . .

 

Storytelling Communications and NSILC Present . . . .

RESUME BASICS: A Lunch ‘n Learn Event

Tuesday January 21st, 2020

10:30 am-12:00 noon +lunch

To be held at NSILC (Northern SK Independent Living Centre)

237–5th Ave. North, Saskatoon (across from The StarPhoenix building)

Click here to buy your ticket ($20 includes 11/2 hour workshop, resource handbook and a nutritious lunch with networking opportunities):

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/84217465707

The slides are ready, resource handbooks are being printed, we’re adding numbers to our lunch and networking time . . . .

This will be the last seminar on the topic for the season.

Don’t miss out!

Facing a new year & a new decade: some 2020 vision on the feast/famine cycle (with Daphne Gray-Grant)

Freelancers everywhere, if they’re honest, know that no matter how well work may flow several of weeks or months, eventually contracts dry up for us all.

Maybe the client with whom you had a retainer decides to rebrand radically (or retire!), ending that ongoing relationship (inducing a “famine”).

Or illness strikes you or a family member so that you must scale back on contracts you’d earlier planned on earning (“famine”).

At the other end of things, maybe several prospects contact you at once, wanting work done “yesterday” (“feast”).

Or a new client causes “scope creep” so that you have less time than you originally expected to complete revisions for them, adding to an already full rota of projects (“feast”).

“Feasting” for many hard-working, introverted writers isn’t as fun as the term suggests. Usually, it’s exhausting. The pace of work also makes it difficult to plan for future projects, months away, when your current flow of work will have stopped.

“Famine” can be alarming, if you have too small profit margins and inadequate savings or no alternative sources of income. Most often, as writer and publication coach Daphne Gray-Grant argues in her blog posting from January 2019, “famine” periods are deeply, “deeply boring.” To the point that writers and creatives can descend into a morose state of mind.

Both “feast” and “famine” cycles disrupt a healthy pattern of work and rest that are vital to freelance life.

To the newbie freelancers whom I meet and for whom I occasionally present workshops, Gray-Grant has some useful ideas for preventing and then dealing with and surviving the highs and lows, as they inevitably arise.

A. Preventing the “feast/famine cycle”:

(1) She recommends that you calculate how many hours you can devote to work each week, including time for maintenance tasks (like billing, bookkeeping, marketing, etc.) that you cannot charge for. That way, you will be more conscious of your targeted hours of work.

(2) It’s also important to estimate your creative (e.g. writing and editing) speed. So keep a spreadsheet in Excel, where you pair up a unit of your work (e.g. word counts for writers) with the time it takes: After two weeks, she says, you’ll be able to take the average and yield a realistic idea of your speed. This too will assist you in knowing how much work to take on, for the time you have available.

(3) Identify when you’re most productive (usually 3-4 hours out of each day) and do your client work in that time (instead of bookkeeping or filing, etc., which earn you nothing).

(4) Watch your cash flow, to save funds for emergency times. Gray-Grant suggests retaining at least three months worth of “salary” (i.e. the income you regularly expect to earn) in savings. That way, if a client reneges on a contract, you won’t sweat it.

Alternatively, if you are well paid for some work, never be a spendthrift: put money aside for a new computer, tech device or online training program, to keep your skills updated.

(5) Seek long-term clients: encourage good customers to repeat by offering special rates and “kid-glove service.” These folk allow you to build a comfortable schedule, instead of having to “hustle” and face panic over how to meet next month’s rent.

(6) Market your services perpetually. Regardless of whether you’re in “feast” or “famine,” freelancers always need to promote their services. So continue to send out that biweekly blog posting and/or newsletter. Or give presentations and talks—aim to make six new contacts who are in your niche area. Constant marketing, she writes, “is the secret to having a life free of ‘feast’ and ‘famine.’”

B. Coping with the “feasts”

(1) Don’t accept more work than you can handle, because work should not
cost you sleep, exercise or relationships with those you love. Also, when the quality of your work declines, you’ll only disappoint those clients.

(2) Delegate work to a colleague—Gray-Grant acknowledges that this can be risky, as the client may prefer your colleague’s work! But to delegate/refer to someone else is better than giving an outright “no.”

Alternatively, you can subcontract part of the work and still supervise the end product.

(3) Don’t live paycheque to paycheque: When you’re lucky to make more money than you immediately need (“feasts”), be wise and save money for the future “famine” times.

(4) Market your services perpetually—which is never easy, when you’re “feasting” and time is in short supply. But you will need to secure work for two or more months in the future. Gray-Grant recommends setting aside a bit of time, each day, before you do that day’s work, for prospecting activity.

C. Coping with “famines”:

(1) Keep your usual routine.  Don’t sleep in!  And keep your routine for daily work, so that you accomplish other, non-paying tasks, that may have gotten short-shrift when you were busy with paying clients.

(2) Update your resume and your online portfolios to save time for when another “feast” period returns.

(3) Spend more time networking, to reconnect with former clients and to meet and impress potential new ones.

Also consider returning to your healthy exercise routine (if it was earlier abandoned).

And read some current fiction (e.g. the latest novel from Margaret Atwood). The “fun” factor here will prime your mind for future creativity and keep you in touch with your creative community.

(4) Again, always market yourself, and do so, even more, when you’re in a “famine” period—try making 10 new contacts a week (instead of only six). Give more talks and/or post more intensively on your blog or social media. Update your website, if needed.

While freelance work can be joyful and liberating (to be one’s own boss), the “feast or famine” cycle endemic to it has often been seen as its major drawback.

There is no silver lining here.

But by following my summary of Gray-Grant’s tips, you can protect yourself from the ups and downs that otherwise can overtake freelance work.

I recommend reading her blog on aspects of freelancing (focusing on contract writing) at https://www.publicationcoach.com/blog/ . Her unique approach to freelancing may illuminate yours.

And now it’s your turn: if you are a freelancer, how do you cope with the “feast-famine” cycle? Please weigh in; I’d be delighted to hear from you.

Know how to use the apostrophe correctly? Who still cares (in today’s blog posting) . . .

On December 2nd (2019), CBC radio’s popular current events show, “As It Happens,” featured an interview with 96 year old John Richards, the UK-based founder of the Apostrophe Protection Society.

After fighting for 18 years to protect the punctuation mark from “misuse and oblivion,” chairman Richards shared that he has given up. For nearly a generation, he has urged people to use proper punctuation, but says that barbarian practices have won out, due to “a mixture of ignorance and laziness.”

He observed that “a lot of people don’t care very much about being totally correct [so] if you want an apostrophe, put it anywhere. They don’t bother to learn the right place or wrong place.”

Richards likes the English language, finding it “very expressive. And the apostrophe plays a very important part in it.” So many don’t know where to place the apostrophe, and so think “it’s best to leave it out.”

A case in point is the owner of a local café, whose owner put the sign “COFFEE’s” in the window. When Richards spoke to him about the error, the owner said, “I think it looks better with the apostrophe.” About such cases, Richards says, nothing can be done.

He says that often the apostrophe is misused to form the plural of nouns (e.g. “Iced Bun’s” or “Ladie’s Washroom”). In these cases, the apostrophe has been reduced to a mere decoration, regardless of meaning .

(Photo by picjumbo.com from Pexels.)

Richards laments that “people have decided that the apostrophe is going to disappear. It may not be immediate, but it will be in a few years . . . and most people won’t be bothered at all.”

The apostrophe is challenging, as it’s used for contractions as well as for possessives. There are rules to learn (although not many or difficult ones) that increasingly are disregarded. He says that “the English language is deteriorating in the UK, generally,” and that many people “just don’t bother about getting things right.” Imagine what he’d find in contemporary North American writing practices!

Even as John Richards retires at age 96 and closes the society, he takes heart in what victories the society has had in the past 18 years, correcting public misuses of apostrophes. He hopes that someone with “more energy” will take up his mantle.

And now it’s your turn: Do you care about correct punctuation? Do write in; I’d be delighted to extend this conversation.

Want a better career, relationship or life for yourself in 2020? Arlene Dickinson shows us how . . .

In her latest book, Reinvention: Changing Your Life, Your Career, Your Future, Canadian Venture Capitalist Arlene Dickinson describes how a few short years ago, she found her life on the brink of disaster:  her 25+ year company (“Venture”) was crumbling beneath her, her “sense of herself as a strong, confident leader” was “in tatters.” She was overwhelmed by feelings of “loss, fear and shame.”

But within five years, her business stabilized and was again booming, she raised tens of millions of dollars and built a whole ecosystem to help other entrepreneurs—“District Ventures.” Dickinson has “never been happier or more excited about the future.”

She applied the process she used, over the past nearly three decades to improve underperforming companies, to her own life.

Well into this “reinvention,” Dickinson speaks of returning as an investor to CBC’s “Dragon’s Den,” 10 years after she left the reality show. And she was able to find it an “exclamation point, not the main event.” The show provided an additional way to publicize her new business accelerator, to secure new entrepreneurs who might apply to it, and, overall, to work with promising new businesses.

The value of “Dragon’s Den” this second time ’round inhered in several factors, such as its inclusion of more female leaders than ever before, and in its capacity to show everyday viewers that “dreaming big and pushing through failure are both possible.”

And, even more importantly, Dickinson asserts, we all need to “find the confidence and courage to reinvent [our]selves. It’s fashionable to sneer at sincerity, as though wanting to make more of yourself is somehow uncool. But to me, there’s nothing cooler or more important than trying to be the best you can be. Isn’t that why we’re here—to find out all we can do, to change and evolve into better people, and to lift others up when we have the chance?”

Dickinson says that many people, including her readers, these days, have to reinvent themselves, after suffering “a heartbreaking loss, a divorce, a professional failure, an injustice that upended everything.” (242). She recommends not waiting for disaster and recognizing that virtually all of us have all the ingredients we’ll need: “Once you figure out what your currency, your core purpose and your context are, you’ll be as ready as you’ll ever be to make your life better than it is today . . . . Reinvention requires not just optimism but a sense of urgency.”

She observes that even if we fail in the effort, to have “fought that good fight and done the very best we could . . . is as good a measure of success as any: that you tried your very best to be all you could be. At the end of the day, your power, your fulfillment, your growth, your evolution and your joy are in the effort, not in crossing the finish line.  Let’s face it, to be all you can be, you will have to keep on growing, evolving and changing. There really is no finish line. It’s a lifelong project.”

Learning and entrepreneurship are both lifelong processes, as Saskatoon’s Praxis School of Entrepreneurship teaches, every day.

Dickinson also warns that to sell yourself short will leave you with only “self-loathing and shame” (244). And “shame will corrode your confidence like nothing else, which is why you can’t let it take root at the very moment when you most need confidence.”

She recommends leaving the stories of your struggles and losses for your therapist or best friend. Then replace rumination with a simple declaration to colleagues and contacts: “I was [let go from my job/walked out on by my spouse, etc.] and I’ve decided to [remake my life in such and such way].” Through these lines of thinking and communication, she says, you’ll signal that “you’re focused on the future” and “have a plan that you’re excited about” (200).

Don’t “play small” or “deny the world the contribution that only you can make” (244), Dickinson concludes: “Everything you need for a reinvention is already inside you, just waiting to be tapped.”

And now it’s your turn. Are you considering reinventing your career, relationship or other life process? Would you consider entrepreneurship through the Praxis startSMART program in Saskatoon? An intake period is fast approaching.

Please share—I’d be delighted to extend this conversation.

Want to land a better job by early 2020?

Not getting traction with your current resume?

Got the resume blues and not sure how to shake them?

Here’s an answer!

Storytelling Communications and NSILC Present . . .

RESUME BASICS

 A Lunch ‘n Learn Event

on Tuesday, November 26, 2019, 10:30 am – 12 noon + lunch

at the Northern Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre (NSILC) (237 5th Ave. North, Saskatoon)

Click here, to buy your ticket ($20):

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/resume-basics-a-lunch-n-learn-tickets-77528284185

The slides are ready . . . . participant handbooks are being printed . . . . we’re adding numbers for our catered lunch and networking time . . . .

Don’t miss out!