Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Take 5 x 2 Years = ?

Just over two years ago,  a question from my Pickle Project co-founder Sarah Crow caused me to say "hmmm...." and pick up the phone to call Anne Ackerson (above, left to right:  me, Anne, Marianne Bez, Gwen Spicer and Christopher Clarke).  Sarah had asked if I had a personal strategic plan.  I had to admit no,  despite the fact that I do a fair amount of advising on plans;  turns out Anne, who also consults on planning,  didn't have one either.  From that first conversation,  we decided to gather a small group of freelance colleagues to begin a conversation about our work.  You can read about that first gathering in a blog post from that summer;  but two years on, I thought I might update readers on our progress.  We met, as we always do, over a meal, this time at Gwen's, to talk, chat, plan, ask for advice, and, in this case, admire the household chickens.

We've shared our process in numerous places over the last few years:  at conferences including AAM,  NEMA, and MANY;  and in countless conversations with many of you who wondered whether putting together a career posse might be right for you.  Just a year ago, we started Take 5, our collaborative monthly newsletter that provides a quick and intriguing 5 minute read every month.  We've been gratified by the response from colleagues near and far,  and pleased with the newsletter's increasing readership.  (don't receive it yet?  Signing up is easy).    Stay tuned for some additional ways in which we'll be sharing that process.

But what about our own careers? In one chapter of our new book, Rainey Tisdale and I reference a great blog post by Seth Godin.  Here's how he describes what he looks for in a co-worker or colleague:
Open to new ideas, leaning forward, exploring the edges, impatient with the status quo... In a hurry to make something worth making.
Generous when given the opportunity (or restless to find the opportunity when not). Focused on giving people dignity, respect and the chance to speak up. Aware that the single most effective way to move forward is to help others move forward as well.
and connected. Part of the community, not apart from it. Hooked into the realities and dreams of the tribe. Able and interested in not only cheering people on, but shining a light on how they can accomplish their goals.
And that's exactly how I think of my Gang of 5.  But I also asked them to reflect on what our get-togethers had meant for them.  One laughingly admitted to being pushed towards the use of technology and social media;  another successfully made the transition from one job to another;  another managed to re-frame the presentation of her work in order to generate more of the kind of work she loved.  All of us agreed that the regular meetings let us articulate our personal goals and make them actionable--and accountable in the nicest kind of way.  And all of us agreed that we'd made surprising progress on our plans.

Want to consider starting your own group?  Here's some of our advice:
  • approach it with a spirit of abundance
  • put together a group who know each other, but not too well
  • the group should be diverse, but also have some commonalities
  • always have good food, drink and time to talk about things other than work
  • meet often enough, and start an online group,  to keep the momentum growing
  • don't be afraid to ask hard questions
  • make sure the group has (and the same people may be in these roles at different times) both doers and reflectors
  • have fun!
If you've been at one of our sessions or read earlier blog entries and started your own group or thought differently about your career, we'd love to hear from you.  Tell us how you're doing in the comments below.

1 comment:

Anne W. Ackerson said...

I don't mean this to be a love-fest about the Gang of 5, but as a gang member, I have found our work apart and together and our deepening friendships to be ever more satisfying.