I worked out that this is my 41st consecutive set of monthnotes. Sometimes when I first sit at the keyboard to start writing it’s hard to find a distinct theme that sums up the past month adequately. February was just one of those months. On superficial reflection I knew a few things happened, life went on, but nothing stood out strongly for me.
Then I took a bit more time to think and skimmed back through my calendar. Doing that surprised me. In a short month – and one in which I took a week off – I got a lot done.
I’ve hit my personal and utilisation goals for the first two months. I’ve continued to meet many interesting new people, learn about their work and explore future opportunities to work together. March is looking really busy and some really fascinating new challenges to take on.
If I’d known three months ago that’s what I’d be writing at the end of February, I’d have been happy. I sum up my desire to go independent as wanting more flexibility and variety in my professional life and so far that’s playing out.
One of the things that worried me before I made the move was how I’d cope with the uncertainty of knowing what work was coming up (and coping with the feast/famine cycle I’d been anticipating). At heart I like a plan and I like to create certainty from uncertainty, but I also know well how to cope with the ambiguity and uncertainty that’s inherent in leadership.
As I reflect on that fear now, it seems a little odd. There hasn’t been a time yet when I’ve worried about those things. I’ve thought about them a lot and considered plenty of scenarios for how new opportunities, proposals and discussions might turn out – but those have been neutral thoughts rather than troubling ones.
So what’s been going on this month?
We were lucky to have been able to head off to Les Gets in the French Alps for a super sunny ski week at half-term, so that means I seem to have crammed a lot into three weeks of work:
I’ve signed a new fractional exec role that I’m getting stuck into later this week. I’m looking forward to working as part of the leadership team for that business to help it through the next few months. The nature of fractional work has meant I’ve had to think about my leadership practice and how to get greatest leverage from part-time involvement in the business, rather than being present all week.
I began working with my first client in the 2Y3X two-year acceleration programme. I first worked with the founder of this programme – Felix Velarde – back in 2016 and am really pleased to be collaborating with him again now.
It was inspiring to work closely with the client’s growth leadership team and think deeply about how I need to work as a consultant and coach so they can grow their business as well as their own practice as current and future leaders. And they’re a really nice bunch of people too. When I wanted variety in my post-employed existence, this work feels like a good example of what I wanted to do and I’m looking forward to seeing them in March for the next session.
I was also really chuffed this month to join up with Jess Gregson and the crew at Extra Brain. I’d been following Jess and Dan’s new venture for a while and it looked really interesting. It’s a small consulting network with a diverse bunch of people and skills. I’d been speaking with Jess last autumn about working together so it was great to get started earlier this month.
What’s impressed me about Extra Brain is the people they have involved – super talented, friendly and open – with a passion for doing good work for clients. Leaving employed life, one of my anticipated downsides was not being part of a team, so being part of Extra Brain is a real positive in that sense too.
I’ve been talking for too long about writing a book. My co-author and I have been on the steep learning curve of first time authors, but it felt like this month we made some real progress. We’ve been spending time refining our book proposal and thinking – and it feels like we’ve found some interesting intersections of ideas that are a sound basis for a book that leaders in business would find valuable.
It’s taken a while to get to that point, which partly reflects availability of time, but also the need for ideas to sit, evolve and be thrown away repeatedly. The process itself builds quality thinking and elapsed time is a positive in that context.
Last week we also relaunched a sustainability meet-up for Kent. People Planet Pint (PPP) is a national initiative, organised by Small99 and sponsored by Krystal (web hosts for www.simonwakeman.com). PPP is a relaxed forum for people interested in sustainability to meet, share and learn.
Working with co-organisers Maria and Danielle, we relaunched the Canterbury event last week. Next month we’re in Margate and then Maidstone the following month. Our goal is create regular event communities in all three locations, growing awareness of sustainability practices, particularly in small and medium sized businesses in Kent. The Margate event is on 29th March and you can sign up free here.
The audience for my email newsletter, the Business Aside, continues to grow nicely too. I’ve written another four posts this month, publishing every Thursday morning. As my consulting and fractional proposition evolves, I need to think about the newsletter and what it’s there to do – it needs greater focus and curation than I’m giving it right now.
My youngest son is a keen U16 footballer, playing every week for his club team. They’re doing well this season and he’s top scorer for the team. Last Sunday I watched his match and saw him score five. It was a proud moment for me to see him play as part of a team and how close the bonds between this group of young men were. They’re played together for many years now and the depth of understanding and camaraderie was clear to see.
So as I review this month’s notes, I’m surprised how much went on in those three weeks. And even more surprised by how energised I am by those things – a good sign for building a personally more sustainable home and working life too.
Music this month…
Being enjoying a bit of a change from nu-disco and house this month, so loved finding this epic mix from Chad Jackson.
Podcasts this month…
Reading this month…
This is a curious one. I’ve been reading about the process of dying.
With the End in Mind: Dying, Death and Wisdom in an Age of Denial by Kathryn Mannix is an immensely insightful read. It’s a set of short first-hand experiences from a palliative care consultant exploring the process of death and how death has become a taboo in society.
She draws out many themes that she has observed and interprets them in the context of living well. I’m not sure what prompted me to read it other than a growing awareness of death in midlife, but it’s really good. I’m learning and thinking a lot about a subject that I’d previously avoided a bit I suspect.
Running this month…
Cycling this month…