Looking back at this month and trying to work out what went on, two interesting inflexion points stood out for me.
Since January I’ve been experimenting with working as a freelance Chief Operating Officer (COO). I’ve been iterating through consultancy and fractional propositions, trying to work out what I want to do next professionally.
I’ve met more than 65 new people from all sorts of different businesses and backgrounds, said “yes” to most opportunities that have come up and have been pretty much fully utilised (yes, my agency background means I have set myself a utilisation target).
Early in the month I joined the COO Roundtable.
This is an invitation only community for startup and scale up COOs to come together, share experiences and learn. Its founder Davinia is passionate about all things COO and is a thoroughly nice human being too.
I’ve thrown myself into the programme of learning events and networking with gusto.
It’s been a true revelation as it’s the first time I’ve really met other people who do what I do. As a professional generalist who’s gravitated towards Chief Operating Officer type roles over the past four years, it’s been fascinating to hear about other COOs’ experience and roles.
Unlike other “C-suite” roles, the COO gig is a pretty varied one. And the people that do it are just as diverse too.
This felt like inflexion point number one in April – where I became much clearer about what the kind of work I want to do and the kind of businesses that I want to do it in.
I love the variety that being in the COO seat in a growing business brings. It’s a great fit for the range of stuff I’ve done in my career and where I seem to be able to make a real difference to businesses and the senior teams that lead them.
And then inflexion point two for April took me a bit by surprise.
In the second half of March and over Easter I’d not travelled to London much. I’d been working pretty much entirely remotely at home.
Then a couple of weeks ago I had a day working in London. In the morning I hung out in a co-working office doing a mix of calls and laptop work. In the afternoon I met up with some new clients for a kick-off session.
It was a long and full-on day. And I loved it.
In the co-working space I met three new people, chatting over the desk and in the queue for a coffee. Those chance connections just felt energising and reminded me what I used to love about an office environment back before the pandemic.
And starting work with a new client was a rush. Nice people, interesting challenges and a shared desire to make progress. Love it.
So those two inflexion points stand out for me. They validate the direction I’m taking with my career as an independent COO and remind me that being with people face to face for some of the time is really important for how I work.
In terms of that work, I’m now pretty close to being fully booked up until my summer holiday in late July.
Along with doing some really interesting work between now and then, I’m embarking on a more intentional marketing push for fractional or interim COO opportunities with tech-centric scale-up businesses for the autumn.
Away from work the last week of the month has been quite a whirlwind.
Reflecting upon those inflexion points in April, I’m suspecting there might be a third less welcome one on the health front too next month, but that’s maybe one for May’s monthnotes.
One step at a time.
Music this month…
New DJ discovery this month was Henry Saiz. I love the epic long progressive sets spanning multiple genres. Soundtracks well to a day of writing, thinking and creating. This 6 hour masterpiece is a current favourite.
Podcasts this month…
A light month for podcast listening this month, but I did manage a couple from the London School of Economics events series. I like the variety and thought provoking.
Reading this month…
A conversation with my son who’s off to study economics at university led me to modern monetary theory – something that didn’t exist when I did economics in sixth form a long time ago. I read Stephanie Kelton’s book The Deficit Myth and did a lot of thinking about the applicability of modern monetary theory in the climate era.
Running this month…
Cycling this month…