Get a life, not a job

Everyone needs to read this manifesto by Paula Caligiuri. All of us need to start managing our careers instead of leaving everything to our bosses and companies. We need to build careers not just jobs.

“Working for a big name company” and “paying your dues” are lousy pieces of advice without understanding the strategic relevance of the role you occupy and the criticality of the skills you possess.

You can't rely on your employer to provide the job security you want. You have take matters into your own hands and plan your own career plan. Take ownership of that plan now to take control of your life.

Job Security or Satisfaction

When choosing a career, many people will often choose the job that is more secure. This job security is the reason why those who wish to start their own business are still working for people. It feels safer to rely on a regular paycheck. In this day and age, where recessions are more common and the economy more volatile than ever, the only factor you can control to keep your job is your own skill and ability. Job security is over-rated and the thing that matter most is job satisfaction.

You want a job that continuously challenge you and gives you the opportunity to grow and learn. You want a job that you will endure the commuting in order to do work that matters. You want not just a regular paycheck but the chance to constantly better your own ability.

This doesn't mean you have to quit your job and start your own business. There are plenty of jobs out there that are satisfying and pay well. The point is to stop thinking about job security but think about the satisfaction you get from it.

Work is not just work

The thing that we spend most of our time on besides eating, sleeping and breathing, is probably working. To some, work is a means to an end while for others it's their life-long passion. We often relate money with work. In fact, one of the definition for working is actively engaged in paid work. We do work to earn money but that shouldn't be the only thing we are working for.

In Drive, Daniel argues that money isn't the best motivator for work and in some cases can affect performance negatively. A lot of people get up for work every morning not because of the money. They are there to get into the flow, to accomplish something that matters, to solve difficult problems and to master their art.

If work is boring to you, maybe you should consider getting another job. It is something that you have to do for most of your life. Why not do something that you love and something that matters?

Working isn't just something you do in your life. It is the way for you to show the world what your life is all about.

Freelancer mentality

In recent years, there's a rise in freelancers for fields like photography, design and programming. Falling equipment prices and powerful online tools made it extremely easy for anyone to start their own freelance operation. Like with everything else, your approach and mentality towards freelancing is very important and will greatly affect its outcome. Here are some thoughts on how you should freelance.

  1. Price - This is the number 1 reason why companies hire freelancers. Since your costs and expenses are lower than a normal business, you can afford to charge lower. But this is a trap. If you charge too low, you'll end up de-motivating yourself when it take longer than usual to complete. Try to charge a reasonable price that you are comfortable with even when things don't go according to plan.
  2. Specifications - You need to have the specifications of the gig written down in black and white. It is hard to cover everything but at least there is a reference for you and your client when an agreement can not be reached.
  3. Quality - I think this is the most important factor that determines if your freelancing endeavor will be successful or not. Due to pricing and specifications issues, a lot of freelancers ignore the quality of their work. They adopt the get it done and move on mentality. The quality of your work will be remembered long after your pricing is forgotten. Read this piece from Seth on how freelancers can make a difference.
  4. Proper documentation - This is an extension of the 2nd point. Try to provide all the necessary documentation to your clients. It will make you look professional and protect you from troubles later on in the project.
  5. Run it like a business - If you could only adopt 1 of the points here, let it be this one. You have to consider yourself as a business owner. Show that you are doing this for the long haul. Form a company if you can and start building your brand.

Obviously this isn't an exhaustive list. There are many other things you could do to make your freelancing better and more fun. As long as you have the right mentality towards it, you'll be alright.

Seven Ways To Do More Great Work

In order to be indispensable, you have to do great work. Unless you are self-employed or work for a boss that understand this, it's pretty hard to have the time to get stuff that matters done. Most of the time, you'll be occupied with busywork. Luckily, Michael Bungay Stanier (founder of Box of Crayons) offer us 7 ways to stop us from doing the busywork and do more great work. He categorizes the work we do into 3 different types. Bad, Good and Great work. The key is to stop doing or reduce time spent on the bad and good work and focus on the great.

The brutal truth is that if everyone is happy, then you're probably not doing Great Work - Michael Bungay Stanier

Check out the manifesto here or download it to read it later.

Rework your business

The guys from 37signals just released their new book REWORK. I'm hoping to get my hands on one soon. It's a compilation of essays that give you great new insights on how you should run your business. A must read for every entrepreneur out there.

In the real world, you can't have over a dozen employees spread out across eight different cities over two continents. In the real world, you can't attract millions of customers without any salespeople or advertising. In the real world, you can't reveal your formula for success to the rest of the world. But we've done all those things and prospered. The real world isn't a place, it's an excuse. It's a justification for not trying. It has nothing to do with you. - Excerpt from REWORK

If you would like to know more about the book. check out the REWORK manifesto on Changethis.

What do you do?

Is your job title something general like Sales Executive or something cool like Chief Awesomeness? How often does it actually reflects what you do? The reason you hand out your name card is to let others know who you are and what you do. But more often than not, it doesn't clarify your job scope and rather raises more questions. What does a Senior Data Analyst do? Does a Sales Manager handles sales?

Wouldn't it be better if you could replace or complement your job title with a short description that actually tells people what exactly you do? Something that captures the essence of your work?

John Doe

IT Executive

Making sure the computer works for you, not the other way around.

If you can't figure out how to describe your job, try to think about what drives you to do what you do. Your motivation, purpose or passion. Personally, looking at the apps I've built (Ravejoint and, the aim is to make it easier and simpler for people to find stuff (food, movie showtimes) they are looking for. I could maybe have this on my card.

TS Lim

Simplifying life, one app at a time

Given the chance to change or improve your job title, what would you do? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Are you a mapmaker?

In Linchpin, Seth talks about how we are trained and brought up to read maps. We expect our teachers to tell us what to study and our bosses to tell us what to do. We are taught to be map-readers and we are damn good at it. However, if you want to be indispensable, someone that is able to chart your own destiny, you need to learn how to make your own map.

You have to be someone that decides what to do next, not the one who awaits the next instruction. By creating your own map, you can create value. Value that only you can add to the equation.

Following someone's else map won't get you far. The map to success can only be drawn by you alone.

What matters now EBook

A while ago, Seth Godin posted about an ebook with ideas and insights from many influential individuals and great thinkers of our time. Here's an excerpt from his post.

Here are more than seventy big thinkers, each sharing an idea for you to think about as we head into the new year. From bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert to brilliant tech thinker Kevin Kelly, from publisher Tim O'Reilly to radio host Dave Ramsey, there are some important people riffing about important ideas here. The ebook includes Tom Peters, Fred Wilson, Jackie Huba and Jason Fried, along with Gina Trapani, Bill Taylor and Alan Webber.

It is so good and thought provoking that I just had share this to everyone. You can download it here or view it online on Scribd or wepapers.