Today’s post is both personal and, hopefully, a bit of a leadership teaching moment.
Sometimes we feel like we’re at a crossroads in our lives, our work or our careers. I’m in that spot right now as it pertains to my career. Let me explain.
I’m 55 years old. My most recent contract had me going back and forth to Memphis from Syracuse for 18 months. It wasn’t a bad gig but I have to admit it was pretty tiring.
It wasn’t the travel so much that was tiring; it was the feeling that I wasn’t really doing what I wanted to do. This particular assignment needed someone with my particular set of skills (I feel like Liam Neeson) but I wasn’t doing what I’m used to doing.
It wasn’t needed this time around. I didn’t have to help anyone solve problems. I didn’t have to teach any lessons. In essence, I was support; I was there doing work so that others could learn and implement a new system.
Sometimes as an independent you take gigs that aren’t quite what you want to do because you get paid. Actually, most of the time that’s fairly exciting because you can get paid a lot of money for a short term gig.
In this case, I didn’t get paid what I normally do because it was supposed to be shorter than 18 months; way shorter. And I stayed with it because… well, it was pay. If I’d been getting my normal rate and it lasted this long… whew!
Add to this that I actually got sick last year, the first time I’ve been sick in 15 years… wow! I was tired, as I was getting close to the end of the assignment, but I had a lot of travel over the course of two weeks; Memphis to Syracuse to Orlando to San Diego and back to Syracuse then back to Memphis. I started getting sick on the way back to Syracuse and remained sick for three weeks, where the first weekend I was finally home for good I pretty much had to spend totally in bed taking pain pills and cold medicine and having my glucose going crazy (I’m diabetic); ugh.
That started me thinking that it was time to look at my business model with a bit more circumspection. I realized that overall I’m more mercenary than consultant. That’s not so bad because it can pay well, but it’s a bit less consistent; I can work for a couple of years straight and suddenly I have nothing for the same period of time.
That just can’t work as well at my age. I don’t ever want to retire but I also want to have the option to slow down on my own terms when I get to 65… if I make it. lol
Before I go on, let me talk about how this relates to people in business today, especially leaders; can’t have it all be about me right?
Most people go to work every day expecting pretty much the same thing as the day before. They work their 40 hours for 50 weeks a year to earn that 2 weeks of vacation and then… well, it’s just not always enough is it?
Sometimes it can be if you’re doing the work you love. But it’s just not like that for the majority of us; what’s why we read so much about the 1%.
What if you’re in a leadership position? Is your life dull? Probably not in the same way as it is for your employees but it can certainly be more stressful can’t it?
You know what? When I was an every day director, I loved going to work. It wasn’t the same thing for me every day either. Why?
Because I changed the business model that was in vogue at the time. I was all about that because I wanted to take on a lot of other responsibilities to make my hospitals successful. I wanted to be seen as the most valuable employee in the organization. It may not have totally worked out that way (although it seems that every time I left a position within six months I was being missed; I was hard to replace after all lol), but that was my goal.
As a leader I worked hard to train leaders. That means I evaluated the employees I had, put some of them in leadership positions, and gave others responsibilities that in essence made them independent in some aspects but gave them opportunities to shine.
What did that allow me to do? It allowed me to learn things about revenue cycle that no one at other hospitals had time to learn. It allowed me time to help other directors at the hospital not only learn more about how charges worked in their departments but also how to be better leaders (hey, they asked), because they saw how my departments worked.
That’s a lesson more people in leadership positions need to learn. It’s called “training and delegating.” If you know how to evaluate people, then how to train those who you know can work independently, and then give some of them leadership training, you get to branch out and learn more and do more… if you have the initiative to do so.
Thus, that’s changing the business model in the workplace; you feel better, your employees feel better, and live isn’t so bad.
The one problem with that… you’re still not in control. That’s when being an entrepreneur can work for you. It’s not easier, but if you have the chutzpah to push through the mental anguish of people ignoring you or asking you not to bother them and the phone calls and the letters you produce to hopefully get a client… sometimes it can all come together.
Now, back to me. I want to change my business model somewhat. It doesn’t mean I won’t do some of what I’ve done before. It does mean I want more control over it. To whit, here’s what I’m going to be working towards:
1. Trying to eliminate the middle man. Most of my longer contracts involve someone else who needs a body somewhere, thus gets a piece of me instead of me getting it all. That’s not bad but sometimes the other person gets more credit for sending you than for you doing the work. Sometimes they get half of what you get; that’s not so much fun.
2. If I’m not eliminating the middle man, then I’m getting paid what I’m worth. I’ve actually had a couple of calls since I’ve been home, but what I was offered was insulting; it was less than “job money”. If I wanted job money I’d have a job; the benefits bring me more than that.
3. I want actual clients. The model says that I want clients who pay me a monthly fee to work with them in some capacity. The capacity will determine the rate, with the understanding that I’m not an exclusive to them. Unless the rate is extremely high I’m not going to be there 40 hours a week for a month for six months. I can help you make improvements, maybe not at a $730 million a year level but at a level that can help you get over the hump.
4. I want to work from home more. You know what? We have phones and we have cameras and we have computers these days. I could have done more than half the work I flew to Memphis to do from home, done it faster because of the 30MBPS internet connection I have and saved them a lot of money. Course I wouldn’t have earned all those hotel and airline points but I could have gotten paid better and produced more.
5. I want to get those speaking engagements going again. Five years ago I said that was the goal I wanted to strive for as I grew up. I’ve put that on the back burner but I haven’t given up on it and I’m going to push that again.
6. I’m about to be a bit more irritating… a bit more that is. Last week I wrote an article on LinkedIn titled Unbury Your Marketing Efforts, where I talked about ways to reach out to people you want to do business with, while realizing that it’s business so you have to reach out to people. I have never done this all that well but I’ve done it, and now I need to step it up some.
7. Push the leadership/mentoring part of my business. Most of the articles I write on this blog are about leadership, but it’s been a long time since I’ve actually tried getting any of that work. Meanwhile I’m editing my second book on leadership so it’s a good time to work on that effort a bit more.
I think that’s enough. As I said earlier, this is for me but not only for me. One of my other friends has been going through the same type of metamorphosis, where she’s determined that she needed to change her business model to better represent what she wants to do. It’s working well for her as she’s established a series of seminars and has received a keynote speaking opportunity in North Carolina; now that’s what I’m talking about!
How do you feel about your present business model, whether you’re working for yourself, own your own business, or work for someone else? Is it time to think about it? Let me know.