Working Solo: Trust Yourself

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Working and living small.

Not long ago I traded emails with a colleague and former client who, after two decades in a middle-management communications role, went out on her own after a company reorganization.

She soon after landed an anchor client but also ran head on into some of the pitfalls of working solo. Namely, isolation and lack of collaboration.

“I’m finding the biggest challenge of working solo is that I don’t have people to bounce ideas off of, review copy, etc.,” she said in early October.

And then she asked this:

“I always liked collaborating with my team and now it’s just me! How do you deal with it?”

“I don’t know if I have a good answer for your question about working solo,” I replied. “It’s sort of like wandering in the wilderness if you’re not partnering or working with others in some fashion.

“For me, a lot of it comes down to trusting my abilities and judgment about creative matters, writing, communications, etc. There aren’t a lot of other options. I have friends and colleagues in the business, but I don’t usually want to bother them with my stuff because I know they are busy trying to scratch things out for themselves.

“I can also say, ‘My poor wife.’ (Ha ha.)

“I bounce things off her, especially creative concepts and anything that seems pretty important. She has a business background and is a good sounding board. But a lot of times it’s just me going it alone, which is the nature of the beast.

“There’s an advantage to this, too.

“I believe you’re bringing something valuable to clients–an outside perspective, a fresh perspective, plus your years of experience and expertise.

“This is truly valuable, because companies and organizations get bogged down, can’t see themselves clearly, and, to be honest, are often too self-absorbed to understand how they need to communicate to their audiences in ways that will connect.

“Maybe all of this to say: Trust yourself.”

I ended my message by telling my colleague that she could use me as a sounding board, if that would help.

She responded favorably to my email, writing, “Good advice. Trust myself!”

What about you?

If you work solo, how do you generate and test your ideas while working in a vacuum? Do you bounce things off others? What are your biggest pitfalls of working solo?

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The Funny Truth Behind FedEx’s ‘Nordic Tuesday’

FedEx TV spots are popular. I can tell by how many folks arrive at this blog in search of “Nordic Tuesday,” a new commercial I posted about in recent days. Watch it here:

“Nordic Tuesday”

One of the things that makes FedEx TV spots so popular, successful and just plain funny is that they often expose a truth about corporate life and then apply a playful poke in the ribs.

Companies of all sizes and stripes often implement something new (outlandish example: “Nordic Tuesday”) and then pretend it’s for “fun,” or for the good of employees, when it’s actually for a basic business reason: to save money.

As the FedEx tagline in “Nordic Tuesday” says: “We understand. You need to save money.”

Love the guy in the men’s restroom under the hand dryer. My daughter and I laugh every time.

Too Many Ideas Syndrome

I read about Too Many Ideas Syndrome (TMIS) in a special creativity issue of Writer’s Digest.

“You don’t hear much about TMIS because complaining about being too creative is like complaining about being on The New York Times bestseller list too often,” wrote Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant.

Still, anyone who has felt paralyzed by having too many ideas (including questionable or just plain bad ones) can relate to the concept. I know I can.

Actually, having a lot of ideas is good. It beats the alternative. But whether you’re writing an ad, article, or book, you have to choose an idea and move out. Commitment is a scary thing.

Continue reading “Too Many Ideas Syndrome”