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Crave Your Next Fearless Career Thing? Part 1

Change

While I cooked the dinner yesterday.

I listened to Brian Clark’s Unemployable podcast.

This episode is on the next big thing with Jenny Blake.[1]

So what is Jenny Blake’s Pivot method  in a nutshell?

  1. Double-down on existing strengths, interests, and experiences
  2. Find new opportunities and identify skills to develop without falling prey to analysis-paralysis and compare-and-despair
  3. Run small experiments to determine next steps
  4. Take smart risks to launch with confidence in a new direction
from Jenny.[2]

Her basketball metaphor stuck with me.

In parallel.

I devised a plan last Sunday.

To tame my chronic unproductive cycles via themed days.

And parts of days.

Half an hour in my first three hours push.

That I call Progress.

Based on the easiest to apply tips on how to theme from miranous.[3]

I contemplated on the actual theme within the framework.

It was a version of:

How to get more out of my business setup.

I figured I am looking at a pivot.

Ross from the Friends series shouting Pivot when bringing a sofa up the stairs

So, I dug deeper to better understand the approach.

And based on a great advice on learning from Seneca. [4]

I figured I need to write a quick blogpost.

To get myself to pivot.

And help you my friend learn some of the same ropes.

To make it super easy I worked on a personal pivot exercise.

A lot easier to relate to.

I am a solopreneur / small business owner in B2B service businesses.

Climber on a sheer cliff [5]

Thus it makes sense to work on myself.

Aka the product.

I hit the search slide.

And sifted through the zillion sources to get closer.

And solve the four step puzzle of Jenny Blake’s Pivot method.

Without a thourough read of her book.

Call it ‘da laazy wayh’.

I couldn’t wait to put my hand on the book.

I know, I know.

45 minutes should be enough as per David Kadavy expert tip on layered reading. [6]

But I wanted action.

Step 1 — Find your existing strengths, interests and experiences

Hey these are three separate things.

So, let’s go one level deeper straight away.

What are my strengths?

I started with a survey by Richard Step. [7]

After a 15 minutes run (with two breaks) my top 5 strengths are:

My 11 strengths from Problem Solving high 94% to Leadership 63%

Ok, more than five but the readings are in five groups:   94% (first.)

81% (second.)

75% (tied third — four strengths.)

69% (tied fourth — two strengths.)

And 63% (tied fifth — three strengths.)

Aside:

They add up to a team of 11 like football.

Or soccer whatever your flavor.

My bottom weaknesses are:

  • Strategic Thinking (38%)

  • Determination (38%)

Ooh, that hurts.

The tool gave no recommendations.

Nor detailed descriptions beyond the first of the top five though.

At the end I dropped the bottom three.

Purpose is present in Faith.

For Teamwork and Leadership 63% doesn’t conform to my calibration of good.

You can argue nothing does conform to good under 80%.

And you are right.

Take away:

Calibrate it for yourself.

Happy with the findings?

happy and sad faces alternating

No I wasn’t happy.

I just rated myself.

And that is biased.

Even with well designed tests.

Plus from an engineer’s point of view.

One test is no test.

I went one step deeper.

Found three more articles on how to find your strengths.

After a quick skimm.

And hopp through all three.

I decided to give a go to Gary Vaynerchuk’s. [8]

As it was closest to what I missed.

From the ‘mechanical’ tests.

And the tip closest to my heart was #1.

Gary Vaynerchuck and Simpson character both showing strong body language referring to something they really like

Here is the condensed recipe:

  1. Take the five to ten people that know you the best.
  2. Split them into two categories: people you connect with on a deep level of love, and people who you are close with, but maybe you’re a little different in lifestyle and personality.
  3. Then, ask one person from each category to honestly tell you what they think you’re best at, and what they think you’re worst at.

Now, that’s what I call actionable advice.

To make it the least biased.

I have baked a twist into it.

Here’s my steps:

a. I made a list of 5–5 people as Gary advised. Note: Facebook and a look back to my workplaces on LinkedIn were my best helpers. So, I had two list.

b. I made two separate but identical surveys with the questions: “What do you think I am best at?” (page 1) “What do you think I am worst at?” (page 2).

Sent it out to their best availability with my humble request.

I expected related itmes to the list above.

So, I made the framework to rate it.

In a nice spreadsheet with my strengths and weaknesses from the initial test.

And the names of my best friends and relatives asked.

The results came in mixed.

But some were straight relatable to my top strengths found.

Or underlined my weaknesses.

I read one more article.

To give in to the magic of three.

4 Ways to Discover Your Strengths from Nadia Goodman. [9]

Where she argued with Todd Kashdan’s words that:

When we do things we’re already good at, our business acumen is quicker

Animated gif from Evan Carmicheal's great video, see resources no. 10

Ok, I’ll start with my strengths.

Bear in mind that your weaknesses could be turned into you super powers.

Hear and read more about this path from Tim Ferriss. [10]

Or just watch the great video from Evan Carmicheal. [11]

Notes for The First Step

To me tips #1 and #3 were some addition to the pack.

Within tip #1 another test .

The VIA Character Strengths Test hid away.

Behind a dead link.

I dug out the latest version available freely online from VIAcharacter.org. [12]

I didn’t find its results so human-readable.

This test has helped underline some of my top strengths and bottom weaknesses though.

What are my main interests?

Ok, again I wanted to make it easy so after I listed the holy trinity:

  • music — I was raised by fairly musical parents. We sang on longer trips. No car radio back in the days in the ‘top models’ of Eastern European automotive sector. Both my elder brothers played guitar. The younger of the two had even a band. At the age of 15 I joined one of his bands.
  • climbing — started out with trees and the vistas of the mountains afar from the top of the old walnut tree by the house of my granddad. Which went on to much more.
  • cooking — in my first marriage technically I cooked 100%. While this changed dramatically to the second marriage. I still love to cook.

I pulled up my LinkedIn profile to look further to find:

change management, startups, inbound marketing, sustainability

Details:

  • change management — I am still fascinated in things changing. The bigger, more complex, the better.
  • startups — if there’s any wantrepreneur out there who had more ideas (without the slightest follow up) then her next mocha is on me.
  • inbound marketing — it may at large be due to the fact that as a salesman I’ve had a fair share of outbound marketing and learnt the hard way how it can disengage even warmer prospects. sustainability — with kids I can no longer sell myself the idea of hedonism as easily.

What are my most memorable experiences?

lot of trucks parked pictured from above [13]

One thing on work that comes to mind.

Is this huge business I have won at the age of 25.

Then I successfully managed the same freight forwarding project.

Moved a complete army camp from Bosnia-Hercegovina to Kosovo.

It was exhausting.

Kept me up at 3 nights a week on average.

Phone calls from drivers on the Macedonian border entry.

And I loved every bit of it.

Included the tender I put up for the two suppliers.

At halftime of the project.

To achieve better margins.

My experiences in music and climbing.

Too much to enlist.

Both involved on stage performance.

In live concerts.

And climbing competitions.

Plus a strong reliance on others.

Surprised I scored low on Team Work?

This may be a weakness turned or to be turned into superpower.

After I put together the self-tests.

And some user input.

Talking to you mom.

I came to these conclusions:

  • My superpowers are: Problem Solving and/or Faith. The latter is more about passion, purpose and values related to work than the religious state of faith.
  • My strengths: Curiosity, Salesmanship, Communication and Innovation, and potentially can become great at.
  • My weaknesses or futursuperpowers: Focus and Determination.

animated gif of a man having a face slap with and without beard

Ok, I take these as criteria to vet opportunities against in Step 2.

Then identify which of my weaknesses I need to work on.

So they don’t blew my chances for a great pivot.

Or that could be turned into a superpower.

At last I’ll use the middle list.

Things I am good but not as great at.

To couple my ‘great’ strengths with.

Say Communication + Problem Solving.

Equals stories crafted around problems solved.

At this point as a true problem solving ninja-guru.

They exist.

Thank god only in self-branding hell.

I felt the need to get another angle to the decision making process.

Although I was ready to go straight onto Step 2.

What type of entrepreneur I could be?

I happened to read about a data backed entrepreneur typology. [14]

Used the infographic as a simple tool.

I have checked the key traits of each type listed behind them.

The quantified results from the two tests.

And the feedback I received from friends and acquaintances.

Here’s what I have found the most fitting.

All quotes from fi.co/dna.

The Innovator - Armed with an adventurous and forward-thinking attitude, Innovators are all about experimenting with the old and exploring the new, The Innovator is all about exploring new and emerging technology, and conceiving new products before anyone else does.

Key traits:

  • High Openness (10% above average)
  • The Innovator is a creative and inventive individual with a flair for the cutting-edge.

This sounds like me.

Plus goes hand in hand with the findings.

Of both the self-assessment.

And the user feedback.

High Agreeableness (25% above average) - Considerate, kind, and generous, The Innovator is always interested in the needs of others.

I am mid to high here.

Both self-assessed.

And feedback based.

May I cover my selfishness?

I read this with a pinch of salt.

Moderate Emotional Stability (5% below average) —  Innovators can handle themselves in most tough situations, rarely letting adversity get to them.

At the first I read the latest wrong.

And downgraded myself.

Then I realized the reading is below average.

Not above.

Great news for all the sissies on rage out there.

You can still be an innovator!

Tony Hsieh [15] & Ev Williams [16] are from this group.

Great to have two new mentors.

Note for self:

Dig into podcasts.

And articles where my mentors are dissected.

To learn from them.

I cannot leave out the bad DNA part.

See the whole thing for yourself over at fi.co/dna

Now, this is the part that you have to look at.

And turn any of these weaknesses into strengths.

Or go to more job interviews.

Good news for the ones tagged lazy.

And, or dumb.

IQ and industriousness.

Are considered irrelevant for entrepreneurial success.

If you haven’t got enough.

How could you via just a look at the tool without a true-true go?

Lodge that $50 and go for a full test with Founder Institute.

Step 2 — Find new opportunities and identify skills to develop

As I hinted earlier.

I am such a badass wantrepreneur.

Literally, I can fill Evernote’s free tier three times over with my ideas.

From my brief trading experience I took away one golden rule.

That translates well to other activities:

Remember, the trend is your friend.

Thus I went to check out what’s trendy these days.

I had a two pronged approach.

I reread the $100 Startup for cheapest to start businesses motivation.

The usd 100 startup book cover

Remember, that in step 3 I will have to run experiments.

Then two I checked business ideas for 2016 [17].

Note, I looked at trends from 2016 instead of 2017 for a reason.

Just as in trading.

I want a trend to be real.

And has already gathered momentum.

Not just projected to be big by snake oil salesmen.

Here’s a list of business ideas.

And trends that clicked with me.

In no particular order:

  • Box subscription services — to say the least this wasn’t new to me, since I have a 2 years old idea pregnancy that involves food and subscription. The only drawback is that it’s not a small way to get into a new space. But small experiments and validations can still be done.
  • Mobile consulting — still strong and there’s plenty of room for small businesses to improve.
  • Testing business — this rhymes with one of my recent ideas so it has to be here. My idea is for a rather tight niche thus it would work fine.
  • Business services — a continuation of or combination with testing business idea.
  • E-commerce — many argue products are better than services. Noted.

This covers the bases.

While I cook up something.

How do you plan your pivot?

Further readings, notes, credits

After I finished the find a strength exercise done.

I realized that to pivot is similar to do a personal SWOT analysis.

Here’s my quick analysis about the the relation of the two:

  • Half of the SWOT is present in the Pivot method (Strengths and Opportunities.) In a way Weaknesses are Strengths you are — you guessed — skills you’re too bad at. So, they’re like 75% identical.
  • But the Pivot method is 50% about action. There is no need for further ingredients or steps, it already includes the steps you need to make: small experiments and take smart risks.
  • The Pivot method’s approach to risk may be healthier. If you are  prone to analysis paralysis.

Woohoo, you made it this far.

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Count me in.

[1] http://unemployable.com/podcast/jenny-blake/

[2] Jenny’s Site

[3] http://www.miranous.com/productivity-hack-theme-your-days/

[4] http://ideas.time.com/2011/11/30/the-protege-effect/

[5] Greg Rakozy via Unsplash.

[6] http://observer.com/2015/04/reading-for-scatterbrained-people-with-neither-patience-nor-respect-for-authority/

[7] http://richardstep.com/richardstep-strengths-weaknesses-aptitude-test/free-aptitude-test-find-your-strengths-weaknesses-online-version/

[8] https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com/4-ways-to-find-out-what-your-strengths-are/

[9] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/224433

[10] https://fourhourworkweek.com/2016/01/06/daymond-john-and-how-to-turn-weaknesses-into-strengths/

[11] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0HfAqAO_AA

[12] http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths-Survey

[13]Nigel Tadyanehondo

[14] https://medium.com/the-mission/which-of-these-6-types-of-entrepreneur-are-you-121e7259a8fd#.uuvgjdrqm

[15] Tony Hsieh

[16] Ev Williams

[17] http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/1999-great-business-ideas-2012.html

Follow up posts (planned)

Step 3. Run small experiments to determine next steps

Step 4. Take smart risks to launch with confidence in a new direction

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