How to Pivot Like a Pro (Or Like Me Anyway)

We’ve all had to pivot once or twice in our lives and careers. But what’s that about? Why didn’t the original plan work? Why couldn’t you make it work? Well, some of it happens because you jumped in too quick, some because you got lost along the way, and some because people just didn’t buy it.

And trying to “make it work” when it is clearly not is always a mistake.

So here I am, at a crossroads again, or rather building my plane:

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Truth is, I have always wanted my own business. I have never aspired to work for anyone or with anyone for that matter. I just always wanted to be my own boss, and that’s that. You can probably relate.

And since I started my consultancy practice (a few months go), it has been clear that something’s not right. You just know it when you see it: You’re not saying the right things. People inquire but don’t stick around. Your clients think you do one thing while you are clearly better at other things.

Oy vey. It’s a big hot mess, and now I’m cleaning it!

Adaptability is so important that pivoting has become a must. So we either better make the best of it or give up.

And because I’m not a quitter, I devised a plan:

1. Admit it’s not working.

Denial is my favorite thing in the world. Really.

It’s so soft and comfortable, like a bosom to a baby. But once you’ve been at the bosom for a while and you’re not making any real progress, you have to acknowledge that something’s gone amiss.

In my experience if you don’t acknowledge it, something happens that forces you to acknowledge it. It’s one of those things you can’t ignore forever. And once you acknowledge it, you enter a whirlpool of emotions, decisions, and just everything that feels the opposite of comfortable.

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If you’re there with me, don’t worry, the struggle doesn’t last forever. But it is vital to stick with a direction because pivoting is a ship, and a ship cannot get anywhere without a compass.

Examples of a good compass: A tool, a business framework, a competent friend’s advice. Your childhood diary.

Thus we arrive at my next point.

2. Seek the help of people and tools.

I used to say “everyone is a consultant these days” and laugh about it. Now I’m eating my words because I realize why consultants are vital in today’s business climate.

You know how content was king for a while, until it all became too much, and suddenly curation is queen? Well, same thing for consulting. For a while we’ve had access to so much info and frameworks and business tools that we eventually hit the information black hole: We’re not sure what to use, what works, what works for us, and what’s good long-term.

For example, I believed that Traction was the end-all be-all of startup marketing, and then I saw my mistake. John Bonini talks about it in this blog post. It’s just not a sustainable practice.

This is why even consultants need consultants nowadays.

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The tool that’s helping me pivot right now is Beth Grant’s Archetype Alignment Grid (not affiliated).

Again, it’s not the end-all be-all tool, and it certainly won’t appeal to everybody, but it’s what works for me right now, and I’m happy I accepted the help when it presented itself. 🙂

So perhaps even more important than seeking help is accepting it.

3. Really work on your core message.

Look at your marketing. No really, look at it closely. Does it come off as a little bit scattered? Or does it seem perfectly in sync? If it’s the latter, congratulations; if it’s the former, welcome to my boat.

Talking to Beth (see above) made me realize I didn’t have that central theme in my consultancy, the one that everything revolves around. If I’m a galaxy, this message is my sun, and nothing works without the sun in the center.

Think of it as the Unique Value Proposition of your business.

More than that, it’s your personal Unique Value, your personal Unfair Advantage, not those of your business. I’m talking about what you love, what you’re best at, and what people will pay you for.

Your core message comes from your personal super powers; from your beliefs, your personality, your… fill in the blank.

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For example, I’ve been drifting along and trying all the best practices and new trends, but I didn’t really commit to anything. Expert advice became my lifeboat and I drifted away from my message. Without it, my marketing sounded scattered, and as a result I attracted scattered traffic and scattered clients. Needless to say, I’ve been struggling.

But now that I’m getting closer to my core message, I love it!

4. Ignore the voice of fear.

“OMG, what if I lose all of my current clients?”

“What if nobody connects to my new message?”

“What if an asteroid hits us and I die single?!”

What if… what if… what if…

This is a futile game your mind plays when you have no guarantees, but that’s why they said “no risk, no reward” in the first place.

I know why you’d be scared in this situation, I’m scared too. But if we let this stop us from reaching our full potential, then we are robbing ourselves of a stellar future! If you ask any successful person, they’ll probably tell you they did not listen to that annoying voice of doubt and fear. They’ll say they followed their heart/dream/liver, and now they’re reaping the rewards.

It’s a cliche, but it’s a cliche for a reason:

There are two wolves who are always fighting. One is darkness and despair. The other is light and hope. The question is… which wolf wins?

Answer: The one you feed.

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Why am I pivoting?

If you made it this far, I can tell you why I’m actually pivoting.

Maybe you’ve noticed that I subtly changed my twitter bio, which now says I’m an “organic marketer”. At the same time my last blog post was a curation of growth hacking resources. A bit of a discrepancy there.

Short story, I get a lot of client inquiries (I’ll write about that, too), but something’s not really clicking between me and those people. And I think it’s my lack of focus in my messaging and the fact that I’ve been answering the title “growth hacker” when I really shouldn’t have.

buttondoPicture Deedee squealing “ooh, what does this button do” and then pressing a ton of shiny buttons for no reason. That’s me for the past 7 months.

In the coming days/weeks, you’ll understand what I mean. I’d love it if you stuck around for my journey of self-(re)discovery.

Don’t worry, I won’t change everything. I’ll just sound more like myself.

Thank you for reading all this and WISH ME LUCK.

*

P.S. Do you have a pivoting story? I’m collecting those. 😀

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On My Way to a 4-Day Work Week

Yesterday I re-tweeted this:

You have to admit that the fact people are willing to work twice as much just so they can work what they want is ironic… and kinda logical. When you do something you love, you gotta pay the price. Right?

Wrong. Let me tell you how I’ve been forging my way to “work smarter, not harder” and “to work better, work less“.

(Because you are the gate-keeper of your time, nobody else.)

First, remove distractions.

Within a few weeks of installing the Slack desktop app, I realized it’s killing most of my productivity. So I muted notifications and started turning it off around 5 pm, and guess what? Nothing happened. Nobody complained about my not being there and I didn’t miss out on anything… much.

Another distraction is twitter, but this one I choose to keep because it actually brings me joy. (You win some, you lose some.)

So make a list of your distractions and take them on, one by one.

And remember, sometimes you convince yourself you’re hustling, but you’re actually suffering from “busyness” – keeping busy, but not doing much. To avoid this, make sure everything you do is important.

Second, disconnect on the weekend.

Unthinkable? Maybe at first…

But before you can learn to “work smart” and have “work-life balance”, you have to start small. Think about it – the weekend was always meant for rest. A lot of other entrepreneurs and freelancers do it, so why not you?

As soon as you see how good it feels to take a break and return at full speed to your work on Monday morning, you’ll be ready to take this all-important step. And even if someone wants to reach you on the weekend, they can use the phone, or get used to the fact you’re off on weekends.

(And it won’t be the end of the world if you check your email or social accounts Saturday morning or Sunday evening. We all slip up.)

Third, free up your evenings.

Once you have experienced the pure bliss of free weekends, you’ll be more willing to take the evenings off as well. If you don’t have much of a life offline – like the author of this article – you’ll be less likely.

You know what helps?

Having another little obsession curbs the first one.

So after months and months of throwing myself in work, I realized… I had completely ignored my book. And once I started working on that again, I just wanted to get work done by 5 pm every day, so I could relax and do some editing later in the evening. Your mind and body know what you need.

It’s a matter of making sure you have a healthy, balanced regime.

Fourth, be selective.

I used to say yes to any work that came my way, but eventually it got exhausting. Can you imagine working three jobs and squeezing two more projects whenever  you have a free minute? It’s madness.

So next time you want to say yes, watch this:

And think about the time it will take. Really work on your schedule.

Take the final step…

…if you want to take it. In my case, my days are free enough as it is without adding a third day of rest. I mean, if you’re working like crazy every day, you might want to add a third day. And that day might as well be Wednesday. And you can apply it at your company if you’re the boss.

I’m not fully sure I understand this new frame of working or if it’s going to become popular all around, but it’s worth a try.

Sometime. 😀

What do you think? Are you brave enough to try the 4-day work week?

P.S. If you’re considering it for your company, read this article.