For truly golden life hacks I don’t turn to Tony Robbins or Oprah. I channel Fleetwood Mac.
Have you ever had a challenging relationship with a co-worker or client? Have you burnt a bridge or had the gasoline and match ready? Stevie Nicks had a challenging relationship with a co-worker.
The woman with the goose-bumpy, gravelly voice in Fleetwood Mac that defined a generation had to sing songs about her ex while her ex sang harmony right next to her. Awkward.
So why do it? Why walk through that pain?
When the five-members of Fleetwood Mac hit the studios in Sausalito, California, in 1976 to record Rumours, four of the five were going through ugly break ups – with other members of the band.
Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham had ended their relationship that started in college and John and Christine McVie had just divorced. Now they had to spend 10-14 hours a day singing their hearts out as they share a mic with the one who broke it.
The result of their agonizing determination?
- 31 weeks at #1
- 40 million copies sold
- The 8th-best-selling album of all time
Their tenacity, creativity, and dedication to their craft fascinate and inspire me. What can a freelance or small business learn from this mystic band and their messy journey?
1. Keep moving forward.
Did you realize the band Fleetwood Mac released ten albums and made multiple line-up changes before Rumours won the Grammy for Best Album in 1977?
Ten albums! That is a lot of, largely unrecognized, work.
Keep moving your freelance business, small business, family, and life forward bit by bit even though the future is unclear and the accolades aren’t pouring in.
2. Make your best “music” with the team assembled at the time.
Ever worked with an odd, annoying, or controlling client? Did you wish you could shuffle the deck and choose someone else? It appears Fleetwood Mac did that often, and yet they never quit.
Fleetwood Mac was formed in England in 1967 as a blues group with five guys, two of which, namesakes – Mick Fleetwood and John McVie – hung in through it all. And boy was there a lot to hang through – label changes, legal battles, personality conflicts, their label putting a completely fake Fleetwood Mac on tour in 1974, alcohol, drugs, misunderstandings, and egos.
But they kept at it and churned out album after album with whoever showed up on stage and in the studio.
3. There is no magic formula.
Overnight successes are rarely overnight.
Fleetwood Mac’s monstrously successful album, Rumours, with hits like “Go Your Own Way” and “Don’t Stop,” came 11 years after the band’s founding. If there was a magic formula they hadn’t found it.
Are you (am I) willing to keep producing, keep dreaming for eleven years … or more?
Don’t. Stop. Thinking. About. Tomorrow.
4. If you make magic, don’t try to make Magic Part II.
If you are lucky enough to land the big account, build a skyscraper, win the election, or make a chart-topping album, don’t try to recreate a version of the exact same thing the next chance you get.
Create. Build. Innovate. Write anew.
Lindsey Buckingham who wrote a lot of Fleetwood Mac’s hits says he would have loved to been a fly on the wall when Warner Bros. listened to the Rumours follow-up album, Tusk. It was a total departure for the band, experimenting with new wave and punk rock. It was not Rumours Part II. Warner Bros. was not thrilled, but how much could they complain when the album spent five months in the top 40 and was certified double platinum?
Drummer, Mick Fleetwood claims in the almost forty years of Fleetwood Mac, Tusk is his favorite album. It gave them two top-ten hits and one I’m especially partial to, “Sara.”
Enjoy your artistry. Grow beyond your last “big hit” and explore new frontiers.
5. Another life hack? Press on through the pain.
Life is difficult. New challenges come your way, often on the heels of the challenge you just put to rest. Don’t wait for the perfect conditions to move forward. Press on.
Lindsey Buckingham tells Dan Rather in The Big Interview, “The subject matter [of Fleetwood Mac songs] was what we were living.” He wrote “Go Your Own Way” to Stevie Nicks tell her, “I’m resigned to whatever happens [but]… It’s not what I want.”
Buckingham reflects now, “I think there was an investment in not just the music, but in the people who made the music because of [the pain]” that they rode out and wrote about.
Buckingham told Dan Rather, “We did accomplish what we accomplished under pretty adverse circumstances, and just for myself it was about choices. It was about saying, ‘I’m hurting from Stevie. Here she is. She needs me to do this. I guess I could do a crappy job or I could do the job I know I can do.’ What’s the choice? You try to make right choices that accumulates or adds up to something.”
Press on through the mess.
6. Take a break, but don’t break off.
We all need to catch our breath. Sometimes a break from doggedly plowing ahead can be beneficial, but when you take your break, don’t break ties with your team.
Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie, both significant songwriters for the band, took breaks from Fleetwood Mac. Lindsey talks about needing time off after Tango in The Night. He knew a national tour with the current volatile environment was not a healthy choice for him.
He took a break, but he didn’t burn the bridge. And now the whole band tours together almost forty years later.
7. Share your gifts with the world.
Do you ever wonder why you are like you are? Because, you’re one-of-a-kind.
You were crafted uniquely to do what you do, think what you think. Only you can do and think exactly like you do.
Don’t let adverse or painful conditions, naysayers, or fear stop you from sharing your gifts with the world.
Fleetwood Mac battled for months to make Rumours because they felt they needed to “somehow fulfill the destiny that had been laid out for us.”
Thunder only happens when it’s raining. When conditions aren’t perfect. When a storm is raging.
It may not sound like perfect harmony now, but you could have the magic that the world needs.
Go. Your. Own. Way.
I grew up talking business with my father. I thought all kids did. My parents owned a small business. As a kid, I went on service calls with Dad, discussed logos, worked at a drafting table with a cool electric eraser, and witnessed the victories and pains of small business. And I am forever grateful.
My dad’s business was an extension of him, and an ever-present “12th man” at our dinner table and on our car trips. We talked about business, daily.
I learned a lot about character, priorities, and kindness from my father. And I also absorbed three valuable business lessons from him:
1. Business is about serving people.
Dad was always helping someone.
My dad always took a customer’s call. He said, “If they took the time to call, it must be important.”
He always wanted to be accessible (pre-mobile phone days, of course) so we had a three-line phone in our home, which my friends thought was way cool. We loved acting like we were executives. Pressing the red hold buttons. Scribbling on notepads. Hollering for someone to bring us coffee.
I spent hours listening to Dad explain to customers how sprinkler systems functioned, ideal watering times, and the eventual payback from an investment in saving water. Again and again. Each time his gentle, helpful response sounded as if their question was the first time anyone had ever asked that important question.
Dad served others with integrity. We lived in a small, geographically isolated town. So there was nowhere to hide, if you burnt a bridge with someone, you’d likely need to scorch your toes as you crossed that same bridge in the future. This did not present a challenge for Dad. He was nice to everyone, and served all people with a smile.
My dad was so nice; in fact, he started a business (that lost money) for his landscape employees to keep them busy during the winter months. He told me, “They’ve got families to feed. We’ll figure it out.”
Dad taught me business is all about serving people.
2. Take some risks.
Dad taught me to take chances. He was born into farming, but not born a farmer.
Much like Matthew McConaughey’s restless character in the blockbuster movie, Insterstellar, Dad respected the value of the farm, but was not a farmer. I thought of my dad when Cooper mused,
“We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”
Dad left the farm to explore. To start something new. He risked security to explore what else was out there. And once he explored and established a successful business, he explored the next possibility.
I remember accompanying Dad to a lawn and garden trade show in the late ‘70’s where he patiently explained solar lighting to stupefied customers. People didn’t get it. Why use that “hippie dippie system” when I can flip a switch?
That’s okay, Dad, we get it now.
3. Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Dad operated his own business so he could provide well for our family, set his own schedule, and spend time with us.
When I was home from school in the summer, he’d come home for lunch almost every day. He would stop what he was doing at work to come home and eat lunch with mom and I (and catch a quick nap on the living room floor). We’d hear about his morning, and if I begged, he’d hop in the boat to take me for a spin around the lake.
He hooked our family on snow skiing (eight hours away in Colorado) because it was an activity all five of us could enjoy together with our wide range of ages, and it was during his business’s slow season. Dad knew work could demand a lot of his attention during season, but wanted us all to profit from his hard work and availability during the winter.
Family came first for Dad. Maybe that’s why all three of us kids have moved our families to another state to be near he and mom. Had he forgotten why he was doing what he was doing, he would have poured all of his love and energies into his small business. And I doubt it would have spent much time with him in retirement.
I continue to learn a lot from my dad. And in a lot of ways, I am like him. I approach every day with wonder and appreciation. And I love peaches, the Hi-Lo’s, and can identify more plant species than a normal human being. I choke up when I talk about family members who have passed on. And I take risks, serve others, and structure my freelance business to benefit my family.
Thanks for the tremendous example, Dad!
It’s been awhile since I have blogged – for myself. So why write a blog on business productivity and forgiveness? How does that make sense?
Use the old adage of the cobbler’s-kids-have-no-shoes to explain why someone, like me, who gets paid to write doesn’t take the time to write for her own business.
But you know what I’m going to do about my lack of productivity?
I’m going to forgive myself.
I feel better already.
Being tangled up in guilt and excuses makes effective forward progress difficult. The washed-up seaweed entanglement of my guilt slows my advancement, causes me to lurch ineffectively side to side, and prematurely exhausts me.
You can’t change the past. Small business owners are natural problem-solvers. But fixing the past is impossible. For everyone.
That inability to change history may bother a small business owner more than sane people who haven’t chosen to work for themselves. Fixers like fixing. The events of the past can’t be fixed, but they can be forgiven.
How would forgiveness improve your business productivity (not to mention the quality of your life) if you let go of: what could have been, things you should have done, and the lost opportunities?
Could your leadership benefit from a clean slate of forgiveness?
Take a moment of your present, to revisit your past. No clock chiming, zero visits from apparitions, no grainy television footage with British actors – just you and your thoughts. Try this:
1. Take an inventory.
What part of your past is weighing you down? Are there ghosts chasing you? What nags at you in the dark? If no ghosts are chasing you is there one sitting in the boardroom, quiet, but ever-present and distracting? What’s holding you back from your next step?
Take some time to consider your regrets – your words, action, or lack of words or actions.
2. Accept it.
Accept that you can’t change the past. You’ve heard it before. Believe it this time.
Don’t give this caution the same level of heed as running with scissors, really digest that truth – you can’t go back and change the past.
President Harry Truman used to sit at his desk and pen angry notes when he was frustrated with a particular person. He never sent them. Instead, he put them in his bottom desk drawer. But he explained that for him the process was therapeutic.
I wonder if writing down some regrets and filing them away in a bottom drawer, like Truman, would help us accept our regret and move on.
3. Learn from it.
Our best use of the past is to learn from it. Ask yourself:
- What could I have done better?
- Is there a risk I should have taken?
- What discipline did I fail to start then that would have been useful today?
- Did I enlist help and wisdom from others?
- What was a waste of time?
- How did I serve someone else?
- Did I get the “big stuff” right?
- What did I ignore?
- Was I moving too slowly? Too quickly?
- What baggage would an honest friend tell me to toss?
- Is there an opinion of another that I am allowing to color my opinion of myself today?
- What distractions did I allow to derail my goals?
By freeing yourself of past hurts and learning from your mistakes you pave the way for more creative freedom and success in your future. You may actually profit from forgiveness. An increase in business productivity.
4. Forgive yourself.
Take whatever time necessary to mourn the loss of what might have been, the mistakes made, and then forgive yourself. Forgive yourself fully. Put a pin in it, stuff it in the bottom drawer (or incinerator), and move on.
Professional coach, Marc Chernoff, outlines 5 Things You Must Leave Behind To Get Ahead. His number one suggestion is to let go of the past. Forgive yourself and leave the negative things behind.
5. Forgiveness for someone else.
Now that you feel the zero-gravity effect of forgiving yourself is there anyone else you need to forgive? Someone who wronged you? That someone who let you down? Someone who didn’t believe in you?
Forgive them before bitterness can unpack its cancerous baggage in your life.
They say harboring bitterness for another person is like drinking poison and expecting them to die. Unforgiveness for another ultimately harms you, not them.
I can’t say I ever thought I’d write a business post about forgiveness. Even one on business productivity. But the topic seemed to follow me around every corner until I jotted it down. So, forgive me.
And forgive yourself.
I hate packing before I travel. I put it off until the last minute. Every time. My suitcase-filling was so wire-close this time, as I sat on the plane fiddling with the jammed window shade I wondered, “Why do I do that?”
I have to book my tickets weeks in advance – had to book the car, the hotel … I even scouted fun restaurants. So why wait so long to pack?
I’m not typically a procrastinator. I like closure. I like getting things done.
So why do I delay packing?
I wonder if it is primarily because I do not like limited options. Ever. And that 22 x 14 x 9-inch suitcase limits me.
Imagine a typical Colorado morning. The radio alarm goes off. You hit the snooze, hoping against hope that at some point today you will get that Journey song out of your head.
Easing out of bed, you make those old-age noises you swore you’d never make, and you greet a day full of options. You open the blinds and a glance out the window towards Mount Herman tells you, it is snowing. It’s April, but it’s snowing – one of the “perks” of living at 7,300 feet. So you select silk socks to go with wool socks, liners for under your running pants, and spring-colored layers to keep you warm, but look like the calendar is correct.
That same scenario for a traveler in a nearby Denver hotel room plays out differently. Alarm goes off. Room-darkening curtains toss open to reveal – snow. What? A glance at the suitcase tells the mile high visitor – it’s going to be a rough day.
Packing for another city, climate, or country is definitely a challenge, but I love to travel therefore, I must figure out how to summit my Everest without waiting until the last minute. So I found 5 hacks to help pack-haters like me. (I think I’ll call them “pack hacks”.)
1. App it up.
Yes, it appears there are apps to make the chore of packing and the pre-trip tasks easier, especially if you plan to take any repeat trips.
The Packing Pro app helps you create a packing list and lets you save your lists for future use. You can save different lists for different members of the family or parts of the country or cities, i.e. my New York City list looks nothing like my Omaha list. You can sort your list by category, i.e., clothes, medicine, electronics. There is also a pre-trip “To Do” list that looks helpful. Customer reviews of the app assure me they have used it for foreign and domestic travel and would never embark on a trip without it.
2. Roll with it.
Packing is demotivating on some level because you know your nice outfits that you carefully tuck away will look (and I think, smell) nothing like that when you arrive at your destination.
The expert’s suggestion: roll certain items for better results. Real Simple’s The Best Way to Pack a Suitcase suggests rolling your softer garments, i.e. jeans, T-shirts, blouses, etc., and folding stiff ones, like dress pants or blazers.
Then arrange those rolled items in the bottom of the bag, forming a solid suitcase foundation like burritos in a baking dish.
3. Group outfits.
It may feel a bit like summer camp, but if you hate packing as much as I do seeing some order and method to the madness helps. Use Ziploc bags or roll clothes with loose rubber bands to group your items into outfits.
Grouping also forces me to think more thoroughly through what I actually need to take versus my temptation to toss in favorite shirts, comfy clothes, and forget pajamas, shoes and socks.
4. Bulk up.
I would not consider myself a chick who “loves her shoes” but let’s be honest a poorly selected shoe can ruin an outfit or make for a very, very long day. So I struggle when it comes to packing shoes. The experts suggest every trip needs the trifecta of shoes: a casual sandal or loafer, sneakers, and an evening shoe. Then they suggest wearing the most bulky of the shoes to save suitcase room. (I’m thinking that means my boots.)
I also try to stuff any shoes that I am packing full of various items before they go in the suitcase: belts, underwear, jewelry bag, or phone chargers. If they’re going to take up space in the bag they may as well be worth every inch.
5. Just do it.
Lower the bar. Drop your expectations and just pack. Get comfortable with the notion you may forget something or circumstances may change.
If you forget something or a surprise rainstorm settles over your travel destination, use it as a free pass to go buy whatever item you need to make your stay comfortable. If you find yourself at a COACH store shopping for a $900 purse, you might be pushing the boundaries a bit. But short of medicine and eyeglasses, you can pretty much purchase whatever you forgot on “the other side”.
In a few weeks when I drag out that far-too-small suitcase again, I promise to take my own advice, focus on the fun travel options that await me (not the limited suitcase options) and will start to pack sooner-than-later.
Happy travels to you.
Stay calm and pack.
I love sayings. Funny ones, clever ones, even well worn clichés. If these sayings didn’t offer a kernel of truth, people wouldn’t keep saying them. So how true is the old adage, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?” This English proverb cautions the hearer to not risk what you already possess in order to possibly gain more. True? Or False? Should you gamble with what you have to maybe gain more?
I say, “Yes. Take the risk.” Here are three reasons why:
1. Your situation is unique.
Your situation is entirely unique to you, and the world around you right now. Now may be the perfect time for you, to let go of the certainty in your hand and risk.
Do you think Mr. Bird-in-the-hand knew we needed someone to invent electricity, create a vaccine for polio, or make an ionized hair dryer? (Judge not. A bad hair day is rarely a good day.)
Colonel Sanders, a man very familiar with birds, risked his management job at a cafeteria to chase two birds in the bush selling his “secret recipe” to restaurants across the U.S., and ultimately the world, through his Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises. Sanders was no stranger to risk, trying every job in the book at some point, but he never let the stable, “logical” job keep him from shaking the bushes for something better.
Just like you, Harland Sanders’ situation was unique. He didn’t invent the chicken. Nor did he invent fried chicken, but his recipe was different than others, his pressurized cooking process was unique, and his approach to franchising was unprecedented.
Sanders’ two birds in the bush were worth quite a lot. At the time of the Colonel’s death there were an estimated 6,000 KFC outlets in 48 different countries with $2 billion in sales annually.
2. It might be easier than you think to get another bird.
If you let go of the bird in your hand and the other two fly away, how hard would it be to get another bird? You just need one. That’s all you have now.
If the job market is horrendous, maybe getting another job would be next to impossible. Maybe you do have to keep the bird in your hand. But before you resign yourself to that “fact” be sure and give the birds in the bush more than just a passing thought.
Remember it’s only one bird. There will be other birds.
3. Every bird is unique.
The old adage does not account for the quality of the bird in your hand or of those in the bush.
Are you clutching a crow while two beautiful peacocks nest near-by? Do you have a bald eagle and you are contemplating snatching two crows? The quality of the birds makes a big difference in your decision.
If you are holding on to something, like your job, because it is familiar, low-risk, or comfortable, maybe it is time to at least take a peek in the bushes. Do some research on your “crazy” idea, turn your hobby into a business, use your Saturday to see if you can make a go at that thing you’ve always wanted to do.
If you’ve got a bald eagle in your grasp, maybe contentment is what you need. Stop pining for the two crows in the foliage and appreciate the bird in your hand.
Either way I’d encourage you to consider the bird in your hand and the two in the bush. Your personal worth is not based on either, but the enjoyment of your future might be.
Be willing to risk. And enjoy the reward.
LinkedIn recently launched a “freelance-for-hire” service they’ve dubbed “ProFinder”. The service matches people looking for a service or product with a qualified freelance professional.
LinkedIn’s search function links the client to the best freelance option based on categories, keywords, search terms, connections, and physical location, if it’s pertinent.
As of now the ProFinder service is 100% free for both the searcher and those wanting-to-be-searched.
It’s free, but if you would like to be “featured” in certain categories pull out the plastic. Yes, being featured will cost you, but prominent placement on LinkedIn may be just what your freelance shop needs.
For the cost – free – and the exposure – 420 million members in 200 countries – ProFinder is probably worth looking into.
Let’s assume you already have a stellar LinkedIn profile. If not, hop over there and take care of that. (Here’s a piece on how to create a profile in less than 5 minutes that people will want to read. Note: I’m NOT a fan of his all caps suggestion).
Making sure your LinkedIn profile shines is even more important now because your ProFinder profile pulls information from your LinkedIn profile.
The interface and correspondence you receive from LinkedIn about ProFinder is a bit ugly, but we’ll forgive them that if they let us market our services to 420 million people for free.
Make sure you have a few recommendations on your LinkedIn profile. Recommendations are key in the LinkedIn universe to getting a look from a potential freelance client.
Rid your mind of junior high dance rejection and ask current or former clients or co-workers to recommend you on LinkedIn. If you’re afraid they won’t know what to say, toss them a bone. Ask for their help saying,
“World’s Greatest Client,
Hello. I hope the [insert project name] continues to go well. It was a pleasure to work with your team [timeframe]. I am currently looking for other fun freelance opportunities. Would you mind writing a recommendation for me on LinkedIn? The brief recommendation could mention what specific obstacle I helped the team overcome, the benefit you experienced from my assistance, and an endorsement for others to employ my services. Thanks so much for this favor. Let me know how I can help you.”
Sure, it might not be a ton of fun asking someone to “tell me I’m great”, but that’s not what you’re doing. You helped solve a problem and you would like that recorded. Wipe off those sweaty palms and ask.
If it is appropriate for you to recommend that person, do that. Seems only fair and right, and if you do it without them having to ask, they will appreciate it. Save them the sweaty palms.
To make sure the recommendation ends up on your LinkedIn profile, follow these steps:
- Go to your profile and click the down arrow to the right of the button near your profile picture.
- Click “Ask to be recommended” from the dropdown.
- Follow the prompts to request the recommendation.
- Click Send.
With your LinkedIn profile fluffed and buffed, some recommendations added, you’re ready to click a few buttons to sign up for ProFinder. First select which general service you provide, i.e. Writing and Editing, Marketing, Accounting, etc. Then click a few more buttons to highlight your expertise within that area and you’re set.
If you get one lead from it, it will be worth the investment. And we all know one lead leads to another (does anyone else hear the song from The Fixx One Thing Leads To Another in their head when I say that?).
Let me know if you’d like help writing, editing, fluffing, or buffing your content for your LinkedIn profile, resume, website, or print projects. I’d be happy to help.
Enjoy the free, freelancer.
Editor’s Update: This post was originally crafted in 2016. LinkedIn has changed this function multiple times since then. But one thing hasn’t changed. There is PLENTY of money to be made and people to serve as a freelancer. I turned my freelancer gigs into my own business and I now several freelancers work for me.