Make “the list.”
Tim calls himself a change agent, as he should. He travels around the world making it a better place. So we manage his everyday affairs. The truth is, as your “fake job” becomes the real work you want to do, you will begin to realize some of the desired outcomes you seek (i.e. An office space, x amount of dollars per month, people you love are impacted, work with people and organizations that feel like you’ve met your tribe). When this happens, key roles and responsibilities may fall between the cracks—anything from calling back a potential client to sending current clients an invoice.
It happened to Tim. So he wrote the list and asked those on it who they knew that could give him more time to focus on what he wanted to focus on, and not always what he needed to focus on.
The list is not a “to-do list.” It is who you know and how being in connection with them can support your work. Make a list of everyone you’ve ever known—people from childhood, high school, college, your first job, your last job, the ex, the friend, the roommate. If you can name them, they should be on the list. Even if you think someone would never help you, they should go on the list. It will come in handy throughout the process of building your idea.
Wanna know why? Because whether someone hates the ground you walk on or loves you to pieces, depending on how you communicate a desire, if they can help you and it costs them nothing to do so, they will. In some cases, even if it does cost them, they will be of service in some way.
The list is key to every aspect of your idea. Once you have the list, you’ll need to know what to say, how to say, and in which format to say it—in other words, how to talk with the different people on the list in a way that is authentic, chill, and to the point. Don’t sweat the technique. I’ll get to it.
The excitement for me, every single time, is driving through the one roadblock each person shoots my way when i ask them to make the list: “I’m too scared to reach out to them.” But the wonderful thing about the list is you don’t always have to call anyone. You do, however, have to be your own spokesperson.
For now, don’t worry; no one is making you call a soul. However, creating the list means you can decide what you’d like to ask or tell people on the list—not multiple things but one thing. Maybe a person can recommend others to be on the planning committee for a 5k run, or for a market research group for an idea to expand your business.
In Noelani’s case, the one thing was having small, start-up clients. If, and it was still a big if, she quit the awful government job, she needed way more than pipe dreams to pay the bills.
I’m not suggesting you jump without a net. When I suggested the list to Noelani over six years ago, I also had a contingency plan in my back pocket. Some of our clients need more than one, but I’ll talk about my story another time. In the end, you’ll have what you need to quit, if you choose to do so.
[at some point, I’ll send a survey that will help you decide if you’re ready to be a sucka.]
On your list, don’t just “think” of the people you know, write them down. You do this already when you are in need of something—who to call for it trouble, parenting advice, revamping a wardrobe, or editing a bio. Formalize the list so you can see who you know, how you can support them, and vice versa. We’ll get back to your next step soon, but just know that Tim using his list is how he found us.
On the other hand, Noelani didn’t want to even think about the list. She just wanted to know what the hell to do next. It turns out the contract would not be extended. Friday was her last day. Monday came around and she called me with the sound of tears in her voice . . .
Until next time,
P.s. I started to work with Tim to organize his day-to-day business responsibilities. One important tool to remember is no matter where your real work is on your list of priorities (and our goal is to move it up to at least number 4), take time every week to do the next thing you need to do. It won’t happen unless you schedule it. Period.