This is a bit of a sidestep from my usual blog posts here. But I've been asked a few times how it's been setting up my own business, so I thought I'd start sharing a monthly post with some reflections on what I've been up to. I love reading the week notes and month notes of other people, so this is my version of that!
Work I've Done
- The most exciting thing this month was launching Learn Build Share Ltd! I've started and been involved in multiple startups and businesses over the years (Ed-Me, Geeks of London, PizzaPowered, EmberAds), but this is the first one I've done on my own, where I've been responsible for everything. That means I've been getting to grips with a lot of the admin and setup this month. It's new, but exciting!
- I've started working with my first clients through Learn Build Share! I always knew it was going to take time to build up a business, and lots of people warned me that it might take months to attract the people who want to work with me. I've been lucky that I've been able to hit the ground running and have begun working with some great clients! Updating this newsletter & blog and showing what I do and how I can help, has definitely also helped with that.
- It also helps that all of this has mostly been a pivot for me in terms of who my audience is (external clients vs internal teams and people in companies I've worked at) and how I find who I work with. The work itself though is stuff I've been doing for years, although it was never the main focus of my day-to-day (which was engineering management). I'm so happy that I now get to do more of what I love every day!
- I'm working with a few clients on individual 1:1 speaker coaching/training, and it's been so much fun evolving the content and structure for these. These sessions have been a blend of training, coaching, mentoring, advising, and giving feedback, and I love being able to mix different skills depending on what people need. My approach is to design personalised 1:1s based on frameworks, outlines and material I've used previously. So making sure I'm not reinventing the wheel every time and have content and structure to start with, but also giving enough space to adapt to what each person needs. This month I've updated my 1:1s around CFP writing, brainstorming outlines & story structure and giving feedback on past recorded talks to identify what areas to work on.
- I've also started working with a couple of clients on designing internal workshops for their teams. I can't go into much detail here, but for one company I've been developing a series of short 2-hour workshops to train their engineering managers with a focus on goal setting and coaching, while for another company I'm designing a 2-day workshop aimed at public speaking for engineering teams.
- In terms of my own outreach, I've been writing posts here in this newsletter & blog, as well as posting regularly on LinkedIn and Mastodon. Having used Twitter so much in the past, it's been interesting learning what works and doesn't work on these other platforms.
- It's not all sunshine and roses though: I know that I need to find more clients to make it work as a replacement for a full-time role. There are days when I still wonder whether I'm doing the right thing, or whether I'm better off finding another engineering manager role. But I love what I'm doing right now, and I love how much flexibility it's giving me to plan my days in the way that I want!
Events I've Attended
- The one thing I miss from working in a company and a team is the conversation and interaction with people! So I've set a goal for myself this year to try to catch up with at least 2 people I know (or want to know!) every week. So far that's gone pretty well! It's been nice to follow up with various friends and ex-colleagues over the past month and find out what they've been up to.
- I participated in the 10 Friends Challenge, setup by Sarah Ing. For 1 week, we got daily challenges, all about reflecting on what friendship means to you and making new friends. I ended up meeting new friends and reaching out to folks who I wanted to get to know better! It was a lovely way to kickoff the year and expand my network!
- Talking about expanding my network, it's been great being part of the WITSEND community. Earlier this month I joined their virtual call about Running Effective Meetings, which led to some great discussions about how we can improve our meetings. Then yesterday, I attended the WITSEND Annual General Meeting, which was a half day filled with brilliant panels and networking. It was such an inspiring day! I'm not always a fan of panel events, but these were so well moderated and fascinating. It was a great way to meet other female founders and execs, learning from them and comparing experiences.
- Earlier this week I dialled in to the Miro Board Improv session. Run by Jonathan White and Rachel Davis, this session focused on getting the attendees to brainstorm ideas to create a workshop exercise together, while showing different features in Miro and Butter! I'm still learning how to use both tools myself, and this was a great way to get familiar with what is possible with the tools. If you want to signup for the next one in February, you can do so here!
- Here are a couple of upcoming events I'll be at that I'm excited about:
- Thursday February 8th: I'll be speaking at Female.js next week! I'll be giving an updated version of my Reflect & Refactor talk about using personal retrospectives for reflection, setting your own goals and building new habits. If you want to come along, you can still signup!
- Monday February 12th: It's February which means it's the Lightning Talk edition of LRUG. It always ends up being a great evening of interesting short talks. If you're interested in giving a talk, they are still looking for speakers! (And if you want some last minute help, putting a talk together, get in touch!)
- Tuesday February 20th: I'll be attending ProductCon for the first time this year, and am looking forward to a day of inspiring talks. If you're also going, get in touch and lets coordinate to meetup!
Stories I've Explored
Stories are a huge part of how I approach talks and blog posts, so each month I'll be highlighting the fictional stories I've explored recently. Especially those that play around with some aspect of their storytelling. I also go through a lot of non-fiction content (books, podcasts, articles, etc), but I'll be sharing those in separate posts!
- I read 6 books this month, which puts me a little behind in my 100 books challenge, but I've got several more in progress, so I should be able to catch up! Highlights were:
- How High We Go In The Dark: a collection of short stories, all set in the same universe of an Earth dealing with an odd pandemic. It's a book that examines different aspects of death and the ways people deal with death. I always find that with short story collections, you end up being drawn more to certain stories and that was certainly the case here. What fascinated me most though was that most characters were connected in some way, either through family/friend relationships or just showing up in the background of different stories, creating an overarching tapestry of connections.
- Yellowface: I don't think I've ever read a book so quickly, just to get it over and done with. It's a great book, but it's a train wreck of a story, with things just getting worse as the story goes on. The story is about June Hayward, a nobody writer who steals her friend's unfinished book and publishes it as her own. It's a fascinating read about publishing, while grappling with identity, racism and cultural appropriation.
- I finished Deathloop and I'm still amazed at the complexity and cleverness of the game. Think Groundhog Day in video form: you play a character who relives the same day over and over again. Each day consists of 4 times (Morning, Noon, Afternoon, and Evening) and you get to choose from 4 different locations to visit during those times. Actions you do at certain times of the day might influence events later in the day, and it's fun figuring out where you need to be at what time to get certain events to happen! I love the story-telling aspect of this and how it's so interwoven into the gameplay. One thing I'm particularly proud of: once you figure out how to end the game, you need to do a run-through of a perfect day, doing certain activities in a certain order, without dying (which resets the day). I was expecting to have to replay that day over-and-over again until I got it right, but I managed to do it in a single go!
- I've finally started Mass Effect Legendary Edition. I loved the original games, and the second one (Mass Effect 2) in particular is one of my favourite games of all time, so I'm excited to be replaying these remastered versions. So far Mass Effect 1 though has been much slower than I expected though!
- I watched 8 movies in January! It's also Oscar season, so as usual I'm going to attempt to watch as many of the nominated movies as possible. Mostly to watch movies I maybe normally wouldn't end up necessarily watching. Highlights were:
- The Boy and The Heron: The latest and most probably last Hayao Miyazaki. I'm a huge Studio Ghibli fan and I adore how Miyazaki explores life and death through the lens of his storytelling. I loved that there were different ways you could interpret the underlying parallels between the characters and Miyazaki's own life.
- Tampopo: Given how much of a ramen fan I am, it's surprising I hadn't seen Tampopo before. It basically makes fun of the spaghetti western, by being a literal ramen western. The story is all about traveling truck driver who stops to help a small ramen restaurant owner with reinventing her business.
- Maestro: I loved the cinematography in certain scenes and that alone makes this a movie worth watching. Next to that though, Bradley Cooper's portrayal of Leonard Bernstein is just mesmerising to watch, especially that final conducting scene.
- I loved the second season of The Traitors (UK). I won't give away any spoilers here, but as someone who played a lot of Werewolf in her twenties (which is a variation of the game that Traitors is based on), it's been a lot of fun seeing the paranoia, betrayals and plays that the contestants go through. I ended up shouting several times at the TV this season, baffled at what was happening! I'd also recommend watching the spin-off show Traitors Uncloaked, if only for the excellent moments of when murdered and banished contestants find out who the Traitors are.
- If you want a cute and cosy tv show, watch Pokemon Concierge. It's about Haru, who starts working as a concierge at a Pokemon resort. Her job: helping Pokemon have great days. It's such a wholesome and lovely show!
And that was my January!
I'm constantly exploring what type of posts people would like to see here, so I'd love to hear from you if you have ideas! Just hit reply to this email, leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, get in touch if you know about an event you think I'd be interested in or if you want to catch up over a (virtual) coffee!