Kaboom2020 - business edition


This time last year I blew up a lot of my personal online identity in what I called Project Kaboom. Now under consideration: doing it again, even deeper.

I’m on the cusp of changing my entire business identity.

Though I’ve worked in the Learning & Development field for 20 years now, in the last 5 years or so I’ve become much more visible in the L&D community as I’ve…
  • spoken at nearly all the national conferences
  • led dozens of live trainings/workshops
  • created and facilitated mastermind groups for fellow L&D professionals hell-bent on doing their best work
  • averaged leading one webinar per month and one livestream per week, and quite a few podcasts
  • written tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?!?) of words for articles/blogs/ebooks/newsletters
  • provided daily social media prompts & conversations
  • initiated several global efforts such as the Digital Learning Asset Framework, the Annual Ultimate L&D Podcast Guide, the xAPI Podcast profile, etc.
  • generally said “yes” to any community unification efforts and opportunities to support Instructional Designers doing our work better

For all this, I do have some great friends to show for it!
…But has it worked?

Have my efforts resulted in a more unified or better developed community?
Has this created new revenue streams or given rise to more consulting opportunities?
Have I been able to do anything that measurably made a difference to the industry?

If I’m honest with myself…nope. I don’t regret trying, but I don’t know that it makes sense to continue based on the results to date.

So what I’m considering now is going back to quietly kicking ass with the work I do.
What if I let go of all that I strain to maintain?
What if I shifted from leveraging my skills to solve internal employee business problems for the organizations I serve, and instead focused on the external ones via customer education & marketing?

For six months now, I’ve been trying to find ways to “sell work that matters to people who care” like a good altMBA graduate. Turns out that’s very hard to find, and harder still to obtain.

I am fortunate enough to have some great opportunities in front of me now, though.
  1. full-time employee Learning Experience Designer role for one of the largest tech companies in the HR/L&D space. I’d be creating end-user training (not employee training), primarily for LMS Admins. It’s fully remote, and everyone that I’ve interviewed with so far seems awesome and very capable. It’s a team I’d be proud to serve with, and I’m really hoping they’ll make me an offer that works for me financially very soon!
  2. Marketing Director position with a startup energy broker in the deregulated energy markets in Texas. The husband & wife team running it are friends who are at the limits of what they can deliver on their own. They need help scaling their success to some new markets that I happen to be well-qualified to help with. Ton of growth potential for residual income here, but likely no money rolling in for a few months while priming that pump.
  3. Curriculum Developer opportunity with an author/speaker friend who is already a minor celebrity and is about to kick it up a few notches with the release of his new book next month. He’s got major publisher investment, and he now wants to create & sell course content relating to his books. He’ll also likely be launching a podcast and marketing other efforts later this year that I am uniquely qualified to assist with. This guy moves fast and is open to generous revenue shares as well.

I’m considering taking all three of these on, simultaneously. Were I to do so, most everything else would need to go on pause for a while. I’d be juggling the 40hrs/week of employee-ness that covers all the financial bases for me, while doing another 20hrs or so of nights & weekends for these other two high-growth potential positions. I would no longer be traveling often, writing often, or making room for free projects often. I would essentially be withdrawing my voice from the L&D field, shutting up about the work I do to focus exclusively on doing it well.

For Snap Synapse, my primary business, I would be blowing up my website once again. Don’t worry, I won’t use the nuclear option this time, I’d just be simplifying it to a one-page request form or something like that. It’s actually not so strange for the business, which started off more as a web development/media production/marketing company than the training services company it has become.

As I’m thinking out loud here, I’m realizing that the downside risk to my business is probably low. This would likely be a fully reversible decision. If for some reason something didn’t work out long term and I wanted to go back to providing consulting & content creation services for L&D somewhere down the line, I could go back to what I have now. It’s not like what I have now is working all that well anyway. The only consulting engagement inquiries I’ve received in the last six months have been the all-too-familiar & crazy kind that I’m committed to turning down. Sure, I could do that work as I have for over a decade, I’ve become very good at it — but it no longer works for me.

I’m giving myself until the end of the month (this week) to chew on it. And I fully realize that I’m not the only person making decisions here! There are no sure things yet, and though it’s looking good so far there no solid offers on the table for the full-time employee gig that would drive all this. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, I’m not letting myself commit to anything new in the “business as usual” category. No new conference applications, travel plans, or offers to assist people who need help with their stuff. That still leaves:
  • writing a curriculum development proposal for a friend/client’s childhood grief program for Headstart next week
  • consulting on gamification with an LMS vendor
  • writing blog posts for an eLearning consultancy
  • responding to (but not initiating) more consulting & employee opportunities
  • leading the xAPI Podcast Team through at least March
  • gig in SF Bay Area this weekend
  • leading the GoGoDone community on Tuesdays & participating in the Get-It-Done community & a weekly mastermind that I host as a spinoff from Seth Godin’s community

After reading (okay, skimming!) all this, what does yours have to say? Comment below or message me, please :)

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