6-months since altMBA


Six months ago, I participated in session 32 of Seth Godin’s altMBA program. It was intense, inspiring, and exactly the kind of shakeup I was looking for! I loved the experience and everyone I shared it with. If you like learning & developing yourself, or delivering your best work at breakneck speed with incredible people, this is VERY highly recommended!

If you’re looking for more info about the altMBA program, this isn’t a good place to find it, sorry. My advice to anyone seriously considering signing up is to just do it. Don’t try and figure it out beforehand, you won’t. Yes, it’s pricey alright, but it’s also totally worth it! So get in as soon as you can :)

This post is about what happened since then for me. Through the course of the program, I made some big decisions. These are not at all reflective of what other people were doing with their altMBA adventure or what you would get out of it, merely some of the things I was walking away with as a result of this experience:
  • Commitment to ONLY do work that matters for people who care = Seth’s rallying cry worked to rally me and everyone else into being more professional about how we make change in the world. Most of my efforts in life have had this kind of intention, but the actions have only loosely aligned. As an expression of my serious and exclusive focus on this target, I knew I’d have to let go of anything that wasn’t that. See next bullet…
  • Sunset existing clients = It’s really hard muster the energy to make things better when you spend all day (and sometimes all night) trying to prevent catastrophe. While I wanted to position my company to get more forward thinking clients with more capable teams and better infrastructure to work on better projects, the nature of the L&D industry and our services role within it make that a challenge. To reboot/reset, I decided to gently let every client project find completion and not pursue any other work. It worked! I didn’t burn any bridges, and left each client much better off than when we first started working together. I embraced the abyss of drumming up newer and better work, unfettered.
  • Rebuild ONLY three things = Earlier last year, I’d blown up a lot of stuff that I’d not rebuilt yet. Through the exercises and collective support of my newfound altMBA friends, I defined three revenue streams worth pursuing and decided to rebuild these completely first before allowing myself to expand to other activities (meaning that after these things were done, THEN I would let myself do things such as starting up this blog again)
    1. Expert Witness business = Getting work like this had previously been a fluke. Now I sought to leverage my experience and make it more replicable, as I honestly do enjoy the work — and it just happens to pay better than anything else do. (My expert witness site was the first thing I rebuilt, and I did other things to build out this business as well)
    2. Snap Synapse LLC = Recreating my business and all its assets from the ground up to align with the new core messaging about making a real difference to the client’s business, as opposed to saving people who were in over their heads. This was the reframe I needed for what has been my bread and butter work for the last dozen years or so. (SnapSynapse.com was the next thing I built out, also using the videos and copy and resources I was producing to update all social media, conference presentations, etc.)
    3. Doable Change Corp = Going direct to consumer with change. Directly aligning our actions to our intentions is not easy work, but it is the best kind IMHO. I had dabbled with this side business over the years: a podcast, a mastermind, online community, crowdsourcing, blogging, etc. It was a great place to test, but I’d never really approached it as a business. So I designed a business model that could quickly grow beyond depending upon me and my personal efforts to drive it. In the short term, it would take a lot of work from me, but in the long term what I was designing had more upside growth potential than the other two avenues above. (DoableChange.com was rebuilt from scratch, specifically targeting certain community building offerings)
When the program ended, I was on fire! Instead of taking a break, I kept shipping at the same relentless pace as I had practiced in altMBA for about the next three-months (until Thanksgiving). In this time I was also traveling to speak/teach at L&D conferences which gave me chances to test out each of my newly refined business offerings and messages with face-to-face encounters. Here’s what I found:
  • The expert witness stuff impressed people, but there was simply not enough demand in the world for what I have to offer. When you need someone who’s an expert in YouTube’s ContentID to help lawyers argue better and disputes find more fact-based resolutions, I’m your guy. Nice work if you can get it, and I stand by for the next opportunity to provide this value.
  • Doable Change didn’t go so great. Change is one of those things people like to say that they want, but when faced with it they tend to wander away. I couldn’t seem to find the right people, or maybe my messaging was just off. Nothing ever really seemed to land, because even when I got a lot of positive feedback (which I did) I got almost zero follow though.
  • Snap Synapse got a few inquiries and a few fix-it requests, but I turned town the usual end-of-year “help us, we need to deliver this in the next month!” panic jobs. The inquiries didn’t go anywhere, which by itself is not unusual — our services are not cheap, they are very high-value. I made some fantastic connections and learned a ton, but no new contracts came in before the holiday slowdown.

Having hit my delivery targets but figuring I might have to wait a while for things to catch, I then started doing other things that I had urges to do but had been constructively procrastinating for months. Generating content for this blog, for instance, which I did every single day in November & December. I also layered in performances, travel, and other projects. After careful consideration, I also started expanding my search beyond the contract work that I’d been focused on to that point, and began exploring employee roles as well.

I wish I could say all this has worked out for the better, but that has not happened. At least not yet! Maybe it’s just darkest before the dawn, but at this point the six-month runway of financial cushion I’d gathered has been used up. I’ve had quite a few good interviews and some very promising experiences lately, so far nothing has worked out though.

At this point I’ve developed a few beliefs about why this may be, though I’m cautious about believing them too deeply. The truth is that I have no idea, I just want to move on at this point and get back to paying work. Preferredly the kind that doesn’t suck :)

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