Podcast

Episode: 319 |
Jeff Gothelf :
Career Growth:
Episode
319

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

Jeff Gothelf

Career Growth

Show Notes

Jeff Gothelf is a leading expert on digital transformation an business agility. He is a keynote speaker, consultant, and the author of four books.

In today’s episode we focus on his latest book, Forever Employable: How to Stop Looking For Work and Let Your Next Job Find You.

Learn more about Jeff’s work and sign up for his newsletter at: https://jeffgothelf.com/

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman 00:02
Welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host Will Bachman, we have created a guide on how to set up your own consulting practice includes 90 videos and 30 templates to download. Check that out, visit umbrex.com and click on start your own firm. Our guest in today’s episode is Jeff gohealth, who is an expert on user experience. He wrote the book Lean UX, applying Lean principles to improve user experience. Today, our conversation focuses on Jeff’s newest book, forever employable, how to stop looking for work and let your next job find you. You can learn about Jeff’s books and his consulting work and his speaking at Jeff got health.com. And that’s JEFFG o t h e l f.com. And that link is in the show notes. A note on the audio quality of this episode, we recorded as a zoom. Since Jeff is in Barcelona, and I’m here in the US. Jeff’s audio quality is good. But due to a setup mistake on my part, my voice sounds pretty distant. But fortunately, Jeff does most of the talking. So my first question to Jeff was to share the background of his latest book.

Jeff Gothelf 01:29
Over the last 15 years or so I’ve been working very proactively to build up my name as a recognized expert. And as a thought leader, and over the years that’s succeeded to a certain extent. And over the last 234 or five years, I’ve had almost regular weekly or bi weekly requests from people to tell my story. How did you build this business? How did you build this career? How did you get to this point, as you get a book deal, that type of thing. And it’s been a an item in my backlog for years now to write this story, and I hesitated to write it because it’s not my first book, my first three books were technical and business books. And you don’t have to get too personal or vulnerable in a tech book or in a business book. But this book is semi autobiographical, I started telling the story on the day that I turned 35. And kind of what drove me to kind of pursue this type of career, if you will. So the item set in my backlog for a couple of years. And then last year, I was speaking to a group of executives, one of those executive peer support groups that that existed in various forms. And they asked me to give a talk called the author’s journey, which is, hey, how did you go from practitioner to author. And so I thought, well, this was kind of a kick in the ass that I needed to start at least writing some version of the story. And so I wrote a 40 minute, 45 minute presentation detailing the story. And then once I had that narrative, it really felt like, okay, I’ve done the basics of putting in the table of contents in the story. And I’ve actually told the story once it flowed pretty well. And that really got me to push forward and start to write this book and get it out there. I didn’t I didn’t time it. Obviously, it was a pandemic, on purpose, but it seems to have landed at a pretty decent time.

Will Bachman 03:19
When we were chatting before, you told me that this book is both for independent professionals, as well as for folks that are looking for a full time job. And what’s the it’s what’s the key message? It sounds like an important part of the book is building up your visibility, you know, in your industry, right. Can you tell us just a little bit about how you suggest people do that?

03:44
Yeah, so I take a lot, I take a lot of the work that I’ve done in digital product development, Digital Service development, and I take those same concepts. And I apply them to excuse me, my career, your career, your professional development and your growth. So if you were to just think about your professional development as a product, or a service, how do you think through that in an objective way? And then how do you think about well, what does success look like for me? If I’m no longer chasing jobs and jobs are finding me what what is that behavior change that I’m looking for, from employers, headhunters in the market. And then I tell the story of how I did that, which is essentially establishing a platform for myself what I call planting a flag in the book, and then creating content around that platform around that domain expertise that I chose for myself. Because I felt like it was helping people solve a real problem that they were having, particularly in digital product development in this case, and how to grow and nurture that platform so that over time you become the person associated with that domain expertise. So whenever anybody needs any help or support with that part of the world, they come and they see you, or at least they initially reached out to you. And that’s roughly the premise that was an independent consultant. That’s that’s kind of what you do, right? That’s it. This is what you’re supposed to be doing to generate work, I think within house employees, it’s a little trickier because your organization has to be comfortable with you doing that as well. A lot of organizations are comfortable with people doing that. But there are some who fear that they fear about proprietary information leaking out, sometimes the brand, the personal brand of the person begins to outshine the brand of the organization is a little bit of jealousy there that rolls into that conversation. But generally speaking, I do believe that both in house employees and independent consultants can do this. Okay.

Will Bachman 05:46
So what’s your suggestion on how someone should get started for someone who, let’s say that they’re a professional, you know, they’ve, you know, they have, they’ve been doing work, but they haven’t really been publishing, they haven’t really been creating a thought leadership platform, haven’t been writing and speaking, what’s the what’s the way you suggest someone get started?

Jeff Gothelf 06:07
The most important thing to do first is to determine where you’re going to plant your flag. So what is the slice of content, or the slice of the domain expertise that you’re going to own? to do that? You really have to look at your experience, your expertise and your passions, because remember, if you get this right, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in this domain. So make sure you actually care about it, and would like to spend time in it. But what are you good at good at? What do you know? What do you love to do? And then what unique angle can you carve into that domain? To make you stand out? So for example, are you the expert in Healthcare Management? Are you the health the expert in business agility, or digital transformation? Right? Those are you are maybe you’re maybe you’re the expert in digital transformation of healthcare businesses, right. So I think the more specific that you can be, without, you know, constraining your target audience too much, the more you can stand out and create a unique brandable set of concepts around yourself. But that’s really the first thing you have to do is identify where you want to plant that flag. Now, look, there may not be one thing, only one thing that comes to mind, immediately, there might be two things, or three things or maybe four or five things. And that’s perfectly okay. Because before you commit to one of those directions, what I urge you to do is to test some of those ideas, right? before you invest too heavily before you create too much content, before you spend too much time in that particular domain. I urge you to test those ideas through minimal investments through lightweight tests and experiments. For example, you can start tweeting about these ideas, you can start posting on LinkedIn, about these ideas, maybe make a three minute video with your phone at home and post it up on LinkedIn or on your blog or a medium or wherever it wherever your your target audience meets online and see what resonates and see what sticks. You can run several of these tests concurrently. And then see how people react. Are they receptive? Do they challenge your message? Do they forward and share your message? Did they reach out to you and ask you for more content? Those are all good signals. But you should do more of that. And ideally, you start to determine some winners from your initial concepts, and then begin to converge and narrow down and focus all your efforts on the ones that yield the best kind of change in behavior in the people you’re trying to influence.

Will Bachman 08:47
Okay. Question on that on on Twitter. So if you’re just sort of starting out, you may not really have any followers. So one question that, you know, that I would have is, you might be posting some stuff that people would actually love in terms of content. But if you have, like 100 200 followers, like the long tail of a lot of people that have never really invested in building your following. You might be posting great content, but you’ll still get crickets because it just people aren’t engaging with it. Any thoughts around? Like how to actually, you know, get that initial engagement?

Jeff Gothelf 09:24
Yeah, so this is not an overnight success, right. So there’s time and effort and perseverance that has to be put into this. I think that with low followers, you’re right, there’s a risk that you won’t get read, and that it’ll feel like you’re screaming into the void. I would say still do it. And be consistent and be persistent about the themes and your formats and getting that stuff out there. People will start to pay attention. Now there are ways for you to amplify that. So first of all, right hashtags, for example, help you amplify that. I think tagging some people with larger followings than you who are influencers in the space, might get you some attention, but I think more Effectively, if you’re trying to drive traffic to your content, create that content and make sure it’s it exists. And it’s easy to find, but then go and engage in conversations that are already happening. So if you don’t have a large following, and if it’s going to be difficult for you to spark a conversation online, go to where the conversations are already happening, and engage thoughtfully and respectfully in those conversations and do that consistently. If you start to become a voice for your flag for your domain expertise, on a consistent and respectful basis, in those other conversations, that will start to attract traffic to you in the form of the form of followers. And then eventually clicks and eyeballs to your blog posts or videos or podcasts, or webinars or whatever it is that you’re doing. And so you shouldn’t stop from creating content, because you want to create that base, right. And there’s there’s search engine optimization that will help people find your stuff, ultimately. But when people do end up coming to look for you, because you’re participating in this, let them have something there to latch on to, and to share and to forward so we can drive more people into your into your sphere.

Will Bachman 11:10
Yeah, okay. So I like that point that you made about, you know, engaging in conversations that are already happening. So if you don’t have a lot of followers, and you just post something on LinkedIn, or Twitter, maybe no one will see it. But if you comment on someone else’s tweet or LinkedIn post, then therefore you’re getting exposed to their followers. That makes sense. So what would some of the practical steps be for you know, do you suggest? Is it necessary to start, you know, to have a newsletter to have a blog, have a website to have a podcast? Where do you suggest people start, after they’ve made that a strategic decision of Okay, here’s the content, I’m going to plant my flag, then what kind of assets do people need to build?

Jeff Gothelf 11:58
So look, I think you need to be findable and accessible. Number one, so how do people find you? Where do you live online. And for me, that’s a website. So at the very least, you need a website, a website that talks about you, what you do, what you’ve done, what you’re good at what problems you help people solve, and then has the content that you’ve created easily accessible there as well. So for example, if you went to my website, Jeff got health.com, your source for all things, Jeff got health, you will find about me, you’ll find the kind of work that I do. You’ll find my videos of my keynotes, you’ll find blog posts, you’ll find links to podcasts, all kinds of stuff like that photos. So that’s number one, you need to you need a presence. Now as far as what channel to use to drive a following or to drive people to your traffic, I think you really have to think about what you’re good at and what you’re comfortable doing. And if you don’t know, I would experiment, but not everybody should have a podcast, right? But you can be a guest on podcasts. Like, for example, I don’t have a podcast, I’m a guest that a lot of podcasts. And that and that works for me, not everybody’s a great writer, you should work to improve that I think writing is the most important skill you can have. But if you don’t feel comfortable writing, maybe putting on putting yourself on video for two or three minutes is a better channel for you. Maybe writing is a good channel for you. I was speaking to a group of designers recently, we’re very good at visualizing what they’re good for, what they’re good at, what they’re good at. Use the skills that you have to communicate effectively. So create the kind of visualizations that work for you. And I think that that goes that goes a long way in helping you plant that flag as well. Right? You can be like, Oh, that’s the person who talks about digital transformation in healthcare. And they’ve got those really great and super interesting infographics, every post has that infographic. Right. So there’s something unique, there’s something different about that. But you need to figure out which channel is best for you, both from where you’re comfortable, and what resonates best with your audience. And so again, I would experiment here, I would try a variety of different things and look for the behavior, the reaction from your target audience. Because it’s not enough to just ship the podcast, or ship the presentation or the visualization. You want people to actually consume it, and continue consuming your stuff in the future and share it and grow your email list. I will add this though, I will add that the sooner that you can start to put in an email collection tool or email collection workflow, the better I find that and continue to find that despite people heralding the death of email for about 20 years now, email newsletters still seem to be one of the most effective ways to communicate with an with an opt in audience right. This is an audience that is asked to get content from you. And they are highly, highly engaged and so the sooner that you can start to build that list, the better Because there’s a ton of stuff you can do with that list in the future,

Will Bachman 15:03
yet, what tool do you recommend for? Let’s say someone who’s not super technically sophisticated, they want to keep it relatively low budget. And we’re not talking about 20,000 followers, but someone wants to send out a newsletter to, you know, 100 500, maybe 1000 people, would you suggest MailChimp, Constant Contact? substack What tool do you suggest is the best one to start with?

Jeff Gothelf 15:30
Yeah, so I use MailChimp, I use MailChimp because you know, I’ve got, you know, several 1000 people on the mailing list at this point, but the It feels like, sorry, it feels like they’re starting to, to kind of move away from their core offering of just kind of mailing lists stuff. So it’s getting a little complicated in there. But it’s still a great tool, and I use it for for everything. I know, there’s a lot of fans that substack these days, if it’s still around, there was a thing called tiny letter, which is a great, easy way to get started with a small mailing list

Will Bachman 16:05
as well. That one Yeah, okay.

Jeff Gothelf 16:07
Yeah. But I think I think look, the simpler, the better. substack probably a great place to start, and then maybe eventually migrate to a more robust marketing platform, Constant Contact is far more than an email newsletter, programming, or service. And so again, it feels like, it starts to get a bit too too heavy. If you’re sending you know, a monthly or weekly emails of 500 or 1000 people, you get into 15,000 20,000 30,000 people, I think moving into a better marketing tool probably makes sense in a lot of different ways. But yeah, starting small, with those is a great way to go.

Will Bachman 16:44
Yeah, I would vote for MailChimp, that’s what we use, we send out around 3000 emails a week, to different groups, it’s relatively affordable. I will say with MailChimp, if you’re going to use it. Once you have a template set up in MailChimp, at least this is my experience, it’s really easy to use, even for a non technical non coding kind of person. But you may want to hire someone on Upwork, let’s say to just design your template for you. And once you have that it’s easy to slot in, you know, pictures, audio, multimedia, text of nice design, but it’s a little bit of a tricky kind of thing to set up just the colors and the borders and and those features. So but for you know, you can go on Upwork and find someone to get that set up for you was my experience. Absolutely. So tell. Now, the part of the book is about letting your next job find you tell us a little bit about how that works. Because a lot of people would love for jobs to come find them.

Jeff Gothelf 17:46
Yeah, so the opportunities come when you’ve built this platform when you start to establish yourself as a recognized expert. And it’s very clear to the outside world, what problem you help people solve. I think that when you’ve done a good job with that, the opportunity start to find you. job offers, consulting offers, guest blogging, guest writing offers podcast offers. And all that stuff is kind of the it’s the flywheel of the faster you get it going, the more generates, the more your name gets out there, the more you become the person associated with that with that domain expertise. And that’s when the work kind of finds you over time. It’s it’s, it starts to happen, right? The opportunities come the I got my book deal, for example, my first book deal, because I was speaking at conferences about a technical challenge that software designers and developers were having at the time. And I had found a solution along with the help of my team and some other folks that worked. Nobody had a better solution at the time. And it became a very popular concept. And tech publishers go to tech conferences, to see who’s speaking about the most recent ideas, and who’s kind of the good ideas about the stuff and who’s the voice for it. And then they offer you a book deal. And so those kinds of opportunities show up. And I have to tell you that writing the book was while not an easy process, when the book finally launched the first book called Lean UX. That book changed my life because now the book is out there. And that’s driving different requests in done for me come teach us how to do the stuff in the book, can you train us, can you coach us? Can you come give a talk, all that stuff starts to snowball? The more material that material you get out there, the less you have to proactively go and find the jobs or apply to them. And that includes full time job offers. I was just talking to somebody earlier today. And they asked me you know that kind of a similar question about the paths that I’ve opened up over time because of this work. And what if I had to turn down like what are the paths that I didn’t take? And it was interesting is that before we before we moved abroad About three years ago, I had already committed I had my consulting business, I was independent, we’ve committed to moving to Europe. And you know, everything was was in motion that we had the visas and everything. And I got a call from an executive search firm, asking me to interview for what somebody was my kind of career trajectory at the time was the, you know, my dream job, it was gonna be it was to interview for the director of product and design at the New York Times, which, for me, I grew up in New Jersey, you know, the New York Times was newspaper of record, the global audience, the scope of the work and reputation. everything for me was was this was the culmination of my career was going to be this job. And I turned, I turned it down, I turned down the interview, I didn’t even I didn’t even get to the interview part, because I was committed to going and continuing on this independent path in Europe. And, and that was very, very difficult. And that those are the kinds of opportunities that end up happening when you establish, establish yourself, I didn’t apply for that job. They found me because they they knew they had heard of me, at that point, right. When they when they were looking for somebody who had experience with product management, and design and information design, etc. They knew where to go, because that’s what I established my credentials. Doing

Will Bachman 21:29
it one aspect of forever employable that, you know, going over is on my mind pretty often is how do you avoid being disrupted by artificial intelligence or offshoring or outsourcing? What are your thoughts on how to just make sure that you continue to be relevant and that your skills, and that the kind of value that you can provide is distinctive enough that it can’t be, you know, outsourced or automated?

Jeff Gothelf 22:02
I think there are risks to certain aspects of certain professions to being automated and outsourced. And it’s interesting, it’s a big debate in the tech community right now, about software engineering, right? So do we need humans to write software and now I don’t want to start a holy war? Right, that’s just the debate I’ve been reading about, right. There are people out there who are saying that with a significant amount of machine learning and artificial intelligence, we could get the computers to write computer programs, right to write to write the software, to the point where kind of the day to day coding may get disrupted. In that sense, I don’t know how true that is. I’m not a software engineer. And I don’t know what the risk of that is. But I think you have to really explore what you’re doing, and understand where the parts of what you’re doing can be commoditized. And if they can be commoditized, they can be outsourced or automated, and where your unique. value is, right. And so you’re seeing that a lot. Like, for example, my background is designed, especially web application design. That’s where I started. If you look at websites today, you know, there’s probably for the most part, it’s like five designs for websites. Right? And so there’s a level of of conformity, that is reducing the amount of creativity in design, for example, okay, great. So then what unique value do you bring as a designer? Well, I can create a very, I can create a unique experience for you, if that’s what you want, I can provide a deeper understanding of the people that are using your products and services, and help you to customize the base level template that you outsourced to be far more effective. Right. So it really I think the key is to be aware that this is a risk to look at the trends in your industry. And see where there is kind of homogenization and commoditization of the the skills and the practices. And then really think through how you provide additional value above that, right, a special kind of analysis, a special point of view, your unique experience, right in a particular field, or from a particular geographic perspective or point of view, that can’t be outsourced that needs to come in. Look, I think we’re a long way off for a lot of these knowledge, worker professions being outsourced and automated, but you can definitely see it happening right there. You know, websites like Fiverr and 99 designs, right, where people can just, you know, pay five bucks to make me a logo, five bucks, right? Like you got organizations like Nike that are paying $1,000,000.05 million dollars for a rebranding campaign. So you really have to think about how to create the kind of specialization that rises above commoditization.

Will Bachman 25:00
Tell us a little bit about your portfolio of activities. Now, because you’ve got, you know, obviously you got the books for books speaking, tell us about the range of activities that you’re involved in.

Jeff Gothelf 25:13
So the amount of material that I generate spans the gamut. So books, obviously, I do a lot of public speaking, I really enjoy it. I like giving talks, I like presenting. And I speak about a certain set of topics relatively consistently. I do a lot of writing. So I’ve got I’ve got a monthly newsletter, and a monthly blog post that I write. These days, I am a guest on a bunch of podcasts. And I do a lot of webinars and webcasts as well both as as leading them, as well as being a participant in them to help drive some conversation around the topics that I’m passionate about. I tweet a lot, and I’m doing really the most even more. So interestingly enough, in recent years, I’m turning to LinkedIn, as a platform for really developing a conversation and a following. It’s becoming, you know, a Twitter sort of still still valuable for sure. But, you know, devolving a bit into that a bit of a dumpster fire every now and again. LinkedIn, somebody says LinkedIn is like, it’s like Twitter, but your boss is watching. Like over your shoulder. And so LinkedIn still feels like a place where you can have a, a respectful, thoughtful, professional conversation. And I’m finding that to be the case and doing a lot of good stuff. They’re there. They’re doing a lot of good stuff there as well. So I’m posting on there. And really, again, ultimately, all of this is designed to to build a mailing list. And the mailing list gets a communication for me at least once a month.

Will Bachman 26:53
And then, in terms of like, the main and then are you still doing consulting and or training or what what’s the primary kind of business business drivers for your, for your,

27:06
for? You? Yeah, so the the bulk of my work these days is, is training and coaching. So I teach workshops, and I coach executives and teams, in products interested to help them build great products, and then I help them build the cultures that build great products. So that’s the bulk of it, I do some public speaking, as well. And then the rest of it is really lead gen for all of those businesses. The books have been primarily lead gen for all those businesses, the writing is lead gen for all those businesses. And so that’s why the bulk of it is available for free.

Will Bachman 27:38
Yeah. How do you know if you do kind of manage the different content pieces and maybe repurpose them? So there’s some of your monthly newsletters? Do they get turned into tweets or LinkedIn posts or go into the book? You know, how do you think about making sure that you’re kind of getting the most out of all the content that you create?

Jeff Gothelf 28:03
It’s essentially a cascading effect based on evidence. So it’s, there’s an increase in the level of investment that I make in a topic, based on evidence. And what I mean by that is, is based on reaction that I get from the market, but I’ll put forward as little effort as possible initially, until I see some signs of traction. So I’ll tweet. Or I’ll post something short on LinkedIn. And if that does well, and by Well, I mean, I get a sense, you know, I don’t necessarily have a threshold, per se, like a quanta quantified threshold of 10 likes and eight retweets, right? Nothing like that. But if I see that something’s resonating, and it’s sparking a conversation, increased level of effort about it, maybe I’ll tweet about it again, or in or add to the conversation in the comments, or create a second reply to myself with a second bit of comment. And if that gets traction, maybe I’ll write a blog post about it. And if that gets traction, maybe I’ll do a presentation about it, you know, and if that continues to do well, and grow and grow, maybe the next book comes out of that, or maybe some some other business idea comes out of that. So each one of those little bits of effort is an experiment, to find the next thing that’s going to resonate with my audience, and help grow that audience. And when I see the traction from that, I double down on it invest further and spend more time because if there’s no traction, I don’t want to spend any time on that.

Will Bachman 29:28
So rather than just sort of, you know, just from from from the Garret, you know, writing the book and then hoping that there’s an audience for it, you’re really market testing each idea to make sure it’s, it’s, it’s gonna it’s gonna resonate. Can you share an example of, of maybe an idea that you tested that you thought was pretty good? And that just didn’t really resonate? To be I’d be curious to hear like something that that you tried that, like, markets kind of beyond?

Jeff Gothelf 29:59
Yeah, it’s interesting. Hang on, I’ve tried a bunch of stuff over the years around. So there was a, I started a company back in 2012, a consulting company. And we had a hypothesis that we could build the company on the back of content marketing. And that content marketing will lead to a variety of different types of work. And we actually, you know, we based the success of the company on this, we didn’t do any advertising. And sure enough, the content marketing, which, which is the stuff that I’ve been talking about, we did that, and it did drive inbound work requests. But those work requests were focused on content and education, stuff. So teach us coach us train us, we wanted to build products, and services, and we held on to this hypothesis that said, we will write this content, it will drive people to us, they will ask us to coach them, teach them and train them, and then we’ll be able to sell them product development services on the back of that. And we held on to that hypothesis for a couple of years, before we let it go. It never worked. It always failed. Because people like, first of all, you’re selling coaching, training, and teaching to a completely different audience than you are product development services. aligning the timing between a two day or three day product development workshop, and a six month app development project was nearly impossible. And we just kept trying to figure out how to make this work and build a business around it. And at least as a as a lead gen channel, that was a big fail for us. And we really struggle with that. Because we love that idea. We love the idea of saying look, we’re gonna put free content out there, people are gonna come and buy this relatively low cost product from us. And then we’ll upsell them to product design and development or building an app or a system or whatever it is. and it failed over and over and over again. And that was a tough pill to swallow. Because we thought that was a pretty good idea.

Will Bachman 31:58
Oh, so you talked earlier about all these different funnels that you are, you know, places where you’re engaging, you’re posting on LinkedIn, you’re tweeting, you have your newsletter, you you provide webinars, and give speeches, how do you kind of manage all of you know the innocent of the tactical stuff here? How do you manage all of that contact information? Do you have one CRM system that it all gets into? How do you connect and collect the contact info of webinar attendees and so forth? Can you talk a little bit about just how you manage all that flow?

Jeff Gothelf 32:38
Yeah, so so everything goes, everything ends up in MailChimp. Okay, so so that’s the fight the final destination is MailChimp. The lead gen comes through forms either on my website so that So specifically, I have a WordPress site. And they have a proprietary forms plugin called ninja forms just allows you to create forms, that the ninja forms end up driving leads, and then Jenner and then adding themselves to my MailChimp. So that goes directly to MailChimp. There’s a startup was still startup but but been around for a while type form, I really enjoy their user experience of creating forms much better. So embed type forms in my, in my website, as well. Where every time that I’d run a webinar, or anything of a public public broadcast, I’ll post a bitly link to either usually it’s a Google form to capture a unique set to capture folks from that from that session, and then that gets bulk uploaded into MailChimp. So it’s all forms that capture everything into MailChimp. And then, recently for the new book, one thing that we’ve been trying and something I have not done before with my previous books, is we’ve built a launch group for the book on LinkedIn. So we’re doing a bit of CRM using LinkedIn groups. So there’s a forever employable book launch group that is designed to enable a conversation amongst people who have opted in, or fans either of me of my content, potentially of this book, and they want to help see the thing succeed. And we’ve been using that to drive conversation and offer exclusive content, and really use that group to amplify any messages that we put out on social media. And that’s been really interesting to watch. It’s my first time experimenting with that. And I’m pleasantly surprised at how well it works.

Will Bachman 34:46
Well, let’s include a link to that in the show notes. If you would send me a link to that group. Jeff. I’ll put in the show notes for this. And then once all of the info gets funneled into MailChimp, how do you sort of keep you know how to use MailChimp to to keep track of information about people so that you can send them relevant and customized messages or do you? So do you keep track of Okay, this person attended this webinar, and they also get the newsletter. And they also, you know, I know that they are in my LinkedIn group for the launch thing. So I’ll send them a certain message or is it just all like one undifferentiated mass? How do you keep track of that? That’s something I’ve been trying to figure out how to do.

Jeff Gothelf 35:31
I, I’d like to be more sophisticated here. I really would I think there are people whose full time jobs it is to master these civvy CRM services and and develop systems that allow the kind of customization that you’re referring to. The level of sophistication that I use, generally speaking is with tags, I have different audiences. But the way that we differentiate between the audiences is with tags, and the tags generally speak to the source of the person. So how did they end up on the list, they came through this webinar, they came through my website, they came through the launch group for the book, that type of thing, so that we can at the very least, make sure that folks aren’t being double messaged. And if there is a specific message that we’d like to send to a specific group of individuals, you can send it just to a specific tag or set of tags from that. And so that’s that’s basically it for the level of sophistication. As far as far as we’ve done so far, it can always be better. But that’s roughly it.

Will Bachman 36:40
Yeah. And do you do all this yourself? Or, or do you have administrative support to help you with all the different posting and tracking and funneling of, of leads, and so forth.

36:52
So up until a few months ago, I was doing everything by myself, but in anticipation for the launch of the book, and in ramping up the marketing efforts in the content generation. For the book itself. I’ve hired a marketing team out of Washington, DC, called Brian wish missions. And I’ve been super thrilled with their help, they’ve been really great at taking what I’ve already done, and repurposing it and like slicing and dicing it into a variety of different ways to repurpose it, so that it stays fresh, it stays top of mind. And it stays consistent, consistently driving, new people added to the list, and then activating the launch group and all of that. So definitely have had some support in recent months. And it’s been a lifesaver. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have somebody taking care of that. So I don’t have to.

Will Bachman 37:39
Yeah, um, how do you stay current as a practitioner, when you’re coaching your clients and training them on design? And, you know, you’ve written the books, Lean UX, and lean versus agile versus design thinking? How do you stay current on those topics? Are those fields are changing so fast? You’re as a protection practitioner yourself?

Jeff Gothelf 38:03
Yes, the coaching and consulting helps, because those, those those clients are always challenging me with their current problems, which I have to then get up to speed on very quickly. So that helps a lot. I do I do a lot of reading, not not so much books. I mean, I do read books, but to stay current. So I read a lot of articles, a lot of blog posts, a lot of, you know, medium posts on what, what are the current challenges, what are people facing? Where’s the focus of it. And frankly, you know, I talked a little a little trash about Twitter earlier. But I find Twitter to be very valuable. In this case, as well, especially around specific disciplines, because there are groups of folks that either I’m following or the part of the conversation, who are always talking about the latest challenges in that particular field, or what they’re doing, or they’re sharing some information. And that’s been really helpful. And then lastly, one thing that I’ve done in recent years is I’ve created the kind of support community that I want and need around myself. So look, I’m an independent practitioner, I said, if I’m not traveling, and these days, nobody’s traveling, but you know, I sit in my office most days if I’m not on the road, and it can get a little lonely. And so I created a private Slack channel with about 20 folks who I know or am acquainted with, that do roughly what I do for a living kind of in an adjacent way. They’re all independent. And that’s become an extremely valuable network for me, and a sounding board, and a way to stay up to date on the latest challenges and latest things that they’re seeing, because they’ll throw stuff in there and say, Hey, I just ran into this. Has anybody else heard of this? And then the conversation goes from there. So those are all the ways that I stay current and look, it’s it’s an it’s a non stop effort to do that.

Will Bachman 39:51
Yeah. say a little bit more about this group of professionals. That’s really fascinating. thing, you just tell me a little bit about what types of people are in the group. And are they all independent or some of them employed and sort of how what sort of value you’ve gotten from that?

Jeff Gothelf 40:08
It is a, first of all, the group is small 20 people or less, and even at 20, it’s a little big. Second, it’s all independent consultants. So that’s the, that’s the kind of a rule that’s there’s not a whole lot of rules to the group. Other than sort of, like, what happens in the group stays in the group type of thing. But, but but primarily, like, we’ve had folks who have been in the group in the past, and have taken full time jobs, and they’ve left the group. So it’s a group of independent consultants. And all of us practice in a in a related field. So everybody’s working in some aspect of lean startup, agile design, thinking, Product Management, digital transformation, business, agility, that that type of thing. And everybody, everybody’s got a slightly different angle on it. Some are more leadership focused, some are more product manager focused, some are more nonprofit organization focused and more marketing focused, right. And so the nice thing is that everybody’s bringing that perspective, it’s it’s a global group, we’ve got folks on two continents affect global two continents. And, and it’s, it’s high signal, high signal to noise ratio, as well. A lot of signal very little noise, right. Great. And, and we’ve got, you know, and it’s a high trust environment, when I’ve learned a ton over the years about community management through this, that you know, anything about managing a community, there was a point where I let it grow kind of for 3540 people, and, and people stopped posting. And they started back channeling me and saying, look, I really love this group. But it’s way too big. I don’t know everybody here, I don’t know who they are, I don’t know what I can say. Or I can say, I don’t really feel comfortable sharing all this stuff in here. And so over time, I have reduced the group size, and I’ve kept it small. And it’s been really nice. In fact, back in January, we actually had our first ever after three, four years of this group existing. We had our first ever in person retreat in Park City, Utah. And we all went skiing together lived in a house together. A lot of us, none of us know each other. tangentially some of us know each other better than others. But to have 10 adults, relative strangers living together for a few days in a house was a super interesting experiment. And it’s kind of like an MTV reality show. Wait a really nice time, though. And it’s been the value has been tremendous. I mean, really, from everything from professional support, to venting to, hey, I need an IP clause for my contract. I just got a good one, too. Has anyone done work with this client? Or this person? What would you do in this situation? Hey, I need a second on this workshop or, holy crap. I just landed this big gig, I can’t possibly deliver it myself. Can you come? Who wants to work with me kind of stuff? It’s been incredibly valuable. Incredibly.

Will Bachman 43:07
Well, that is really fantastic. And it’s so interesting. Also, to hear about your, you know, you know, we all know the Dunbar number of 150. It may we’ll call this the the god health number of 20 or less, when you’re less for sure. For a group like this. That’s that’s pretty interesting. All right. Great. Well, Jeff, tell us again, where are the different places people can find you online, and we will include these links in the show notes.

Jeff Gothelf 43:31
Yep. So I’m super easy to find Jeff got health.com. That’s your best place to go. Feel free to link in with me on LinkedIn. And the website for the new book is forever employable, calm. So super easy to find. And everything you need to know is on my website as well. So that’s the best place to go.

Will Bachman 43:49
And there is a forum on there. You can sign up for Jeff’s newsletter, which you should definitely do. Guaranteed. Jeff, thanks so much. It’s been great having you on the show. My pleasure Will thanks so much for having me.

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