Episode: 476 |
Paul Millerd:
The Pathless Path:



Paul Millerd

The Pathless Path

Show Notes

Paul Millerd is a McKinsey alum, modern-day nomad, entrepreneur, and author of The Pathless Path – Imagining a New Story for Work & Life. Paul provides online courses on strategy consulting and freelance consulting. He is also the creator and contributor of the popular website Boundless, a site that explores how to have a better relationship with work, and a podcast that is designed to help creatives reimagine work. In today’s episode, Paul talks about his book. You can order the book and learn more about Paul’s programs or sign up for his newsletter at Think-Boundless.com.

Key points include:

  • 02:59: What people believe about work
  • 05:23: Tips on exploring the pathless path
  • 19:43: The results of curiosity conversations
  • 21:41: Disappointments about the pathless path

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  1. Paul Millerd


Will Bachman 00:01

Hello, and welcome back to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host will Bachman. And I’m really excited to have Paul Miller back on the show. Paul just came out with a new book, The pathless path. Paul, welcome to the show.


Paul Millerd 00:20

Thanks. Will, excited to be back. I think this is the number one show.


Will Bachman 00:27

Well, it’s great to have you back. And listeners, we’ll put links in the show notes for Paul’s previous two appearances here on the show. So, Paul, before we jump into the book, bring us a little bit up to speed you’ve been, I think of you as on my global Nomad friends, I think you are in Taiwan and maybe some other places. Tell us a bit about your you know where you’ve been recently and where you are where we find us today.


Paul Millerd 00:53

Yeah, so I’m back in the US in Austin now, never lived here before I just moved here a few weeks ago, just trying it out with my wife, see if we like it. But we’ve been living more or less nomadic for the last four years, Taiwan, Mexico, Spain, Indonesia, Thailand, and now back in the US. So yeah, throughout that time that worked on a number of different things been writing consistently, which has led to my book will dive into done some online courses and also been doing freelance consulting throughout all that.


Will Bachman 01:25

Fantastic. So tell us about the book. So I’ve about halfway through really enjoying it, um, what give us give us kind of the key, the key message.


Paul Millerd 01:40

I think the book really emerged naturally out of some of my writing and explorations in my life, and kind of how I’d set up my writing in what I call my creative engine. Basically reading what I, what I’m thinking about what I’m curious about, and then sharing that, and then having conversations with people who are curious about that. And that kind of fuels this ongoing loop of exploration. I’ve been doing that for three or four years. And the core question I’ve been exploring is, if I’m not a worker, who am I? And what does that mean for my life? And then what does that mean more broadly, for how we think about work in our culture, our society and how to navigate paths in our life?


Will Bachman 02:25

And what are, you know, sort of get by in your own example, I think you’re trying to role model or you are role modeling, for people that are looking for an alternate path? What, um, and sort of, by definition, there’s no recipe book, you know, in your book for people to take a bath. But what are some of the things that you hope people take away with it in terms of people that are maybe not fully satisfied with what they’re doing right now, of how you kind of encouraged what are some of the sort of options or recommendations or piece of advice you have.


Paul Millerd 02:59

So work at work is one of these heavy things that people have strong reactions to, yet when you dig or challenge, beneath those strong reactions, people often don’t have a good understanding of why they believe what they believe about work. It’s typically a mix of cultural scripts, inherited ideas from your parents, social norms, what your peers are doing institutions you’re a part of. And I think for me, my own journey was figuring out I had all those in there. And then the challenge, of course, is what do you do with that, when you decide that some of those work for you don’t work for you. So I think in my book, I present this as what I call the default path, which is basically the path we’ll follow if we don’t really think about things. And this is a fine path. I mean, more than ever. Now, in today’s world, the default path and traditional avenues of employment, can provide good lights for literally billions of people all around the world. And this is a great thing. However, increasingly, many people are frustrated with that, and don’t really know where to start how to deal with that. And they end up gravitating to all these kind of different ideas that are just layered on top of already complex work beliefs, trying to figure out what they’re doing. So that’s where I kind of present this pathless path idea, which is there is no map. But if you are willing to wander into the unknown and uncertain path, what does it feel like? What are some models I’ve used to help make sense of my journey? And how might somebody apply those to their own life?


Will Bachman 04:41

Yeah. So if someone is maybe on the default path of getting a job, there’s a career track their progress get promoted, maybe they’re not loving it. What are some of your tips on what to do right now maybe while they’re still employed? Are there Um, you know, low risk kind of ways to explore that you suggest like start writing start freelancing, get a side gig, you know, talk to people, interview people about their jobs, start a podcast, start newsletter, like, what are some of the things that you recommend? That are ways to just start getting on that pathless path or start exploring something other than the default?


Paul Millerd 05:23

Yeah, so I think, in one of the things that I’ve realized, talking to many people is many people are perfectly okay with just kind of doing what other people are doing. I’m more reaching out to the people that come to me or like, Hey, I do want to shake things up, how do I get started? And that’s actually a small but growing percentage of people. But given that I’m only trying to serve like those people, that’s who I’m really excited about exploring with. But with the pandemic, I think it’s really broaden the number of people willing to ask these questions. So I think I often just have people think about some really basic questions. So some of those questions are, what are your beliefs? What do you believe about work? What do you How does money link to work? What are some of your desires? What are some of your needs, and yearnings for what you want with your life? And just start to like, figure out what you’re actually doing. Right? It’s really easy to think, Okay, I’m just on a path. And well, the logical next step is to just try to get promoted, get promoted, or continue on a career trajectory of whatever else around me is doing. But that may make no sense if what you’re really desiring is more freedom. And you don’t care about money, his next as as much as the person next to you.


Will Bachman 06:53

So and what are some of those? When you ask that kind of like, what are your beliefs? Are there kind of a handful of typical responses you get? Or, you know, walk me through sort of what is the sort of multiple choice that you’re hearing from people?


Paul Millerd 07:09

Yeah, so it’s a layer of different things, right? It’s how we determine who’s a good person who’s contributing to society, who’s doing their part. So what is work? Right work? People have a really hard time people think they have an answer to this, but then they start answering and say, Oh, wow, this is actually pretty complex work is like, people might realize that they define it as Oh, it’s having a job and showing up every week, or it’s working hard. Doing your best, or it’s helping other people. And really untangling what’s behind those beliefs of like, what work really is, what I found is a very personal definition. I mean, when I asked you what, what is work, what do you think of?


Will Bachman 08:01

Yeah, well, for me, I think of the the quote by I think it’s JP lacks the master in the art of living, and I can’t quote it exactly. But it’s something like, you know, the master in the art of living makes no distinction between his work and his play, his education and his recreation. And, you know, to him, he’s always doing both, right? Sometimes Miss attributed as a Buddhist saying, or sometimes miss chewed for some random reason to James Michener. But, so that, for me is very, you know, kind of sums it up for me, where it’s, you know, it’s in the ideal state. It’s, it’s kind of what what’s making you come alive and what, and kind of how you are going through your life. But that’s, that’s really kind of the ideal to get to, where it doesn’t necessarily feel like it is hard to make a difference between work and play. It really does feel like play to you. So. And I feel very lucky that a lot of my a lot of my days, do you feel that way?


Paul Millerd 09:08

And do you think if you shared that definition with like, 24, five year old will would he agree with you?


Will Bachman 09:16

So, um, let’s see. I think I probably, I mean, I wasn’t at that point, then, when a 25 year old will was standing watch. Right on a nuclear submarine. So, you know, I didn’t have a traditional job then if you, you know, think of, you know, being a submarine officer is like a traditional normal, default path of most, you know, college grads, right? It’s like this kind of separate thing where you’re living on a submarine for 24 hours a day for two months. It doesn’t it’s like different than a job. So I was already on this path of like, this different thing that Yeah, is much more all consuming.


Paul Millerd 10:03

Yeah. I imagine though there’s still certain paths of the people around you that were like, This is what we expect our life to look like in the next five years, or especially when you went into consulting, there’s kind of a narrow range of like, this is what a sensible path looks like. And you didn’t really take that ultimately, right.


Will Bachman 10:23

Well, I didn’t. That’s right. I mean, it definitely boy in the military, you know, I mean, even more than in consulting, there’s this very clear, totally defined path of your junior officer for 3036 months, and then you go to short tour, and then you go department head and then short door, and then you executive officer short or commanding officer, maybe you make, you know, flag offs, or maybe. So very clear path. And same thing in consulting. And, I mean, the consulting, I enjoyed consulting, but kind of staying in that in that path wasn’t the right fit for me. Which is how I ended up doing independent consulting for back in starting 2008. So


Paul Millerd 11:07

yeah, I think this is what I’m trying to explore in this book is just making people aware that these kind of default, norms and beliefs around work exist. I think a lot of people that end up becoming self employed end up where you are, which is, they shift from defining work as something that is clearly for a paycheck for a company to something that is part of their life and benefits, brings them alive, as you say, that was part of my shift. When I quit my job, I really just wanted to escape and get more space in my life, I kind of thought I wanted to work less. But my pack kind of made me discover, oh, there’s actually things I want to do that I’ll do without getting paid for not. And if I can slowly commit to those things over time, I might be able to build some sort of path that I want to keep living. And that that was a pretty dramatic shift from my mindset of like 25 year old Paul, which was, I didn’t even imagine there was any other path, then like working full time for the rest of my life.


Will Bachman 12:14

Yeah, so we were earlier we were talking about, you know, what, what are some of the first steps? So sound like one of the first steps you do with people is just start asking questions you mentioned like, what are your beliefs about money? What are your beliefs about work? What are you really looking for in life? And what’s your objective function? I think the answers to those questions are actually kind of difficult, because you really don’t know until you start experiencing them. But But let’s say you start with those questions for someone who’s on the default path now thinking about who isn’t satisfied with it? What are sort of the steps two and three? After you start asking us questions? Do you encourage people to, like, you know, freelance a little bit or just, you know, start doing something that for free that they might eventually want to do for pay? Or how do you start moving into the getting off that default path? Part,


Paul Millerd 13:11

Part of why I want to write my book was to show that this is not a straightforward thing. I kind of took a meandering path. And when I started asking these questions, it was probably not until five to seven years later that I actually took any sort of bold action in alignment with the answers to those questions. So one is just their NASA questions and coming up with different ways to ask them and ask them over and over again. I think knowing what I know, now I would do a few things different. I think one, I would just be trying things and experimenting sooner. It took me years to turn from ideas in my head like, oh, it’d be really cool if I could try this to actually experimenting and trying them. And what I mean by that is, okay, I don’t need to become a podcaster. But can I do three podcast episodes for fun on the side and see how it feels? And then what might that tell me about what, what I like don’t like what I might want to do next. And I started doing that about two years before I left. But I really had a two to three year gap before that, where I just had all these ideas in my head, and it was just kind of building up. So one is like lowering the friction for at any cost possible to start taking doing those small little experiments. And it’s easier than ever now with all the tools and things we have online now. And then too, I think is fine. Other people who are asking those questions, and this is something I did not do even until I quit my job. I think I had maybe one conversation with you. I talked to a couple other freelance consultants, but I really had no sense of what I was getting into in terms of self employment. I wish I had been surrounded by morons entrepreneurs and just different types of people, I probably could have traveled more tried to integrate different communities more just to expose myself to different ways of thinking about life in my path. So those are probably the two biggest things I would say is like, find spaces to experiment, find other people asking interesting questions or trying different things. And then three is like be patient, because this is not an all or nothing thing. You’re basically going to do small experiments over a long time, and then build up kind of insights and ideas of what to do next.


Will Bachman 15:35

Yes, sure, sure. You’ve done a whole range of experiments. You’ve got some courses that you’ve launched, some of them have done really well, you’ve been writing, you got a podcast, tell us a bit about some of your experiments.


Paul Millerd 15:51

Yeah, so I think I have a natural impulse to like help people, I get a kick out of it. I was always somebody that helped people with careers. And I would help people, resumes and colleges. And then I broke into consulting from like a non traditional background and help people do that as well. And got pretty good at helping people navigate careers, interviews, resumes, all that. So in 2015, about two years before I quit, I started just doing experiments. And I think that was born out of that frustration. And I finally just started taking action on it. And see, I felt it was terrifying. And I felt like such a weirdo for doing these things. Because in the corporate world that you’re kind of taught like, you’re not supposed to like stand out, you need to like reach a certain level before you can start doing things on your own. You shouldn’t publish your own thoughts. Of course, this is shifting, but it’s still there. So I created this online course of for resumes, basically, for friends, because I didn’t want to keep helping people with their resumes. But I also just thought it’d be cool to experiment. I had like, this pipe dream about maybe this will go viral on Udemy. And I’ll make a ton of money. I don’t think I’ve made more than, like $50 from that course in seven years. But it was a cool like first experiment. And now I see a very clear path from that to like, actually creating much better courses in the future where I did stuff, but none of this makes sense. Looking forward. It’s just like, trying stuff. And I did a similar thing with career coaching. Before I left, I experimented with a side gig of career coaching, I kind of created this website careers with Paul and I started doing it. One of my realizations from that as like, I don’t want to be a full time career coach. To to people was like, Oh, my God, this is like, I don’t really want to do this. Because what I realized is I was working with people that just want to get rid of their pain, like helped me get a new job, and then I can stop thinking about these questions. I have a lot more fun just talking with people like much more deeper over longer periods of time. So yeah, it’s so it’s really testing. And I think we get mistaken by thinking, oh, I need to pick an identity or lane or job title, right? So people are like, I want to become a coach, because I like helping people. Like both probably just test that first. Make sure you’re not gonna blow up your life just to do this one thing.


Will Bachman 18:25

Yeah, before you take like a six month, like executive coaching course or something. Right. So I love this idea of doing sort of small experiments, low cost experiments that you don’t know where they’re going to lead, right?


Paul Millerd 18:43

Well, this is one of the ideas from the book is I’ve discovered this over and over again, mostly because I took my leap was meandering, confusing, and over several years. So you, you read these headlines of other people, and I talked to them. And I would just ask, like it says, You just took this bold leap. And they go actually, it started six years earlier, when I had this health crisis, I started asking questions, I met this mentor. In traveling another country, I had this this, I tried this one thing, I unlock this opportunity. And you start to realize people, whether they are doing it on purpose or not, are actually prototyping, different shifts. So they’re kind of sampling different modes of being different ways of working before well, before they’ve actually taken the shift.


Will Bachman 19:34

Yeah, you’ve tell us a little bit about your curiosity conversations and what those have opened up for you.


Paul Millerd 19:43

Yeah, so that’s really been the superpower of my writing. So in 2016, or 17, I started I think it was 2016. I was writing on LinkedIn. And I had somebody reach out to one of my articles in New York and he just said, Hey, I’m super curious about the same questions you’re asking. We met up. And it was like an instant friendship, because he shared the same curiosities. I love connecting with people and making friends around ideas. So I was like, Oh, my God, I will want more of this. So I basically always had a link on my website that said, if you want to chat with me about anything, no agenda, just book a call, I’m open every week. I do this every Wednesday now, still. And people just book a call. Except they’re basically helping me because one, I get to connect with interesting and thoughtful people. But they’re often just asking me questions about what I think. And those answers I come up with are often like, oh, that’s actually pretty interesting, I should write about this. Or those say, you have to write about this. So I did that for years and years. And then in 2020, when the pandemic hit, that number of people reaching out to me just skyrocketed, because I had been talking about our relationship to work for years. And that just snowballed in terms of me writing a ton of stuff. And eventually, multiple people, just saying you have a lot of stuff. Have you ever thought about writing a book? And I just kind of took that as a cue for that’s what I should do next?


Will Bachman 21:22

What are some of the disappointments that people expressed to you about this path that they’re on? And the kind of I think I think I saw you posted recently that the era of meaningful work is over a member correctly to talk about that a little bit and kind of what you’re hearing from people in these discussions?


Paul Millerd 21:41

Yeah, so I think there’s been an increase in expectations people have from work, which is great, I think people should have I have high expectations about institutions they’re committing all a lot of their time to. But what I think has happened is those expectations have risen faster than what organizations are really capable of. So there’s kind of been this ramping up of what I call like, corporate PR, or culture, PR, of trying to match those expectations. But then there’s a gap between what people are expecting and hoping for and what they actually receive, right. So if you go to Facebook, right now, their branding and their career pages do the most meaningful work of your life. Like, that’s profound. From what I know, people working at Facebook, they’re all like, I don’t really work, we kind of automate our ads, and we make a ton of money. And we don’t really know what we’re focused on, we came up with this PR thing to kind of focus on so there’s definite gap there. But every company in America is now saying this on their career pages, which they weren’t 10 years ago. And I think people are just frustrated, right? Because they’ve been trying to find their dream job. I was doing this before I quit my job. I had this belief, Oh, if only the next job, I found the right one, everything will be okay. And I kind of realized I was just thinking too narrowly, in terms of what I considered work and the things we’re doing. And I think a lot of people are coming to this realization to they’re sitting at home in their kitchen working and their kids are running around. And they’re thinking, okay, maybe isn’t about a dream job. Maybe it’s just about like the job that can reckon fit my life around that. So I think a lot of things are shifting right now. And I don’t know what that future story or narrative looks like for people. But I think this era of like, our dream job is the prime goal of my career’s just, it’s kind of lost some lost faith among a lot of people.


Will Bachman 24:03

Maybe it’s putting too much expectations on on just one aspect of your life, you can’t, you can’t expect that that is going to be kind of the place that you meet your friends that you meet your significant other that you become spiritually aware and satisfied and also pays your mortgage. It might be a little bit too much to ask all those things at one thing.


Paul Millerd 24:26

Well, it’s also just hard, right? I mean, there are constraints in organizations. I think one thing I like about being self employed is I can I don’t have anyone to blame for my circumstances. So I might take a consulting project, and I know, okay, this isn’t what I’m ultimately passionate about, but this can kind of fund other things I’m doing in my life. I think one thing I didn’t have the option to do when I was employed full time is you kind of have to do things you don’t want to do. And I that would just frustrate and zap so much of my energy. But at least now I can kind of just more clear eyed, go into that and say, Okay, I’m going to do that such that I can carve out this space to work on this meaningful thing for me. And the meaningful thing for me is really been my writing. I think maybe if I added up all the earnings from like, my writing, it’s probably been less than $3,000, over five years, but it’s been the force that’s really kept me alive and energized. And my journey.


Will Bachman 25:34

Yeah, I take your point about the independent consulting, if you’re Think of yourself as your own entity, and it does feel different than if you’re an employee. Whereas if you’re an employee, it’s like, you kind of you’ve committed your identity to that one specific employer, and so forth. Whereas I found that it was much more motivating, as an independent consultant serving a client than when I was at a large consulting firm, even doing very similar work. Because if you’re an independent consultant, you’ve sold the work yourself, you’ve kind of personally committed to doing it. Even if it’s not like a client that you’re like, super in love with, you feel more of a personal commitment to, you know, to getting the work done, and into that relationship. And you and there’s like a broader meaning to it, or as you understand how this fits in to, to helping that client achieve their goals. And, you know, there are objectives that at the company, as opposed to just, Oh, I’m just a cog doing this PowerPoint page. And this is kind of pointless. So I think that that switch, I’m seeing more people make to the independent world, where you feel more in control of your destiny.


Paul Millerd 26:50

Yeah, and I think it’s about making the trade offs clear, I think one thing when you’re working full time, is, you can’t actually lower the amount of hours you’re working. So you’ve kind of sold a bundle of your time and attention to work on stuff, even if there’s nothing to do. Whereas when you’re working on your own, you can make more clear trade offs and actually decide to make less money, or work less, and then focus on other aspects of your life. And you can kind of start experimenting a little more in terms of what are the pieces I want to build together. And you can do this I’ve talked to and helped a lot of people in full time traditional paths as well. And these are some of the most excited people I talked to actually. Because they’ll do things like small experiments and realize, oh, I can actually just drop the ball on this social committee. And part of that I’m spending all this time on and spend more time on deep work and the thing I really care about, and it makes my life a lot more enjoyable to keep keep going on.


Will Bachman 27:55

Yeah, there’s, you mentioned the bundling aspect there. I think there’s something about that structure of the bundle and the payment. So even if it’s exactly the same dollars, let’s just to keep the math simple. Someone who’s making $250,000 a year, if that’s your salary, people almost kind of you sort of almost get used to that and a customer. And then any work that you’re being asked to do feels like this imposition. Whereas if you’re getting paid, because it’s such a big number, it’s like it’s hard to get your head around $250,000. Whereas if you’re getting paid $1,000 per day, then you wake up that morning says, Okay, how am I going to deliver at least $1,000 of value to this client today, like Holy smokes, I’m getting paid 1000 bucks for me to do today. I better make it worthwhile write and deliver so that I can get hired the next time for the next project. It just kind of changed me. I think even just changing it from an annual salary to a daily rate. And it changes your relationship to the work. And for me a way that was positive because it feels like you need to deliver that day as opposed to just oh, I’m kind of now I’m just Yeah. Any work is an imposition versus, you know, because it’s such a long term thing. Yeah.


Paul Millerd 29:12

Yeah, I think the thing with the default path too, for me was that I was I didn’t realize this until I left, I was kind of so just stuck in a ongoing, never ending story that I didn’t feel like I could ever take a break from or pause. So you’re just constantly busy and you’re always thinking in the future. What is the next step? What is the next job after this? How am I thinking about how what I’m currently doing fits into the narrative of my career. And I think working on my own was a way for me to basically remove all that because when you are on your own, especially as an independent consultant, nobody really knows what you’re up to what your promotion is what what you’re doing. It’s why it’s often hard for like independent consultants to sell themselves back in organizations, because it’s more of a weird mapping of, hey, I’ve done all these random things, here’s how my bet. But it makes all those trade offs clear to you have what you’re opting into. Because you’re not doing it for this broader just keeping up with what you feel like you’re supposed to be doing.


Will Bachman 30:28

You recently published a an annual review, which was really quite mean very transparent, right? You lay out your financials, how much you earned last year, in 2021, breaking it down by, you know, stream of revenue, and so forth. Tell me a little bit about what it feels like to give that level of transparency to the world and kind of the reactions you’ve got from it and why you did that.


Paul Millerd 30:57

I think most people find it helpful. I think one of the things I want to do is just take some of the BS around, like quitting your job and becoming a millionaire. There’s so many easy, like roadmaps out there that are like, Hey, quit your job. And you can make $100,000 building online courses. What does that actually look like? What does the actual income look like? What does it look like after costs and other things you’re spending on web hosting, and all that? And how much are you actually making from freelancing? So people can I want people to think I’m like, honestly, communicating. When I talk about, here’s what I’m learning about work in the trade offs. I want them to see like, Okay, how is he actually making money? How is he actually affording this? How is he thinking about money? So I’ve shared a ton about my money and expenses over the years, it’s mostly been very positive, I think people are hungry for it, because they don’t really know, what people make and how how much people are doing. I think people have been surprised at how little I was making. For some reason, because I used to work in strategy consulting, people are assuming I have, like millions of dollars in the bank and are making like hundreds of 1000s of dollars a year. So people will say to me, like, Well, I used to work at McKinsey. So you’re probably making like three $400,000 a year now. And it’s like, well, not really, I mean, I made like 2020 grand, there for a couple of years. And this is probably the best year I’ve done ever. And I’m still only half of what I made when I left. So it gives, I think, a little more credibility to what I’m doing. Because what I’m more broadly doing is trying to lean into life to and do these things like writing and just spending more time outside and trying to see if I can continue living this more, less ambitious, but more creative lifestyle.


Will Bachman 32:57

What would you say your objective function is? What what are you working to optimize?


Paul Millerd 33:03

Mmm, I want to be doing things I want to be doing every day. I want to have the space to engage in the world in a way I’m excited to. So for me, it’s helping people it’s having the space to do creative work, like writing experiments online. Three is like have the time and flexibility in my future. Me and my wife want to have kids, I want to have a very flexible life around being with them physically, and spending time with them as they grow. So really building in the practice now of actually doing that, rather than saying like, Oh, money is the primary goal, I need to solve money first, and then everything else will figure it out. For me. It’s more just like how do I practice living fully and doing things I want to do now such that it will be easier later?


Will Bachman 33:58

Huh? Yeah. What are you ideally looking for this year? Like? What are your some of your big projects?


Paul Millerd 34:09

I don’t know. I, I don’t really have big projects. I think one thing that’s emerged for me around my consulting skills course, is I’ve had increasing number of small and medium sized consulting firms reach out to me about training. And those conversations keep creeping into a sort of combo version of corporate cohort based course I’ve developed for companies and a consulting thing. So how do you pair teaching skills with a broader question of like, what does excellence look like at this consulting firm? There’s all these consulting firms that are like boutique firms, and they’ve hired all sorts of random industry experts, former consultants, they all come from different backgrounds and everyone has different techniques and approaches and the firms are really struggling with like, I mean, compared to McKinsey, McKinsey is like, you can only do things our way, this is the McKinsey way, we’re gonna break you down and teach you, these other firms are all just kind of sort of making it up. They’re hiring senior people, everyone has their own ways of doing it. And so I’ve been focusing a lot of energy there. And there’s a lot of emergent opportunities, some still experimenting, creating things to serve those kind of customers and clients.


Will Bachman 35:27

Give us give us a typical week, you know, probably any one day of your life I imagined you might be focused on one thing, but, you know, over the course of a week, what you’re doing curiosity conversations on Wednesdays like, what’s your what’s your week look like in terms of how much time are you, you know, going for a walk or exercising or actually doing, you know, kind of paid a course creation? Or or I’m just curious to hear kind of how your week or breaks down in terms of your time and your day by day?


Paul Millerd 36:01

Yeah, so last week, I had two workshops I was holding with companies. I had those on Wednesday, and Thursday. So some of the hours in the front of the week, were just preparing for those. And then running those later in the week. I probably had like four or five conversations with people just broadly around my work and writing and just different interesting people to talk to. There were a couple sunny days, so I took off in the afternoons and just kind of rode around the town. Exploring Austin. I did a hosting a group coaching thing. I’ve been running for a while. So that’s on Mondays. And yeah, I, if I had to say last week, I probably did like 10 to 15 hours of work. I did probably five to probably five hours of like calls. And then. I don’t know. So that was pretty much it. So most of my weeks are light, I’d say most days I wake up and just kind of do the things I want to do. I have stuff I schedule in now. So a little more scheduled being in the US and pursuing freelancing a little more. But yeah, I mean, this week, tomorrow afternoon, I’ve the entire afternoon blocked off for just wandering around the city. And Friday afternoon, I don’t have anything planned. I’m meeting up with a friend. So yeah, it’s it’s pretty flexible. Also just doing a bunch of conversations talking about my book, too.


Will Bachman 37:37

I follow you on Twitter and you tweet a lot. Tell me a little bit about how you use Twitter, what’s your kind of Twitter philosophy or what you get out of it?


Paul Millerd 37:47

Yeah, so Twitter is, I find Twitter very light. It’s pretty interesting with social media, I think some people get absorbed and distracted and it kind of drains their energy, I get a kick out of Twitter, just basically using it as a different medium of shaping thoughts and ideas and just putting them out there and seeing what happens. I’ve kind of created a virtuous loop there as well, where I’ve probably met 40 People now in person, and become really good friends with people I’ve met through Twitter. So I kind of use Twitter as like, hey, here are my thoughts, my ideas, things I’m curious about. And I just broadcast those I test different things I might want to write more deeply about too. And then basically just I want to make friends make my life better. So I’ve just been consistently doing that. I think it was really helpful when I was abroad to just to connect with more of that, like Western entrepreneurial energy as well. But yeah, that’s, that’s kind of the high level of how I use it. I think people see Twitter as like news and politics. But I purposely block all that. And I’d say most of like who I’m following is other people who are hyper curious, sharing ideas, creating online, self employed people. And people like that. Are there words that you block? Yeah, I mean, I could, I could pull it up. It’s like I just go down the politics. I use the muted words function. I like mute. I mute Biden, Trump, Republican Democrat. Pretty much any term that like is taking over the site case, I knew COVID I knew vaccine. I knew mask. I knew things like Rogen, anything that’s like taking over the news feed that is just people being angry at each other. I don’t find it useful. And I don’t have anything to add there either. So


Will Bachman 39:50

tell us about your current sort of regular or irregular content production. So I think that you have a blog, a newsletter. are a podcast, but correct me? What’s your schedule? And what are your different channels today? And you might think you might be doing some YouTube as well, right?


Paul Millerd 40:11

Yeah, the so the for the last year, I’ve pretty much channeled all my energy into the book. So I’ve felt like I’ve sort of been dropping the ball on the other stuff, but I’ve still been doing my newsletter, I’m excited to reengage and really go continue to write like, the book is just a step it feels like in a long writing journey. But yeah, I think I’m anchored around a weekly newsletter. And then the more space just not working on the book, I want to do more experiments like, I like the idea of experimenting with video essays on YouTube. I want to experiment with like reels and tick tock this year. I just love the creative challenge of synthesizing data into different forms and seeing what that what that does. So it’s, it’s really fun. And I really just try to write about things I’m curious about and coming up with ideas is not really a challenge now. So it’s really just to figuring out where to focus and what to do each week.


Will Bachman 41:16

I’m curious, do you track how your different blog posts perform? And if so, like, what’s been the blog post that’s gotten the most views or interest?


Paul Millerd 41:30

I don’t really look at my analytics on my blog. I’m not. So my strategy, you say I do write about consulting skills. And I’ve checked the blogs, but I really haven’t checked analytics. And like many months, I think of my boundless blog, I wrote a deep dive around organizational culture in Edgar Schein. For some reason, I hit like number one or number two and Google rankings and I get like hundreds might be like the 1000 plus views every month. So I mean, that’s not like the thing I’m most interested in just thing that gets the most views, I don’t really know what to do with that. Maybe I could turn it to some sort of affiliate thing or something. But I’m really optimizing for like curiosity. And what I want to keep writing about, I think that’s been one of my strengths is just not getting absorbed into like, the popular conversations about work and different things like that. So I, I really just want to like play my own game and not worry too much about the outcomes or traffic or anything like that.


Will Bachman 42:35

How do you feel that the more popular conversation around the great resignation and the future of work is off track or maybe even orthogonal to how you think about things?


Paul Millerd 42:50

Um, I think it’s too simple. I think often, these things in once you start analyzing your own work beliefs, you start seeing them everywhere, right? So there’s an assumption, culturally, in most cultures right now that like one shall work in a job for most of their life. And like any, anyone that’s not considering that that’s a crazy thing, right? So these great resignation, things are framed in that foundational assumption about work. And the reality is, like, there are a wide range of how people structure their lives and work and live, right. If you look at globally, I think 26% of the global adult population is in payroll type jobs, that they get like a regular salary. So it’s kind of this mismatch between how the world works, and what’s actually happening. So I think that’s where it’s like, I look at these takes on like, the great resignation, it’s not even wrong, because it’s not starting on a, like, a set of foundations. I don’t even agree. Right. So are there different things happening in different industries for different reasons, of course, but if you look at like professional, quit rates, those quit rates are not really out of line with a strong economy. Yeah, they’re pretty in line with what you’d expect.


Will Bachman 44:26

In fact, I think most of it is not people just resigning because they want to stay home and you know, right start, they, most of them are just people taking a new job. Right. So they’re mostly just job changers.


Paul Millerd 44:38

Yeah, I do think there is something foundational happening with like, people lose. We’ve basically shifted from an industrial economy to a technology economy. This is the biggest transformation that we don’t really have a way of grappling with. It just kind of appeared before eyes. I imagine in your circle of friends you’ve had a lot of people go from like fortune 500 companies, the big tech companies in the past 10 years.


Will Bachman 45:05

Some Yeah, some, I mean, certainly Facebook, Google, you know, Amazon,


Paul Millerd 45:11

  1. And even if they’re not their companies are kind of embracing technology, right. So like, if if you look at the 2008, fortune 500, buy like market caps, the market caps are like 100 billion 200 billion. Now, now the biggest companies are all tech firms, and they’re all over a trillion dollars if not two, or 3 trillion. So we’ve completely reshaped like the economy, it’s turned into this like power law economy of like these superstar firms and superstar employees out earning to dramatic degrees at the far end. And what that’s really done is, like those industrial scripts of like, put your head down and trust the system and say that job don’t really make sense anymore. And people are just starting to question those. Yeah.


Will Bachman 46:10

Sue Paul, um, we will include a link in the show notes for the pathless path. And if folks want to follow up with you, sign up for your newsletter, track you, where would you where’s the best place to, to go online to to find out what you’re up to, and maybe to book a conversation with you


Paul Millerd 46:32

think that boundless calm is the best way to get in touch with me. I wrote my book as an invitation for people to kind of explore and dream with me. I’m still figuring out these things and my journeys evolving. And if anyone doesn’t want to purchase the book, but would love to read it, just email me too, and I’m happy to give it to people.


Will Bachman 46:53

That is very generous. Paul, thanks for joining today. It’s a great conversation, enjoy the enjoy the weather in Austin. And he said they get to get a snow day. A nice, sunny day and then a snow day right after.


Paul Millerd 47:06

Exactly, yeah. All right. Wild out here. All right, great. Catching up again. Thank you, Paul. All right. Bye. Well,

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