Among the wrong things we do when assignment-less is plan and execute gigantic marketing campaigns. Yes, that is wrong, at least if we believe the thinking of Frans Johansson. His latest book is "The Click Moment: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World." His earlier one had been "The Medici Effect."
In "The Click Moment," Johansson argues that since few things happen in our professional life as planned, it makes no sense to bet the ranch on anything. What does make sense is to do small bets on a relatively large number of initiatives. He provides the example of Apple during the time of John Sculley which threw tons and then more tons of money at the Newton, which failed. Palm Computing only invested $3 million and hit a marketplace homerun with PalmPilot.
Small bets spread the risk. And lots of them improve the odds of something turning up. Before I had read "The Click Moment" I had already adopted the approach of small bets and lots of them, the antithesis of my usual approach of pulling out all stops in hunting for the next assignment.
On Craigslist, there was a simple help-wanted to ghostwrite a blog. I answered it. Calmly I spoke with the person who had placed the ad who, it turned out, is a consultant. I didn't ramp up my energy to close the deal. I listened. I offered to do free editing on a piece which was due in a brandname publication. Meanwhile I was and am still placing other small bets.
The consultant had and has plenty more that has to get done than simply blogging. There could even be a book.
Johnansson is on the money when he hammers that success is random. If we are preoccupied chasing it only in one direction, we could miss out what's happening over in that other corner.