This Sunday morning, just as I got online, it hit me how much a waste of time it is to plan, particularly in this turbulent, uncertain marketplace. For the third time in 10 days there was a message from a client about an assignment. As LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman hammers in his book "The Startup of You," opportunity primarily comes from left field. The trick is to be alert and open enough to identify it and entrepreneurial enough to know how to hustle to exploit it.
Six years ago when this educational expert from Canada contacted me about assisting with a report, my attitude was not one of "great expectations." Sure, I was going to do a good job on the task but my preoccupation was on how to bag a Fortune 100 client, the kind which I mostly served in the 20th century. Also, this consultant was just starting out.
Over the years she has provided me with not only steady work. Our discussions about educational trends such as distance learning enabled me, for example, to analyze the for-profit educational sector for financial information company Motley Fool. I could raise questions about Jack Welch's Management Institute at for-profit Strayer.
During the past eight months, because she is movin' on up in her field, she has been able to refer her colleagues to me for assignments such as preparation of marketing-communications materials. Without planning, I have been pulled into a network of successful professionals who will dominate their fields in the next 20 or 30 years.
Once I made the internal paradigm shift from wanting to re-create the past, when my communications boutique made big money effortlessly, success began happening again. Instead of big jobs with big money, there are smaller jobs with moderate compensation. The challenge now is to keep those small jobs coming. That requires not gazing back to what had been.