I guess this newsletter is becoming more of a Thursday/Friday thing now 🤷♂️ Sorry.
Several years ago I obtained a certificate for the coaching of young scouts. Then a few weeks ago, a young scout contacted me, and we’ve had video coaching sessions ever since. But during this week, I ended up on the other side of the coaching practice. On the receiving end.
One of the newsletters I’ve been reading is written by Rob. Rob used to work with children with special needs. In his spare time, he was advising his fellow colleges on leadership. Then one day he decided to pursue a leadership coaching career full time (hope I got the story right).
In his newsletter, he encourages his readers every now and then to sign up for his free 30 minutes coaching sessions. Last week I finally found the courage to apply for a session.
I had a coach in the past, but that was the first coaching with a complete stranger that I signed up for. So to no surprise, it took me a while to open up and describe what’s really holding me back.
Right before the session, I was nervous as hell. I prepared a bit by forming the answers to: Who am I? What I think is holding me back? Before going into the session, I knew that “problems” I wanted to discuss were good to have problems.
Once we started, I told Rob that I’m doing a PhD in nuclear physics and that I’m trying to create a side hustle. A small business that I can run in my free time. Rob quickly pointed out that he can give me advice on the side hustle part but that he’ll leave the nuclear physics part to my PhD mentors.
I explained that as part of the side hustle I’m writing the Life experiment newsletter (which you are currently reading by the way) and working on the minimalistic software web page. I explained that the minimalistic software is meant to be my “core” business. We talked briefly about the audience I’m targeting, What’s the problem I’m solving, How I know that there’s demand, How I’ll market my product …
But we quickly came to the conclusion that I somehow know what I’m trying to do. We both agreed that what I’m lacking is execution. So all I need to do is put in extra hours of work during my free time, and that’s it. Right? Not quite.
Next question was how I manage my time. At that point, I caught Rob a bit of guard. He couldn’t know that I plan my day every morning by making a daily timeline. I also mentioned that I’ve been tracking my time in 15 min intervals for the past two years (with a gap of two months). Yup, I’m still micromanaging my schedule.
So where is your time going? Why are you not progressing on the side hustle?
After a bit of back and forth, I admitted that I still say yes to too many things. I somehow got better at saying no, but I’m still juggling between five things at once. Conclusion:
I didn’t really commit to the side hustle idea yet. Why?
I’m still not entirely sure what’s been holding me back. One thing that’s definitely been hunting me is that I don’t know if I want to keep doing research in the long run.
Ever since 2017, I’ve doubted if the PhD is the right path. I finally found two amazing supervisors and to be honest the first two months of the PhD have been great. I enjoy the work I do and learn a ton every day. But there’s this nagging feeling in the back of my head. Was that the right decision? I suspect that’s due to a bad experience during my masters. But still.
I think that I committed to the PhD since I easily spend more than 40h a week on it. More time then I “should” and planned.
With this, we concluded the situation assessment.
At this point I invite you to do the same and ask your self:
Rob: OK since you’re not sure what are you aiming for at after PhD. Where do you see yourself?
Without blinking, I said that I see myself leading a small team in something tech-related. Basecamp guys are kind of my role models here. If you don’t know what I’m talking about listening to this interview with David Heinemeier Hansson the CTO of Basecamp.
Anyway, after a few more iterations, I admitted that I always felt that there’s plenty of people with tech skills that lack management skills. But that that could be changed and that in the long run, I want to:
Teach people to become better tech leaders.
I dare to claim I kind of speak the language of both management and tech world. The above vision isn’t new. In fact, the startup we tried to get off the ground with my friends Matevz and Zala a year ago was in that direction. We didn’t even remotely have the credibility needed to succeed. So we stopped.
But in a few years time, I still want to take a crack at the above issue. I wouldn’t call it a goal since I’m willing to change track tomorrow if something interesting comes along. But no matter what happens, I want to make some sort of positive impact on people’s lives.
But before I can become an authority on tech leadership, I need to further build up my brand. This newsletter and the minimalistic software page are perfect for jump-starting my presence in the tech sphere. But I’m making no progress, right? In 20 weeks, I got 14 subscribes to my newsletter. That’s terrible right?
Then I asked Rob how many subscribers he has in his newsletter and how many actually reply. He said that he has 15000 subscribes and that from 20 to 100 reply each week.
In my case, I have 14 subscribes and usually one or two replies. Holy … my stats are pretty good then 🙃 Then Rob said something really crucial:
When you are building something you can’t measure success by standards of successful people. You need to measure success based on where you are.
Getting to 15k newsletter subscribers takes a lot of time. Achieving a goal can be super slow, and the lack of visible progress can mentally weight us down.
It was interesting for me to be on the receiving end of coaching for a change. Rob didn’t give me answers, but he definitely gave me food for thought. It took us nearly an hour to get to the core of my barriers. Barries that are mostly in my head.
This one wasn’t really in the Who am I? direction, but it’s definitely in Where I’m going? direction.
Well, last week was super productive. I managed to get plenty of sleep and rest. The weekly experiment was a success.
Quarantine life may be boring but snow in the morning then sunset like the one below in the evening:
I don’t even have to travel to experience different seasons in a time span of a day.
Funnily enough, I have no clue what I could try out this week. I’m open to your suggestions. Let me know what you’ll experiment with, and I’ll try to do the same.
Till the next weekly experiment.
P.s. If you like the newsletter, share it. 😉