Finding Impact No.23💥

On bootstrapping, remote work, delegation and seeking advice

Hi Friends

I've been super chilled this week because I'm on holiday with my family. I'm sharing plenty of snaps on Instagram now if you're interested in what a Narracott holiday looks like.

While away, I've been reflecting more and more on the topic of remote work. Offices are great because they allow plenty of non-structured interactions. Someone can walk up to your desk to ask a question. There's the water fountain question of 'How was your weekend?' Then there's the gossip in the office kitchen. All these are small interactions that build trust and invite new opportunities to share and learn from each other.

We don't get that when working from home. But what if we all started working in public?

By that I mean, sharing the process, not just the end result. Sharing via Twitter, LinkedIn, an internal Slack channel, a newsletter or a personal blog.

I used to think I had nothing to write about. I thought it wasn't interesting because other people had done what I'm doing. There wasn't anything new. But now I realise that by doing something that someone else has done is precisely why it's interesting. I'm doing it in my way, with my perspective, building on my experience. Other people can learn from my failures and do it their way. Or compare how they've done it with how you're doing it, and maybe pick up some tips along the way.

  • Working in public helps to mitigate potential blind spots and limiting biases. You're opening up your work to others who see things in a different way than you do, simply because of their experience, upbringing and context. Don't worry about being ‘wrong’ or exposing yourself to ridicule. See feedback as a gift, not a threat. Remember: it's not the critic who counts. Be the one who's in the arena (see quote from last newsletter).

  • It's free marketing. Companies spend billions every year to interrupt what you're doing to get a small slice of your attention. By working in public you're creating conditions for serendipity. If someone finds what you're doing interesting and clever, you're getting someone's attention for free.

  • It's more collaborative. In international development, we talk about a Theory of Change, made up of inputs, outputs and outcomes. Working in public means sharing the processes and experiments you're conducting between the inputs and outputs. It's way more collaborative because you're sharing your learning for someone else to benefit from. If everyone did this, the SDGs would seem that much closer.

If you share what you're learning, you're opening up the opportunity for serendipitous encounters. Sharing what you're learning in the office kitchen now seems so limiting. The internet allows us to scale the water fountain moments. By tweeting what we're learning as it happens, we're opening up the opportunity to micro-feedback loops several times in the day.

The key here is to write. Being able to write well is a skill we can learn. It comes with practice. Being able to write well is the greatest professional advantage anyone can have in their career.

And the act of getting our thoughts on paper helps us think. It gets all the jumbled ideas out of our brains and into coherent prose that we can understand. And others too. We can write what we've learnt as a succinct tweet. Or convey our ideas in a blog post. Or write newsletters 👋.

Because I'm so convinced about this, I recently got a writing coach. Ellen Fishbein helped me write the first article I've written in a very long time. It's an article about what I'm learning in my podcast and my career. See On bootstrapping below.

Does Writing in Public raise any thoughts for you? Start writing them down in an email to me 😉. I'd love to hear them.

Now onto the content:

On bootstrapping

My first piece of writing is a while is on the topic of bootstrapping. It follows on from my most downloaded episode of all time - my interview with Audrey Cheng of Moringa School. I talk about the pros and cons of taking capital, in particular grants, for early stage social enterprises. I'd love to hear if you have a view on this topic. Reply to this email, I'd love to hear it. Or even better, share it on Twitter or LinkedIn with your own unique perspective based on your experience and context.

Read it here: Early Stage Social Enterprises: Read This Before Raising Grant or Equity Capital

On remote work

This was a hugely thought provoking article. Simply because it has so much data in there - it paints a complete picture. I thought it was a great jumping off point to start prototyping solutions to better remote working, like working in public.

Read here: Why Remote Work Is So Hard—and How It Can Be Fixed

On delegation

This article is gold. Delegate well and you'll be a far more effective team. Or if you read nothing else, just use this to set up a meeting via email, instead of the countless back and forth:

Really, this email should have looked like: “I’m available Thursday or Friday at 2pm. Do either work? If not, can you suggest 2-3 alternatives? Also, I’m assuming we’ll meet on Skype. If that doesn’t work, please suggest what works best for you"

Read here: 360 Delegation

On seeking advice

I value my network. It's something I enjoy thinking about and putting effort into. Apart from anything, I love the human interaction, which I've come to appreciate after working from home for years. There's some great advice in this article, such as:

What to ask for advice about:

When asking for advice, you should be on the verge of acting, but may not know how. At that point, it should be less about your motivations to act, but your method of doing so.

Sending at least one note to someone in your network every day:

Whether it be a quick email to one of your mentors to send over an article you found interesting, or a message to one of your investors to thank them for their advice on a particularly thorny issue, building this habit of gratitude is important to ensure these small-but-mighty relationship-building tactics don’t slip through the cracks

On preparing for a mentor call, and not trying to "boil the ocean":

A good rule of thumb is to come with one topic you definitely want to address and a short list of three to five questions that will get them the clarity they need on that topic

Read here: Advice is More Important — and Overwhelming — Than Ever. Here's How Founders Can Cut Through the Noise

That's it from me. Let me know if you're enjoying this newsletter and if anything resonated with you. If it did, consider doing the equivalent of buying me a coffee by sharing this with a friend or on Twitter or LinkedIn. I'd really appreciate it.

All the best from North Yorkshire in the UK,