Head, Heart, Hustle: A Gig Economy Treatise in Four Parts
Part 1: The Head
The gig economy. Knowledge industries. Internet-based business. Online/remote/freelance work.
Whatever you want to call it, we now live in a world where it’s possible to make a full-time living by punching buttons and clicking images on a magic screen that connects you to the whole darn world.
And that means instead of your ability to physically produce as many widgets as possible on an assembly line in some factory somewhere, your value in the world of work comes from your knowledge, skills, and creativity.
Your value comes from your head.
You are a unique expert with great value to offer.
Yes, other people can do what you do, but the great thing about being a knowledge economy worker is that at the end of every project, you get to say, “I did it my way.”
(Apologies to Frank Sinatra.)
Yes, there are other people who do the same type of work you do. But nobody can do that work the same way. Nobody else brings your combination of insights, life experiences, and qualifications to the field.
You are unique. You are talented. And you invest time & money into developing your skills because you know that your mind is your greatest asset.
That’s what pushes you to be the best.
Because as the smart and ambitious person you are, you recognize that time only moves one way (forward) and that the strategy that got you to the top of your field – the strategy that involved reading books and blogs and listening to podcasts and watching tutorials and finding mentors and messing around on side projects on weekends and mucking about in various apps and programs – the strategy that made you the kickass professional you are… is the same one that will keep you at the top of your field.
But you already know all of that.
Just ask coLabber Stephanie King, who recognizes that professional skills development is really no different from buying tools or equipment for a more traditional business:
“Warren Buffett lives by two investing rules:
1. Never lose money.
2. Never forget rule number one.
I try to keep this in mind when it comes to investing in myself. Working in the knowledge economy, effective collaboration is entirely dependent on continuous skills development. Simply put, when it comes to professional advancement, learning cannot stop. Investing in your own brain pays dividends, allowing you to keep pace with innovation.”
Stephanie quickly discovered the importance of skills development on a collaborative project, when a client needed her to design a solution that could connect a CRM with a marketing automation tool.
“I signed up for webinars, I read how-to articles, and I even connected with former colleagues who were administrating this CRM. I quickly developed my skills so I could act as an interim CRM administrator for my client, so they could resolve the integration challenges.”
Or ask coLabber Timm Stokke, whose entire industry is defined by an arms race of skills development:
“As a software developer, keeping up with the the latest tech and trends is important to stay relevant. That’s not to say you should always strive to use the latest hotness, but being in the loop on where the industry is heading helps me know which paths to try when I come across challenges I can’t solve optimally using my existing knowledge.”
Timm’s ability to develop new skills is a basic minimum requirement for creating effective solutions that don’t just work today, but will also work tomorrow.
In other words, prioritizing up-skilling pays dividends because it means you can serve your clients better, provide better solutions, and look like a supergenius in front of important people.
Becoming a knowledgeable professional is the first step toward finding your freedom.
Because once you know your stuff, you catapult yourself into the realm of The Expert… and people will always work to accommodate an Expert.
But even more than that…becoming a knowledgeable professional allows you to work with other knowledgeable professionals to produce something even greater than either of you could create on your own.
That’s the essence of what we at coLab call “The Head”.
And it’s the very first step on the journey toward AWESOME stuff.
Part 2: The Heart
So you’ve studied the theory for years, you’ve started applying your knowledge in your own profession, you keep reading the thought leaders in your industry, you constantly upskill, and people have started telling you that you seem to know everything about your domain of work.
Awesome! Congrats: You’re a subject matter expert.
But here’s the dealio: While your head is what allows you to solve problems, while your brain is what makes you valuable in the knowledge economy, knowledge alone can only take you so far.
That may sound like a blasphemous statement, seeing how the entirety of science, philosophy, technology, and medicine has relied on the pursuit of knowledge to make progress for a couple thousand years or more, and especially seeing how our readership base consists entirely of knowledge economy workers.
But hear us out.
“Knowledge economy” is a misnomer.
Thanks to the Internet, knowledge is more accessible than ever before.
Feel like learning how to play the bagpipes? Here you go – this guy has a website, a YouTube channel, a free newsletter, and a paid online course where you can learn how to play the bagpipes.
Want to go to Clown College? Udemy has a course for that.
And if you decided, for whatever reason, that you wanted to spend 4 years of your life watching grass grow, guess what – you can get a Bachelor’s Degree in Turfgrass Science by studying online through Penn State University.
In other words, being a knowledgeable professional isn’t a selling point – it’s a basic minimum expectation.
Your head is what gets you in the door.
But what sets you apart from everyone else? Is your heart.
The professionals who go far in their industries are the ones who are ON FIRE for what they do.
The ones who care so much about their work that they can’t help but obsess over every tiny detail.
The ones who are so eager to get to work in the morning that they leap out of bed with boundless energy.
The ones who are constantly engaging in what Csikszentmihalyi called “Flow”: That magical state where you are completely absorbed in the task at hand, and it feels like nothing else in the entire world matters.
Your clients, your prospects, and your collaborators can tell when you’re passionate about what you do. They can tell when you show up fully present every day because that’s what you feel like doing.
And perhaps most importantly, they can definitely tell when you’re phoning it in.
That’s why The Heart matters. Because when you’re so passionate for what you do, you’re driven to be the best, which in turn makes you the best, which means your work improves, your ideas are better, and your clients are happier.
And when lots of super-passionate people get in a room together? That’s when magic happens.
Passion is contagious. When you show up excited to do your part, it prompts the people around you to get excited about their roles in the project. When you show up with a strong belief in your vision, it persuades the people around you to believe in that vision, too.
Passion motivates all of us to be at our best, and to be at our best together.
At coLab, we call that “The Heart.”
And when you have The Head and The Heart working together, that’s when you get….The Hustle.
(No, not the Van McCoy song. But more on that next week.)
Until next time…stay on fire, you passionate rabble-rouser.
Part 3: The Hustle
(Yeah, do it. Do the hustle! Do-do-do do-do-do-do-do-do, do-do-do do-do-do-do-do-do… *flute solo*)
Two weeks ago, we talked about The Head – about the value of expertise. Last week, we talked about The Heart – about why passion matters in business. This week, we’re tackling the third part of Head Heart Hustle: The Hustle.
It’s the thing Gary Vaynerchuk tells us we need to be doing 24/7/365.
It’s the thing that separates the success stories from the wannabes.
It’s the thing that turned Orpah Gail Winfrey into Oprah.
And it’s the final ingredient in the Success Stew we’ve been cooking up these last few weeks.
Knowledge is great. And passion is awesome. But without hustle? Nothing ever actually gets DONE.
It’s kind of like driving a car: You can fill up the tank with gasoline, you can turn the key & fire up the engine, but if you don’t put the transmission in Drive, you’re going exactly nowhere.
Now, hustle doesn’t mean you have to work your face off. It doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice having a personal life. It doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. And it definitely doesn’t mean you have to burn yourself out doing work you hate.
But it does mean that you’ve gotta turn your passion and zeal into productivity and measurable outputs.
At the end of the day, you have to deliver. There’s no two ways about it.
The Gig Economy is ruled by the hustlers.
We’ve all heard the success stories. They usually follow this kind of a pattern:
Broke-as-a-joke starving artist discovers freelancing, works SUPER hard for a few years, masters the art of sales, and suddenly starts making six figures a year.
Now, maybe becoming a six-figure freelancer isn’t your goal.
Maybe you’re looking to level up your management skills so you can start hiring and become a startup founder.
Maybe you’re a remote worker and you want to earn a sizeable bonus, which means putting in extra hours on a few projects.
Maybe you have a philanthropic cause that you care deeply about, one that has led you to start thinking about establishing a non-profit.
No matter your situation, and no matter your path, you’ll get where you’re going faster if you’re able to hustle now & again.
And when your head, your heart, and your hustle align? That’s when EVERYTHING changes for you in the best possible way.
But The Hustle is more than just a practical approach to work. It’s a mentality.
And as a mentality, The Hustle is something that everyone can benefit from.
When you adopt a Hustle mentality, you learn to become an effective self-promoter.
When you adopt a Hustle mentality, you learn to overcome fear of rejection.
When you adopt a Hustle mentality, you learn to only take the opportunities that are a good fit for you.
And when you adopt a Hustle mentality, you suddenly discover how easy it is to kick in the doors you’ve been trying to open for years.
Hustlers never quit, and that’s why they succeed. Because they have the skills, and because they have the passion, therefore they know that their success could be hiding behind the next door, or any of the hundred doors after that one.
Hustlers recognize that success is inevitable for those who try.
And that’s why they work hard to become the very best they can be.
Are YOU a hustler? You’ll love what we’ve got planned for you next.
Part 4: Say Hello to Junction Creative
The Knowledge Economy has changed everything.
One’s value in the economy is no longer tied to our time or our productivity.
As knowledge economy workers, our value is tied to our expertise.
Our skills, our creativity, our pool of knowledge, our drive to keep learning more – that’s what makes coLab’s members so darn valuable. Because they are subject matter experts of the highest order.
Collectively, coLab’s members have completed thousands of projects for hundreds of companies, with spectacular results.
Here are just a few of our members’ biggest victories:
Okanagan coLab cofounder and UX consultant Shane Austin (ShaneAustin.com) rescued a large-scale government project from Development Hell after a personal crisis gave him new user insights into the design. After a public outreach project for the Government of Alberta grew beyond its original scope, Shane reoriented the design process to better meet user needs.
Copywriter Mike Straus (BrandGesture.ca) has spent the last 6 years building campaigns and writing high-converting copy & compelling content for marketing agencies, tech startups, and membership-driven organizations. A brand psychology expert cited by Smashing Magazine, Web Designer Depot, and Sparkflow, he’s helped startups to 2X their sales within 2 weeks and get accepted into the COLLISION Pitch Competition, which accepts a meagre 15% of the applications it receives.
Photographer Daniel Jones (TheDanielJones.com) is 3 years into a commercial photography business where he merges the creative power of photography with marketing tactics he has carried over from his advertising background to tell unique, inspiring stories and create engaging campaigns. Before that, he served a key role on a team at Disney Online Studios, where he helped to deploy a campaign that generated 2 million daily unique web views.
The coLab is home to a great many talented independent professionals. And now, we’re creating an innovative new way to encourage collaboration, shine a light on our community of awesome people, and impact the world around us.
It’s called Junction Creative.
Junction: A New Kind of Creative Agency
Junction Creative is a new extension of the Okanagan coLab – a “satellite brand” of sorts.
Simply put, Junction is a B2B distributed agency that connects large organizations with highly-skilled freelancers in order to solve problems & do awesome work.
Over the years, we at coLab have noticed a gap in the creative services market. The large businesses that are most in need of expert knowledge workers tend to gravitate toward creative agencies – but the subject matter experts who have the Head, the Heart, and the Hustle needed to do a spectacular job? They aren’t at the agencies.
They’re doing their own thing. They’re freelancers.
Junction Creative will bridge the gap between freelancers and large organizations by bringing together a network of talented independent contractors who want to tackle big, ambitious projects.
For freelancers and independent professionals, this means:
- Less marketing work to find clients! We bring in the projects for you, so you can focus on your craft.
- No project management, customer service, or accounting to worry about! Instead of worrying about all the “business” tasks necessary in a freelance business, you’re free to come up with creative solutions with that big, beautiful brain of yours.
- New opportunities to collaborate with other awesome professionals! No more asking your cat what she thinks of your logo design. You get the camaraderie and creative stimulation of working as part of a team, while still having the independence of a freelancer.
- Lower overheads than a traditional agency! Thanks to less managerial bloat, we can hand a bigger piece of the pie back to our independent service providers.
For clients, this means:
- Access to a deeper talent base! Junction Creative will draw from the Okanagan coLab’s well-established network of freelancers and independent professionals to source the best and brightest knowledge industry professionals around. Because the truly talented creative workers? Aren’t found in traditional agencies.
- Better solutions delivered faster! Junction Creative’s lean structure means we can run through the creative process faster than a traditional agency, so you can unleash a brilliant campaign and start generating sales while your competitors’ agencies are stuck in endless rounds of revision.
- A more enjoyable client experience! A project isn’t just a project. It’s an experience. Nobody is forcing us to start Junction Creative, but since we are embarking on this journey, we’re going to do it our way. We’re only going to take on projects we care about. That means you can expect a great final product and a fun time.
It’s time for a new kind of creative work.
Are you a freelancer, independent contractor, or solopreneur? Or maybe you have a full-time gig, but you desperately wish your side hustle would take off so you could escape the rat race?
We want you.
Junction is about collaboration, not competition. Participation, not observation. Doing, not saying. “We”, not “me”.
If you’re looking for an opportunity to work on big projects that matter, and to collaborate with your peers, then you’ll love Junction.
Contact Shane Austin or Mike Straus to learn more about how YOU can do rad work that stimulates your brain, lights you up inside, and makes work feel like play – work that unites your Head, your Heart, and your Hustle.
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