Posts Tagged ‘Work’

Want to become an IT contractor?

Friday, November 18th, 2016 | News, Tech

itmc-box If you work in IT, and have considered making the leap from permanent employee to contractor, you are not alone. Many people want to make the transition because they want to…

  • Earn more money
  • Be able to take more time off
  • Be their own boss

The problem is that having a permanent job is easy: you just turn up five days a week and people give you money. Finding the motivation to research contracting is a tough ask, especially when there are so many minefields and potential trip hazards to avoid.

it’s a shame, because being a contractor is awesome. I get this immense feeling of freedom knowing that the only person I am truly working for: is me. I like running my little contracting company, I like being able to provide for Elina and Venla, and I like the fact that when I get bored of a contract I just terminate it and move on.

So, to help anyone else who feels the same way but needs some help making the switch, I am launching the IT Contracting Master Class. A course that takes you step-by-step through setting yourself up as a contractor and continues all the way through to what to do once you find your first contract and start working for yourself.

I have been there and done it all already, so I can save you the heavy lifting. The instructions are specific: I tell you exactly what to do and where to go. None of this “well, you could do A, B, or C”. I will give you the options, but then tell you exactly which one is the right answer and why.

Sound good?

You are probably wondering how much I am charging for such a course. That is the best bit: it is free! You can sign up for zero cost and get access to the first batch of lessons, and to my eBook First Steps in IT Contracting. If you like what you see, you can upgrade to the full course at a later date.

itmc-get-started

Register now for immediate access or visit the website to learn more.

The 4-Hour Work Week

Friday, February 5th, 2016 | Books

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich is a book by Tim Ferriss. It it he lays out his history of how we reduced his commitments and built a living from outsourcing everything to free up his time to live a fulfilling live.

He starts by laying out his vision for how everyone can do it. I was skeptical given how much of a classic self-help scam it sounded like it. I was full of promises about how great my life would be and case studies of people transforming their lives. I stuck with it because if nothing else, it was interesting.

Having finished it, I’m now sold though. This is a great book.

Ferriss makes some key points. Nobody really wants to be rich. What you want is a rich person’s lifestyle. Therefore having loads of money may not be required. Secondly, once you accept this, the aim is not to make loads of money. You just need to make enough money to cover what you want to do. Therefore the aim is to cover your costs with the minimum amount of time, thereby freeing up the maximum time for living.

He suggests doing this in a number of ways. Remote working for example. If you can get a remote working agreement, you can work anywhere in the world that has an internet connection. This is most of the world these days. Once you are out of the office you can focus on being productive and probably do your work in half the time (avoiding the half where you spend answering emails, sitting in pointless meetings and procrastinating).

Muse products are even better. These are small online retail businesses. You import a product in a tiny niche and sell it on for a large mark-up. You don’t compete on price because you are not bothered about building a huge business, you just want a revenue stream. Then you outsource everything – manufacturing, distribution, customer services. It then runs with very little input.

Finally, he talks about outsourcing your personal life. Get a virtual assistant, either in the UK or a cheaper one in india. Have them do your boring and repetitive tasks such as filtering emails, managing your diary, doing background research, paying bills and a million other small tasks.

He recommends not reading the news. I agree, and wrote about this last summer. He also advocates speed reading, which probably isn’t a thing. He reminds you of great strategies like reversal trials: it makes everything more palatable even though it is hardly ever switched back.

Of course just being able to think of a high-mark-up product in a forgotten niche is no easy thing. It reminds me a lot of the draw an owl meme:

draw-an-owl

The step is essentially “find the magic product” and that is never going to be easy. However, what impressed me about the book was it’s comprehensive advice as to how to do everything else. Want to know how to find suppliers, test the market with advertising then outsource distribution? It’s all in the book.

Ferriss gives details of all the companies, services and websites he uses. A bold thing to do in a world that moves so fast as you book will be out-of-date quickly. There is no abstract details here, it is all about exactly how he did it and practical strategies to implement.

How much of the stuff in this book I will actually be able to implement remains to be seen. Ferriss is clearly an intelligent guy with business smarts, and so replicating his success is a tough challenge. However, I was impressed and inspired by the message that it is possible to escape the 9-5. It is not the hollow book you might expect.

4-hour-work-week

Sky at Leeds Dock

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015 | Life

IMG_1534

I am working with Sky Sports at the moment, who recently relocated their office to Leeds Dock. They are encouraging everyone to talk about how good it is, so here is my contribution.

It was a smooth transition and everything is up and running. It was only a few months between signing the lease and moving in, so there is still plenty to do. It will be great when we get the other buildings up-and-running to give us additional meeting space.

It is a nice location and you get a good view of the dock.

IMG_1532

That floor is as slippy as it looks. You can pick up a huge amount of speed on the new chairs: great for chair racing. You can also see that there is no roof. This is the same across the entire building. Everything has been left exposed, which is a design feature. There are screens everywhere, so you feel like you are in the future.

IMG_1533

Noise levels were quite high initially but it seems to be calming down now. There is also a cafe that Sky subsidise. So for example, I can of pop that would be £2.50 on the high street is £1.00 in the cafe.

Whether it quite puts us up there with Google and Facebook as one of the best campuses in the world, I suspect probably not. But it is a cool place to work. And ultimately it is the people that make Sky a great place to be.

Who are the chair changers?

Sunday, September 20th, 2015 | Life

Many of you will know the feeling. You arrive in the office blearily eyed on a morning and collapse into your chair. But something is wrong. Someone has messed with your chair. The chair you spent ages getting just right. Who would do this? WHO?!?

The anxiety builds inside of you, you just want to rip out their organs then force feed them to them while their family watch on. And the injustice, the sheer injustice of it, is that if you were actually to do this, even after they had deliberately messed with your chair, you would be the criminal in the eyes of the law!

Oh, just me then?

On a serious note though, who are these people that mess with your chair settings?

I have a new theory. After discretely marking each chair in my office I noticed that when I got in after the weekend, different chairs were in different places. Perhaps it is an innocent explanation and the cleaners just move them all to one side, vacuum, and then try and put them back as best they can.

I didn’t actually do that, but I do leave my hoodie on the back of my chair and noticed it had moved a desk down when I got in. It seems quite diligent for the typical standard of office cleaning to actually move the chairs, but it is the simplest explanation.

This supplants my previous theory that it was someone who used my chair while talking to someone else and were annoyed by the settings so changed it, even though they were only using it for two minutes and had no right to mess with it. You would have to be a complete dick to do that but then we know people are when they can get away with things as the state of any office toilet often attests to (again, who walks away without flushing? What kind of traumatising childhood did you have to allow your conscious to do that?).

I think the next step is to deploy a discrete survillence camera, or perhaps buy some camoflague gear from an ex-army supplies store and stake it out.

Harrogate commute

Saturday, January 31st, 2015 | Thoughts

country-road

I have been working with a client based on Harrogate for the past few months.

Actually, I have been driving up there for over a year now. Previously I was working with a client two days a week, which was fine as I was able to drive in early and miss the traffic. It is a very pleasant drive when you do that: countryside abounds.

However, having taken on a new client, it has been more appropriate to be there standard office hours. This quickly introduced the misery of the commute. Especially as most of it has been done in the dark.

If you leave Leeds at 7am, you can arrive in Harrogate at 7:30am. If you want to be there for 9am though, you need to set off at 8am. It brings out the worst in human behaviour too. People using the right lane to avoid the queue, and then going straight on at the roundabout. It’s usually an Audi, and such drivers are worst than child molesters.

Thus I am looking forward to avoiding the daily commute, at least for a short while.

Casual Fridays

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014 | Thoughts

I am currently consulting with a company that has a dress code. It is the first place I have worked that has one (except for McDonald’s). However, like many other workplaces they have dress-down Fridays. Both these factors have caused loads of issues.

I have a business suit and an evening suit. I would say they get used for weddings, funerals and naming ceremonies, but I went to the last christening in jeans. I have a real lack of smart clothing and being in work the entire weekday and away every weekend at the moment, no time to go and buy any more. This results in some tough laundry deadlines.

My shoes are too uncomfortable to drive in, so I drive to work in my trainers and then switch. On the way home, it is more complicated though. There is loads of traffic, so I set off in my shoes and then have to do the shoe-to-trainer shuffle as quickly as I can while still creeping my car forward in the queue.

And then there is Casual Fridays.

Firstly, what is the point of casual Fridays? My view is that it is what people do, not what they look like that counts (most of the time). However, if you believe that people need to dress smartly to do their job, why would you not enforce this policy on a Friday? Are you just giving up on 20% of the working week?

Secondly, it is then stressful for your workforce. I did not really understand why Elina found it stressful, trying to work out what clothes to wear. But she does. Many people do. My colleague Paul just comes in smart clothes because he cannot face navigating the complexities of being appropriately casual. Having tried it, I now understand what they mean. What if everyone else is still in smart clothing? In the end, I decided I just did not care if that happened. However, it did play on my mind for quite a while.

Dress codes. They are not to be taken lightly.

Reference points, and pay reviews

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014 | Thoughts

In 2012 I wrote about the economic advantages I had experienced by moving companies. Although it is of course an extremely limited dataset, I had witnessed a consistent and pronounced difference between increases in my income when I stayed with the same company, and moved to a different one.

Some of this could perhaps be explained by the concept of reference points, as discussed by Daniel Kahneman in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow.

One of the issues with gaining a large salary increase with your current employer, is that your current salary forms a reference point. Say you are a graduate and took a £18,000 a year job. It is now a year or two after and your skills are now worth £28,000. All of that seems reasonable in the software industry.

The problem is that to your current employer, they would have to accept a £10,000 increase in costs – a 56% increase! So they probably make you a far more modest offer of £23,000. This then also becomes a reference point. When you ask for £28,000 that is not only £10,000 more than they pay you now, but £5,000 more than they had mentally prepared themselves for. They are left feeling like they are losing £5-10,000 a year.

In comparison, a different company can come at this from a neutral perspective. They look at what someone with your experience is worth and price you accordingly. This could result in a wider range of offers. Some high, but some even lower. However, this is of no consequence as obviously you will cherry-pick the high offers and pursue those.

Santa visits the office

Friday, December 27th, 2013 | Events

What do you do when your Business Analyst spends all his time working from home? Individually wrap everything on his desk and put it under the office Christmas tree of course.

Raj xmas 1 Raj xmas 3 Raj-xmas-2

Umbrella

Sunday, October 6th, 2013 | Photos

umbrella

After the last series of desk moves, I’ve found myself facing into the sun. There are blinds, but they’re ineffective, so to prevent myself from behind blinded I’ve had to carefully erect my umbrella to provide a sun screen. Feels like such a stereotype.

Day off

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012 | Life

What do you mean I can’t come into work today?!?!?