Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Journey of a Thousand Miles .....

begins with a single step.

I've moved imperceptibly from a quiet existence, where my main concern was finding work to fill my time to the centre of a maelstrom as I prepare for the launch of A Friend in Every City and gear Ecademy Press up for future growth and development.

Ecademy Press is a virtual business, made possible by the digital age. Without digital printing, we could not offer Print on Demand, allowing us to run without carrying expensive book stocks. Without the internet and broadband, we couldn't develop books and upload them for printing as easily and cheaply as we do. Covers are developed using software (though some start out life as real sketches) and the book is typeset from (usually) Word documents created by the writer directly. PDF files have made it possible to create finished files and know that the printer will see them exactly as intended.

The business can, therefore, keep small and lean as it grows. We contract for printing and distribution with external companies. The authors are freelance as are our designers. We need to develop books and run operationally (essentially Project Management), to account for our business, pay our bills and raise our invoices, to market our books and to ensure that Ecademy Press is as accessible (by web technology) as we can make it. The form of leadership cannot, therefore, be hierarchical because there isn't a hierarchy.

So how does one 'lead the way' in a network. The answer is by setting standards. The quality of the books we accept for publication is important - we don't vanity publish. The quality of the design and production process is important, too - we want a reputation for producing good books that last under use. Our customer service has to reflect what the customer wants to receive. That means, I guess, keeping in touch with the customer base and seeking out feedback.

We can't compete as a generalist publisher with a huge list of blockbuster titles from celebrated authors - there are many who already do that well and they have the capital to invest in that approach. We are niche and we have to be good at what we do - actually we have to excellent at what we do.

To be excellent means that we apply the resources we can to ensure that we meet all expectations of us to the best of our ability. That means that more of the business will need to be delegated to other people - and the likelihood is that they, too, will be freelance working on a contract basis with us.

In a network business - and even the big hierarchical businesses will have to adopt more or less of a networked model - leading is not about the "bark of the Sergeant Major" and the giving of orders. It is about leading by example, by setting standards and encouraging everyone to care enough to meet them. It is about a win/win.

Thanks to my friend Martin Dewhurst (who I've never met IRL) for this quote "Unless we all win, we all lose."

Friday, April 21, 2006

Leading the Way - a tough question

A few nights ago, Jude posed a question that, on the face of it, seemed very simple to answer. She asked "Consider, how would your life be different if you were leading the way all the time?" Obvious I thought .... and then thought again. Not so obvious. Time for some thinking. So far that hasn't worked out - at least it doesn't feel to have done - so I'm here working it out in the words I write.

How did I get to where I am right now?
It has been a gradual process. A sort of quiet withdrawal from mainstream competitive work into a quieter - but less lucrative - way of living and working. My working life has been a series of transitions and changes in any case. 10 years (from leaving school at 16) in the police, a short time working as a retail shop manager, retraining into IT and spending nearly 10 years working for retailers B&Q and Texas Homecare on systems and merchandising until, in 1989, I was made redundant and changed into an IT salesman and consultant. I spent nearly 8 years selling Electronic Data Interchange systems, getting involved along the way in the trade body for EDI and serving four or five years as a Director of the EDI Association which became the E Commerce Association which then merged with the ANA to become e Centre (now GS1 UK).

In 1996/7 I was diagnosed with Diabetes and my health began to deteriorate steadily during that time. I was running a startup division of a middle sized IT Distributor and fighting to keep it open and trading - a fight that was ultimately lost. I moved on to the supplier of the software I had been distributing and experienced my worst year personally and professionally. My health (and that of others around me) was quite poor and the pressure of the role began to tell on me badly. I eventually left that job and decided that I would work for myself.

Self employment has been the way I have survived since then. It has been survival rather than thriving. It has taken several years for my health to stabilise but I am now beginning to feel well and to have energy for the first time in what seems like years. What energy I have had during my self employment has gone into developing training for e-commerce and into briefly teaching that subject at MBA level.

Writing has always been a passion of mine. As with all professional writers, I believe that I have a play or novel inside me and have tried, over the years, to get one or the other out on to paper. I've done Arvon courses with well known writers but as soon as the course ended, so di the writing. In 2001, I enrolled on a post graduate Professional Writing Course in Falmouth, Cornwall, UK. I can see the college from where I'm now sitting writing this. In the eight months of the course, I found it very hard to adapt to the structured world of college but did enjoy the opportunity to write in a number of formats, genres and styles every day. I also fell in love with Falmouth and the surrounding area.

Completion of the course led me back into the day to day worry about finding work and getting paid. With the course behind me, I set about re-inventing myself as a writer. I found freelance work at realtively poor rates of pay and worked towards more respectable pay for professional articles. Information Security chose me thanks to an editor who challenged me to produce an article based on a conference on that topic that I attended in Prague. I went on to write several more articles for that editor and his magazine.

In 2003, I joined the networking site Ecademy.com and began to make contact - online and at meetings - with as many people asc I could. It was as much an education as a search for work. I could see how having an online site would maintain connections between meetings and sometimes without a meeting. There are still many people who I count as friends on Ecademy with whom I have only ever had a virtual realtionship.

I met Thomas Power in 2004 and we hit it off immediately. There was resonance in our meeting and it led to me working with him on a guide for Ecademy Club Leaders. I invested in Ecademy Life Membership in late 2004 and embarked soon afterwards on the writing of a book with Thomas and with Penny Power, Thomas' wife and the founder of Ecademy. The book is in the process of being published by Ecademy Press at the moment. Called A Friend in Every City, it covers the current activity in networking and how that might change, and be changed by, the way we work in the 21st century. The book also gives advice and guidance on networking as an art and science.

It was through Ecademy that I first met Jude. We were both attending a course being run by Roger Hamilton on Wealth Dynamics in London and we were able to chat about some quite important things. Jude has a way of finding information and using it subtly to spring more information out of you. I was not an unwilling subject, anyway, as I'd tried many ways to recover myself and my identity including an intensive weekend course called the Mastery, counselling skills training and NLP Practitioner training. We got together late last year to do the process that resulted in my N-Code™ of 'Leading the Way'.

So what is leading the way to me?
That long and quite involved history is important only in that it shows that I have been involved in leading for quite a bit of my working life. I have managed teams directly and I have managed processes through influence and technical knowledge. So long as I have been able to see where I fit into a process and what I can offer, I have been able to learn new roles and operate effectively in them. I can master a brief quickly and put it into action accurately.

Leading the Way has had connotations of being on the next page (or further) than most of the rest of the organisation I'm part of. It has less to do with command and control and more to do with shaping and directing mostly intelligent and competent teams. I'm a concensus manager but an outfront leader, contstantly learning and applying that learning to what I do.

Being part of something is important to me, though I am unlikely to buy into too much regulation. I need to be able to be in charge of my own workload and direction within a framework of goals and objectives. Working alone has been a shock to my system, as the sense of belonging has been stripped away. I'm now returning to more structured environments with the book and with the publishing company and I have been leading the way within that.

Where could I lead the way more?

I'm overweight, unfit and diabetic. One of those three things will not go away but the others can. I need to start by leading myself into a place where I can find and use the reserves of energy that I need for other development. So wieght down and fitness up. My diabetes is currently well controlled and must stay that way.

I avoid confrontation. This is fine where there is real aggravation because that is just a sensible reaction to have. Where it is a problem, is where the confrontation is imagined or anticipated rather than real. In order to lead the way as part of Ecademy and of BlackStar, I need to put my point of view clearly, argue effectively and come to a good decision with the others involved. I simply don't do that. Instead, I read things that I feel I should get involved with and either feel the sinking feeling of impotence or the flash of frustrated anger. Neither emotion is good for my health - physical and mental.

So, if I were leading the way more often and consistently, I would be less frustrated and feel more in control. I would be clear in my objectives and balancing my work with other aspects of my work. I've been looking after my wife after a major operation recently and our walks, by the sea in the middle of the day, have been excellent for de-stressing me. I live in a great place. I chose to live here and between us we made it happen. I must never lose sight of the reasons I'm here.

I'm getting older now and the incidence of people my age and younger dying is getting higher. If I am to leave something behind that justifies my life, I have to be thinking about what it might be. I've had my part in raising three great children - now all young adults - but I have it in my mind that I want to be remembered for mor than that. It is likely to be something that I write that will do that. Ideally, it would be fiction but, if it is to be non fiction, A Friend in Every City is a good placce to start. What it must do is to inspire and educate generations to come, in the way that I've been inspired and educated by those who left their mark on the planet before me. As a game show host, I forget which, used to say - "It's make you mind up time."

Friday, April 14, 2006

Andy's journey ...

Andy chose to discover his N-Code™ by going through the LQ Proccess™. His initial journey was begun many months ago when he began working with me to integrate the personal awareness he had gained by going through another process. It was this integration journey that has brought him fully to his N-Code™ - his Behavioural DNA.

Andy due to time pressures did not complete his integration journey - this is something he wishes to rectify as he wants to leverage his Behavioural DNA to improve his performance and personal success. He is a professional writer and has decided to blog his journey ...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Your N-Code™ - an explanation ...

An individual's behavioural identity, their N-Code™ cannot be changed on a whim or be influenced by outside factors, it's fixed nature means that you can have confidence in it.It’s your central strength, who you are and what you do. It is the one thread that runs through your life, it is what you bring to everyone you interact with. It is important to know what it is about you that is unique, what drives you, what innate skills that you have, and how to make this work for you.N-Code™ is like your DNA, who you are and what you do. Once you have discovered your N-Code™, you will learn how to be more successful and have better performance, and love what you do.

Friday, March 31, 2006

More about the N-Code™

Extract from Jude's Ecademy Profile gives a quickie defiinition of the N-Code™. No doubt she will add more as the blog develops.

Working with Simon Phillips of Simesco Ltd, we have developed a powerful tool that pinpoints how you specifically produce the results that you not only find the most rewarding but also bring you the greatest success. This tool is called the N-Code™ It utilises techniques developed by some of the planet's greatest performance leaders and coaches. We take you through a process of discovery that will make a profound impact on your business, social, and personal life.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Why Seeing the Code?

This blog is an experiment and a journey. Judith Germain and Simon Philips have developed a process - the N-Code™- that allows people to find a phrase that best describes how they work (my description - Jude will add hers here later). My phrase is 'Leading the Way'.

Problem is that I'm not doing that these days and I'd very much like to get back to doing it again. So this blog will follow that journey as I move from where I am now to where I'd like to be.

Who am I?
I'm a writer and publisher who has a former working life as an IT Analyst and Manager, a retail systems expert and IT salesperson. he move into writing happened in 2001/2 and publishing happened in 2005.

I'll be adding thoughts here as they arise and the intention is that the whole process will be mapped through our contributions.

Let the journey begin.....