I used to be a full-time juggler.
No, not part of Cirque du Soleil or the Arkansas State Fair.
What I mean is, I used to think I could do it all myself. If I knew how to do something, I would learn how to become better at it so that I spent less time doing it. If I didn’t know how to do something, I would ignore everything else so that I could learn. All throughout college, for instance, I became a whiz at writing term papers and booking shoots for broadcast segments. Stopping smack in the middle of writing about Plato’s allegory of the cave to take a phone call from a New York City based PR representative was the norm. Long story short, switching gears became second nature — so much so that even the ability to mentally switch between two entirely separate tasks became second nature, too. Looking back on it, I’m glad that I took up the challenge because it made me the kind of orchestrator I am today.
But a funny thing happens when you start calling yourself Boss.
That word “no” starts to manifest itself in powerful ways.
You realize that saying no isn’t at all selfish. In fact, it's an act of love for your own limits. You start to prioritize what you do best, and what you enjoy least, what you’re expert-level at, and what you’re merely proficient at. Turning down routine tasks that suck the energy out of you, bring you to a stall, or inflict harm upon your general workflow (or client projects, the most important of all because they’re paying good money for you) is less about accepting defeat and more about removing the shackles that cause you to slow your stride.
Have you ever seen that iconic scene in Forrest Gump where he goes running from some jerk kids down that long country road? His legs are in braces, but he’s so focused on getting away from them that the braces start to pop and flex, breaking into metallic shards. He’s no longer bound by what stifles him; instead, he’s liberated by what he excels at.
Do what you do best. Outsource the rest.
We do a lot of podcasting around here, along with a lot of non-broadcast interviews that inform blog posts, case studies, and other thought leadership-style pieces of content. In order for those to be pitch-perfect, they require transcription, often 30, 40, even 60 minutes or more of talk time between two people. I used to do this myself, carving out an afternoon to listen to the file, often typing so fast it could kindle a small fire.
But one day I stopped. Not because I couldn’t do it, or I didn’t enjoy it, but because it was limiting me, making me focus my attention on something that held my work back. In the hour it took me to transcribe the file, I could’ve had multiple Skype calls to check in with our clients, knocked out some big to-do’s, or allowed myself to fully enter that deep focus state required to do creative work.
Today, I’m proud to say that our good friend Chase has the transcripts covered. He’s Lexicontent’s new wingman, getting transcripts signed, sealed, and delivered in record time. He’s an expert at it, and that allows us to be experts at what we do, too.
Content is very much the same. Like I mentioned in my Cobbler’s Children post, content is a catch-22 for most agencies and small businesses. To get bigger and better work, you’ve got to give more time to your content, thinking strategically about what it needs to say, where it needs to go, and what it needs to inspire audiences to do next. Finding the time for this is can be impossible for most. Thus, Lexicontent to the rescue. By allowing us to do what we’re experts at — emotionally charged storytelling and content creation — our clients are able to sprint, just like Forrest Gump did down that country road.
No shackles. All speed.
As time goes on, I see myself outsourcing even more. I never (ever) want to be hands off with my creative client work. But everything else, like accounting, taxes, legal, or administrative tasks can all be handed over to someone who excels at that kind of thing.