Saturday, 9 August 2014

Freelance living

I am listening to a great audiobook at the moment, Quitter by Jon Acuff.

For those who know his story, can I please say that I started blogging before I got this book. I hope this makes me look less lame.

There are many awesome pieces of wisdom in his book, carried across in a relaxing conversational style. Only one of these nuggets I want to write about today and expand on slightly.

Jon discusses his previous job before his dream job and starts talking about how he was stealing from work when it came to work hours. His employers paid him to work for a certain amount of time but his blogging ended  up leaking into his work time. Excuses like 'I can do the work they need me to do in less time' and 'my real passion is the one that's more important' both rob your employer of funds that they are spending on you per hour. If we were the employer it would be very easy for us to agree that those reasons are total BS.

I started thinking about what my employer pays me to do and my attitude towards it.

Let me give you some background into what I do for a living. I work at a company that buys foreign money from partner banks at lower margins. You might not know this, but depending on where you live and which bank you use, you're not getting the same rate as on the TV or radio for the forex you buy when you travel, pay invoices or emigrate. This is why there is a market for our company. I run the corporate dealing desk, making me in charge of the margins and profitability of this side of the business.

My day consists being available for my clients and staying in touch with them about their FX requirements. When they have to buy some USD, CAD, GBP, or whatever currency they might need, then I would give them a price and send them the invoice for it. Viola! Money in the bank! Literally!

...Unfortunately it's not that simple. I won't bore you with the details but the description above is the basic premise of our business.

The part where Jon's wisdom comes in to challenge me is that I feel like there definitely are times that I do things that are not what my business pays me for. I might end up doing things like trying to help a client with a query that someone else in the business is much better suited to. Or using company time to look at watches I want for my birthday. Or trying to position myself in a way that would make me do less of what I am paid to do and more of what I want to do.

The last point is probably the most relevant. You see, I really want to spend more time on niche clients and do analysis on their business and their needs. I want to work on products that we don't have yet and would set myself up to be too good for the job that I am doing now. It's quite natural I guess.We always want to be pushing ourselves forward. But I still feel like my approach could be different in this regard. I have a feeling that I could make more time to do the basics things that I was employed to do in the first place and be more effective in the way that my performance is measured at the end of the day.

Jon's solution to this problem is to think of our employer as a client and our salary as billable hours. We wouldn't dream of billing a client that we were doing freelance work for for hours that we spent doing something outside our mandate. The same should go for work.

My thoughts drifted to the other areas of life. At the end of the day I felt like it was a question of resources. One party had spent spent some of their resources on another with a specific expectation or outcome in mind. The second party received resources on the premise that they provide a certain return.

Consider algebraically that the two parties and the resources are interchangeable with different elements of a persons life. I am the employer who engages my resource of time with my friend whom I expect to provide me with the outcome of a friendship and increased trust. If my friend takes my resource and gives me something less than what I expected then I would feel like my resource could perhaps have been spent better on something else. Perhaps another friend that would have got the job done. Wow. It's an incredibly robotic view of people, but are our basic needs that much more complicated?

What are my resources? Time, money, emotion, energy. What do I spend them on? What am I getting for it? What resources are others spending on me? Am I getting a good deal on what I am spending or am I being short-changed? Am I a good employee when it comes to what others spend on me? 

Makes you feel like making a list doesn't it? 

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post... never thought of my employer being a client before.