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November 14, 2019

Fellow travellers on the road

It’s fun when you bump into fellow travelers on the road… Matt Webb has been on his own journey for the past five years and wrote up some thoughts here.

Congrats on making it this far Matt!

I’m still testing and fiddling with webmention replies and I thought I’d highlight a few passages from Matt’s piece:

Let’s call it product discovery and market discovery. Business-speak as camouflage for feelings.

Ah… yes. Being independent drops things to feeling, emotion and identity very quickly. I recognize this.

That last point all about what we’d call in other contexts product-market fit. That hyphen is an arrow of influence that points both ways.

Marketing requires a view on what the market finds valuable; what will resonate. In my case, how clients will find and understand business value. Not only have I lacked up-to-date knowledge of what value I, personally, can unlock, but prematurely working on marketing will shape the product before it’s ready.

And what is the “product” here? Well it’s me, my practice — it’s some overlap of what I find stimulating, what I’m good at, and what helps me get future work which is the same but better. But can I articulate that? Not a chance.

There’s a few things at work here - yes you can’t escape the feeling that “you’re the product”, BUT - equally the pressure and stress that comes from attempting to find a “positioning” is mostly self-inflicted. I found it very freeing once I realized that I could continue to be the weirdo multi-faceted being I am and that clients would mostly continue to not care…

I’m not doing enough public speaking of the sort that I enjoy — I feel I’ve lost touch with my tribe, and I miss that.

Me too! I want to talk more about this but I think it’s surprisingly hard to get speaking gigs as an independent. I used to do a ton of these and now do very few. I’d like to do more but I’m not sure where to start - except to recognize that it’s a common refrain from independents….

Anyway - congrats Matt. Thanks for sharing. Here’s to another 5 years on the road for both of us!

This blog is written by Tom Critchlow, an independent strategy consultant living and working in Brooklyn, NY. If you like what you read please leave a comment below in disqus or sign up for my Tinyletter.