Working 5 to 9: Dealing With Death

Death is hard no matter who you lose.

Yesterday, I received a Facebook messenger that a long time chum of mine passed away in his sleep the night before. And it strange and for most of the day I was in shock. In total disbelief. The person who informed me, he hadn’t spoken in years. He had gotten married and moved away. I totally thought he was pulling a prank on me until I reached out to the brother of our mutual deceased friend. And the brother confirmed the loss.

Let me tell you a little something about Montoya. He was 34 years when he died, just having celebrated his birthday a little less than six weeks ago. He had political ambitions. He ran for city council in 2013 and ran for either a Senate or Congress a few years before that. He received his J.D. 4 years ago and had been working Downtown at law firm. He one only one younger brother, a niece, a mother and a father. He has a small group of friends he regularly checked in with on occasion. He loved politics. He had dreams to change the system from within one day. And he was very vocal about the political and divisive climate in this country. He was a man with a plan.

(Sighs). He was never married. Didn’t have a girlfriend or any kids. He leaves behind no legacy other than his good name and those that remember him. I didn’t expect to start having to say good bye to people l knew until I was at least 80-something. It’s hard. Its strange. That someone so young and with so much potential could leave this world so soon.

I wanted to cry today. I really did. I didn’t. I did tear up a bit, but I didn’t allow a single tear to fall. I’m sad that someone I knew pretty is…gone forever. It puts into perspective so much if who we are and what we do. That everything we do should matter. After all, our time is so limited and so uncertain. It’s all so short.

Working 5 to 9: when to lead, when to follow

Have you heard about the many faucets of ourselves? Our work selves versus our personal selves. Our authentic selves versus our world selves. The notion that we can never truly be our full selves because our environment, the people we’re around or some other forces demand a different version of ourselves whatever occasion we happen to be wrapped in. It seems a little hollow of an excuse but it’s actually how we reserve our energy for the right moments.

And the same applies to side hustling.

We have our work selves which we’re doing the job we were hired to do. And we have our hustling selves. The selves that has to step up to the plate and negotiate on our own behalf. The selves that has to be firm on pricing, invoicing and charging clients what we’re worth. These are the selves that have to exude more confidence that we know we possess, whether we feel it or not. We have to be more brave and take calculated risks whether we’re ready or not.

These are the selves very few of those closest to us will ever meet. Our interaction with our closest friends and family don’t require the same selves our hustle selves show. But that doesn’t mean we can’t step up and expose a little of our hustle selves to the world. Take charge, lead a project, reach out, connect, influence or provide advice and guidance.

We may not always be 100% our authentic selves, we can still lead with our authentic selves’ best traits.

Working 5 to 9: Lists, Lists and More Lists

I feel like anyone who has a hustle or business is always creating lists. And not just your run of the mill to-do list. But, big picture lists, breakdown list, brainstorming lists, resource lists, connections list, some other made up list, just lists, lists and more lists. It seems like there’s never an end in sight with all that needs to get done.

And yet, these lists that can overflow, that can feel so suffocating and overwhelming are also a brain dump process we’ve elected to use to strategize our next moves. And by now, we’ve all heard the science behind writing down our goals.

Oh, you don’t think to do list are goals? When we talk about short term goals, to do lists are the shortest of the short term goals. And they’re not very ambitious. They simply revolve around getting a task done that we know how to do or know we can do. Probably why they get brushed off as not much.

But lists aren’t the evil they sometimes feel like. They’re a rudimentary process system we always find ourselves going back to when we’re planning or developing. And although they arent always fun, tweaking our list creating process can elevate how we plan and better execute.

Want a better planning process. Create better lists.

Working 5 to 9: To Share or Not To Share (Is That Really A Question?)

If you’re like me, you grew understanding the concept of “secret sauce”. Now, whether McDonald’s coined the term themselves or copyrighted is up for debate, but the point is, we know the term very well. And essentially it means: that little something extra that makes you/ your business special.

But the question becomes, in an age where everything is accessible online, do you still share information? If everything is already known and people and find out what they want from just doing some research, if you feel like you have something special in your arsenal, do you share it? Do you make yourself a resource to others and share what has helped make you successful or do you still let that be your little secret?

Recently, I’ve been helping a notary in Virginia who just received her notary commission and is working becoming a signing agent. She had lots of questions. Wanted lots advice as to whether or not have a website, what kind of business cards to get and if she should get a dual laser printer. So I shared my thoughts with her and some of things I’ve been doing and I must say, I enjoyed it. I think what I really enjoyed was learning how much experience I’ve gained in my short tenure as a notary.

In all honesty, I shared a lot but not everything with this other notary. Part of me wanted to reserve the techniques I created as I continue to make notary my business and another part of me believe she will have to learn what will work for her what doesn’t. As we all do.

Would you have shared your strategies with someone else in the same or similar business with you? Why or why not?

Working 5 to 9: The Struggle is a Struggle

Above is a screenshot of a text I had with a very good friend of mine last night. We texted and chatted for over and hour and he started admitting how frustrated he’s been feeling with his life lately. He feels that no matter how hard he works and do right by the people he cares about, he keeps getting screwed over. And it’s been making him not want to pursue his own business anymore.

Which makes me sad to hear that, but I know exactly how he feels. Having been in similar situations feeling frustrated with life and the fruit I wasn’t able to produced from my labor.

And as we continued to talk with him, the more I realize how many of us big dreamers feel the same way when things are veering off track and how many have similar experiences we share. I always tell people it takes more lumber to build a mansion than it does a shack. So if you have big dreams, you’re gonna have to wait a minute. Yet, us big dreamers find ourselves frequently battling the comparison bar. We wonder why everyone else we see seem to have it better than us. Why not us? Why are we working so hard and have so little to show for it? I mean, I’ve been side hustling for 10 years and this is the first time I feel like I’m on a roll with something. So, why the elongated journey?

Big dreamers come with big blueprints. Which comes with contingencies. Setbacks. Resource mapping. And multiple visits to the drawing board. That’s just reality for us.

My friend is going to take some time out and hopefully find a way to safely diffuse his anger and frustration, but that’s something we all may need to do from time to time. Especially when we feel tired of the grind and nothing seems to be coming from it.

Like I told my friend, this is just life’s way of asking you how bad do you want a better lifestyle and livelihood.

Working 5 to 9: Down Time

There’s nothing like some down time when things are slow. You can get caught up. You can get things in order. You can catch on personal things. You can even do laundry. But down should be used wisely in between clients. And, depending how you look at it, down time be an assorted bag.

Trust me, I love when I have nothing pressing or due, but that also means I don’t have any extra income coming in. So when I get a little down time in between clients, I either prep or rest. I don’t try to overthink my down time, which sounds a little weird, I know but it’s true.

Rather than overwork myself, I brainstorm. I right ideas down. I take notes. Nothing more. If not any of that, I literally rest. I get caught on sleep. I enjoy a glass or two of red wine. In cooler weather, I’d enjoy a few cups of herbal tea. I watch an inspiring or listen to something inspirational like a TED Talk or speech. I focus on making that time about shifting my thoughts and being in positive mindset. And it’s so important to try to remain positive as possible. Juggling multiple projects, work and pretending to have a life… down time is a good thing.

Working 5 to 9: Ebbs and Flows

Just as it would be with any established business, your side hustle will experience ebbs and flows. Periods in which you find yourself really really busy. And periods where you have to go rustle up some work. And if you want a consistent second stream of income, you’ll find yourself — as they would say — “working in the business and working on the business”.

When you’re having those days in which you have a string a side hustles and deadlines to meet, those are your flow days. And not Aunt Flow. Those are good days. Days in which you are simply working on the work. And when you have days you have to find clients to do some work, those are your ebb days. Days you are working on the busines. Which is why time management needs to be our friend.

Time management needs to be our friend all the time, but particularly when things are slow. Or, if you prefer them slow, at the very least, start getting things in order to prepare for when you have a rush of clients asking for work.

And just because I said flows are good days, doesn’t make ebbs bad days. Those are just days to get situated, caught up or back on track. Those days can work in our favor too. We just have to know how to use them to our advantage when we get them.

Working 5 to 9: You Got To Be Creative Everyday

“Creativity” is one of those artisans words that when people hear, they either believe they’re creative or they believe they’re not. Some years ago, I had a film prop creator tell me that everyone’s creative. Whether they tap into their creativity is another thing. And I believe that to this day. We all possess creativity, some more than others, but the raw talent or skill is there. And when and how we use it depends on us.

And there’s no better evidence of this than in a startup CEO and someone who has a side hustle. And there’s no better way to push yourself to see what your creativity looks like than when your livelihood is on the line.

Now, as a side hustler, you may not feel exactly like your livelihood is on the line, but depending how closely you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it can just about feel that way. So being creative with what you have and how you use it is no different than creating a masterpiece that will hang on a wall in someone’s home. It just looks different and serves a different purpose.

Take the picture above of the person who taped their business cards around a traffic light pole. Most people hand out their business cards or leave them in an office with high foot traffic. “Normal” ways, right? This person chose an alternative, creative way of getting their business cards out with the resources they had.

And that’s it. That’s what it means to be creative. Working with the medium you have or that’s been provided, you can be more creative with your side hustle or future endeavors than you ever imagined. You already have all the creativity you need to get started right now.

Working 5 to 9: Hustle Hard

See that blue car? The one in the right hand lane? Okay, you can’t see what I see — or maybe not as clearly as I wanted you to see it — but that blue car has a true hustler driving it. How do I know?

On the back of his window he has an Uber and Lyft sticker and on top of his car is one of those mobile advertisements mechanisms people can get paid for when driving around town. I don’t know if you’ve figured it out just yet, but he’s putting his car to work. Literally.

That driver is taking every opportunity to make money with his car. Whether he’s shuttling people around town, or just running errands. That, to me, is the spirit of hustlin’. It’s taking each opportunity that has come your way and turning it into something that benefits you, ideally, financially.

Now, maybe you don’t have a hustle as hard as this blue car driver. Maybe you don’t want to hustle as hard as him. I don’t know, but here work seems to be what turns dreams into reality. If you’re gonna have a hustle, hustle hard.

Working 5 to 9: Making a Judgment Call

Would you believe it, I had someone call me this past Sunday at 10:35PM asking for notary services in Sherman Oaks. Aside from the fact I am a firm believer this is how Hallmark made-for-TV movies get their inspiration, I thought this guy was really out of his mind. Granted, if you search my business on Google, you’ll see that I am available for service until 10pm, but that is in select areas. Sherman Oaks is not that select area.

I said no, but before I said no, I asked the guy could we meet in the morning instead. He said something about getting his car out of impound and how the price goes up every few hours. Never have I heard that (it’s usually a daily surcharge, but whatevs), I didn’t feel comfortable getting out of the bed I had nicely conformed to, putting on real people’s clothes and meeting some strange – client, really – near midnight.

Seriosuly?

I get that, if he was telling the truth, was crunched for time, but I wonder if the role was reversed, would he meet some stranger at 12:00am on the premise of proving a service? And I’m not a bail bondsman. So I made a judgment call and told him I didn’t feel comfortable meeting so late at night. And I felt comfortable saying that to him.

As a lady, my safety is more important than my next earned dollar, no matter how much and how soon I may want to be in business for myself.