My Plans for 2020 (and beyond)

My Plans for 2020 (and beyond)

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17 FEBRUARY 2019

written by Mike

my plans for 2020

 

Long time, no see.

I haven’t been uploading anything for a while. It would be easy to blame it on work, business or life, however looking back I have to admit that it just wasn’t my priority.

Not only that. I was also contemplating why I even keep the website, and what should I do with all of it.

To cut the story short, after a few months of thinking, I’ve decided to change a few things. Before I get into the details, I wanted to talk about what prompted me into further action.

After attending podcasting meetups and workshops here in the UK, I’ve noticed that not only the space is vibrant and exciting, but also there is a massive opportunity for growth and development.

Because in my work, we usually deal with the US market, it seemed that podcasting is a matured industry. With big companies, spending and marketing campaigns.

However, when I looked at the UK and Australia, I noticed that the medium is not where the US partners are, and it is still finding its voice on the global stage.

Having the privilege of my experience in the space, I thought, how can I help and be a part of the evolution?

With that in mind, I developed a plan for this year. It will move me into the direction of growing this website as well as available resources in the podcasting space.

Here are the areas that I will be working on going forward.

 

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WORK

The work on Casefile will still be a priority and the main thing that I do daily. We have a strong team of highly skilled and capable people and are planning on creating more of what we do best – high quality, in-depth true-crime podcast.
Besides that, we also have several projects under Casefile Presents umbrella. All of them being produced by talented and passionate people, from many different backgrounds. With the Casefile Presents projects, I will be taking more of a ‘head of production’ role with the final feedback and say on the content. However, in a couple of the projects, I will be taking an active part in audio producing and possibly music composing.
It looks like it’s going to be a busy and exciting year.

WEBSITE

The website is being redesigned with a new look. More sleek, modern and kind of a Blade Runner vibe. There won’t be many changes in terms of the content here, just a facelift.

BLOG

I don’t have massive plans for the blog. The idea is to (maybe) release a new article per month.
I am keeping with the style that I developed in the past – audio, podcasting and work topics. However, it depends how much time I will have left after the new venture that will be taking a chunk of my day.


YOUTUBE

I thought about starting a Youtube channel for a long time. I’ve even released some video tutorials in the past on Youtube (they are gone now), but it never felt like a good time to start.
Few things aligned lately. Moving to a new house, I finally was able to secure small dedicated working space for myself, where I could see the videos being filmed there.
Two, I finally felt that I was ready to talk about podcasting ideas and problems as I think that my experience taught me a few things over the last four years.
Three, my brother wanted to move from his primary skill, photography, into video making. As we live together, this presented an ideal situation for him to learn the ropes and for me to get the production for a ‘family’ rate.
And four, I thought that if I don’t start now, I will never do it. It seemed that there wasn’t a similar channel about what I want to do and I knew that once the Casefile 2020 schedule kicks off in February, I won’t have time to do the Youtube. So during our break from work, I prepped everything and laid the foundations for the channel, which will make the work streamlined throughout the year.

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BOOK

For a long time, I was bothered about the fact that my book wasn’t properly edited and proofread. I’m not a native English speaker, and I knew my writing wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. Therefore I decided to send the manuscript to a proper editing house.
I’ve also added a few updates as the book was written in 2017 and a few things have changed since then.
The book will be updated with a new cover on the Amazon store.

COURSES

The first thing I wanted to do is to take the course off the Udemy platform and move it to my website. I will be doing that in the coming weeks. It will offer me more control and better conditions for future courses.
I’ve written another two courses – both about podcasting. I’m planning on recording and releasing them here this year.
I also have vague plans for another two (on podcasting again) however I will see how I get on with other tasks.

EVENTS

There are quite a few podcasting and true crime events planned in the UK this year. I will try to attend these and in some cases, have a small exhibitor’s table too.
Networking is something that I want to work on and getting out of the house will be in no doubt helpful!

These are my plans when it comes to the professional side of life. There are some changes, but it is more about doubling down on podcasting and my work.
Ultimately we will see how it all develops in the coming years, with the acquisitions, consolidations, rules and maturity of the medium. I am excited for any new challenges that it brings.

That’s it for now!
The first Youtube videos are out now, and there are many more planned. It’s an exciting experiment for me, and we’ll see how it progresses over the year.

Thanks for reading. Speak soon!
Mike

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Pros and Cons of Working From Home

Pros and Cons of Working From Home

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16 JUNE 2019

written by Mike

PROS AND CONS OF

WORKING FROM HOME

 

One of the recent changes in how people work is the focus on flexibility as well as comfort and working from home seems to tick these two boxes.

There aren’t many more comfortable places than our own homes and having an office next to your bedroom (or in your bedroom) offers a lot of flexibility with your day.

In the past, working from home meant running a business and being self-employed; however, this is also changing. More and more companies, especially ones that operate on the internet, allow their employees to do some work from home. It may be an occasional day here and there or a flexible schedule, but, I can see these options available more easily now.

Working from home still seems like a dream come through for many people, and they envy those who have that opportunity. It means having no boss, no schedule and of course no dress code as you can do your task in PJs and no one will mind a thing.

From my personal experience, after 3.5 years of working from the comfort of my home, I can say that I have a good comparison to the standard office environment.

I have had many jobs before, and in different places and even though working from home does have a lot of upside and positives, like, with everything else, it has its downsides too.

Here is a list of good and less ideal things that I found after a few years of having the office less than three steps away from my bed.

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PROS

No schedule

Matthew Walker is a scientist and professor who researches sleep, and in his book Why We Sleep, he demonstrates that we are not all wired in the same way. Naturally, some people prefer to work in the mornings, but there are also those who need a later start. Unfortunately, most companies (and services) favour a morning 9-5 routine, which for many people means a grumpy way to start a day. The obvious positive of working from home is that you can set a schedule that works for you. You can set the hours that you prefer and take as many breaks as you want.

No dress code

Not everyone likes to dress up every day, put on makeup and iron a fresh shirt. No dress code is even better than a casual one, because you can work in your PJs or your robe or wear nothing at all! No one will look at you or comment behind your back.

Services and appointment

Most people work 9-5, which means that necessary services like health appointments are either busy, closed or available for you on weekends. Same goes for gyms, restaurants and cinemas. Having your schedule means that you can book these appointments during day hours when there is little queuing. Gyms and cinemas are empty, and restaurants offer more deals as they want customers during quiet periods. It is honestly one of the best things that you gain when working from home.

 

No unnecessary meetings

Anyone who ever worked in the office understands the pain of pointless meetings, and the time wasted on gossiping near the coffee machine and just general unproductive activities that happen during office hours.

When working from home, there is none of that. When you had enough, you can stop and do what you want to do – go shopping, read a book or watch a movie. There is no need to sit idly in front of the screen staring at the clock.

No pressure

Of course, there is always a bit of pressure when working with clients however when a deadline approaches and you work alongside other people the stress feeds on itself and it is very easy to be consumed by the bubble of pressure, stress and anxiety. I find working from home much more relaxed than the office or any other work environment.

When I’m stressed, I know, it is me who spreads the pressure around, and I can’t blame anyone else.

 

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It would be to easy to list all the good things when you can sit at home and do your work. Like most things in life, working from home isn’t for everyone, and it has some consequences. Here are five things that I noted about having an office at your home that you may not enjoy.

CONS

No schedule

I am a believer that routines help to guide our days and to improve skills, develop projects and make us healthier in the long run. However, with no schedule set by managers, this goes out of the window, and it can have a negative effect on your life.

When you have flexibility with your time, there is always an opportunity to move things to another hour, another day. You can sleep how much you want, take naps, favour pleasure over work and get little done.

To combat that I have my schedule that I stick to every day and in some ways, it is more rigid that schedules I had when I worked somewhere else.

No dress code

Sitting in your robe or PJs all day may seem like a good idea; however, it can also lead to stopping in taking care of yourself. Most of us like to look good in the mirror, but when day after day, there is no reason for it, it can develop in a bad habit. It’s all about balance, I tend to work in regular clothes rather than sweatpants, but my partner likes to work in her PJs in the morning. However, we still dress up when we leave the house.

No reason to leave the house

When working from home, and especially when you are busy with work, there may be days that you spend between your four walls. Even if you live in your perfect place, be it a centre of a bustling city or a quiet residential part, you are still confined to your home office.

Add to that no need to dress up every day, leaving the house may become problematic. It’s great that you can be more productive at home, but it is so easy to sit in front of the screen all day and then watch some TV show in the evening when suddenly realising that last time you opened your front door was two days ago.

 

It gets lonely

The unnecessary meetings are annoying, and you may not like the gossiping near the coffee machine, but with time, you start to miss it. You begin to miss the chitchat with your workmates, meeting new people in person and everyday banter. Working at home gets lonely. I am lucky that my partner also works at home, but it means that we get lonely together.

The crucial bit is to go out of your comfort zone, join some activities and clubs in your area and meet people there. It is much more challenging to do when you do your work from home, and it’s harder to make new friends. 

Feedback and ideas

It is much easier to offer feedback when the person is sitting next to you.

Emails get lost, multiple time zones play their role too and, with time, you forget what you wanted to say in the first place.

Another thing is that creativity can also suffer, having multiple people in the office means bouncing ideas off each other, trying new things, listening to different opinions. When you work from home, even with a team of people over the internet, it is much harder to create that environment.

 

After a few years of working from home, I can now see that it is not for everyone. It requires discipline as well as a proper willingness to leave the house. To meet new people, you have to get out of your comfort zone, join local clubs and pick up new activities.

It is something that I didn’t think of at the beginning of my journey, and it is still something that I am working to fix in my own life. Looking at my sister and friends who lead busy lives in the centre of London, they love their office environment – the hustle and bustle of it.

My current work requires a quiet studio, so I’m glad I can do it from home and even that I’m on a different time zone than my teammates because I can do my job without too many disruptions.

However, it does get lonely, and sometimes I wish that I could attend a meeting or two, even if it were just a waste of time.

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Habits and Routines

Habits and Routines

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19 APRIL 2019

written by Mike

HABITS AND ROUTINES

 

I’ve always believed that people are creatures of habits. We do have the power to innovate, improvise and disrupt; however, most of the time we quickly fall into routines, leading some parts of our lives on autopilot.

I don’t view it as a bad thing though. Even looking at my body, most of the functions run on autopilot, and it would be distracting if I had to remember to breathe or digest my meals.

I’m happy to not think about it.

Moving outside of our bodies, daily routines as small as brushing the teeth and eating; going to work and completing monthly goals also happen semi-automatically. We are, just like with breathing, free to stop but we don’t do that, happily following the routines of our days.

I think that having a routine helps to free our minds so we can focus on things that matter, or require more attention. However, what we should think where do our routines lead us. Unfortunately, some habits can quickly develop into toxic routines that not only stop us from growing but do a lot of harm too.

The dangerous aspect is that we don’t realise when we cultivate these habits.

I had my realisation about four years ago. On the surface, I was doing good. I had a good job and a great partner. I’ve attended a gym and made time for evening leisure. However, when you looked behind that veil, the picture wasn’t as pretty.

I suffered from insomnia, sometimes having two or three nights in a row with a very little sleep, I felt tired, weak and slowly started gaining weight.

Even though the symptoms were there, I set them aside, continuing my daily, weekly and monthly routines until I crashed. It all culminated with a period of a few weeks when I became depressed and started questioning my whole life choices. It wasn’t pretty.

However, I also realised that I had to make some significant changes. I wrote down my routines, my habits, my daily actions and had an honest look at how I lead my life.

I figured that my state was the reaction to my choices and it was clear that I made some wrong ones along the way.

 

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From the list, I could see, straight away, some habits that in my opinion were doing more harm than good.

I was attending the gym, but there was no schedule, and I skipped more sessions that I went to. 

I consumed way too much coffee, and my diet needed to shake up also.

I didn’t smoke much, but two, three cigarettes per day were a norm.

I had a glass or two of wine almost every night, and I used recreational drugs for relaxation.

I used to be an avid reader, but I stopped reading books and turned into watching TV or playing games instead.

These were just some of the things that I wrote down. I needed to be as honest as possible because without that I knew that it would be challenging to turn my routines around.

Next was a plan for drastic measures. The way I laid the things out was if I take a 180-degree turn on my habits, I should feel the opposite – happy and energised.

I wrote the initial plan and got to work.

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Another thing to understand is that habits work on the same rule as compounding interest – they take a bit of time to start producing results. And this is something that throws a lot of people off.

We start dieting; we start exercising, we pick up a new skill and then after a couple of weeks, even months – there’s nothing. We feel the same or worse, and it looks like the effort was in vain.

What I’ve learned is that we need to zoom out and look at these things in macro rather than micro scale. There is no such thing as shortcuts and planning for a more prolonged investment takes that pressure off. So when you pick up a new skill that you practice three days a week, think about when you will be in 6 months, a year even rather than a month or two, and then get excited about what’s going to happen.

Also, take into consideration that more than often other people will see the results first. The best example is with going to the gym. Because you see yourself in the mirror every day, you won’t necessarily see the significant results. However, when you see some of your mates after a few months, they will certainly notice the changes! And hopefully, let you know how good you are doing.

On the other side, it’s not enough to plan for that year-long result. I’m also a proponent of tracking the everyday results, to write down your schedule and have a bit of accountability.

You start exercising – write down your daily progress.

You start dieting – plan your meals.

You pick up a guitar – schedule the daily exercises.

Habits can be about anything, and as long as they help you grow, keep you healthy and energised, they will make your life better. And inadvertently will positively affect everyone around you, without even knowing.

Yes, it takes time to form new habits, and routines so don’t give up until it feels what you are doing is natural and part of you.

I’m not saying that it is easy though, it is straightforward to destroy good habits with a few bad ones, and it happens quicker than forming new ones.

It may be challenging to start, and I would recommend a book by Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit which will help you to understand the trigger and award of your actions. And what to do to change them.

If you struggle to see your bad habits, ask your closest ones and let them be as honest as possible. Nobody is perfect, but at least you will know your starting point.

So what happened to me?

It took a long time, there were some drastic changes, ups and downs on the way but after four years I can say that at least I feel, like a different person. I look at my old habits and think, why didn’t I challenge myself earlier, why did I think it was good for me?

But, that’s the trick, when you are in the middle of something it is difficult to have that objective opinion on the matter.

Sometimes we need a little push.

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Discipline equals Freedom

Discipline equals Freedom

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17 MARCH 2019

written by Mike

DISCIPLINE EQUALS FREEDOM

 

When I first heard the phrase ‘discipline equals freedom’ said by Jocko Willink – ex-SEALS commander, author, businessman and podcast creator it immediately spoke to me.

Can these different terms be somehow related?

Can discipline be the ultimate ticket to a good life?

Most people value freedom, how much, they only realise when it’s taken from them.

During the war or under oppressive dictatorships, it’s easy to define freedom, and it’s easy to fight for it – the enemy is clear.

But what about fighting for it in 2019 in the UK, one of the strongest economies in the world?

There is no call to arms, the government is elected with a democratic vote, and most people are free to choose the life they want. In my opinion, there are still freedoms we all fight for, but on the personal, individualistic level and discipline can help to win that fight.

Financial Freedom

First freedom that most people in capitalistic societies fight for is financial. To be able to know that you have your basic needs covered – shelter, food and clothing.

What is beyond that? Once the necessities are taken care of?

To me financial freedom means being able to do what I want, to buy what I need and to go where I want. To you it may say something different; however, we can agree – it means a worry-free life with enough cash to satisfy the needs.

Discipline helps to achieve that freedom when we budget, when we save and when we track our spending.

Financial discipline means understanding how the money is made and the best way to grow it. It means knowing what delayed gratification is and why buying a new gadget with a high-interest credit card may not be a good idea.

 

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Life Freedom

Another freedom most of us want is freedom of choice in life. To be able to do what we want and when we want it. To be able to take a day off without asking anyone, to have a free evening, to pursue that long-forgotten hobby. There is no one forbidding you to sell your possessions and vagabond through life, be a nomad, to live outside the system.

However, most would like to have that freedom and also enjoy the comfort of well-functioning societies – that is more than likely impossible to achieve. But, disciplined life and adjusted routines can help to achieve the freedom you want.

The first step would be to write down goals and tasks for each day, for a month, for the whole year and stick to them.

The second step would be to get up early. Getting up and doing the essential tasks such as exercising before work, means more free time later.

Third would be set times for breakfast, lunch and dinner and to know what you will eat. It eliminates the need to think and leaves more time for productive tasks.

The rest of your schedule will be empty slots where you can do what you enjoy doing.

Work Freedom

The last freedom that we fight for is to do meaningful work. How many of you had a job when you caught yourself thinking 

What am I doing here? I am capable of much more. I should quit and follow my passion, just like I heard people say.

Well, unfortunately, the world doesn’t work like that. We need money to survive and to earn it we need to have skills that people value.

If you want to be in the position of choosing your work, you need to have the leverage of expertise and authority – disciplined learning will help to achieve that.

An example would be a novice guitar player who can only play few chords, however with everyday practice and right discipline in a place he or she can become master guitar player and have freedom of playing whatever they wish.

 

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The first time I understood the value of discipline and importance of consistency was when I was a teenager, and started attending a music school for guitar.

Like most people, I had many different hobbies, and procrastination being the major one. Before I signed up for school, I had a one-to-one interview with my future to be a teacher. Still, after all these years later, I can remember the exact moment and what he told me.

He said that he could see the passion in me for music and that he would take me under his wing; however, he also cautioned me. He told me that once I get older, go to university, find work and start living an adult life, I won’t have too much time to practice – so the time to do that is now.

If I focus on practising the skill now, it will stay with me forever.

I took it to heart, and for the next couple of years, I stuck to a strict plan that I wrote to myself – exercises, improvisation, songwriting, theory. I practised on average 6 hours a day and got good, fast.

Looking back at that time, I can say that he was 100% right. After I left school, I left the country, studied, worked and lived the adult life. And just as my mentor predicted, the guitar sat in the corner, gathering dust. Even now, being busy with different projects, I rarely pick it up just for fun, and I have two guitars within reach of my hand.

However, when I do pick it up, the memories come back. Of course, I can’t play as good as when I was a teenager, but I wouldn’t be afraid to play in front of you and given a month or two I’m sure I could go back to a better form.

It opened my eyes on what is possible when you apply discipline and consistency to daily life. I’m not going to lie; during my studies, I forgot that lesson and enjoyed living the student life for a while.

However, once I decided to leave work and start a business, I knew that there is only one way to achieve the freedom I wanted – discipline.

So what kind of structure I’m looking at, and how could you apply it to your life?

Everyone is different, what works for me won’t necessarily be good for you, but I promise that some kind of framework and planning will almost always work in your favour.

I try to keep my days open and flexible, but there is a strict structure of some elements.

Waking up in the morning is the biggest one, I get up between 6.45 – 7.15 am depending on a day. Next, it’s coffee and protein shake as well as cold water on my face – it will wake me up if you still feel a bit tired.

I sit down in front of my computer, catch up on emails, news and other things like social media, I also look at my schedule for the day and start working down the list. I keep a record of tasks for the day that I cross off once the job is completed 

About 9-9.30 it’s breakfast time – oatmeal with fruit. I watch something on YouTube or documentary on Netflix during that time.

After that is work time till around midday when I usually go to the gym for about an hour (martial arts training three times a week), after the gym, it’s lunchtime.

From lunchtime to evening (probably around 8/9pm) I work my list of to-dos for the day, with a break for a protein shake and few mini-breaks to stretch and stand up from the computer.

In the evening is dinner time, watching something and reading before bed. Unless I have classes or someplace to be. I try to be in bed around 11 pm.

It may seem like it’s very strict and structured life. However, the discipline also allows me to be very flexible with the day. If my list of things to do for the day is short, I will spend free time reading or doing other fun activities.  And most of the time when someone asks me for a favour, or if I have time to meet up or go out, I can say yes.

Why?

Because I know that I’m not running late with anything, I know that what needs to be done, will get done. I understand that discipline and consistency allows me to have the freedom to say yes.

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Is Solopreneurship Worth It?

Is Solopreneurship Worth It?

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19 FEBRUARY 2019

written by Mike

IS SOLOPRENEURSHIP

WORTH IT?

 

You may have noticed that being an entrepreneur, running a business, even freelancing became quite trendy in recent years. It seems that everyone is working towards being their own boss, having freedom of choice and control over their day. Add to that, with the development of the internet and global economy the focus is on individuality, ‘I’ has a more strength that it used to in the past.

When I talk to my grandmother, who was a refugee during communist oppression, her growing up and later life was much different from mine. It was all about community, being together and working towards goals that helped everyone around. Today, it is still about community but we all have an individual voice and a platform to project it.

Is it for better or for worse?

I can’t be a judge of that, but what I have learned is that running a team, or business works better with the ‘old days’ mindset.

Being a part of a team means compromises. It means that you won’t always get your way, that sometimes you have to admit that your ideas may not be the best solution to a problem. 

When I left my job I knew that I wanted to do something on my own – to be my own boss, make my own decisions. However, I also understood the trap, working on the business is very different from working in the business. Creating a job for yourself is easy, but creating a self-sustaining machine that works without you – not so simple.

Being part of the team means synergy – a mix of ideas that bounce off each other, that grow together and form into one solution – it’s a creative process, and it comes with pain. Egos need to be stored away, individual ambitions left outside the door.

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It doesn’t matter if I’m talking about the bigger team which I was a part of in the past, or much smaller group working on Casefile podcast. The answer is clear – I wouldn’t be able to do it on my own.

I found that being a solopreneur offers freedom, but also has blind spots. Fortunately, when we left out jobs, it wasn’t just me – it was always my partner and I. If I wasn’t sure of something – she offered her point of view and vice versa.

Even a team of just two people had an exponential advantage over just being on my own. We tend to get fixated on ideas and develop a tunnel vision that omits better solutions to the problem. Another set of eyes and ears can and often will offer a fresh take on something that drives you mad for a long time.

Of course, some work can require the alone time – art, writing, composing to name a few. Once the tasks and goals are discussed between Casefile team, we go each way and do work on our own, without supervision. That’s where the creative process of being a solopreneur helps. In the above example, no one tells me how to edit, write music or mix the podcast – that’s my area of expertise.

After the tasks are completed, we get together again and offer feedback to each other – constructive input that it’s always welcomed. There may be something that I thought was a brilliant move, but other team members don’t think so we work hard to reach a consensus and make sure that the final, in this example podcast, is polished, so it satisfies all parties involved.

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Sometimes I like being alone, and other times I hate it. When I work I close the door and can get annoyed if someone interrupts my flow. However, I also need someone – a flatmate, my partner – to be in downstairs office. Someone I can ask for a second opinion and feedback when I get stuck.

It’s not always possible to have that, but the easiest way to overcome this is the internet. Besides being a part of a fantastic team and living with creative people, I’m also a part of online communities. There are so many people around the globe that share similar ideas and have the same problems.

It’s easy to post a question, a query and ask for feedback. There is a 99% chance that someone in the past had a similar problem to yours and found a solution. It’s much faster to follow that rather than spending time on finding the fix yourself.

We are tribal ‘animals’, communities and teams thrive when they work towards the same goals, the potential of group thinking is limitless.

Think about your favourite companies, music bands, films. It’s extremely rare that these projects came to fruition without any help, with just one person doing it all. Even authors have editors, marketers, PR companies and designers that help to publish a book. It may be just one name on the cover, but you can be sure that it was a team of dedicated people that helped to put it there.

Last but not least, running and being part of a team is difficult. I’m a fan of Ray Dalio’s take on that, his ideas of meritocracy and transparency. Dictatorships rarely work out, democracy can often lead to a standstill, but meritocracy can work wonders if done right. 

I don’t want to be negative on solopreneurs and like I said before, I enjoy being alone. However, my short professional experience taught me over and over again than having a team of people is always better than trying to figure out everything on my own.

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