How to Weigh What Matters

The #Quest2016 Prompt today is: of these 3 options, which one is most important in my work right now:

  • Quality of life
  • Quality of work
  • Quality of compensation 

(from Sally Hogshead – look at the bottom of my post for a gift code to do her Fascination Advantage test, which is normally $10.)

I started out by coming down unequivocally on the side of Quality of Life. It seemed pretty obvious when I literally quit my last career to move to the country and keep bees. (It turns out that I am afraid of bees, at least in batches of 50,000. Also, I picked a most inauspicious time to start my beekeeping practice. Also, I moved somewhere that it’s a bit too cold to keep bees without enormous amounts of effort. Which is all very sad, because I really, really like bees.)

“Life” seemed to be the clear answer. Until I thought about it more, and it wasn’t.


I have entangled a friend and myself in an early-stage-startup, which means that the compensation has been mostly in the form of satisfaction. Even that is mostly around “things I didn’t break today.” We have had (a wee bit of) revenue, which makes some of the other founders around us open their eyes really widely, but it’s still in the two figure range, so at the same time, it’s a bit mock-worthy.

I believe in what we’re working on (which is good, because I’m the one in charge of explaining it to others) and I genuinely enjoy much of the work. Life is good. Work is pretty good, even if this week involved being where I thought I’d be on Tuesday morning at close of day on Friday. Little bit of “argh!” there, but pretty satisfying on the whole.

Compensation… not good.

I’ve had only part time and occasional paid work for most of the last decade, and nearly none in the last three years. I have the indirect compensation that results from being a stay at home mother with a supportive spouse, but I am after something more obviously connected to my actions in the world. More direct.

I have got a handle on the other two. I would go so far as to say I am good at them, not merely that good things have happened to me. I made choices to prioritize them, and they became well-tended and successful.

Yet I have reached the end of what I can do while neglecting the third. The business (tomato) that I have planted in the world cannot become a living, growing, self-sustaining thing, unless I accept that my responsibility to this entity includes a focus on compensation.

And so, much to my surprise, quality of compensation it must be.

Speaking of money (which I have been), I would like to recommend that you check out Heart of Business’ Heart of Money program. I took it several years ago, and it hugely changed my experience of money. I am taking it again in this round, and I would love to see you there. It’s also Pay from the Heart, so if you are struggling with money (and of an open spiritual bent) this is a highly accessible way to get back on track.

[That’s an affiliate link, but I think you know I would never recommend something I didn’t believe in. And I certainly wouldn’t pay for it twice. 🙂 ]

If you want to check out more by Sally Hogshead, use this code by Jan 15, 2016 to discover what makes you fascinating: JOY-TPD (That’s for The Practical Dilettante. In case you didn’t notice.)

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I Shall Stop Flapping My Hands

What can you stop doing in 2016 such that it would allow you to focus on higher payoff activities? Continuing on the #quest2016… Today’s prompt is from John Jantsch, from Duct Tape Marketing.


I’ll admit that “payoff” is not generally top of my mind as I apportion my time. I once wrote an blog post about saving $2 an hour by hanging out the laundry, and how it didn’t make economic sense, but I enjoyed it so much that I was going to keep doing it. I don’t want to stop doing things I like (like podcasting and blogging) just because they are time consuming hobbies rather than the businesses they were supposed to become. (I also just published a workshop on time mastery in which I argued in favour of binge-watching Netflix if it’s part of what keeps you functional, so I may have unconventional views on all of this.)

Housework. Can I stop doing housework? (Other than hanging out the laundry, since I get pleasure from that.)

Yet I realize that it is a more directed question than that.

At our startup, we have largely stopped maintaining our twitter feed, since it was not attracting any audience… pretty much at all. We had one nice conversation with a random follower on May 25 while live-tweeting a video game. Same for the articles we were writing at the beginning of the year: crickets. (We’ve unpublished all of those and stopped writing about geeky things in general terms.) We’re trying to redirect those energies into something that has more obvious benefits to the bottom line. And make no mistake, this time I’m talking about straight up revenue.

This is the ongoing struggle: the sense that we need to do something to make an impact, yet finding that our efforts are not rewarded. All this jumping up and down and flapping of hands is so much… noise. I don’t want to keep contributing to the noise. When we build something, I still want to know how to use those channels to good effect. We’ve redirected a good portion of my time to products and marketing, but the “social media for its own sake” thing… not worth it for the nonce. We’ve given it up.

Hey! That’s a precise and non-theoretical answer! Look what I can do!


What recurring daydream for 2016 inspires you to do business as unusual like never before? Scott Barry Kaufman (The #Quest2016 continues)

My daydreams wander. Road trip to road trip, imaginary trains, ocean liners of bygone eras, whimsical and lush caravans, camels in the Australian outback… there is wandering at the core. I have a deep love of wandering, and the “wheres” and “hows” are varied. There are jungles and deserts, oceans and volcanoes, missed connections and uncomfortable buses. I imagine childlike explorations, curiosity, and unexpected treasures.

And in between… there are hobbit houses and yurts. Tiny houses, natural houses, underground caves, curved surfaces, organic materials that invite me to trace my fingers along them… textures, sensations… deep, natural, and secret waters… and community. Lots and lots of fantasies of living in small spaces surrounded by people who live in communion with nature. Villages that are walkable, permaculture designed spaces… dreaming of home and dreaming of the road, pulling in opposite directions.

In a fantasy novel, I am the unexpected member of the quest, the adventurer that must be retrieved from a quiet village life who brings with her secret, surprising, and essential skills… and hesitates not one moment to bring the pack and the bow out from under the bar and throw them on her back.


So. Business. What does this bring to my “business as unusual”?

I am currently building software. You can see that I’m not dreaming of riches or power, fame, or even impact. One of my startup colleagues said to me, “It’s not clear to me what you want from all of this.”

So. “What’s my motivation?” (she said to her director, and finding she had none, decided to answer it for herself.)

On the one hand, directly: Intimacy. Exploration. Experience. The financial and temporal freedom to pursue those things. This precludes a 10-year plan that involves corner offices, power suits and skyscrapers. It puts me at odds with the majority of the part of the world that build software (but not with my business partner, which is at least a minor miracle.)

On the other, indirectly: I have a deep love for human beings in the abstract. I don’t want liberty that comes at somebody else’s expense. I want to pave the way for others… or possibly, given my leanings, build a really nice boardwalk through the forest. I don’t see much point in my solving these problems without sharing what I find in a way that is usable.

The software I’m building is designed to share the wealth, to spread the benefits around. It is software informed by permaculture principles, and by my earlier work looking at the ethics of technical decision making. It is pragmatic and romantic at the same time. Holding this dream requires me to hold those two truths simultaneously and not to get caught in other people’s stories of what is possible.

Now if you will excuse me, I believe I may have a dragon to fight.