10 YEARS! 10 freaking years! 

Yes, ten years ago, I was saying farewell to my academic colleagues in the Department of Management and Marketing in the Faculty of Economics and Commerce at Melbourne University and making the lead to start my own consultancy. And how fast that has flown. What. A. Ride.

And here we are. 10 years to celebrate and launching Dr Jen Frahm as a separate brand. Two businesses. Gulp! Some of you may not have seen the story behind that. I explain more in the section of “what didn’t work”.

I’ve written before on the power of retros in identifying opportunities for continuous improvement and ensuring you enjoy the ride. I decided to do a 10-year retro. TLDR? Just read the headings 😉

What’s worked

Continuous reflection on purpose and values.

Before I left academia, I had done serious work with my wealth coach Nicky Stafford on identifying purpose and values. This has hands down been the game changer. Being able to make decisions based on alignment with values and purpose saves you so much time. Better still, being clear on those creates a manifesting energy. Opportunities arise as a result.

Being relentless curious and action oriented

This one is one of those things where overplayed, it’s problematic (shiny ball syndrome!), but by and large I have maintained a continuous focus on being curious about new things and how it may apply to my professional pursuits. Despite a having a research background, I don’t do a terrible lot of research before jumping into something. It’s perhaps why the agile mindset of test and learn has resonated so well with me.

Community, networks and a hell of a lot of volunteering

Six years on the IABC Victoria board, co-founding the Change Management Professionals with Kym DeLany and running that for five years, joining the Organisational Change Practitioners Linkedin group management team for several years, sponsoring TEDXCanberra for several years. You don’t get unless you give. It’s that simple. Access to people, new ideas and knowledge, friends and people you can trust.

A commitment to personal growth and professional development

Way back in the early 90s I got into personal development stuff through reading the Celestine Prophecy believe it or not. On a personal level I continued to access coaching and counselling through the years since. Whatever is going on for you for you at a personal level will ALWAYS be playing out a professional level.

Second, don’t skimp on the professional development. Invest in yourself but think about what is the wealth ROI. If the course costs you $5000 how can you get a 2x, 3x, 5x multiplier with that knowledge? Over what time-frame? Set yourself an annual budget and spend it. Some of the things that I have done that have been really valuable are paying some-one I really admired in business to walk me through how they do what they do, attending the Agile Australia conferences, attending Dent the Future, doing the course work of the Diploma of Positive Psychology through the Langley Group, and Daryl Conner’s Raising Your Game in conjunction with CMI .

Making lemonade out of lemons

I’ve had some pretty uncomfortable times. Failed business ideas, challenging clients who have behaved really badly. Collaborations gone bad.  But I tellsya, with the exception of a few of those times I wouldn’t swap them. The ability to see where there is a lesson in the discomfort has served me really well.

 

What didn’t

Escalation of commitment

Pushing on when all signals say you shouldn’t.

In the literature ‘escalation of commitment’ is the thing that is responsible for an entrepreneur success AND failure. Go figure! I think ten years on, I am much quicker to identify “pull up” this is not working and pivot, then “push on, I’ll make the best of it”

Trying to be all things to all people.

When you start out this can be a trap. To bring revenue in, you can play in too many areas and it just confuses people about your brand. Just because people will buy something doesn’t mean you should provide it. Revert to the success point on refection and values!

This is why I have made the pivot to focus Conversations of Change on education and change capability and Dr Jen Frahm on working with change leaders. I want this site (Conversations of Change) to be crystal clear in its focus – it is here to help people do change better in the workforce. All of the content, products and services will focus on that intent.

Too much focus on the one thing.

Conversely, I am fundamentally a creature of variety and creativity. When I over-invest in one particular area, one particular client I become a very blunt tool.  And that is why I have  launched Dr Jen Frahm for leaders of change. Making people better at change is not enough – we need to address change leadership as well.

 

What has been really challenging (and still is)

Balance

Balance is difficult when you really really love what you do. I come from a small business entrepreneurial family background. Genetically, I am primed to love business!! And because I learnt the lesson a LONG time ago about purpose and values, most of the time I am in flow. Which means I don’t always see the signs of working too much or too hard. To that end incorporating meditation, yoga and mindfulness into my daily practice has been SO beneficial.

Finding your professional support team

Took me a long time to get the right business resources – I’m now thrilled to have BTN in my corner as an accountant and BuzzPop Brands for brand work. I need more support though and finding the right people while you are continuing to grow is tricky. Really bloody hard actually.

Knowing your worth and holding your ground

Jeez, I know I have come a long way on this one over the ten years. But you know what, it can still trip you up. See the really difficult thing is for this to be enduring, it needs to be an intrinsic knowing and not dependant on external sources. Having said that if you can get the external validation it sure helps. But ultimately, you gotta back yourself. Why would anyone else if you don’t?

Party on?

When I realised the ten-year anniversary was coming up, I thought about throwing a big party. And then couldn’t work out how I would get everyone who has been so pivotal to my success, failures and joy to be there. So, I decided that I would spend the party funds on establishing continuing donations to one charity for every year I have been in business. And this means that for every year I stay in business, there’ll be one more added to the list and I can continue to share.

I guess it’s my version of the 1% (or a bit more) pledge

I’ve chosen charities and NGOs that I think do an awesome job of creating change.

  • Lighthouse Foundation
  • Orange Laundry
  • West Welcome Wagon
  • Smith Family
  • Headspace
  • Sacred Heart Mission
  • Good Shepherd Sisters
  • Cancer Council Australia
  • Kiss Goodbye to MS
  • IndigenousX

 

Anyway. if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of the people who have been so very important in making the last ten years happen. The stats on business survival seem pretty grim – so to make it to 10 years is so very bloody satisfying. Thank you.

The question now is what does the next ten years look like ?

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