Spice it up

KindredHQ’s Alex Butler gives us her recipe for independent life.

I was asked recently to give an account of my ‘successful’ career to a group of first year business studies students at the Cass Business School in London.  I told them that back in the day, as a fresh faced graduate, my ambition was to get better and better at marketing and advertising.  That’s what it was all about.  Getting ever more specialized and relentlessly stepping upwards towards a great salary and recognition for your experience.  We even called it the career ladder.

Except that it didn’t happen like that for me, or for many of the people with whom I associate these days.  Our so-called careers have been an eclectic mix of old skills honed and new experiences thrown in with the odd bit of free-fall.  Thinking back; I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The fact is that I was probably only ever going to be average at marketing.  And I was never a particularly good manager.  I was much better facilitator, relationship builder and storyteller.  Turns out that those were the critical skills to have.

I don’t think those students should listen to me.  What do I know about what they will be doing in 20 years?  But these are the four things that I shared.

1) Build relationships not careers.

If you are working independently, you will know how important it is to invest in your relationships.  I have never taken on a freelance project that came through a job board or from a quick business card exchange.  All these opportunities have come through relationships.  Often from people who I’ve worked with in the past, or part of my extended friendship base.

The adage used to be ‘be nice to people on the way up, and they will be nice to you on the way down’.  (rememb

Who is Alex Butler

Hello, I'm Alex Butler and I founded the KindredHQ community and blog back in 2011 after I re-started a freelance career. I LOVE freelancing and I wouldn't swop the freedom, control and joy of working for myself for anything. But I realised how much I missed the company and energy of other people - of having a team around me. So, I got a few people together one day with our laptops, a jar of coffee and some jelly babies and we sat and worked together one afternoon. We've been doing that every week in London, UK since then! I am still 100% freelance and I like to share the everyday highs and lows of being a freelancer here on the blog.