Tribe of the Free

I’ve just put down the incredibly readable ‘Tribes: We need you to lead us’ by Seth Godin for the third time.

Do you know what?  Of all the things that I love about freelancing and running KindredHQ, it’s the tribe that we are. Online and at our pop-up coworking events, we are pulling together and something amazing is happening.

At first, I’d expected that we would be a small group of creative freelancers.  I’ve always said that the creative industries have a long legacy of loose freelance and associate networks.  People who naturally gravitate towards each other, supporting, connecting, communicating in ways that the corporate world could really learn from.

But I wasn’t anticipating the sheer breadth of talent, from across industries, geographies and ages.  I’m utterly convinced that we have crossed the divide from outliers to the mainstream.

When you ‘go freelance’ after a career in organisations, you lose your working tribe.  As salaries fall, and benefits packages aren’t what they used to be, to be honest, it’s one of the few strings that keeps people attached to the corporate grind.  The knowledge that you aren’t alone, that you can share a language and culture that is wholly unique to your organization.

But that’s changing, and new tribes of independents and freelancers are emerging.  Just look at Meet up, and you’ll find all manner of specialist groups gathering together for fun and to make work easier.  Our Pop-Up coworking events are filling up with a new tribe of people who know that they are at the vanguard of a new way of working fluidly.

This tribe knows that creating change and opportunity is far less likely to happen in the offices of Multinational PLC.  Today, we are all able to make stuff happen, make money and market it ourselves. Because we are independent, we don’t have to gain consensus before we do anything, we can just do it.  We don’t even have to do one job at a time.  We can do several.

Be honest. If you have worked (or still do work) for a large organization, you will know that the company mantra, the vision statement is probably a long, long way away from the reality of your day job, even if you are senior within the organization.  (Particularly if you are a senior manager).  They get too big and unwieldy to do anything remarkable.  Regular paychecks and bonuses create complacency and an ‘it can wait until tomorrow’ mentality.  Harsh. But true.

We are all hungry for connection, meaning and change. And yet, so many of us are sleepwalking through our lives and work, too afraid to question whether compliance is doing us or our companies any good.

What’s amazing about our tribe is that we are all people.  As in individuals.  But working together.

We’ve all got a drive to make things happen and whilst we are passionate about our own subjects and ideas, we also recognize that we are much more powerful when we are helping each other to realise them.

We have our own rules, which we are frankly making up as we go along, but somehow it seems to work.  We all know that we are part of something big, and that this idea that we can be a tribe of individuals is slowly taking hold.  We’ve started to become confident that the balance of power in working status will shift in our favour. It’s started slowly, and still feels like an underground movement.  I’m conscious that we need to nurture this idea, help it really take root and spread the seeds of this change in the way we think about the workforce far and wide.

I need your help to do that.  I want you to find someone you know that is preparing to ‘go freelance’ and I want you to bring them along to one of our coworking events, or introduce them to our online community. Help them to know that it’s going to be OK, and fun, and worthwhile in terms of the better work that they will do, and potentially, even the money that they can make.

Please spread the word too. We shouldn’t have to put up with mediocrity and exclusive, cumbersome old networks.  Help us to help you make change happen.

You can join the KindredHQ tribe here!






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.

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