Beginning with a single step …

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (Laozi)

Bird taking off.I’ve seen this quote a hundred times; so have you, I’m sure. But like many cliches, it suddenly strikes me as true in the right circumstances.

So my circumstance are that I’m now an independent learning and performance consultant.

I remember many conversations in the early 90s with my Computer Based Training mentor, the late Jeff Oliver, when he encouraged me to go freelance.  OK, it’s taken me a few years and some changes in circumstance to make it possible but here I am. Thanks Jeff!

I’m still working a couple of days for the bank who have employed me in various e-roles for the last 23 years, to finish current projects, but I’m able to take on other work the rest of the time.  I hope to find work in the areas where I’ve had the most success and enjoyment in the last few years, namely teaching and applying Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping process, helping authors write scenarios and coaching new teams in instructional design.  While I’m trying to add a new skill, that of Articulate Storyline development, I’ll be open in saying that if you’re looking for advice on selecting or implementing an LMS that’s not something I’d offer.  I am interested however in the design of learning portals, indeed that’s what I’ve been doing most over the last few years, so web usability and accessibility are things I’m very keen to work on.

I’m intrigued by the Working Out Loud philosophy (read about it here, here and here, for example); my blogging life has been spasmodic as I veered between ‘If I write up this thought it might just be useful to someone’ and ‘ What do I know? Why add to the noise?’  I still do this perpetual swing from confidence to no confidence, but I discovered that lots of other writers and bloggers I follow feel exactly the same. And I do know that I can learn from putting things down on paper or screen.

So in this process I so glibly refer to ‘going freelance’ I have

  • dithered between the simplicity of being a sole trader and the tax advantages of a limited company (and decided on the latter)
  • found an excellent accountant from personal recommendations, who helped me make the decision
  • agonised about whether to simply use my own name as my trading name, or a company name, and then agonised some more about the company name when I decided to have a company. Serendipity entered play then, when I discovered lighttouchlearning among a bunch of domain names I registered a couple of years ago with the thought that they might come in handy one day
  • had to refine and try to express the areas where I think I can be useful. This is based on experience in the bank but, more importantly, a few days’ consultancy I did for charities as part of a volunteer programme the bank offered
  • listened carefully to great advice and encouragement from two friends who are freelancers, one in elearning and one in programming

What has been hardest? Surprisingly to me, getting this website together. I can knock a website together easily enough but having recently been working with my son on a WordPress project he was doing and having used WordPress for years at normanlamont.com, I decided to use it for this. I thought I’d like something quirky and consistent with the way I’ve used vintage graphics in both normanlamont.com and the elearning newsletters I did at the bank. I built a first version but decided it was too quirky – it was more like I was touting my wares as a cartoonist. I’ve trimmed it back and and am still considering how to make it more professional without becoming blandly corporate. That too was the advice of another contact, who said the difference between the first and second versions of her site was between corporate sheen and something more personal. Maybe I’ve got it wrong, maybe I haven’t – we’ll see. Let me know.

 

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