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The Entrepreneurial Free Agent and Dejobbed Small Business R&D Lab
Rants and Raves #10
A matter of life or death:
Why we want to reinvent work
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Table of Contents

  1. Around the dojo...
    • Sohodojo heads to MIT's Inventing 21C Organizations conference
    • A Readers' Club update: Group tackles Buckminster Fuller
    • Sohodojo joins Forkinthehead 'Fruitcakes Cruise 2000'

  2. It's a matter of life or death: Why we want to reinvent work
    • Jim's ditty bag - reminders of a too recent past

  3. What do YOU think? Three quick questions to go...
    • What you were thinking last week
    • What do you think? This week's Big Three...

Around the dojo...

By far the most exciting news around the dojo this week is our upcoming Road Trip to MIT's "Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century" conference on Tuesday. But don't let our heading up to Cambridge distract you from joining in our first Readers' Club discussion. And sharpen that pencil, we've got some calendar dates that are sure to interest you.

Welcome to Sohodojo,
--Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky--
Hosts, Sohodojo

Sohodojo heads to MIT's Inventing 21C Organizations conference

How often do you hear about some great event just after it's over? Or there just isn't enough time to make the arrangements and get there even if you wanted to? Well, not this time!

When we learned about the "Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century" conference to be hosted by Thomas 'E-lance Economy' Malone and Michael Scott Morton, we swung into action. Like the Blues Brothers off on a Mission, we've pulled ourselves together to be at this important day-long conference of movers and shakers bent on shaping the workplace of the next century. We'll be there to listen, sure. But we'll be there to be heard, too, on behalf of ourselves and the Sohodojo community.

Why do we feel so passionately that we need to be at this exciting conference? Well, read how The Center for Coordination Sciences of MIT's Sloan School of Management describes its "Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century" initiative:

    "The overall goal of this landmark interdisciplinary effort is to work with business leaders and others not just to understand, anticipate, and exploit novel ways of working, but also to build on a broad-based knowledge of organizations, economics, and emerging information technologies to actually invent entirely new approaches that can be put into practice. No short-term analyses or trendy management techniques are likely to provide the depth of understanding required to fully appreciate the implications of the fundamental changes now under way in society. Nor are they likely to point to realistic new possibilities. What is needed is a thoughtful and creative approach that actively synthesizes the best insights from the worlds of theory and practice to lay the groundwork for the future." (For more information look here.)

Does that mission statement have Sohodojo written all over it or what? As soon as we heard about it, we just knew we needed to be at this conference for ourselves and for our growing community of like-minded Individualists.

We have an organization model to offer, the nanocorp, which addresses some of the challenges of free agency in the 21st century. We have an R&D agenda to advance as we look for allies among the MIT researchers -- collaborators who resonate with our belief that role-based executable business modeling technologies are the software infrastructure of the emerging e-lance network economy.

Yes, we'll have plenty of opinions, perspectives and questions to bring to what is arguably the largest, most far-reaching effort to explore and shape the workplace in the next century.

If you haven't yet sent us the questions or comments you would like us to take with us to MIT, post here or e-mail us directly.

We'll have a full report in next week's newsletter.

A Readers' Club update: Group tackles Buckminster Fuller

Our Amazon Affiliate reports tell us that community members are getting more active perusing and purchasing books recommended at the Sohodojo RIBS Joint (Really Important Books and Stuff). Amazon UK, in particular, is getting hot! Are we non-U.K. small business revolutionaries going to let the Euro-community read their way ahead of us in the race to the New Millennium? We don't think so.

Regardless of where you call home, all are welcome starting next week as our Readers' Club begins a group discussion sharing our thoughts and questions stimulated by reading Buckminster Fuller's timely and timeless classic, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth.

Imagine Bucky as your kindly, wise Grandfather who sits you down to tell a story about History, Human Nature and our Free Will paths to Destiny. And he shares with you a vision -- that computers and access to information are the means to a sustainable, rewarding future for Humankind... if we can just get our heads on straight and think sanely about life on our fragile planet.

Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth bookcover

If you have not read Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, join us. Click-through and grab a copy of Fuller's inspiring book. Then join us on-line at the Readers' Club. We'll start the discussion on Monday, but the group's exploration will be on-going and open-ended.

Enrich your mind with a good pre-Millennial read... and share the experience with us. We'd all like to hear what you think.

Sohodojo joins Forkinthehead 'Fruitcakes Cruise 2000'

Fins to the left! Fins to the right! Yes, small business revolutionaries gotta party, too. But we're always thinking, always networking. And, above all, always learning new things.

Sohodojo is very pleased to announce that we are partnering with Forkinthehead on its second "Forkin' Cruise" -- an educational and business development conference-on-a-cruise-ship.

This year's hottest ticket will be a week-long tour -- from Tampa, to Grand Cayman, to Cozumel/Playa del Carmen, and then on to a wild Cajun/Zydeco Grand Finale in New Orleans before slipping back to Tampa!

Join us and you'll have a cracking good learning and business development experience while doing some serious, kick-back, relaxing. Once you have your strength back and your mind clear, there will be a rich and challenging technical and business development program to help you acquire new skills and insights to wrap around your renewed spirit.

Sohodojo will lead an entrepreneurial/free-agent/small-business track, When Doing All the Right Things is Still Not Enough... Inventing your Personal Place in the 21st Century Network Economy. This provocative track will complement the rock solid technical tracks of the rest of the cruisin' conference program. We'll use a variety of presentation and workshop formats to help you develop a New Big Picture of how to position and compete in the global, virtual Internet economy where Small Is Good.

This is a self-organizing, collaborative, evolutionary effort, so details are subject to change (like the name of the cruise... we're trial ballooning this one to see if Dave, Cathie and Nick over at Forkinthehead freak or groove on it!) Regardless of what it'll be called, we can tell you we'll sail November 26, 2000 from Tampa, Florida on the Carnival Sensation cruise ship. This fun-filled seven days and nights will be a most affordable 'working vacation' with cabins running from $639 (inside) to $719 (ocean) per person.

Mark your calendar now to join Sohodojo and Forkinthehead on the 'Fruitcakes Cruise 2000'. We'll keep you posted. You won't want to miss this one.

It's a matter of life or death: Why we want to reinvent work

When we published the newsbyte announcing that Sohodojo was sending a community delegation (AKA Jim and Timlynn) to MIT's Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century conference, we opened an Open letter to Thomas Malone and the MIT 21C futurists.

We invited anyone visiting Sohodojo to contribute their thoughts or ask questions about nanocorps, free agency, e-lancing and the small business revolution. We asked for your opinions, questions and ideas to take with us on your behalf to the MIT conference.

Well, turn about is fair play. Here's a personal reflection from Jim that gets at the heart of what drives us to participate in this far-reaching movement to reinvent the workplace and our personal relationships to it.

Jim's ditty bag - reminders of a too recent past

In our mad dash to get out the door for our last Great Guerilla Marketing Road Trip, I stumbled on a fine leather zippered bag, a small indulgence picked up on yet another work assignment far from home and not too long ago. During my Road Warrior life as an Executive Consultant in the Object Technology Practice at IBM, this little bag was never out of reach, always there, day or night, where ever 'there' was that week.

By all accounts, I had a killer job, the highest non-managerial position you could have at one of the industry giants, a Certified professional. Grade A Prime.

So why did they treat me like a slab of beef instead of the valuable, skilled, hard-worker that I was? Because the place was seriously broken. Still is. Will be for the foreseeable future. Lots of big corporations are just as broken these days, victims of downsizing distillation that too often results in the worst 'survivors' being left in charge.

Timlynn and I were both recruited into IBM's Object Technology Practice. She was there to develop a mentoring program to train more object technology folks. I was there to pursue my work in executable business modeling technologies.

What started out as our dream jobs quickly turned into our worst nightmare. The red hot politics of turf wars between the consulting practices and the education company took Timlynn as one of its early victims. I guess we were lucky that she got out and started reinventing our life, although she had to take some nasty bumps before she found the door.

I stayed inside. We were convinced that the best shot I had at pursuing my interest in executable business models was in a deep-pocketed technology company that was big enough to have a long-term strategic vision. We were wrong.

At the high water mark of my nearly four-year stint in the Belly of the Beast, I led a small engagement-based R&D team that landed $1.6 million in First-Of-A-Kind internal venture capital funding to pursue our EBM agenda.

Big salary, big bonus, power, prestige, perks. So why was it so easy, and so necessary, for us to agree that I had to quit and re-join Timlynn in our independent worklife?

The contents of that ever-present little clutch bag tell the tale:

  • small plastic brush to comb beard and what's left of hair
  • small bottle Murine for eyes that never rested
  • half-roll fruit-flavored anti-acid
  • two Band-aids (in case client draws blood)
  • one Zantac, two Pepcid - stomach acid reduction pills
  • plastic tube of assorted headache tablets
  • tube of ointment for itchy, nervous skin patches
  • half-roll mint flavored anti-acids
  • four-pack Immodium anti-diarrhea tablets
and during the last year of my stint in 'The Practice',
  • prescription anti-depressants

Killer job. Right?

Yeah, killer all right. It was killing me. There had to be a better way to live.

So we got our ducks in a line and I quit. We holed up and did a LOT of thinking and talking. What would a future look like that we wanted to be part of? What radical new ways of designing a business could rekindle the spirit we had when we were younger and the world was full of possibilities?

This is what Sohodojo is all about: creating a community of kindred spirits who want to explore new ways to do big things as small businesses... and to do it in ways that are more enjoyable and fulfilling than the dysfunctional mega-corporate work world that is both physically and spiritually killing so many of us.

We don't have all the answers. We don't even know all the questions. But we are going to make a heck of an effort to help envision and nurture new forms of business enterprise -- personally rewarding and spirit-lifting personal free enterprise -- workplace organizations that are anything but 'business as usual.'

How are we doing? Well, the journey is just beginning and we'll have to leave that to others to judge. But as to us, we know we are on the right track.

How many of those tell-tale items in my Road Warrior ditty-bag are part of my life today? Not one. None of it. Especially not the anti-depressants.

Timlynn and I have to help each other wind down these days just to be able to go to bed at night. We wake up with smiles on our faces knowing there is much work to be done today. Our work. The best kind of work. Work in an evolving elastic web of unknown and ever-changing opportunities. Fun work. Challenging work. Important work.

We're like the refugees in the film Logan's Run. We've seen the New Day Dawning and we're not going back in there. Whatever unknowns lay ahead, they can't be as bad as what we left behind. And since its a new ball game for all of us, there is a very real chance that we can each play a significant part in helping to shape the workplace of the 21st Century. This is what drives us. This is what motivated us to start the Sohodojo community.

So we are heading up to Cambridge to find, or make, a place for our contribution to this grand movement to reinvent the workplace, to invent the organizations which populate the network economy. We hope we find collaborators at MIT and among the attendees at the conference. But if nothing comes of it, at least we will have been there representing the interests of the fledgling nanocorp community and our growing band of small business revolutionaries.

We say, no bounds, no limits. This is one way we are proving to ourselves that we mean what we say. Helping to reinvent work is not just a 'bandwagon du jour' thing with us... it's quite literally a matter of Life or death.

What do YOU think? Three quick questions to go...

Each issue of Rants and Raves includes a mini-survey of three timely and topical questions. The results of each poll are reported in the following week's newsletter.

What were you thinking last week?

As you might expect, our Rants and Raves readers are an opinionated bunch. And no matter how diverse our backgrounds or personal business visions, we share some common beliefs about the 21st century workplace.

Asked, "Which statement would you say best represents you?":

  • one third of you are 'nanocorps'
  • another third are 'nanocorpers-in-training'
  • and the rest are evenly divided between 'free agent' and 'other'

Not surprisingly and reflecting the bent of our loyal readers, when asked "What section of the Sohodojo website is MOST interesting to you?":

  • three-quarters of you like Rants and Raves best
  • the Small Business Revolutionary forums and
  • The Open Fork Alliance were blips on the screen

And, perhaps most revealing, when asked "How do you expect to end your personal worklife 'career'?":

  • no one thinks they will be in a job when they end their working days
  • over 15% of you expect to end worklife as a free agent
  • a third of you expect to be a nanocorper with a handful of dejobbed virtual companies as your subsidiary holdings
  • and a little over half of you said "I don't know, that's why I am hanging out at the dojo!"

So what does this first poll say about the Sohodojo community?

First, your responses tell us that our newsletter is working as an 'outreach' component of Sohodojo's business development strategy. But we need to do a better job of creating and pointing you toward 'must-see' content on the Sohodojo website which will stimulate readers of our newsletter to become regular visitors to our site.

More importantly, your answers tell us a lot about who we are. Sohodojo is a growing community of kindred spirits who may not know what the future holds, but we are excited about finding our place in the new reinvented workplace. We are Doers and Thinkers, not Lost Souls looking for get-rich-quick answers.

Sohodojo includes folks who see themselves as free agents interested in exploring the possibilities of entrepreneurial collaboration rather than simply settling for work-for-hire contract work.

A full two-thirds of you already envision yourselves as living large by being ruthlessly small... that is, you already see yourself as a nanocorper or you are a nanocorp-in-training.

And isn't it interesting that no one believes they will end their working career in a job!?

And finally, the fact that fully half of you are hanging out at Sohodojo because you are seeking answers to intriguing questions is most encouraging. If everything was obvious and all the choices laid out for us, life entering the 21st century would not be so exciting.

None of us know just what the future holds for us, but we are willing to change and evolve individually and as a community. In this respect, Sohodojo is developing just the way we hoped it would, as a community of like-minded adventurers interested in shaping our personal and shared futures.

This week's Quick Three... What do you think?

Our polling process is simple, but effective. Simply follow these steps and give us a piece of your mind:

  1. Select all text starting at '------Start copy here------' through '------End copy here------' and do a COPY to put the questions on your editor's clipboard.
  2. Paste your questions from the clipboard into your pollster reply message.
  3. Put an 'X' on the line in front of the BEST answer for each of this week's questions and send them back to us.

We respect your privacy. Totally. Nobody gets access to ANY information you provide us for any reason. Period. Your participation in our community dialog is crucial to helping improve Sohodojo.

------Start copy here------

A. Is Microsoft a monopoly?
_____ Yes
_____ No
_____ Undecided
_____ Unsure

B. Does it matter?
_____ Yes
_____ No
_____ Undecided
_____ Unsure

C. Are you a consumer hurt by Microsoft?
_____ Yes
_____ No
_____ Undecided
_____ Unsure

D: If I could tell Jim and Timlynn a thing or two, it would be:

------End copy here------

( Click and paste, respond and send.)

As always, thanks for reading this issue of Sohodojo's Rants and Raves newsletter,
    --Jim Salmons and Timlynn Babitsky--
    Hosts, Sohodojo

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