Sixty five.

When you’re not sure about a new opportunity.

In this episode, Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to a question from coach, leader and feminist Lisa Townsend. She says:

“I need some help to work out which opportunities are for me and which to say no to!

An opportunity to collaborate comes my way for example and my mind automatically lists off all the negatives/worst case scenarios. I’ve been wondering lately if that’s just the fear of feeling like I’ve potentially got someone else to answer to (which is why I left employment) or whether the opportunity just isn’t right.

How can you make a best guess about a new opportunity, without having any prior experience to relate to?”

• • • • •

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Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.

Here’s what was said in this episode:

Comments on the previous episode:

[00:01:52] – Frankie
You’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast, where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life with kids in the mix. I’m Frankie and this is Steve.

[00:02:02] – Steve
Hello! Yes, each episode, we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids Community, do our best to answer it, but we start each episode by looking back at the last episode and taking your comments.

Now, the last one was a while ago because we’ve had an extended break for Easter.

[00:02:15] – Frankie
Yes, it’s been four weeks? What was the last episode about? Can you remember?

[00:02:19] – Steve
That’s what I normally ask you.

[00:02:22] – Frankie
Oh, it was about the schools going back!

[00:02:23] – Steve
Yeah, it was Kate Nikityuk’s question about how to bring yourself back to life as the kids go back to school, but you’re feeling exhausted. Thank you so much for your comments.

[00:02:33] – Frankie
Rose Parkin says:

“I’ve had what I’m calling ‘homeschooling jet lag’ since they went back to school.”

[00:02:39] – Steve
Jet lag, that’s a good term.

[00:02:40] – Frankie
Lots of people liked that comment and were like,”’yes, that is exactly the right description!”

[00:02:46] – Steve
David Brimble said:

“I think it’s so important not to judge how you feel by how other people appear to feel. I’m quite the introvert, so I frequently need to convince myself to take some time to recharge and that’s in normal times. Some people may have loads of pent up energy they can unleash. I am very happy for them, but that’s not how I’m feeling and I’m not sure that is the case for many of us.

Yesterday, I returned some books to the library and took some jeans to the menders. Today, I feel able to take on something a bit more chunky. Mood is a weird thing and sometimes I know I need to take a step back and deal with some household trivia. For some reason, that works for me.”

[00:03:23] – Frankie
Love a bit of household trivia. How many legs does a bar stool have?

‘LeStich’ says:

“I think people tend to forget that in the last 13 months, no one has managed to go on a proper holiday. I mean, a holiday where you properly disconnect, but you don’t need to think about distancing measures, where you don’t feel paranoid about taking a plane, where you don’t need to think about your job stability, etc, etc. It will take a lot of time for us to get back to our pre-covid mental health. For now, stay strong and have some well deserved ‘me time’!”

[00:03:54] – Steve
And remember how Kate, who asked the question, had said she’d given herself, like..

[00:03:58] – Frankie
…one day of rest before she started working? Yeah.

[00:04:02] – Steve
So, Jo Shock got in touch and said:

“I don’t think one day even scratches the surface of what we’ve all been through, not even a week. I reckon it’s going to be a long time before we feel normal again, so not expecting so much of ourselves is so important. I also think we’ve been so starved of other experiences in other places, the inspiration for everything is running low. Having said that, I do have a nagging sense of having put various tasks on the back burner for so long that I’ve lost all belief that I’ll actually ever get to them.”

[00:04:30] – Frankie
I am with you on that, Jo.

Our answer to this week's question:

[00:09:56] – Frankie
This week’s question comes from Lisa Townsend who is a coach, leader and feminist. Her website is

Lisa says:

“I need some help to work out which opportunities are for me and which to say no to. An opportunity to collaborate comes my way, for example, and my mind automatically lists off all the negatives/worst case scenarios. I’ve been wondering lately if that’s just the fear of feeling like I’ve potentially got someone else to answer to (which is why I left employment)? Or whether the opportunity just isn’t right. How can you make a best guess about a new opportunity without having any prior experience to relate to?”

[00:10:31] – Steve
So how do we figure out which opportunities are good for us?

Okay, I reckon we’re probably going to list a load of filters to sort of run this through, aren’t we? But in order to even put those filters into check, I think you need to think about what your priorities are. What are you trying to achieve at the moment? And maybe in order to do that, you need to even go into what your goals are.

[00:11:00] – Frankie
‘Start with your why’.

[00:11:02] – Steve
What is your plan? Where are you trying to get to over the next five years or whatever — which is a bit daunting, but presumably you’ve got some sort of idea in your head and if you don’t figure out what that is, then it makes it harder to make the decisions.

[00:11:17] – Frankie
I see what you mean. So you’re looking at what the work is or the things you want to be doing now and in the future and does this align with those things, essentially?

[00:11:25] – Steve
Yeah, because if you’ve got too much opportunity coming your way…

[00:11:31] – Frankie
Woah, that sounds good!

[00:11:31] – Steve
Every opportunity has a cost to it, doesn’t it? Time-wise if not financially, or both? And so, yeah, you’ve got to know what is going to act as, I guess, like a stepping stone to get you somewhere and what is just going to take you off in a completely wrong direction.

[00:11:48] – Frankie
Yeah. Even if it’s not like a timeline, as a linear thing, it could be… “What are my values? What are the things that are important to me and my brand? Is this in keeping with that?” And if it’s not, “does it then align with where I want to be in the future?”

[00:12:08] – Steve
Often, I guess it’s like a gap that maybe we’re trying to fill. Is the opportunity going to fill a skills gap where you think, “oh, I’ve not done that thing yet, but I’m pretty sure I could”. And so you can give that a go. Or an experience gap where maybe you’ve not done an online workshop before and somebody offers you a chance to do that. And you’re like, “okay, I can finally get into that”. Is there a gap in your ‘audience’ of potential clients for the future? And will this will put you in front of some of those people? What ‘gap’ is this opportunity going to fill?

[00:12:41] – Frankie
Ultimately, this opportunity is in your inbox because the person who’s putting it to you wants something from you and is going to benefit from that. Right? If that opportunity is literally a paid gig, then obviously they need your skills and whatever. If that opportunity is a collaboration or a talk, they’re asking you because it’s going to benefit them and their business or whatever their plans are.

I think looking at exactly what you just said, what are the benefits to me, whether that’s paid or otherwise? And is that equitable? Is that relationship balanced and fair? And if it’s not, is it worth it for me — for whatever reason — to take it on? But also, do you literally have the time or the energy? Particularly right now? A lot of people are just getting their head down and prioritising on doing the bread and butter shit, if that — just getting stuff done needs to get done. And maybe writing it down and making a list and thinking about the pros for you is one way to balance that out.

[00:13:41] – Steve
Sometimes people might get in touch and they sort of flatter you, right? And the flattery makes you go, “oh, this sounds like something good to do”. But actually if you take away the flattery…

[00:13:49] – Frankie
It’s just a really shit ask…?

[00:13:52] – Steve
Because as you say, most people want something to benefit them and that’s just the way the world works. But try and strip away the flattery — which is striking a chord emotionally — and think, “hang on, what are they actually asking?”

[00:14:06] – Frankie
I think it’s interesting that she says, “I’ve been wondering lately if that’s just the fear of feeling like I’ve potentially got someone else to answer to.” So, she’s used to working on her own and then an opportunity comes to collaborate or work with somebody else. She’s saying she’s automatically coming up with reasons not to do it because maybe she’s wary of having to work with somebody else in like, a formal way, I guess.

[00:14:28] – Steve
Right, yeah.

[00:14:30] – Frankie
I think that’s very interesting. And I think there’s probably some truth to that. Because if you are used to working totally on your own all the time and you call the shots, then yeah. Going into any kind of collaborative way of working is going to be… I was going to say ‘challenging’, but that’s not necessarily the case. It’s going to be different, isn’t it? And obviously massively depends on who that person is and what the scenario is, what the relationship is.

[00:14:55] – Steve
Although interestingly, just because the person may be a friend doesn’t make it a good opportunity.

[00:15:01] – Frankie
I don’t know what my advice is, really. I just think it’s an interesting point that we’re all often quite used to being solo entrepreneurs, solo-preneurs.

[00:15:09] – Steve
Well, actually, that goes to show that if you are being asked to collaborate in some way, and it’s not like just doing a workshop… Let’s imagine it’s two people working together, creating something, working on a project for clients or, as you say, creating some piece of content like we do here. I think you need to be clear in your discussions with them about the expectations of who is going to do what and if you’re creating something of value, how is that going to be split financially?

Don’t be afraid of having those discussions in order to figure out whether that opportunity is worth doing because even if you’re struggling to have those discussions, then probably it’s not a good idea. It’s probably a red flag, isn’t it?

[00:15:51] – Frankie

[00:15:51] – Steve
If they’ve got an idea but it’s all a bit in the clouds and it’s not very grounded, there’s not much actually to it, but they just think it would be a fun thing to do together then by exploring it, by chatting about it, that can… clear things up. And you can line up that conversation by saying, “I’ve got a lot on. I’m not sure this is right, but I’d love to explore it further. Let’s have a chat.” And then you can use that so you don’t commit too much, but you get to find out a bit more.

[00:16:16] – Frankie
Yeah, you can get a hell of a lot out of a half hour conversation with somebody about what it is they actually want to do, and it becomes — in my experience — very obvious whether it’s a goer or not basically. Or even if it’s a goer, whether you want to be a part of that or not. Yes, pick up the phone and have a chat. Zoom it out. Can we meet in cafes now? Yes, I think we can.

[00:16:42] – Steve
We can meet outside a cafe.

[00:16:43] – Frankie
Yeah. Okay.

[00:16:46] – Steve
Actually, maybe that’s a litmus test in itself, you know? How much am I willing to sit outside on a bench in the cold to discuss this idea?

[00:16:55] – Frankie

[00:16:55] – Steve
And if I’m not, then I’m probably not interested.

[00:17:01] – Frankie
But I also think what she says about fear of working with somebody else or fear of, I don’t know… responsibility of being in a collaborative relationship? I don’t know, whenever there’s fear, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad opportunity or it’s not right for you. And as somebody who has a lot of anxiety and like, will just come up with any excuse not to do most things… Just because you’ve got a list of things that are negative and worst case scenarios doesn’t mean any of those things will necessarily happen. It doesn’t mean it’s not a good opportunity for you.

In fact, some of the best opportunities for you are the really fucking scary ones. Sometimes. Not always. But sometimes you need a little bit of a push to go, “nah, give it a go, see what happens”, and then maybe that will be amazing. You know, the scary things aren’t necessarily bad.

As always, though, I think when you work on your own and you’re in that kind of scenario and you’re not sure… Yes, have a conversation with the person that’s approached you, but also talk to people in your friendship group, in your network that know you really well and talk about it and say, “what do you think?”

[00:18:04] – Frankie
Just having other people around that know you and your business and where you’re going and what you’ve done before. Just to bounce it off. Because we all know it’s impossible to make decisions on your own in your business. It’s just so daunting.

I think there’s a lot of gut feeling involved with all of this kind of stuff and making decisions about your business and what you do and don’t want to be associated with and the work you do and don’t want to be doing. Ultimately, your gut often tells you a lot without having to do any list making. Does it feel right to you? Does it get you excited? Do you get that email and go, “oh my God, this sounds amazing. I really want to talk to this person!”

[00:18:46] – Steve
That’s what I was just thinking. Some emails come in and you’re like, “I want to hit reply and find out about this immediately”. And other ones sit and you let them drop down your inbox.

[00:18:55] – Frankie
And that says a lot.

[00:18:56] – Steve
Hang on. You often take a while to get back…

What would your advice be?

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