OK, so looking ahead is a bit of a misnomer at this point, but this is an important post nonetheless. This is part four of a four part series reviewing 2013 at Living for Monday and looking ahead at what you can expect from 2014 around here. This post closes out the series and my goal is to spread the word about what we’re up to, how we plan to serve you, and what you can get excited about for 2014.
The theme for Living for Monday’s 2014 is “Foundations.”
Living for Monday has been around for two years. In year one, 2012, I spent my timing learning my way around the world of entrepreneurship: finding mentors to learn from; getting the basics down of business structure, accounting, planning, metrics; learning the very basics of marketing and sales; setting up processes for blogging/podcasting/content creation; and testing a number of ideas for executing on our mission. I think back on 2012 as a year of “Fundamentals” and un-learning the brainwashing from years and years of schooling (which doesn’t help in entrepreneurship).
Year two, 2013, started with launching our first professional website design that we struggled through in 2012 (so many lessons learned). The rest of the year became a process of building key relationships and communities. I strengthened my community of other online entrepreneurs — people like Caleb, Nathan, Corbett, James, Barron, Greg, Pat and others became great partners and mentors. I committed myself to learning to love Atlanta and in the process learned so much about the tech/startup community here, became curator of the Atlanta Global Shapers, and started hosting dinner parties with inspiring young professionals from around town. I look back at 2013 as a year of “Connections” or community-building activities.
The first two years of the business served as important steps in what James Altucher refers to as a 5-year process of reinventing oneself. It hasn’t been easy and there have been many days when it would be easy to hang it up. But what always brings us back down to earth is hearing from readers and community members at Living for Monday who relay the message that what we’re doing resonates deeply with them.
So 2014 is about foundations here at Living for Monday.
What do I mean by “Foundations?” Foundations at Living for Monday means:
- Break even in revenue (this is first because it will allow us to keep serving you)
- An active and engaged community of Atlanta young professionals
- Consistent content by a community of contributors
- Live events to serve our community
- Speaking and books
Let’s dig in.
We’ve look at a ton of revenue models for Living for Monday. Some of the possibilities:
- Paid retreats
- Live training
- Online training
- Group coaching
The list goes on, but the point is that a company like Living for Monday can produce revenue in a number of ways. The problem lies in what Seth Godin refers to as the Entrepreneur vs. Freelancer dilemma. Entrepreneurs build assets and systems that allow them to make money even when they (the entrepreneur) are not working. Freelancers work in exchange for money.
Seth says one of the greatest sources of frustration for business builders is not being clear on which model you’re designing for. That’s exactly what we’ve experienced this year. Our desire is to build on an entrepreneurial model while the most immediate sources of income (consulting and coaching) are built on a freelancer model.
So at the end of 2013, Josh and I fully dedicated ourselves to building on the entrepreneur model. Additionally rather than focus on business needs, we’ll be doubling down on focusing on the goals, challenges, needs, and desires of young professionals at work.
My deepest desire has always been to create a world class training resource that breaks the mold of everything else available. Specifically, I want to create the most creative and inspiring professional development resources for young professionals at work.
Here’s a problem: until I take this concept out of my head and manifest it in the world, everyone of you will say, “What the hell are professional development resources? They sound like the equivalent of making a toddler eat green vegetables.”
So this year, we’re going for broke on making these training resources a reality and building them into the core of our business (and revenue) model. Some of the sources of inspiration for what we’re envisioning are CreativeLive, Fizzle, Krypton, and Skillshare. As we know more, we’ll certainly share, but you can expect whatever we do to be laser-focused on young professionals at work.
We’re pursuing training as our main source of revenue. If you’re a young professional (especially in a creative or marketing agency, professional services firm, tech startup, or F500 Co) you should be excited because we’ll be using direct feedback about your experiences at work to drive the way we build our training. That means pushing the edges of everything you think of when you think about training.
If you’re a business owner, HR manager, or executive your first reaction is probably to scoff. But eventually, I think you’ll find our training to be the most effective and engaging method for helping your young professionals (Millennials in the first ten years of their career) develop into the leaders you need to grow and innovate.
What! Atlanta only? What’s up with that?
Listen, if you live in Seattle or Singapore, there will still be plenty of value for you at Livingformonday.com. Our blog, podcast, and online training will be relevant to you, it just won’t be AS relevant as it is to young professionals in Atlanta.
The background here, again, comes from Seth. While in NYC this summer, he said a sentence that resonated deeply with me: “You can be the best in the world at anything you want as long as you define world the right way.”
This is perhaps the most important advice I’ve received in the past year. At its’ core the point is that if we can’t build community in Atlanta, then we have no business building community around the country and world. There is no greater asset than being able to take a short drive to record a podcast episode, head over to a local startup to profile their organization, or work with inspiring young professionals across the city to develop the best articles on the web for young professionals.
Equally exciting is the opportunity to create amazing live events for the local audience. If we have a broad-based community in Atlanta, we can run retreats, mastermind groups, live interviews, live trainings, and more. Without that community in Atlanta, we’d have to ask people to fly in from all over just to take a chance on one of our events.
On the flip side, once we’ve built a great model here in Atlanta, we can grow to other cities with the same great events and content. So, even if you’re not from Atlanta, keep coming back to the site so that we know which cities have the highest concentration of leaders (for our expansion plans).
If you are in Atlanta, get ready for great content and events, a vibrant community, and a damn good time.
Yes, consistency is key. We’ll be producing super-consistent content this year. But more importantly, we’re taking the quality and variety of our content to another level. We’ve listened closely for the kind of content you’re most interested in and some of the things we heard were brilliant. You can expect five types of content from us this year.
1. Organizational Profiles
We heard you say it: you want to know what it’s like to work in the organizations around town. What’s it like to show up to work at a Fortune 500 like Coke, a world-class law firm like King & Spalding, a creative digital agency like Eyespeak, or an exciting tech startup like Mailchimp?
We’ll use organizational profiles to capture the environment, vision, culture, and opportunities at some of the most exciting, creative, and undiscovered places to work around Atlanta. We’ll look at the real picture, not just the PR or HR pitch, so that you get a feel for how your organization stacks up (and maybe find a place you’d like to migrate to).
**Have an organization you’d like to see us profile? Email the name and link to the website to Josh (at) Livingformonday (dot) com.
2. Leader Profiles
It’s a classic angle. How did the people I look up to get to where they are?
You’ve asked us to track down leaders around the city and that’s just what we’ll do. Whether hip hop artists like B.o.B, political leaders like Mayor Kasim Reed, CEOs like Muhtar Kent, or entrepreneurs like Michael Tavani, we’ll ask them how they do what they do and what advice they have to help us reach our goals.
If you like what we’re up to with leader profiles, we’ve got an idea for (free) live interview sessions with the most popular profile subjects on a monthly or quarterly basis. Think Chase Jarvis Live meets Levo League Office Hours.
**Have a leader in mind you’d like to see us profile? Email their name and what they do to Josh (at) Livingformonday (dot) com.
3. YoungPro Profiles
What would a site for young professionals be without highlighting the awesome Millennials that make up the community? Yup, we’ll be doubling down on interviewing young professionals in Atlanta on The Living for Monday Show.
We heard you ask, “What do other young professionals do day to day at work? For example, what the hell does a management consultant do? What about a financial analyst? A front-end developer?” We know many of you have wondered whether your job sucks or if you’re just in the throes of building career capital and expertise. Is your office culture terrible or are you taking things for granted? Is your boss a jerk or are you just soft?
The show will be weekly, likely published every Friday, and we’ll focus on all of the questions we just mentioned. What’s it like to be a whatever you are everyday? How’d you land the job and where do you hope it will take you? What do you do outside of work to maintain your energy and excitement? How do you work to become a top performer? What is your culture like? Your boss?
**Do you have a young professional friend in Atlanta that’s great at what they do and would be interesting to hear from on The Living for Monday Show? Are you a young pro in Atlanta and want to be on the show? Email the name and a social media link to Josh (at) Livingformonday (dot) com.
4. How-To Content
We did a full review of our most popular content in an earlier post in this year in review series. When you look down the list, it consists almost entirely of how-to content. Our most popular articles have been long-form, drill-down articles that really get to the heart of helping you solve a problem, reach a goal, or learn something new.
We believe that long-form content makes us stand out as a resource, and our how-to content will continue to follow that same format. We think there’s enough “5 apps to make your life easier” and “4 ways to get to sleep earlier” posts out there.
While I would love to think that I’m an endless source of wisdom and content (kidding), I’m really excited to say that we’ll be thinking of Living for Monday as more of a platform or media outlet at the intersection of something like 99U and Fast Company.
With every passing day, I grow farther away from personally experiencing the challenges employees face at work everyday because as an entrepreneur I often face very different challenges. However, I know there are a ton of extremely talented young professionals throughout Atlanta that are overcoming challenges and working toward goals at work everyday…
And many of you would love to contribute to a site like Living for Monday. So, we’ll be inviting 15-20 young professionals to be our 2014 contributing editors at LivingforMonday.com. The commitment is a minimum of one article per quarter, which will give us at least one new how-to article per week. With the inputs of so many talented people, we can remove me as a bottleneck and I know the quality of our articles will skyrocket thanks to the collaborative potential of so many brilliant people.
**If you’d like to be a contributor in 2014, email Josh (at) Livingformonday (dot) com before January 31st at 5:00pm. Tell us why you’d like to write for us and four articles ideas you’d be excited to write.
While I am more and more distanced from the everyday challenges of being a young professional working for someone else, I do have the opportunity to see trends across businesses, leaders, the world of work, and habits of highly successful young professionals. As often as once a month or as little as once a quarter, I’ll write a long-form article on one or more of these trends, using insights from our research, profiles, and interviews to drive the content.
Treks are the live events that are the most structured and guaranteed to happen so far. A Trek is a 2.5-day outdoor adventure retreat designed to push you out of your comfort zone, connect you to a community of fellow ruckus makers, and help you reach your goals faster than ever before.
You’ll be out in the wilderness camping, hiking/rock climbing/kayaking, learning outdoor survival skills, and talking about the 5% of things that represent the biggest growth areas in your life but you never talk about with friends or family. The first trip of 2014 is happening in late March / early April and will be announced by mid-January. $493 per person before March 1st. $736 after March 1st.
**Want to apply for a spot on the first Trek of 2014? Email Josh (at) Livingformonday (dot) com so you’re the first to know when the app is live (we’ll accept applicants on a rolling basis).
I mentioned this briefly earlier, but if you love the leader profiles, then we’re highly likely to start conducting intimate, in-person, livestreamed interviews of some of the most interesting and inspiring leaders around Atlanta.
A small in-studio audience will get direct interaction and Q&A with the speaker, while everyone watching the livestream will get the chance to interact via social media and see the interview live. We want to highlight the best creative, business, and civic minds and we hope you’ll join us when we go Live.
Live is almost certain to be free for attendees. Potential for sponsors, etc.
If/when we decide it’s time to start running live training, you can bet it will be the best in-person experience you’ve ever had while learning information that will transform your career. We may develop all of the training materials in house, we may invite experts to deliver multi-day trainings CreativeLive style, or it may involve some combination of the two.
Live trainings are likely to be free for those who watch live (in-person or livestream) and then cost money to own/download/experience on an ongoing basis. This might be through a one time download or a membership community that connects like-minded young professionals who aspire to change the world and make a ruckus along the way.
Speaking + Books
Ah, yes, the tried and true speaking and books path. We’ll be doing both this year.
Yes, I’m beginning my speaking career this year. I’ve been speaking in public forums for more than five years now, starting with leading college organizations all the way through to speaking to large groups of students looking to start a career that matters.
This year I’ll be transitioning to more of a traditional keynote/workshop speaking platform at existing events and conferences. The first two events I have lined up:
February 8th, 2014 – Georgia Collegiate Leadership Conference — workshop + closing keynote on leaving a legacy as a student leader
March 28th, 2014 – TEDx UGA [YourIdeaHere] — About changing the way the world thinks about work (or what it means to live for Monday)
**If you’re interested in having me speak at your event, email Josh (at) Livingformonday (dot) com with the date and theme of your event. He’ll be happy to send you a list of topics.
Books. That big scary word (when it comes to writing). There are several book ideas floating around the halls of Living for Monday. We’ll be picking one to begin work on with the help of the Winning Edits team this year.
Traditionally published or self-published? Book tour or no? For young professionals or the people who employ us? Self-titled or a whole new concept? All up in the air.
So that’s what 2014 looks like from our chairs as we set out to create a great year at Living for Monday. Some or all of this might change by the end of the year. I can’t predict the future and every plan is perfect until it meets reality. We’re going to be adaptable and look out for signs that point us in the direction that serves Atlanta young professionals best.
If you take away just one thing from this post, I want you to know we’re playing a big game. We’ve narrowed our focus and we’re going hard in the paint at the things we think will serve you most. Everything we do this year is all about building a sustainable foundation to serve you for many years to come.
There are 7 or 8 chances for you to get involved or offer us feedback throughout this post. Do it. We’ll be waiting on you.