I’m kinda done with my current coffee routine. If you’re “friends” with me on The Facebook, you saw my rant last week.
You see, I started thinking about it and there’s three reasons people ask me to coffee:
1) They want to “pick my brain”–the worst kind. I’m now officially turning these down these requests. You want my advice. Pay me. End of story. I give away enough ideas for free here on this blog. You can read at your leisure.
2) They want help finding a job. I’m also putting an end to these WITH the notable exception of college students/those just entering the workforce and good friends. I’ve helped a lot of people over the years. A LOT. And I love it. But, it’s just too time-consuming. And, quite often, the people who come asking for help are people I don’t see or hear from in months/years. I love helping friends. Those I barely know? We’re all done.
3) They want to catch up. These are great–in spots. For close friends, I’m all about this since I love excuses to get out of the house and see my friends. But again, I have to limit these a bit.
I know, I know, cry me a river Hanson. People want to have coffee with you and you’re complaining?
I get it. I know how it sounds. Believe me, I know. But, just take a moment to look at this from my point of view.
First, I’m an independent consultant. That means I get paid for my time. And unlike agency folks, I only make money when I bring business in myself. I bill by the hour or by the project. Last time I checked there’s only 24 hours in a day. I sleep for 6-8 of those. I spend roughly another 6-8 with my family. That leaves the rest for work. Those are precious, precious hours. Each of these coffee meet-ups means at least two hours of time. Half hour getting to wherever it is we’re meeting. An hour for the coffee (I shorten these sometimes). And a half hour to return home. Two hours of billable time. That’s a lot for me in a 9-10 hour day.
Second, each coffee also interrupts my day. From a workflow and momentum perspective, that’s not always ideal.
Before you start accusing me of not helping others–I’ll just hold you up right there. Currently, I serve on two boards where I donate my time (the MIMA board of directors and my alumni board of directors at Winona St. University). I also donate my time to Bolder Options, an organization I’ve come to know and love. And, I also spend a decent amount of time speaking to students each year at Winona St. University (at least twice a year), University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (once), the University of Minnesota (once or twice) and the University of St. Thomas (once or twice).
Folks, that’s a lot of donated time. A LOT. Probably too much, really. But, I do it because I love it. And I love to help people and pay it forward.
Now, I realize there are definitely benefits to these random coffees. Meeting new people. Getting out of my home office. Expanding my horizons.
But, not at this cost. Especially with all the other commitments above (in addition to the all-important client work, obviously). My time is at a premium. And again, I don’t say this to be egotistical–it’s just a fact right now.
So, I’m flipping my thinking. My new approach is simple:
1) Only take job-search-related coffees from close friends and college students. Period.
2) Take one catch-up coffee per week. And keep it to an hour or less.
3) Do more proactive work to reach out to others for coffee–people I want to get to know better. The challenge here, of course, is not doing the same thing to others than I complain about myself. So, the trick is making the ask compelling–and making DAMN SURE there’s something in it for the person I’m asking. So, if I ask you to coffee in the near future, please hold me to this. I’m dead serious.
What do you think? Fair? Or, over-the-top egomaniac? Don’t hold back now…