Saturday, August 2, 2008

Interview With Career Expert Lee Silber

Continuing on the theme of time management, Freelancer's Lament went straight to the man, Lee Silber, best-selling author of numerous books (including audio and "mini-books" meant to sent by email) and life planners. I actually have three of his books in my house and highly recommend them to anyone serious about becoming as proficient and efficient as humanly possible. If we were all married to Lee our careers would be soaring. Since that's not possible this informative interview will have to do.

Freelancer's Lament: Lee, welcome and thank you for letting us pick your brain. Could you please first describe what you do?
Lee Silber: I offer creative solutions for every kind of business problem. I also specialize in helping creative, right-brain thinkers master the left-brain aspects of their business—time management, accounting, planning, promotion, and organizing.

FL: How did you get involved in this business?
LS: I come from a long line of successful entrepreneurs and grew up surrounded by people who worked for themselves. In fact, I opened my first business when I was eleven years-old. I went to my neighbors and offered to repaint and renumber their mailboxes for a fee. Not a bad gig for a summer "job." When I was old enough I moved to Maui and started a design company and was a wholesaler of art supplies. I then turned my passion for surfing into retail stores when my brothers and I opened a chain of surf shops in San Diego. As if this story isn't long enough already, I took everything I knew about business and combined it with my background in the creative arts (I attended art school at night while running my retail business) and wrote a series of books for creative people for Random House. All this led me to what I do today—helping others who want to start and succeed in their own business—[which is the focus of his new book, Rock To Riches: Build Your Business The Rock and Roll Way].

FL: You've produced a regular library of books on personal management; Time Management For The Creative Person, Self-Promotion For The Creative Person, and Organizing From The Right Side of the Brain. What is the function of these books and what will Lamenting readers learn from them?
LS: The thesis behind all of my books is this: We should focus on our strengths—our natural way of doing things—rather than dwell on our weaknesses. This is especially true of most freelancers who tend to be more right-brained—risk-takers, fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants, divergent thinkers. The problem is we live in a left-brain world where we are forced to focus, play it safe, plan, and be neat and orderly. While these are worthy traits, it may be that no matter how hard a person tries, they will never understand tax code or put everything away at the end of the day. So, why not leave things out that you are still working on if it helps you avoid procrastinating and allows you to juggle ten things at once? Why not turn your day-to-day business plan into a slide show you watch on your computer featuring images, target numbers, and key words? That's why the creative person series of books are so popular. They don't try to change people, but make them better versions of themselves.

FL: What is the biggest reason freelancers are unable to sustain their business?
LS: Small business is about the small things. It may not seem like a big thing to let your marketing efforts go when things are going good. But marketing—just a little every day—has to be on your daily things-to-do list no matter what. It may seem like a small thing when you have a couple of slow paying clients. But it's a big deal when all of a sudden you have your own bills to pay but don't have the money. When you own a freelance business chances are you wear many hats and always have a lot to do. It's also likely a lot of the things you have to do take up most of your time. Don't let the small stuff get in the way of the things that have the potential to make a big impact—proposals, pitches, projects—even if they don't pay off now, you have to get them done.

FL: If you were to provide a punch list for freelancers, what are three tips you would pass along to them?
LS: 1. The new way to land big business is to team up with other freelancers. You can either work together or refer business back and forth, but this is the way to build your business quickly.

2. Get a mentor that has been there, done that, and has all the knowledge you don't. Whether you turn to the Service Core Of Retired Executives (SCORE) or someone in your community, this is your shortcut to business success.

3. The difference between a hobby and a business is your level of commitment. No matter how hard you think you are trying, you can always do more.

FL: What's your mantra?
LS: Do the right thing. This will mean different things to different people, but when you always do the right thing, you don't have guilt, worry, or repercussions.

FL: You have a new book coming out...
LS: If you have ever felt business books were boring (I know I did) and wished you could learn everything there was to know about being an entrepreneur in a quick and interesting way? I know, that's what I thought, too. That's why I wrote Rock To Riches: Build Your Business The Rock and Roll Way. I use rock stars as examples of how to do everything from manage your money to market your business. It's fun to read and readers will learn a lot about rock AND everything about business. It's coming out this fall from Capital Books.

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1 comment:

John J Savo, the Authoring Auctioneer said...

Hmmm... Interesting. However, I think my fault may lie in the fact that I am too much of a left-brainer and not enought right. I tend to over-analyze, over-plan, and I hate to do things on the spur of the moment.