This is a transcript taken from my talk with Karen Wickre....
Nigel: Welcome Karen, thank you for joining the Wisepreneurs podcast. We're based in Australia and probably a lot of the people who listen to me, won't know anything about you. So I would love you to introduce yourself and then we'll go on with our talk.
Karen Wickre: Okay, Nigel, thank you so much for having me. I'm talking today from San Francisco where I have lived for 36 years, I think, this year, most of that time I've worked, in Silicon valley or, and or for tech companies and tech businesses, as a writer, editor and communications, staffer. So I, guess I'm going to, I guess I'm a tech worker, I guess I'm a creature of Silicon Valley. At least as it has arisen in everyone's mind and consciousness over the last couple of decades. And, I have loved working in the tech world and I continue to, as a consultant, which I know we'll talk about a little more. and I'm, like you, an avid reader and writer, and, also,in a note to the book, I think we may touch on, I wrote a book almost three years ago called Taking The Work out of Networking. And I did that because people would always say to me, you'd know everyone. How is it you just are so plugged in? And part of the answer is the tech world, which has a very fluid, job network, right? We're very fluid jobs. People don't stay in the same place for a long time. People move around a lot. I've moved around a lot. So as a result of that, I know a lot of people, but the real,secret of networking is it's not that you meet so many people, it's that you keep in touch with people over time. And, that is what I decided to detail in my book. How it can be an easy,regular task that you do that does not require a lot of meetings or get togethers.These days so much can be done online and digitally. And, your life is richer for being in touch with people over time and,feeling I'd say less alone about. whatever experience you're in, whatever part of the world you're in, that there's always someone to reach out to, and that you have some, fondness for, comfort level with many of whom may be former coworkers
Karen Wickre: And that's true in my case. So anyway, I wrote that book and that was a whole wonderful and fascinating experience about writing a book and dealing with the world of publishing. And I have given lots of talks at companies about it. I just did a little workshop for, would be authors in Seattle talking about the importance of networking, when you are in the world of book promotion, because you really need to rely on your network in order to sell the book. Because the publishers are very limited in what they're going to do. That's another long topic we could get into, but in any case,I've got a,flourishing consulting business based on really what I've done for the last 30 years, working inside companies. And, I enjoy that. I love the independent life, because in part I am still in touch with a lot of people.
Karen Wickre: So I don't consider myself, home and isolated in the way, even during the pandemic. that, some might fear and, that, that may be another thing we want to touch on. So that's a long, that's a long answer to, what about me?
Nigel Rawlins: No, that's a lovely introduction. some of the things I saw, I think you started off in journalism and was it a computer magazine or something you started out in?
Karen Wickre: The whole world of working in tech started for me in computer magazines in the eighties, and in the eighties was of course the sort of boom in personal computing, right? The rise of,the IBM and of course the Macintosh, in 1984. It was a world completely unknown to me. I had already been in graduate school. I'd had random, office jobs. And, various sorts, but nothing, nothing, no introduction to this world at all. I didn't know it existed.
But I had taken a job in San Francisco that had to do with, it was a media, membership organization for people working in media. One of the board members turned out to be the publisher of a couple of these early computer magazines, PC World and Macworld magazine. And, I got to know him as a board member and he was a quirky guy, but he took a liking to me and he just said, you should come work for me at this computer magazine publishing company.
Karen Wickre: And I just,I literally looked around behind me to see who he was talking to because I had no, no experience, in any of this. I'm really glad I said yes to that. That was a door that opened that. that's still open today and, I did go to work for him and for the magazine. So I learned a lot about magazine publishing, which was fascinating, but also I saw this world that was already, there were trade shows and there were, just thousands of computer magazines and, of course software was sold in boxes and you bought it once a year. every time there was a new version of the software and the magazines, kept up with all the new products and reviews and all the rest of it.
Karen Wickre: And I found, really a wonderful group of people,in this company. And at that time, of course, nobody was really expert at any of this stuff. And so many of my colleagues were, had been English majors and, made fun of the tech jargon back then. And, I just loved all, every part of it. It was fun to be in and I found it really suited me. So after a few years there, I basically went from job to job, in writing and editing it for technology, either magazines or in, for companies that had publications, and eventually into kind of, information designed for websites. once the internet boom hit, then it was onto,writing and editing for the web. And, I've never looked back other than to feel nostalgic about the old days.
Nigel Rawlins: Yeah, 1980, it's a what? 40 years ago. So time goes so fast, doesn't it?
Karen Wickre: So much has happened to in the world of technology in the last 40 years
Nigel Rawlins: I do create some websites because I run a marketing services company and, but I try and avoid them if I can. I just outsource it all. It's just so much work involved nowadays, especially the big ones. And so you actually got some work with, now this is interesting, what you're saying is that it seems to be an America that people do change their jobs a lot more often than we do probably in Australia. I think we tend to stay in a job longer here. Though I think all of that's changing. So this changing around does allow you to, I guess, meet more people. So how did, is it quite normal there for people to have contact details and then okay, to contact them again in terms of your networking?
Karen Wickre: Yes, I, and I think I found it was more the case in the tech world. I'd had other jobs before where I was friendly with people and in touch with people and then eventually, not so much, but,in the tech world, in particular, it is more, widespread now, by far in lots of other jobs, partly because we have more tools to stay in touch, right?
Karen Wickre: Like email and the social channels that we're on and connected to with people. But in addition, I was struck by this early on that, because things move so fast in the technology world. It's not like you could have said 25 years ago, I'm making my career at CD roms. That's going to be my career. I mean it, whatever, pick anything, right? Whatever you picked, you really couldn't, guarantee that you were going to stay in that as a field because everything around you was changing so much in terms of the technologies. And so I very quickly saw that people would,move from one company to another and move to a new industry or an offshoot industry or something like that as things developed.
Karen Wickre: And so that felt like the norm and the other part of that norm. And this is really true today in technology companies, there's a feeling of kinship, within. this kind of funny world, it's a big world, in some ways, it's an industry and yet there's a kinship that you feel, about, just experiencing, launches and the ups and downs of some failures and some successes and, selling a company being acquired by another company and kind of everything that goes with that, that we're now all familiar with.
Karen Wickre: And It's not at all unusual for people within a company to say on their internal network, for example, or just to ask their colleagues, Hey, does anyone know someone over at Pinterest or does anyone know who do you know, does anyone do partnerships,at Door Dash or, at, do you have a friend at Uber in engineering? Because I have a question about something. And these are not. about proprietary information. These are more like, I like to have a business relationship or I'd like to open the door to a conversation about this, or perhaps the engineering teams need to be aligned to talk about security issues or, something like that.
Karen Wickre: And so that fluidity, just makes it a given that, I've changed jobs, but you and I are still in touch. Then you have a reason to say what's the latest with you? The expectation is not, I'm still working in the same place for 25 years at all, but I don't think honestly it is much anymore for lots of people in lots of industries.
Nigel Rawlins: I'm assuming because we've got a smaller population and people probably won't like me saying this, have a more British type culture in Australia than the American independence and entrepreneurial. and you have large populations, as well, so things can move fairly fast, where you are, slow moving here. especially where I live, out in the suburbs, See, I was a teacher for 16 years, which I quit 20 years ago, but, I really know no one from there anymore. And that's one of the problems too, in, in a country like ours, you can spend a lifetime working in a company or for the government or something like that.
Nigel Rawlins: And then it's over. People who've retired, like you're active, but if you don't mind me saying your age at 70, you're still highly connected, highly active. Whereas I hate to say a lot of 70 year olds in Australia are just retired.
Karen Wickre: That's, that's long been the case. That's been the,the more common notion in America, too, that you, wherever you work, however long you work at 65 or 66 or 62 or whatever it is, then it's over. And then, that the stereotype is then you have a life of leisure. But we know that's not possible. First of all, for lots of people just given the challenges of the economy and the fact that of course, famously or infamously in the U.S, we have to worry about how to cover our healthcare costs to some degree, even after retirement.
Karen Wickre: And the notion of,it just all ends one day and you stay home. I'm not actually sure if it's all that good for people to, to think that way for themselves. But in addition, I think as people come closer to it, they realize,I don't think I can do that or that I want to do that.
Karen Wickre: I want to do something different than that. I do have friends who are fully retired and they're literally traveling the world, for example. So they're doing a different thing and they figured out how to make it work. They go stay in Airbnbs for a month or two at a time, and then they move on to another place.
Karen Wickre: There'll be able to do that for awhile. then we'll see. I'm sure they have a plan for after that too.
Nigel Rawlins: Karen, I can see if, because this is the podcast people aren't going to see, but I'll put a picture on, you're a very young looking 70 year old is this because of that energy from, being able to connect like that and continue working?
Karen Wickre: Well, it is all of that. And also I will confess this summer. I had a neck lift. So all of this, the bottom half got lifted up.
Nigel Rawlins: No, I'm not even noticing that. No, your face. Because I do see a lot of people and they age from about 50 and you don't look anything like them,
Karen Wickre: I think. thank you. I think, some of it is. health-related and,I'm reasonably healthy.
Karen Wickre: I can tell I've slowed down. I will admit to, enjoying the occasional nap. but at the same time,I've lived,a pretty healthy life for someone who's sat in a chair and typed for a long time, which I have done for many years.
Nigel Rawlins: No, you're looking good. One of the things I'm interested in then is in terms of networking, if you're a young, and because I tend to work with women who are 60 plus generally who want to shift to self-employment, but at a younger age, obviously, they probably need to start gathering networks or creating a network. What advice would you give to them? Would you suggest that they do change jobs and things like that, and then get out into the world and meet people. What would you suggest to the younger ones in terms of networking? And then I'd like to talk about, say people who are retired, who then want to keep working, how do they network, especially if they want to shift their career a bit?
So first I have to say generally about networking is people associated with a task you need to do to find a job, right? Or find a new job or something for whatever reason. And my, notion is networking. I wish there were a better word for it. I often talk about connecting instead of networking, but it's a lifelong,I guess need that we have, because we need to have a sort of web of context with people who are not our friends and family who can be our brain trust for something who we trust to give us the skinny on something new that maybe we don't know about.
Karen Wickre: And this could be, certainly it could be about a job or a company, but it could also be about a new field or a university, or moving to a new place, a new town, or, getting help for, elder care, for example, or, a good retirement or financial advisor. We need contexts like that, that, that have been through those experiences.
Karen Wickre: And I've often found that, my network of friends I've worked with over the years are just a wonderful source of information about much more than help me find a job or help me find, a new client or something like that. So, it's never too soon to start, both being open to meeting new people and more importantly, perhaps staying in touch with people intermittently, again as I've said before, not this is not an everyday requirement, does not have to take a lot of time, but the more you do feel that you're generally in touch with people, the easier it is then to turn to someone, slightly, an acquaintance, and say, you know something about this thing I have a question about, might I call you or see you for a coffee? Or whatever the pandemic allows. You just learn more from talking to more people who have knowledge and experience you don't have, and the way you meet them is to just keep on meeting them and then staying in touch.
Nigel Rawlins: That's great. What you've just actually said is networking is not just transactional. You suggested,can you refer me to a financial counselor or something like that. So it's just more than that. Now that was fabulous. So how would you recommend they create a network? I know we've spoken about Twitter and LinkedIn. There's so much social media around that you can get lost in it. So would just suggest, to start small somewhere and build that up?
Karen Wickre: When I talk to younger people, students, new graduates they'll often say, I don't have a network yet. And I say, yes, you do. Because, if you're just finishing school or you're just in your first job, like this is the time to start, where you get to know someone a bit more than on the job might allow, someone you like at work and you want to get to know then have that extra coffee. And yes, it could be a virtual coffee.
And that is how you have your contacts over time. The quote in the book, which I'm sure you will remember, cause I'm quite fond of it. It's from a guy named Ivan Meisner and he said at one point: "Networking is less transacting and more or less like hunting and more like gardening or, farming." And so that's really the way to feel about it, is networking is and that this metaphor can go on for a very long time, but you're planting and you're weeding and you're trimming and you're moving plants. And occasionally there's a dead plant. You pull out and things winter over. And then, in the spring, you,renew, the plants you have. because I say you can go on and on, but the main idea is you cultivate over time and it's not a 24/7 kind of situation to maintain your garden or your farm for that matter. whereas we might say a hunt is a very transactional, situation.
Nigel Rawlins: I think you're right. I think the word networking is probably a bit of a dirty word. I love the fact that you're saying connecting with people and sharing, which is wonderful. Any particular social media, I know the young ones are very quick to get onto something and then they move onto something else.
Karen Wickre: There are, and I have to say,new channels come up, but in terms of,establishing, let's start with LinkedIn. LinkedIn has more or less kept true to itself as being a business network, a professional network, which is a good thing. I did ask a product manager there, I interviewed him for the book. And I said, why am I getting birthday wishes on LinkedIn now? Cause that's, it seemed like a bit much. And he said, we tested it. And it seemed like a conversation starter for people that don't know each other. Personally, I'm not sure it's all that effective, but nonetheless, that's one of the things they do.
Karen Wickre: However, for the most part, the expectation is, it's a little more about your career and your profession and your industry interest and that sort of thing. So I would say that it's important to keep your LinkedIn profile, fairly current and describe, and it does not matter if you currently have a job, if you have what you consider a job, that's not part of your interest. You can make the top part, which is the white, the open field of your LinkedIn profile. That is where you can paint the picture about who you are and what your passions are and what you're interested in if you're looking for something openly. It can be chronological in their various ways you can trick that out to combine jobs and dates and all the rest of it. But the top part is where you can describe this is what I'm interested in, or I had, this is even what I'm after a career in, biology, I'm changing into this, and this is what I'm interested in now. It's it, that's a completely fair thing to do.
Karen Wickre: It's largely for professional purposes, but it serves so many people instead of having a CV.Recruiters are on LinkedIn all the time and it's not always for hiring for full-time jobs. In addition, people are looking for speakers and consultants, board members and all the rest. I would say. freshen it up and then, take a look at it to refresh maybe quarterly. So I think that's important for people just out in the world generally. Beyond that it really is a function of where your interests are and where you,where your kindred spirits are. For me, that's Twitter.There are plenty of people who enjoy and, find a creative outlet on Instagram. And that's fair. I don't think it's always so good for networking per se, but it is good for discovering, people perhaps, or organizations and whatnot that you want to follow. And Facebook has a place, but it was designed for friends and family. So the other uses that it has now taken. I don't think it's as strong a place, or the kind for one's professional life, I would say.
Nigel Rawlins: What about posting on LinkedIn? I sometimes look and, everyone's putting a little video on about themselves and they've got their hands moving, please.
Karen Wickre: I don't think of, video as, maybe the end all that some people do, but,the key with, LinkedIn to some degree is who are you following? Just like on Twitter. So you pick and shape what it is you want to see based on who you're following. Yes, it's true that people are adding visual things to their posts on all of these platforms because they catch our eye, but there's no hard and fast rule about that either. But I would say,it's true that on LinkedIn, for example, I've been very liberal about accepting lots and lots of requests from people because I've, I've been one of my kind of avocations is connecting other people.Karen Wickre: So I think, here's someone who knows a few of the people I know, and,I might need to refer someone to. whatever this field is sometime. Now, I think, more often my, my, sensation is I don't know who this is. It may be time to trim.
Nigel Rawlins: I think what they do is they seem to target through their search.
I still run a marketing services company and I look after about 19 clients, my old clients still, but I still look after them. And then I have my new, mentoring, coaching clients, but I still get multiple invitations to connect with people who run design agencies, SEO agencies. And I've been doing that stuff for 20 years. I'm not interested.
I've noticed a lot of that lately too, and there's a place I don't know how they're coming through, but, there's a place for each message where you can respond back to LinkedIn and say,I don't know this person. I'm not interested in this. Occasionally I'll write back to one of the people who's sent it out. And just to say, you clearly haven't read my profile if you're think that I'm hiring engineers.Nigel Rawlins: I'm a one-person business, quite happy.
Karen Wickre: Yeah, exactly.
Nigel Rawlins: I do have a lot of subcontractors that I use regularly, but yeah. So I think from a marketing perspective, how many clients can we actually work with? So basically, yeah, Iwe might only need a hundred followers who, or people we'd like to follow, who we're interested in, but we probably don't need a thousand followers. And I think in the past you used to be able to buy followers.
Karen Wickre: I'm glad you brought that up because I always tell people, this is not a numbers game about increasing your followers. There are certain executives who feel they have to have more and the answer to more is a more frequency and more engagement, but that doesn't have to be for most of us, what we're doing. What we're doing is, and I say this to people about their network generally, you want to be in contact with people who you've liked or enjoyed, or have a good feeling about in the past.
Karen Wickre: That's not the same as everyone you've ever met, Or everyone you've ever worked with. So that's one reason I think people feel overwhelmed is that they think it has to be everybody. And it, it does not.
Nigel Rawlins: And as you said, go through and select out all those ones you said yes to, that you have no idea who.
Karen Wickre: Time to thin the garden patch.
Nigel Rawlins: Or, they're trying to sell you. that's the worst thing you like somebody, and then you get a message to want to buy something. And whenever I connect, I make it clear. I am not selling anything because I want to follow you because I love your book. And I generally follow authors. and some of them are obviously so busy.
Nigel Rawlins: They can't respond. But, yeah, I'd rather have 50 on LinkedIn than 500. yeah, I will reduce the, probably not down to 50, but if I don't know who they are, I've got to, I've got to take it off because how can I connect with them? I'm somebody, you don't know. And we just, yeah. For LinkedIn then, have you come across any good little courses that people could learn more about using LinkedIn or a book or something?
I would say LinkedIn itself has some good information, about how to create a profile and all the rest of it. So I would look at their help information. I'm pretty sure that they bought a firm a few years ago called lynda.com, the name for Lynda Weinman. And, she got her start in computer magazines, doing a sort of help articles. for Macintosh owners. Anyway, the lynda.com website is a lot of, video courses on, all kinds of things. And I have to believe there's a, there would be a good one, on using LinkedIn. And there, there are short courses. It's not all a talking head and they have, segments to them and so on. Within the LinkedIn universe, besides their own help, they may have rebranded it now as LinkedIn Learning, I think, that may be a good place to look.Nigel Rawlins: Yeah. I think you have to, be on one of the paid tiers cause I pay for it, but I generally don't use it much, but yes, I'll have a look in there and see what's in there and I'll put some in the show notes. No, that's a great idea. They'd obviously know what they're doing. That's wonderful. and you use Twitter a lot for research and connecting with people?
Karen Wickre: I do, although that's not a primary,use so much as,I just read a lot of news and commentary, that's the primary thing I do. And then from that, I follow way too many people on Twitter, which I don't recommend, but I'm interested in a lot of things. And I like the serendipity of the flow of random things, which drives some people crazy. And in which case, I'd say investigate Twitter lists where you can create a topical list for accounts that you follow. So you could have all one entirely about pets and just enjoy that one all day long. But in any case, the networking for me on Twitter comes from the sort of little exchanges and interactions, that might be in a Twitter conversation.
Karen Wickre: I don't think I would set out there to, make a friend, but I have made friends and I have made contacts and I have mutual follows with people that I admire and respect, because we've, had some exchange about typically something they've written,that I've liked and commented on and appreciated.
Nigel Rawlins: That's wonderful. I work with women who are often over 60. If they've retired and they want to start their own career, how would you suggest that they start networking? So they might think, I've just retired. I've had a government job, even though it might be a specialist government job. And one of the women I worked with, was a 30 year manager of the consumer protection things. So she's got expert knowledge and she does have,lots of contacts from there, but somebody new who might say, look, I've got some expertise, but I need to start creating a network at the age of 60. What would you suggest for them?
The real question is what are they creating a network for? Yes. What is it about it? You don't just do it to do it, right? So it would be around your current interest. Your new interest or, it could start, based on, who lives in or is writing about the place I want to move to where have my have a vacation home or something like that, or it could be a health issue. There are lots of ways to have connections with new people, depending on what it is. So rather than saying, okay, I have to build a network, it's how can I find people? Or is interested in this thing. It's not that someone else has to have all the answers because they won't, it's other people who share my interest in this, or, have already, indicated, some expertise about something I'd like to know more about.
Karen Wickre: And then it's a very one-to-one business networking. it's not one to many. You can't put out a group message and then get a lot of, contacts. That's not going to be very effective in the long run.
Nigel Rawlins: Yeah, that's very good advice. So in other words, take your time and do it well and do it appropriately. Now you're still working at 70. How much time does that take up of your life? You're busy all the time or do you get to choose? And I know you mentioned one of the books was how to do nothing. So how does that all tie in?
Karen Wickre: Yeah, I haven't mastered doing nothing all that much yet. Although I did just sign up for a subscription to Headspace, which is the meditation app. I just saw an old friend, it's in Seattle, and he said for him, that's an important part of 20 minutes of his day. And he's a fair amount younger than I am. So I thought, maybe this is the time for that.
But to answer your question, I left my last full-time job, it was at Twitter, five years ago, a little over five, and I just never looked back. I thought, I felt, I know a lot of people now, I'll see if people will hire me, to, help them with their, what I would call corporate editorial work.
Karen Wickre: What now is described as owned media instead of earned media, which is PR and,sure enough. I've had,pretty good years and very good years since I didn't, almost everything I've gotten has been word of mouth and from people I know, or people I've been introduced to. I'm talking to someone new tomorrow, in fact about, some editing work, for a startup,I know a couple of things about myself. I'm a pretty fast editor and I do love editing. So I tend to say yes to more things than maybe some would. So at any given time, I might have maybe five or six clients where I'm on call to them, let's say. I don't hear from them all even every week. So I know that sometimes they'll say, next week, if you could take a look at this, keynote address we have, or we want your thoughts on this, or if you join this call about talking about our new newsletter or whatever it is, these things never end up taking a lot of time.
Karen Wickre: And even the, even this sort of concentrated,work of writing and reviewing and,going over versions of things, because of the slow kind of slow nature of how businesses work. They always need more time to review and schedule time and all that stuff. So I find, I probably don't put in more than 15, or maybe at a super busy week, 20 hours a week of billable time.
But I'm paid quite well for the. hours. And if there's, if there are fewer hours, it all just washes through. I feel like last year was a better year than the year before. I think this year will be pretty good, but I don't really know till the end of the year. I do have consulting friends who were always working on their three year plan and I just don't know how to do that because I take incoming calls, but it's worked out fine and I have time to do the laundry and take the dog for a walk and run errands and go to the store. And dare I say, occasionally have a nap.
I'm much the same. I really don't want to be working all the time. And what you're telling me is you, your expertise is so honed that for somebody else, it would be difficult and time consuming, but you know what you're doing. So do you work on retainers or do you do an hourly rate with your people?
Karen Wickre: It turns out both. Editorial work: I have a couple of retainers where it's basically up to so many hours a month and, they'll pay for me to be on call. Generally we use that time, but I find, some work, it lends itself more to retainers than others. And there are times that I just couldn't in good conscience, say, maybe I could, people have told me, maybe you should charge more, but just to say, I'm going to you know, edit this paper for two hours and charge you for a month's worth of retainer or a big day rate or something like that. I just can't do it. And, like I say, maybe I should , I've had lots of debates with friends who, none of whom have quite figured out, but we all keep trying to, sort out best ways to go.
No, I agree with you. I think it's difficult. I've come to the conclusion that I won't work with anyone unless it's paid monthly and I try and get some of them to do a little bit more work because I feel a bit funny if I haven't done a lot that month, but see, I might give them a piece of advice the following month that's just solved their problem.
Nigel Rawlins: But for some large companies, as the percentage of their revenue, you're nothing, not nothing, but they don't notice.
Karen Wickre: Yeah, exactly right. it's all, it's all a matter of,when you do work as a consultant, it's very important to have internal champions, of what you're doing, and I have one case now where I'm working for a VC firm and by the way, most of them do not have a, despite the money that they make, they do not have a sort of a marketing or communications function of any size inside. And so in this case, the full-time,head of marketing and communications has assembled a little team of independent people who are all, I think maybe one is more or less full-time the others are part-time.
Karen Wickre: And we work together as a team, but we have team meetings once a week and we talk about what's coming in and we share all the documents and,she's made it work with her within her budget that we have these part-time people much; cheaper for them obviously than hiring full-time employees.
Nigel Rawlins: Exactly. And that's what I'm trying to get across to self-employed women who are experts in their field. You can fit into a team like that and still have yet your time to take the dog for a walk or just go out and do some gardening, which I'm going to do this afternoon, because I don't want to work all day.
Nigel Rawlins: I'm 65 now. I really don't want to be sitting in my office all day. especially if it's a lovely day and you've got some lovely weather at the moment. And when it's foggy, you don't want to be outside really.
Karen Wickre: I would also say though, I would also say all my years of,working inside companies, which I loved.
I was a creature, of kind of having a white collar job for so long. those last few years of Twitter as it was, I was there at a tough period in their life, which thankfully they've gone through. And it's, I'd say it's a better company now. But I was so aware, cause I was literally counting down the days till I knew I was going to leave.
Karen Wickre: And I just was so aware of how much kind of wasted time there is. There can be, in an office setting where you have to put in the appearance of being there all day. And one interesting thing about the pandemic I liked my colleagues. I know the value of coming together into a, a workplace with other people.
Karen Wickre: There's a lot of good serendipity that comes there, but I have to say now, the idea of, having to put in the hours in order to have the appearance of,working, as opposed to now, when we're getting used to this idea of we're hybrid work and coming and going from our tasks.
Karen Wickre: I think that's going to be an interesting and positive thing, I think in the future for, for, independent people as well as internal.
That's one thing I say to some of the people I work with is an hour of your time. is a lot more focused and productive than an hour. that you'd get done in an office or something like that.
Nigel Rawlins: And that's the issue of how you price it too, or price your time. that's where it is difficult because an hour of your time is totally focused, because you are an expert in your field and that is a gray area because some people won't say, oh, if I charge $40 an hour or something like that, then I'm thinking, but that $40 an hour is a lifetime of experience.
Karen Wickre: See, you understand, exactly.
Nigel Rawlins: It's a difficult one to tell. I don't know how I would give anyone advice about what to charge,
Karen Wickre: It is true. your expertise has to figure into it. So it's not just, and I've learned this, I've been lectured on this from friends who told me I should charge more sometimes.
And one of them gave me the best example, which was, if you go to a Zen monk or, an kind of an ink and brush, painting. And he does it perfectly on the first try and it takes five minutes. You're not paying the five minutes is really not what you're paying for. You're paying for the lifetime of experience that he brings to that five minutes.
Karen Wickre: And that's a way to think about, your time being worth a little more.
Nigel Rawlins: Yes, no, I think that's lovely. Now you sent through some books that you're reading at the moment, so how do you go about books? Do you hear about them and then you buy them? Like me, as I said, I've got piles of them.
Nigel Rawlins: They're probably going to take me years to get through. How do you choose books and how do you read them?
Karen Wickre: I don't have a very good strategy about this. I've always had books around. I've always liked books. I've always turned to book. in my dining room, my built-in bookcases, to hold a lot of them.
Karen Wickre: And, like you, I get more. I've gotten, the last few years, lots of review copies of things, because I'm on some lists for, will you take a look at this? I don't really review books as a regular thing, but I guess in some circles I'm an influencer, so I get sent some books. But in addition, I'm an advisor to, a wonderful, I think it's still only US only, a kind of book club called Literati, and Literati started as a, monthly box of books delivered to kids.
to instill in them the joy of reading. And so they have age group,boxes of books that you pick the ones you like and return the rest. Anyway, last year they started a similar thing for adults, but with one choice a month with a bunch of picked by luminaries. So someone like Richard Branson, or, Susan Orlean or different, writers, a big basketball star here is a Steph Curry, so people like that. And, because I'm an advisor, I get several of those selections every month and there's no way I'm making it through those. Some of them, I actually give to friends- I think you're going to like this and you're going to probably have time for it before I would. Some others I put into a pile and I dip into, but I have to say, I also read a lot of magazines.Karen Wickre: And so that's the competing, that and I guess Twitter or the competing things for the books. So I tend to, as a result, open and have going several books at once. And the drawback there is it can take a long time to get through or get back to, those books. But if I go, I just was in Seattle, went into a wonderful independent bookstore, bought a couple of books because I liked doing that in a bookstore. And brought those home to add to the pile.
Nigel Rawlins: I hate to say it, I cannot remember the last time I went to a book store because in Australia, where I am, we've been locked down. We're not allowed to go into the city of Melbourne where most of the good book shops are. So i think it must, I have to say it's probably been a couple of years.
Yeah, it was here too. In San Francisco, all the businesses were locked down and there was a time when. I thought, one of my local bookstores, I thought I'm going to support them. So I ordered something new that I would have in the past, given no thought to ordering on Amazon. And I just thought, no, I'm going to order it for them.
Karen Wickre: But it was a very unsatisfying experience. Cause I drove to the store, the store, had a clerk. They had a table set up at the front door. So no one could come in and there was a clerk on the other side to, hand you your book you'd ordered. And so he couldn't even browse, which is to me, more than half the fun of a bookstore. Now, things are a little more open for if you're wearing a mask and so you can go in and,that's why I have bought books I would not ordinarily have found is because I was browsing in a bookstore.
Nigel Rawlins: And I think that's what we're doing here. As we open up in Australia, Victoria, where I am, we want to go out and support those poor businesses that have been knocked down. Some of them have survived. So I don't know when I'm allowed to go back to Melbourne though.
That's locked down where we're open, in the region I'm in, cause we're outside of Melbourne. Hopefully, maybe later in the year and I will go in and spend some money in some of the bookshops up there that I used to go and see. It's sad isn't it, that we lost stuff like that. Now you also mentioned a book Life in Transition by Bruce Feiler, and I guess as we're older, we have been through a number of transitions. Did, was that a meaningful one or how are you going with that book?
Karen Wickre: Yeah, I actually am into that book and I found him because. he's written quite a bit of other stuff, including a lot of, commentary about things related to life and transitions. And that I always liked his take on these things. So I think this book came out with some fanfare maybe a year or so ago. And I did just pick it up and go into it a little further. this last weekend. I do tend to read more when I'm traveling actually. And so this little trip, that I had up to Seattle,I picked it up again and, it's very inspiring in a way that it's not, drippy with a sort of corny inspiration, but it's inspiring in that, part of his point is we all make transitions, throughout life. And, you just don't know that the idea of mapping out one's future or assuming, your path ahead is really just,a fool's errand or should be because, and he has just tons of examples of people whose lives have taken many dramatic zigzags,and who, made it to a different situation or a different family or whatever it is. Simply, sometimes through catastrophe and accident and sometimes through, something less dramatic.
Karen Wickre: But nonetheless, found their way to a life that was fulfilling and, where they knew what their passions were. And that I think is useful for people at any age, but perhaps, especially when we, and I've, I have to fight this to start to assume that, okay, the options are fewer and things are going narrow down now and, therefore I've ruled out a lot of things. And I think we have to check ourselves against that.
I think we're a younger generation than any generation in the past. And because I seem to think 70 year olds, 20 years ago, ancient.
Karen Wickre: I agree completely when I look at pictures of my parents or grandparents,who for the most part were younger then than I am now, it's to paraphrase, an old song, yeah, it's astonishing.But part of it was the expectation was,you retired earlier, you didn't really work after that. You, were expected to have a life of leisure or at least just getting by and in a of sort of very marginal way. That's what was expected. And so people then lived to that expectation.
Karen Wickre: That's fabulous. Is there anything else you'd like to mention, and then we'll talk about how we can find your book. We've touched on so many things,I don't know that anything, is popping up at the moment, but,let's keep the conversation going
Nigel Rawlins: At the back of your book, Taking The Work Out Of Networking, your acknowledgements are, just unbelievable. There are so many people who were involved in inspiration and ideas. That just proves that you've got this fabulous network.
Karen Wickre: I also felt when you do a book, ideally you want to be generous. Lots of people were supportive of me doing the book and so on, but I also thought about people who had been my brain trust as I call it over the years and people who had, just helped me, and in fact, been at the receiving end of my connecting and introducing and, all of that kind of ongoing, stuff. So I just didn't want to leave anybody out.
Nigel Rawlins: No, it was fabulous. I was so impressed. It's like you had whole village cheering you on another thing I guess, is mentors. Obviously when you first got your job working in, your magazines, somebody recognized your talent, and then asked you to come and work with him.
Nigel Rawlins: Have you found people like that have been helpful? in your life?
I have to say, that, that man was David Bonell, who has since died. And I would say along the way, a couple of other people took a chance on me in terms of hiring me. But I felt like I was fairly old for, getting into the technology business when I did. So I was, I think, 35. And, by the time I got to Google, by the way, where I worked for nine years, I was 51 when I joined Google. So that of course was way older than others there. So I didn't feel like I had many mentors in terms of showing me the ropes. Although to be fair, there were certainly younger people who I learned from, they were just that I would not, I don't think either of us would thought of us in a kind of traditional mentoring role.But there were, younger people I learned from this is something that, Chip Conley writes a lot about in his book. Why am I forgetting the name wisdom? Oh,something about modern elders and wisdom. Anyway,he was 50 when or more when he joined, Airbnb after being,a successful hotel executive on his own.
Karen Wickre: So suddenly, but he didn't know the world of tech. And so suddenly he found himself supposedly being a mentor, but also becoming a mentee, to people. And I guess I had that experience. But now I will say that, I'm always happy to, talk to students, talk to new grads, people who, want advice, want to know, whatever their perception is of how I got who I am and how I got there, whatever they know about that, I always make time to talk to them. And I always say, I had no grand strategy. I stumbled along like everyone else and made mistakes. And let me encourage you to do that because that's how you're going to keep going. And here's a few things maybe you can do different than I did so that you can do it better, but I always make time, for younger people.
Karen Wickre: And I, as I say, it's not like a formal mentoring program so much as just let me just, put you at ease that there's no kind of one playbook for this and you can make your way, however you like it.
I think it's probably tougher for the younger ones today. compared to us, I know when I left my high school, I was offered three jobs straight away, and then I then chose to go to a teacher's college and become a teacher for 16 years.
and there was a lot, probably more employment and more jobs, but I think it must be tougher for the young ones now.
Karen Wickre: Yeah, they have to stand out in some different way. And it also seems, in the U S especially you're in high school, you have to show to get into university, to have already, umpteen activities and jobs and internships and show initiative from when you're 13 or 14 to, get ahead or get, to get the next thing. And,I do. wonder about how one gets ahead, but one thing I have told people that I do believe is, the first few jobs you have, it doesn't matter what they are like, you're not going to make a mistake by choosing this one or that one. You're going to get experience doing whatever it is. Now, you don't want to pick an abusive, all awful environment. if you, if you see a sliver of opportunity and you're interested in the people seem nice, it doesn't matter what it is.Karen Wickre: Just go in and do it for a while. And then that's going to take you along to the next one.
Nigel Rawlins: I actually encouraged my two boys, to become trades people, or I don't know what you call them, tradesmen? We call them tradies in Australia. So one's, apprentice carpenter, and the other is an electrician, but my daughter, worked in hospitality in Melbourne and put herself through university and got a sociology degree and she's still working in hospitality. and, she's got a, what we call a Hecs debt and in America, I think you get debt for going to university as well. But the two boys, pretty well off and just working with their hands and very happy.
Karen Wickre: They've got skills that are real skills.
Nigel Rawlins: And in Australia, our builders are constantly working, but my son now is same here, Whistler. So he's managed to get himself four days a week, working and three days where i n winter snowboarding, but because it's lovely weather at the moment they go kayaking and, mountain bike riding and he was able to do it. The wages there are a lot lower than in Australia. I think we're pretty well paid in Australia. I
Karen Wickre: They are typically lower at resorts, but part of the reason they are, they could get away with it is exactly this scenario of you have this abbreviated work schedule and that you have this beautiful countryside that you can be out in, which is what a lot of them want.
Nigel Rawlins: One of the things he's found there is that, prices of homes or it's more apartment type things, they've just gone mad since COVID and the prices have gone up a couple of hundred thousand and it's difficult to get something. Yeah. But at least there, they have properties where the only people that can live in those properties are people who work on that mountain.Nigel Rawlins: So that helps. It's still expensive he says, he says you can rent out a room there, just a room and shared in the house for $1,500 Canadian a month. So it's still expensive. And I think he's just purchased something.
Karen Wickre: That's good. That's a big issue in resort towns where,well-off people have second homes or come in for vacations, but the people who work every day at the lodges and the, the ski lifts and the shops and restaurants are priced out of living there. So they have to live somewhere else nearby that's cheaper, which is harder and harder to find.
Nigel Rawlins: We're finding that all across Victoria at the moment, our resort towns, which are on the beach and stuff like that, cannot get serving staff or waite staff because there's nowhere in the town for them to, live. yeah. And the same with people like our police in Melbourne, the city of Melbourne and teachers, they have to travel long distances to live somewhere cheaper because they've been locked out of housing because even where I live, it's a little rural, it's not quite a little rural town, but it's rural, housing, it's just gone up so much. I think a couple of hundred thousand dollars and people are buying places without him seeing them, which is crazy.
Karen Wickre: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
Nigel Rawlins: Now. All right. I think we've probably come to the end there because I can't think of any other questions to ask you, but it's been a wonderful conversation.
it's going to be so helpful for people to start thinking about, connecting instead of networking and to be mindful of how they do that, what's the best way. first of all, let's tell them about your book. I think I've got mine through Amazon, the Kindle through Amazon, and I also got the other one through, I think the Book Depository, which is also owned by Amazon. We can promote your book. How else can people get in contact with you if they'd like to maybe hire you or talk to you?
Karen Wickre: I have a website is to at least find out more about me is just my name. karenwickre. com and, I'm on LinkedIn as Karen Wickre I'm on Twitter is @kvox, cause that's easier. and so those are all ways..
Nigel Rawlins: Good. All right. I will put those in the show notes but thank you very much, Karen. It's a wonderful conversation. And,I'm in the middle of nowhere, And you're in the dynamic heart, I think in America is, probably my favorite city and probably the only one I've really visited in America, San Francisco. So have a wonderful evening. and yeah, thank you very much. It's just, I'm just, so I just love the fact that you said yes to my interview.
Karen Wickre: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Let's do it again some time.
Nigel Rawlins: Oh, I'd love to.