Another busy week and weekend, and barely keeping to my schedule for posting weeknotes. Among the normal run of Zooms and calls, two prospective pieces of work both inched a little closer to being confirmed: one piece of advice I would give anyone considering independent consultancy is that you have to be patient. The process of initial conversation to proposal, to client feedback and iteration, to agreed scope can be slow. But it’s essential, and the biggest mistake I made in the early days was rushing this with a prospective client and losing that business. I’m learning to celebrate the incremental gains as much as the big wins.

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Made in three weeks in a row for outside meetings: my friend David Christie and I managed to catch a gap in the rain showers and had a productive meeting sat outside at Boston Tea Party putting a holding page live for David’s new venture, the Vanner Gallery, a new space in Salisbury for contemporary art and craft. It’s a characteristically bold move for David: I admire anyone who starts their own business, but listening to him discuss the challenges of acquiring and fitting out property, it made me admiring of taking on such a challenge, and appreciative of how low the fixed costs are for Outside Context. If you’re interested in contemporary art, do sign up for the email updates on the Vanner Gallery website or follow them on Instagram.

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I had my first individual catch-up with the academic supervisors for Research Principles and Practice in Management, the first taught module of my DBA. One immediate reflection: it seems obvious in retrospect, but I hadn’t appreciated at the time how heavily practice based my MBA was. At the time, a business school context and the need for proper referencing set it apart from the sort of written material I was producing at work. But an academic context and academic references do not make academic writing. For starters, I’m now having to really think about the philosophical basis of my work: ontology, epistemology, axiology and other concepts that the MBA didn’t really touch. From that point of view my old MBA assignments look far closer to everyday business writing than what I’m working on now. There’s a definite sense of being out of my comfort zone, but I don’t think that’s a bad place to be if you’re there with smart people to challenge you.

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I started reading Julia Galef’s book The Scout Mindset this week (because what I really needed was another new book on top of the DBA and the books I was already making slow progress with). It’s an excellent and thought-provoking book, and I keep coming back to this chart: it would be interesting to know whether there are other political or social debates where similar dynamics apply:

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Currently reading or listening: The Scout Mindset, A Memory Called Empire, Beastie Boys Book, The Scout Mindset, Research Methods for Business and Social Science Students, The Foundations of Social Research.