Big Break: Four Months Later
Well well well, if it isn’t another LinkedIn update from Neil Allison that nobody has actually asked for.*
*Some people have asked to be fair. Blame them.
Quick recap – in February this year I left my job at Aston Martin in a blaze of glory (in reality I skulked out the back door having worked a solid notice period, answered all my emails, and graciously handed back all three million “testing” iPads that I’d been holding for safe-keeping).
It’s now been four months since I left and I thought it would be a good idea to do another update on how I’ve got on in my quest to answer the “who the hell is Neil Allison?” question that’s plagued both me and the wider population since early 2021, and caused me to leave a bloody decent job in the first place.
The good news is we have progress. The bad news is, well – there’s 1326 words of it.
What makes me tick?
Coming into this work break I told myself two things.
1) Underpants and socks will never be acceptable daywear.
2) Don’t waste this opportunity to get the answers you need.
Among all the fun things that come with being on a break, I can promise you I have been taking this second point particularly seriously. The thinking has been long, and the focus has been intense.
It is such a big question, but thankfully, I do feel in a far better place to answer it. With the diagram below I hope I’ve managed to accurately represent the utter shambles of a thought-process required to get to this place. In my defence, this wasn’t so much a robust and scientific model, as it was a fluke epiphany. Through no real method I was eventually able to identify some genuine areas of passion and purpose, and how they might actually start to come together in a way that would excite me again.
This is what I came up with:
The toughest, and yet flakiest part of this entire process was the time taken to stumble upon (and feel at ease with) a simplified three-pronged notion of “Neil” and what this categorisation even looked like.
However, I have a notebook that I scribble in a lot. One particularly scribbly day, I caught myself scribbling the same scribbly words:
Creative. Expertise. Entrepreneur.
I took this attempt at a broad taxonomy and thought on it some more. Amazingly, it became the first time I was able to coherently place some order to the things I love to do, but more excitingly, brought me to a further idea that would allow me to blend all elements of it. For the benefit of the tape, it’s the bit that says NEW BUSINESS smack bang in the middle of the Venn diagram. But we’ll get to that.
Self-proclaimed maybe, but I’m a creative little wotsit with all manner of things taking my fancy at any one time. I also like to think I’m pretty good at making a decent stab at them. Writing, podcasting, blah, blah, blah – you’ve heard it before.
The creativity has always lent itself well to the entrepreneurial side of my spirit, where I can freely admit I’m rife with ideas and new things that I want to try.
Now, I’m no Duncan Bannatyne, so not all of these entrepreneurial ideas start life as defined “money-making” schemes (which is very convenient seeing as they invariably make bugger all money) – but the creativity around these is where I get a lot of my passion from, and is what allows me to dedicate time and effort to them in a way that doesn’t feel like work.
Finally, there’s the notion of expertise. I am, by trade (and ego), a digital expert. I understand the ins an outs of most areas of the online world, and if I don’t, will darn well be able to figure them out pretty quickly. However this was an interesting area as I never wanted the answers to this process to be predetermined by things I’d done previously. As it turns out, after 15 years in the business, I do really love so much of what I do, digitally.
I love building websites. I love social media. I love analytics. I love defining solutions. Pinpointing what areas of the digital world I specifically want to focus on moving forwards has been a challenge, but after a smidge of soul-searching I can safely say I didn’t just fall into this life – I do revel in it.
So, with those three areas outlined in my head, I’ve ended up much closer to where I want to be.
And – the exciting thing I mentioned – I was then able to come up with an idea that ticked so many of the boxes.
This idea of a new business. Satisfying my creativity, digital expertise and entrepreneurial sides all in one go – I soon got to work on forming the building blocks for a new online store and design brand. Comedy and culture go hand in hand, and there is such a community of people who are immersed in it. I’d seen this, I’d been part of this – and I wanted to serve them with some pretty niche and unique products.
So I’ve created Quite OK Comedy. I won’t go into too much detail on that – but if you’d like to have a look at what I’ve got going on, you’ll find us at www.quiteokcomedy.com
With that up and running and built in a way that doesn’t take up too much of my time (logistically-speaking), I’ve allowed myself the space to continue doing the creative elements: podcasting, YouTube, writing, and some piano. Which was crucial to the overall plan.
Finally, and probably of most interest to my LinkedIn fanbase, after four months in the wilderness, I’m pretty much raring to go on the professional side of things as well – in the form of a new freelance consultancy offer that I’ll be launching very soon.
I’ll be a one man band for now, but that’s really how I like it and hopefully opens up some real opportunities to be selective about the things I work on. I’ve had some incredibly useful conversations with other self-employed bods over the last few months (they will know who they are – thank you) and managed to steal a whole bunch of insight and perspective from them, which has been invaluable.
It’s left me here. In a place where I am now looking at moving forward with a lifestyle that might just allow me to blend the three elements of “me” into something that I can sustain.
Sure, it might all go to shit, but I’m incredibly pleased to have taken the time to map out an approach that I know I can put my full self behind.
So, to wrap up this episode of “This Is My Life”, please indulge one final final pitch, seeing as there’s now a proper chance to work with me again.
If you’ve got anything going on, or if you’d benefit from a fresh perspective on your digital work from someone who’s been there, done it, and knows how all the big buttons work, do feel welcome to drop me a message and I’d be happy to chat and see what you’ve got going (rather than fobbing you off with any more of this flimsy “finding myself” business!).
It feels like it should be great. I get to work on things that I have chosen to work on; you will get a super motivated and fully refreshed digital expert to help push you forward. I like to think that is a pretty sweet deal.
For those reading who don’t know me, do please have a nose of my personal website to learn a little bit more about why I’m being so obnoxiously confident about this. I promise, beyond the daft writing, I’m an absolute sweetheart to work with.
That’s it for now. Hope to have more definitive words for you on the freelance offer soon.