Today marks the 102nd birthday of my late grandfather Robert Ballantine. It also marks the end of the second year of the Stamp experiment, to a lesser or greater extent a project inspired by Granddad.
At this time last year I think I was putting a brave face on things. Many, many positive conversations. Much hope. Very little in the way of tangible, paying work. The payout that I had managed to negotiate from my last job had been pretty much exhausted, and my own confidence was becoming pretty battered (coupled with regular discussions at home, quite rightly, about where the next mortgage payment would be coming from). If someone had offered me a full time job last summer I’d have taken it.
Since then, well…
I’ve done a lot of work in central government, which has both extended out my experience and knowledge, but also helped me to further hone what it is that I’m all about: helping people in organisations when technology appears to be putting unnatural forces onto ways of work. If the term “digital transformation” helps people to understand that, fine. If it doesn’t I’m quite happy to call it things that make sense to my clients. “Shit that is happening” probably sums it up just as well.
But throughout the work in Whitehall and around, I’ve also been able to continue to build networks and create new relationships so that come the Autumn of this year I will be entering into a new phase with Stamp. Fingers crossed, I’ll be able to talk soon about some exciting new partnerships and initiatives that I’ll be working on with clients spanning across public and private sectors.
Financially the second year has been a lot better too. I’m not quite at the point of earning equivalent to what I did before in more traditional employment, but it’s getting close now. But I’m able to offset the difference with much greater sense of control over my own destiny, which I’m now realising is incredibly important to me. It’s not so much about working (or not working) for “the man”, as it is about being a valued outsider as opposed to being sucked into the system. I’m often now finding myself in positions where I’m being paid to say the things that before I was being urged to keep quiet about. What that says about modern organisations is an entirely different story.
Year three of Stamp I hope will start to see the diversity of simultaneous clients that I really went into this thing to gain. I’ve learned now to not expect things to happen until the purchase orders are in place, so I’m tempering my expectations. But there’s been huge progress since last year, and the business continues to build.
So, Happy Birthday Stamp. And, much more importantly, Happy Birthday Granddad. Thanks for the inspiration!