Following a career as a ‘suit’ in London’s marketing and design industry, Robert Gerrish decided to fly solo for the first time and that landed him in Sydney a little over 20 years ago. Working initially as a consultant to small creative businesses he morphed into coaching, becoming only the second coach in Australasia to achieve professional accreditation from the International Coach Federation.
In 2000, a serendipitous event led to a lengthy profile on ABC 4 Corners and Robert’s business went nuts. Unwilling to forgo his lifestyle by working 24/7, Robert seized the opportunity to swap ‘wide and shallow’ with ‘narrow and deep’ and launched the first manifestation of Flying Solo – support for those going it alone in business.
The rest is history and today Robert Gerrish leads the Flying Solo Crew alongside popping up at conferences and events talking about all things solo. So … what does a day in his life look like? Here’s Robert:
I do try to mix things up a bit so I don’t get stale, but most weeks I work two days in town and the other days at my home office (with the occasional café session!). Here’s how a typical ‘work in town’ day shapes up.
06:30am Rise and shine
After making sure that Jay, our teenage son has eaten some breakfast and is heading for the bus in something resembling a school uniform, I’ll make the parental morning coffees while following the gradual demise of mankind on Radio National. In the now peaceful home, Jane and I steal some time together, where I’m brought up to speed with the realities of family life or if I’m really lucky (and I often am) I’ll get the run down on some obscure artist she’s stalking in her burgeoning art career. Once I know all is well in chez Gerrish, I slope off to my bunker ready for the day ahead.
07:30 Home-office check-in
I’m at my desk for a short while early every morning to check what’s been happening with the community overnight and see what everyone’s up to. I’ll have a quick scan of the day’s content (usually reading at least one of our awesome articles); see what discussions are going on in the forums and take a peek at the latest on our Facebook page. Then it’s over to our FSHQ Slack chatosphere to see what’s emerging there.
My home-office is where I spend three days a week and it doubles as my podcast/webinar studio. I work at a standup desk for most of the day and have the space fully soundproofed. It’s a good balance alongside our open plan space in town.
Most mornings I do a decent hour-long walk on the way into the office, usually through the Botanical Gardens. This gives me a nice solid block of time to gather my thoughts, listen to the odd podcast and have imaginary conversations with imaginary people. I also seek out a Picture Of The Day (POTD – see below for an example) to share with Jane. This ensures my creative antenna is alert and that I smell the roses, or bat poo or whatever. Walking is a joy and always brightens my day.
09:30 Arrive at the office
Armed with my second coffee of the day, I join Peter and anyone else who’s dropped by in the old courthouse building we share with a couple of other creative companies. We always start our week with a review of our Work in Progress list alongside summary reports from key members of the team. Once this is done there’s never much doubt about what needs my attention.
The biggest challenge I face in the average working week?
Juggling priorities. With an active community and the constantly changing nature of online publishing, there are inevitably things popping up that need immediate attention – those important and urgent issues that Eisenhower spoke of and Stephen Covey popularised. These may involve diving into forum discussions that have slipped off-track, hurriedly tweaking content or wrestling with website functionality. While none of this is too onerous it can be disruptive to a nicely measured flow of work!
The reality of being a soloist?
Even though we technically have a small team these days, it feels very much like a collective of soloists and in that sense it feels slightly quirky. I love quirky and always have.
I think of my solo business journey in much the same way as Nicolas Cage feels about his snakeskin jacket in Wild at Heart.
What keeps me going?
When we started Flying Solo we spent a good amount of time pulling apart what we were doing and why. A decade later, the summary of our values still drives me:
Community: Flying Solo is a source of inspiration for our community…and for us.
A new model for business: The way we work is the way of the future.
Harmony between life and work: Flying Solo is a lifestyle choice.
Respect and appreciation: We interact with openness, integrity and honesty.
An authoritative voice: What we say matters.