Those of us surfing the second wave of Corona restrictions across a desolate wasteland of zoom meetings and job interviews in pyjama bottoms are left with one of two choices. We can ease the monotony of relentless downtime on Netflix while eating Nutella from the jar with a salad spoon, or we can explore who we may become once the smoke clears.
For a few weeks I enjoyed eating the Nutella and while physically I grew fuller than ever, mentally I felt myself slipping into a hazelnut-laced husk of my former self. So, to get myself back on the path to financial freedom I updated my website and forked out for that least favourite of all subscriptions – a premium Linkedin account, to add some razzle dazzle to my professional profile.
I’ve also decided to use my free time to work at the things I love. I’ve been writing music, drawing, cooking and completing a short course in screenwriting.
More recently I restored and set up a 100-year-old industrial chain stitch embroidery machine to embellish my jackets, which has pride of placement in the centre of my lounge.
My professional diligence briefly paid off with some freelance work writing copy for a couple of multi-million-dollar developments bursting up around the bayside. I went on to craft a comprehensive social media strategy for a large burger chain, helped build a strategic pitch for a digital media start-up and made a number of shortlist interviews at major agencies and firms who have assured me my details will remain “on file”.
I appreciate any work I get but writing brochures and social media plans are a long shot from crafting the creative campaigns of the golden era that lead to the current lockdown.
I believe that finding any meaningful work is a marathon over a sprint at the best of times, so I’ve taken the approach of being patient and proactive where I can.
A surprising connection came from a lady named Allie Hilmer, who over the last couple of years has been building a tech start-up called ZippyCrowd. Allie dropped me a DM asking if I could help out with a communication strategy for her product and brand. I took the call and since encountering Allie’s enthusiasm and drive, I’ve been helping out wherever I can.
Allie’s plan is to make it easy for people to share recommendations for other people within their own communities.
The idea is simple but profound in its potential. It’s built completely around trust and based on the notion that people enjoy recommending excellent workmanship and services offered by their friends, families and local communities. The resulting network of connections exist through only 2 degrees of separation, so there is an emphasis on real-world relationships – a notion that’s missing from so many social network applications.
A few weeks after I started helping Allie with some communication strategy for ZippyCrowd I was in the process of rewiring vintage Bakelite switches for the embroidery machine bench. I tried to google an electrician who could help that was based within the 5km lockdown radius of my apartment. I found three sparky services – all too large to bother with my DIY project.
I knew that someone I knew would know an electrician but didn’t have the means to reach out to everyone – a perfect proof of concept.
I’ve since got the embroidery machine up and running and occasionally I spend a couple of hours on Zoom with Allie, to catch up on developments with the startup or to offer more assistance where I can.
I’m not raking in a regular paycheque, but I feel working on a platform that supports small businesses and real-world communities has real meaning.
Over a time where so many small businesses are suffering every shoutout or recommendation helps. Someday soon I may add a custom chain stitch embroidery service to the mix and if you know me by then, please recommend me to your people.