Working Out Loud Circle – Week Five

This is part of a series of posts documenting my journey with a Working Out Loud circle, as defined in John Stepper’s book; Working Out Loud: For a better Career and Life.  You can read the rest of the series here.

Once again we gathered on Friday morning for our regular connection to the Working Out Loud Circle which has started to be called the ‘Mut Anfall Team’ – Courage Attack.

So what did we do this week?

As usual, we started with our regular check-in – I felt I had made some good progress in connecting with my relationship list this week and it was good to hear that others were making good progress soon. One of the most affirming aspects of being in a circle is that you can enjoy others small success as well.

We then moved on to the Week 5 exercises – finding and discussing facts about ourselves.  For some, this can be a difficult exercise, first finding the facts and then sharing.  We discussed some lists that were already out there in the group and committed to sharing the remaining lists in our Slack channel.  We spent a long time talking about the difference between a gift and a contribution, and the effect that has on us sharing these lists.

I saw a connection between these facts and a journey line exercise, which many companies use as a way of sharing history and creating some vulnerability in leaders.   We also talked about how this connected with having a growth mindset when connecting with people.

Along the way, we discussed the Johari Window concept (new to me) and walking as a meditation or problem-solving tool, which is great  – because I love a stroll!

My key takeaways

  • Creating 50 facts about yourself is not easy, but it’s a worthwhile exercise to focus on facts vs opinions. There is an element of trust required, but your circle is a great place to explore this.
  • I learned about the Johari Window – and will be reading about that and maybe completing the exercise for myself in the future.

What did I do after the week three meeting?


Working Out Loud Circle – Week Four

This is part of a series of posts documenting my journey with a Working Out Loud circle, as defined in John Stepper’s book; Working Out Loud: For a better Career and Life.  You can read the rest of the series here.

Friday again, and it was hard to believe we’ve reached week four of our Working Out Loud Circle journey. I’d had a particularly disrupted week, so it was great to regroup with my new friends and discuss how we’d got on.

So what did we do this week?

Once again, we started with our regular check-in. Which I find a good time to really reflect, out loud, on what has gone on during the week and what progress I have made.  It’s great to hear that my fellow circle members have made good progress.

We started with the exercises from this week, reflecting on ‘Inbox Empathy’.  Most of us had some good examples of people that had contacted us with zero empathy, and it was clear how it made us feel.

We then had a lengthy discussion about the tactics we use to create empathy in our initial connections with people inside and outside our network, and how we were going to use that to connect with people on our relationship list.

It was encouraging to hear that others share the same puzzles about reaching out and ensuring that you are adding value, but it’s clear that we are all going to attempt something this week.

My key takeaways

  • Connections with new people are often all about context – in the example that John Stepper gives in the worksheet, the winning paragraph is that he sets the context for the email. This demonstrates the ‘why’ of the mail – not just the gift.
  • We had a long discussion on the open, random, supportive approach to building a network vs the ‘screening’ approach that some of the circle use.

What did I do after the week three meeting?

  • I’ve sent email connections to all the people on my relationship list – with some resources I think they might find useful – now it’s time to wait for responses!

Working Out Loud Circle – Week Three

This is part of a series of posts documenting my journey with a Working Out Loud circle, as defined in John Stepper’s book; Working Out Loud: For a better Career and Life.  You can read the rest of the series here.

Friday rolled around quickly for me, the product of a busy week but the Working Out Loud circle assembled again in cyberspace, and spent another enjoyable and energising hour working through our guided practice for the week.

So what did we do this week?

As ever, we kicked off with a check-in, calibrating where we all were with the tasks and our different goals.  It was good to hear that everyone felt they had made some progress this week and our general energy levels were high, despite some people having weeks equally as busy as mine!

We then talked through the first exercise, and specifically about how we planned to ‘pay ourselves first’.  I felt like I already did quite well on this, blocking out one-hour per day to work on writing and look at contributions to others in my network. I recently wrote about how that had worked for me, with my 2018 challenge of writing every day – January is complete and I’m happy with my progress.

One thing was apparent to me today, that as a group we enjoy celebrating success. One of our number had a good win this week, and it was great to hear that and celebrate as a group. It feels like we are invested in success as a team.

Mutanfall – a German word meaning ‘Courage Attack’

We had a few interesting discussions today, one around the difference between a work brand and a personal brand. My feeling is that the two are very closely mixed, one is an extension of the other.

We also talked about how joining a Working Out Loud circle had given us all a little ‘nudge’ towards doing things we know to be useful, there is a word ‘Mutanfall’ – a German word that means ‘Courage Attack’, which is a fantastic definition of this.  I feel like I have had those attacks of courage whenever I spend time investing in myself for training or learning, and I suspect there is a network effect in play here, the more I invest, the better I will be at pushing myself.

Finally, we talked about gratitude and practised it a little bit in our group as well as setting ourself up for some private and public displays in the next week.

My key takeaways

  • Once again – we are still energised, and reading ahead in the WOL guides it seems that there are a lot more opportunities for fun collaboration with this team.
  • I’ll be working through my relationship this week and looking to make connections.  I’ve already started through this blog to pay forward some gratitude to the knowledge and wisdom that I read each day.

What did I do after the week three meeting?

  • I built some new space into my calendar to work through the WOL exercises.
  • I added some new plans to my editorial calendar for this site to connect with other bloggers who I want to express some gratitude to.


Working Out Loud Circle – Week Two

This is part of a series of posts documenting my journey with a Working Out Loud circle, as defined in John Stepper’s book; Working Out Loud: For a better Career and Life.  You can read the rest of the series here.

Friday was the second meeting of the Working Out Loud Circle I am in, and so I started my day with 3 of the  4 people I met the previous week. One person couldn’t make it, and whilst we missed them, we pushed ahead with our video conference and started our day off with the same energy as last week.

It was my turn to host the meeting, and I think we kept quite well to time, although we had a few interesting deviations to our conversations which are to be expected when you are with a group with diverse backgrounds and goals.

So, what did we do this week?

This week was subtitled ‘offer your first contributions’, a chance for us to make some connections and contributions to the relationship list that we previously drew up.

We spent some time checking in with each other, and reviewing what we had done in the week before.  We’d all worked on our relationship list and evaluated the level of intimacy that we currently had, and it was good to see other peoples perspectives on their lists.

Then we spent time talking through the first contributions we had made to our network and how those had landed.

Finally, we confirmed our plans for the coming week and agreed our time for next week.

My key takeaways

  • In the week 2 plan, there is an exercise called ‘The Generosity Test’. I like to think I’ve got good manners, so it’s not a stretch to follow the test – but I am rarely mindful of what happens when I do,  I need to think more about that.
  • Our group is very good at trying to help each other out by making connections, I’m keeping a separate list of the people I’ve been recommended to connect wit. The network can grow quickly!

What did I do after the week two meeting?

  • We talked a lot in the meeting about how I use Twitter and Tweetdeck specifically to interact with my network, and I offered to help the group understand the tool, so I’ve been researching how to run a quick ‘webinar’ on the subject. I’m trying to get that set up this week.
  • I deliberately went out and offered some contribution or feedback to everyone on my relationship list. I’m trying to form a habit there, instead of just retweeting information, but sharing something useful and positive.

Working Out Loud Circle – Week One

This is part of a series of posts documenting my journey with a Working Out Loud circle, as defined in John Stepper’s book; Working Out Loud: For a better Career and Life.  You can read the rest of the series here. 

On Friday, I met the rest of my Working Out Loud circle in the first of our 12 weekly meetings.  We’re a pretty spread out group, coming from South Africa, Australia, Liechtenstein and two from the UK.   We’ll meet on Friday morning at 9 am UK time, and it was a good way to start the day, connected with an energetic and motivated bunch by video.

Working Out Loud Circle

The nature of timezones meant we had four of us with coffee mugs, and one with a glass of wine – which just reinforced the global aspect of our circle! I promise that it wasn’t my breakfast Beaujolais!

So, what did we do?

The Working Out Loud Circle programme has some great guidance documented. We’re going to stick to the plan and so for week one, we covered four main activities:

  1. Some brief introductions.  We’d wisely written a short bio/intro in our Slack channel. So we were just saying ‘hello’ on this call and starting to get to know each other.
  2. A quick opening statement about why we had joined a Working Out Loud circle.  For me, I’m looking to figure out how I can build my network and contribute more frequently to the people I connect with.  I suspect my goal may change, and one the pieces of advice that the group had was to ‘not fix on the goal too much’, as there is a tendency to update and adjust the goal as the circle progresses.
  3. A short exercise to begin building our relationship list. These are the people that we will be connecting with and building relationships as we work through the 12 weeks.  This was interesting as the members of the circle immediately thought to add the other members, which demonstrates some common goals and hopefully some early rapport.
  4. Finally, a short sum up of the activities from this week.

My key takeaways from Week One

  • We have a great bunch, diverse in backgrounds and locations, and a good energy around the circle.
  • Our goals are both distinct but have some similar threads which mean we’ll all be able to help.
  • For a first meeting, we were remarkably open and sharing – which to me demonstrates that we’re already ‘leaning in’, and we have already assumed positive intent.

What did I do directly?

I’m using this section each week to capture what I did directly as a result of the meeting and hold myself accountable.

  1. Shared my contact details with the whole circle.  Email, phone, twitter everything.
  2. Connected with those members that have twitter accounts.
  3. Built two twitter lists – one for my WOL circle, and one for the people on my relationship list so that I can stick close to what they are doing.
  4. Wrote this! Although I’ll hold it as a draft for a couple of days.

Working Out Loud – joining a circle

Earlier this week I posted a review of Working Out Loud: For a better career and life, a book I have found really useful as a guide to working more deliberately towards goals I want to achieve and building stronger relationships and networks.

One of the key ‘go-dos’ in the book is to practice the ideas from the book with a few like-minded individuals in what is called a Working Out Loud Circle.
Working Out Loud fundamentalsToday (19th Jan), I’ll start that journey, meeting for one hour per week with 4 other professionals who have recently finished Working Out Loud and are looking to practice what they have learned.

We’ve assembled through the Working Out Loud Facebook page, connected via Slack and will be meeting over video conference every Friday for the next 12 weeks, with a programme designed to get us practising the ideas to help us build Better Relationships.

I’m hoping that we’ll hold each other accountable, and give each other feedback about what works, and what doesn’t so we can fine-tune our Working Out Loud.

I’m going to capture my key learnings from this exercise here – and hopefully connect to my fellow #wol circle members through my writing here.



Read – Working Out Loud : For a Better Career and Life

This is a review of Working Out Loud : For a Better Career and Life by John Stepper.

I’ve been interested in the concept of Working Out Loud for some time, having heard it mentioned across various blogs and twitter feeds. It aligns closely with having a Growth Mindset (which Stepper references). In order to have a Growth Mindset, we need to disavow the fear that stops us Working Out Loud. By fostering generosity and strong connections with one another, we can build a more collaborative approach to work.

Working Out LoudWorking Out Loud is a useful and well-written guidebook for anyone who wants to improve their personal brand by making their work and themselves visible.

Following the programme laid out by Stepper, its easy to see how you can ‘Build Better Relationships’ which can enhance your career and life in general.

The author starts with three key questions:

1. What am I trying to accomplish?
2. Who can help me with that goal?
3. How can I contribute to them to deepen our relationship?

By answering these questions, the reader can establish a sense of purpose, which the remainder of the book helps support.

There are five elements to Working Out Loud:

  • Purposeful Discovery
  • Relationships
  • Generosity
  • Visible Work
  • Growth Mindset

The book guides the reader through each of these principles with some background to the benefits, and some practical guidance to establish the right course. Towards the end of the book, Stepper talks at length about ‘Working Out Loud’ circles, which are a way of bringing the learnings from the book to life, by connecting with other readers who share your goals.

I really enjoyed the pace and the structure of this book which combined some high level concepts with some actionable processes to get started. At the end of each chapter there were clearly documented takeaways, alongside some ‘do this now’ sections which ranged from a few minutes. These steps were a key to getting started, and generating momentum rather than just reading a dry text book.

I’d highly recommend Working Out Loud to anyone that was embarking on a programme of personal branding, or wants to build stronger relationships in their career. By following the guidelines in the book, I could easily see a movement of people demonstrating real personal growth.