So…before going into the details of why I love fractional work life, some of you might be wondering what that even means. In a few words, fractional executives or professionals are not regular employees. They are also not regular freelancers. Rather we are supercharged and seasoned consultants that can help a company take a project to the next level by sharing our expertise for a fraction of the time and set period.
How did I end up here? Well, it's a long story. But to cut it short, during COVID, I made the decision to fly solo and become a consultant. Quite a risky, far-from-calculated choice that I do not (for the most part) regret. Because besides being able to work on many different projects, all different scales, sizes, and challenges, I am also able to work across countries and industries. Just this year alone, I have managed to work on amazing marketing and branding projects: from Mexico to the USA to the Netherlands to Switzerland.
Expanding the Horizons
This year, I also expanded my horizons. My working journey and style brought me to join 10x, a members-only platform that unites top fractional talent with ambitious companies to deliver 10x outcomes supported by the best tech, tools and team.
Joining 10x has allowed me to meet and spar with other fractional professionals like me who have decided to live their work life out of the box, knowing and relying on their knowledge, skills, and talent to make a difference by bringing different yet practical solutions to the table. We think differently. We work differently. We execute differently. We can help companies get from point A further than point B if they let us. What sets us apart is that we are not afraid of failing because we have failed before. The difference is that we keep trying. We keep coming up with new ways to do things – whether they fail or succeed, we don’t give up.
We are not your regular 9-5ers. Our brains never stop working, never stop wondering, and never stop being curious. I can vouch for this, as normally, my best ideas come to me at 3 am as I am in the comfort of my bed...then I have to (quite grudgingly) get up and start making notes.
And the benefits of being a fractional professional?
The biggest benefit for me is being able to cherry-pick: There’s nothing more important to me than to get to choose which companies I want to work with. Having the freedom to select the companies that better align with my core values is invaluable to me. In addition, being able to select what projects work best for me is one of the main reasons why I put up with the risk of sometimes NOT having a project on hand. Which sometimes happens.
And, let’s not forget that I get to work on all sorts of projects, sometimes simultaneously, across companies, across teams, across industries and across projects. In one day, I can be pulled into a meeting for a software technology company in the Netherlands, for a branding project in Mexico, for an emotional wellness project in the USA and for a non-profit organization to raise breast cancer awareness in Peru.
Being able to work on different projects for different companies at the same time allows me to supercharge my efforts into each project without getting pulled into the day-to-day distractions of a specific company. I can also extract knowledge and experience of what's working in other industries and channel it with integrity into a different project if it makes sense.
I can also work my own hours at my own pace. Most of the time remotely, but with the ability to pop into a physical office if needed and if I am in the area. All in all, as I told Rik Winkel from the Financieel Dagblad, for me, it works because I can focus completely on the result and commit 150% mentally, no matter what project I am taking on.
And the downfalls?
I know this all sounds quite romantic and fun, but sometimes it is NOT, and that is where I question my life decisions. Sometimes, you simply cannot get the project you wanted. Or you don’t get any project at all. That’s where having nerves of steel and tons of patience and belief in yourself comes in handy.
Another downfall? It can be the case that even though you are hired as a fractional professional, you get caught up in the bureaucracy, with either micromanaging or no one able to make a decision quickly. It doesn't happen that often because most companies know that time has value and the clock is ticking when you have a fractional professional on board.
Another downfall? ‘Prospects’ that only want to ‘interview you’ to pick your brain and execute the ideas themselves. It has happened before that the other party openly said they would hire someone cheaper to execute my ideas (I have it on paper...well, Whatsapp message, which is almost the same thing). Don’t get me wrong. I am not against companies that require a pitch before they hire you. I have pitched for some companies before. But at this point, if I am not being paid for it and I don't get a good vibe from the people in the room, I won't do it.
Besides, there are tons of other companies that can recognize skills and talent based on examples of what you have done on previous projects and on references, and those are the type of companies I prefer to work with because they are visionary enough to see the potential in me. And, after working in Marketing for over 15 years, I have learned how to recognize ‘potential clients’ that I know will never convert because they were never serious about hiring me in the first place. The biggest tell? When they are way more interested in what campaigns and ideas I can give them from the get-go without even trying to get to know me, my work style or my experience. A lot of people have suggested that it’s very likely that I end up not getting the project because I don’t pitch specific campaign ideas to them, which granted, may be the case.
But, hear me out. Is a developer asked to code an entire app for the company before being hired to build more apps? Is an architect asked to design a house before they are paid for it? So, if you are hiring me for a strategic position, shouldn't me asking strategic questions about your business and telling you about my previous portfolio tell you I am capable of doing it?
Again, based on my experience and intuition, more often than not, if they show no interest in me as a person or my past experience, these companies just want the idea(s) to either execute themselves or hire someone cheaper to do it. So, I decided not to give freebies, because ideas, like time, have value. If they are not serious about hiring a supercharged fractional professional like myself, they won’t hire me even if I pitch the most viral campaign of all time anyway. You want good talent and great ideas? You will have to pay for it. And in the end, I agree with a notorious phrase one of my mentors (looking at you, Angelique Schouten) uses: “If you want to pay peanuts, you will get monkeys.”
So, to wrap this up, it has been quite the journey, and I am just getting started. But I wouldn't have made it this far if I would not have had awesome people who have trusted me with their projects, so MASSIVE thanks to my clients, my work '?cheerleaders?' 'pimps?' and everyone who has trusted in me. After doing this for 3 years, I am hoping I can make it to 4 and beyond!