WORDCON INDIA TOUR 2018 was a sudden “bulb-lighting” event. Since were were accompanying Infosec Foundation’s Cyber security CISO event in multiple cities, we thought of organizing an informal meet for freelancers in cities in Bangalore, New Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta on the next day.
Our “freelance team” worked in tandem and we informed freelancers – email, phone, social media, word of mouth and also told them this sentence directly verbatim from the Chairman’s opening address : “..I come as a Chief Listener. We would like to listen to the city-specific challenges and solutions being devised by you. We are not here to sell motivational snake-oil, membership, mantra to increase income 1000 times overnight, some mircale or as such. We are here to listen – gather direct field data and then after the Tour, compile and keep it in public domain as a shared corpus for freelancers, those who buy services from freelancers, those who aspire to be and those will be forced (what was called “Bangaloreed” in the West some years back).”
On Friday 28th morning where very senior members of Infosec Team were present, we encountered a counter-intuitive phenomena : Corporate professionals were too eager to ask : “How can I be a freelancer ? ” or more un-packed question – “Is there a chance to survive as a freelancer after so many years of corporate work?”
Then the debate and deliberation started. It was intense, very engaging and visceral including inter-generational face to face discussion on “transformation of values of work-ethic – between loyalty and freedom, responsibility and sentiment, self-worth and market-worth, net-worth and life-worth.
We also had an objective of connecting and building relationship with our next wave of Leaders in the millennial generation and we learnt a lot by direct interaction and then over lunches with few such Bangaloreans.
What we Learnt on behalf of the Foundation ?
- Freelancers face high risk from deadbeat clients, i,e, those who do not pay for legitimate work and there is not much of practical framework. Social shaming may be a method.
- Senior and established freelancers / professionals must take the role of guide – not the fee seeking motivational gurus and Life coaches who have made a business out of the vulnerability and innocence of young and less experienced professionals. They must do this as one attendee told – “to give back to the society. not to take anything.”
- The “romantic” view epitomized in the sentence – “be your own boss” is now almost equally pervasive among students (at the threshold of job) and corporate workers (at the middle of the journey) and that shows that the uncertainty and un-stability in Work, Mode of Work, Payment from Work are all under flux. Chairman Pritam Bhattacharyya reminded the audience that this view is not the full picture – “being your own boss” is not sufficient motivation to get going, at the first stage. When you are a serious freelancer and just started, you not only have one boss but multiple bosses (read clients) to please. The ego-driven “I am my own boss” should be re-phrased as – “I have more freedom to decide how, where and to whom I sell my professional time.”
- Mr. Subhasis Chatterjee, Tour Manager and Senior member informed how he started as a freelancer as a youth and then this made him visible to people who wanted his services and eventually offered a job. Or in other words, freelancing is not something one does leaving a job but can be a cornerstone of a job.
- Bangalore media – both print and electronic surprised with their interest. With a small team based in Calcutta ( Communication and Control) and Silchar (Research and Guidance), we could reach a considerable number of media outlets and we hope to see their valued channels spread our message – a message not for profit or gain but to create a “garden” – unwalled so that cross-pollination of ideas, actions and best-practices can happen.
The TOUR led by two journey man of Calcutta Pritam Bhattacharyya and Subhasis Chatterjee and supported by many will call next port of Call : New Delhi – 9-11th August 2018.