Kate Lundy’s speech from the launch

The book launch was a smashing success.  We had a great crowd, and great speakers – especially Kate Lundy.  She shared her journey from Federal Senator to self-employment.  Here’s her speech! I jumped at the opportunity to play a role in this evening’s book launch because, amongst other things, it gave me a chance to pay my respects to Canberra’s public servants for their commitment to excellence, application to solving wicked problems and damn hard work. I am claiming to speak with authority on this given I represented the people of the ACT in the federal parliament for 20 years. And I say it having a comprehensive and privileged insight into the motivation of people who choose to be in the service of the public, that one gains as an elected representative. The public service work environment all at once demands professional care and diligence, deep understanding of reputational and regulatory risk and how to find a dividend by being efficient. These skills mean that the talented individuals making the decision to leave the public sector are, by definition, highly diligent, resourceful and adaptable operators. And what better credentials for the private sector are there, than that. In fact, as accountability grows within the private sector and professionalization of company directors gathers apace, these public sector skills are as significant in their social, ethical and environmental dimension as they are in their financial, economic and organisational dimension. I contend that it’s this compendium of attributes, that those amongst us already ‘living without their lanyard’, are finding are in significant demand. As the complexity of all our systems of community...

How I handle the stress of self-employment

At Jamberoo Recreation Park, the newest, and most harrowing ride is the Funnel Web. It’s a waterslide that begins with a dark, twisting tunnel, then a sharp drop that spits you out onto a gigantic funnel. Your raft shoots up the slide till it feels like you’re about to tip over, then back down and out into the pool. “I’m not sure I’m up for this,” I thought, watching the rafts from the viewing platform. But I was already in line, and my six-year old niece was going with me. The first time, I hated the Funnel Web. It was almost pitch black in the tunnel, with just spinning lights to see by. Our raft went down with me backwards, which didn’t help my overall comfort levels. The second time, I knew what to expect and loved it. The fourth time, it was business as usual. Running a business puts me back at the top of the waterslide.   New types of work. New clients. Back when I was in the public service, my role was rarely exciting, and often frustrating, but it was predictable. I knew the type of work I’d be doing, and who I’d be doing it with. When I heard everything that starting a business would demand of me, I wondered, ‘Can I handle it?’ I’ve grappled with anxiety and depression for most of my adult life. Back in my twenties, I had a research contract at Newcastle University. I had so much autonomy I may as well have been self-employed. I worked in my bedroom in my dressing gown, with no one to talk to all...
Three things I miss about working in Government

Three things I miss about working in Government

Three things I miss about working in Government Being self-employed gets touted as an endless weekend, of long coffees and laptops on deck chairs, down at the beach. As someone who’s self-employed, I can tell you that yes, it is indeed pretty awesome. I know I made the right move, for a whole bunch of reasons I’ll share with you as this blog rolls on. No job is either entirely awful or entirely brilliant, though. When I worked in Government, there were good things I had which I didn’t even notice till they were gone. So in this post I’ll share what I miss. If you’re weighing up quitting, I’ll bet the ‘cons’ of being a public servant are pretty sharply defined. What about the pros? Sick days I miss sick days so very much. Yes, there’s this perception that public servants are just sponges for sick leave. They’ll take a week off the moment they see a cold virus wafting their way on a crowded bus. Let me tell you what not having sick days looks like for the self-employed. Your six-month old baby has a cold and is snuffly and whiny. You and your partner both have the flu, so the maximum parental involvement you can muster is laying a heavy arm on your baby so he doesn’t roll off the bed and die. To cap it off, you have a deadline in three days, so while your baby is sleeping (or not), you’re at your computer, tapping away as the screen swims before your eyes. That’s where sick days would be nice. The pay Oh merciful...

Three things I love about working for myself

Being self-employed is not all beer and skittles, but there are definitely upsides. Here’s my top three. 1. Doing my own thing I have to say, I am a phenomenal boss. I know exactly how I work best, when to get involved and when to just step aside and let myself get on with the job. When you work for a large organization, you have to bend and adapt to their way of doing things. And that’s how it should be. A public service full of unique snowflakes who all work in their own special way would be impossible to manage. Back in the public service, I used to think that I was too stubborn, or had too much ego. And maybe there was a bit of that going on. How I think about it now is has changed. Now I see that I place a very high value on autonomy, and I’m prepared to trade off other things, like security, to get it. Because it makes me happy. 2. Choosing where and when I work I’m writing this on a Saturday morning on a cane chair under our carport. There’s a breeze, and I can see the sun on the lawn. Yesterday, I finished early because my friend James was down from Darwin, so we sat on the deck and played with Jack. I definitely work longer hours now that I’m self-employed, but I have more flexibility to make trade-offs and hammer out a work-life balance. 3. Picking the kind of work I do In the last year or so, I’ve expanded out from just doing writing and...