Friday, May 11, 2012

naming rights

It was hard work maintaining relative silence about my resignation that would take effect around 4 months into the future. What I found the most challenging was maintaining a business as usual approach to those who were closest to me in the workplace; a couple of peers and direct reports in particular. Those above me, the executive, were of course all in the loop.

Over the period a couple of close peers were given opportunities to act in the role of one of the executive members, usually when an executive was overseas for a period of time. When this occurred, these individual peers were appraised and given the news. I tended to find out about these moments when a peer raced into my office, closed my door, and started to grill me. Usually with the words “is this true?”

I always felt relief when a peer was advised, as it gave me someone else in the workplace I could talk to. But the secret remained secure through the entire time. I appreciated that fact, as it did allow me to simply focus on delivering the business outcomes I had committed to. I found myself facing these tasks with a renewed vigour and even a sense of renewed empowerment.

At work I was delivering results – probably with more drive than at any other point in my career. At home, with my planning (and office construction) complete, I focused on my actual business development.

At times I found the “secret” to be a challenge here too, particularly in the drafting stages of my business design, marketing material and even web site wording. I have a large network of professional colleagues who I talk to on a regular basis. In ordinary circumstances I would have bounced ideas and concepts passed many of them. But Canberra is too small a city and the networks are too connected. So, like the workplace, I largely focused on the business development in isolation. Sue of course was the exception. Sue had built a successful executive coaching and facilitation business only a few years earlier and she continued to provide me with exceptional guidance and support throughout the initial journey and beyond.

I had already decided that my name would speak for itself. I was confident that the last few years of exposure as a senior human resource leader in the public sector had left me with a large enough network and reputation. Googling Stephen Walker and HR usually produced strong results with much of the first couple of pages referring to me: conference I’ve presented at or articles I’d written and so on.

So I went with my name. Through my research I found that internet domain names were possible using my name and that the register of company business showed I was clear to register a company with my name as the company name.

My brief to my graphic designer used my name. My brief to my web site designer used my name. The web designer though, did question this decision. He rightly questioned me about future business growth and whether the business name would last the test of time.

He succeeded in planting a seed of doubt. We revisited the early brainstorming about where and how I could position my business. Some words and concepts seemed to naturally spring out. Strategy was a key one. It flavoured a lot of our ideas. People, leadership, change where all strong too. But we reflected on what these represented and workforce emerged.

We put the combination of strategy and workforce to the “search” test on Google. The good news was that there didn’t seem to be anyone out there calling themselves any combination of these words. Search results also clearly focused on the topic and issues that I hoped. As luck would have it, the combination of “workforce strategies” was available as an Australian domain name and business name. It was decided and Workforce Strategies was born.

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