A Brief Overview of the CODE for Free Agents
CODE essentially breaks down the process of taking action into an organized sequence. Whatever you may have been doing intuitively (or haphazardly) can be done with clear intention through CODE’s systemized approach. Doing so can quickly impact the outcome of your searches.
It begins with you, the Free Agent, learning to rethink your position in life and to reclaim your value as it relates to your career. Perhaps your ultimate goal is to find employment in a chosen industry as a full-time employee or contractor. Or perhaps you will make the decision to start your own business. This methodology is designed to give you the tools to take control of your life’s direction.
The following is a brief overview of the CODE process. The details of the steps and explanation of all the concepts are covered in the chapters of the Economy of One book. They will guide you through each step and familiarize you with the concepts important in completing them.
Step 1 involves learning how to think like an entrepreneur while approaching your new career path. This does not mean you necessarily become an entrepreneur; it simply means you understand the mindset of one.
In Step 2 you find an accountability partner or group. Ideally, your partner is a peer who can offer objective feedback, advice, and encouragement as you go through the entire CODE process.
In Step 3, you’ll write your Perfect Job description. By aligning the marketable skills you already have with your passion, you’ll identify what types of opportunities you should be hunting for.
In Step 4, with your target opportunity in mind, you will construct your personal brand. Your brand projects both your image and lifestyle, which should align squarely with your Perfect Job.
In Step 5, you start developing your MAP (short for Marketing Action Plan). Your MAP is simply a list of people (or contacts) who you know personally and/or professionally and who may have, or may know of, an opportunity you want to pursue. The list can also include people you wish you knew, or companies in which you are interested, as they align with your Perfect Job.
In Step 6, your action is to establish connections (via email, phone, or in person, etc) with those contacts from your MAP you decide are most likely to lead to an opportunity (a job or contract) that exists or might be created. These designated contacts are known as Whites and are distinct from the rest of the people on your MAP.
From here, you will start one more list or spreadsheet: the YBR (Yellow-Blue-Red) Pipeline. The YBR is a sales pipeline – essentially a color-coded list – in which you put a confirmed opportunity at one end (Yellow) and work it through to the stage when you are actively pitching your skills or capabilities to a prospect (Red). Each step is described in more detail below.
Step 7 involves Yellow Opportunities, or Yellows. These are confirmed opportunities (not just ones you hope exist) which, ideally, align with your Perfect Job. Yellow opportunities may stem from Whites (contacts) you first identified in Step Five or Six while others may come from hearing or reading about a current job or contract opening. Your primary action in Step Seven is to begin communicating with a person connected to each Yellow to see if there is a need and fit for your skills.
In Step 8, once a Yellow opportunity, (for example, a company representative), signals he or she would like to discuss the possibility of hiring you or offering a contract, it is reclassified as a Blue. At this stage, your action would be a thorough evaluation of the opportunity to determine how much of a match there is with your Perfect Job, beyond the paycheck.
In Step 9, when the opportunity moves beyond the interview/evaluation stage, it is reclassified as a Red. This is the point where you are in final discussions or actively working toward forming an agreement either as a potential employee or as a contractor. It is also the point at which an opportunity may close down because the position has been offered to someone else or because you decide, for some reason, the position or opportunity is not what you really want.
In Step 10, once the outcome is decided – either a yes or no – the opportunity is removed from your YBR pipeline and converted on your MAP as a Green. This is an important step because, no matter the outcome, you want to nurture the relationships and contacts you made during your engagement with each opportunity.
In moving to Green, you begin the entire CODE process again, including reworking your YBR pipeline, if you are continuing to look for opportunities. Even if you are successful in finding a position, your task is to continue to maintain and update your MAP for the duration of your career. As millions of unemployed people can attest, there is very little job security. It is vital to maintain contacts – just in case.
As a way to help remember the primary elements of CODE, there is an actual number sequence: 4-3-2-8-1. You will learn more about the significance of these numbers if you read the book, but here is a quick introduction:
The 4 phases
There are four phases for your opportunities in the YBR pipeline:
- Phase 1: Opportunity generation (Whites, that once contacted, may result in Yellow Opportunities)
- Phase 2: Opportunity qualification (Blue)
- Phase 3: The Sales Pitch (Red)
- Phase 4: Post-sales (Green)
During each phase, you engage your opportunities in three very different ways.
The 3 roles
The three roles help you remember how to engage during the different phases of the YBR pipeline. Like any entrepreneur who must wear many hats, you will play different roles as you work to move your opportunities forward:
- The Prospector – finds and/or generates opportunities
- The Technical Expert – evaluates opportunities as they apply to their skill sets
- The Closer – negotiates and wins opportunities
It is not important you perfectly understand the differences between these roles– just keep in mind you will play three different roles during the CODE process.
The 2 lists
CODE is a process and is basically summed up in activities or actions which move you between two lists:
- The MAP – a detailed list of everyone you know as well as the people you want to know (based on your hunt for your Perfect Job)
- The YBR Pipeline – a list of all the opportunities (existing jobs or contracting positions) you are currently engaging
There is a lot of information involved in working through your various contacts as well as in converting opportunities from one color to the next but, for now, just remember: there are essentially two lists which summarize your actions and areas of focus – essentially everything you do during the CODE process.
The 8 Critical Questions
When engaging with Blue opportunities, you need to thoroughly evaluate the employment or contracting position to make sure it is a viable opportunity or a good fit. There are eight questions you should be able to answer before moving on to final negotiations with each opportunity:
- Is there a definitive timeline in which the job or contract will become available?
- Have I met and spent time with the decision maker(s)?
- Do I know the criteria which will be used to make the decision?
- Who is the competition?
- Have I addressed the proprietary nature of the solution I provide?
- What are the prospect’s assumptions about price and definition of value?
- What is the timeline for a decision to be made?
- What are my next steps to move this opportunity through my pipeline? Or should I take it out altogether?
In answering each of these questions, you will more clearly understand what the employer or client is looking for and thereby position yourself as uniquely able to provide the solution.
The 1 goal
To put it simply: your one task as a Free Agent is to work your MAP and YBR pipeline to become an Economy of One. If you commit to consistently work your pipeline as outlined in the steps of this book, everything else will fall into place.
In the book, The Economy of One: CODE for Free Agents, you will learn about the process of CODE in much greater detail. You will also hear the stories of people perhaps like you, who were unemployed or underemployed and struggling to find the solution to the question of what do I do now? You will see you are not alone. You will see you ARE the solution.
Follow them, learn from them, and become your own Economy of One.
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