The Plunge: Thomas Falconer

On working your network and confronting scope creep

Name: Thomas Falconer

Position, Company: Writer, Content strategist, social strategist, URBAN-X, BRIDGE

How long have you been solo: 2020

Where you can find me: LinkedIn and Medium for URBAN-X articles

Why did you decide to go into business for yourself?

After getting laid off from McKinsey and about two months before the pandemic, I took a few interviews that were profoundly unimpressive and cluegy.

What do you do and how do you differentiate yourself?

I'm not sure I'd classify it as a differentiation, but here goes. I write about technology, among other things. At ITP, Red Burns taught us to embrace technology with a healthy dose of skepticism. To ask, What problem is this solving rather than what problem might this solve. A good example of this is the early 2023 fervor over the metaverse. A current example is AI. I don't doubt the impact AI will have in some areas of business and our lives, but I don't believe good writers and artists, for example, are going away anytime soon.

What do you miss about corporate life?

Not much. I'm significantly more productive working at home. I'm fairly silly, so at the office there was lots of time spent with other silly people. And there's lots of them in advertising. I miss that. I also miss the serendipitous conversations that would quickly morph into really useful strategy and creative breakthroughs.

What do you love about entrepreneurial/consulting life?

The first change I noticed, and still my favorite difference, is that I have significantly more control over how I spend my time. And significantly more control over what work I choose to involve myself with.

What’s your best piece of advice?

Be fully engaged with your network. Post thoughtful posts on LinkedIn and comment on others' posts to amplify your expertise and to nurture a presence. In 20 years of working, I've never once gotten a job off LinkedIn. Every job I've ever had, and now have, was through my network.

Give me three takeaways

  1. Working from home is bussin.

  2. Never use GenZ slang.

  3. Keep in close contact with your contractor friends. And beware of scope creep.

Anything else you want to add?

Without sounding too much like a curmudgeon, I'm regularly amazed at the number of people I see calling themselves content strategists. Content marketing can be a result of content strategy. And it takes a lot of solid experience to understand that difference.