Should You Work for Free


Almost everyone I know has been asked to work for free at some stage in their career. The question may have come from:

  • A family member: perhaps your parents need help with their computer. Maybe your brother needs a website or some graphic design help. Perhaps your sister wants to shoot and edit a video for school. We’ve all been there
  • A not-for-profit: they do great work but need help from someone with your expertise
  • A startup: cool entrepreneurs bootstrapping their business need a lot of help. Maybe you know something that could help
  • A business: maybe things are not going so well, but with your help they could get through a recent dry spell. Perhaps there’s an opportunity for paid work down the track

It’s great to help people, but where do you draw the line? Are you in business for your self or are you giving your hard won expertise away for free? This great chart by Jessica Hische provides some handy questions that you should ask yourself before saying “yes” to your next free gig.


I am Joining Constellation Research

constellation logo-color-with tm I am often asked about the story behind this blog and its name – Servant of Chaos. It came about many years ago when I was working with DMR Consulting which was then in the midst of a merger with its parent company, Fujitsu. Those who have lived through a corporate merger will understand the communications challenges that take place – particularly when jobs and friendships are under pressure – but in amongst the chaos, I discovered a way of navigating and connecting with people. It meant relinquishing control. And it meant serving the chaos that was presented.

Throughout my career, I have found that serving the chaos can be challenging but also rewarding. Sometimes, we need embrace the disruption around us – to immerse ourselves in it – so that we can understand it. And sometimes we must cause some chaos in order to create the conditions for change.

From today, I am once again embracing change – and joining the award winning research and advisory firm, Constellation Research. I have long been an admirer of CEO R “Ray” Wang, so I am especially excited to lead Constellation’s latest business-focused research theme, Digital Marketing Transformation – and to have the opportunity of working alongside some of the best analysts in the business.

I will be focusing on the changing role and expectations of CMOs, the fusion of marketing channels and change-driven marketing innovation, and will expand Constellation’s ability to provide digital marketing research and advisory services to its early adopter clients worldwide.

There is no doubt that we are seeing a dramatic shift in the role of marketing. Advertising is under pressure, social is changing our customer relationships and the Consumerisation of IT is changing the way we do our work. There has never been so much change or opportunity – and I'm excited to help chart the course between marketing, technology, customers and vendors.

If you’d like to learn more about Constellation Research and the team I will be working with – check out their profiles, blog posts and research agendas.

If you think we could do business together – we’d love to hear from you. Or, of course, you can always reach me directly via Twitter or LinkedIn.

Hi, I’m Gavin – How Do You Tell Your Personal Story?

What do you say when you introduce yourself to someone? How do you speak and how do you make eye contact. How firmly do you shake hands?

When you meet face-to-face there thousands of data points and impressions being captured by the people you are meeting. Some are visual. Some are tonal. And yes, some are olfactory.

But what do you do online? How do you tell your story? For example, you can find out about me at:

But, for me, the sum always feels greater than the parts.

To be honest, telling your own story is extremely difficult. In my opinion, it’s why we have agencies and consultants … because they can view your achievements, strengths and qualities with an outsider’s perspective. But tools like LinkedIn and blogs can definitely help. And in this age of infographics, sometimes you just need a visual snapshot – which is why I quite like It connects to your LinkedIn profile and turns the underlying data into a visual CV. Here is mine – and while it could do with some additional elements – it does seem to get the point across. What do you think?


How Young People Are Faring in 2011

HYPAF-cover-full-report-236x335 Can you remember when you first left home? Do you remember what it felt like – that first week – being solely responsible for all aspects of your life? For me, it was thrilling, but also daunting. It was really only in the silence of that first night that the reality set in – childhood was seriously over, and this new life was entirely in my own hands.

I finished school during an economic recession and walked into a competitive and shrinking job market. I’d done well enough at school yet still found it hard to secure that vital first job. I can remember feeling the pressure, the desperation and exhaustion of doing interview after interview. It took longer than I ever expected to retire from the ranks of the unemployed.

But in 2011, times are better, right? We are more economically stable – secure and growing than we have been in decades. Some would even say, we are “booming”. But the Foundation for Young Australians’ new report How Young People are Faring 2011 suggests that this prosperity and wealth is not “trickling down”. In fact, key findings indicate that young people are more vulnerable than the rest of the population to economic instability:

  • more than one quarter of all long-term unemployed Australians are now aged 15 to 24
  • since 2008, the percentage of young Australians without a job for a year or longer has almost doubled
  • despite Australia’s relative economic buoyancy, teenagers in Australia have higher rates of long-term unemployment than in many other OECD countries.

In my view, this means that we need to redouble our focus on catapulting young people into the workforce. It’s about ensuring they have the support, confidence and capability to transition into the world of work in such a way that it benefits all.

This is precisely why the work that I do with local non-profit Vibewire is important – it’s pointless having opportunity available if you aren’t able to understand it, grasp it and accept it. The team at Vibewire work everyday to build resilience, capacity and skills through a vibrant internship program, this year generating over 20,000 hours of experience for young people. You can support Vibewire, become involved as a mentor or even as an intern. Please do – you  won’t regret it.

The full FYA report is available for download here.

What’s Your Job Again?

market signI don’t know about you, but I have always had a hard time explaining to my family what I do for a living. Well, there was a few years where I was working in an accountant’s office – but apart from that, my working life has been a mystery to my parents.

At family BBQs I would find myself “dumbing down” my job role to explain it to uncles and aunts. I would rephrase, repeat and reinterpret every new job role at each and every family gathering. In the end I gave up.

Thankfully, these days I no longer also have to explain what “blogging” is. Even my mother seems to understand blogging.

But marketing, branding and even advertising still seems to confound everyone (despite the best intentions of The Gruen Transfer). And I am sure, next Christmas, I will get the same old question – “what’s your job again?”.

Social Media Jobs Australia

smj-logo There are some great social media thinkers here in Australia. More importantly, there are some great social media “doers”. And over the next few years I expect there to be a real demand for agencies who have real experience in this space and a NEED for professional and corporate marketers to understand how exactly you can integrate social media into your planning while delivering solid returns.

One thing that I do know, is that social media is about “connectors” … those people who are able to join the dots across different types of messaging, communication style and media. They are storytellers for a new age.

But how do you find these folks? Sure, you could look at Twitter. Or you could reach out to a blogger or two … but what if you are new to social media? What if you have a job that you need filled but don’t know where to look?

I may just have the answer for you. is a new site that I have setup to “connect the connectors”. The aim is to provide a meeting space for those with roles, with those looking for work. It will continue to evolve and grow … with specialised content on the blog site designed especially for job seekers.

Both posting a job and applying for a job are FREE.

So what are you waiting for? Post your social media job now!

Sh1thot Designer Job

Web_design_job New jobs in social media here in Australia tend to be Laurel’s domain, but this one came across my desk today so I thought I would share it with you all. Now, I don’t know how many of my regular readers are web designers, but it seems like this may be the sort of opportunity that is rarely seen outside of the capital cities.

An agency in Newcasltle looks set to shake up the industry … and by the look of things, they want to do it by being more than just a little provocative.

If you know someone who fits the mould — or likes to break the mould — then let them know. Visit to learn how to apply.

Good luck.