Leaping & Jumping: Lessons from a Non-Athlete

Friday, January 27, 2012

Over the past few months, I've had the chance to speak about my favorite topic: How to Quit Your Day Job. Being an independent worker has become so integral to who I am, that when given an opportunity to talk about it and an audience who might care, I just Can't. Shut. Up.

I'm not picky about my stage (this goes for speaking and singing karaoke), but the smallish roundtable setting at Alt was perfect. The people at my session seemed truly engaged and interested in how to make the leap. They asked thoughtful questions like, "How do you stay motivated without someone telling you what you have to do?" and "What about insurance?" We talked about how to make a graceful exit, how to bridge the gap between paycheck and PayPal, and how to know if you're really ready (hint: you'll never REALLY feel ready). My goal was to deliver both RAH-RAH You Can Do It inspiration and Let's Get Down to Specifics tactical advice. Hopefully that happened! I think it did.

Whenever I speak on this topic, there is one major theme that winds up emerging and that is this:

You can create an environment wherein quitting your day job is less of a cliff-jump and more of a trust fall. Current employers, mentors, experience, resources, etc - these all make up a sort of safety net that help cushion your fall and build in some assurance that you are NOT going to wind up on the street. Unless you're quitting your day job to be a street musician. In which case, congratulations. You are out on the street!

Finding relevant information and like-minded individuals who have lived through it are huge in helping feel (somewhat) prepared. Anyway, I thought I'd share the list of resources I passed out to the folks at my roundtable, on the off chance it's helpful. And if you want to hear MORE, you should know I'm speaking at Reboot Workshop tomorrow. Come say hi!

Independence in General:
Jeremy & Kathleen: Freelance Matters
Passive Panda
Creative, Inc by Joy Cho & Meg Ilasco
My So-Called Freelance Life by Michelle Goodman

Jessica Hische: The Dark Art of Pricing
Grahpic Artists Guild Handbook:

New Work City
We Work
Loose Cubes

Creative CollaborativeMeetup
Freelancers Union


Alt Summit Tips from a Newly-Minted Veteran

Monday, January 23, 2012

I'm back from a big week at Altitude Summit in Salt Lake City. Alt is technically a design conference, but it's really more like a big slumber party. A slumber party where instead of pajamas you wear skinny jeans and instead of having a pillow fight, you stalk Ben Silberman. And the slumber party isn't at your house, it's held at the house of that really REALLY cool girl who rides a Vespa and wears tights with horizontal stripes on them.

Now that I've experienced Alt, I feel like I can offer some key pieces of advice for those thinking about attending in 2013:

1. Make a list of the people you'd like to see/meet while you're there. Read up on their blogs. Learn more about their careers, families, and personal preferences. That way, when you find yourself next to Pilar Guzmán while in line for the toilet, you can say, "Hey, how did that bathroom remodel turn out?" rather than, "Holy cow! My bladder is SO FULL. I love your pants."

2. Think about the cutest outfit you're planning to bring. Now make it cuter. Now CUTER. Okay, now you're ready.

3. When it comes to business cards, dream big. Paper is passé. Rectangles are lame-o. Think about the Christmas gift you loved most from your childhood and then buy 250 of those to hand out to the people you meet.

4. If you are male, you'll want to practice some immersion therapy leading up to the event. Does your local YWCA have a prenatal yoga class you can audit? How about a Nicholas Sparks book club? What you want here is sheer quantity of ladies.

5. Consider bringing a rolling suitcase, fun vintage red wagon, or sherpa to help carry your swag. Nothing says "Alt Rookie" like a back injury.

Thanks to the Alt people for putting on such a fabbolus design conference (cough: slumber party: cough) and having me as a speaker. I'll post some nuggets from my roundtable session later, but for now I'm going to get caught up on my sleep and relive this moment:

Just a guess.

Saturday, January 14, 2012