Posts filed under 'Anti 9-to-5 profiles'

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Erika Teschke, dog walker

With everyone talking about career change these days, I thought it would fun to examine the work/life balance of those who’ve transitioned to some of the most coveted careers out there. First up, Erika Teschke, who in 2005 left her 10-year career as a legal professional to start her own dog walking and pet sitting business. I recently interviewed Erika by e-mail. Highlights follow. 

[Photo courtesy of Erika's Pet Service]

Q. What’s your typical work schedule?

A. Mondays through Fridays I do dog park runs 5 hours a day, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. I also do about 30 minutes of stopovers during the week, where I feed and visit a pet that’s home alone, either before 2 p.m. or after 6 p.m. On weekends, I’ll do about three hours of paperwork and stopovers. I try not to work before 9 a.m. and past 6 p.m., but I have to be flexible on this if I have a pet that needs medicine or a walk at a particular time.

Q. How has your work/life balance changed since starting your business?

A. I definitely have more personal time now. However, the anxieties are different. Whereas being in an office made me a slave to the man, now I am responsible for everything: income, business success, client development, dog safety, responsibility as a walker, giving back to the parks I use, to name a few. I also have to be available for clients. At first I made myself available at all times when I was trying to grow the business. But now, since my clients and I have well-established relationships and they trust I will get back to them in a timely manner, I feel more comfortable making the evenings my own. I still work many weekends doing vacation stopovers. It is just the nature of the business.

Q. Still, a 30-hour workweek sounds pretty great. What’s the catch?

A. I make about $25,000 less than when I worked at the law firm. [Read the rest at NWjobs.]

4 comments July 10th, 2009

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Ian Sanders, project manager/marketing consultant/author

Yesterday I ran an interview with author Ian Sanders (LEAP! Ditch Your Job, Start Your Own Business & Set Yourself Free and Juggle! Rethink Work, Reclaim Your Life) about what self-employed women can learn from their male counterparts. (You can read his simultaneous Q&A with me on what self-employed men can learn from women here.) Because Ian has such an impressive entrepreneurial bio, I decided to make him the first male anti-nine-to-fiver that this blog has featured. And because he lives in the UK (and I am a seventies-rock dork), I threw in a “favorite British rocker” question at the end.

Q. You’ve had quite an impressive business development and marketing career. What prompted you to strike out on your own?

A. I’d reached that glass ceiling where I was being pigeonholed to do just one thing: I was managing director of a radio studio business but wanted to do loads of other stuff and I wasn’t permitted that freedom. On a personal level, I had burnt myself out – I was stressed and unhappy. I needed a change.

Q. What was the most unique or innovative way you wooed and/or landed a client?

A. All my business has been won by word of mouth alone over eight years so I don’t have any amazing, jaw-dropping secrets. It’s dead simple. Be nice to deal with, be a safe pair of hands, make a difference, and people will use you and recommend you.

Q. What would you do differently in making the leap to self-employment if you could hit rewind?

A. What would I do differently? Have more confidence from Day 1 to charge more money, to pick and choose what I do, to choose what I don’t do, to only work with people I respected 100 percent. I would have been more true to myself from Day 1. But hey, those things come with time.

Q. What advice would you give to hopeful entrepreneurs looking to make their own leap to self-employment in today’s credit-crunched economy?

A. If you have a great idea, if you are resourceful, if you are a ‘grafter,’ and if you have buckets of optimism and passion, there are still stacks of ideas out there. A recession is a good environment for incubating new ideas. For a recession, I think opportunity not threat. All my clients want to retain their competitive edge, so they still need to spend money on hiring me in a downturn!

Q. Why did you decide to write LEAP? What makes the book stand out on the business shelf in bookstores?

A. Why did I write LEAP? It’s my story. A few years ago I started writing ‘The Self Sufficient Entrepreneur,’ but it wasn’t me — it was like any other business book. So I tore that up and started again. I wrote something that was me: punchy, accessible, short, not the nuts and bolts of business, but a book like a friend to inspire, support, and motivate. Because going it alone can be lonely and you need someone to help you on that journey. It’s the business equivalent to that great book ‘The Best Friend’s Guide To Pregnancy’! What makes it stand out: it’s (hopefully) different. I think it really talks to the reader. I have had some great emails (from Seattle to London) from readers who felt empowered to make the change once they read the book.

Q. You’ve done some fun promotions for the book (the great video series on your blog, for example). What was your most successful promo tactic? Which did you enjoy doing/making most? What would you never bother with again?

A. Probably the videos. I liked these most but have they translated to a huge uplift in sales? One viral had 28,000 hits but didn’t seem to be a huge rise in Amazon rankings. I guess there are no short cuts — it’s a slow-ish process. But on a personal level I enjoyed the videos most — I like that currency of communication; talking to the camera. I like to blog. What would I not bother with again? Handing out postcards at a ‘Change Your Life’ event did not seem to be very fruitful.

Q. Your new book, Juggle, features interviews with leading business bigwigs about how they do what they love without letting their personal life suffer. What was the biggest thing you learned from your interview subjects while working on this book?

A. It reinforced my own philosophy to be yourself, to stay true to your own values. Stick to what you love and forget the rest.

Q. Speaking of juggling, how are you splitting your time between running a business, being a dad, and promoting two books? Where have you had to cut back the hours?

A. How do I split my time? Not very well. I struggle with having enough ‘me time.’ Writing the second book was a huge drain on my family life; finding the bandwidth to write a book in two months was tough so I took two mini-trips to inspire me, to write it. I love the flexibility of working by myself to spend with my two boys, but they are demanding. Where have I had to cut back the hours? Doing ‘me’ stuff, sitting in a coffee shop reading the weekend papers and stuff like that. Weekends get full of work stuff; it’s all a blur, work and play are all mixed up. That’s good but it’s also bad.

Q. Who’s better: Beatles, Stones, Led Zeppelin, Clapton, or The Who?

A. I don’t ‘do’ Clapton or Zep. I cannot see them making it on to my iPod in any circumstances! I guess I would say the early Who. I am a late convert to the Who. I went to a Who press conference to launch their world tour last year and Townsend and Daltrey played a four-track acoustic set to a tiny audience that blew me away. How Daltrey had such presence and still that voice all these years on really wowed me. Early this year at a small showcase gig I saw Ronnie Wood from The Stones join the Sterophonics on stage, and boy, he’s still got it too. I think big bands and artists like that playing acoustic or in a small setting is like being self-employed. It’s like, ‘Can you go solo? Can you still cut it without the backing band?!’

1 comment December 16th, 2008

How to get a corporate blogging gig

ariel-meadow-stallings.jpgSome of you may know Ariel Meadow Stallings, author of Offbeat Bride, the book and web phenom. She’s also the subject of my current “How’d you land that great job?” column in the Seattle Times, as her part-time day job as a blogger at Microsoft is pretty dang enviable. Following are excerpts from my Q&A with her.

The job: “I never thought my silly Internet addictions would actually be useful,” says freelance writer and author Ariel Meadow Stallings, who’s kept a personal blog since 2000. But in the Microsoft job she’s had for the past year, being Facebook-savvy isn’t just useful — it’s essential. As a marketing manager on the software giant’s staffing team, the Seattleite spends much of her time publishing Microspotting, a blog profiling some of Microsoft’s most notable employees, from a Peruvian rockstar to a technical editor known as That Goth Girl to the company’s infamous mystery blogger Mini-Microsoft.

Q. How did you get this job?

A. About a month after I’d been laid off from [a] startup job, I got an e-mail from a colleague who I’d met at a blog conference in 2006. She started the e-mail congratulating me for getting back to my freelance career, and then said, “Just in case you’re interested, I heard about this job at Microsoft…”

I was going to stop reading right then. I wasn’t looking for a full-time job, let alone a job at The ‘Soft. In the late ’90s, I’d worked a contract gig at Microsoft, [doing] content editing, and it was such a bad fit that I was fired after two weeks and literally escorted out of the building.

But then I noticed the job was part-time — and permanent. That hit a special and rare sweet spot for me, as I’d have the benefits of a permanent gig (Helloooo, health insurance!) but still have time to work on all my freelance projects. I wouldn’t have considered the job if it had been a 40-hour-a-week position.

Q. What does a week in the life of Ariel at Microsoft look like?

A. I try to get a new [employee] profile up every week or two on Microspotting, so there’s a fair amount of behind-the-scenes researching and networking that goes on. I’m obsessed with conveying the diversity of Microsoft in my profiles, so I do a lot of mulling over whether I’ve already profiled too many white-dude testers vs. female Indian developers vs. older gay Inuit program managers. I want the stories to stand on their own as interesting and noteworthy, even without the marketing angle.

Once I’ve got a person I know I want to profile, I meet with them to record an interview and take a few photos. That’s actually been a surprisingly fun part of this job — somehow I’ve become a corporate photographer. But I try to take unexpected shots of people having fun and being themselves. I’m not into the stuffy head shots.

Like any journalist, there’s transcribing and writing up the interview, and then pushing it live on the Web site. I also manage promoting the site — mostly using social media sites like YouTube and the photo site Flickr and the bookmarking site Digg. And I’m managing the development of a Facebook application for my team and helping with the Workin’ it @ MSFT fan page.

Q. What advice can you give hopeful corporate bloggers?

A. Just blog! And then blog more! And read blogs! And blog more! Blogging for yourself is the best training you can do — especially if you get into the metrics, like your Web stats. Granted, it’s not easy work (there’s nothing sadder than an abandoned blog that hasn’t been updated for 18 months), but the payoffs are remarkable. You’ll show up higher in search engines, get questions/comments from people you didn’t know were looking at your Web site and have the opportunity to impress your prospective employers with your latest thoughts.

You also can’t just be a writer. Even though modern blog tools make it easy to get by without much design knowledge, having a basic understanding of HTML and how the Web works will go a long way in making things better.

Networking is huge too. I attended blog conferences like BlogHer and Blog Business Summit and met lots of amazing folks, one of whom recommended me for this very job.

Want more? Read the whole profile here.

3 comments March 20th, 2008

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Laura Michalek, auctioneer

auctioneer2.jpgFollowing are excerpts from my latest “How’d you land that great job?” column for the Seattle Times and NWjobs.com, the paper’s online career center. I love Laura’s job and wanted to share with the class. Plus, we couldn’t run the photo at the left in the paper, and I didn’t want to let it go to waste…

The job: Between 1994 and 2005, Laura Michalek owned and operated four vintage furniture shops in Seattle, most notably Standard Home on Capitol Hill, which she opened in 2000. A self-professed “junker,” she’d put 60,000 miles on her car every year just trolling for antique treasure at estate sales and auctions. Somewhere along the way, she became sold on the idea of grabbing a microphone and working as a full-time auctioneer herself. Today she takes the stage at dozens of local fund-raising auctions each year, helping community and arts organizations such as Home Alive and the Center on Contemporary Art drum up hundreds of thousands of dollars.

auctioneer3.JPGQ. How did you make the leap from selling antiques to auctioneering?

A. I went to the Missouri Auction School in 2001 because I was inspired by auctioneers who I had seen while buying furniture for my vintage furniture shops.

Within a few months of finishing school, I was asked to help out at an antique auction house in Edmonds, which turned into a once- or twice-a-month gig, without pay. I did that for two years and developed my chant. That experience was priceless, because it’s not easy to get the actual “calling” experience that you need to develop as an auctioneer.

From there, I built my business on the side, until I decided to go full-tilt boogie — full time — in 2005. Thus, the closing of Standard Home.

Q. What exactly did auctioneer school teach you?

A. The school is actually only nine days long. It teaches you business skills, selling, chanting and ethics. Your instructors are world champions. The school I went to has a particularly strong focus on the chant, and you spend half your time there developing your chant through various exercises.

During the week, they sent us out to small auction houses in rural Missouri, in the evening, to sell. The whole town would come and watch and cheer us on. It was like free theater for the locals.

Q. What types of auctions do you do?

A. Contrary to popular belief, most auctions in this town are not black-tie galas. The average auction I do is a $100,000 fundraiser. But I do everything from a $2,000 auction to a $500,000 auction — from public schools, private schools, nonprofits, art organizations and environmental groups to big galas at downtown hotels. All of my clients have a financial need that a successful fund-raising auction alleviates. There is no posturing or fancy money sitting in the room.

Q. What advice can you give budding auctioneers?

A. Start working or volunteering at any kind of auction, just to be around them. Work the ring at an antique auction, or volunteer to check guests in at a fund-raiser. Sitting on an auction event committee, reading business books, learning how to speak in public via Toastmasters — these are all very helpful.

Learning how to ask for money is also important. Working retail is a great way to get a glimpse into the mind of the buyer. Getting nonprofit experience and understanding how the fund-raising world works is helpful too.

I also believe a formal education in auctioneering is essential. I recommend attending the Missouri Auction School and reading books such as Growing a Business by Paul Hawken and To Be of Use: The Seven Seeds of Meaningful Work by Dave Smith.

Q. What skills are essential for making a living as an auctioneer?

A. Being able to handle a tremendous amount of pressure and decision-making in a small amount of time and having a reservoir of patience are great virtues, and of course being able to shoot from the hip. I went to auction school with a small business background, a comfort speaking in front of people and a suitable personality, but it’s all for naught if you can’t actually auctioneer and sell.

Once you get the schooling, practice all the time and start selling anywhere you can, even for free. You really have to create your own opportunities. Early on in my auction career, I not only had to convince folks to have an auctioneer but an auction. At the first auction I called, each item was worth $2, but at least I was selling something.

There is no auction too big or small. I still stand in backyards selling baked goods today. And I still go and watch other auctioneers to see what I can learn from them.

Want more? Read this Q&A in its entirety on NWjobs.com. Or you can read past installments of “How’d you land that great job?”

2 comments February 28th, 2008

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Sabrina Helas

self-portrait.jpgThe anti 9-to-5er: Sabrina Helas, Los Angeles, California

My job: I am a pet photographer. My company’s name is Cookies and Water Photography. I began this adventure two-and-a-half years ago.

What makes my gig anti 9-to-5: I work for myself. I came to a point where I felt such an imbalance in my life that I had to do something to change it. I found myself blessed to find the love of my life, the best dog on earth, a great place to live, and a job that I loathed. And of course I spent more time with the loathsome part of my life than the blessed.

The bureaucracy of my job, the “leadership,” the politics, and the rules, made doing my job impossible and senseless. Nothing made sense anymore except that I had to do something else. The problem didn’t lie in the company I worked at or had worked at previously — the problem was what I did for a living and how I spent my days.

What I did in my former 9-to-5 life: I studied cinema at San Francisco State University. I had worked in the entertainment industry since I left college in 1997. I have held many titles in that time, some of which have been production assistant, location assistant, producer’s assistant, and co-producer. When I couldn’t take the production side of things anymore I stepped into the post-production realm, where my last position was post coordinator/scheduler/all-around fallout gal.

How I made the anti 9-to-5 leap: With my job being soooo awful, I got sick a lot, migraines mostly, so I would get massage therapy frequently. I felt so good when I left that I wondered and fantasized about how great these therapists’ lives must be, making a living helping others, working in such a serene environment. It all sounded so great, so I got a loan, a credit card, conveniently got fired from my job, and enrolled in massage therapy school. I finished the classes and realized that as wonderful a profession as it was, it simply wasn’t me.

My next step was to forgive myself and go back to the drawing board. What I hadn’t realized was that what I wanted and what was me was right under my fingertips, in front of my face the whole time. Two things I have always loved are dogs and photography. Every month with our rent check, I would include a picture I took of my landlord’s dog in the envelope. Every day that I went to the dog park, I saw ads for pet photography. My landlord jokingly would say that she didn’t care about the rent as long as I didn’t forget the picture. She loved my work and suggested that I take pictures of pets for a living. So I took her advice.

My biggest obstacles: Starting your own business is a long slow process. If you’re not a businessperson to start out with, you have to learn everything from scratch. I knew nothing. I learned everything on the fly. I did a lot of homework and research. I looked up other photographers, I studied their platforms, I read books (Photographer’s Market, Pricing Photography by Michael Heron and David Mac Tavish) to mention a few.

I donated pet sessions to charity events. I put up flyers at my local dog parks, vets, and pet stores. I advertised on Craigslist, created and passed out postcards, attended pet events. My non 9-5 job turned into a 24/7 job, but it made me happy, so happy. I lacked money, contacts, experience, equipment. I had no legal advice, but I had the support of my loved ones, a bunch of new books, a camera, and finally something that I loved to do. I just kept trying, kept learning (still do). I take the hurdles as they come and figure them out one by one.

My tips for other cubicle expats: Find the thing you love, find the thing you are good at, give it a go, and then keep going. If that thing is photography, do your homework, research other photographers, research equipment (Cnet.com and KenRockwell.com are great references), take a class. Get a good digital DSLR — get it used, refurbished, look on eBay, craigslist, in local camera shops. You don’t have to pay full price. Look online — you’ll find a good deal if you keep looking.

Get a good computer. Here, I must give props to Apple. I couldn’t have done it without them. Well, maybe I could have, but they make everything so fun, easy, and accessible.

Once you have your camera and your (hopefully) Apple computer, go out and shoot. Experiment and shoot some more, develop your style. One of the best things about digital technology is you have the luxury of making mistakes, shooting a picture badly — it’s free. Keep shooting, learn from your mistakes. The best advice I can give is to shoot, shoot, shoot and don’t give up.

What’s that link again? CookiesAndWaterPhotography.com

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7 comments January 29th, 2008

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Jamie Pflughoeft

I do a biweekly column called “How’d you land that great job?” for the Seattle Times and its NWjobs employment blog. Usually I have to profile 9-to-5ers, but for this week’s Q&A, my editor let me feature a self-employed pet photographer. The interview was too much fun to keep to myself…

fergiejamieimg.jpgThe job: Like many animal-loving kids, Jamie Pflughoeft grew up with dogs, cats and birds for pets, and she dreamed of working with animals someday. In college, she studied animal behavior while working as a pet sitter and dog walker on the side. Stifled after graduation by a tight job market, she decided in 2003 to turn her hobby — taking photos of her pet-sitting and dog-walking “clients” — into a full-fledged business. Today, as top dog of Cowbelly Pet Photography, she snaps the mugs of hundreds of critters a year, turning many of them into brightly colored, digitally enhanced artwork that she’s dubbed Decopaw.

Q: How did you decide to hang your own shingle as a pet photographer?
A: I studied animal behavior at the University of Washington. My master plan was to start a dog training business. I graduated right after 9/11 and the job market was horrible, people were getting laid off right and left. I was willing to take any full-time job I could get working with animals that wasn’t entry level. I looked for a job for a year but couldn’t find one.

I had been doing pet photography as a hobby since 2000, never once considering that I could make a living at it. I’d been working part-time as a dog walker and a pet sitter for a pet-services company while I was going to school. And it was my clients’ pets that I was photographing — for free. So I had a ready-made model base.

I got really great feedback on the photos I was taking and ended up creating a portfolio just for fun. A friend of mine who was also starting a business suggested that I turn my pet photography hobby into a business, and I thought: What a great idea. You know how in the cartoons a light bulb goes off? It was just like that.

Q: Did you have a full-time workload as a pet photographer right away or did that take time?
A: I started the business in July of 2003. But I’ve only been doing it full time for the past two and a half years. For the first year and a half I was doing dog walking part-time to supplement my income.

Q: Do you have any formal photography training?
A: I took one photography class when I was 17. It was a film class and I did all my own darkroom stuff. I’ve always loved photography and I think I’ve always had an eye for it, but as far as the technical aspects of photography, I’m self-taught.

For this job, my background in working with dogs for six years as a dog walker and pet sitter and studying animal behavior at the university level was essential. I would not have this job now without that experience.

Q: What type of pets do you photograph?
A: Dogs are 85 percent of what I do. Cats are about 15 percent. I also shoot any other pet people want me to. I will shoot an iguana if you want. I’ve done rats and horses, too.

Here’s the rest of the article, which includes Jamie’s recommended game plan and resources for aspiring pet photographers. And here’s Jaime’s pet photography blog.

3 comments October 11th, 2007

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Stacy Brice

Stacy BriceThe anti 9-to-5er: Stacy Brice, Baltimore, MD

My job: Chief Visionary Officer for AssistU, the virtual training company I founded; coach; and writer.

What makes my gig anti 9-to-5: I’ve created a company that’s bigger than I am. While still at the center of it, I smartly created the infrastructure in such a way that business continues whether or not I’m around and available. I work when and where I want, on what I want, and with whom I want. It’s important that I have the time and space to be able to do the visioning work that I love so much and do so well. I take the last quarter of the year off — every year, and use the time to recharge my proverbial batteries.

I actually never thought I’d do anything other than be someone’s employee. And then I was fired (wrongfully). I was so angry and disheartened. I decided I never again wanted to be in a position where someone had that kind of power over me. I wanted to create my own security. So I sat down and decided to do my own thing, in my own way, and on my own terms. I made travel plans and did virtual administrative work for my travel clients. Ultimately, I decided to create a company to train virtual assistants. Now we train, coach, support, and certify them, and refer them to people who want to work with them. Along the way, I also became a professional business coach, and a writer.

What I did in my former 9-to-5 life: I was a corporate travel consultant for ten years.

How I made the anti 9-to-5 leap: Being fired was the leap. I wasn’t prepared, but ended up just fine. Because what I chose to do was pretty much what I had been doing, I didn’t have much of a start-up cost — just a better desk and chair than I’d had before. Ever since then, anything I’ve wanted to add to my business only happened when I had the funds and the infrastructure to support it.

My tips for other cubicle expats: Don’t reinvent the wheel. Get industry-specific training. Settle for peer coaching and mentoring from people who are successful only if you absolutely can’t afford training. Don’t listen to a bunch of people — it will only confuse you. Have incredibly high standards (and realize that your standards can always be higher). Create a niche — not a specialty. Raise your fees regularly. Be attractive. Embrace abundance. Do what you love. Focus your attention on your own work and don’t worry about what others are doing. Become the best virtual assistant you can possibly be. Realize that you can do things your way and be successful on your own terms.

What’s that link again? AssistU.com, VirtualMoxie.com, MoxieCoach.com

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Add comment September 3rd, 2007

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Liene Stevens

blueorchiddesigns.jpgThe anti 9-to-5er: Liene Stevens, Scottsdale, Arizona

My job: Event consultant and designer. After working in events in both the non-profit and corporate sectors, I opened up shop for myself in 2006 with the creation of Blue Orchid Designs, a luxury wedding and event firm.

What makes my gig anti 9-to-5: Working for myself, I try to have a paperless office as much as possible. Faxes are sent from and delivered to my email inbox, my phone can sync with my calendars, and the phone numbers roll to my cell so I can have the office wherever I’m at. I semi-joke that my car is my office and that I’d be lost without my laptop or phone.

I work more hours than I have in any other job, but the difference now is that I love what I do so it isn’t draining. I can work in the middle of the night and have the freedom to take an extended lunch with a friend who may be in town. Having burned out while working for a non-profit, I knew that I wanted to set up a flexible structure so that I could stick this out for the long haul. Now that I have that freedom in my life I can’t imagine going back to the 9-5 cubicle.

What I did in my former 9-to-5 life: I worked in both the accounting and event planning fields for seven years. Polar opposites, but knowing how to crunch the numbers has more than paid for itself in venturing out on my own.

How I made the anti 9-to-5 leap: I usually take a long time to make decisions, but with this one, I decided to start the company and within a few days had registered for my EIN [employer ID number from the IRS] and my business licenses and was filing the rest of the paperwork. I had some money in savings, so that helped float my living and startup expenses. After starting up, I wrote my business and marketing plans. I know that I am going in reverse order to what all the experts advise, but it is what worked for me.

My biggest obstacles: My biggest obstacles were probably my own naivete of how the industry ran, specifically the wedding industry. I had been involved in business and charity events, but the wedding industry is an entirely different animal. I have been fortunate to have partnered with some honest, genuine, and like-minded people, but the wedding business can be very harsh, back-biting, and full of ego.

My tips for other cubicle expats: For people specifically wanting to get into the wedding planning field, I would recommend really pinpointing why you want to. It is a lot of fun, but it also includes giving up weekends and a lot of evenings and can lead to burnout really quickly if your heart’s not really in it.

I’d also recommend finding like-minded people and being choosy as to which organizations you join, as several are outdated and are more for name recognition than education and business building. Most will let you attend a meeting or two as a guest so you’ll be able to get an idea of whether or not they will be a good fit for what you are doing.

Also, advertising can suck you dry, especially in startup, so really research which avenues will give you the best ROI [return on investment] for those dollars.

What’s that link again? Blue Orchid Weddings and Blue Orchid Blog

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4 comments July 26th, 2007

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Amy Beekley

amy-beekley.jpgThe anti 9-to-5er: Amy Beekley, Frederick, MD

My job: I am a recruiter, a small business owner, and a blogger within the employment services industry, helping frustrated and frayed individuals find work at businesses that offer flexible scheduling options and family-friendly benefits.

What makes my gig anti 9-to-5: I work through email and the Internet almost exclusively and therefore find myself writing, responding to emails, and connecting with clients almost anywhere and virtually every time I find myself behind a keyboard. Even sticky notes with my article ideas and to-do lists are virtual on my iGoogle homepage.

What I did in my former 9-to-5 life: I worked in administrative positions in the healthcare industry and then in human resources in the engineering industry. Each of my past jobs was unfulfilling and I have never worked for someone else without finding myself bored.

How I made the anti 9-to-5 leap: Working online, I launched my business using entirely free software. My best advertisement has been my blog, capitalizing on the writing process that I love so much. I slowly built readership and the clients followed.

My biggest obstacles: My biggest obstacle has been my utter lack of business sense and networking skills. As a fairly introverted person, I struggled at first even to tell people about the business venture I was starting. My friends were my biggest support and my best marketing device. With faith in my vision to achieve greater flexibility in the corporate world, I have taught myself basic business skills along the way.

My tips for other cubicle expats: Muddling through various admin jobs, I had no idea what my passion was, much less how to capitalize on it. I knew that I loved writing and started the blog as a creative outlet. Even if you don’t know where your passion will lead you, do what you love until you find your niche.

What’s that link again? Flexible Workforce

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Add comment July 24th, 2007

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Sherri Edwards

Sherri EdwardsSherri Edwards, today’s second featured anti 9-to-5er, is a no-nonsense career coach I’ve interviewed for several articles on women’s careers, as well as the book. What I love most about Sherri is that she doesn’t mince words. If you were to hire her to help you nail a six-figure salary as an online marketing manager but you had zero experience in marketing and on the web, she’d probably say something like, “I’m a career coach, not a miracle worker.” But give her something to work with — say, those crummy negotiation skills you’d like to improve, or a resume that isn’t doing a good enough job showing potential employers why they should show you the money — and she’ll work her magic on you in no time. So without further ado, meet Sherri…

The anti 9-to-5er: Sherri Edwards, Seattle

My job: Career coach, consultant, and trainer. I officially started my business, ResourceMaximizer, in 1997. I help people develop career plans and build tools based on strategies tied to business (or not-for-profit) trends, current market conditions, and individual skills. This may include a path for formal skill development or other roles the person needs to build experience in, prior to becoming that “six-figure online marketing manager.”

What makes my gig anti 9-to-5: I work out of my home for the most part and work all hours. I offer workshops, facilitate a networking group, and consult with clients here. I do a lot of phone/email consulting. I also do training for organizations and businesses at their locations. I schedule work pretty much when I want to be available and tend to work very unconventional hours (or days).

What I did in my former 9-to-5 life: My last two positions were managing staffing businesses. Prior to that, I was in business management and sales in a number of industries. I always worked hard, but someone else made the profit.

How I made the anti 9-to-5 leap: I just decided enough was enough. It took no cash investment — only time. My business has been built predominantly on referrals over ten years and has continued to grow. I do a considerable amount of public speaking and presentations but do not spend money on advertising. I limit the bells and whistles and am able to keep my costs and fees lower than others in my field.

My biggest obstacles: Naivety. Expecting that what I had to offer would be sought after by what turned out to be some pretty unproductive targets in the beginning. Also, I didn’t say “no” when I was asked to offer pro bono [freebie] consulting / training / presentations. (I don’t do that anymore!) I learned the hard way to choose which venues / audiences were good investments of my time.

My tips for other cubicle expats: Actually, I have never worked in a cubicle, so I guess I cannot imagine someone adapting easily from a very structured environment to one where everything is a free-for-all that requires considerable juggling. I have worked in circumstances where I managed my own schedule for more than 25 years, and for at least 15 of those, I have worked out of my home.

My advice would be to know up front that it is important to be hugely organized and disciplined to be able create your own structure and be productive. In my business, I cannot dictate when people will need me, but I can schedule things in manageable ways to be able to accommodate most people without killing myself. I think it is less about the industry, but more about analyzing one’s style / nature before they jump off, to make sure they will be happy and effective in whatever they pursue. As far as my particular line of work, it is important to have an area of expertise and develop a niche. It may take research to determine more closely what that might be.

What’s that link again? ResourceMaximizer.com

Read past anti 9-to-5 profiles. Then fill out your own profile to be featured on this site.

Add comment July 2nd, 2007

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Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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