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

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Jenny Ward

Jenny Ward Today we have two very different career coaches to profile. The first, Jenny Ward, is all about getting in touch with your de-stressed, happiest, most playful self. As I understand it, once you’ve tapped into your most childlike, playful mind, you’ll be better able to figure out what the hell you want to be when you grow up — and how the heck to get there. So without further fanfare, meet Jenny…

The anti 9-to-5er: Jenny Ward, Palo Alto, CA (interviewed for The Anti 9-to-5 Guide!)

My job: Play Activist and CEO Playward, Inc. Year I began to PLAY for a living: 2002.

What makes my gig anti 9-to-5: I am a big fan of challenging the rules. In a society that has forgotten that we are meant to ENJOY the ride, I find so much joy in laughing louder, feeling gratitude, hugging longer, and fully reminding adults to live life NOW — not after retirement.

Playward is way more then just “cartwheels and Play-Doh” (although both rock). We are creating a new way of perceiving how we express ourselves — whether it be in relationships, work, or parenting — it all can be full of adventure. Too often we take ourselves so seriously that we forget to see the gift in all of life.

What I did in my former 9-to-5 life: Broadway and TV actress. Professional dancer, yoga teacher, high school dean of the arts, loads of waitressing (including singing waitress), nonprofit work, and temping.

How I made the anti 9-to-5 leap: There was no way I could conform — my heart broke each time I felt stuck or like I was “going through the motions.”

My biggest obstacles: Cash and self-love. Both are inter-related. My worth is direcly related to how I am — my work is me. I am selling me — so I had to look at all of me — and that was messy. I learned that messiness is a part of play.

My tips for other cubicle expats: Look at why you feel you NEED to work. Look at the beliefs you have learned about SUCCESS… play make-believe for 5 minutes. What do you want to do NOW? Have fun and allow your imagination to inspire you… to live fully in the beautiful expression that is you.

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Add comment July 2nd, 2007

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Michelle Madhok

Michelle MadhokThe anti 9-to-5er: Michelle Madhok, New York, NY (interviewed in The Anti 9-to-5 Guide!)

My job: Founder and fashion expert for online shopping sites and; both started in February 2004.

What makes my gig anti 9-to-5: I run my own business, so although I probably work more hours, they are my hours. Working for corporations for ten years, I grew tired of all the politics and inefficiency. I had lots of great ideas but felt frustrated and stymied by the structure. I also don’t like being told what to do — and that kind of doesn’t jibe well with the corporate structure.

SheFindsWhat I did in my former 9-to-5 life: Director of marketing for a television network, and director of editorial for a large Internet service provider.

How I made the anti 9-to-5 leap: I had saved up some money, but the real boost was a severance package that gave me a four-month head start.

My biggest obstacles: Fear. I’d been a good corporate citizen all my life and I was terrified of going broke or not being able to get another job. I ended up doing some consulting part-time while I built the business in order to ease the transition. I highly recommend — for those in NYC looking to make a move to freelance.

My tips for other cubicle expats: Make your mistakes on someone else’s dime. Try to get projects in your current job or take on consulting gigs that will allow you to learn what you need to know and meet people that can help you when you make the break to run your own business. For example, after I left my full-time job I took a consulting gig with a company that wanted me to come up with an email marketing plan. I spent two months learning everything about best practices in email marketing. The company I consulted for paid for all the research reports and for my time!

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1 comment June 18th, 2007

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Rachel DuBois

Rachel DuBoisThe anti 9-to-5er: Rachel DuBois, Orkney Islands, Scotland

My job: I started Do Good Design, a web design company for people who “do what they love.” I handle the creative stuff, like design and writing, while my partner does the techie side.

What makes my gig anti 9-to-5: Let me count the ways…

  1. I work in my living room in front of a fire, not in an office.
  2. My hours are when I choose, usually evenings and late nights.
  3. I do work I love, in the way that I work best.
  4. I live on an island of 16,000 people in the northernmost part of Scotland, where we don’t lock our doors.
  5. I take plenty of time out to chat with my husband (also self-employed), play with cats, and read.

Do Good DesignI could go on, but it sounds smug and I don’t mean to be. What I do hope is to help others escape the drudgery I felt in my 9-to-5 life and the accompanying compulsion to buy junk to compensate. I started my own business because I wanted to make the most of my beliefs and skills, in a way that allowed me to have plenty of time to be with my husband and future children.

My husband is British, and we spent the first two months of our relationship traveling around the UK to figure out the best place for us. We settled on Scotland, and later on Orkney, because it gave us the community, clean air, safety, and slower pace of life we both craved. We lived in a yurt (tent) for the first three months here, and we’ve learned what we need to have and what we don’t so that we aren’t spending what I alone was spending in my corporate life.

We both feel we’re on a mission: to be happy and to help others be happy. I could wax poetic on the subject, but suffice it to say it’s a challenge (yes, a challenge — it’s hard to be happy with what you’ve got and know what it is you truly need), but we’re getting there.

What I did in my former 9-to-5 life: Web manager for a major telecom company in Washington, DC, then for local government in Scotland. I did that for five years.

How I made the anti 9-to-5 leap: Saved up for two years and cashed out all of my retirement. We also sold the only thing we really owned, which was a small parcel of land that could have been used as a down payment on a house.

My husband started his business first, so we devoted ourselves to getting that off the ground for a year until I figured out what I wanted to do. I spent a year just helping my husband and living life for a while. I hadn’t not had a job since I was 12 (lots of babysitting gigs then), had worked my way through college, and always felt a steady income was a necessity.

By cashing out everything we had, we got to lead a free life for a while. It’s been two years since I left full-time employment, and it’s been great. Not without stress, but miles better than before.

My biggest obstacle: Money was an issue at first. The looming fear of it running out almost any day now. But gradually we noticed that somehow, the money would come. My husband would get another booking for his work, I’d find some cost savings, something. Then we realized money fear in our case was a state of mind: we could spend lots of time worrying about it going away someday, or focus on the fact that we have it right now.

Lack of advice and support was also an issue. My husband’s business idea of teaching courses in ancient survival skills was met with a lot of skepticism and derision. My idea of running a web design business only for people who started their “dream business” was slated as too “narrow” a focus. We’ve stuck to our guns. Ultimately, we decided that to modify our businesses to suit the professional advice of others would ruin them.

Instead, we support and advise each other. We sit down everyday to talk over our businesses, and problem-solve and cheer each other on constantly. We never could have done it without making the conscious effort to take the time, every day, to sit down and talk.

My tips for other cubicle expats: The first major tip of mine would be: DO WHAT YOU LOVE. If you’re not sure what that is, take the time and space to figure it out. I found Finding Your Perfect Work by Paul and Sarah Edwards enormously helpful. It walked me through not just finding what I’m good at or interested in but helped me shape that into a viable business. That made all the difference. [Note from Michelle: Or your could just buy The Anti 9-to-5 Guide, a much fresher, hipper take on the topic.]

Tip two: Take it step by step. It can seem such a steep mountain to climb, the path to your new life. I still don’t know what my summit looks like — I just follow the tiny waymarkers on the path, trusting I’m going in the right direction.

What’s that link again? Do Good Design

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

1 comment June 2nd, 2007

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Helene Taylor

Helene TaylorThe anti 9-to-5er: Helene Taylor, San Francisco

My job: I am the president and founder of The Modern Woman’s Divorce Guide. I broke free of the corporate legal cubicle in 2005 and launched the site on January 2, 2007. My industry is law or legal.

What makes my gig anti 9-to-5: I’m a solopreneur, which means I work the split shift, early shift, late shift, and all other shifts. I broke free for autonomy and to pursue my passions, which include empowering women.

What I did in my former 9-to-5 life: I was a family trial lawyer.

How I made the anti 9-to-5 leap: Through savings and investments.

My biggest obstacle: Leaving a guaranteed and desirable salary.

My tips for other cubicle expats: Research your industry, take classes, start your new gig while working your old gig, save, save, save, choose something you love and preferably something you already know, and never give up.

What’s that link again? The Modern Woman’s Divorce Guide website and blog

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

Add comment May 29th, 2007

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Angie Mattson

Angie MattsonThe anti 9-to-5er: Angie Mattson, Charlotte, NC

My job: I’m a project assistant who works with consultants and other self-employed folks here in Charlotte. I do everything: simple data entry, major re-organizing of home offices, day to day administrative tasks, editing/copywriting, and a good bit of freelance adventure/travel writing just for fun to fill the weekends up. I started doing this in 2003 and have been busy as a bee ever since.

What makes my gig anti 9-to-5: I work from home for myself. My office is painted a beautiful orange color (similar to the background on this website) and I have a huge window that overlooks my big backyard. For nonprofit work, I observe the birds. I switched because I can’t live without the variety, freedom, and flexibility this setup allows me.

What I did in my former 9-to-5 life: I was an admin assistant for a homebuilder, a university, and an environmental nonprofit. I was also dabbling in fundraising, which I quickly learned was not my forte.

How I made the anti 9-to-5 leap: I started my “freedom” job part time and continued to work for an environmental nonprofit part time. There was an incident where I was laid off and received a month’s severance. The next week I was hired back as a contractor. When I got enough other clients, I cut loose and flew solo.

My biggest obstacles: [It took time, patience, and a bit of a learning curve.] Because I started the biz slowly and had that extra month’s severance, I was able to manage a steady cash flow. A local businesswoman who had worked with me sent an introductory email to her contact list to get my name out. After that it was networking and getting new clients through word of mouth. I ended up getting a great tax guy and started working for a lawyer. Another strategic planner hired me and all of these folks gave me great advice when I needed it most.

My tips for other cubicle expats: Be BRAVE. Be very, very brave. Be good at what you do, have incredible integrity and a high work ethic. Be trustworthy, reliable, on time, and always in a good mood. Work from home, don’t buy expensive furniture or supplies for your home office. Cold call, ask for informational interviews with experts in the field you want to be in. People are happy to talk to you if you promise to only take 20-30 minutes of their time. Be prepared with questions and write a thank-you note after your meeting.

What’s that link again?

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4 comments April 16th, 2007

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Kristen Fischer

Kristen FischerThe anti 9-to-5er: Kristen Fischer, Manasquan, NJ

My job: I am a copywriter working for myself. I run Recently, I wrote Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Career Ups and Downs. You can learn more at

What makes my gig anti 9-to-5: I work whenever I want to, usually regular business hours. But most of all, I have the freedom to set my own schedule and work on projects that I like.

What I did in my former 9-to-5 life: I worked as a reporter and then tried to decide if I wanted to use my degree in environmental science as a communications consultant for an environmental company.

How I made the anti 9-to-5 leap: Built up some business, then switched to a part-time job while I strengthened my business.

My biggest obstacles: The hardest thing for me was dealing with being alone. I liked being around people and having fun at work, so I now have to make more of an effort to be social.

My tips for other cubicle expats: Learn about business. Especially if you’re doing something creative. Many times people think they just have to be good in their skill and that’s it. But if you want to be self-employed, you also have to be apt in marketing, communications, and accounting, to name a few.

What’s that link again? and

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1 comment April 11th, 2007

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Erin Blaskie

Erin BlaskieThe anti 9-to-5er: Erin Blaskie, Ontario, Canada

My job: I am a virtual assistant or online business manager. My business is called Business Services, ETC and I started it in 2004.

What makes my gig anti 9-to-5: As a virtual assistant, I get to work from home each and every day and avoid the near mandatory 1.5 hour commute to a decent-paying job. I am my own boss and I get to set my hours, take vacation when I want, and stay at home with my dog, Molly.

What I did in my former 9-to-5 life: Before I took the plunge to self-employment, I was working as a public relations advisor at a private college. I did that for one year. Previously, I worked for one year as an accounting clerk at a company that provided batteries and before that as an administrative assistant for eight months.

How I made the anti 9-to-5 leap: I began my virtual assistance (VA) business as a part-time business that I ran when I came home from my full-time job. I set a goal of being self-employed within one year, and within six months, I had a client offer me a contract that paid better than my current salary. Luckily for me, beginning my VA business took very little in terms of cash. I actually was able to start it immediately because I do web design and I had an office setup already.

My biggest obstacles: My biggest obstacles when I first started was finding clients. I had no clue where to find people to work for/with and it took me a few months to figure that out. I also was quite clueless when it came to pricing and I didn’t set my prices very high in the beginning.

My tips for other cubicle expats: I would say that you need to look for someone who is willing to give you that ‘start’ you may need. I had one client who offered me some security while I was setting my business up, so I definitely think you should always have some sort of safety net. Be prepared to work a lot and try to get really clear on what you want right from the beginning.

What’s that link again? Business Services, ETC

Have an anti 9-to-5 tale to tell? Just fill out this here survey.

1 comment April 11th, 2007

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Christa Fleming

Christa and colleaguesThe anti 9-to-5er: Christa Fleming, Des Moines, WA (interviewed in The Anti 9-to-5 Guide!)

My job: I design! Just about anything. Mostly printed pieces, but also stuff for the web. My clients range from independent schools to banks to everything in between.

Christa's desk is sooo neat!What makes my gig anti 9-to-5: I work at home in my office on the second floor of my house, while my husband works downstairs as a full-time dad to our two boys, Henry (2 years) and Leo (9 weeks). Working from home was a MUST for me when I knew I was ready to have kids. We didn’t want (nor would we be able to afford) to put our kids in day care, and we just plain love being together as a family. And we hate commuting. And working for other people.

What I did in my former 9-to-5 life: I was also a graphic designer in my former 9-to-5 life. I was a senior designer for a small design firm in Seattle.

How I made the anti 9-to-5 leap: I already had a few of my own clients on the side while I was still working for a firm, so I had a place to start. And the years I put in at the firm had helped me build a nice portfolio, so by the time I was ready to go out on my own, I was able to hit the ground running.

My biggest obstacles: The biggest obstacle was definitely being able to make it work financially. It’s scary to think that someone else won’t be providing you that regular paycheck (AND benefits) twice a month. But finally I decided that I just needed to go for it and things would work out. And they did. My husband kept his job (and health insurance for both of us) for the first year or so, while my business was growing. Things were going really well, and when I got pregnant with our first son, we realized that it would make most sense for my husband to quit his job and be a full-time dad. Now, we’re all together (and usually in our PJs) every day and we can’t believe our luck in making this work.

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Add comment March 16th, 2007

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Tami St. Paul

A cat, a dog... what more could a girl want?The anti 9-to-5er: Tami St. Paul, Western Washington (featured in The Anti 9-to-5 Guide!)

My job: I am an apprenticeship coordinator for the Operating Engineers Regional Training Program of Western and Central Washington state. I get to tell people about the great opportunity of apprenticeship, where you can actually earn a living while learning a challenging career working with heavy equipment. Our apprenticeship offers great starting wages as well as health and pension benefits.

I started my apprenticeship in 1987 after working in construction generally in 1986 and seeing that I wanted to become a heavy equipment operator. I have never looked back. I learned early in life that I love to be outdoors and I love the emotional satisfaction of having something tangible to show for my day’s work. This career has satisfied both the need of my psyche to have the work environment that keeps me happy and the financial satisfaction and security of having a family living wage, great benefits, and a retirement plan for the future through working in a union construction workforce.

Oh yeah, and the competitive side of me likes that nobody is trying to pay me less than my male counterparts for doing the same work, as is often seen out in the other world. Women statistically still earning 75 cents to the man’s dollar, that would bug me daily.

What makes my gig anti 9-to-5: The work of a heavy equipment operator is done outdoors in all kinds of weather. It is also done less when the weather is inclement. With proper financial planning, these “off” times are a great time to pursue other hobbies and interests — mine have been family, skiing, snowmobiling, crafting, reading, and traveling. In the summer, I work a lot of hours, and I keep a very flexible social schedule as I may be called upon, with short or no notice, to work overtime to get something critical on the job done. This has its up side as the overtime (paid at time-and-a-half to double-time) provides extra income to save for a rainy day or splurge as a reward for my efforts, and it also provides a satisfaction in the teamwork effort to reach a goal point on a project so that the next phase can begin.

I HAD to seek work in a nontraditional field. I had worked in an office environment and retail and was not well-suited to those industries. From cursing every morning as I fought those blasted pantyhose and their infernal runs to the whole having to spend a beautiful day indoors — the nose prints on the outdoor-facing windows were, I’m sure, problematic for my employers as well. I just had to find some way to be outdoors and find the emotional and financial satisfaction I craved in my work life.

I ran equipment for about 14 years, then moved into a position where I help other people find their career path working with heavy equipment. This requires more office time than I was accustomed to and a learning curve to succeed at my new duties, but the rewards are spectacular. I remember the relief I felt at finding this great career, and I find tremendous satisfaction in helping others to do the same. I still get to be outdoors as I do job site visits with the apprentices to check on their on-the-job training experience and progress, as well as get to work at the training center with the instructors and equipment there. It is really a great gig I have going now.

What I did in my former 9-to-5 life: I started my apprenticeship in heavy equipment when I was in my early 20s. The jobs I had to compare to choose my career path ranged from being a river rafting guide in the summer (which I highly recommend, except for the lack of pay and benefits) and being a ski instructor and chair lift operator (also great, if not great-paying jobs) and working in Alaska on a fish processor (hard work, decent pay, amazing scenery and travel opportunity) to working retail, managing a retail establishment, working in a dorm cafeteria at college, and office work intermittently (none of which were my bag). Oh, almost forgot, shudder — I waited tables for a day — definitely not my gig!

As far as length of time I did each job, they were summer and during breaks from school or part-time while attending school until I ditched the college route as it was also too indoor-oriented and seemed to point me towards outdoor work that was not well-compensated in the pay or benefits categories, though it looked like fun.

How I made the anti 9-to-5 leap: I started my anti 9-to-5 leap as punishment from my father who got me a job working construction as a way to send my little red wagon screaming back to college to get a “real” job. The world may need ditch diggers (see “Caddyshack”), but he figured I wasn’t destined to be one of them. WRONG! I still have to smile at how his plan backfired so badly for him. I was making more money than I had ever in my life as the lowliest helper and material handler on the job site, working hard enough to drop my freshman 15 and sophomore 10, and loving every minute of being out of doors and watching the progress on something I was helping to build.

I took the opportunity to look around that construction site and see what really excited me. I really was interested in the equipment. I’d always liked to drive and that stuff looked like great fun. Having just dropped out of college and kicking around in temp jobs for a year, I got hooked up with an apprenticeship preparatory organization that is grant-funded to help recruit and train and retain women in the construction industry (there is incredible demand in the industry for women who like to be outdoors and build things).

I wanted to look at all my options and make an informed decision about my career path. I found this training reinforced my original goal of working with heavy equipment, though it offered me a chance to check out all kinds of other interesting and challenging careers in the building and construction industry. Then I applied to the apprenticeship program and the rest, as they say, is history.

My biggest obstacles: My biggest obstacles were that this was not the dream of my family. I was to be a veterinarian, by golly, or at least a professional person of some sort. I had to work hard and talk hard to convince my people that this work is my calling. The first day in training on a large bulldozer, there was like this neon banner running through my head that said, “I was born to do this, this is so fun!” I wore a big grin on my face the whole time I was on that first piece of equipment.

Eventually my dedication and enthusiasm won the day and my family and friends gave their blessings. My father is rolling in his grave laughing at how I’ve had to pull all my resources together to move into this new place I’m in in my career path where I kind of help keep the whole apprenticeship thing running. He’d be proud of me as are the rest of my family now.

Whatever you are going to be, work to be the best. The values I learned at home about work ethic and personal ethic really prepared me to be a success in this industry, and I am grateful that my family made me fight for and think about and examine where MY career path would take me.

My tips for other cubicle expats: I really found a lot of very good advice, ideas, and planning strategies all laid out in Michelle’s book. She has done much of the research for you. If you are specifically construction craft worker bound, my best advice for you is, save up some money to keep beans on the table and make ends meet. Then bail out of the cube and into a gig where you get to work outdoors, do volunteer work building something for someone in need, go to one of those apprenticeship preparatory places, get a job as a landscaper, knock on doors till someone opens one or you find one you can break down. Keep trying, people often will eventually give you a shot if you show your earnest interest.

Try it out to make sure you will get what you need out of it. Construction is a huge growth industry at this time in history, projected to grow nationwide 13 percent over the next six years and also about to experience a need to replace 30 percent of our workforce that are retiring baby boomers. If you find you like it, choose what you like best and go for it. Jump in with both feet — if you don’t get into your chosen trade’s apprenticeship the first time, be persistent, talk to the people doing the selection process, find out what the holdup is, respectfully request advice on what you can do to improve your chances to get into the program, or find out where you were lacking and fix it. Then follow through, be detail oriented, provide all requested documentation, and see where you wind up.

What’s that link again? The website for our apprenticeship is You can find information on all apprenticeships in Washington state at (Go to Trades and Licensing and then proceed to the Apprenticeship area.) Best wishes finding what you need to have your worklife be as satisfying as possible.

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Add comment March 12th, 2007

Anti 9-to-5 profile: Jen Guyer

Jen GuyerThe anti 9-to-5er: Jen Guyer, Seattle (featured in The Anti 9-to-5 Guide!)

My job: Home stager. [Jen makes the rooms in houses for sale look nice so that people will buy.] I started a career in home staging so I could get out of the mundane lifestyle of a 9-5′er! So far so good, the staging career has taken off!

What makes my gig anti 9-to-5: I work for myself. It was important to change my lifestyle and workstyle when I had kids. I just didn’t want to be stuck at the office when I could be picking them up from school and participating in field trips. Never thought I would have kids or my own business, but I have found that the two really do work well together.

What I did in my former 9-to-5 life: Digital Video Editor and Video Streamer for TV and Internet companies in Seattle.

How I made the anti 9-to-5 leap: I made the leap by…GASP…moving my entire family into my parents’ house. Now THAT was a sacrifice, for my parents. Ha.

My biggest obstacles: Every day was a hurdle. It was hard to learn to sell myself in a new industry. I worked very hard on how to speak to others in an authoritative or expert manner. People were putting their trust in me and I didn’t want to let them down. Every aspect of owning a business was a hurdle! Filing papers with the state, getting a lawyer, putting together a website, getting a good accountant, making and distributing marketing materials…yadda yadda yadda.

My tips for other cubicle expats: If you read about a career and it is something you really think you will be good at AND enjoy, then DO IT.

What’s that link again?

Have an anti 9-to-5 tale to tell? Just fill out this here survey.

5 comments March 9th, 2007

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Who I am

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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