… have been unemployed for 21 years.

June 23rd, 2000, was the day I left my last job.

Has it turned out as I had hoped? Pretty much.

What’s the secret?

There is none, other than deciding that no matter what, you’re never working for somebody else again.

The hardest part is jumping.


… turned down a request.


Somebody I have never heard of asked me to review his LinkedIn profile and “provide some feedback.”

I said, sorry, but I can’t do that.

Long ago, I established some rules for myself regarding what I would and would not do for free.

My basic approach is that when it comes to strangers asking for advice, I’ll do anything I could do while driving a car.

That means it’s a specific question or two, not a general, “can you give me some advice.” And it doesn’t involve my reading or looking at anything. Everything else is paid for.

Am I correct in having drawn the line where I did?

No. You might draw it in a different place.

But the point is to draw it somewhere. Absent that, you’ll spend a lot of time wondering and second-guessing yourself.


… had my oil changed.


I love the feeling of driving out of the mechanic’s parking lot after an oil change. It’s like, for that moment, everything about the car has been set back to “perfect.”

Of course, it’s an illusion. All they did was change the oil and replace the filter; they didn’t look at the rest of the car and who knows what else may need work.

But illusions matter to humans, especially when it comes to marketing, a discipline that has never been about describing reality.

What illusions are you putting out there?

Was your web site professionally designed… creating the illusion that you and the work you do is similarly top shelf? Or does it look like your 12-year-old nephew put it together?

Are you using a “real” email domain (name@company.com)… creating the illusion that you are in it for the long haul? Or are you using a Gmail or Yahoo account to do business, suggesting that you were laid off yesterday and are just dabbling?

Do you have several hundred connections and a professional photo on LinkedIn… creating the illusion that you are a player? Or do you have five connections and a picture with someone’s hand draped over your shoulder and the rest of them cropped out?

Do you have to be smart, capable, credentialed, and experienced to succeed as an independent professional? Absolutely.

But if you look like you’re none of those things, you may never get the chance to show me.


… sat inside a Starbucks.


For the first time in well over a year, I was back at my favorite “not home, not office” spot, meeting an old client for coffee.

Interesting how something that I would hardly have noticed pre-pandemic, gave me such a thrill.

It reminded me, too, that when you run a business, and are constantly chasing the next client, more money, the new idea, etc., that you can get caught in the trap of thinking that tomorrow, you will finally get to where you’re going.

Today, I am remembering that when you work for yourself, you’re already there.


… almost ignored a new client.


Yesterday, I spoke with a prospective client about working together. This morning, he sent me an email saying he wanted to go ahead.

I read it quickly and moved on to something else.

Just now, I thought, “Wait a second, what happened to that email?”

I found it in my trash.

The point is, it’s easy to send an email – with a proposal, a request, a greeting, or whatever – and when there’s no reply, start making up stories about why the other person is ignoring us.

Sometimes the email never arrived. Other times, the bonehead on the receiving end threw it in the trash.

When it comes to email, it’s a miracle it works at all. I always double back if what I send goes unanswered.

(I shudder to think how many potential clients I’ve accidentally trashed over the years.)