Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What I learned while freelancing.

A little over three years ago, after about 30 years in the business I lost my job. I was 56 and petrified. Had I "aged-out" of the business? Would I ever, again, find work.

This abject fear of my own obsolescence grew in intensity as weeks went by with no one offering me work. I tried to keep busy making calls, sending notes, walking my dog. But frankly I hadn't enough to do to fill my idle hours.

I was pretty blue.

Nevertheless, I made a commitment and affirmation to myself.

I looked at a hundred "competitive" portfolios I found on LinkedIn. I looked at my portfolio.

Then I told myself, rightly or wrongly, that no one in the world is better than I am at doing the things I do. Yes, that may be solipsistic, but most affirmations are.

The other thing I did was commit to myself to not cut my day rate under any circumstances.

I figured, the best in the world at what you do deserves what I am asking.

Slowly, and perhaps inexorably, the phone started to ring. Agencies began calling. I began getting freelance and more freelance. I began getting more and more gigs. I began becoming exceedingly busy, while getting, still, more calls.

I bring this up not to boast.

I bring this up because I was able to emotionally do something most brands today cannot or will not do.

I valued myself. 

I respected myself.

I charged for my time fairly.

When I look at incidents like the United Airlines debacle, or when I see how "always-on-sale" retailers act, like phone companies, or the aforementioned airlines, or even, I suppose advertising agencies, I worry that they have demeaned themselves.

That they don't believe in themselves. They don't have standards for themselves. And they have variable pricing depending on how desperate they are for business.

I'm sure I lost jobs by being stiff-necked. I'm sure I made enemies. I'm sure I pissed people off along the way.

Nevertheless, I treated myself and my customers well. I always delivered and over-delivered and over-over-delivered.

I had a rule, I always wanted to be able to sincerely say, "I'm the biggest bargain in the business."

Or, "I'm expensive, but worth it."

Not to be arrogant, but more businesses could learn from that.

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