Do you belong to or aspire to belong to this group of people: “self-employed knowledge workers, proprietors of home-based businesses, temps, permatemps, freelancers, e-lancers, independent contractors, independent professionals, micropreneurs, infopreneurs, part-time consultants, interim executives, on-call troubleshooters, or full-time soloists?” (thanks to Daniel Pink and his Free Agent Nation). If you answered yes, you’re in the right place. Welcome.
Letting Go of the Life Planned…..
My name is Jenny Bhatt. I live in Silicon Valley and I’m a recently-minted free agent. In prior lives, I have also been a manufacturing engineer, a marketeer and a strategy consultant. Currently, I am working through a career transition from corporate executive to independent professional – setting up my own financial planning and advisory practice.
It’s been an interesting journey after years of working in the corporate environment. Along the way, as I’ve faced problematic choices and made myriad decisions, I’ve also been educating myself through books, blogs and articles on career transitions, self-employment, personal finance, etc. And, while there is an amazing amount of material out there for people like me (and yes, a lot of it is by people like me), I have learned that every free agent’s journey is unique and pioneering. Perhaps, the exclusivity and the unknown is a big part of the attraction and thrill of becoming “an agent of your own future” (again, with thanks to Daniel Pink and his Free Agent Nation).
From 2008-onwards, while still hard at work in the technology sector, I had started to plot a different direction. I researched a couple rather thoroughly (more on these later). But, that “moment” to take the plunge never really came. I’d step out on that narrow ledge, look down from that great height and step back into safety almost immediately. Then, finally, one day, it happened.
….. To Reach for the Life That’s Waiting
Early in 2012, I was at an after-work dinner with my then corporate team. It was an unusually warm late-winter evening in a shimmering downtown San Francisco as we settled at our large center-table in a packed Italian restaurant. We’d had a long day of working through some pretty weighty issues related to a recently-announced business transformation program. Amidst the clinking of dinnerware, the much-needed glasses of wine helped ease us into lighter non-work banter. Someone started a conversation going around the table, asking everyone what they’d be doing if they had the absolute freedom of choice (it might even have been me – I cannot recall). That is, if money, time, knowledge were no object, would they start over? I listened with growing amazement as each one of these people, who I worked with daily, opened up shyly about their deeper passions: gourmet cooking, ice-cream shop, theatrical singing/performing, organic farming, fashion blogging, etc. The animated faces, wistful voices, resigned smiles and gentle shrugs – the gamut of alternating emotions will stay with me forever. It was one of those sudden “time stood still” moments and, within it, we had unexpectedly stumbled onto a genuine personal connection – the universal and individual human desire for the ideal self.
That evening also helped me make up my wavering mind. By the end of the month, I’d handed my notice in. The day I left, I felt like turning around, like Jerry Maguire in his famous office-leaving scene, and saying to those same team members: “Who’s coming with me?” [I did not.]
And so, after an engineering degree and nearly 2 decades working across corporations in Europe and the US, I joined the Free Agent Nation.
Creating a Free Agent Toolkit For Forging One’s Own Path
While each person’s journey is unique, I do believe that there are a few things that each free-agent-in-the-making must master for success. These fall into the following broad categories:
- Aligning interests, talents and rewards to drive achievable goals
- Mastering money, time and knowledge challenges to overcome roadblocks
- Navigating social, political and macro-economic factors to sustain momentum
- Refining one’s value system and identity to gain personal satisfaction
The mission of this blog, then, is to become a personal resource to other free agents in the above 4 areas. In more specific terms, this blog will be about:
- Ideas for planning how to achieve free agency (whether as a freelancer or as an entrepreneur) while ensuring financial security through timely planning and management of risk, retirement, taxes, investments, education, estate, business growth, cash flow, budgeting, debt, credit, etc.
- Resources, tools, encouragement and inspiration to help with transition planning and successful implementation
- Researched opinions on social, political, economic issues that impact free agents
- Free agent case studies / histories / interviews
- Relevant book / blog / podcast / article reviews
I welcome and encourage feedback, suggestions, comments and discussions. Share your own free agent stories, experiences, inspiration and do’s and don’ts. Please be considerate to others by following a simple but necessary Comment Policy.
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If you would like more information about the Free Agent Economics blog, have topics to suggest, or would like to be a guest contributor, please email me through my contact page.
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