This is my friend, Darin Ninness. I knew him mostly in the 1990’s, when he was working on Military Cadet Programs (in Michigan) and I was working on them in Maryland. We both ended up in technology, and we see each other every few years at social events for mutual friends, so I connected with him on Linkedin.
You probably noticed that tempting box at the top, asking if I could recommend Darin for technical skills. I have no idea if Darin knows anything about SQL Server, but there is that annoying box, asking me to recommend him anyway.
It was the David’s work on economic policy that got me most interested in an interview. Along the way, I wanted to find out what his own life was like, and how he steers between the freedom of freelancing and the reliability of steady employment.
Last time I mentioned David Gewirtz, the author of “How To Save Jobs: Reinventing Business, Reinvigorating Work, and Reawakening the American Dream.” At the time, I was talking about mergers and acquisitions, and how without creating new companies, M&A madness will inevitably lead to layoffs and unemployment. There’s a whole lot more to David’s book than that, and while we’re at it, it turns out that David is making a living as an independent, running the U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute, but David is doing real freelance work as a contributor for CNN, instructor at the University of California at Berkeley check. Editor at ZDNet, Check.
Interesting Ideas – Check. Making a real go of it – Check.
The last time I wrote about this I was taking about Call Centers. American Companies had outsourced phone support to other countries, often India, and the results were so bad due to cultural and communications issues that the USA companies insisted on a call center across the street so the Indian Companies rented office space across the street and hired US Workers.
My friend, Peter, is an IT Contractor. Peter’s method is pretty simple — he finds a moderate to large US City that he would like to live in for six to twenty-four months at a time, then finds the largest businesses and uses his contact network to figure out which are doing large system upgrades. Then Peter finds the recruiter attached to the project, passes in his resume, and hopes to get a call.
By focusing on the kind of jobs that few people want – short-term and on-site, Peter often finds work. By living cheap, he gets to take an occasional one to three month sabbatical — taking a little bit of his retirement while he’s young enough to enjoy it. He’s also building up a resume that has a half-dozen fortune 50 companies on it; companies you’ve heard of. Once the steam-roller of a resume gets going, it’s unlikely he’ll struggle for work.
Of course, Peter lives out of an apartment and moves every year or two. If you are married, have children or family, car loans, a great deal of student loans, or have a house you want to keep for forty more years, this lifestyle might not work for you.
Last time I talked about runway — the time you have banked in case things go horribly wrong. My assumption was that you’d go independent with a contract – a single, 40-hour-a-week position, like Peter. But there are other ways to do it.
Last week, my friend RobLimo asked if I would take my ideas for independence, box them up, and do a video interview for Slashdot. The resulting video got tens of thousands of hits in two days.
Somehow, I think it was less than it could have been.
Rob called the video “secrets of independence” or something like that. At the time, I didn’t realize that was the goal — it felt more like a simple conversation. With a title like “secrets of of independence”, I thought it deserved more punch — like the four things you need to know to go independent.
It turns out, I do have a list of four things.
That sounds like a good blog post for today.
It all starts with a lot of financial modeling in Excel.
A few months ago I found some work that required a modern windows machine with Visual Studio, Microsoft’s programming toolkit.
Most of the time, I can just run Windows in a Virtual Machine in my Macbook, but that has a performance problem, and this would be a training role, so speed was critical. Yes, I considered getting a new MacBook Air, running bootcamp on it, and getting Windows to run natively – but that would require purchasing a Windows 8 license. That is, pay the premium for the Macintosh (extra money), then pay extra money again for the operating system that would come bundled it I would ‘just’ buy the ultrabook (conceptual image at right).
Hey. That ultrabook looks a whole lot like a Macbook Air, doesn’t it?
At the end of one year and the beginning of the next, a writer’s mind is prone to wander to think about goals, the future, and this crazy thing in modern life we try to call a career.
We are also likely to try to draw some inspiration.
Some authors pull from sports heros — how Tiger Woods rose, fell, and may rise again, for example. Perhaps politicians or corporate CEOs; there’s more than one story to be found in the life of Steve Jobs.
Today I’d like to draw from the Schwan’s delivery man.
Yes, the guy who brought incredibly good frozen food to your house, offered a free sample … at five to ten times the price of what is in the grocery store.
No, you didn’t buy it, and twenty-thirty-odd years ago, neither did your mom. Okay, I get it. But someone did, or else Schwans wouldn’t still be in business.
There might just be lesson in there, after all. Continued »
A few people expressed concern over what I was writing.
After all, most North Americans are looking for those ‘job’ things, with the benefits, paid time off, corporate retirement plan with unemployment insurance if things go badly. By pushing people to go against their natural instincts, I am pushing them to make an unnatural choice.
At least that’s the argument.
I’m not too worried about the person that shouldn’t go independent. They won’t read these articles, or if they stumble on to them by some great accident, they certainly won’t do anything about it.
No, I am looking to find people on the fence, who have the inclination, but lack a little something – people who want to be inspired.
From the Cloud to Virtualization, Software As a Service to Web Services, ideas seem to be everywhere all the time. Somewhere, somehow, someone needs to separate the wheat from the chaff. We’ve asked Matt Heusser to provide his insight and commentary on the prevailing issues for IT staff today.