Freelancing the Apocalypse

You go to sleep on a Thursday night. It’s late May and summer is about to begin. Your mind is on the beautiful weather the coming months have to offer, weekend bonfires with friends and family and all the fun that comes with it.

You shut your eyes and slowly drift off to sleep, not a care in the world.

The next thing you know, morning has arrived and that beautiful place in your mind that existed prior to dozing off the night before is now a wasteland. The world as you know it has ended. Zombies litter the streets of your hometown. Maybe some are your loved ones, maybe your friends, maybe even your spouse or significant other. Needless to say, you’re all alone.

Of course, you’re not completely alone. There are other survivors out there. We all know the types; cannibals, thieves, pillagers. Anyone that is going to use and abuse your will to live to benefit themselves. It’s every man and woman for themselves in the world now. What do you do? Where do you go? What’s your first reaction to this world you are left behind in? Do you keep going or do you put a bullet between your eyes? Do you find food or shelter? Maybe you decide finding a trusty weapon is your best bet for survival. Or maybe you’re built like a tank and just need your fists.

Believe it or not, this world wasn’t far from my own once upon a time. Let me explain…

Much like a zombie apocalypse, I went to sleep on a Thursday night in late May. Summer was about to begin, but I was fresh out of college not even a year and working for a publishing company. I had plenty of hopes and dreams; start my own graphic design and video production company, become a professional drummer, join the Blue Man Group, direct a feature film or TV show, become an actor; anything but disappear into the vastness of corporate nothingness.

The next thing I knew, morning had arrived. No zombies, no apocalypse; it was a Friday and the weekend was upon me. Sure, summer was upon me as well, but I was now a working adult. No more summer vacations for me. A computer would now be my closest friend between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. every single Monday through Friday.

Even worse, I was already in a funk at my present place of employment. I’d been there for just about six months and hated every last minute of it. I was an advertising services representative. Basically, I was a secretary. A young, college graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Communication working as a glorified secretary for fourteen dollars an hour.

Note: was. All that was about to change. A veritable apocalypse of my professional life.

I remember the exact minute it happened. Around 10:35 a.m., my supervisor called me into a vacant office and from a note card, read me my termination letter.

I was frozen. Was I completely devastated? Not really. I hated the place, hated the troll sitting in front of me reading my termination letter, and hated who I became because of this job.

But was I scared? To death. My world had changed from being about comfort and security to madness and survival. My world had become post-apocalyptic.

I gathered my few belongings strewn about my desk as my supervisor meticulously watched over me, as if I’d swipe my computer and pawn it to pay June’s bills or something. And as he led me out the door, his parting words I will never forget.

“Thanks Brad.”

Thanks for nothing. Because that’s what you are now, Brad. Nothing. Nothing as this big scary world closes in on you.

Freelancing and the path of entrepreneurship isn’t easy and never will be. Whether you’re a freelance photographer, musician, accountant or contractor of any kind; we’re all in the same boat with different ups and downs in our different industries. It takes a special type of person to be self-employed and actually mean it.

If you’re not self-employed, this applies to you even more. Ever since the great economic meltdown of 2008, scrambling for work and saving money has become the norm and relying on this facade of “steady employment” is a long forgotten memory. I was still in college when it first set in, but I saw it affect my parents and family every single day in the worst ways. No matter your class, you were struggling to survive.

My point is that there isn’t always “jobs” out there, but there sure as hell is “work” everywhere. Only the strongest survive in the weakest of times. Are you strong enough?

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Make a Difference

As I’ve begun a few new products for the wonderful non-profit Safe Babies, Healthy Families, a new partner with my long-time clients Easter Seals Southeast Wisconsin, I’m reminded of why I went into business for myself in the first place, and likewise, why I am en route to becoming a college professor.

I want to make a difference; I want to change the world. I want to do everything I can to make this world a better place and to impact the lives of every single person I meet. I implore you (whether you’re a student of mine, a client of mine, or just someone who reads my business blog), smile at someone you don’t know. You’ll be amazed at how wonderful you’ve made them feel and the life you’ve even potentially saved by doing so.

Everyone has a plan, from birth to death, and I can just feel my plan is to leave an ever lasting impression on mankind that resonates throughout generations to come.

Much love, much success, and much happiness.