Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Crazy Day Yesterday: And A Word on Finding Your Passion

Yesterday was crazy.

I realized as I was ready to log off the computer last night that I had forgotten to post a Wednesday blog entry. Too tired to even think, I collapsed in bed, my mind filled with the events of the day.

I got up and took my shower a little earlier than usual because I was meeting someone at 6:45 AM for a "mentoring session." I met this man through a networking event and enjoyed his direct style of communication. Last week he called and wondered if I'd consider allowing him to use me as a "guinea pig"for his coaching ideas. I agreed. His three stipulations: 1) He got to pick the location 2) I pay for the coffee and 3) I agree to be on time.

Since he lives halfway across the city from me, I realized I'd be in for a drive. So I agreed to drive 35 minutes to meet him. We agreed on a Starbuck's location and I had my map ready, printed the day before. I meant to leave the house at 6 AM but forgot something, headed back inside and then took off. It was 6:09 AM. I still figured I had enough time to get to where I needed to be.

Long story short, I got confused with the location since the Starbuck's we agreed upon was inside of a Kroger's and I thought I was looking for an independent address. I ended up driving an extra mile or so down the road, putting me perilously close to our agreed meeting time. I finally called him at 6:45 AM to let him know what had happened. We agreed upon a McDonald's and after I turned around, was there within 5 minutes.

"Bob" is charismatic and a stellar salesman. He is out on his own and desires to help coach small businesses on the art of salesmanship. His communication style is very direct to the point of almost being intimidating, but I'm the sort who appreciates that type of approach. (I know it's not for everyone.) Bob spent most of the time, though, talking about himself so I knew more "about him." I agree that the person being coached needs to know the perspective of the coach, but a few minutes will suffice. Not almost 20 minutes. But still, I like Bob and understood that it was important to him that he shared the information.

After reflecting upon the morning's "mentoring session," I made the decision that I wasn't going to be his guinea pig, after all. There are a few reasons for this. First, I have a day job that I need to focus upon and simply enjoy. God gave me a great job that allows me to use my creativity. It's an answer to prayers I have prayed for years. Yes, I want to be on my own and be self-employed, but I still have lots of work to do to prepare myself for it.

Second, I am already engaged in preparation. I am "doing" it. I borrowed books from the library on graphic design, I have found websites that talk about being a freelance graphic designer and reading their content, and I even found a podcast for graphic designers that I will be listening to on a regular basis. In other words, I'm gleaning from those already in the industry I hope to eventually work within.

Third, and it goes along with the second point - I'm in the stage where I need mentoring first on honing my craft, not selling it. I don't really have anything to "sell" yet. This is Bob's specialty. In his view, everyone is a salesperson. I agree to a point. If you want to make money doing what you love, eventually you're going to have to get someone who is willing to either buy your product or hire you. My father was an outstanding salesman for many years and I learned many excellent sales techniques from him, but he sold products that he knew inside and out. He understood his target market. He did his homework and then connected with the decision makers.

I'm still at the drafting table, figuring out what my "product" will be, let alone my target market.

So. I say all this to tell you this: If you are seeking to be self-employed yourself, understand where you are in the process and get the right kind of help. If you're in the beginning, like me, gather as many resources as you can to guide you. I was elated, for instance, when I discovered that an online graphic design article I was reading was written by none other than a good friend's husband! I had brunch with her that very weekend and happened to see him. I mentioned that I enjoyed his article and wondered if I could "ping" him with questions sometime. He said he'd be happy to help. Believe me, he's a valuable resource.

Sometimes when we want something so badly, we can switch into panic mode, which isn't tough to do in these trying economic times. I network extensively for my job and I can't tell you how many "social media experts" I meet. There are trends and fads and those who would like to call themselves "Rockstars." But after all the glitter comes off, are they really making money doing what they love to do? Or did they rush through the process of getting to where they'd like to be by taking shortcuts, which didn't help?

A spoke to a colleague who told me that a recent event featured a panel of "experts" on social media. Two, he said, were unemployed. I had to laugh. If I'm to take advice from anyone who is an "expert," you better darn well be successful at it and to me, this includes having clients.

Bob isn't a graphic artist. He's a salesman. For me, I need to become the best graphic artist I can be first - before I sell anything. Otherwise, I'll be just like those empty suits sitting on a panel, calling myself an "expert" when in fact, it's all just smoke and mirrors.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Excellent analysis. "Bob" may be helpful someday, but you seem to be on the right track.
Pax Christi, E