Tag Archives: Professional

THE GET THERE: Unsolicited Advice to a Freelancer

Credit: Michael Popp Studio
Credit: Michael Popp Studio

I haven’t done a post in a while and I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned in the last 10 years in New York. Seeing everyone “get there” in business or personal life is something that starts to happen when you hit 30 in New York. Either folks are having babies and buying houses or peers start to find a niche for themselves professionally.

Recently, out to coffee with my friends I’ve noticed all are in varying stages of either realizing or investing in their own professional success in non-profit sectors and freelance capacities. Some are expanding their businesses, some are starting new bigger/hairier projects and some are packing-up and heading west. My own philosophy for a long time was to find money. I took every gig under the sun and that nomadic freelance lifestyle always paid, sometimes not with actual dollars, but always with a lesson or a scar. That philosophy has served me for as long as it could. I have survived in New York and now I gotta get there.

Below are 3 things that continue to work for me and that I learned from folks further down the road than myself.Β  Some or none of these will apply to your experience.

1. Ask for what you want

This is something I learned from my parents and something I really take for granted. Everyone has goals they’ve either sketched out on a map or keep tucked away til’ something magical happens. You can’t bank on that magic and often times the map you’ve laid out doesn’t include the whole picture. The conventional ways modeled for creative people “getting there” haven’t proven useful to me. The way I’ve gotten to a fair majority of my professional success is by asking people for exactly what I want and working backwards. The truth is that people want to help other people and it’s made a whole lot easier if the people in charge have a full understanding of what you want.

2. Better done than perfect

There are jobs where things have to be perfect. Doctors, judges, architects all require a monastic commitment to details and perfection. Luckily the jobs I’m good at don’t. I work in interior design editorial, fundraising, events, styling and other creative industries and I know we aren’t saving lives, we’re making things pretty. There are tons of logistics and attention to detail and those moving pieces are very important, but not science. The personal experience someone has is the only part of the job that should be perfect; the getting there doesn’t have to be.

3. You are doing it wrong

at home project

I’ve messed up on projects or left things uncompleted and had to experience the consequences. It’s in those hair-raisingly awkward interactions or dramatic emails that you learn the most. You have to do it wrong. I learned way more from my slip ups than I did from my successes. The caveat here is that you want to be doing wrong less and less of the time.

What are the tools you use to “get there”?

Where these tips useful? irritating? Comment below