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Tag Archives: health

Self-Employment Society

I’ll be teaching one of three classes at my local community college this coming August. It’s an adjunct (contract) faculty position and I’m pleased at being selected. I’ve been teaching at a variety of educational institutions since 1987 and like photography, teaching is a calling. I’ve made a living at both for years but I wanted to call your attention to a trend that’s been building for years. The three classes are being divided up amongst new adjuncts. A full time person has left and the vacancy is being filled by adjuncts. No benefits, no sick days. No long-term commitment on the part of the school. I date the start of this trend to the beginning of business globalization back in the 80’s.

We’re becoming much more of a society of part-timers, double and triple jobbers, independent contractors and the self-employed. Gone are the days of full-time employment, full time benefits, a lifetime pension and straightforward and honest company executives. We have to make our own careers. This trend has been reported on by various media; The collective employment culture is evolving into one that uses non-traditional employment methods to get society’s work done. I say this because I’ve experienced it and continue to experience it: In addition to this adjunct position, I’m waiting to hear from a major player in our industry about an offer to work with them on a contract basis, filling a position that a full-time held previously. No benefits. No pension. No long-term commitments. Easy to get into. Easy to get out of. As long as the contract rate reflects my costs, (health care, taxes, overhead,etc)  I’m fine with these kinds of employment situations. I’ve been working this way for years, I’m an SECP.  I’m concerned for all of you who have not experienced being self-employed. On a good day it’s great. All the other days, it’s tough. You work hard every day and yet you don’t make money every day. Like I said. Tough. Yet it’s where we’re headed so you better warm up to the idea and get ready to play. I’ve been blogging about this since 2008. Go here. Here. Here. And here for a taste.

Business save money when they use contract people. Businesses save in salary and benefits. Part-timers don’t get as much pay nor do they receive benefits. Contractors should and usually do get more per hour so they can contribute to their expenses. When negotiating such a contract, don’t forget to figure that when an employee works for a company, the hourly rate they “earn” is approximately 1/5 of what they actually cost their employer. In addition to the hourly rate there are payroll taxes, social security taxes, benefits, 401k plans, insurances, etc. that are factored in. You need to factor these in too or else you will not thrive let alone survive. I’ve been factoring in these costs from day one and 30 years later, my investments are five times higher than the average working stiff. Booyah!

Do yourselves and your families a favor and begin the process of figuring out how to monetize your expertise and creating opportunities for such expertise. Success is a process not an end result.

Good luck and let me know how I can help.

Michael

Rituals and Balance

A Classic Summer Ritual

Soon after graduating from Art Center, I imagined how I wanted to work; I’m at home gardening, working on my house or making something in my shop and the phone rings. It’s a client calling with a job offer. After listening to the pitch, I accept or decline. For the most part my career has played itself out this way. The success of this dream is the main reason I’ve kept my sanity through all the insanity that envelopes you when you work for yourself. It’s the between times that I want to write about here, prize of developing and engaging in ritual tasks that brings me my daily dose of the 3R’s: relief, relaxation and recharging.

I work out of an office on my property and when I feel the need, I work in one of my  gardens, on a home maintenance project or visit with friends and neighbors. Often I’ll volunteer to take my son to school just so I can hang a bit with other parents. Lately it’s been biking and working out that  keep me centered. I engage in these ritual tasks often, they reinforce my belief that I’m successful. And it’s this success that allows me to live my life the way I’ve imagined. I get more quality work accomplished in less time precisely because I spend quality time engaging in my rituals.

When I’m stuck for a topic to blog about or for any task I have to complete in the course of running my multiple-income stream business, I often go out into the yard and either rest in the hammock outside my office, garden, weed, tinker with one of the many home improvement projects I have going, bike ride, work out or visit with my neighbor who has put together an amazing garden.

I make myself connect to the world in ways that don’t involve email, phones or computers. All of these ideas help me maintain a level emotional state, something important to strive for when in the world of self-employment.

What are you waiting for? Stop reading and start doing!

Nobody Loves You Like Your Mother And Sometimes Not Even Her

So Many Tasks, So Little Time

Take care of yourself. As much as possible take care of your emotional, spiritual and physical health. I know you’ve heard this before: exercise, eat well, rest, find something that directs the energy of the universe back to you. I exercise three-five times a week. I try to get eight hours a night. I minimize eating corporate food. I spend a lot of time with my son and working in my garden. I make the time, morning, mid-day or night, I make the time. This is so important to me that I cannot over emphasize it’s importance: TAKE CARE OF YOUR SELF! Now!

Once you step into the world of self-employment, all bets are off. You’re responsible for every aspect of your life, your family’s life and anyone else who depends on you. It ain’t easy. It’s hard work. It’s frustrating. It’s fun. It’s lucrative. It’s not. It’s everything in your life (both personal and professional) all rolled into a sticky mass of jobs, responsibilities and tasks and it can get to you often…if you let it.

Take care of yourself. Don’t put tasks off. Manage your anger. Manage your happiness. Manage your health. Manage your cash flow and invest every extra dollar so that your money works for you. After all the time and energy spent working for your money, it’s time to make it responsible for your future. Make your money work  for you.

Educate yourself. Go to seminars. Go to workshops. Ask questions. Become informed. It’s your responsibility. Self-love will see you through the darkest times of self-employment drudgery. Success demands you accept failure as part of the process, as part of success. There is much to deal with on a daily basis. On a weekly basis. On a monthly basis. On a yearly basis. Breaking down, organizing and executing these tasks is crucial to long-term self-employment success.

If you don’t do this, who will?

Your mother?

Non-Stress Approach To Life Situations

Amazing What Can Be Done With A Desktop Scanner

Amazing What Can Be Done With A Desktop Scanner

Years ago when my business was new and I was full of beans, it dawned on me that the potential for high stress levels was going to be constantly present. I saw what it did to my dad and others of his generation and I was not going down that road. One particular client I had early on was a great mentor for how to manage stress. She took me aside on several occasions and pointed out how certain situations were breeding grounds for stress and poor long-term health issues. She was an independent multimedia producer back in the day when we used 35mm slides, 4×5 transparencies (converted to slides) and tape to tape reels for recording the audio. 100% analog and fun. I listened to her quite a bit and over the course of our photography projects, I really gained an appreciation for how she helped me. I hope to pass along some of these tidbits to you. I trust you’ll find them helpful.

They are in no particular order:

1)   Be conscious of what you’re doing.
2)   Be who you are and not somebody else.
3)   Be the source of what you say.
4)   Don’t get value from a bad situation.
5)   Don’t get angry, get clear.
6)   Be a thermostat, not a thermometer.
7)   Focus on group purpose.
8)   Get agreements up front and in writing.
9)   Create and environment of support.
10) Acknowledge people, especially the bad ones.
11) Don’t complain to anyone who can’t do anything about it.
12) Be easy and let life work.
13) Tell the truth and you’ll have less to remember because your story never changes.
14) Make your life and act of love.

Be well.

Setting Goals & Managing Goals, Not the Same Thing

My Bad Back

My Bad Back

Hello out there in the netherworld of self-employment, I have a new post for you to contemplate: achieving success and managing the achievement. Before I get into the meat of this post, a bit of personal history will hopefully clarify why I think the way I do. As a teenager my health was seriously compromised by nerve and bone tumors growing on and around my cervical spinal cord. Although the surgery to remove them was successful (as well as a repeat surgery 13 years later), according to the surgeon I  almost died on the operating table. Being a young and turgid teenager, this was devastating, it angered me for years and screwed up my life plans. Up until then my life was good and then (as I adjusted to a less physical lifestyle), not so good for many years after. I was way too angry to function in emotionally healthy ways, I was mad at the world and absolutely believed there was no point in making life plans because they were subject to change without notice. I turned my attentions to photography and plowed ahead as if my life depended on it.

Moving forward eight years, I graduate from Art Center, open up a studio on Hollywood Blvd, smack dab in the middle of all its’ craziness. I plug away at my career in Hollywood for close to two years. I move to a studio in Burbank and continue to build my business. After a new health problem pops up, I close this studio, I rehab and recover (at home) and then find work at a photographic services company for three years. This gig ends after a messy divorce (my practice marriage) and the second spinal cord surgery (referred to earlier). Through all this trauma and turmoil I continue to be successful, I remarry, move into a new studio (where I stayed put for 16 years) and started a new family. So I’m working, making money, traveling, buying a house, starting a self-employed investment plan (SEP) and generally having a good time. At one point we had enough money to begin lending to fellow artists who weren’t as well off (lucky?) as us.

I’m sitting in my office one afternoon (reflecting on my life) and it suddenly occurred to me what  I had achieved: a successful professional, self-employed photography business in Los Angeles. I was shocked at this notion because I never planned on being successful in any way, shape or form. What was the point? Just work baby and don’t look towards the future because there ain’t one. Becoming successful was just a passing fancy. They say successful people must have one, three, five and ten year plans. Where do you see yourself in three years? Five? Ten? In my mind I wasn’t making any plans beyond lunch, let alone five or ten years. Who are they kidding? Me? Successful? What a knucklehead!

Because I didn’t see myself as a successful professional (by whatever measurement I was using), I never thought about managing my success once it was achieved. I’d been in business for 13 years (at this point) and now the blood was quickly draining out of my face as I realized I now had to learn how to manage my successful photography business. I was on a windy precipice trying not to get blown into the pit of my own blindness. Truth be told, I fumbled and stumbled around, dazed and confused by this realization. I became scared that I was going to fail because I failed to plan. I became overly worried that somehow it was all going to end soon. No more work, no more money. No more fun. Stress became my closest friend, worry my new neighbor. I was going to screw this up! How could I have possibly gotten this far? How much money was in the bank? Who owed me money? Were there any jobs coming up? I need to get a real job. The proverbial chicken with its’ head cut off. Real professional.

Of course what I really needed to do was to get ahold of myself, breath deeply and think about what I had accomplished over the previous 13 years. I had to tell myself I was fine. That I was going to be fine. To lighten up and enjoy a bit of what I had accomplished and continued to accomplish, daily. I actually had a plan all along, I just didn’t realize it (sound familiar?). I was so busy working to build a sustainable photography business, I didn’t realize I was doing most of the right things, except thinking in a more positive way. Previous experiences can have a profound impact on future perspectives. I certainly got caught up in it and I let it abuse me for years.

So, be careful what you wish for, work hard to get there, practice daily the little things that define you as a working, dynamic, forward-thinking professional and you will eventually become successful. Unless you’re a total mess and unpleasant to deal with, it’ll be difficult to screw this up. Once you begin experiencing success, do the little things to manage your success: thank you notes, expressions of sincere appreciation for your vendors and clients and always, always serve them the best you can deliver. Every time. Setting goals and managing goals may not be the same thing but they are closely related. Heck, if I can do it, just about anybody can. Go for it!

Be well.

Michael