If you joined us yesterday, you read the first part of Emma Alvarez Gibson‘s story, where she got canned from a job she hated but needed. If you didn’t, go back & read it now so that the conclusion will be even more awesome. Honestly people, when I read this post in it’s entirety I had to stop & breathe for at least 5 minutes, & I couldn’t get back to Emma about it until the swooning stopped the next day. I have a feeling it’ll be as powerful for you as it was for me. Go somewhere quiet & enjoy it, & don’t forget to read to the end for an incredible offer from Emma.
I felt as though I could breathe again. As I recall, my first act was to send out a text — before even starting my car — saying, “I’ve just been laid off. Hallelujah! Let the rest of my life begin!”
And did it ever. Let me back up a bit, though, to just a few months before the layoff, when two seemingly small things set the stage in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Thing one: I read an article in (now-defunct) Domino magazine about a book called Style Statement and the two women who’d produced it. It seemed like a fabulous book, so I ordered it. When it arrived, I flipped through it and saw a photo of one of the two women, the lovely and amazing Danielle LaPorte, and thought, I need to know her.
Thing two: at the urging of a co-worker (whom I hadn’t seen in months, but ran into as she was eating lunch in my building because she’d gotten lost on the way to a meeting–true story!), I attended an event put on by a local nonprofit organization called WriteGirl. (Fantastic organization, by the way.) Colleen Wainwright, aka The Communicatrix, whose blog I’d just started reading, was one of the speakers. Just before I left I saw her in the courtyard and totally accosted her. I told her how cool I thought she was and that I loved her writing. To her credit, she didn’t call the police, but rather encouraged me to email her.
So I did. I emailed her to say that I very much needed a session of her particular brand of kung fu, but I was completely broke and would she be interested in a barter? Mind you, this was terrifying to me. And I told her as much, saying I was afraid that she would think I was uber-lame and that she and all the other awesome internet ladies would laugh me off the internet. But, you know, what did I have to lose, really? So I hit send, and less than a day later, she responded, saying absolutely she was interested in bartering. (Owning a massage table: handy.)
The Communicatrix session resulted, partly and perhaps most notably, in my making some changes to the blog I had then. I began posting interviews every Monday with people I thought were interesting. For the very first one, I emailed Danielle LaPorte, again ignoring that awful fear that I was nowhere near cool enough. But, like Colleen, she too said yes. And then so did lots of other people (Mark McGuinness, Andrea Scher, Peter Green and Daniel Pink, to name a few, and of course the lovely Michelle Ward! *Note from Michelle: I didn’t put the “lovely” in there – I have Emma fooled!*).
So then I got laid off. And I sent out two to three different email blasts, to different groups of people in my life, letting them know I was looking for work and what my skill set was. And I blogged about it. And Tweeted about it. And Facebooked about it.
And this is the part I still can’t quite get over: it worked. It totally worked. Friends (including Danielle and Colleen) recommended me, thus sending freelance work my way. And the people I did work for recommended me to other people. A web designer in my area started following me on Twitter. We got to be friends and planned a meet-up for local freelancers and creatives. Then we became business partners: we co-own Litmus Studio, a brand identity agency. We create and refine all levels of brand identity for remarkable people and organizations. (The “remarkable” bit is very important to us.)
All of which is immensely pleasing to a girl with enthusiastic interest in nearly everything, but particularly using words to connect people with themselves and with one another. If I’m doing my job well, I become a part of a different world with each project, each client. I learn about different markets, aspirations, likes and dislikes, worldviews–worlds, period–plus, I get to do the thing I love most: write and create.
Quite frankly, it’s a little bit like a fairy tale. All that stuff you hear about how great it is to be your own boss? Yeah, it’s true. It’s also time-consuming, confusing and nerve-wracking at times. But the worst day of working for myself still beats the best day I’ve ever had working for someone else.
Truly: I had not realized that being this happy was an option.
Emma Alvarez Gibson is doing what she loves – creating & refining brand identity – as the co-owner of Litmus Studio, a brand identity agency. She’s also one of the sweetest, funniest, awesomest people I’ve never met (but I plan to!). And to back up the claim I made yesterday that she’s kick-ass, she’s offering all of my readers a special discount: a one-hour Brand Alchemy session, normally a $250 value, for $100. Plus, you’ll get a free bio for your website, too. Don’t be a schmuck & contact her here.