February 2002. War was raging in Afghanistan, the Twin Towers were still smoldering,
and I was smoking a cigarette in the parking lot of a dirty chemical plant four hours
from home. As I contemplated how I had gotten here after swearing not to work in dirty
chemical plants anymore I realized my life and my career were not my own. I went
where my employer told me. I did the job my employer wanted me to do in the way he
told me to do it. I had been two months out of work after being canned from my previous job. We had been living paycheck to paycheck, so we had to max our credit
cards. Even though it required travel I was desperate, so I took this job and showed up
for my first day on September 11, 2001. I knew the world would never be the same. I just
didn’t yet know how different the world – and my life – would be.
As I took another drag off my cigarette and exhaled. I watched the smoke and my
breath drift off in the crisp bright air. I looked around nervously – I didn’t like my boss’s
client to see me smoking. Even quality time with my buddy Winston was not wholly my
I made a decision and a promise to myself in that moment. I gave myself five years.
Five years to become free. Within five years, I swore, I would own a business. I would
call my own shots. Even if I ended up at a dirty chemical plant, I would be serving my
client. It would be my decision and I could walk away or stay as I wished. My job
security would no longer depend on the whims of an employer. My job security would
depend on my ability to network and enlist others in my vision. My salary would depend
on my negotiation skills. I liked my chances as a business owner more than my chances
as a corporate drone.
Within three years I made good on my promise and then some. I had become an independent consultant and I was serving my first client. I was making more money and working in a clean office instead of a dirty chemical plant.
And I got to hang out with my friends in the evenings instead of sitting in a Motel 6. My
career and my future were in my own hands now.
As I continue this blog, I will describe exactly how I did it, step by step. I will give you tips that
you can apply to your own career and your own life. If you’re willing to work hard, maybe you could free yourself, too. The results are up to you, though. My story is not
typical. Few are willing to do the work and have my level of success. That’s a good thing.
Because there are tons of opportunities out there, but not many know how to take
advantage of them. So, read on. Do the work. Free yourself and change your story!