It wasn’t a Muslim

The morning after the mass shooting in Las Vegas I woke up to over 10 news alerts on my phone about it. My first thought was that it was an ISIS  terrorist attack and if that was the case the number of victims would increase beyond the people at the event. It would include the Muslims and those who are often mistaken as Muslims that get harassed, discriminated against, and yes even shot in retaliation.

I saw the name of the shooter. It wasn’t a Muslim. My next thought was if it was a black person. If it was then people would assume it was connected with Black Lives Matter and the whole country will erupt.

It took me 10 minutes to click around on different stories. So many victims, such a huge tragedy. But there was not much about the person you shot them, just a name. No description. That is when I realized, it must have been a white guy. Every other group is defined first by the color of their skin or their religion.

That is when I began to see the systemic racism in the way we all report crimes.

Read more on my Article How the Vegas Shooting Opened My Eyes to Systemic Racism (Subscription Required)

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The Creative Life of a Freelancer

In one big sigh, I finally released all the frustration and disappointment I have been carrying around for several months. It caught my husband’s attention and with immediate concern, he asked,

“What’s wrong?”

“I just have so much to do.”

I am sure this confession was confusing to him. For months I have been acting like I have everything handled, things were slow but that was a good thing. I needed some downtime. Money was still flowing from other sources. In my mind, and from what he understood, I was doing what I wanted and needed to do.

But in that moment and all of a sudden, I was overwhelmed.

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The Freelancers Life: No Boss, No Deadlines, No Commitments

I have been freelancing for 12 years now. My favorite thing about being a freelancer is the freedom to refresh your career. I recently heard Satya Nadella on NPR talking about hitting refresh on Microsoft. He used the browser as a great metaphor of what it means to refresh.

“The browser has this beautiful logic when you hit refresh on your browser. It doesn’t replace everything. It replaces only those pixels that need to be replaced. “

That is a perfect metaphor for refreshing a company, including one as small as an individual freelancer. I tend to hit refresh every year around this time. Some years I have replaced quite a few pixels. This year I am more focused on rearranging the pixels.

I can do this every year because I have no boss who needs to approve my decisions. I can take my time on implementing the changes, and if a change is not working out the way I thought it should I can pull back.

But last night, all at once, I saw how my pixels should be arranged. At the same time, I knew what I had to do to rearrange those pixels and I was all of a sudden overwhelmed.

The Freelancers Life: Brand, Sales, Clients

I think we all understand that the world of work is rapidly changing. Developers continuously introduce tools to automate tasks. Professionals are expected to increase the breadth of their expertise. An emerging generation with new ideas and assumed expertise are competing for work at lower rates.

When you are on your own, defining your offerings, seeking work, pricing your offerings, and delivering expertise, the world will change and pierce through everything you have built or think you know.

This is why I refresh every year. This is why being a freelancer means being a creative. If you are building your brand and offerings on fulfilling an obvious and existing need, you won’t last long out here in the wild. Like an artist, a freelancer has to look for the connections that other people miss. A freelancer has to have a vision of where they would like their industry to go. A successful freelancer has to have a desire to make a mark on this world, if not a ding in the universe.

My favorite definition of a brand comes from Jeff Bezos, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” That means to have a brand you have to be interesting enough for someone to say something about you. You have to stand out. To achieve sales you have to stay top of mind. To keep clients you have to remain the expert, navigating through the rough waters of change.

That means to be a freelancer is to be a creative. To live the pain and sufferings of a creative. To wallow in the doubts and darkness the way that creatives do.

And to emerge with a new vision and an urgent and overwhelming need to get to work.

Thanks to those who have kneeled, I now know what I stand for.

When the national anthem is played, do you stand out of habit? Are you offended by those who have kneeled? Do you think standing should be required? Would such a requirement align with what it means to be American?

When the national anthem is played I used to stand out of habit. I was quite bored waiting for it to be over. Ever since Colin Kaepernick took a knee, when I stand now, I do so with hope and pride.

Read more on my post in Politics Means Politics, My Flag, My Country, My Choice.

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Why is it so hard to get Universal Healthcare in the US?

Already 1 in 3 people are freelancers and that number is expected to increase in the next few years. Technical advancements have enabled us to market our skills, build networks, and work independently. In fact, most people I know who have not taken the freelancer leap say it is because they need the health insurance that is offered at their company.

Is Universal Healthcare a threat to corporations who need to keep a workforce tied to their desks?

Read more on my post, Watch what politicians do, not what they say

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Free College is Not the Answer

College is not for everyone. We don’t all learn the same way and we don’t all have the capacity for higher education. Also, not everyone is striving for the suburban life. Many people want a simple job and a simple life.

But the simple jobs and simple life are disappearing. While Democrats rally around the vision of free college, which is not free, Trump and friends have been making promises of a simple life with simple jobs which we know they cannot keep, but still got them elected.

Read more on my article on Student Voices.

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Reclaiming Idealism

I have been working with a long-time friend on re-developing my personal brand. I say “re-developing” because it is a process of reclaiming the energy, the passion, the purpose of why I do what I do. I started by reclaiming the title “Idealist”.

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When I launched my personal brand in 2005 and gave myself the title Idealist, it had two meanings. The first meaning was that I helped my clients come up with and stretch the ideas of what was possible for their business. The second meaning was that I was extremely optimistic about the future and I embraced that my optimism was a bit idealistic.

Many people helped me grow my business. I learned a lot from them and am forever grateful for their time and insights. But in many ways I allowed their insights and advice to destroy my idealism and to sidetrack what I was trying to accomplish. Over the years, I began resisting sharing the raw personal stories that I believed were so critical to connecting with other people in the world. I dropped the title of Idealist in favor of “being taken more seriously” and I focused less on stretching ideas and more on outlining paths to the typical business metrics.

The silver lining is that I vastly improved my business skills and knowledge. However, the greater good that came out of my years of rejecting idealism was the void I felt. There was always a feeling of dissatisfaction after a job well done. There was the numbness I experienced as I went through the routine of mapping out a plan to meet a goal. It was obvious what I was doing was working, doing a job. I was back on the hamster wheel that once drove me crazy enough to leave a good steady paycheck and to leap into the unknown. I say this was the greater good because it was this void that reminded me of my purpose.

The darker the world got the more I realized my light was no longer shining. We are living in precarious times right now. I believe it is vital for each of us to find our light to shine our way through to better times. My light is idealism, whether it is in the form of helping people stretch the ideas of what is possible, being unrealistically optimistic about the future, or identifying the silver lining of tough situations. It is my purpose of why I do what I do.

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My son asked me, “What do you think about the Manchester Bombing?”

My son and I have always had long discussions about world events. I thought this was just another conversational starter. But it was more. My son is 22 years old. The bomber was 22 years old. The question really was how did this guy get so warped and how do we stop this?

Some of the answers I came up with are in my article for Politics Means Politics,  Manchester Bombing: Trying to Answer the Tough Questions

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