Good work if you can get it

I’m trapped in my home just like the rest of you. I haven’t worked for a company for five years. Here’s my cure for depression: helping people. And as a freelancer, I can do that any way I want to.

These are things I’m doing (or have done) this week.

  • I took a whole day off to visit a friend on Cape Cod. That was the first weekday off I’ve had in months.
  • I’m coaching a client who is writing an amazing piece of how the coronavirus is changing work. He’s smart — I’m psyched. This energizes me in a way you can’t imagine.
  • I’m reassuring an accomplished author, one whose proposal I helped create, that the publishers bidding on his book are for real. Our work from a couple months ago is about to pay off.
  • I’m completely reworking my writing workshop so I can deliver a version to the training group at a large company. If they like it, they might make it part of their standard training. I’ll work on that this weekend. Why? Because it will be raining then and that’s when I will have the time to concentrate on it.
  • I’ve helping two authors (separately) tell their stories in a way that will get publishers excited. They are two of the most amazing people I ever met, and their stories are fascinating. I love them both. This is a blast.
  • I’m reaching out to contacts that may help my son get a job — or at least get an interview. (He’s an entry-level content marketing guy with awesome photo, video, and audio creation and editing skills, in case you’re wondering.)
  • Yesterday morning, I helped my wife install a massive piece of environmental art at a nature sanctuary.
  • I just got a 90-year-old baby grand piano installed in my house and I’m about to get it tuned — and hopefully, learn to play it.
  • I’ll take the morning Friday and drive a close friend to a funeral.

Every one of these things has made my heart sing. There’s very little friction here, and very little politics. I just find people I can help and do what I can for them, with appropriate compensation when that makes sense. I don’t worry about whether it’s a weekday or a weekend, or who needs to approve my work. I mix business and personal every day. When I do more, I end up getting paid more, but not necessarily based on the hours put in — it’s more based on how the “doing more” comes back around in the future.

And I spend very little time on things I hate to do.

There’s another analyst, a friend, who started at Forrester Research in the same month as me, 25 years ago. He just announced his 25th anniversary with the company. I left five years ago. That could have been me.

I wish him well, but there is no way I would trade places with him. The variety and self-directed nature of what I do now is so much more well-suited, not only to my way of working, but to the other demands my family is putting on me now, and to how Coronavirus has affected all of our work.

I’m sitting at the same desk doing much of the same work I was a year ago. This is a virus-resistant career. And my clients have, if anything, increased in their variety and their need to work with me.

My heart goes out to you if this crisis has made your life difficult. Let me know if I can help.

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  1. I’m happy that all of your hard work is paying off.

    Thank you for writing “This is a virus-resistant career”, not “This is a virus-proof career.” Whenever I hear about future-proofing a business, I shake my head.




  2. Great to hear, Josh, and glad you’re staying safe. I’ve been texting with groups to help get the Census done by mail, phone, web so census-takers don’t have to go door-to-door in a pandemic. I also text to get people registered to vote, or get absentee ballots, information about voting, or COVID resources. I’ve been exploring fabric block printing to make gifts for friends. As well as continuing to do my writing/interviewing for nonprofits. I have friends who have been making hundreds of masks (I’ve managed to make 2…)

  3. What a lovely post, Josh. This is where “making a living” becomes creating a life! I completely relate to what you’re saying. The intrinsic rewards in helping others are really what underpin our company’s publishing focus, and even our business model as a service-oriented hybrid publisher of books that help, heal and inspire. We are so fortunate to do work that we love and find meaningful, and to work in a way that we enjoy! I hope your post inspires people to cultivate more of that in their lives.