I just finished reading Soloing by Harriet Rubin and I liked it. I recommend it for would-be free agents.

Rubin felt she needed to create a new word to describe people who leave there jobs to pursue their passions. I do subscribe to the philosophy that new words can create new attitudes and behaviors. GE does it all the time when they introduce new things to the company. At one point, she has a chart comparing soloists to freelancers. She says the freelancer’s ideal is “the professional”, while the soloist’s ideal is “being an artist”. I again like the meaning – the idea of creating.

Here first project after leaving as editor at Doubleday is an article for Inc. magazine. She interviewed Peter Drucker to find out his advice on being a soloist. He gave her two pieces of advice: 1) It takes three years to break even financially as a soloist and 2) To learn anything, you have to be prepared to teach it. Great advice.

Later in the book, Rubin quotes James Carse, author of Finite and Infinite Games. Carse says:

Power is the freedom people have within limits, strength is the freedom people have without limits. Power will always be restricted to a relatively small number of people. Anyone can be strong.

I absolutely love that quote. Free agents and small business people need remember not be confined by limits.

The last quote I want to share is one Rubin uses in her chapter titled “Time Is Your Only Real Asset”. The quote is Marlene Dietrich describing a phone call with her lover and mentor Ernest Hemingway:

There was a silence for a moment…[Ernest] finally said, “Don’t do what you sincerely don’t want to do. Never confuse movement with action.” In those five words he gave me a whole philosophy. I suppose the most remarkable thing about Ernest is that he has found time to do the things most men only dream about.

Dietrich was asking advice on whether she should take a lucrative offer to sing in a Miami nightclub. I think free agents are often feel compelled to take on projects just because someone called. Donald Trump was on a re-run of Ellen a couple of days ago. His first piece of advice was, “You have to love what you are doing” to be successful.

2 thoughts on “Soloing

  1. Todd,

    With regard to Peter Drucker’s comment about 3 years to break even, did the author offer any advice to those of us who don’t have a big bankroll (like me), but who are seriously considering soloing?

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