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    Funerals, cremations, VINDICATION

    (Readin’ time: 1m 38s)

    OK, I thought my ideas, presented here, on ways the funeral business could close the “cremation gap”, were a little far out there, but turns out… not so far out there after all!

    Witness: www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-funeral-as-we-know-it-is-becoming-a-relic–just-in-time-for-a-death-boom/2019/04/14/a49003c4-50c2-11e9-8d28-f5149e5a2fda_story.html

    A quote:


    More than half of all American deaths lead to cremations, compared to 28 percent in 2002, due to expense (they can cost a third the price of a burial), the environment, and family members living far apart with less ability to visit cemetery plots, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. By 2035, the cremation rate is projected to be a staggering 80 percent, the association says. And cremation frees loved ones to stage a memorial anywhere, at any time, and to store or scatter ashes as they please. (Maintenance of cemeteries, if families stop using them, may become a preservation and financial problem.)

    Past funeral association president Mark Musgrove, who runs a network of funeral homes and chapels in Eugene, Ore., says his industry, already marked by consolidation, is adapting to changing demands.

    “Services are more life-centered, around the person’s personality, likes and dislikes. They’re unique and not standardized,” he says. “The only way we can survive is to provide the services that families find meaningful.”

    Funeral homes have hired event planners, remodeled drab parlors to include dance floors and lounge areas, acquired liquor licenses to replace the traditional vat of industrial-strength coffee. In Oregon, where cremation rates are near 80 percent, Musgrove has organized memorial celebrations at golf courses and Autzen Stadium, home of the Ducks. He sells urns that resemble giant golf balls and styles adorned with the University of Oregon logo. In a cemetery, his firm installed a “Peace Columbarium,” a retrofitted 1970s VW van, brightly painted with “Peace” and “Love,” to house urns.


    So my ideas maybe weren’t that far out after all!!

    Every industry undergoes change.

    You–very likely a software developer or someone in the tech industry–eat change for breakfast.

    That positions you very well to charge clients to help them navigate change through better planning or risk mitigation.

    How could your services do more of that? It’s really profitable stuff.

    -P

    Establishment size

    (Readin’ time: 1m 30s)

    I don’t know what y’all think I do for fun, but this is one of those things:

    positioning services - Experiential marketing learning for independent consultants

    positioning services - Experiential marketing learning for independent consultants

    Source: docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TGdwuokv9qVDoZqyx8lowucvAEfDaNMSvKBmoJ0Oulk

    Most verticals are way too large a market for any of y’all to focus on. When I say “verticals” here, I mean broad industry sectors like manufacturing, construction, finance, etc.

    They’re too large for marketing and expertise reasons. There are too many companies in these broad verticals for you to cultivate a reputation, and there is too much diversity in their needs for you to cultivate deep expertise.

    However, your market is never really the entire vertical. If your business is configured to profitably serve huge companies, small companies probably can’t afford you. And if your business is configured to profitably serve small companies, huge companies may not take you seriously or might overwhelm your capacity.

    So in reality, your market–if you’re vertically focused–is the size company you’re configured to serve within the vertical you’re focused on. Your market is almost always a subset of the vertical. (It’s almost always a superset as well, but I won’t discuss that today.)

    That’s why charts like the above, which I made by pulling US Census Bureau data from the American Fact Finder site, are interesting to me. They show how various verticals are “big” or “small” across a range of company sizes as measured by headcount, which is sometimes a good way to measure company size and sometimes is not as good as looking at revenue.

    An example: if your business is configured to serve huge companies with more than 1,000 employees, then you will find the Real Estate vertical to be “small” (31 establishments with more than 1,000 employees) and the Manufacturing vertical to be relatively large (886 establishments with more than 1,000 employees). This, despite the fact that when you look at the total population of each vertical, the relationship is reversed. Real Estate is relatively larger (390,500 total establishments) than Manufacturing (291,543 total establishments).

    -P

    [PMC Weekend Edition] Flossin’

    (Readin’ time: 57 seconds)

    Marketing is a lot like flossing your teeth.

    You don’t have to do it with excellence, but you do need to do it consistently for it to achieve the desired results.

    Yeah, there are exceptions. You read about folks who wrote that one white paper 10 years ago and it still gets crazy relevant search traffic today and continues to generate quality leads. That’s awesome for them, and awesome for anybody who has a time travel machine with a 10-year range.

    But in the main, habit-based marketing works best for folks like us.

    No, you don’t have to publish daily (though I think that’s a powerfully transformative version of a daily marketing habit. If computers are a bicycle for the mind, publishing daily is a gym and personal trainer for the mind). But if you can build a daily habit that will help you connect and build trust with great prospective clients, over the long haul, you will win the marketing game.

    Jonathan Stark has recently published two emails that are an excellent read on this subject:

    1. www.getdrip.com/deliveries/a0kozfxehum9ozblul4v?__s=o4qjhepq2a9eqrg7szs7
    2. www.getdrip.com/deliveries/hvweshc1b3rt6sdncan0?__s=o4qjhepq2a9eqrg7szs7

    If you’re not on his email list, I have to wonder why: jonathanstark.com/daily (Secret link to his archive, which achieves ideal #2 of The Expertise Incubator program: jonathanstark.com/archive)

    Happy Easter Sunday,

    -P

    [PMC Weekend Edition] Square-hot-mess-space

    (Readin’ time: 38 seconds)

    Squarespace broke my heart.

    They used to be this beautifully simple product, and then they feature-creeped into a nightmare GUI, and no matter how much Merlin Mann tries to convince me it’s easy to use, it’s not. It’s just not easy to use anymore.

    I’ve run across an alternative I’m loving: carrd.co

    Imagine something like about.me, but with 50% more flexibility. Carrd is good for profile pages, like about.me, and also simple landing pages, opt-in pages, and uber simple brochure-style pages. All 1-page sites.

    So if you need to stand up a quick 1-pager for some project (market research, lead gen experiment, etc.) and want it to look good while keeping you out of a code editor, maybe check out carrd.co.

    I get nothing, other than the satisfaction of possibly being helpful to you, for promoting them.

    Happy Saturday,

    -P

    The burden of genre

    (Readin’ time: I’m embarrassed to say. Maybe read this anyway. I think it’s pretty good. It definitely is long.)

    David C. Baker published an excellent article on monthly recurring revenue (MRR) arrangements yesterday: www.davidcbaker.com/why-monthly-recurring-revenue-arrangements-may-not-be-ideal It’s excellent and y’all should read it.

    David’s article got me thinking. I’ve been a fan of MRR, in my own business particularly, but also for client businesses that are at a maturity stage where MRR could be beneficial.

    My article today is not really about MRR, and I’m not pro-MRR and David anti-MRR. If you read David’s article you’ll see that it’s a very nuanced, very informed take on the pros and cons of MRR, and today I just want to add my marketing perspective to David’s points about MRR. So don’t get lathered up for a battle of the articles between me and someone I respect. 🙂

    Here’s where I’m going with this: I do think the “should you offer MRR services or build an MRR business?” question illustrates an underlying tension in our world. One of several, actually.

    There are two such tensions that have been really interesting to me lately. We can think of them as:

    • Direct response marketing vs. brand brand marketing
    • MRR revenue stability vs. 1-off/custom project profitability

    These aren’t strict dualities or polarities. Reality is more complex than that! But if we simplify reality enough to model it in simplistic ways, I think these dualistic models are useful, or at least they give us a way to think through our decisions and create better alignment between us, our goals, and our chosen methods.

    The best context in which to consider these dualities is that of genre. I think we all have a rough sense of what a genre is, but allow me a Wikipedia quote anyway, since it does give us a good launching-off point:


    Genre (from French genre, meaning ‘kind, sort’) is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. Genre is most popularly known as a category of literature, music, or other forms of art or entertainment, whether written or spoken, audio or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria, yet genres can be aesthetic, rhetorical, communicative, or functional. Genres form by conventions that change over time as cultures invent new genres and discontinue the use of old ones.


    “Conventions”. Kind of like standards. That’s the key aspect of genres. Well, that and “socially-agreed-upon” and “cultures”. Those are other important aspects of genres.

    I highlight the social and cultural aspects because that’s often the most frustrating part of genres for innovative thinkers and do-ers. The culture is not always supplying us with the most helpful genres to work in, so we sometimes have to invent new ones, which is difficult work that requires patience and persistence, or we settle for operating within somewhat outdated genres.

    Technology is often at the leading edge of the culture, so as folks working in and innovating in the world of tech, we’re not always totally aligned with the culture, or the center of gravity of the culture. And that causes some of the frustration we feel when we think about genre. They can seem limiting.

    And that’s the problem, because fitting into a genre can be a wonderful shortcut. Primarily a marketing shortcut. Fitting into a genre can also be a problem for your business.

    So I hope you see–or at least trust me long enough to make the case that–being intentional about what genre you fit into is very important.

    A quick example.

    My wife and I (and our cats) recently decamped from Sebastopol for a month-long stay in Colorado Springs that looks like it’s going to turn into another month in Santa Fe. We want to experience these places for longer than a quick visit so we can make a better decision about where to relocate to. We drive a rear-wheel drive car, and so as part of preparing for this trip we looked into replacing our car with an all-wheel drive car.

    This turned out to be more complex and disruptive than we wanted to deal with, so we kept the RWD car and hoped for little or no snow on our trip.

    But in the midst of talking to multiple car dealers, I remembered Volvo’s “subscribe to a car” program. You pay a premium monthly price to subscribe to a car; something like $900/mo. You get to drive the car as much as you want, and ongoing repair and maintenance costs are 100% covered by Volvo. And here’s the really unique part: you can exchange the specific car you’re driving with (if I’m remembering correctly) any other car Volvo makes. Or maybe it’s a subset of their product lineup. Either way, you can easily exchange the car you have with a different car as part of this subscription. You could be driving a sporty 2-door car one week and a more cargo-friendly station wagon or SUV the next. And if I remember correctly, the Volvo dealer will bring the car to your house to effect this switch.

    Anyway, you can see how this kind of setup would be really appealing to someone who did not want to spend multiple hours inside a car dealer in order to get a car better-suited to his 2-month road trip. The Volvo subscription program would have made that into a trivial phone call or website visit.

    But! Volvo is stepping outside the genre that defines how cars are distributed. More for business than aesthetic reasons I’m sure, some of their dealers sued to stop this program. They’re not hyped about Volvo building a direct-to-consumer (D2C) capacity that cuts dealers out of the relationship. The better Volvo gets at creating a compelling D2C experience, the less dealers are needed.

    Additionally, some car buyers are going to look at the specifics of Volvo’s subscription program and laugh, probably with a healthy dose of scornfulness reverberating through their laughter. “$900 a month and I don’t even own the car!?!?! That’s like buying one iPad Pro a month but I never own the 12 iPads I’d have after a year!! I’ll have some of what you’re smoking, please.”

    It’s reasonable to assume they’re laughing at what they see as a piss-poor value. But I can assure you they are also laughing at what they see as an unacceptable departure from the genre of how cars are distributed.

    We seem to be straying away from the idea of MRR, but we’re not because, again, this tension between MRR and custom/1-off project profitability is about genres almost as much as it’s about business models.

    As David points out in his article, there are some purely business aspects to service offerings or entire businesses that use an MRR model. One aspect is that the MRR model can really push you in the direction of hands work and away from the direction of brains work.

    Spend a moment thinking about every thing that you pay a monthly or yearly subscription for; things where the billing is opt-out by default rather than opt-in by default. You’ll find several commonalities:

    • They tend to be commodities. They might be useful–even indispensable–but they are at some level fungible.
    • They tend to be low price.
    • They tend to be digital goods, consumables, or intangible goods, not assets. Remember, a subscription is an open-ended thing, not closed-end like a term loan, lease, or other scheme that has an end date and ownership transfer or release of a lien at the end of the deal. So most subscriptions don’t end up with you owning a tangible thing or asset at some future date.

    These commonalities between the things we subscribe to create a set of assumptions. These assumptions are woven into the fabric to the subscription genre, and when you create a service offering using the MRR model, you are inheriting the client assumptions that are part of this genre. Another way to look at this: when you create a service offering using the MRR model, you are sending a signal, and that signal telegraphs the assumptions of the genre.

    That’s why your choice of genre matters. The assumptions that come with the genre and the signals it sends aren’t defined entirely by you. They’re also a social/cultural construct, and that stuff can be changed over time–and it does change all by itself–but this change is rarely easy or fast.

    The closest thing we have to a rule of thumb here is: if you, your business, or your services don’t fit into a genre, then you need to think long and hard about why. The corollary: The genre you operate within comes with expectations, and you need to think long and hard about whether to violate those expectations.


    Sidebar: Isn’t this at odds with the idea specializing and becoming a category of one? Doesn’t this kind of specialization just let you create your own genre?

    No. You do that specialization within the genre you choose. Really, the genre is a sort of meta-context around the specialization.


    Elon Musk is actually a great example. He gets a raft of shit (from me too!) because he’s not a “conventional” CEO. And so much so that he routinely gets in trouble with regulators.

    But in a way, it works, because he–very intentionally, I believe–is working within a different genre than “serious businessperson”. His chosen genre is “iconoclastic genius innovator”. His choice of genre means his wacky CEO behavior–for those that are fans of the “iconoclastic genius innovator” genre–is a feature, not a bug. For the SEC, not so much. They’re not fans of this genre. 🙂

    You are not stuck with one genre for the life of your business or the entire span of your career. In fact, I think this is an important point, and one I want to end on.

    Different genres are appropriate at different stages of a business’s growth and maturity. This is how I mostly resolve the tension between direct response and brand marketing and between MRR and 1-off/custom project profitability.

    None of us–unless you’re literal royalty or the child of a celebrity, in which case what the frack are you doing on my email list–is born as a brand. And definitely none of us is born with economically valuable expertise or a relevant point of view. We have to build these things.

    And as we do, we sort of bootstrap our way up a ladder that starts at “competent survival” and hopefully takes us to “thriving in expertise and authority”.

    The genre of competent survival has different assumptions and sends different signals than the genre of thriving expert.

    I should elaborate on this more, and I probably will later, but I see direct response marketing as most consistent–meaning it doesn’t create a WTF-level misalignment between what you’re doing and the expectations of the genre–with those of us at the competent survival stage of business.

    But as your business matures, and as you cultivate a distinct point of view and economically valuable expertise, you move into a different genre.

    The Platonic ideal of an expert–the “genre of expert”–is one for whom their expertise is so valuable, and so needed, that they are in a position of considerable strength.

    So once you’re within the thriving expert genre, using a lot of direct response marketing tactics sends signals that are inconsistent with the assumptions of the genre. Brand marketing becomes more appropriate for one in the thriving expert genre because there’s less inconsistency between the cultural assumptions about the genre and the signals that brand marketing sends.

    A MRR model also sends signals, and the company offering the MRR service doesn’t entirely control what those signals are. Some of the signals are built into the genre, which again, is a social/cultural construct.

    What signals does a MRR model send? Two things:

    • Reflect again on the patterns you see when you think about all the other stuff you subscribe to in your life. Your buyers might pay $900/mo to subscribe to a car, but they probably don’t, and they probably don’t exist within a wildy different culture than you do, so their assumptions about the subscription genre will be pretty similar to yours.
    • Read David’s article. He describes some of the signals that MRR models send: www.davidcbaker.com/why-monthly-recurring-revenue-arrangements-may-not-be-ideal

    I think you’ll come away from this question with the same perspective that I do, which is that you should be thoughtful about MRR models, and make sure they don’t send signals or burden you with assumptions that conflict with the genre you want to work within.

    -P

    Go high or low

    (Readin’ time: a very thought-provoking 3m 54s)

    We can see a lot of parallels between the sea changes that have and are happening in retail and those that have, are, and will happen in the world of selling services.

    Said differently, I think retail is a sort of leading indicator for what you can expect to happen in the world of services, and the lessons for surviving and thriving in both domains are similar.

    To be clear, I’m thinking out loud a bit in today’s email. I wouldn’t stake everything on this claim, but let’s explore the idea anyway, starting with this piece from Recode: www.recode.net/2019/3/3/18249426/helena-foulkes-hudsons-bay-lord-taylor-code-commerce-2019

    Here’s the main idea:


    Helena Foulkes has been CEO of Hudson’s Bay Company, the nearly 350-year-old retail business that owns luxury brands like Saks Fifth Avenue, for only a year, but she’s already made her mark.

    In the past 12 months, Foulkes sold the shopping site Gilt Groupe, which Hudson’s Bay had acquired for $250 million just two years earlier, for much less; she merged Galeria Kaufhof, a popular German department store owned by Hudson’s Bay Company, with a competitor; and she closed the flagship Lord & Taylor store in New York City, which was more than 100 years old. She may sell as many as 10 more stores.

    Foulkes said Gilt Group and Galeria Kaufhof were “distractions” — those business moves weren’t difficult for her to make. But Lord & Taylor was suffering from another problem.

    “I think it’s in the toughest part of retail: The middle,” Foulkes said Sunday night at Recode’s Code Commerce event in Las Vegas. “It’s neither the high-end luxury where you can really own it, nor is it a low-cost … discount retailer.

    “It is handicapped by its positioning in the marketplace,” she added.

    Foulkes essentially described what has become a real problem for retailers in the past decade thanks to the meteoric rise of Amazon and other online shopping: The idea of a brick-and-mortar department store just doesn’t make sense unless you can offer customers something special.


    Let’s play “Where’s Waldo”, except it’s “Spot the similarities between retail and your world of selling services/expertise”.

    “Foulkes said Gilt Group and Galeria Kaufhof were ‘distractions'”

    As a small provider of services, expertise, or both, it’s easy to get distracted. The distraction can dilute your focus, which can reduce the value you offer.

    The middle of the market is “neither the high-end luxury where you can really own it, nor is it a low-cost … discount retailer.”

    In services, low cost (and reasonable profitability) requires exceptional operational discipline. High end pricing requires either exceptionally valuable expertise, a fortunate confluence of focus and demand, or exceptional confidence. (I choose the path of expertise because it frees me from needing exceptional confidence or fortunate timing, giving me more control over my own fate and letting me use dead simple tools like waking up early every day to write and create powerful assets over time.)

    Since neither the low cost or high price paths are easy, the “herd” gravitates towards the middle. It’s the option that feels safe, even though this very perceived safety makes it dangerous because it gets overcrowded and it’s therefore structurally harder to differentiate yourself in the middle. At the low end, the pricing alone differentiates you, and at the high end, there’s simply more room to differentiate in simple or creative ways.

    “The idea of a brick-and-mortar department store just doesn’t make sense unless you can offer customers something special.”

    Oof! Blunt! But essentially true, in my view. Let’s walk through parts of the world of services where we could say essentially the same thing:

    • The idea of hiring a designer to create a logo just doesn’t make sense (because of 99Designs) unless it’s for a medium or large-sized brand.
    • The idea of hiring a designer to create a book cover just doesn’t make sense (because of 99Designs) unless it’s for a book project that needs to exude luxury.
    • The idea of hiring a developer to create a basic integration between two apps just doesn’t make sense (because of Zapier) unless it’s highly customized or falls outside what Zapier can handle.
    • The idea of hiring a developer to create an e-commerce site just doesn’t make sense (because of Shopify) unless it’s a highly specialized situation.
    • The idea of hiring a developer to create a CRM just doesn’t make sense (because of Salesforce and their ilk) unless it’s for a specialized use case that falls outside what the off the shelf options can handle.
    • The idea of posting to hire a freelancer on Craigslist just doesn’t make sense (because Upwork and Fiverr and Toptal et. al. modularize and vet the quality supply) unless it’s for a specialized use case or skill set or business need.

    That last point is where we are now, on the boundary between the present and the near-future.

    Upwork, Fiverr, and more specialized marketplaces like Toptal are not totally dominant. They’re not the Amazons of services. Yet.

    Maybe they never will be. Maybe the market for services is fundamentally different from retail, and it won’t be possible for a super-aggregator to reach critical mass and massive scale by capturing enough demand that suppliers (you and I) modularize our offerings to fit the super-aggregator’s needs and tap into the demand they offer.

    If this does happen, though, the reality will be the same as in retail. Your offerings “just won’t make sense unless you can offer customers something special.”

    -P

    Unknowns -> knowns

    (Readin’ time: 1m 57s)

    I had a really enjoyable conversation with a prospective client yesterday, and it got me thinking about a useful angle on specializing.

    The decision about how to specialize is, for many of us, a process of converting a set of unknowns into knowns.

    I’ve mapped this process out verbally at a high level in my book Specializing Without Failure (specializingwithoutfailure.com), but I’ve never really mapped it out as a really concise 1-pager. [1]

    Not until 4:40am Mountain Time today, that is!!

    positioning services - Experiential marketing learning for independent consultants

    Here’s a link where you can explore this map in more detail/resolution: my.mindnode.com/5rkeW73zxYxGyWcXpAh356r6q6xRTWfJHjN5dds2#48.8,14.2,2

    I should really record a video walkthrough of the map above, but if this email happens to be landing at the right time for you, here are some notes that elaborate on the map and hopefully help you make use of it in your decision-making:

    Your decision about specializing becomes a much more well-informed decision if you understand most or all of the “About the market” factors I identify. Unless you’re one of those rare market-shaping thought leaders, pioneers, or influencers, the market and its needs/realities is your ultimate reality check, so understanding the market is your best way of understanding the constraints and boundaries on what you can and cannot do with a specialization.

    Most of the folks I work with need to have strong alignment between the market and who they are as business owners. What’s interesting or fascinating or important to you as a person? Where and how can you really put your back into serving a market? These factors help to narrow the range of possibilities unless you are a somewhat “mercenary” entrepreneur, in which case the market opportunity is a more important factor in leading you to a specialization.

    Once you’ve decided how you want to specialize, you move into implementation, and one way to think about that is closing gaps: gaps in credibility, access, marketing footprint, and authority. How large a gap you need to close in these areas largely defines what your marketing activities for the first few years of specialized focus will look like.

    Finally, in reality, some of this stuff can be worked out “on paper” and through research. And other parts of it have to be figured out experientially. And the decision can never be de-risked 100%.

    At some point you have to leap and trust your ability to stick the landing.

    Your thoughts?

    -P

    1: It’s possible that I have mapped this out as a concise 1-pager before and simply forgotten about it. I’ve written so extensively about this topic for ~3 years now that it’s entirely possible I’ve done this before and simply forgotten about it! 🙂 Anyway, this one will probably be better than its possible precursors.

    Free workshop

    (Readin’ time: 1m 23s)

    I want to see if this LinkedIn lead generation approach described here works well for others.

    So I’m putting together a free online workshop to test this.

    It’ll be free only in the sense you won’t pay me for it. You’ll need to do a fair bit of work–maybe an hour a day–over a 2-month period. And you’ll need to have an available budget of $200/month for software tools. So there is an investment cost.

    That investment will almost certainly be a waste of time if you aren’t focused in a way that gives you a clear, easy-to-explain service offering or value proposition. So you’ll also need to be specialized for this workshop to be worth doing.

    If the above conditions work for you, you can apply to join the workshop here: forms.gle/7j6rFkUjbKXr2skC6

    A few other things:

    • I’m limiting the workshop to 20 participants. If I get more applications than that, I’ll go choose based on perceived need and/or enthusiasm.
    • We’ll meet weekly via Zoom. I’ll figure out a meeting time that works for as many of the accepted applicants as possible using Doodle.
    • We’ll have some sort of digital connective tissue for the group, probably via Slack since that tends to win out over forums and mailing lists every time I’ve tested it.
    • There will be guidance and structure. You won’t be winging it. But you’ll need to be reasonably good at taking high-level guidance and implementing that.
    • Here’s my initial agenda for the group:
      • Week 1: LI profile groomed
      • 2: LI SN search dialed in at a basic, functional level
      • 3: Content plan documented, 50 search results/day invited to connect
      • 4: 10 pieces of content created for backlog, 50 connects/day done
      • 5: 5 more pieces of content created, 5 published from backlog, 50 connects/day done, conversations nurtured
      • 6: Repeat above
      • 7: Repeat
      • 8: Repeat

    That application link again: forms.gle/7j6rFkUjbKXr2skC6

    -P

    50mg of Zoloft

    (Readin’ time: 2m 12s)

    50mg a day of Zoloft has made me a better self-employed pseudo-entrepreneur [1].

    Mental health is one hell of a hot potato because, at least in the cultural context I came up in, any deviation from a narrow mental health “norm” is tightly coupled with secrecy and shame. I’ve long wanted to write about this, but see aforementioned secrecy and shame. Let’s just rip the bandaid off anyway.

    My physical brain, my mind, my emotions, my sapped and impurified precious bodily fluids, or some combination of the above get occasional depressive episodes. It’s been that way since I was bullied in the 7th and 8th grades, and as an adult, anxiety and depression have been recurring dance partners that sometimes get the spotlight in the big tent of my emotional circus.

    The worst depressive episode started on July 6, 2012. I was driving across the southern I5 bridge in Portland, OR and I had a huge panic attack. My body started to go numb, and my mind freaked out, thinking I would lose control of the car and crash, probably over the side of the bridge. The rest of that drive to the Oregon Coast was a looooong drive. 🙂

    I was deeply depressed for the next ~18 months. Or rather, cycling between periodic intense panic attacks, social anxiety episodes, and longer depressive episodes until I made some significant changes in my life that started to help. I’m not kidding when I say that ditching hourly billing was one of the changes that actually helped.

    I still deal with anxiety, panic, and depression.

    Accepting help with these debilitating issues has been a bitter pill to swallow. I do ask others for help, but it’s usually a last resort for me. I spent a long time deeply suspicious of pharmaceutical tools (see the earlier tongue in cheek reference to Jack D. Ripper’s monologue). So setting up an appointment via DoctorOnDemand and picking up a prescription for 50mg of Zoloft was not an easy, natural move for me. I had to swallow a lot of pride, set aside a few weak opinions I strongly hold, and find other ways to be kind to myself.

    And it’s made me a better pseudo-entrepreneur, I think. The Zoloft, I mean. Or maybe it’s not the Zoloft. Maybe it’s the willingness to get help with this shit plus a blue colored placebo pill.

    Either way, I’m less driven by the emotional froth of business and life. And I’m more driven by what I deeply want, even if the emotional froth tries to interfere.

    I normally don’t write such purely self-focused emails, but I know I’m not the only one out there who struggles with the emotional froth in the context of self-employment or entrepreneurship. And maybe in some way it helps to know you’re not alone?

    Cause you’re not. <3

    -P

    1: I say pseudo-entrepreneur half tongue in cheek and half-seriously because a) so many people who do nothing that could ever be objectively called entrepreneurial call themselves entrepreneurs and I like teasing them b) I myself am not a super impressive entrepreneur and c) despite my self-deprecating humor I actually definitely objectively am achieving the scalable impact that entrepreneurs achieve, albeit through intellectual property/Internet Business(tm) scalability rather than people scalability.