Two entrepreneurs seize the day.
Making a career dream come true means different things to different people. For a certain brand of entrepreneurs who have a passion to share with the world, the best career path is self-employment.
“I’ve always been big into goal-setting and making dreams come true,” says Anne Leighton, an independent music publicist from the Bronx. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s inspirational book, Arnold: Education of a Body Builder, occupies a coveted space in her personal reference library.
Leighton was previously an editor with Hit Parader Magazine, a teen-oriented entertainment tabloid, where she input song lyrics and handled op-eds. “Friends just started asking me to do publicity for them, and they happened to be in various rock bands.” These friends included groups like Warrant and musicians like Glenn Hughes from the groups Trapeze and Deep Purple.
I hate this job. I can’t wait to retire.
What makes self-employment a dream job for Leighton is the fusing of two aspects of work—working from home and creative writing. “I’m working from home so I’m doing enough to get by and feed my cats.”
Leighton finds publicity writing “easy, because it’s nonfiction. But when you’re doing the creative writing, like scripts… that’s a challenge.” It’s not that she’s getting published, she says, but that she’s always writing. “And getting things done, working toward getting published.”
While her rate with her more adventuresome projects hasn’t been as fruitful as her recent music publicity coups, Leighton remains enthusiastic. “At some point,” she says, “there’s going to be a script that’s going to get published.”
Polite Persistence Pays
Leighton’s trained writing skills are just some of the attributes she employs daily. She’s also adept at contacting and interacting with the media–a highly valuable skill–whether she’s promoting herself or her clients. One of her accounts is the enduring rock band, Jethro Tull, which, over a career spanning nearly 25 years, has sold more than 60 million CDs and records worldwide.
A common refrain heard throughout Leighton’s is one of persistence. She’s affably tenacious, a skill to be cultivated by the self-employed regardless of one’s field. “You can’t be intimidated by having to make ‘cold calls,’ to borrow a term from the sales world,” Leighton insists. “If you don’t promote yourself, who will?”
Labrador of Love
Sandie Hollander’s clients include Beauregard, Ginger, Misty, and Miko. Most, except for the ones with feathers, walk on four legs. As the sole proprietor of Exec-U-Pet (The Tail Wagger’s Best Friend), a personal pet care service in Jacksonville, FL, Hollander wouldn’t have it any other way.
After living in Atlanta for nearly 30 years, she greeted her silver years with a second husband, a new home city–and a new career. Her advice to those frustrated with their careers, office politics, or the daily grind? “You have to do something you really love.”
Citing personal experience, Hollander recalls how her husband, a well-to-do corporate executive, complained daily. “He used to say to me, ‘I hate this job; I can’t wait to retire.’ The only reason he continued is because the money was good,” Hollander says. “I’ve come to regard that as such a waste. To do something that you love is rewarding. I enjoy this so much; there are days when I wake up at 4 a.m., eager to see all my clients.”
Use Your Strengths
Hollander combines her seasoned business skills with modern technology to accomplish her tasks. With as many as a dozen or more furry clients per day, spread out over a sprawling geographic area, time management is paramount. “I have a ‘paw pilot,”’ she quips about her version of the palm pilot. “And I also keep a tape recorder in the visor of my car. That way, when someone calls with me directions or instructions, I just quote directly into it.”
Hollander also uses her strong customer service skills. As a result, most of her business is due to enthusiastic referrals. “My goal is to give my clients the same service I’d expect from someone looking after my beloved pets,” she says.
The spirit of providing excellent service, combined with unbounded enthusiasm, can give the self-employed an edge on job satisfaction that few workers enjoy.