Tom McDermott got in touch with me through LinkedIn after seeing a post about my book in a business group made up of alumni from my high school, Xavier, in New York City. He and I had a discussion about what “working” means in today’s no-job-security world and he mentioned he had done a guest piece for the New York Post, there titled Land of the Free Agents, on his own odyssey from white-collar professional to entrepreneur. With his permission, I’m reprinting his story here over the next three days.
It was early on a raw winter morning, as I passed through Stamford, Conn., on my way to interview someone for a $100 freelance story, when I realized my work life had probably changed forever. As I passed the UBS building, I thought about traders who’d been checking the global markets for hours already; same at a dozen nearby hedge funds and cap management firms, a virtual ground zero of the 2008 financial crisis.
Across from all that, literally on the other side of the tracks, a few dozen guys were lined up along a service road, waiting for the pickup trucks that cruise by looking for day workers, like rough-and-tumble models on an urban catwalk.
As a downsized executive who’s gone from a long-term corporate earner to a freelancer stringing contract jobs together into something resembling a livelihood, I made a sudden and stunning connection to these guys. Were these “networking” laborers really so different from myself and the thousands of others who’ve made the same transition from salaried employee to free agent, just because we line up in home offices, libraries and Starbucks on our Internet-highway screens, hoping to land some paid work?
A depressing thought to some, maybe, but even a little truth goes a long way in the new mobile, global networking economy, where one day you’re riding the salary train and the next you’re the proprietor of “Me, Inc.,” ordering new business cards and designing your brand’s Web site.
Welcome to Transition Nation.