Is the solopreneur lifestyle right for you?

Earlier this year, LIVE! presented live sessions on Blab. Stay tuned for future live events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions! LIVE! welcomes special guest Zina Kumok, contributor to Adulting and founder of Debt Free After Three. Zina and Miranda discuss what it’s like to be an entrepreneur and freelancer with their own businesses..

Is the solopreneur lifestyle right for you?

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The things you learn from your first crappy job will help you be a better adult the rest of your life. Read More...

A bad job will crush your soul.

It will leave you feeling stressed out, worn down, and ready to throw in the towel. It will make you re-think your career, sabotage your relationships, and generally make you question whether or not being an adult is even worth it.

What if bad jobs aren’t always a bad thing?

Much like a near-death experience, a really bad job can give a needed dose of perspective. It can tamper unrealistic expectations, and set you up to be happier and more successful in the long run. It can even teach you a thing or two about yourself.

A bad job makes you humble.

I worked as a newspaper reporter on my first job straight out of college, where I quickly learned a harsh truth: cub reporters have to pay their dues. We all had to work holidays, and those with the most seniority got to choose which holiday they worked. Because I was the newest, I had to take what was usually left: Thanksgiving.

That first year, I worked Thanksgiving and Black Friday while my co-workers spent those days with their families. I was also the one to fill in for our night cops reporter when he left, so I worked 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. my last few months on the job.

I was miserable, but I soon came to understand why I was in that position. It wasn’t malicious. No one took joy in the fact that I ate McDonald’s on Thanksgiving. In fact, every single person above me on the totem pole had gone through exactly the same situation.

It’s easy to feel like you deserve a better gig, especially if you worked hard in college. I spent most of my time in school working at the daily student newspaper and my summers interning at various media companies. I thought I deserved more after college than covering school board meetings in some Podunk town.

In reality, that was precisely what I deserved. Having a crappy first job experience brought me down a peg, and taught me the dangers of unrealistic expectations. I realized that a comfortable, satisfying job right out of the gate wasn’t just unusual; it was practically unheard of.

A bad job makes you grateful.

Having that job made me more thankful for my next opportunity at a nonprofit, where I didn’t work nights, weekends, or holidays. I was so happy to be somewhere else that I didn’t even care I was still earning less than my friends.

The feeling of gratitude lasted until I left three years later. It sustained me when I did have to work long nights or the occasional weekend. That perspective has stuck with me through every crappy job experience I’ve had in my career. I can be grateful that it will never be as crappy as that first job.

A crappy job teaches you to create your own happiness.

During my newspaper gig, I started a blog chronicling how I was trying to save money and pay off my student loans. My bosses loved the blog, and it was the one thing I really enjoyed writing. Covering car crashes and house fires was not exactly fulfilling.

Six months of blogging about frugal living for the paper led to me starting my own blog. That has now morphed into a freelance writing career covering personal finance, where I make twice as much money with half the stress. But I had to take charge of what really made me happy in order to find that path.

If you’re in a job you hate, take on new opportunities to see what really gets you fired up. It may take some experimenting, but you’ll come out the other side with a clearer view of what truly makes you happy.

And you may never have to take a crappy job again.

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Authority issues and people issues. It’s a good thing I work from home. Read More...

I never lasted more than a year or two in a traditional job. Even in high school, I got tired of working for “the man” when it interfered too much with my swim practices and social calendar.

Rather than stick it out, I quit and “worked for myself” teaching piano lessons. I made more per hour, and arranged matters so I only had to “work” one day a week – the day I picked.

Through college and even after, it was obvious I wasn’t going to be able to stick with anything approaching a real job. I went to grad school, got my master’s degree in journalism, and haven’t had a real job in years. Even now that I’ve accepted a salaried position with an online publisher, I still work from home and enjoy a freelance lifestyle.

Working from home is clearly the right choice for me, and maybe you, too. Here’s why:

I hate people.

Okay, I don’t actually hate people. But I struggle when I have to be around them for hours at a time. Even my son, whom I love, gets on my nerves. I need alone time to recharge. As an introvert, working around others can be extremely draining.

I prefer to work at home, in my own space. No one demands my undivided attention when I’m at home. I can ignore emails and texts in a way that I can’t ignore a coworker walking up to make small talk (which I hate and am awkward at).

Working at home allows me to go at my own pace, interact with those I want to talk to, and avoid actually having to deal with people on a regular basis. Do I sometimes have a video meeting or phone call? Sure. But at least it’s not Every. Single. Day.

I have authority issues.

I’ve never enjoyed having people tell me what to do. I can take direction, and I try to provide what my clients ask for. However, I don’t do well with a traditional “boss” in my life. I naturally rebel against authority. Not great when you have to see a supervisor each day.

Turns out, working from home is great if you are a self-starter. It’s even better for those who can problem solve on their own, and don’t need someone to tell them what to do all the time. Working from home is the ultimate adult experience. For the most part, no one is going to make you do anything – especially if you don’t have a boss. You have to be in charge of the situation on your own.

Of course, when you have authority issues, you can’t blame anyone else for your failures. If you don’t get out of bed and get your work done, it’s on you. If you can’t figure out a solution to your problem, that’s on you, too. It’s great when you don’t have to worry about a boss walking by at any time. But you still have to perform.

I value freedom and flexibility.

The two most important things in my life are freedom and flexibility. I care about freedom more than I care about money. I prefer flexibility to security. Working from home is great for me because it offers the ultimate in freedom and flexibility.

I set my own hours. If I want a spa day on Wednesday afternoon, I take a spa day on Wednesday afternoon. Ready for a nap around 11 am? It’s sleepy time! Feel like eating chocolate for lunch? No coworkers to judge me.

My dad recently retired, and that means that I am available to go to lunch with him. If my sister needs emergency childcare help, I can provide that.

Because I set my own schedule while working from home, I can be involved in my community and help my family. Sometimes it means I work on the weekend or at night, but the truth is that a “traditional” week holds no real meaning for me. The only reason I know what day of the week it is nine months out of the year is because I need to make sure my son gets to school.

Staying on top of everything.

The downside to working from home is that sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of everything. I can’t just leave my work at work. I get distracted by other things and sometimes struggle. And sometimes my family and friends, God love ‘em, don’t respect the fact that I have to work and I can’t always take care of things. Or they get upset because I have to work right now or check my email because I’m expecting something vital to my career. They get annoyed at how there are times I really don’t stop working.

Working from home isn’t for everyone. It works for me because I like the time to recharge by myself and I like the freedom and flexibility involved. To me, it outweighs a time-intensive job that might pay more. And there really is no substitute for avoiding people most of the day.

Do you work from home? Would you like to? Why or why not?

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Make work a better place. If you are concerned about bullying in the workplace, here’s what you need to do. Read More...

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Have you been bullied at work?

You might be surprised to learn that almost everyone has experienced bullying in the workplace. Bullies aren’t always overt in their efforts. Some just sabotage efforts, while others are more interested in browbeating or threats. Only a very few people actually experience physical assault in the workplace. Most bullying at work is more subtle.

You don’t have to be bullied at work, though. It’s possible for you to stand up against a culture that allows bullying and become an advocate for yourself. Once you understand yourself and your abilities, and learn to respect yourself, you can help create a culture of wider respect in your workplace.

Here’s how you can learn to be an advocate for yourself and for others.


  • A look at a culture of bullying, and how it comes to pass.
  • Different ways you might be bullied at work, and how bullying manifests itself in a workplace environment.
  • Realities of workplace bullying.
  • How to understand your own best qualities, and how to leverage them to reduce how you are bullied at work.
  • Tips for dealing with a bully at work.
  • How to work toward changing the culture at your company so that others don’t have to be subject to bullying as well.
  • What to do when your supervisor is the bully.
  • When it’s time consider leaving your job if the situation is too toxic.
  • Tips for talking to HR.
  • Ideas for creating a workplace policy related to bullying.

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ForbesHow workplace bullying looks
ForbesHow not to be bullied
ASHA: American Speech-Language Hearing AssociationHow to be your own advocate
TimesUnionWorkplace advocacy

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Are you tired of dealing with your jerk boss? Life’s too short for this nonsense. Read More...

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Research indicates that you don’t quit your job. You are far more likely to quit your boss.

A great boss can make almost any job, no matter how menial, worth doing. On the flip side, a jerk boss can make what should be an awesome job a dreadful chore. You don’t want to be stuck with a crappy boss. That’s years of your life — and it can even have an impact on your overall health.

Life’s too short to spend one-third (or more!) of it in a toxic environment, catering to the whims of a jerk boss. Plus, with these bosses, there’s a good chance your hard work won’t even be acknowledged. It’s all guts and no glory in these situations.

Part of being a good leader is learning how to create a work environment that brings out the best in employees. If you have a jerk boss that doesn’t seem to get it, you need to start weighing your options, whether it’s learning how to handle your boss (try treating him/her like a toddler), or walking out.

If you can’t just pick up and leave, you can make your workplace more bearable. In the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with preparing yourself for a new job — with a better boss.


  • What are some of the signs you’re dealing with a jerk boss?
  • Red flags that indicate you might not see the results you want.
  • Reasons that your work is about more than just money.
  • Tips for handling a jerk boss, including how to manage other bullies.
  • Considerations for quitting your job.
  • Strategies for advancing in your career, despite your jerk boss.

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BBCHow bosses drive employees away
ForbesPeople leave managers, not jobs
Business InsiderMoney isn’t always the best motivator
EntrepreneurTypes of bad bosses
CNBCHow to treat a bad boss

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Is it time to bail? Here’s how to tell if you should move on right now. Read More...

You’ve stressed about doing a great job so you can stay employed. It seems like a terrible idea to ditch your job when you worked so hard to get where you are.

But sometimes you need to move on, no matter how much time and energy you’ve invested in your job. Here are a few signs your current position has run its course:

1. The environment is toxic.

One of the biggest reasons to ditch your job is due to a toxic environment. If you are dealing with harassment, bullying, or you are concerned about the legality of some of the company’s practices, it’s time to bail. Don’t stick around if there are serious problems.

2. You aren’t growing.

Many of us like meaning in our work. In fact, one of the hallmarks of today’s young job-seekers is that they expect a job to offer meaning. While it’s possible to find meaning in practically any job, no matter how crappy, it can become wearing if you don’t feel that your work leads to personal growth and feelings that you are impacting the world for good. If you feel like you could progress and make a positive contribution elsewhere, start looking.

3. The company doesn’t match your values.

Maybe the company isn’t doing something illegal, but you aren’t sure that the mission and values align with yours. It’s hard to feel good about working at a place that doesn’t mesh with your personal mission. Ditch your job if you feel the cognitive dissonance is becoming too great to manage.

4. Your skills aren’t utilized.

Are you proud of your skills and abilities and wish your company would use them? Perhaps your boss doesn’t recognize your skills, or maybe you are in a position that isn’t compatible with your abilities. The struggle to continue may drain you emotionally. Start looking for a job that offers you a chance to use what you know.

5. You’re at a dead end.

Trying to climb that career ladder, but there’s no place to go? It’s time to ditch your job. If you want a position that allows for the possibility of advancement and you’re stuck going nowhere, a shift to a company with room for progress might make more sense.

6. The job isn’t secure.

These days no job is secure. However, there are times that might be less secure than others. If you think layoffs are coming, now might be the time to update your resume and brush up on your interview skills. Don’t wait until the ax falls to get ready.

7. You’re want something different for your life.

Sometimes you just want a new challenge. Maybe you’re ready for the freedom and flexibility that comes with being self-employed. Perhaps you’ve changed your expectations for your life. We’re all on a journey, and when you’re ready for a new direction, your current job might not fit.

Before you leave your job.

Don’t get fired up to ditch your job and give noticed tomorrow, though. Once you realize it’s time to move on, you need to have a plan in place. Are you in a financial position to leave? What are some of the challenges you will face if you no longer have a job?

Whenever possible, build up an emergency fund and think about how you will handle benefits. You need to be ready for what’s next before you take that leap. While it’s not always possible to be completely ready, do what you can to get ahead of the curve.

There’s no reason to stay in a job that doesn’t fit with your life. Start preparing now so you are ready in the event you decide to ditch your job.

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Starting a new job? Keep it simple.

Starting a new job is exciting – for both you and your new boss. Being hired means you were the best candidate for the job, but very rarely do those salary-worthy-qualities show up on the first day. Transitioning into a new role takes time. Although most companies offer a learning curve, your boss probably wishes you were the perfect employee on the very first day.

Of course, that’s not totally realistic. How can you be great at something you don’t fully understand? How can you contribute to a team when you’re not comfortable yet? Like I said, unrealistic. In order to be the model employee that was hired, sometimes you just have to fake it until you make it – especially in the eyes of your boss.

Here are four things you should know about starting a new job:

Hiring a new employee costs a crap-ton of money.

Before you even receive a paycheck your new company has spent a lot of money to find, interview, hire and train you. They saw something special in your resume. Prove them right by performing above and beyond expectations.

Very often new employees are shy on their first day, but being a wallflower isn’t going to help you climb the career ladder. Your employer invested a lot of money in you and it’s a good idea to make it worth their while. Contribute ideas, take notes, ask follow-up questions and do your best to fit in – but don’t suck up.

Your boss is not your personal confidant, no matter how nice they are.

So often you meet your boss during orientation and at meetings. You may even catch a glance of them in the hallway, but very rarely will they stick by your side during the entire on-boarding process.

A lot of companies have adopted the buddy system which assigns a senior level (but not management level) employee as a mentor for new hires.  The buddy system is more time and cost efficient because an employee earns less than a manager and the senior employee most likely know the ins and outs of your daily duties better than the boss in the corner office.

But even if you’re one of the lucky few with constant and daily interaction with your boss, don’t get too cozy. No matter how nice, warm, welcoming and inviting they are, they’re still your boss. They don’t want to hear about all of your weekend shenanigans and drunken debauchery. Save that for your real friends. You know, the people who don’t pay you.

Be on time — for everything

Being on time doesn’t only apply to starting the workday. It means being on time (or a little bit early) for everything from meetings to conference calls. The best thing to do is spend some time getting familiar with the office to ensure you know where you’re going and make sure you can get where you’re supposed to be on time. The last thing you want to do is be the new person and walk into a meeting room after the boss has already started talking. That’s embarrassing, even for a seasoned employee.

It’s O.K. to ask questions.

Being a know-it-all on your first day isn’t expected. It’s O.K. to ask questions when starting a new job. Remember that it’s always better to ask a question rather than make an error. With that said you have to take initiative and be proactive to try and figure things out on your own. Don’t take the easy way out and just ask questions for every little thing because that can get old and annoying really quickly.

Starting a new job is a fresh start for you to make a name for yourself within the company. Make a good first impression by being on time, take the time to learn and always give 110% on the job. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way up to the corner office with the nice view.

But you have to make it through the first day.

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Is a pajama-uniform a viable option for you?

We hear a lot about the joys of working from home. It’s supposed to be the way we work now. I love working from home; it’s how I make my own living. However, just because

However, just because it works for me, and it works well for others, doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Working from home isn’t always a viable option.

Before you get hung up on the idea that working from home is the path to career happiness, here are some things to keep in mind:

Do you really want to be stuck in the house — alone — all day?

One of the biggest challenges facing many solopreneurs is isolation. If you’re a social person, it might not make sense to sit in a home office all day. If you enjoy working with others, and being on a team, there’s nothing wrong with having a more traditional job.

If you want to work for yourself, but dread the thought of no social interaction, compromise with the help of a co-working space. At least a couple times a week you can get out and work in an environment with others.

My social interaction comes from the causes I’m involved with. It gets me out of the house and helps me avoid the downward spiral into talking to myself.

Can you avoid distractions?

What else is going on at home? When I was married, it was a nightmare trying to get anything done on days when my then-husband was around. At first, I thought it would be fun for us both to be working from home, but it quickly became evident that the distractions were real.

Look around. Are you too tempted to watch TV or surf the Internet. When there’s no one to catch you, it can be hard to stay focused. Before you decide that you are perfect for the pajama-uniform lifestyle, take an honest look at yourself. Are you really going to stick to it when you have to?

Whether you are trying to start your own business, or whether you are just trying to convince your boss to let you telecommute twice a week, you need to make sure you can block out the distractions and do the things.

Do you have the right equipment?

Working from home requires the right equipment and access to the Internet. The great thing about freelancing is that the startup costs are really, really low. I just need a computer and Internet access. Depending on what you hope to accomplish by working from home, you need to make sure you have the right equipment.

If you can’t access work remotely, or if you can’t get the setup you need for a reliable work environment, it might not be a viable option for you right now.

Before you quit your real job

I hope never to have a real job again. But that doesn’t mean that you should just abandon your source of income to pursue the dream of working from home. Give the side hustle a try first. Do a little extra work at home in your spare time. Save up so that you have something to live on if you need it when you quit your job.

Leaving the traditional workforce to work from home as a solopreneur or entrepreneur takes planning and effort. I did it backward, leaving the workforce to get my graduate degree and then never going back to the 9-to-5. Instead, I started a business while living on my then-husband’s student loans. Not the smartest approach, although it worked for us at the time.

If you are in a job now, and you are supporting yourself, simply walking away without a safety net might not be an option. This doesn’t mean that you’ll never work from home or quit. But it does mean that you are probably better off making a plan first.

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Thought everyone left immaturity in grade school like you? No, some people are bullies even as “adults.” Overcome it. Read More...

You would think that by the time you’re a mature, successful adult, dealing with bullies is no longer a concern. Unfortunately, some people peak in high school and never really evolve beyond that mentality.

Adult bullying is an inevitability we all face at some point. You’re no longer worried about being pantsed in the cafeteria or facing ridicule for being the new kid in school. Now the bullying is much more subversive — you’re caught in the middle of petty power plays, fighting to earn credit for your own hard work, and perhaps even the subject of nasty rumors meant to defame your otherwise excellent reputation.

Anyone who’s ever dealt with a bully — whether in adolescence or adulthood — knows that simply taking the high road rarely results in justice. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to stoop to a bully’s level to defeat them.

Here’s how to deal with an adult bully and keep your dignity intact.

Remain neutral. I’ve known a lot of bullies in my day. Fortunately, I’ve been able to avoid becoming their victims by playing the role of Switzerland.

Often, adult bullying begins with fake friendship. They lure you in with deep, personal conversations, make you feel comfortable, then use the information you share — presumably in confidence — against you when the opportune moment arises. One Wednesday you’re all wearing pink, the next, you’re tricking each other into getting fat off high-calorie nutrition bars.

The secret is to be a great listener, but never actually engage in bullying rhetoric. Let the bully tell you everything that’s got them peeved, but keep your own mouth shut. Smile. Nod. Walk away. Repeat.

Keep your cool. Bullies are fueled by the superiority they feel when putting others down. But if you don’t give them the satisfaction of that feeling, their powers fizzle pretty quickly.

Refrain from reacting emotionally when a bully makes a joke at your expense or belittles you in front of your peers. When in doubt, ignore them; it’s not only effective, but pretty damn funny when you pretend like the biggest asshole in the room doesn’t exist. Don’t believe me? Just try it.

And if you’re fortunate enough to be blessed with a sharp sense of humor, even better. Feel free to send a few quips their way. If you have others laughing back at them, they’ll be quick to move on in pursuit of a weaker target.

Don’t tattle. As much as your company probably tries to convince you otherwise, your HR department does not exist to protect you — it’s there to protect the company.

If you’re dealing with bullying in the workplace, any information you share with HR regarding personal issues with another employee will likely be relayed right back to the guilty party. And trust me, the last thing you need is a group meeting to “talk things out,” which will undoubtedly add fuel to the fire.

A very big HOWEVER: If the harassment is extreme enough to impact your performance or mental health, you should definitely not let it go. Rather, document your interactions and conversations (be sure to save all those salty emails) and build a case against your bully. Come prepared to present your claim of a hostile work environment — your HR representative will hopefully be quick to solve the problem (i.e. fire their ass).

Never compromise your values. I’m a firm believer that all shitty people are eventually forced to face their own shittiness. Never pretend to be less intelligent, committed, or compassionate in order to placate a bully.

At the end of the day, your reputation is everything. Don’t jeopardize yours because it seems easier than dealing with an adversary. It may take some time, but people will eventually see a bully for who they really are.

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No, “they” aren’t about to find you out.

Do you feel like a fraud? Is it sometimes hard for you to internalize your accomplishments? There’s a name for that feeling. It’s called Impostor Syndrome.

There are times that we all feel inadequate. However, you might be taking a step farther, and feeling like “they” are eventually going to “figure you out.” Perhaps you feel like, despite your accomplishments, you’re still faking everyone out. This feeling might be holding you back in life and in your career.

Today we look at some of the characteristics that might make you prone to Impostor Syndrome, as well as consider some ways that you can move beyond it.


  • What is Impostor Syndrome, and who is likely to have it?
  • Ways Impostor Syndrome can affect your ability to succeed.
  • Does struggling with something make you an impostor?
  • Strategies for getting around Impostor Syndrome.
  • Problems with fluffy motivation techniques and many self-help products.
  • How to begin owning your inner awesome.

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Harvard Business ReviewPersonality traits associated with Impostor Syndrome
TelegraphProblems with self-help books
Model View CultureAn interesting look at the darker side of Impostor Syndrome

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