Safe is the New Risk

Panera Bread is my home away from home for a couple of reasons.

  1. I like the fact that they offer free refills on coffee.
  2. Lots of entrepreneurs and other business people meet there, so it’s a great networking spot.

The other day I walked in to Panera to meet with a friend of mine and happened upon a table of guys that I knew who all work in a corporate office environment.  As such, they were all wearing slacks, button down shirts, and a couple of them had nooses… um.. ties around their necks.

Because it was basically a home office day, I got dressed right after a morning run and had torn jeans, a black t-shirt, jacket, and baseball cap on.

“You look unemployed today,” was the first comment I got from the table.  (Quite possibly the nicest compliment anyone could ever pay me.)

“We were just talking about you,” came from another friend of mine.

When I asked them what they were talking about, they said that with all of the time they spend in the office doing corporate type stuff (i.e. meetings!), they rarely just sit around and dream up ways to make money on the side.  That’s when my name came up.

Apparently, I’ve become known as the go-to guy for side income projects because so many people come to me when they have interest in making money without leaving their corporate allowance.

I’m happy to oblige most of the time because I truly believe that safe is the new risk.  One of the guys at the table had taken a job with a software company that was growing at a breakneck pace.  He’d even received stock options when he was hired that could’ve been worth a serious amount of money if/when the company went public.  Just a week away from any of his options being vested, he was fired for some insignificant reason (just a couple of weeks after a glowing performance review).

He left the company somewhat dumbfounded at what happened.

This is happening all over the country.  “Lifers” within companies are getting let go for ridiculous reasons and many are left with no real plan on what to do next.  My recommendation is have stuff going on the side.

Free Agent Nation by Daniel Pink is a great look into why viewing yourself as a contractor for hire may become the norm — and MUST be a part of your future plan.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, for some), the notion of sticking with the same company til retirement just isn’t valid anymore.

Instead, you’ll take a job, learn from it, grow out of the position, and then be on to the next thing that suits your fancy.  It’s called experimentation, and it’s becoming the norm.

Sharpen your skills as a free agent and look for opportunities for a little side hustle.  Safe is the new risk.