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In the 1987 film Wall Street, Gordon Gekko (no relation to the Geico Gekko), portrayed by Michael Douglas, intones the following line:

“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

The line has been summarized as “Greed is good” and has been used by Australian prime ministers, Italian cardinals, and characters in Fallout 2.  While it meshed well with the strong economic times of the 1990s, it now represents the high price that our society has paid for the actions of a covert few over the last ten years.  The irony behind it seems to strike more and more people every day, like a dead fish in the face. 

In the 1990s, I made more than I was making when my job left me at the end of March.  I worked with ad agencies and pharmaceutical companies that had money to burn.  This was back in the days when Tyco executive Dennis Kozlowski was spending $6000 of the company’s money on a shower curtain.  Everyone seemed to be flying high on the proverbial hog.  And then it all fell down – literally.  September 11 changed things.  Our soft underbelly was exposed, our humanity, our faith, all shaken.  For an all-too-brief time, we put aside our differences, our desires, our classist distinctions, and acted like a bunch of good people.  People who put others before our selves and our own needs.  Do you remember? 

Our economy took a dive.  Executives like those at Tyco and Enron were exposed for who and what they were and shamed for the damage they did.  Their victims were never compensated, but at least there was national, if not worldwide shame.  Then came the War on Terror – GWB always made it sound like “the War on Tara”, as if we were attacking the plantation from Gone With the Wind – and like confused children, we were hoping that things would get back to normal, that our world would make sense again.  But alas, that world was also gone with the wind.

(Please note that the opinions expressed here are just that – opinions – and my own.)  Instead, we’ve been sucked into eight years of bloodsucking, fiscally exhausting conflict that has apparently done nothing but fill with impunity the pockets of a few very special cronies of the past administration.  We all know it.  We just can’t do a damn thing about it.  Those of us who aren’t in a position to benefit from someone else’s power plays are resentful.  In fact, we’re sitting here watching what little savings we have left rise and fall according to the temperament of the stock market.  I swear, if I didn’t need my “assets” to be liquid, I’d be invested in real estate.  Maybe that’s not a bad idea.  As liquid as they are now, they’re getting pissed away.

And so, the point of this post….greed.  It magnificently and unjustly benefits a few.  I had lunch today with a  friend who is going through a divorce (join the club.)  Her “wasband” is trying to take her for everything he can, because he’s angry that she wants a divorce.  Her lawyer says he’s never seen anything like it.  And because she made more money than he did, he’ll probably get it.  Is he deserving?  No.  It’s nothing but greed.  Greed.  One of the seven deadly sins.  The question is, deadly to whom?  To the one whose soul is consumed by it?  Who has deluded oneself into thinking that things, money, revenge will soothe any pain that exists in the depths of the heart?  To the one who is now rich is assets but poor in spirit?

I have committed some of the 7 Deadlies myself.  I’ve been able to rationalize my actions – to delude myself, just like people who are guided by nothing but greed, into thinking that what I was doing was okay.  I’ve suffered the consequences, justifiably, and come out the other side.

I now comfort myself with the knowledge that those who are consumed by materialism, covetousness, and selfishness, deserve my pity.  And I know that they’ll get their comeuppance.  Greed may be the new black, but it will go out of style again.  It always does.  The richest people are the ones with their love of life and others intact. 

He who dies with the most stuff doesn’t win – he still dies.  Maybe one day, the people who live their lives driven by greed, will see that.  But I’m not holding my breath.  Then again, thank heavens, I don’t have to.

Maybe if I spew it all out there, I’ll feel better.

I’ve been able to approach this whole self-employment venture with very little trepidation.  I know (rationally) that I have enough to see me through for a while.  But yesterday, I got nervous — mostly about money, but also about my abilities.

My first severance check came yesterday – and it was about 1/5 of what I thought it would be and I don’t know why.  I expect it was just that I was late getting my paperwork in, but I didn’t realize how much I was mentally counting on the severance money.  Now, in my head, I am shaping the concept that I won’t have any severance and will just have to make ends meet without it.  I know this is not necessarily reality, and I have to just call the company and find out what’s going on.  But just as I am one of those people who likes to set their clocks ahead by ten minutes to fool themselves into being early (or at least close to on time), I also find comfort in setting money aside in some way that I don’t really know it’s there.  Kind of a bizarre savings strategy.

So, okay.  No severance.  I have another small job from my one client.  I am starting to feel slightly better, so next week, I will start making calls to contacts.  This week, I will spend being creative, getting samples and resume in order, completing profiles on freelancing sites, crafting emails and creating my own brochure.  I will also target some publications, draft a few query letters, and work on articles. The money from articles won’t be huge to start, but I need the publishing credits. Local publications may be best to target.  And I shall prepare myself for rejection.

I’m sitting in a coffeehouse, taking advantage of their internet and green tea, and looking at the photography for sale on the walls.  It’s very good – I don’t think mine is good enough, and that’s unusual for me to be so uncertain in that realm.

Later —

I’ve now spent a very pleasant day researching magazine markets and coming up with article ideas.  But I haven’t done anything to earn any money today.  I hope I can keep myself from that way of thinking – or at least find a “happy place” in which to bucket it.

That song that goes “You and me together, can do anything, anything, baby” is on the sound system in the coffee shop.  I like that song.

About time to move on to what used to be Job #2.

I’m trying to determine the name for my new business.  Not the new me, because I’m keeping my married name – seems like it’s easier when you have a kid.  Maybe someday I’ll change it, but I really don’t need the hassle right now.

My business will have several facets and that makes the name a challenge.  I want it to encompass some of my personality and passions, but as a marketer, I know that it’s helpful for a business name to reflect something about what the business does.

There’s always the option for multiple business names, but that can get confusing – although I can DBA with different names if it feels right.  Since the photography side of the business will be somewhat separate from the writing side of the business, it might be appropriate to have two names.  We’ll come back to that another day.

I’ve named products before in my different marketing roles, and, to be completely transparent, my best buddy and I did have a small event planning business many years ago, which we named and loved, but we either had the money and not the time, or the time and not the money, to really make a go of it – which makes me slightly less virginal, but hey, we all deserve a fresh start from time to time.  And this will be the first venture that is truly my own.

Now that I think about it, there is very little that I can truly call my own, but that sounds like a sad tale for a rainy day.

Getting back to business, the new little company will provide freelance business writing services, creative writing, and photography. 

What do freelance business writing services entail? Well, the following:

Proposals
Brochures
Product fliers
Advertisements
Web Content

And what does creative writing encompass?

Articles for magazines, blogs, and websites about topics in which I have expertise.
Greeting cards (yes, I know)
Poetry

And lastly, what do I mean when I say photography?

That I have photographs that can accompany articles, that can be used as stock images, and that can be sold as fine art prints, cards, etc.

At least it’s a start at a definition.  To be continued… 

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