July and August are big months for me. July is when my MVP Award comes up for renewal (and as I posted here, I was renewed for the sixth time this year, for a total of seven Microsoft Cluster MVP awards). August is important in other ways. It was in August of 2007 that went I took the leap, went independent, and formed Megahirtz, LLC after leaving Avanade – no safety net. So this month starts year eight of being my own boss. When I started, I said to myself, “Well, get through year one and we’ll see about year two.” All these years later, I can’t imagine going back and working in a typical 9-to-5 (is there even such a thing?), go in the office every day type of job. I would if I had to, but I’m not seeing that need. SQLHA is going strong so that is not even an option.
I’ve certainly had my share of ups and downs in the world of independent consulting. I sometimes submit my “So You Want to Be a Consultant?” talk to SQL Saturdays. It has been picked on occasion, and I enjoy delivering it. If you are thinking of going independent, the best piece of advice I can give to anyone wanting to strike out on their own is this: have both a good accountant and a good lawyer. So many people underestimate the business side of consulting. It consumes a lot of time. If you are not prepared to run a business and everything that it entails, don’t leave the hug of corporate life. Why an accountant and lawyer? You need people who understand things like taxes (they’re not the same as your personal stuff), VAT, understanding the legalese of contracts, and so on. What you don’t know will hurt you. Your skills alone will not make you a success. You also need a plan to market your business and your skills, but that to me is much easier than ensuring everything is kosher with the business. Screw that up, there will be no independence.
This Friday, August 28, marks the four year anniversary of the death of my friend, Mike Kenwood. Lasrt year, I wrote a pretty long blog post about it on the third anniversary., so I’m not going to rehash everything there but I encourage you to read it. I get very moody and contemplative around the end of August. It is what it is. I still miss him and think about him quite often, even at times reaching for the phone. I don’t think that feeling will ever go away. Many of us tend to focus on the small things in there here and now and on what I like to call “first world problems”. It is nice (if that is even the right term) to take a step back and assess things and be thankful for what you do have and can do, not what sucks and you cannot do.
I’m not saying I’m always Mr. Warm and Fuzzy every minute of every day, but in the years since Mike has passed away, I have gained a whole new perspective on things. Our time on this planet is short, so enjoy it and try not to sweat the small stuff (says the guy heads down writing a book and under stress to get it done lol). I’m no less competitive and driven today than I was when I started Megahirtz, but I do take time to smell the proverbial roses. You should, too.
As humans we tend to use money as a measuring stick of success. No amount of money would bring Mike back to be a father to his daughter or a husband to his wife. I joke sometimes you can’t take it with you when you go and money does not buy health or happiness. I truly believe that. Whether I make $1.98 or way more than that, it’s the company you choose – friends, family, colleagues – that contributes to the quality of life you enjoy. I would rather have a small number of good friends that I trust over a gaggle of backstabbing acquaintances. Quality over quantity.
Unfortunately. there are a lot of fake, petty, manipulative, self-centered people in this world who focus on the negative and try to bring others down or wish them harm in one way or another. Tearing someone else down to build yourself up is no way to be. Reality check: the world does not revolve around you. There is always someone smarter or better than you out there. It’s one reason I am always learning and growing professionally and personally. Get complacent due to arrogance, and you will fall behind. I have seen it happen. We should strive to help others and mentor if we can. I try to in my own way.
Anyway, I am thrilled to be starting year eight on my journey of independence. I love what I do, whether it’s the more traditional consulting arm and helping customers in that way, speaking at events, or training people. Mike loved to be outdoors and be adventurous, and I try to now have a bit of that in me as well. No, you won’t find me hiking or biking – not my thing. Ironcially, Mike always tolde me that he lived a bit vicariously through me in my world travels since he did not get to do it. It wasn’t a regret – he enjoyed his life at home with his family. He was happy for me, and I for him. So I carry his spirit for life wherever I go. Mike was interested in Australia and asked me to bring him back a boomerang on my first trip (which I did). I will definitely be thinking of him when I go back in a few months to teach in Brisbane and Canberra. I think he would have loved it there.