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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fighting the instinct to be quiet about my work

Being low-key about your work is a hard thing to overcome.

I've been discovering lots of behavioral changes which have become necessary now that I've traded life as a corporate cog for the rigors of starting my own business. One of them is to start pushing back on the whole notion of being neutral and coy about what I'm doing now. There's no reason to stay quiet about what I'm doing!

Here's a concrete example. A couple of days ago, I got my business tax certificate and fire permit in the mail from the city. This means I've paid my dues, passed my inspection, and I can start doing my thing here in the city. Yay. I wanted to frame this certificate and hang it on my wall, so it was off to Staples for supplies.

While searching for things, I was approached by one of their employees and was asked if I needed any help finding things. I answered in the affirmative and clarified that I wanted to find a frame that was big enough to hold the new business cert and would hang on a wall. He said they had just the thing, and showed me the way to another aisle.

As we walked, he asked what kind of business it was, and this is where I failed. I just said "oh, you know, software, and Internet stuff, the usual" and left it at that. He just shrugged.


Of course, I didn't realize my failure until about 20 minutes later while driving somewhere else. I totally missed out on an opportunity to say a few words about what I actually do here.

How about this instead...

"Oh, yeah, I've created a way to listen to the local police and fire departments through your computer, even if they talk at the same time, and even if you aren't there when it happens. So you can hear all of that without putting up an antenna or buying a scanner or anything."

Then I could have handed him a business card with the URL.

Next time, I'll do better.