Who are YOU to be a freelancer? 5 tools to path your way into the gig-economy.

This article was first published in my linkedin profile on December 26th 2017.

As much as I adore Ellen DeGeneres, I must admit she fell short as judge for American Idol Season 10. Ancient news, I know, but it always kept me wondering why she lacked the confidence she daily exudes when dancing to the music she clearly loves, on her tv show.

The easy answer will be that she couldn’t handle hurting the contestants’ feelings (after all, she’s not as well equipped for that as Simon Cowell is), but I think there is more to it. I believe she was never able to shake off her mind the thought of “who am I to judge them”, a vibe that everyone else could perceive.

Yes, she might not have any credentials when it comes to music and singing, but unlike the rest of that panel of experts, she represented the people who truly enjoy -and buy- music. Shouldn’t that have been valuable enough? Her raw passion for music and her insight as avid consumer?

Now, let’s put show-biz stuff aside. I am not saying that knowledge and skills should be underestimated when it comes to being qualified -or not- for a job. My point here is this: how often do we undermine the value that something as subjective as passion can add to what we do?

Let’s see.

Take a moment and try to think about who you are, while completely ignoring what you know (as a result of your education) and what you have done (in terms of professional training and job experience). What kind of resume would you come up with? What jobs and companies would you apply for? How much money would you ask for?

In doing this exercise, it may be useful to think of education and experience as crutches that we usually rely on when looking for a job. Get rid of them. If you find yourself being clueless, go to your social media profiles and look at them as if they belong to a stranger. Describe the person behind those posts, and try to “undress” him/her of anything that may seem fake or imposed. Find yourself in there and write it all down.

There are concepts and values that define who we are, and I honestly believe we should carefully list and analyze those before taking a defining step towards our professional career, if we want it to reflect our identity.

Who we are is a lifelong project that channels itself through actions: What do we do with our time? Who do we share it with? How do we see the world and contribute to make it better? Those answers will lead you to the right question: How can we turn that into a job that also happens to be a profitable one?

The outstanding growth of freelancing within the US workforce points out at the fact that more and more people are confronting themselves with that question, one which they cannot find a satisfying answer for by working for traditional companies -big or small-, where they fear they could lose track of themselves and who they really are, or want to be.

According to the study Freelancing in America 2017, ten years from now the majority of the US workforce will be freelancers. Now, don’t get me wrong, freelancing has nothing to do with a naïve pursuit of freedom, but instead a courageous venture which aims to turn self-expression into a real business through:

1.    Passion & Hunger: identify the fire within, and put it to work.

2.    Self-Awareness: acknowledge the talents and resources you possess and the ones you need to acquire in order to succeed.

3.    Emotional Intelligence: self-confidence, resilience and patience. Got those checked?

4.    Social Intelligence: otherwise, how are you going to get clients? Work on your people skills.

5.    Competitiveness: what are you bringing to the table and how are you planning to make it shine?

Freelancing in America 2017 also shows that freelancers are more aware of the transformation of the job market in the digital economy era -due to automation-, which is probably why they are also more inclined to constant learning.

Freelancers think of knowledge, experience and skills as tools that can enhance their uniqueness and make them stand out, and not just a handful of certificates or positions to beef up their resumes.

So, do you have what it takes to join the biggest trend of the fourth industrial revolution? If you want to be a part of the freelancing movement, I suggest you start defining who you are.

Passion might not be enough, but it will give you the will and endurance you’ll need. Trust me, the how will follow the who.


PS1: if you are seriously embarking in the process of self-discovery, try following @VishenLakhiani at MindValley.Com/Extraordinary I personally find their webinars and overall content very inspiring and enlightening (many of them are completely free).

PS2: dig deeper into the facts of the freelancing market and its challenges by reading this article from Upwork CEO @StephaneKasriel

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