Tiffany B. Brown

Living the dream

Since being laid off from Opera in January, I haven’t been very vocal about what I’m up to. That was a deliberate choice on my part, since I hadn’t really figured it out. Losing a job, particularly a high-profile job with a lot of visibility and expectations is always tough. And it was compounded by the timing.

For a few months, I enjoyed funemployment. I searched for jobs, but not too hard. I interviewed here and there. I even picked up a few part time hours doing maintenance work for an agency. But the only opportunity that materialized was a full-time, year-long contracting role at a corporation you’ve definitely heard of. I accepted it, mostly because it paid way more than unemployment benefits and wouldn’t require relocating to San Francisco or Silicon Valley. Plus I figured getting out of the house every day would do me some good.

Of course, the downside of a full-time, year-long contracting gig is that you have all of the hassle of a commute, coworkers, and office life, with none of the benefits besides a pay check. I had the promise of a possibility of a full-time job if I busted my ass for 12 months. Plus most of the tech skills I’d pick up would be specific to the company. Since I didn’t feel passion for the organization or the work, the idea of having to prove myself for a “maybe” quickly lost its appeal.

But what bothered me most of all is that I was not making the same level of strategic and architectural decisions that I had grown accustomed to while working at Armchair Media or while freelancing. And over the two months I worked there, it became really obvious that the company’s technical direction would not leave me with much opportunity to make those decisions. They were moving towards a centralized front-end framework and a set of tools that were built at corporate headquarters in northern California. I realized that I probably wouldn’t ever get to do the kind of work I wanted to do, even if this magical carrot job did appear at the end of 12 months.

So I quit. I probably showed bad form with the way I did it, but it was so, so necessary, and I’m much, much happier for it.

What am I doing now? Well shortly before I quit, I formed a corporation: Webinista, Inc. It offers — well, I offer — “white-label” web development services for design teams and agencies. Yes, I decided to give the full-time freelance thing a shot. I’m even renting an office at WeWork Hollywood (which is a fantastic space full of small one-to-four person offices and small businesses).

I’m entering month three of full-time self-employment, and I’ve been lucky enough to have steady work that covers the bills. I’ve also promised myself that I would do this for no less than one year. Entrepreneurship is the culmination of a lifelong dream and I’m really excited to be on this path. I am doing work that I enjoy, with people I like, and on a schedule I get to set. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier.

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