Public Relations Tactics

Thoughts on a Nomadic and Independent Life

April 3, 2017

On a recent gloomy Monday morning, I started reading, with some envy, an article in The Wall Street Journal titled “In Praise of a Nomadic Life.” Andrew Blackman, a contributor to the paper, wrote the piece, detailing how he and his wife, Genie, sold most of what they owned, and began a life of living and working on the road.

The accompanying photos showed the couple’s sprawling journey, including stays in Morocco, Greece, Serbia, Norway, Portugal and Italy. I started daydreaming about setting up shop to work for the day in a Marrakesh café.

“In reality, though we may be living our dream, this is no prolonged vacation. Our life is a choice like any other, with advantages and disadvantages. We’ve sacrificed some things (like family, better-paying jobs, security and a sense of belonging) for others (like freedom of movement, and the chance to discover more about the world and our place in it),” he wrote. “Now, in our early 40s, we are privileged to be able to make this choice. But still, it is a choice, and it’s one that I don’t believe many people would make, even given the opportunity.”

He’s right — I would not take a shot at this lifestyle, however enchanting it may seem. Blackman outlines the multiple challenges, such as striking a balance between work and travel and finding Wi-Fi that’s faster than a 1990s dial-up connection.

I did briefly consider a career as a freelance writer/editor. It was in early 1994 before I started at PRSA. I had just moved to New York with few contacts. At the time, though, I wasn’t prepared for the nonstop hustle of finding work. In addition, I didn’t think I had the business acumen to balance the books and make a living.

In this issue of Tactics, we hear from many PR professionals who made the decision to become independent practitioners. Dotti Gallagher, APR, went solo six months ago.

“The first lesson I learned as I took the leap… was the value of relationships and reputation. The care I have always taken to nurture connections and create my personal brand has paid off,” she writes.

Elsewhere, Stephen DuPont, APR, outlines tips for people to consider when starting their own business. He also speaks with a handful of sole practitioners who successfully made the move, such as Anne Buchanan.

“[T]here were lots of reasons not to do it. I was a single mom and provided the financial support for our family,” she says. “To leave a full-time job with benefits and take a step off the ledge into the unknown created a fair amount of anxiety for me. But one day, the fear evaporated and was replaced by excitement. That’s when I knew it was the right thing to do.”

Perhaps some day this entrepreneurial spirit will take hold of me. In the meantime, that Wall Street Journal article provided several ideas for my next vacation.

John Elsasser

John Elsasser is the editor-in-chief of Strategies & Tactics. He joined PRSA in 1994.


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