On balancing work, life, and Penelope Trunk at her best

I’m ambivalent on Penelope Trunk. But you can’t deny that she calls it as she sees it, and she gets it spot on in this interview.

There is no magic solution.

There is no get rick quick online.

A blog in itself is not a business.

Want to quit your job and work for yourself? You need goals. You need a strategy. You need a business plan.

Listen good, online empire wannabes.

What really stood out to me was the point that she made that business and lifestyle go hand in hand. If you want to spend more time with your kids, you’re not going to be able to put in the kind of hours someone single and single-mindedly devoted to growing a business will. (The fact that starting a business takes hard graft goes unsaid, surely.)

For me, the lifestyle is the most important part of the equation. I changed jobs this year in pursuit of better balance, trading off a few financial benefits, flexibility (a double-edged sword; it goes both ways) and the prestige of a big name for no shift work, shorter commute, more variety and room to stretch myself. As much as I loved my previous position, and felt I was part of something important, I was increasingly frustrated with the sacrifices that came with the territory. In any choice, there are trade-offs, and those may chop and change at different stages in your life.

(BUT I have to disagree that you are either a people person or a writer and that the two are mutually exclusive. I work with people every day who disprove this theory. There are plenty of journalists who are rather awkward in person – me included – but there are just as many writers who thrive in social situations.)

As evidenced here on Stuff Journalists Like, it’s a lifestyle that ends in a crash and burn for many. How many times have I read about people giving up on the pay and odd hours that cut into plans or make it straight up impossible to make plans ahead of time? (Answer: Enough to depress me.)

I’m not convinced by the assertion that journos don’t have many transferable skills, however. True, we have to sell story ideas to editors, but pitching a feature is probably not on the same level as attempting to close a five or six-figure business deal. And some of us are lucky enough to be largely autonomous and work independently – in which case getting used to answering to others in the corporate world could be a nasty change.

But we’re articulate, know how to ask the right questions, know how to research, have good contacts and know how to handle people, something that shouldn’t be underrated. Some of us have particular areas of knowledge and expertise, although that’s rare nowadays.

If I couldn’t be a journalist … well, I’d like to try my hand at doing something in the music industry, in arts, in a university setting, in a nonprofit – what exactly I don’t know, but ideally something incorporating creative and editorial aspects.

Do you agree with any of these points? Or are you just sitting there shaking your head?

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