9 pieces of advice they won’t tell you at business school (but really should)

(though soon that patient bird is going to be all like "screw this shit, I'm getting us both outta here" and, well, you don't want a pissed off imaginary bird pecking through your insides. Trust me on this one).

Recently I was sent a question about what I wish I’d known when starting out figuring out my ideas / doing my own thing. I had a lot of things I could have said, and a lot of things I did say, but there were more that came up after I replied. So I’d like to share these with you below.


You see, you can Google the answer to questions like ‘how do I set up a facebook fan page’ or ‘how do I do that twitter thing anyway?’ but there are some big picture things that matter more than any of that. 9 of the things I wish I’d known when starting out… but which no one really tells you:


1. At some point you will have a choice between speaking your truth and making the ‘sensible decision’. The first time this happens you will choose the latter. Some time later you will realize this was the least sensible move you could have made.

(This will not stop you making that same mistake at least once again).


2. You will decide, at some point between coming up with your idea and launching, that there is too much competition. You might be right.


3. You will find, some time after ditching your idea because of the competition, that someone else has launched this idea anyway. They seem to be doing well. You will, at this point, kick yourself.


4. You will try to create something magnificent and put your mark on the world, but early on you will look at what you have created and feel its smallness. In that moment you will wonder if anyone else notices how far wide of your mark you have fallen. What you don’t realize is that they are too busy with their own lives to ponder yours. Are you touching them? Does what you do matter to them? Why not?

Ponder that rather than your own grand dreams and you will find that somewhere along the way your grand dreams happen anyway.


5. The people you used to spend time with? Some of them will stop understanding you. (Although in a way that’s probably ok: after all, you stopped understanding them quite a while ago. This is your cue to find a new tribe).


6. One day when you are feeling stuck someone will give you a piece of advice – or maybe an opportunity. At the time you will reject them, vehemently. Watch out for those moments. Those are usually the moments where you heard exactly what you needed to hear, or had the chance to learn exactly what you needed to learn.

Why? Because when you are well and truly stuck, your options are restricted to what lies in your comfort zone. But your answer is not there. The road to where you want to be, at those moments, lies outside your comfort zone, and it won’t look quite like you expected (if it did you’d have found it already).


7. You will start out with two things: 1) a diary full of things that need to be done this week (your washing, that latest report, that thing for your dad) and 2) a jumbled up list of dreams in your head all labeled ‘one day’. Your breakthrough will come when you learn to sync the two.

Watch out for the opportunities to which you say ‘one day’. They are quite often the ones you need, as you are, here and now (click to tweet this!).


8. You will feel that you have a secret. A secret about your own lack of progress. About how your so-together outside doesn’t fit with the turbulent mash up of your insides. About how you haven’t sorted this out by now and it’s just not coming together and how you just don’t know what to do and how you feel ashamed you don’t know what you want by your age.

To which I would say: please know that you are not alone in this. Right now, someone else is reading these words too. And another, and another. One of them may be in your neighbourhood and the other across the world, and they are nodding and saying ‘yes that’s me, how did she know’ and the answer is simple: while how you feel may be a secret to you, I have been through it and I have watched many others go through this same uncertainty and come out the other side.

When you poke your head out of your fog of confusion, and join others in forging a path toward your own clarity, you might well do the same.


9. One day you will come across a list of advice, with which you may or may not resonate. You will have the chance to complete this list with a thought of your very own. When that time comes, what will you say?

(Feel free to share your answer below or on the Free Range Facebook page).


Marianne x


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  • Youcanthidethespark

    So true! I am in the midst of this so it’s very reassuring to hear you’ve been through all this yourself. Point 5 is an interesting one – I definitely feel it’s time to find a new tribe (and I see this as a positive thing – your post just nicely echoed that for me)!

  • Thanks for the post, Marianne. I’m somewhere in that early phase. I appreciate the perspective. As for my addition to your list… I’d say: Don’t let too much analyzing or worry about what you did or didn’t do nor too much dreaming about what you will do keep you from doing something today. Take one step today, even if it seems insignificant in scope compared to all you need to accomplish. Do this every day. After a while, one day, you’ll look back and realize you’ve done much of what you dreamed and hoped would be possible.

  • I just had to re-read this list today, Marianne – so many of the points resonate with me. #3 – oh yes, I’m black and blue from kicking myself! #6 – no, no, that’s never happened to me!! 😉 #8 – shhhhh! #7 – I can remember a time when ‘one day’ meant ‘now’, or at least ‘it’s in the pipeline’. So if I’ve had experience of that in the past, I can do it again. Thank you for the reminder. 🙂

  • Skip Kuhnen

    I’m coming from the other side of the coin to head in the direction of becoming my own boss. I was never in the corporate world. I come from the world of ESAD (Extreme Social Anxiety Disorder) basically it is the fear of almost everything in life. Nine years ago I finally got enough money together to be able to afford help. Therapy is outrageously expensive. I have now gotten control of almost all those fears/anxieties and I haven’t stopped running forward. I am now taking comedy Improv classes at Second City in Chicago and have been inspired by Saya Hillman and now by you to go for it. Thanks for the tips & keep them coming!!

  • Hi Marianne!! You are so beautiful! Thanks for the inspiration. I just finished a 10 day silent meditation retreat and although i was ment to be just focusing on the technique they taught us my mind kept formulating this beautiful plan for my future. I will bare your insights in mind as i build my future! thanks darling!

  • Joanne

    Next tip – One day someone will call you an expert and you’ll want to correct them and say you are not. Try not to say anything. See how long you can last.

  • Jason Palmer

    hey, heard about you today from tim ferri’s facebook page, your awesome.
    I am currently being paid by several authors to promote them in London, and I live near canary wharf !
    I totally know where your coming from, get in touch and we can combine off and online promotion !

  • Just found your blog today!

    It’s easy to get caught up in #2 & #3

    I’ve been there more than 20 times, at least. Most of the time I’ve dropped the idea. But in the past few years I’ve been forging onward.

    I remind myself that there is more than a Trillion dollars (of just U.S. currency) floating around and that each person only needs a very small piece of that to make it work for them…

  • Lo

    hey, heard about you today from tim ferri’s facebook page… yeah I am a 4hour work week fan. On another note, you post above…. jeezuz get out of my head, you are all up in there….. And here I thought I was the only one. This gives me courage. I quit my 9-5 13mths ago and all those things you mentioned about I have experienced and continue to deal with

  • “I remind myself that there is more than a Trillion dollars (of just U.S. currency) floating around and that each person only needs a very small piece of that to make it work for them…”

    True that, Brooks. Don’t give up on doing things. I wish I’d had enough ideas that I moved forward to even be able to make that mistake.

    But hey, if we keep working that idea machine and keep doing too, we might capture a small bit off all that currency floating around. If we don’t worry too much about the money. Like a little blue butterfly eluding us until we have the patience to let it come to us.

  • Love this list, Marianne. Thanks! (And not just the content, but especially how you wrote it.)
    This resonated.

    And as for #9:
    A) Some people will make you see money is really important. You might become obsessed. And others might convince you money isn’t important at all. You might start doubting the world. And I hope you do. Because they’re both right.

    Money is one of the currents of the world, and you need to be near a stream of it as much as you need to be near a stream of water. You need it to power what you’re doing. To sustain what you’re growing. And that’s it’s only value: growing & sustaining. Make sure it’s there, nurturing.

    B) At one point you might understand the value of money. You will work on getting it. It might not work. That’s ok. Give up. Not on the doing. Just on the chasing of the $$. Just open yourself to it and wait.
    Sometimes, money is just like dating.

    C) You will, at some point, write/give advice, and realise you’re advising yourself as much as someone else. Kepp giving anyway. This doesn’t make you a fraud; just a fellow traveller. And hopefully a humble one.

    Thanks for that, Marianne.

  • That darn blue butterfly!
    Funny, as I’m reading your comment, I just finished reading a bit from 4 different books and took a quick walk with my dog in order to boost some creativity. Now I’ve got my notepad out in order to jot down 10 ideas (pretty tough). I got the idea from James Altucher (I just read his book “Choose Yourself” last week).

  • JaydeGilmore

    I want to print this out and wallpaper my house with it. Especially #7!

  • emma brooke

    Love articles on the actual problems people working for themselves have to face – thanks Marianne! I’ve already fallen in to the trap of over listening to someone. A while back you featured my website in your Friday Love Letters as an example of a website with a great free theme. To this day it’s still my highest visitor day. Someone (who is no longer in my life) told me I needed to change the theme cos it was unprofessional, so I listened, because, you know, he was ‘in the business’ of media marketing. Worst decision ever. Just changed back to the original theme!

  • Love James Altucher. He’s the one whose teaching me let the butterflies come to me.
    Have you heard the audio-version of ‘Choose Yourself’ yet?

    Hope your ideas made you sweat, and are now getting sweaty together 😉

  • J

    Trying to join the tribe but am not able to….. just bought the book and am finding it quite inspiring! Plz help

  • Guest

    Number 1 is exactly what I needed to hear at this very moment. Today, I got faced with a choice: chosing the reasonable, or go for the completely scary crazy unreasonable…. I guess this will help me make my decision..

  • cutykavs

    This is an awesome article on what context matters in notifications and recommendations. Thanks – Brahma Kumaris Meditation Songs

  • Laura

    Hello I have been reading your blog and website and I’m confused, how do you make a living? Life is not about working in a cubicle and a commute I completely agree and have escaped the corporate world myself. Unfortunately we all need to earn some money to live. Selling the idea that we can all quit our jobs and then set up websites telling the world they should quit their jobs and become ‘free ranged’ would appear to me to be one giant pyramid scheme. Telling people they don’t have to work 9-5 and is a really good thing and it is great you have fans and a huge influence. Marianne my plea is to make sure you don’t take advantage. They can’t all quit and set up ‘free range sites’! It would be good to see more specific advice and ideas on how to make a living if you are not selling the ‘escape’ idea. Sites like careershifters do a really good job in offering solid advice. It might offer you some inspiration.

  • ChristianT

    Have you actually read the book?

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