Getting Ahead

Blind Ambition Tour

Plenty of women wish they could follow their dreams and work solo. The reality is, prior planning keeps the dream from becoming a financial and emotional nightmare.
Plenty of women wish they could follow their dreams and work solo. The reality is, prior planning keeps the dream from becoming a financial and emotional nightmare. (ISTOCK PHOTO)
Wednesday, March 14, 2007; 10:41 AM

Before becoming a full-time freelance writer and editor for publications like "Bust" and the Seattle Times, Michelle Goodman toiled as a publicity assistant at a publishing house and did time as the bureau chief for a small newspaper. The rat race wore her down, leading her to go solo -- and eventually resulting in the new book, "The Anti 9-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube (Seal Press, $15)." It's a witty-yet-practical look at what to do if you hit the snooze button repeatedly every workday morning or want to dump a boss who acts like "The Office's" big kahuna. Lynn Thorne talked to her about how to escape a Dilbert drone job without going broke.

Why does your book specifically target women?

We have our own unique set of challenges in the workplace that don't apply to men. We're the ones with wage gap, the mommy track and the glass ceiling. Study after study shows women are more likely to want, and ask for, and use flexible work arrangements. They start businesses at twice the rate of men. I don't think that is a coincidence.

What was the most difficult part of the transition for you?

I didn't make it easy for myself. I didn't do any planning. I leapt without looking. I was mid 20s, when 9 a.m. was the middle of the night for me. I wanted to work for myself. I had no money, no clients, no business savvy. It took a couple of years of learning the ropes. Had I planned it out a bit more, it would have been financially lucrative sooner.

What advice would you give someone who's not happy doing the traditional 9 to 5 but doesn't really know what they want to be when they grow up?

Start dabbling. Start exploring. Get your hands dirty. Figure out, "What would I do if time and money were no object?" "What's the craziest thing I was ever interested in?" Even if it is scuba diving or elephant training, test the waters. Then cross those things off your list.

You're big on volunteering as a way to meet people and network.

Yeah, but don't volunteer willy-nilly. It's great if you can volunteer for a high-profile, one-time fundraiser; it's high stress for a few weeks and PHOTOthen it ends, but it's a great way to make contacts. Then you can say, "Hey, look, I worked on this and did PR for it" or something. It helps you get experience.

What's the best part of your new career lifestyle?

I like to work in my bathrobe. I like the autonomy. I like the fact that I don't have to ask anyone to [take time off]. You can choose who you work for and who you work with. If they're a hell client, you don't have to do it again.

But how do you keep your office life and your home life separate when you work from home?


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