Why I’m celebrating 10 years of self-employment with hard-boiled eggs


You guys! Look at these hard-boiled eggs I made this morning!

What? You don’t think that’s worth two exclamation points and a blog post?!

Here’s why I think it is —

Hard-boiled eggs are difficult creatures.

Sometimes I can make them no problem. The shells peel off with ease. They’re still perfectly egg-shaped after I’m done defrocking them. Times when I can get the shell off in one or two huge chunks are times I feel like I can accomplish anything.

Sometimes they’re over-cooked or under-cooked. I can’t get one iota of the shell to come off. I peel the shell and 1/2 of the egg-white comes with it, leaving me with a hard-boiled yolk. I’ll make hard-boiled eggs and have a pot of water and a trash-can filled with egg bits to show for my all my work.

It’s been years of mostly progress and sprinkles of regression where hard-boiled eggs are concerned.

But today? Today’s batch came out almost perfect. Which is fitting, on this 10th birthday of my baby, my not-so-little anymore Mac & Cheese Productions. Because that’s what these ten years have been — almost perfect.

When I got fired in 2004, at age twenty-five, I was in the oh so fun position of having $300 in my savings account, rent, utilities, and a car to fund, and complete uncertainty of what to do next.

It’s been a “I couldn’t have made this up” journey since, with lots of pretending I know what I’m doing, having faith a risk will pan out, and jumping in the water regardless of the fact that I’m blowing up the life-jacket as I jump.

A journey of ups —

Work brought me to New York, Portland, and Rwanda.

I share my deep-love of productivity and efficiency not only with adults but kids as well, resulting in third-graders who now strive for Inbox Zero and understand why misusing Reply All is the worst thing ever.

People have called me “Lois Weisberg 2.0” and “the accessible version of Oprah.”

I’ve been featured in Forbes, the Huffington Post, and the Sunday New York Times.

Due to a beautiful, mutually-beneficial corporate sponsorship, among other goodness, hundreds of LUNA bars show up on my doorstep once a month.

Hundreds of people laughed and cried because of a personal story I shared.

I’ve been the keynote speaker at multiple conferences.

I’ve spoken at TEDx.

I received a $700 Herman Miller chair as part of a conference-speaker swag-bag.

I’ve helped countless people find jobs, clients, friends, significant others, and themselves.

Chicago Magazine selected me as a Top Twenty Eligible Single.

Brazen Careerist selected me as a Top Twenty Young Professional to Watch.

I haven’t spent any money on marketing or advertising; business has all been word of mouth.

Christie Hefner’s lawyer gave me freebie trademark advice because she asked him to.

I’ve lunched with Jason Fried.

I’ve danced, stepped, and improvised in front of sold-out, standing-ovation theaters.

An event I threw that I thought would be just like the other events I threw ended with a conversation in my kitchen about spreadsheets and BBQ that changed my life; the man whose voice projection and deep eye-contact nuzzled their way into my heart would a month later be “a guy I’m dating,” a year and a half later my “live-in Boyfriend,” three years later “my fiancé,” and four years later “my husband.”

and downs —

I’ve offered offerings that no one signed up for.

I show up completely under-dressed to 3/4 of the events I go to.

Tons of people have told me “No,” from celebrities like Seth Godin and Brené Brown to everyday beings like peers and vendors.

Through being “busy,” which often manifests itself in me sitting at the computer for hours on end and in rewarding myself with tubs of brownie bites, I’ve gained 100? pounds. (I stopped counting, it gets disheartening.)

I’ve made decisions that cost me hundreds (thousands?) of dollars, like buying equipment and software I used once or never needed to begin with.

I’ve applied to and been rejected from Excelerate (now TechStars), the Unreasonable Institute, the Amtrak Residency, Shark Tank, the Awesome Foundation, World Domination Summit, Ragdale, the Medill School of Journalism, Impact Engine, and probably a lot more that I’m forgetting.

People have made mean comments about me and to me on my blog and on social media.

People have told me they felt uncomfortable because of a situation I created.

I’ve felt out of place and unbelievably uncomfortable too many times to count.

Looking back at my professional path, ten years after getting fired, I can say the self-employment journey, with its ups and with its down, has been almost perfect. Just like my hard-boiled eggs this morning. Seeing the eggs’ slight dents and slight mis-shapen’ness reminded me of how far I’ve come and that while I can claim success, I still have room to go. Which is cool. I always want somewhere to go.

So thank you, Eggs. Thank you for reminding me that progress takes set-backs, appreciation takes rejection, and happiness takes sadness.

Everything in your life must have happened in order for you to exist – every single, little thing… Even the littlest, most unpleasant things have a way of shaping us into the individuals we were always meant to be. The greatest moments of clarity in your life will come when you look back at your journey and conclude that it was all necessary and that it’s all beautiful. — The Best Part Of Life Is Realizing Why It’s Better That Things Didn’t Work Out