Question the Rules to Create a
More Remarkable Business (and Life)

image of woman with pink hair

Every once in awhile, someone asks me why I have pink hair.

(You ever notice that no one asks why anyone has blonde hair, or red hair? But pink, it seems, requires a good reason.)

There are a lot of ways I could answer that question, but the simplest is probably that I don’t really buy into the standard set of rules about what “success” or “professionalism” look like.

As it turns out, there are a lot of things I don’t buy into.

I don’t buy into the idea that the best way for me to make a living is to work in a box from nine to five every day. Even a really nice box.

I notice that Brian didn’t buy the notion that being a lawyer (which he had put a lot of years and dollars into) was a wiser career choice than starting some blog about copywriting and social media.

And come to think of it, from hearing Darren Rowse’s story, I understand that his wife didn’t think that his notion to do that problogging stuff, whatever that was, would be anywhere near as logical as getting a nice steady job at a gas station.

If you spend enough time around entrepreneurs, you’ll quickly begin to realize that the vast majority are . . . (hm, searching for the polite word, here) eccentric in some way.

(OK, let’s tell the truth. A lot of us are basically nuts)

But even if you find one person who seems totally normal, you can bet that she made at least one giant, ridiculous decision in her past that seemed crazy at the time, but ended up getting her to the great place she is today.

I have pink hair because I like the way it looks, because it makes my kid smile, and because I happen to rather like tweaking ordinary expectations.

But here’s the important part: What I do with my hair doesn’t matter at all. But if I lived a mousy-brown life — where I did all the things we expect of a “normal” person — I wouldn’t be as successful or as happy as I am today.

Entrepreneurs question the rules

The nonconformist thing is on my mind because I’ve been trading email lately with one of our regular writers, Johnny B. Truant. You might have seen that Johnny has partnered with filmmaker and Huffington Post writer Lee Stranahan to create a course called Question the Rules.

Their tagline is: The nonconformist’s punk rock, DIY, nuts-and-bolts guide to creating the business and life you really want, starting with what you already have.

Basically, if you’re starting your own business, you’re breaking a rule. (That’s true whether or not you keep your day job.)

It’s a big rule, too — the one that says:

Other people should be in charge of how much money I make, how hard I work, and what I should work on.

When I went out on my own, everyone praised me for being such a risk-taker. Including all the people who were out of a job after an ugly round of layoffs, and who were answering those monster.com ads with an increasing sense of desperation.

I had a different rule:

No one will ever care as much about my financial security, or will work as hard to improve it, as I do.

To me, it was risky to stay with that day job. But to a lot of my more “normal” colleagues, my decision made me look like a downright daredevil.

All entrepreneurs are punk rock

That’s how Johnny puts it, anyway. I just use the word “nuts.”

Entrepreneurs are nonconformists, whether we’ve realized it and embraced it or not. We challenge a lot of rules and norms that are very deeply engrained in this culture.

The problem is that a lot of people who decide to start their own business just know that “normal” isn’t working for them.

They know what they’re not, but not really what they are. They don’t really own their punk rock nature (quite possibly because they have no interest at all in dyeing their hair pink).

So they end up feeling like fish out of water.

Which is not, of course, a nice feeling at all.

  • They’re rule-questioners, but they live surrounded by rule-followers.
  • They know what they don’t want, but can’t always translate it to what they do want.
  • They don’t know who to ask for advice, because they don’t know any other people who are odd like this.
  • They’re not “normal,” but they end up judging and measuring themselves by normal standards because those are the only standards available.

I took a sneak peek at Johnny and Lee’s course, and it really speaks to those punk rock entrepreneurs, including the ones who live in lovely four-bedroom houses in the suburbs.

They talk about the stuff to actually do, the tactics. They talk about how to get our heads in the right place – the mindset. (Which is, in my experience, the part you really do need to get right.)

And then just for giggles, they throw in fifteen or so meaty interviews with rock-and-roll entrepreneurs who owe their success to questioning rules. Folks like Chris Guillebeau, Naomi Dunford, and Jason Freid from 37 Signals. Our own Jon Morrow has an amazing interview where he talks about the power of working with a gun to your head.

Oh, and some pink-haired chick from Copyblogger is in there, too.

Here’s the link to check out the course.

(And yep, that’s our affiliate link. We think Johnny and Lee did a great job with this one, and we’re proud to recommend it.)

Johnny and Lee took a page from Brian’s playbook and they’re giving a really, really attractive price on this — but only for a really, really short time.

The punch line is that the price is going to quadruple on Saturday.

So if you want to check it out, don’t dawdle. :)

How about you?

Do you consider yourself a nonconformist? Do you think that it takes a certain measure of “punk rock” to get out on your own? And what does “punk” even mean for you?

Let us know in the comments.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is Senior Editor of Copyblogger and the founder of Remarkable Communication.

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Comments

  1. Hey Sonia,

    It’s all about taking risks. Those that are willing to take a risk are willing to accept the rewards that come with it. I’ve never came across any successful individual that went by the standard rules. Great post!

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  2. AMEN!!!
    “I don’t buy into the idea that the best way for me to make a living is to work in a box from nine to five every day. Even a really nice box.”

    Bob Proctor says Sonia “the worst thing in the world you could do is work for a living. You should exchange value for money and work to help others”

  3. Sometimes we fall into those rules and get bogged down as if working with cotton padding preventing our precise movements. Yes, great blog. Creativity and willingness to break the rules are important.

  4. I really like the sentiment in this post. Whether starting your own business, coloring your hair, or simply deciding to do anything differently – you have to do something unexpected; you have to break a rule. Freeing your mind of your own, or other people’s, constraints simply makes life easier.

    I invite you to check out my own thoughts on why the rules are the problem: http://myflexiblepencil.wordpress.com/2010/04/09/the-rules-are-the-problem/

  5. “(OK, let’s tell the truth. A lot of us are basically nuts)”

    I knew there was a reason I really like you. ;)

    I think my fear of dyeing my hair pink (figuratively) cost me a great deal in lost opportunities. I had the dye in my hand, with water flowing, but backed out at the last second on several occasions. I’m reminded of this every time I look into the mirror (or at my box).

  6. So here’s what’s really bizarre: Most people think that doing the entrepreneur thing is risky, and that having a job is safe.

    Just think about that for a second and we’ll see who’s crazy.

  7. I think you look hot in pink! Suits you well.

    Purple is my second fav

  8. Really struck a chord with me!!

    “Fish out of water”. “Not normal” all these feelings I carried with me through my youth & my ‘successful career’ , the frustration that this wasn’t enough for me, I didn’t buy into the rat race & never felt I should conform-to please others. Once the realization hit the only person I needed to make happy, was myself! And now obviously my family. I walked from the trappings & felt an overwhelming sense of freedom, adventure & lust for life that had become numbed by doing the nine to five to reap the rewards.

    Now I reap the rewards, I question everyday who wrote the rules anyway, I work enough to enable me having precious quality time with growing children, while they’re here with me to laugh & play & do picnics on the beach & dance to loud music! Plus they have a mum who is happy, fulfilled and not bogged down by the nine to five but following my ‘daydreams’.

    I still have hairy moments- waiting for cheque to clear to pay the mortgage on time etc!!

    Plus I embrace my non conformist thinking & love that I don’t follow the pack rules. Bottom line I like being different!

  9. Barbara Saunders :

    Life is about risks. The $64K question is which risks.

    When you hold down a job and have no other source of income, you take a risk – especially if the job isolates you in any way from communities of people who might give you other work or support you when you have no work.

    Probably the least risky scenario is to combine a “side” business with a “side” job. You give up the upside potential of both job career and entrepreneurial career, but resiliency is built in.

    Launching a full-blown business on your own has the most upside potential and no more downside potential than holding down a job.

  10. I will definitely check out Johnny’s course, but I had to comment regarding this:

    “They don’t know who to ask for advice, because they don’t know any other people who are odd like this.”

    I’ve been questioning my choice to start my own business. The fun part was breaking out, setting it up, etc. Now there are moments that are just plain scary. But yesterday, just as I was (literally) about to check out Monster.com, I decided to finally spend some time in the Third Tribe forums instead. I read for hours. It was like going to the League Of Justice. It gave me practical advice, inspiration and the most important thing – “I know that I’m not the only whatever-I-am in the room.” (-ani)

  11. Why arent your eyebrows pink?

  12. Like the post! I’m a big fan of punk rock music. However, the more perspective I gained on the principles of punk, the more it disturbed me. Essentially, the punk movement was one of the most rule-ridden, narrow-minded movements in popular culture. The “you have to drink black coffee if you’re going to be nonconformist” type of thing. Icons like Henry Rollins and Joe Strummer fought against the rules and were lambasted by the punk community. My point is, be suspect of anyone who says you have to break the rules a certain way. Technically, this is just another set of rules. Punk should be about freedom and creativity, and I think both are at the heart of your post’s message.

  13. @Kara, I love that about the League of Justice! That is definitely a great spot to go find other weirdos, um, thoughtful businesspeople. It helped me so much to have other folks who were making the same journey, and were at different points on the path.

    @Ben, totally. (Joe Strummer always makes me smile because I have a friend who named his little boy Strummer.) And you know, my dad was just the same — he scorned the hippies because they had just as rigid a set of conformist standards as the one he fought growing up in the segregated south. The man refused to wear jeans until about 1992 when I guess he thought it was finally safe.

    I don’t think we have to smash the rules (some rules make sense), but I like Johnny’s approach of questioning them. “Is this rule smart for me? Do I really buy this? Should I tweak it to make it work better for me?”

  14. And for those who are curious, no, the photo isn’t me — I dont happen to have a really good, professional shot of myself with the pink hair. (Much less on a nice white background.) It’s on the list. :) For those of you who need to visualize, my eyes are brown and the pink in my hair is about 6 different shades.

  15. Hmm, I feel a bit let down now that I know you used a stock photo.

    So are your eyebrows pink?

  16. No, because “Do not risk blindness by bleaching your eyebrows” is a rule I think makes sense. :)

  17. Andrew Billmann :

    I totally agree with the message. I’ve been there myself, working for The Man and working for myself.

    BUT…

    You can’t deny the fact that failure rates in new businesses (across all industries, whether online or brick-and-mortar) are significant. If you look at government data and information from the Small Business Administration, 20% of new businesses don’t make it a year. Almost 40% don’t make it two years. You can chalk that up to an incredible number of contributing factors ranging from things that are totally within the owner’s control to things that are totally out of the owner’s control. Bottom line: There are some very competent, driven, creative and influential people who have seen their dreams blow up, and the wreckage can be substantial. I know, I’ve been there.

    OK, enough buzzkill. I guess the point is that whether you slave away for The Man or you strike out on your own, you alone are not the sole determiner of your fate. You can guide things, sure, but there are many more factors in play.

  18. Yeah, I feel you on this one. I am nonconformist to the core and have been traveling on the road not taken for a long, long time. (My mother says I popped out and said “Back off, B*tch.” I’m only 79% sure she’s joking.) Part of my journey in becoming a freelancer writer stemmed from my need to live differently from everybody else I knew. I’m not saying that my nonconformist nature made me a freelancer. I’m just saying that it made choosing to do my own thing easier.

  19. Clap clap clap!

    Sonia, it’s always great when you come out with these posts. Yep, entrepreneurs are completely eccentric and nuts. That’s the only way that new businesses get started.

    When people are just wandering around, worrying about the daily gossip of the office and only working to make it to lunch time, they aren’t in the mindset of coming up with the latest and greatest biz-op.

    It takes a really kookie person to go out there and jump off that safety cliff of a “day job” while going out to make the world a better place, not to mention, like you said, to FINALLY have control of one’s financial destiny.

    So hat’s off to all the entrepreneurs out there… whether you have pink hair (or no hair in my case) or not.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  20. LOL, you found another pinkhead photo to use as a proxy. Not sure if that’s fair.

    Me, I prefer under-the-radar iconoclasm. My favorite sorts of contrarian looks are not things like an overt punk-rock persona, but like Andy DuFresne in Shawshank Redemption, or the Matt Damon look in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Ditto for how you talk/present yourself in writing. As much as possible, I like to project an appearance of confomity. Partly because it is easy to get sucked into fighting hair-color battles when there are better battles to be picked. Partly because stealth itself is a style I guess.

  21. Oh, duh! That does make sense.

    Some suggestion become rules.

  22. @Andrew, I’ll give you a “yes, but.”

    A) Most small businesses do not have idea #1 about how to do any marketing at all that works. So the SBA numbers are going to be inflated by that.

    B) Many small businesses start with tremendous overhead. Rent on a physical space, an employee or two, high insurance costs, high cost of inventory, etc. But there are models that don’t need any of that.

    Is it possible to crash and burn by taking the leap? Oh yeah, totally. But it’s also very possible to crash and burn in a day job. I know folks who *still* haven’t found a new job, who were laid off a few weeks before I quit my job.

    I am not, at all, a proponent of “leap and the net will appear.” There are lots of things a person can do to stack the odds way in our favor, and because I am actually not a big fan of taking risks myself, I try to do as many as I can.

    You raise a great point — there are things we can control, and things (sometimes really big things) we cannot. The serenity prayer is one of the most important business tools there is. And something big could take out our business at any time, just as it could take out a company we work for.

    But when I worked for a company, I was putting many more factors in that “out of my control” category, and for me, that was unacceptably risky. Also (and this might have been more of a factor) it was unacceptably irritating.

  23. Love this post, Sonia! I can totally relate to the “fish out of water” feeling. And as Shane mentions above, there have been many, many times I’ve held the dye in my hand only to shut the faucet off, pull my hair back and return to work. Not anymore! I’m embracing my inner punk rock and questioning (not rebelling against or ignoring) the rules.

    Sounds like this course is going to help me make that happen.

    BTW, I’ve never tried pink hair but I went red years ago. I can still recall the looks I received when I walked through the door that Monday morning. :)

  24. @Venkat, absolutely! I often find “stealth nonconformity” more appealing.

    The real truth is I have pink hair because I am emotionally about five. :)

  25. @Simone – I was glad to hear that photo was not you. Most disconcerting. And I’m with you on the eyebrows – Never put your eyesight at stake.

    Eyebrows have to match your hair color? That sounds like a conformist sort of rule.

    :)

  26. Punk rock, to me, is summed-up well by Iggy Pop’s line from “I Got a Right”: Everybody’s got a right to sing, no matter what you say.

    Drove me anyway, and I played punk for years and still do (Google: “Freelance Mohawk” to see my own teen-angst silly hair statement).

    But punk is an attitude, not a hairstyle, as you note Sonia. It’s about doing what you want, and owning the consequences. It is about questioning the status quo, or better still, telling it to go f**k itself. It is about not fitting in, because you simply don’t know how. It’s about having the seeds and the drive to stand on your own. And as such, it is the true core of freelancing, as you and Johnny suggest – very easy to make that connection.

    To me punk’s like that anyway, and how can you argue with an old guy who still plays the Buzzcocks turned up to 11 and once had a goofy mohawk?

    Thanks for the post – it made my morning.
    Gabba gabba hey.

  27. Pink hair must take some maintaining and so does entrepreneurship. Those who make it to the top tend to keep going no matter how many odds are stacked against them.

  28. Non-conformist is my middle name. To everyone else, my middle name is “nuts.” (haha) I can’t stand rules, especially rules that make no sense whatsoever. I can’t stand status quo. I can’t stand working in an office. I can’t stand 9-5 jobs. I can’t stand having to live to someone else’s expectations. For me, being an entrepreneur is the only way I’ll ever truly be happy and be able to live the life I want.

    I used to have blue highlights…’til I had to go back into working for a corporation. When that happened, I was forced to remove my nose ring (the one I loved so dearly), cover up my tattoos (no one wants to see a chick with tatted forearms in their office every day) and forced to dye over my blue highlights (because that’s just not professional-looking).

    I’m sick of it. I’m sick of living by someone else’s rule. I’m sick of having to conform to things I don’t agree with. I’m sick of not being in control of my time, my income or my life.

    But I also am having a hell of a time launching my business. I’ve been trying for months, but I’m so busy with having to work 40 hours at a day job and commuting that when I get home, I’m just too tired to do what it takes to make my business successful.

    Regardless, I will never quit at it thou–because working for myself is the only answer that works for me. Thanks, Sonia, for being a non-conformist and for trying to help people see that conforming isn’t right for everyone.

  29. Sonia,
    I started reading copy blogger when I got my first post-college job, writing copy and blog posts for a specialty toy store. Over the past 3 months this site has sparked so many ideas for projects of my own that I feel extremely confident about my future, no matter what happens to my employment. I feel extremely lucky to have this positive outlook at 22! Thanks so much for all of your work!
    ellen yates

  30. Hi Sonia, Johnny and any OTHER punk-rock entrepreneurs who happen to read this comment.

    I absolutely ADORE you guys (/gals) — Johnny, well I have a soft spot for you in my punk-rock soul…but you already know that.

    When I asked Johnny to give me an HOUR for an audio interview for my RebelBlogger training thing, he was pretty much like, “ok, when?” And i was totally happy. But then he poured out his heart and his mind and went all Neo spoon-bending on my ass, and I knew I had finally met my match…

    Some things it just ain’t right to keep behind closed doors — so yesterday, in honor of the Question the Rules launch, I posted the entire audio on my blog with a download link, and my favorite quote from Johnny:

    “Because one of the things you have to understand when you’re building or running your own business is that you’re a screaming hardcore punk bastard whether you know it or not.” – Johnny B. Truant

    So I know it’s like TOTALLY against the RULES to post links in your comments to promote yourself, but that is NOT my intention — this post is really just all about the punk-rock soul behind the man, and does not contain affiliate links: http://www.ienvisionmedia.com/johnnybtruant-spoon-bender-interview/

    If you do intend to buy the product and you learned about it here, by all means please DO use the link on this page to pick it up — Cheers and ROCK!

  31. Questioning the rules is totally key! Designing, running, and growing your own business has to come from you. The basic premise of punk music was and is not accepting the status quo “just because”. Do we all have to have pink hair or black eyeliner? Of course not! That’s just the outward stuff of being “punk.” The real part is in our hearts and minds. Simply asking questions about the status quo opens up possibilities, creativity, and confidence to be yourself. This is a better business attractor anyway!

  32. Andrew Billmann :

    @ Sonia: After being in both worlds for decent amounts of time, I think it’s a case of “the grass is always greener.”

    When you’re on your own and see the other side, the steady paychecks, the 401(k) with a match, the health insurance and the other bennies of working for someone else start to look pretty good. (That assumes, of course, that the company is decent, it has a future, its leadership is fair and competent, your work is valued and respected, and there’s a degree of professional fulfillment you can achieve by working there. If those things aren’t true, then by all means, get out.)

    When you work for someone else, the call of freedom, limitless potential, and the ability to call your own shots and take all the credit looks pretty enticing.

    I think a compelling case can be made for either one, and the risks are pretty much equal.

  33. I grabbed QTR the other day and it is great. Johnny and Lee do a fantastic job.

    Analytically, I totally get that relying on someone else for my financial life is much riskier that going it alone.

    I need to unlearn a bunch of stuff to get to the point where I know it in my bones. Hopefully, hanging around here will get me there.

  34. Wonderful post Sonia!

    Every time I see another blog post or article with a title like “7 Rules for …” I cringe. Is it human nature to want to come up with rules for things? I don’t see those rules kinds of posts here on this blog, or at least don’t remember seeing any (too lazy to go look in the archives lol) Yes, let’s question the rules. And especially the so-called rules on how to use social media.

  35. Andrew Billmann :

    @ Jennifer B:

    Don’t confuse being in the wrong company (it sounds like you are) with starting your own business. The two have nothing to do with each other.

    If your business plan is basically, “I hate the fact that I can’t have more personal freedoms and by starting my own business, I can do what I want,” it aint gonna work. Those things are simply nice bonuses after you’ve dealt with about 137 other things. The real reasons have to involve talent, drive, market demand, and providing value to your clients or customers.

    The approach must be, “I’m taking my positives and leaving,” not “I’m escaping the negatives.”

    Seewhatimean?

  36. Enjoyed your post, Sonia, as always – and all the comments. Did you play with those soft, rubbery, sparkly “Pretty Ponies” with pink (some blue and green and yellow) manes and tails when you were a kid? Every time I see pretty pink hair I think of my daughter’s collection of “PPs” – in fact, I think I have them tucked away in a shoe box somewhere. I should dig them out and give them to her 7-year-old daughter, who has already vehemently rejected “Hello Kitty,” so may not like PPs either – doesn’t seem to want to conform to the toys of her mother’s generation.

    Speaking of generations and the tremendous energy created by entrepreneurial endeavors, I love it when each generation does their thing (finds themselves) through clothing, music, and personal props, and when enterprising businesses crop up that rock our world. Although, looking back things haven’t changed as much as it may seem on the surface. The rejection of conformity has always been there. And isn’t it just another form of playing the game to conform to the nonconformist ideology. The edge is a blurry one between conformists and nonconformists, and ideology is ideology no matter which way it’s look at.

    Keep up the good work.

  37. For some reason as I read this post the song “Break Free” from Queen kept running through my mind…

    I agree that entrepreneurs are not normal… they’re not satisfied with explanations of why they should and should not do something.

    It’s funny how entrepreneurs look at the 9-5ers and think they’re nuts and how the 9-5ers look at entrepreneurs and think that they’re nuts.

    So if you’re going to be a nut, why not be a nut your way?

  38. @Ben – That’s totally spot on, IMO. It’s something we talk a lot about in the course, actually. And as Sonia said, it’s why we went with QUESTION the Rules instead of BREAK the rules. Some punks think that just because there’s an establishment rule, they should break it. I remember talking to Pace from Freak Revolution and her saying that she couldn’t admit to anything freaky because everyone around her was into far freakier stuff. I said something like, “Pace, YOU have to go the other direction. To be a nonconformist in your world, you’d have to admit to something like enjoying Miley Cyrus.”

    @Satya – Extremely flattering, man… and thanks. I didn’t remember that exact quote, but it’s absolutely awesome, so I’m glad it was me who said it.

  39. What an absolutely GREAT article, Sonia! It is right on!

    “No one will ever care as much about my financial security, or will work as hard to improve it, as I do.”

    That pretty much sums why people like us risk being an entrepreneur, trader, athlete, or any other profession that requires taking on higher risk and higher levels of self-reliance than most people are willing to accept.

    Yet, is it really “riskier” to go your own way and take control of your own future instead of relying on a steady job with a stable company? Ask that question to folks in Detroit right now.

  40. Absolutely right. No one cares more about your success or how much money your earn than you. Anyone afraid of entrepreneurship needs to keep that in mind.

  41. @Sonia and @Johnny B. -

    Thanks for both of your responses! I greatly appreciate that you used the word “question” in your post. I think questioning the rules not only blazes a trail for your unique business, but it also lifts up your unique identity. I sleep better at night knowing this. Johnny, I love your point about the Miley Cirus situation. Even though I can’t blaze that trail, I will proclaim that I’m a huge Pat Benatar and Go-Go’s fan! They’re right next to my Pogues CDs…

  42. Nothing wrong with the Go-Gos, dude!

  43. I LOVE this article! The TRUTH is, that we all deserve to be happy. The more happiness we are able to create within ourselves, the more we are able to recognize what true happiness is. The more that we are able to recognize what true happiness is, the more that we are able to share it with others. And from my experience, the more that we share it with others, the happier we become. It’s a wonderful cycle that creates more joy every step of the way. How can you go wrong? Thanks for posting!

    RMS

    Ryan Stanley
    Director of Strategic Alliances
    The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)
    http://www.ipeccoaching.com
    http://www.facebook.com/ipeccoaching

  44. It’s Jason Fried, not Freid.

  45. Hey pink-head,

    If you extend your rebellious thinking…

    You’ll end up homeschooling your brood, as I do!

    It’s tough to become or raise an entrepreneur after 16+ years of taking intellectual orders from teachers and *experts*.

  46. @Johnny – that was you man! — frickn’ awesome quote. Definitely one of my all time faves, and one to go down for history for sure… :)

  47. Mary Russell :

    I am actually considering buying this course. I’m 68 years old, getting ready to retire from my cubicle, but still haven’t decided what I want to be or do when I grow up! I had a bohemian heart and dressed as a preppy during those tumultous growing up years, married, had 2.0 kids, and married again. Have been mostly happily single for 31 years and have always been afraid of sticking my big toe in the cold water of following my bohemian (read punk rocker) heart. Is it too late for me? I’d like to try my hand at editing, because I think I’m good at it (except what I write myself), but I have to fight the fear of being too old, too conservative (not politically!), and too ‘normal’. Thanks for reading.

  48. Mary, I think it’s right for just about anyone, especially with someone with a bohemian heart.

    Let’s see if Sonia weighs in.

  49. Sonia, thank you for articulating the passion and eccentricity present in all us entrepreneurs! When you forge your own road it’s not always easy or straight-forward, but it’s the only road I could every imagine traveling along.

  50. @Andrew Billmann You’re right. I was just venting a little ;-)

    Truth is, I have the talent, drive and there is a huge market for my company (I’m a Holistic Health Coach, part-time right now). I am an entrepreneur through and through. Always have been (I was one of those kids who tried to turn every idea I had into a business, haha).

    For me, starting a business is about helping people and doing some good in this world, as much as it is about my freedom from lemming land. I know I will get there…it’s just going to take time. I wish I had the courage to just up and quit and go at my business full-force…but the fear of not being able to pay the bills scares the crap outta me. Especially since I’m the only breadwinner in my household.

  51. Hmm… Maybe dyeing your hair pink gives you superhuman writing skills. I may just give it whirl to see if there’s any truth to this hypothesis.

    By this time next week I shall have a mop of pink on my head. And, finally, my subscriber count will begin to literally EXPLODE. No mortal will be able to resist my prowess. Nor my good looks for that matter.

    :)

    Good times ahead

  52. Hey Sonia (with the pink hair) I feel like you’re stomping around inside my head.

    As for non-conformist? Perhaps I am.

    Perhaps I try hard to fit-in but constatnly beat a path on dusty unsealed roads and then wonder where the hell everyone else is?

    As for “Punk” – I think a punk is just a ring-wearing dude dressed mostly in black sometimes but not often fluoro colors with way too much hair gel, dark makeup and bits of silver and gold hanging off-of every other orifice. Often these punks are just confused and lost.

    I hardly believe “punks” are non-conformist because there’s so many of them and they all dress the same.

    So, where’s the diff?

  53. I think your pink hair is awesome!! You are definitely right about thinking outside of the box. If we thought inside the box we would still be getting a crappy paycheck. The box is definitely over-rated.
    I love that you speak your mind and don’t care what all of the “in the box” people think.

  54. @Jennifer, listen to that fear — not in a “never do anything” way, but in a good, solid, make smart plans way. If you haven’t read Rework yet, there’s some good stuff there. I’m sole breadwinner as well, which is why I may have pink hair, but I don’t go doing stuff that’s just crazy. :)

    @Bamboo, can’t wait!

  55. @Mary, you don’t sound too old or conservative to me, you sound like you’re ready to start doing some seriously cool stuff. :) My gut says you would dig it, but your own gut is your best guide. But I know you know that.

  56. I spend my days trying to convince resistant faculty and staff that teaching online really can be effective, and my weekends photographing emotionally high couples on the “biggest day of their lives”.

    I love it. I guess I’m not punk rock. I have a kick ass day job with amazing benefits that serves as a platform for me to carry out my many educational ambitions. I am still passionate about photographing weddings, and the amazing images that are produced via my eyes behind the lens.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that, you can have both. And you may need both, because insurance for a family, or just a married couple, is pretty damn expensive otherwise.

    Option B: get a kick ass day job with great benefits, and pursue your passions on the weekends.

  57. Well, if leaving behind a well-paying job as a musician in a DC military band to live in a spiritual community and earn a living as an online entrepreneur isn’t non-conformist, I’m not sure what is :)

    Of course, the deeper non-conformity doesn’t have to do with your surroundings, but more with who you are. To follow your own vision, no matter how the world may protest, that’s genius.

    And as for “punk rock”, this has been on my mind lately. Punk isn’t transcendent, it’s more about self-expression and rebellion… and, interestingly enough, there’s quite a bit of conformity in the punk scene as well :)

    But Johnny and Lee’s course does look killer!

  58. Hmmm. Question the Rules. Seems that kinda course shouldn’t be necessary, It might not even be necessary. I mean, Good Luck to the boys for their idea and the belief and energy to see it thru to completion. That in itself might be enough to inspire. That might be the lesson, and it’s free.

    Nonconformity. Can you teach it? With all the power, support, and respect conformity has, it seems to be conformist to teach nonconformity. I see the solution, the Way, as a continuation of the problem, or maybe not a problem but a condition…not unlike a skin rash or depression or reality.

    EZ to spray-on a Bronzer, but if you want a real Tan you’ve got to put your time in the sun…know what I mean?

  59. Now I don’t feel so lonely anymore. It seems that there are others who shares the same feeling as I am about questioning the rules and being different from rule-followers.

    Till date, I find it hard to answer anyone who asks what I am doing now and why have I not got a regular job yet. They don’t understand that I want to make money not get a job.

  60. Good stuff! Almost bought it, but realized that I have bought too many things and haven’t implemented all of them yet. Pink hair rocks!

  61. hmm…
    it sounds an intriguing piece of mind to think about of
    .
    one thing to much worried about from the outsiders
    /meaning of those future risk-takers/
    .
    how will you manage yourself to handle your future uncertain circumstances?
    /meaning of is it worth to try?/
    .
    cheers!
    sud.l

  62. +1 for Tom’s comment: “Nonconformity. Can you teach it? ”
    No.
    But it can be inspiring.

  63. @Sonia I haven’t read Rework… but I just reserved a copy at my local Barnes and Noble, which I’ll be picking up at lunch today. Thanks for the rec! It sounds like it’s along the lines of “Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It,” which is all about the Results-Only Work Environment. I’m a very strong advocate and supporter for ROWE!

  64. Hi guys,

    I try to follow the rules sometimes. But I have noticed that a lot of entrepreneurs are eccentric and this is the reason why they are successful. Great Blog.

    Kind regards,

    Sam
    X

  65. Sonia,

    As always, love reading your stuff.

    The first time I saw your pink hair was when I was up on stage speaking at the Infosummit.

    There was 700ish people in the audience, but the person that caught my eye was the one with the pink hair about 10 rows back. Didn’t realize it was you until after I got off the stage. :-)

    And…. uhhh, yeah – I’m an old-school punk from back in the day. R.I.P. Joe Strummer.

    - Jeff

  66. Heh, yep, I remember that double-take you did. :) That was a fun conference, but I didn’t realize that when you have pink hair at a Glazer-Kennedy thing, *everyone* knows how to find you for the duration of the conference.

    (Not such a big factor at South by Southwest or Blogworld!)

  67. Excuse me all, but since I’m in this post, I’m going to pretend that Jeff Walker commented on one of my posts.

    Nobody tell me differently. Thanks.

  68. Great post Sonia. By our very nature, we push the boundaries that others consider too risky hopefully in the process, creating big fat dollops of change.

    Entrepreneurs often have the ability to hold their nerve when others wouldn’t. Some see that as brave or downright stupid. I like to think its a combination of both!

  69. I set up on my own because one day ‘entrepreneurial me’ suddenly woke up and told me to.

    It *forced* me to buy the computer (this was 1994), do the business plan, get some finance and finally hand in my notice at work. Normal me was really scared. I mean *really* scared. I lost pounds and went down two dress sizes. Everyone, including me, thought I was mad to set up my own business with an over draft and no clients.

    Of course entrepreneurial me was right. The relief of being on my own and the freedom of it was, and still is, intoxicating. It has allowed me to pursue bonkers ideas such as an internet service and social media.

    Having the courage to be free to be bonkers has worked for me. It may not work for everyone though, so be careful. You can dye your hair brown again and maybe no-one will notice, but it is a bit more difficult to get your old job back.

    But if entrepreneurial you will brook no alternative, you will not be able to live with yourself unless you do it.

  70. Great piece Sonia, I really enjoy it when I see someone out there saying, Step Outside the Box.

    Not that I’m against conformity, it has it’s place and time, but in business, I watch over and over (and have survived the arguments over and over) as people look at a problem, process or opportunity and do the same thing every time with the same results, then look up and say; “How come that didn’t work, what went wrong?” Then when you propose a different way to attack [or solve] the problem, the first response is “That’s not the way we do things around here,” or “Our process has always been this…”

    I think, when we get in the “followers” mode of thinking, way too many people can’t see, we do it to ourselves and never think that we can just break the rules and step outside the box and see a better way to build that mousetrap.

  71. Well, Sonia, the way I see it, there are two types of people in this world: those who follow the “rules” of society and those who make their own rules. Entrepreneurs are all artists. We paint our own pictures of the lives we want, therefore making our own rules. Well, the good ones do this anyway.

  72. Mary Russell :

    Thank you, Sonia and Johnny B., for your comments, but I am so bummed! I don’t work on Fridays, and intended to buy the program then, and then I got so busy with my Freecycling stuff that I forgot!!! Maybe you’ll run the special again sometime…

  73. One way to view risk-taking is to see it as opportunity-seizing. I am not a huge risk-taker by nature; so when I started my first business in Beijing 6 years ago, it was with a lot of careful planning and thought. Sometimes I surprise myself, however, when I look back at the “risks” I took. But honestly, at the time, I was viewing the risk through the lens of opportunity…and that has made me step out and do things that I never would’ve thought possible.

  74. Great post! I always had wanted to start my own business from my teenage years (a few years ago) and got lots of strange looks from people. I started Team 1 Plastics over 22 years ago with 2 partners and it was one of the best decision I ever made. I love the control I have over my business life and in particular my schedule.

    Everyone dreams of starting a business but as we say, if it was easy everyone would do it. It is truly the American Dream and is what has made this country great. Unfortunately we seem to be moving in a direction that does not reward entrepreneurs and risk taking.

  75. Sonia, I have “pink hair”. You just can’t see it! Great post!

    @mitchfanning

  76. I like people who don’t conform. I became a journalist because I questioned the way things work. I love social media because I like communicating in a new way.
    But what happens when everyone piles in? Can it work when the conformists adopt? Or do we spend a lot of time saying ‘but they’re not doing it right, they just want free publicity, they’re not getting it?’
    Just a thought.

  77. Oh this is awesome, my best friend just emailed this article to me saying that it reminded her of me. I have pink hair and get that question CONSTANTLY. I don’t mind answering because the answer is an easy one: Because I’ve always wanted pink hair and at this point in my life there was no reason NOT to. I’m self employed as a professional blogger and wedding photographer for offbeat weddings. My clients LOVE my hair… as do most people!

  78. It’s okay, my Blogmistress Amber takes your pink hair as the sincerest form of flattery.

  79. Whew, taking risk is often hard. But the ones that do are the ones that succeed most of the time. Because they keep trying and never give up until they get it right. Just the attitude everyone needs to have. Go risk takers!