Seth Kahan
Author, consultant

Seth Kahan

Change expert and author who has advised executives in 50-plus organizations, including Shell, World Bank, Peace Corps and NASA. He can be reached at


Risk -- and reward

Q: Many of you are entrepreneurs or otherwise self-employed or largely self-directed. Do you work harder, or less, than when you were an employee? Or do you just work differently? Do you feel like you have more autonomy, or are the challenges greater than they used to be?

The biggest change for me since becoming self-employed is that I now direct my efforts only to those activities which have a return on my investment. This means I can completely control how I spend my time whether it is for money, pleasure, professional development, or a combination.

When I was an employee much of my time was taken up with activity that I was directed to complete based on someone else's determination of its value. The worth of my efforts were not always explained to me. It was often the case that the benefits were for an individual, neither for me or the organization as a whole.

Today my time is much more integrated with my life. My efforts are an extension of all that I care about. I certainly have weeks where I work in excess of 40 hours but because it is such meaningful work, I think of the work very differently. Now, instead of providing something somebody else wants, I am shaping my own future, self-authoring as it were.

And of course it means I can attend my son's soccer games, have long breakfasts with my wife, and go for strolls along the C&O Canal to clear my head in the middle of the day. Ah, freedom!

To be fair, there is more at risk. My income rises and falls based on my efforts and the consistent, regular pulse of a paycheck is missing. However, I am free to earn multiples of what I once took in and can use that to buffer the inevitable highs and lows that come with the uneven flow of work.

So, the challenges are more immediate, hitting closer to home. But, for me the payoffs are appropriately more rewarding.

By Seth Kahan  |  August 9, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Success in the workplace Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Hi Seth,

Exactly my thinking. I am just now starting my own company, and I am looking forward to see if things turn out as you describe...


Posted by: Seppo | August 12, 2010 12:17 PM
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