Hey, thanks for reading this fourth issue. It’s a personal one.
This week marks 9 years since I started consulting full-time!
It’s been a great ride. I’ve served dozens of creators, communities, and more through chaotic times, albeit with many privileges that decrease my overall risk.
One of those privileges is fitting in.
Until last year, I believed serving clients meant tucking my nerdy interests away to look “more professional.” The 3,000-member anime nonprofit, the 50-ep rewatch podcast, the beloved nonprofit video game festival… how could any fan labor suit my portfolio? How does one resolve two seemingly conflicting identities when there are bills to pay?
Maybe you’re in the same boat? So you ball that “unprofessional” interest up and throw it in a dark corner.
Speaking from experience, this is a recipe for major burnout.
When we cast aside core parts of ourselves in service of capitalism, we play the game on the hardest mode possible. There’s no energy for joy or authenticity between us and the folks we serve. There are only shields sapping power like the USS Enterprise.
I fondly remember eating apple slices with my grandpa while watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. My grandparents owned a sportfishing company, running charters daily at 6 a.m. for decades. I clearly remember my grandpa’s pride in being a captain, sharing his passion for Chicago’s lakefront with his clients, and buying the latest radars to find where the fishin’ was good.
It’s so obvious now.
Captain Picard was his fantasy hero who cruised among stars like the chop of Lake Michigan. This sci-fi workplace drama reinforced his identity off hours so he could bring Picard’s energy to the dock every morning. I remembered a few “Make it so”s at the helm. And his joy when they teased Star Trek: Voyager – Captain Janeway’s a woman! He saw a better future for his granddaughter.
Being nerdy in 2023 has its own privileges now that fandom drives a large portion of consumer spending. If you squint hard enough, fantasy football is just down the street from Tumblr fanfic. Celebrities are nerds, and even my namesake cosplays! Being relatable on this level must be good for business.
So why isn’t my fan labor proof that I’m committed to producing client results? Why has professionalism deemed any passion-driven craft lesser than making a dollar?
- Gardeners = persistent, observant
- Homebrewers = experimental, diligent
- PC overclockers = analytic, value-conscious
- Tabletop gamers = strategic, systems-oriented
- Roleplayers = empathetic, improvisational
- Anyone with a passion they act on = dedicated, immersed, alive!
My point here is you contain multitudes with limited time on this planet. Your non-commercial passions prove you give a crap about something enough to practice it regularly and see it through to completion, despite its economic value. Hobbies recharge our batteries exponentially so we have that Picard energy every morning to “Make it so.”
It took 9 years, but I’ve decided to express myself openly, with all the cringe associated with anime, games, and conventions. I’m ditching weather small talk to geek out with my clients.
It might take another 9 years to get comfortable with topics like sports and parenting, but that’s time well-spent getting to know a fellow human.
P.S. Patrick Stewart’s memoir is out. Let me know if you pick it up!