In 2006, I was spending my weekend sitting in a cubicle with four elderly women arguing about the proper step-by-step process every representative should be trained to follow given a wide variety of circumstances. My assignment was to lead this rag-tag team toward a resolution in order to re-write and re-format an entire department’s Process and Procedure manuals, training materials, and job aides for a subsidiary of a national mortgage company.
Departing Corporate America
As I struggled through this extra project I was voluntold to do, I dreamt of leaving these corporate cubicle-monkeys to their race toward mediocrity while I gallivanted around the world, living the life of Sterling Archer.
My inability to focus my passion was what got me into finance in the first place. I wanted to do everything, but lacking direction, I simply followed the herd, slaving away at corporations like MCI Worldcom, Circuit City, University of Phoenix, American Express, Chase, and Bank of America before I finally hit my boiling point, and quit Corporate America.
Done with the internal and external meetings about meetings, billing clients, constant mandatory overtime to catch up on reporting and algorithms and all these corporate games and politics drove me to the brink of insanity. On January 5, 2011, I left my job at Bank of America. On March 13, 2011, I began leaking all the backend corporate secrets I knew to the media and government through Anonymous.
I became a whistleblower, stranded by myself, forced to find enlightenment and discover my true passion while surviving retaliation from the banks and lobbying for an end to the foreclosure mills.
Rediscovering the Grind
Four years later, the practice of such ideals have proven to be challenging. Dr. Seuss is likely rolling in his grave at how crazy the Googles and Yahoos and blogs have made the interwebz.
I spent the last four hours almost literally banging my head against a table trying to pull myself out of a pile of work I’ve been avoiding for three days now. Billing clients, meetings about meetings, and constant mandatory overtime are the only ways I can keep myself afloat as a Freelance writer.
The media respected that I leaked financial information, despite not understanding what I leaked, so I was able to get my foot in a lot of doors to pitch stories. I got a lot of chances most writers don’t right out of the gate. The first place I was invited to guest post was the Huffington Post, which is the most heavily trafficked blog online. The access to a large audience was great ñ I could finally speak my mind in public, but they don’t pay. What good is an audience if they’re just gathering to watch me starve to death?
In order to pay my bills, I had to start applying for more and more jobs. I couldn’t just be a one-trick pony who focused on the banking industry (from which I would only be further removed over time). I started finding ways to monetize everything I enjoyed spending my time doing during my life. I scoured Indeed.com and FreelanceWritingGigs.com every day, pitching any idea I could possibly come up with 600-1000 words to say about – to anyone who would listen. For every 999 no’s, someone eventually says yes.
I began writing about video games, digital piracy, cannabis, and search engine optimization. This led to me getting paid writing gigs for publications from Jim Cramer’s The Street and Intuit’s Small Business Resource, to working with several Content Marketing and SEO firms. Soon, I found myself with a steady stream of work, able to pull beyond minimum wage, and fully supporting myself as a writer.
I’ll never be the next J.K. Rowling and you probably won’t even remember my name after reading this. My odds of becoming Sterling Archer are better than me getting a gig on the writing staff of the Archer television show. But, applying the grind I hated in Corporate America to myself, and running my life like a business, ended up being the true source of my passion.
I don’t always enjoy what I write, but the one thing I do enjoy in life is knowing I can write my own meal ticket, and I did it my way…
Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and Freelance writer. His work has appeared in the Huffington Post, Main Street, Fast Company, Intuit’s Small Business Resource, Hardcore Droid, Cannabis Now, BBC, and a variety of podcasts, and AM/FM radio shows.