Don’t give up your day job – part 1 of a series

Cafe47_1I spent much of last week working at my computer in the Cafe Del Sol in Floyd, where paintings and photographs by local artists cover the brightly colored walls.

The combination of great lattes, warm hospitality, and good friends drifting in and out of the Cafe makes for a relaxed working environment that is hard to match anywhere else.

The Cafe also hosts jazz groups on Friday nights and Spoken Word events which feature poetry and other readings by local talent. This artist-friendly environment is no accident. Sally Walker, proprietor of the Cafe Del Sol, is doing her part to help Floyd, VA grow as a cultural center.

Sally is not only a warm-hearted host, she is also a talented singer. On Friday night she hosted a jazz group consisting of John Winnicke and his friends. Several times during the evening, she came out from behind the counter to sing for an enthusiastic audience.

John Winnicki, on guitar in the center, led this quintet through several hours of relaxed, rhythmic, free-flowing jazz that kept the audience entranced. When they played, all conversation ceased. Their music would have done credit to much grander venues, although they would have probably had to play over loud conversation. In the intimate surroundings of the Cafe Del Sol, their music put people in  a mood of quiet reverie. It was a most enjoyable evening.

So, how does this all relate to keeping a day job? Sally Walker manages to combine her love of music and a desire to make a difference, and she does this by running a coffeeshop that is rapidly becoming one of the most important business and cultural incubators in Floyd.

Friends and business associates meet here every day and their activities impact events all over the county. Deals are discussed over coffee and pastries and business is transacted while you watch. There is a synergy here which affects all who enter.

Artists, musicians, and bloggers rub shoulders daily and are often introduced by Doug Thompson, journalist, photographer, and blogger, who has a talent for connecting interesting people together.

The musicians pictured above are all talented enough to earn a living from their music and some have done so, but they all have chosen day jobs now which allow them to live comfortably and to play together when they wish. They are contractors, chemical engineers, and musical instrument makers by day and locally reknown musicians at night. There is something to be said for keeping a day job.

When you depend on your art for your living, you have to go where you can find larger audiences and hopefully more money. For a musician, that often means going on the road and playing in distant locations. For an artist, that means traveling around the country to shows. Your life is often spent traveling and preparing for performances, rather than living a life that feeds the spirit as well as the body.

If you understand the concept of multiple sources of income, you can broaden your interests and use more of your skills to support yourself. Very few of us are one-trick ponies. Most of us can apply ourselves skillfully to a number of areas that can produce income. I want to explore this area in more detail in future posts, because this can make a huge difference in achieving a higher quality of life.

Any suggestions or comments so far?

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This entry was posted in Basic Business Concepts, Doing What You Love, Possibly Helpful Advice, post-corporate. Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to Don’t give up your day job – part 1 of a series

  1. Cubigirl says:

    How many people stay in the rut simply because it’s the accepted course of action? People don’t ask college grads whether they’ll work, but where they’ll work (and by work, they mean the 40-hr corporate grind). My blog,, tells my story as a new graduate in the working world. Do so many of us get swept into the normal way of doing things that we don’t even stop to question the logic behind it? I think your post touches on some of the scariest parts of leaving the corporate track: an exponential increase in personal responsibility for your actions and income (as opposed to whirring the corporate hamster wheel day in and day out). Taking one’s future into one’s own hands is terrifying precisely because if you drop and shatter that future, you have yourself to blame.

  2. Carl says:

    I don’t know that I can do the day job/passion work combo. I’ve got a family and too many outside obligations outside of the day job to then switch to my passion job. So, I’m planning on the approach of multiple retirements. I will retire from the day job, pursue the passion job and make a real go of it. As the economics dictate, I will stay impassioned or imprisoned… but only for short term incarcerations if I can help it!

  3. I need to respond to Cubigirl and Carl, because following your dreams should not be an “all or nothing” act of desperation.

    I have followed my dreams many times and was successful, but the times I did so without adequate preparation and without a knowledge of the financial realities involved, I eventually had to admit defeat.

    In each case, I had to find a day job and start over again, but the point I want to make is that failing to make a go of your own business is not the end of the world, if you learn from the experience. You will not shatter your future by making a mistake. You will only delay your eventual success.

    Keeping a day job while launching a new career may sound like a lot of work, but it can be managed and will give you time to make important decisions and recover from small marketing errors. I will be covering more of this in the rest of the series.

  4. The trap that Carl feels locked into and Cubgirl fears is all too often economic. The economic realities of living (mortgage, college education for the kids, etc.) are what keeps far too many toiling away at careers that either bore or fail to challenge them.

    But pursuing what you love often involves taking risks. When we decided to try making documentaries, we maxed our our credit cards and took out an equity loan on our home (which at the time was mortgage free). Halfway through the project I realized that if we failed we would lose everything and have to start over. Perhaps that provided an extra incentive to not fail but we finished the project, it was a success and allowed us to not only pay off our debts but provided the nest egg to start future ones.

    A key to pursuing your dream is taking a closer look at lifestyle and the cost of maintaining it. Once we realized that keeping a Porsche and a Land Rover in the garage or fancy clothes in the closet were detriments, not assets, to independence, we were able to concentrate on paying off the mortgage and building the financial independence necessary to chase our dreams.

    When our old friends in Washington DC ask about life in Floyd County, I tell them that down here you have to work twice as hard to earn half as much but (1) it costs only about a third as much to live and (2) we’re having a hell of a lot more fun doing it.

    Yes, one can feel trapped but that trap is all too often more mindset than reality.

  5. Carl says:

    Thanks folks… and now you know why I will in the not too far future be a “neighbor” in Blacksburg! High tech/low cost/good schools/ and a mid-life dream chaser in its midst!

  6. school_dubl says:

    Interesting site, always a new topic .. good luck in the new 2011. Happy New Year!
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