Do What You Love in a Down Economy

Posted March 10, 2009 by Joshua Kerievsky

During the early Summer of 2001, my company, Industrial Logic, helped a team within a biotech company transition to Extreme Programming (XP). The work was successful and by August, the company wanted to scale XP across their entire organization. Then 9/11 hit. Post 9/11, the biotech company was facing dire economic conditions and could not afford our services. This was frustrating because I wanted the work and I really wanted to gain experience scaling XP. As September turned into October, Industrial Logic continued to have no client work. By mid-November, with still no client work in sight, I headed to a Consultant's Retreat & Network on the coast of Oregon. During the retreat, I had a chance to voice my frustration about not having any work and about not being able to do something I was passionate about: helping the biotech company scale XP. Soon after voicing my concerns and stress to several other consultants, an idea hit me. I could do the "scaling XP" work for the biotech company in exchange for something other than money! Suddenly I was no longer blocked! I realized I could ask the biotech company to pay me in non-money items that I valued, like:
  • testimonial (if they liked my work),
  • permission for me to write an article about the XP scaling experience,
  • etc.
As soon as I had these thoughts, I felt as if a ton of bricks had come off of my shoulders. I could do the work I was yearning to do! Money could not stop me! And within a few minutes of having those thoughts, a call came in to Industrial Logic. It was a company in Pittsburgh that wanted help with their own XP transition. That call led to some much-needed work in December, which led to 1.5 years of work in the recession of 2002-2003, during which I got experience scaling XP across the Pittsburgh company. I never did go back to work with the biotech company. They had gone out of business, due to lack of funds. I learned a valuable lesson from this experience and it serves me well today, in another down economy with a larger version of Industrial Logic.
Do what you love and don't let money or your own self get in your way. When you are happy, the money will flow.