Sovereign professionals should thrive. Steve Layman at Anderson Layman’s blog points to an essential primer:

The simple answer, at least on the individual level, is to do stuff. Do something that develops you as a person and gives you a sense of purpose. Do not spend your resources surrounding yourself with comfort and things – surround yourself with opportunity and purpose.

The underlying article is by Steven Novella on the Neurologica blog, here.

We should all aim to thrive.


Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

Lending and the gig economy

On, the University of Edinburgh Business School’s Jonathan Crook highlights the risk to sovereign professionals caused by the misalignment between traditional lending and the gig economy.

As Crook observes:

while this in-the-moment working arrangement can be sustained in the short-term, only thinking about the now may lead to long-term financial issues.


For years, traditional lending has focused on assessing stable consumer income to determine financial risk. Those with full time and stable jobs will fare better. But ‘gig economy’ workers clock up individual hours which – from a credit risk modelling perspective – may not be seen as joined up, consistent or predictable.

It’s an age-old problem. While the freelance / gig / sovereign professional economy has boomed in recent years, overly conservative bank, stuck to their risk-averse playbooks, have failed to move with the times.

Daniel Pink highlighted the problem in his book Free Agent Nation way back in 2001.

However, in many ways, the security of “”full time and stable jobs” is an illusion. An employee who loses their job has no network or process to fall back on. If a freelancer with a portfolio of clients loses a client, he or she has a basket of other clients to fall back on; the risk is spread. And, if the sovereign professional is an interim manager or “super-temp” they have an established network of agency relationships to help them towards the next project.

There is a clear market need for a solution. Crook suggests that:

it is possible some agile lenders will see this as an opportunity. Instead of examining the consistent hours an employee works, it’s not inconceivable to think they may begin tracking how many years someone has worked in this way and the overall hours they’ve been paid for.

Pink’s solution, at least at the higher earning / larger lending end of the scale was the issuing of shares or bonds, citing examples like Bowie Bonds and the fact that boxers (amongst other athletes) fund their own training by selling shares in “themselves”.

Whichever way it goes, the lending market needs to adapt and, in all likelihood, the solution won’t come from traditional banks at all. A player like PayPal – who have already disrupted small-business funding with their  PayPal Working Capital product – will take a sensible, reality-based view that recognises that a sovereign professional’s established free cash flows are at least as secure as the historic wages of an employee.

(Disclosure: PayPal is a client of my business, Burning Pine)


Photo by Tim Evans on Unsplash

Wabi-sabi, fresh bread and stoicism

Another thing we should remark is the grace and fascination that there is even in the incidentals of Nature’s processes. When a loaf of bread, for instance, is in the oven, cracks appear in it here and there; and these flaws, though not intended in the baking, have a rightness of their own, and sharpen the appetite. Figs, again, at their ripest will also crack open. When olives are on the verge of falling, the very imminence of decay adds its peculiar beauty to the fruit.

I’m no expert on either concept, but this passage from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations (book 3, verse 1) seems to get to the essence of the Japanese concept. As Wikipedia has it: “a world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.”


Photo by Tobias Maschtaler on Unsplash

Don Williams, Walter Becker

I’ve been remiss, but a couple of my favourite bloggers have noted the recent passing of some great musicians.

Execupundit’s Michael Wade noted Friday’s news of Don Williams’ death with a link to one of my favourite Williams (and country) songs, Good Ole Boys Like Me.

I saw Don Williams in concert years ago at, I think, the Hammersmith Odeon (whatever they call it now). My memory is of an incredible sense of stillness.

Kurt at Cultural Offering marked the passing of the great Walter Becker, effectively one half of Steely Dan.

An incredible band; sophisticated, cool, erudite.

Walter Becker (left) and Donald Fagen. Image: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images







Both Becker and Williams were great musicians.


Don Williams Image: Rolling Stone

How to manage people who are not employees – @FastCompany

Sound advice for the other side of the equation: how to manage a sovereign professional.

Before you hire a freelancer, be crystal clear on your needs,” advises Jon Youshaei of the comics site Every Vowel. “I always ask myself: Do I have a vision of what I want? If I don’t, I can’t effectively communicate it when giving feedback to a freelancer, and it’ll just end up wasting time and money.”

Vision is critical, but it’s also where a freelancer can add real value to the client … as long as the early stage relationship isn’t abused. How often does the sovereign professional feel their just being milked for free consultancy?

Read the full piece, here.


Photo by on Unsplash

Songs for Sovereign Professionals: Wichita Lineman

I know I need a small vacation

But, it don’t look like rain.

Even when you’re your own boss, it takes a major effort of planning to get time off when you want.

The great Glen Campbell was something of a sovereign professional. He was master of several trades and – I only learned from an obituary – started his career as a session guitarist and songwriter, playing on tracks by Elvis, Sinatra, Dean Martin, The Monkees and others.

He went on to become a solo artist, actor, TV presenter and more.

Wichita Lineman, however, was written by Jimmy Webb. It appeared on Campbell’s 1968 album of the same name.

Here are a couple of live versions, each with a tasty little guitar solo by Campbell: