6a00ccff97f7086ea500f48ce5a5cd0002-320pi Two Septembers ago, the kids went back to school and I found myself feeling a little glum.

I had sold my company in April and summer home with the kids was great.

Then, with them going back to school, I knew, "It's time to get a job."


"Don't Get A Job."
"You've had a job all these years," said my beloved Alisa ("uh-LEE-sa"). "Now, I've just taken a job and it offers health insurance. So, don't get a job. Just have a lot of projects. That's what you like to do anyway."

Artie_follies001 Oh, how I love Alisa. She knows me.

Mrs. Isaac met me in business school when she was Miss Cox. She first saw me in the Follies, the semester-ending song-and-dance review. (She'd bought a ticket, so I figured she was entitled to all the entertainment she could stand. That's the Follies Customer Service Pledge.)

Miss Cox quickly learned that — while our more industrious classmates, like Miss Cox, were at Columbia to study Debt Markets and Net Present Value Theory and Operations Research — I was there primarily for the Follies.

I figured: I have an entire lifetime to massage spreadsheets (that sounds saucier than I meant), but I have only a few chances to wear tights on stage. I got my MBA so I could be in the Follies.

(And while I was getting my MBA, I also picked up my Mrs.)

"So Just Have a Lot of Projects."
How I love this woman. She knows me.

I've always been more devoted to the extracurricular than to the curricular.

Sure, when our kids show signs of Being Too Extracurricular, they're grounded. But me? It turns out to be exactly the philosophy that keeps me grounded.

Which Reminds Me To Tell You About My Balls
So, now 18 months after I jettisoned my full-time job, I find that I have a lot of part-time jobs.

It feels like I am juggling a bunch of balls. Here are my balls (in alphabetical order):

  • Actor (and writer) at Available Light
  • Creativity Counsel at Young Isaac
  • Entrepreneur at SpeakerSite
  • Improvisational Theatre Corporate Trainer at Improvedge
  • Leadership Coach at Integrated Leadership Systems
  • Marketing Consultant also at Young Isaac
  • Professional Speaker to any audience that will sit still (and pay my reasonable fee)
  • Teacher at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business, Columbus College of Art & Design, and various other classrooms
  • Volunteer at Haven Of Hope Cancer Foundation, Jewish Family Services, and Available Light
  • Writer-in-Residence here at Net Cotton Content

So what's the problem?

The Problem With Having Too Many Balls
First, it's hard to answer the familiar question, "So what do you do for a living?"

Months ago, I would offer a long story. But people walked away in the middle.

Now, I let the other person go first. Then, I can usually offer the short answer that might be most interesting in that person's context.

Otherwise, I just say, "I write and teach and I'm a serial entrepreneur." And then I answer questions.

But there's a more existential question.
I'm focused on the juggler's cascade. And I notice my balls are getting progressively heavier.

They turned from Styrofoam to wood. Then to bean bags. Now metal. And some are starting to take on a golden hue.

Shouldn't a grown-up focus on the golden balls? Isn't there a danger of juggling too many balls at once?

Decisions Must Be Made
PlanningA grown-up would do some sort of analysis.

So I did that. As you can see (click to enlarge), I rated my balls against certain criteria.

Then I thought of an old story about Peter Drucker, taught to me through Jorge Lopez. Dr. Drucker said, "When I approached a conventional age of retirement, my wife and I recognized that we had a choice: slow down or speed up. We sped up."

More Balls, Please.
Like the Drucker Speed Machine, I face a similar choice: become less extracurricular or more extracurricular.

I've decided: I'm going to become more extracurricular.

The risk of becoming more extracurricular is a lack of focus. But the risk of becoming less extracurricular is also real: missing the opportunity to experience other adventures.

So, just this morning, in the spirit of George Plimpton, I applied for a job in a deli. I've always
wanted to work in a deli. I refuse to accept that I lost my chance,
just because I reached this age or this exalted level of professional
status. ("Exalted"? Give me a break. I'm only 50 and I'm a freelancer).

After all, it's now or never.

And I'm having a ball.