It’s Not the Recession, You Just Suck


Are we really going to spend our entire Friday talking about Oprah’s caps locked Twitter debut? Or invest more time discussing Ashton Kutcher and his one million followers publicity stunt? Seriously? Do you ever think that we’re wasting far too much time on stuff that isn’t making us any money or helping anyone? And maybe that’s why you lost your job/can’t get clients/haven’t produced anything exciting recently?

For the past few months you’ve had an excuse for when life didn’t go your way. Every time you borked something that you were maybe never qualified to do in the first place, you had THE perfect excuse just waiting to be pulled out.  It was like the economy dug its own hole just so it could bail you out in your time of need. W00t!

You couldn’t pay your mortgage and your house was foreclosed on? Don’t worry, it wasn’t you, it was the recession. You lost your job and now you’re stuck at home cruising Twitter ‘looking for a new one’ all day? Don’t fret. It wasn’t you, it’s the recession. Can’t find new clients so you’re left bitterly blogging that clients suck and the frauds in the industry are stealing your dollars? Calm down, pretty, have a cookie and take a nap. It’s the recession.

Actually, it’s probably not the recession. It’s probably you.

On January 19th I became an entrepreneur, despite the crap economy. I stopped relying on a company to support me and my cats and instead learned to hunt for myself.  And because I’m smart and I work hard and I surround myself with people who challenge (and threaten) me, I haven’t gone hungry (yet). But I’m not alone.

Entrepreneurs are ruling this recession.

Why? Because they’re hungry and they’re motivated. That means they can’t spend their whole day getting caught in the fame game or in office politics. It means when they go to a conference or a networking event, they’re not there for the booze. They’re grabbing handfuls of business cards, talking to people, and then following up. And they don’t just say they’ll email you after the show. They really do. Actually, they email you as soon as they get home. They’re nurturing leads and finding clients and creating opportunities. They’re marketing themselves. They’re not tuning in to Oprah this afternoon to get Twitter tips from Ashton Kutcher.

In fact, there’s not even time to whine about how unfair the world is and how this recession is taking away their business. Because they’re out there finding business from places you wouldn’t have even thought to look. Or maybe you would have, if you worked as hard as they do. That’s the thing, people don’t want to work. They want a job and a paycheck. And those cushy jobs with those cushy paychecks are the first to go. Because really all those people are doing is taking up space. So it’s not so much that the recession came around and took your job, it’s that you allowed yourself to become expendable.

You want to ‘survive’ this recession? Stop talking about Oprah and do the following:

  • no whiningLearn something new. Go beyond your bubble and learn how to do something that makes you stand out. Be it HTML, PHP, blogging, SEO, etc. Whatever that one thing, or that combination of things, is that makes you more competitive and stronger than the person next to you – learn it and do it. Hard.
  • Work harder than everyone else. I don’t mean longer hours or just saying you’re working, I mean really work harder. In general, the working population has done a stellar job at getting lazy and thinking that job security was no less fictional than the Easter Bunny. There’s no such thing as job security, there never was. Unless you own your own company. If ‘job security’ is your fallback plan, well, then I hope you didn’t buy a house with that.
  • Do the leg work. Follow up on everything. Every lead, every call, every email. And do it in a timely manner. Don’t make excuses for why you can’t or why it’s not worth it. Just shut up and do it. You’ll never be anything more than what you are right now if you don’t take it. The only thing more frustrating when someone drops the ball is listening to all their excuses for why they dropped it.
  • Surround yourself with fighters. Most people are lazy and a waste of your time (sorry, but it’s true). Cut them loose and seek out the other fighters. They’re easy to recognize because they’re online at 3am just “finishing up”. They’re the ones who “get it”. They’re self-starters. They’re trying things, even if those things fail, they’re still trying them.
  • Take risks. We’re in a recession, right? Technically you have nothing to lose if everything is supposed to be shit anyway, right? Create that Web site you’ve secretly been wanting to. Launch that business. Just do it. There are a million reasons why right now is a bad time, maybe even the worst time, to get involved with a new venture. Ignore them all.
  • Shut up. Yes, you. Stop whining. This has been my biggest lesson as an entrepreneur. Yes, the hours suck, and it’s scary, and sometimes all I want to do is put a blanket over my head and hide out with a cute boy. But that’s too bad and not going to happen, so I should just shut up.  And it’s almost working. Rae and Rhea report my whine level is down to 85 percent, with 15 percent actual intelligible conversation! W00t, growth!

And before I get flamed, I’m not saying there haven’t been people legitimately affected by the recession. I know that there have. Good people who have lost their jobs because the economy is in the tank.  However, I think A LOT of people are beside themselves to finally have an excuse for why the world is out to get them. The world is not out to get you. There are rainbows and butterflies and bunnies all around you. You can either keep complaining how about The Recession is some Blob-like creature taking away your clients or you can break open the box, see it as an opportunity and create your own success. The choice is yours.

Have a killer weekend.  And stay away from Oprah.

Your Comments

  • Francis

    Here, here. Time to stop whining and make some sh#t happen. You go ‘head girl. It’s refreshing to see some “proper villains” who aren’t scared to do what it takes to get the job done when everyone else is coiled up under their cubicle waiting for somebody else to make the first move.

  • George Hassan

    Lisa, I really enjoyed this article and whole wholeheartedly agree with you. I especially like the part about surrounding yourself with fighters, this is huge.. sad but i had to let go of more then a view people in my life, b/c they were whiny and not going anywhere b/c of there own excuses.. no time for that in my life.

  • Michael D

    The title alone sums it up, I love it. The herd mentality actually works to the hard workers mentality. I think it was Sugarrae who tweeted something about working while everyone else slacked of during the “recession” we’re in.

  • Jamie Varon

    Well, shit, you just said everything that I was thinking in my head. I’ve been feeling the same way lately! I mean, in this economy, I got a job in SF, quit it because it sucked, and then started my own business which is thriving.

    I keep thinking – what recession!? How is it that I’m doing so well, but others are not? And, I’ve come to the conclusion, as you have, that it’s my attitude towards it. And, seriously, spot on with these:

    Because really all those people are doing is taking up space. So it’s not so much that the recession came around and took your job, it’s that you allowed yourself to become expendable.

    However, I think A LOT of people are beside themselves to finally have an excuse for why the world is out to get them.

    Personal responsibility is a lost art. And victimization is the best way for people to usurp responsibility and supplement it with, “this happened TO me, I had no control.” Yeah, I call BS.

    Awesome post.

  • Scott Clark

    Best. ever. post-by-Lisa.

  • Tim Staines


    This is exactly why I introduced myself to the three of you at #IMSB & exactly why I sent two emails to Rae on the Sunday and Monday after the event. Great post, I totally agree.

    Now if only I could get Rae to answer those emails … ;-)

  • Matt Siltala

    FREAKING AMEN (sorry for the caps) but this post needed to be said. About 3 years ago I stood up during another repetitive BORING Monday morning meeting (same as all the weeks before) and just started to walk out … the guy in charge asked what I was doing. I told him I was leaving and done because working (there) was an utter waste of time and sucking the life out of me…. it felt good. I just went to my car and drove around for a few hours, went home, talked to my wife about what I did and have never looked back. It was the best decision of my life!

    The point?

    I wanted a change. I felt it, I could taste it. I left a really good paying corporate job and made it happen on my own with no prior knowledge of running my own business, and being 100% on my own. Only until after I left did I realize how much money I was missing out on!

    If someone wants something bad enough, they can get it. There are no excuses .. I agree. You are in charge of your own destiny and are the only one to blame for failure or congratulate for success!

    Good for you too, for stepping out and making it happen!

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    LOL I got caught up last night in watching the Ashton vs CNN thing unfold, like a total geeky 15 year old. Afterward, I was glad that I watched it because it was a bit of a milestone, yet the fact is that it drained a bunch of time away from life. Now that insanity / fun is over, it’s back to work.

    Personally my business is thriving in this economy. I jumped ship from my employer last June and haven’t looked back. In fact, when I left, they became one of my clients. And they pay me more as a part time consultant. And appreciate me more, and they don’t get upset at the hours I choose to make available to them.

    Whether someone succeeds in this economy or fails really is up to that person and the choices they make.

  • pratt

    Great thoughts, Lisa. Unfortunately I don’t think we’ve heard the last of the pointless discussions surrounding Oprah and the likes. Some are excited about Twitter going mainstream, me…not so much.

    Your tips to survive the recession are spot on. If you want to make something of yourself, no matter what field it is in, you need to stop relying so much on others. People have become incredibly lazy. They wait for everyone else to do the hard work, and then expect to see the same benefit from it. I can’t think of any successful entrepreneur that I know who isn’t doing everything you describe.

    Is it hard? Absolutely. But can you do it? Yes, you just have to work hard. I don’t understand how so few people grasp that concept.

  • Greg Hoffman

    As I read your post, I was in the process of writing copy for my new consulting business and staring at a blank Word Doc. Thank you for the swift kick in the hind side. I agree with what you said 100%.

    Keep telling us like it is, please.

  • IrieMama

    Wow. Have you been listening in on my conversations? My mantra recently has been “be an opportunist, not a complainer”! There ARE jobs out there and there ARE opportunities out there. Someone’s spending money, so why not step up and be the thing they spend it on! I’ve gotten so sick of hearing people whine that I had to separate myself from the whiners and surround myself with positive people who flourish in the face of a challenge.

    As for me, I’ve had the best year yet! Started a couple online ventures for myself… Booming! Helped my bf start a new business when he got sick of being laid off – marketed his cute little butt online and guess what? BOOMING! Oh, and that little SEO firm that I have in Cincinnati? Guess what? BOOOOOMING!!! Yea baby, times are good. And what do I do with all that extra scratch? I go spend it at all those places that are slashing prices because of the recession.

    So, bravo on a fantastic article. You nailed it!

  • Halfdeck

    “Are we really going to spend our entire Friday talking about Oprah’s caps locked Twitter debut?”

    Did ya really spend all day Thursday talking about The Hot Army Guy? :) Hypocrites!

  • Lisa Barone

    Wow you guys are rocking the awesome comments today, huh? :)

    George: Totally hear that. It’s amazing how powerful it is to start weeding out bad influences and the people who hold us back. Surround yourself with the right people and it’ll keep your mind focused on where you’re going.

    Michael D: You want to get Rae worked up? Start talking to her about the recession and people’s who eyes are bigger than their savings accounts. We’ve had these conversations before 8am and before I’ve had time to take in my coffee. :)

    Jamie & Matt: You two are both my new heroes. Keep kicking ass!

    Halfdeck: It was no more than half an hour and it wasn’t my fault. The Internet got angry at my lack of game and called me out! :p

    Thanks guys!

  • TC/Copywriter Underground

    So – based on your months of entrepreneurial experience – you feel secure saying that everyone who’s lost a home or a job wholly – as you so quaintly put it – sucks?


    Given all the contempt that came before it, your last-paragraph attempt to stave off criticism doesn’t really wash.

    I’ll say this: dropping bombs on people who have legitimately lost jobs and homes and god knows what else is well, kinda sucky.

    You don’t have to be a Greek literary scholar to know excessive hubris has a way of sneaking up on us and biting us on the ass.

  • Feydakin

    I had this discussion sugarrae 6 or 9 months ago and took this position.. Only then I was an asshole for saying it..

  • Lisa Barone

    TC: Hey, appreciate the comment. As I mentioned in that paragraph, no, I don’t think *everyone* who has lost their job lost it because they weren’t working hard enough. But I do think A LOT have been happy to have the excuse and that some fault lies on them. I’ve been on my own a few months, but I’ve been busting my ass for a lot longer than that to be able to go on my own in the first place. I didn’t wake up one day, decide I was bored, and quit my job. Working my ass off and seeing the difference between those that do and those that just bitch about not having…that’s where the post came from. That and the juxtaposition of people complaining about the recession and then going on about Oprah’s new Twitter account all morning.

    I don’t think its hubris. I think it’s wanting more, both from myself and from others. I also like to think that *I* control what happens to me, not some mystical economy.

    Feydakin: Yeah, I’m sure I’m being called an asshole for saying it, too. :)

  • Patrick Sexton

    Oprah and Ashton both embody the entrepreneurial spirit you are trying to describe and they also both spend an enormous amount of time and money on charity. The “ashton publicity stunt” you are belittling has created awareness for (an organization that actually saves lives – real lives). Oprah needs no explanation, but consider her history and how she has become an influential person by being a strong person without tearing other downs, but rather by lifting them up.
    I say watch Oprah and enjoy the spread of twitter by celebs who are using it to further charities, not themselves.

  • Lisa Barone

    Pat: The post isn’t about whether or not Oprah and Ashton are entrepreneurs or whether they embody that lifestyle. It’s about whether or not we should be talking about their Twittering or whether or not we should be making our own luck. Neither Oprah or Ashton got to where they are by whining about their own situations or feeling sorry for themselves. That’s the point of the post. Not the individuals.

    And you can’t tell me Ashton’s million followers was a genuine attempt at connecting with people or helping others. It was planned stunt in time for his Oprah appearance. Yes, he did good by donating money to charity after the fact, but let’s call a spade a spade.

  • Randy Ellison

    Like you, I started out on my own in January and to the surprise of many naysayers who think I’m totally crazy, I’m rather serious and excited about it. There is something liberating about charting your own course and without the meaningless meetings to attend and CYA reports to prepare you actually have to time to think of something new and creative. Perhaps, innovative? Sure it has been scary, but in the end, you have to take a chance and try some new things. Plus, starting a new venture(s) during a recession will give us all a leg up when things begin to turn. I would rather be doing something I’m proud of and excited about than sitting in an office surrounded by complaints of the market, sales and how we are having to do more with less to makeup for the layoffs. It is actually a great time for those who are inclined to take a leap of faith and go for it and I have been fortunate to meet some great people, learn some new things and develop some new business ideas. I’m having a great time and I refuse to acknowledge the recession.

  • Halfdeck

    TC/Copywriter Underground, Lisa never said people who’s in bad shape today are all lazy sobs. She’s just saying if you ARE one of those lazy sobs, stop whining and start working.

  • Patrick Sexton

    I can’t tell you Ashton’s million followers was a genuine attempt at connecting with people or helping others, I do not know, either do you. I can tell you that is has helped others, and it has connected people.

  • Shelly S.

    I totally understand your point — there are a ton of people out there who think that the whole world is out to get them and everything is just doom and gloom without blaming themselves for any of it — but I agree with TC above that there was not nearly enough said here for those who really are trying to do something.

    My husband was laid off on Halloween. For nearly 6 months, he has busted his ass to try to get a job. He’s in two local networking groups. Spends hours a day looking for jobs and connecting with people who might be able to help. Has spoken to countless recruiters/headhunters. Taught himself new programs so that he’d have more marketable skills. He doesn’t whine — he just fights.

    It’s not just about how hard you fight — sometimes it’s just luck.

    The people who lost their homes for silly reasons, like buying a bigger house than they could reasonably afford, and then blame the economy for their woes drive me crazy too, though. We’ve lost 40% of our annual income and we’re still paying the mortgage just fine. Some people just don’t know how to live within their means.

  • Cory

    I think the big take-away for me is that you never mention that you have to be successful already or a certain age to take control of your decisions and career.

    You used the word (or variation of) “You” 56 times in this post… and that’s what its about. Everything that is needed to become successful or to have a better life despite the recession resides in your head, heart, and will-power.

    Great article.

  • Lisa Barone

    Patrick: Your point’s moot. You can’t give Ashton credit for doing something good when his motives were more than likely self-serving. His million followers didn’t help others, his wallet did. I’m not impressed that you donated $500k to charity if you got that money by stealing it. But again, it’s not about Ashton Kutcher.

    Shelly: Sorry to hear about your husband. I disagree with you that it’s just “luck” and I think your husband would, too. That’s why he’s fighting and working his ass off to change the situation he’s been put in. Because you create your own luck. And he’ll come out on top because he has that mindset. He’s not the kind of person I’m talking about in this post and that’s why it wasn’t geared towards him. He’s not whining about his situation. He’s CHANGING it. And that’s a huge testament to who is, to his spirit and while he’ll land on his feet and be twice as successful. :)

  • Kathy Hokunson


    The post is excellent and right on. Yes alot of people have had it tough, and through no fault of their own, but do you pull up your boot straps and move forward or sit back and whimper.

    Take control and fight for success, is there any other way?


  • Patrick Sexton

    Lisa, I am one of his followers and I did :)
    In any case, great post. I just don’t like the first paragraph.

  • Todd Mintz

    Recession? Not in this industry :.)

  • Lisa Barone

    Todd: SHHHH! Don’t tell everyone that SEO is a “recession-proof” career. They’ll all want to take our jobs. I think “recession-proof career” really means you work in an industry where people are obsessed with their jobs and never stop working. That’s the only part of its that’s recession-proof. :)

  • Danny Infinite

    Lisa, I appreciate your article, I appreciate what you have to say and I agree that we are living in a time when it’s important that we do take responsibility for where we are at. At the same time however, I agree with TC. Be careful when touting your own success in a down economy. You truly do run the risk of getting bit in the ass. Yes, hard work and perseverance are important, and being willing to take risks is commendable. What happens though, if you suddenly were to need surgery and can’t work? What if your car were to break down or your home was robbed? What if you’re an independent contractor, you need surgery, so you can’t work and end up losing your clients in an already slow season, so your suddenly forced to spend your annual estimate and live off of credit cards, then you you’re girlfriend of six years leaves you, and leaves you footing the bill for everything that you previously had a partner to help you with? That one obviously happened to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m working full time again, I can afford to live again, because of hard work. However, the amount of struggle I had to go through to be in just ok, was ridiculous. I know I made mistakes, but some things happen that you can’t see coming. We live in tenuous times and for many of us, it takes one small tragedy and we are back to square one, or worst. There was a time when tragedies would set someone back, but we could recover from them. Right now, people run the risk of being homeless in a heartbeat if they hit a roadblock. So, be proud of yourself, but be careful with self-righteousness. You may be driven, but you’re also lucky. Wether or not you’re intending to, you are alienating and offending some of those who were not.

    On a side note: Although I agree that focusing on Ashton and Oprah is silly, Patrick does have a point. Mr. Kutcher decided to do this publicity stunt for a completely self serving reason, sure, but he’s a business man and thats his job. I can’t hate on success. Also, as I understand it, the primary reason for his “challenge” was to point out how the internet gives one guy the ability to have just as much influence as an entire media outlet. It’s an impressive feat, even if it’s silly.

  • Tony Adam

    So many people are out there bitching about the economy without actually doing anything about it. If you have free time and you are sitting around watching Reality TV, you are not doing anything about it.

    I always tell people that once you get comfortable, you aren’t learning anything, and its just a cycle…it’s time to move on. When you aren’t being challenged, when you aren’t learning anything new, and you aren’t pushing yourself is when you get complacent and economies like this end up kicking your ass. I just posted my “About Tony Adam” and one of my main points is that you have to go out and take what is yours, no one is going to hand it to you. You might struggle, nevermind, you WILL struggle, but always keep pushing and you’ll get what you deserve.

  • Tony Adam

    Sorry, I’m not done here…

    Just to drive the point home…Think about it…Back in 2000-2002 if you lived in LA and you were trying to get into technology, you had to struggle a shit load and there was no “easy” job. I got into this industry by doing telemarketing and i had to struggle. Back then, it was worse than it is today, it was literally the “Nuclear Winter” of Technology after the .com bubble burst. LA hadn’t taken off yet, but somehow I managed to get where I am today…keep pushing…keep moving…keep learning…if you sit around and do nothing, like Lisa mentioned, you’re not going to make anything happen…

  • Lisa Barone

    Danny: Thanks for the comment. :) I really hope it doesn’t read like I was trying to “tout my own success”. That really wasn’t the intention. I was simply trying to frame the conversation and then move on as quickly as possible. If it came off as anything more than that, I apologize. Sincerely.

    I agree with you and I disagree. I completely agree that life happens and you can lose everything you’ve built due to things outside your control. But that’s not really what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the people who have sat back and watched their jobs be taken away and then can’t seem to find the strength to do anything but complain about it.

    We’ve all been through stuff, right? We’ve all had struggles. I’ve been kicked in the face probably more than I should have considering my age. But you deal with it. And some of us are still fighting and some people are obsessing about crap that simple doesn’t matter to the detriment of themselves. If I offended people in the midst of their face kickings, then you have my apologies, that wasn’t the point of the post. The post wasn’t aimed at them, it was aimed at the everyone else, which frankly is a much larger percent of the populaton.

    I also disagree with the “luck” thing. I’m not ready to believe that the economy gets to control my success. Perhaps I’m just young and naive. :)

    And I DON’T HATE ASHTON KUTCHER! I don’t hate on him for what he did with the Twitter followers, but I don’t him major props for either, as Pat seems to do. My problem isn’t with Ashton. It’s with the people complaining about the recession and then watching Ashton’s twitter count soar instead of helping their OWN situations. I don’t think I made my point very well there!

  • Anonymous

    I, for one, have been surrounded by quite a few intelligent successful businessmen and women who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. They have worked their fannies off to support their families, while either creating their own businesses, and interviewing like hell. I have seen how hard they work, and how hard it is for them and their families. These fine people now run the risk of loosing their homes, insurance, good credit, etc. Which is why I personally (and anonymously) gave over $10,000 to our church to be put in a fund to help families effected by the economic downturn. AND which is why my name is anonymous in this response.) I really dislike this article, your attitude and think you should get off your high horse. I would like to know, for one, what YOU and the REST OF YOU are doing to HELP these poor folks instead of bitching about them. Step up to the plate folks!

  • Lisa Barone

    Anonymous: While we’re airing gripes, do you know what I don’t like? When people enter a community throwing stones and making claims but can’t sign their name to a blog comment. That really irks me. But I guess we all have to carry our own crosses. :)

  • Anonymous

    I guess you didn’t get the point. Why would I want to give my name when I don’t want anyone to know I gave the money. It was an anonymous gift and if I gave my name it wouldn’t be anonymous anymore would it? I gave you my email address so you know who I am. What else do you want? The point is that we should be helping on another not taking pot shots at them.

    Love you, anyway, Lisa and read your blog daily.

  • Danny Infinite

    “You couldn’t pay your mortgage and your house was foreclosed on? Don’t worry, it wasn’t you, it was the recession. You lost your job and now you’re stuck at home cruising Twitter ‘looking for a new one’ all day? Don’t fret. It wasn’t you, it’s the recession. Can’t find new clients so you’re left bitterly blogging that clients suck and the frauds in the industry are stealing your dollars? Calm down, pretty, have a cookie and take a nap. It’s the recession.

    Actually, it’s probably not the recession. It’s probably you.”

    This is the only part of the article I have a problem with. It stings a little. Not one of these things happened to me, however, the sentiment is very, very spiteful. rather than “Actually, it’s probably not the recession. It’s probably you,” if you were to say, “It might not be the recession, it could be your attitude.” The entire tone of the article changes from being spiteful to much more constructive. But it’s also really important to realize that being an entrepreneur for 4 months is not anywhere near long enough to know how things are actually going, or whether you have created a reliable client base, etc. I have been involved in some sort of entrepreneurial/independent contracting kind of business since 1995. I have had major ups and major downs. Bitching, whining, and complaining get you nowhere, it’s true, and distractions are definitely not-constructive. However, we are in a time when people need, actually, let me stress that with caps, when people NEED compassion and understanding. Our culture has bred this economic downturn through an over zealous “pull yourself up by the boot straps” attitude that has turned into a view point of entitlement and greed. Lets try to be a bit more generous and supportive instead.

  • Erica

    Aside from the whole “recession” thing, I do think it’s very easy to get distracted by very, very silly things. RSS feeds, tweets – none of this makes it any easier. At the risk of looking like a crazy, antiquarian geezer, I just read the autobiography of Ben Franklin. And my gods, the breadth of what he was able to accomplish was just staggering. Sure, most of it can be chalked up to insane amounts of intelligence and ambition, but I think a lot of it is a lack of distraction. Something tells me that ‘ole Ben wouldn’t be spending his days tweeting.

  • Lisa Barone

    Anonymous (and Danny): I think you can offer up a name to give yourself some more credibility without revealing your donation. But okay, you came back and left a second comment so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you’re a real person and not an Internet troll here to throw things. :)

    I don’t think I’m taking pot shots at anyone. I don’t have the funds to hand out a 10k donation to my church, but I’m not out there kicking people on the streets either. I think you help people by educating them, by giving them the tools they need to succeed and by making kicking them in the ass when they need it. I like to think this blog (and my offline self) does a mix of all that on various days. Today just happened to be a “kick you in the ass” kind of day. :) But this week alone, we’ve reached out to small business owners and unearthed a lot of really good information. Your point is well taken and I think we should be helping one another. However, sometimes helping someone means offering some tough love and challenging them to take responsibility and be better than they are.

    And Anonymous — I didn’t pay much attention to the email when the comment came in. Just approved. But yes, okay. Email recognized. :)

  • Anonymous

    I can agree with you there. Your blog definitely educates and you do that very well. That is why I read your posts daily. I can also agree that some folks need a kick in the butt. See we came to some common ground. Love you lots Lisa.

  • Lisa Barone

    Anonymous: My bad for not noticing the email address, which puts your comments in a whole lot more context. :)

  • David B

    Hi Lisa.

    Nice post, and add one point for entrepreneurs.

    I’m actually on my third startup company now. The first two were quite successful and one I even took public. Startups and entrepreneurship for me IS my lifestyle, recession or boom times.

    I choose this lifestyle of a serial entrepreneur years ago because I couldn’t trust other people and corporations having control of my life. I cannot imagine ever again believing that I could rely upon anyone more than myself to take care of my financial and spiritual needs. For those who are still reliant upon others, I think you are missing out on one of the greatest thrills in life. There is nothing more exhilarating, exasperating, fun, scary, emotionally and physically draining than starting a company and growing it. Especially when you are able to provide employment for many other people, profits to investors, and making a difference in changing the fabric of the business world by making your own mark, no matter how big or small.

    This part will sound very preachy to some, but in the end of our lives, we will all end up departing this earth. I wanted to make a difference during my time here, and didn’t want to wait for a miracle of being noticed by some head hunter or ordainment from a boss for my next promotion. Don’t get me wrong, I have held every senior management position during my corporate days, which is why I know that most management doesn’t have the worker’s best interest front and center most of the time. Senior management is pressured, especially in the US, to cut costs which usually means cutting heads as a mantra of downsizing during tough times.

    As for Twitter (glorified IM) I say Ashton who? Oprah who cares? Until they add to our ability to create wealth for ourselves and not for them by watching and talking about them, I don’t have the time or interest, as I’m sure they don’t have in my well being either.

    As to the yahoo’s talking about the charity work of celebrities, yes, right after they take your money, they donate it to charity. Why not donate it yourself, instead of reveling in their graciousness with your money.

    Congratulations Lisa for choosing the life of an entrepreneur, and hopefully you’ll find it so fulfilling and rewarding that you’ll never quit. Start em, build em, sell em to the companies that can take your dreams to the next level, then do it all over again. That’s the true Entrepreneurial spirit, no matter what the state of the economy. There’s no time to whine, just to keep building.

  • Charlette

    10k man you are an enabler and you need to stop helping these people. Haven’t you heard these people that got laid off probably deserved the boot because they were lazy and wasting company time? yes, they’re all a bunch of weenies, and we’ll watch them get weaker as their excuses get old. you know how people will abuse the system… quit throwing your money around… and why do you go to church anyway… social visits? showing face? church is hogwash and they’ll gladly take your money every time. use it wisely and work with someone who needs your help… i bet you’d feel more satisfaction than coming on here telling everybody you DONATED 10k. remember to find the root of all excuses and work on that before throwing your cash around like stupid idiot.

    ps It’s been a long known that in a recession, the cycle is between, good economy and working for the man, and bad economy and working for yourself.

  • Brian Clark

    Well, based on my decade of entrepreneurial experience… I think Lisa nailed it.

  • Lori

    Almost daily I have to remind myself not to be so quick to judge others. It’s easy to be proud of the fact that I can be a stay-at-home mom and run a successful business part time and make more than most people do at full time jobs.

    Yet, I must look further back than just the past four years. While I have worked super hard, and challenged myself in so many areas, I really had a big head start being raised in an affluent family, getting a great education, having loving parents, and lots of benefits growing up.

    As my dad said to me once: “Lori, you were born on third base but you think you hit a triple”. A little corny, but true. I have made the most of my circumstances, but they were great circumstances to begin with. While many people overcome huge obstacles to be successful, I don’t know if I could have been as successful as I am if I started further down the ladder.

    I do believe that many people are paying the price of bad decisions (buying homes outside their means) while others are the victims of decisions entirely outside their control. But, in either case, people can choose the way they respond to their circumstances, and hopefully they will realize that they have a lot more power over their destinies than they might originally think.

    Very nice post, Lisa!

  • Mike McDermott

    Very nice article. I have personally been out of work for 4 months and did as you said, pulled my boots back on and went out and started a new Social Media company!
    I have been working in technology for 12 years and totally changed my vision and pursuit.
    No more blaming Corporate America.
    I ask you to consider that everyone is not as empowered as myself or yourself. Many “sheeple” are down on their luck and I can’t really say that they would be ready to head off an entrepreneurial pursuit. My hope is that when I am successful with this business I will be able to hire capable folks to drive my business forward.

  • Anonymous

    Well, here we go again…

    This is the when all of the ENTREPRENEURS and other business OWNERS start to pipe up and say that because they’re so “hard-working” and taking all these risks and etc. etc., that the rest of us should stop whining and change our attitudes.

    HELLO! — The reason it’s called the OWNERSHIP SOCIETY is that the owners have been getting all the breaks for the past 25 yrs. or so. Tax breaks, the lowest rates on business loans in the history of business, the most compliant labor laws in the free world, this goes on and on.

    I wish you all luck, but while you’re starting and selling companies, hiring and firing lots of people, and all, please remember that a whole lot of the rest of us would just love to have the opportunity to start a business too. We work 80-100 hours a week and are online at “3 a.m.” trying to finish up too.

  • Alysson

    Some of you are quick to hop on the “fire back at Lisa” bandwagon over the tone of the post, but what she said is accurate – and, as it applies to many, pretty fair. If you or your family are about to starve, do SOMETHING to stop it…even if it’s flipping burgers at McDonald’s.

    For some, it’s about falling victim to psychology and getting stuck in a downward spiral that seems out of their control. In a strong economy, being the only one unemployed is probably a little bit embarrassing…and that embarrassment is likely motivation enough to find a job. In an economy like this, that kind of motivation doesn’t exist – and not everyone can self-motivate, nor are they driven by a sense of personal accomplishment. It’s the core difference between those that lead and those that need to be led.

    Being unemployed when hoards of other people are also unemployed – when it seems that every evening news story, every newspaper headline and every magazine cover seems to be dedicated to the crappy economy and unemployment – makes it easier for that psychology to work in reverse. Playing the “well, it’s happening to everyone…” game is easier when doing so along with millions of others in a similar circumstance, I’m guessing. For those individuals, there is some comfort in knowing they’re members of a big club. Unfortunately membership in that club has no tangible benefits.

    I commend you, Lisa. A person’s true character doesn’t show when everything is going well. It’s how we react in the face of adversity and how we play the cards we’re dealt that shine a light on our true colors. :) “Complaining is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere…”. Yes, I DID just modify a quote from Van Wilder. :)

  • Eric Marsh

    Lisa – I follow you on Twitter – love the articles and you send and the insight that you provide. I totally agree with your article and didn’t think you were blowing your own horn. Peeps who made comments about the merits of Ashton or Oprah aren’t getting the point. It’s not about THEM, it’s about the peeps that continuously follow these lame stories and waste time while they should be working. Speaking of which I need to get back to work – hahah

  • SEO Aware

    A few of my thoughts…

    – I hate Oprah.
    – I really hate that fact that Oprah thinks she can pop out of no where and say she is going to twitter and it will change the world. Screw you Oprah.
    – Last year was a crappy economic year, but I made twice what I did the year before
    – If you really want to know what is like to have a sucky life have a teenager. Now that is not easy.
    – Women can run circles around men at work and at home (sorry guys it’s true)
    – I was wasting time and money before the economy went to crap. It has been a lesson learned for me, but I always worked hard and I will continue too.
    – If I couldn’t find a “management position” like Cousin Eddy I would suck it up and get a job at McDonalds. All work is good work as long as you work hard.
    – I am a geek and proud of it. Geeks run the world.
    – One’s education should never stop.
    – And finally, I got my business motto from Yoda (see, geek) and I think it should be everyone’s motto – Do or do not there is no try! Yoda Rocks!

    I hate to say “Good post Lisa” because all your posts are great, so I will say “Keep it up!” You rock!

  • Joe Hall

    Lisa, you have nailed it perfectly. However, i think its important to point out that not everyone wants (or even can) be an entrepreneur.

    I have been working for myself for awhile now, and I know that none of what I have done would even have been possible if it weren’t for a few key people that helped provide a “safety net” in the beginning. Sometimes, there are very real world issues that one must face when starting a business that aren’t at all related to how hard you work, or whether or not you are a whiner. For example, if you or a member of your family require health care coverage because of a “pre-existing condition” you are left with little to no options for quality health care coverage if you are “unemployed/self-employed”. This is not a choice or something that is dependent on ones level of whining, it is a hard reality. I am not saying that one can not over come life’s obstacles, I am just saying that sometimes it doesn’t have anything to do with whining or obsessions over trivial contest.

    I think that any person that has achieved any level of success as an entrepreneur should be eternally grateful towards themselves and others. Because the truth is that despite how much we might want to pretend otherwise, none of us are self made. That just doesn’t exist. Every person that has had success has done so because of other’s support in some way.

    Ok, that may have been a bit off topic, sorry….

  • Eric Marschall


    Thanks for putting it out there like that. After building a business for a while, I started relying solely on it to support my family in January. A tough couple months have panned out and I’m looking at making more than I ever did in a cube and growing in this economy.

    Take the risk, make the jump, and go all the way in. You’re either the owner of your success and student of your failures or at the mercy of your excuses and circumstance. And then the whining starts…. Thanks again!

  • Lisa Barone

    Joe: I’m not at all saying that people need to go out and start their own companies. Having your own business isn’t for everyone, and to be honest, it was never something I saw myself doing. It just happened. It’s not about corporate America vs entrepreneurship, it’s about work ethic. And hunger. And constantly adding to your skill set.

    And totally agree. We’re all where we are because at some point, someone lent a hand, showed us the way and taught us how to fish. You won’t find any argument from me there.

  • Adam

    Aside from picking an amazingly difficult time to start something new, I say “good job.”

    And you have an appropriate understanding that this is hard work. REALLY hard work to get anything launched – in any economy – but especially this one.

  • sherisaid

    Lisa, I’m on the fence about this issue. It’s related to a similar argument I had with Rae some time ago. You’re succeeding because you have a really big toolset. You’ve got a good education plus brains, talent, social skills and a professional support system. Congratulations. Not everyone has the tools to start their own business. My parents could not afford to send me to college. In fact, when I was 18, they got a divorce, took off in opposite directions, and left me in Key West with my 3 younger brothers so they could finish out the school year. Then I wound up helping support them for a few years because dad had better things to do than pay child support.

    I picked up some college over the years, but not enough to be called a serious education. I was in love with all things written, so I took a lot of useful writing and journalism courses, some psychology, a smattering of business and advertising, and a lot of science, another passion. But you know, I’m also a bad example, because I have natural talent and a genius IQ. And I’m a self-starter.

    What about all those people out there who’s parents could not afford college, like mine, but who don’t have a genius IQ? People who did not excel in English, read every book they could beg, borrow or steal, and begin writing before they needed pimple cream (which didn’t actually exist back then, just roll with it).

    There’s another thing to consider as well. If you’re over 50, you did not grow up with computers. Most people my age know very little about the internet. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were born in the mid fifties. By the time they launched the desktop computer business, I was in my 20s. The first time I ever turned on a computer, I was about 38 years old and the mother of 2 children. My kids had computer classes in elementary school. It’s a different world and people my age, for the most part, aren’t in step. I’m a fast learner. Not everyone is.

  • David B

    Wow Lisa, I was totally with you that entrepreneurs are ruling this recession, but then you turned out to be naive with this statement – ” ….It’s not about corporate America vs entrepreneurship, it’s about work ethic. And hunger. And constantly adding to your skill set. And totally agree…”

    It is exactly because of your belief that having great work ethic, being hungry and adding to you skill set is enough to keep you employed by someone else that causes the incredible pain and worthlessness people now feel when they are laid off! I hope you have noticed that whole industries are disappearing filled with smart, driven, skillful people (investment banking, magazines, music publishers, manufacturing) due to poor leadership and economic shifts caused by technology and globalized markets. Hard work, hunger, and skills aren’t needed as much as choosing the right industry and leadership. So you can choose to believe in yourself or trusting some one else to hold your future in their hands. I for one am not that trusting with my money/time/future prospects.

    So your naivete and youth are showing through. You started with a strong argument, but have now diluted your message through acquiescence and agreement with others’ messages. Maybe your position wasn’t as strong as first portrayed.

    Perhaps you might want to restate what you truly believe about how work ethic, hunger and skills and now also a helping hand are what are needed to survive, as opposed to entrepreneurship, acceptance of personal responsibility and self sufficiency.

  • Rick Dias


    I’ve been following for a week or so and enjoy your rants but I suspect this one is for shock value.

    Yes, we all know someone who’s in a bad situation of their own making but a lot of people are really suffering due to the bad economy. It’s never so black and white. You’re also pretty cynical of the motivations of others who are giving back. Wow, you must be really smart.

    As someone who’s worked for many years without interruption, I think I’m both fortunate and good. I’ve run my own shop and a big corporation, but I would never tempt the gods the way you just have…probably more naive than gutsy.

    The interesting thing about your post is the responses you’re getting, mostly agreeing with you. This tells me there are plenty of us who are sick of the bad news and the bad attitudes. I think that’s a good thing.

    I do enjoy your rants and you got me to post so keep them coming, you’re kinda twisted…but not in a bad way :)



  • Halfdeck

    “It is exactly because of your belief that having great work ethic, being hungry and adding to you skill set is enough to keep you employed by someone else”

    Dude, her point is never doubt for a minute that you don’t have control of your own destiny. Sure shit happens. But whichever way the dice rolls when you get back off the dirt start walking forward, like, you know, those soldiers back from Iraq with a limb blown off. They keep plowing forward.

    No you can’t control everything and we all need each other and there’s no I in team and all that, but the key takeaway is don’t waste a breath bitching about how bad things are. Just watch Die Hard. When the building is blowing up what are you gonna do sit on your ass and blame the terrorists? Just watch that flick again you’ll know what Lisa’s trying to say.

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    I am SICK and TIRED of people who complain when those of us who find success announce it to the world. You know what? Life already bit me in the ass.

    3 years ago I was living on food stamps. Not long before that I was living on a couch. If I haven’t earned the right to communicate that I am successful at this point in my life then WTF?

    But here’s the thing people who go for 6 months or a year or more out of work REALLY don’t want to hear. That time I was on food stamps? It was because I refused to just settle for any job at any crappy wage, working for some bozo that would treat me like a sheep to slaughter in some corporate cubicle. I used that 3 months to fuel my focus on re-energizing my ability and re-orient myself. Sending out 50 resume’s a day for weeks at a time IS a waste of time. Instead, I went deep within, and tapped spiritual truth. I re-connected with the fact that every human has something unique to offer the world.

    When that unique gift is tapped, we become passionate about our work. When we’re passionate about our work, we soar like friggin eagles and a ton of other cliches’.

    And when I finally was ready to get back out there, I didn’t just take any job. I researched every company in a 100 mile radius that is in the business I am passionate about. I looked for the best company that fit MY unique nature and style. I called them on the phone. They weren’t even hiring at the time. I got hired the very next day. One call. One interview.

    That job gave me the time to hone my skills even more. And focus even more on what I really wanted to be doing with my life. And that is what led me to jumping ship last summer. It was time to go back into business for myself.

    So in the blink of an eye I went from food stamps to $25 an hour. By the time I left that company they were paying me $35 an hour. Now I earn between $50 and $150 an hour for the work I do or my team does.

    So if you don’t like the fact that some of us communicate that real success is possible, stop and consider that just maybe we were at one time in your shoes. And wake up to the possibility that maybe your long term problems are a wake up call to tell you that you are not looking in the right direction. that Main stream society and its notion of worker-bees as the only option is really an illusion holding you back from doing something you enjoy with all your heart.

  • JadedTLC

    @LisaBarone Well done. Hunger is the driving force to get work done. Some people have it and others have to learn it. Productivity, learning and work. The reason I breathe.

  • Alysson

    Saying Lisa “turned out to be naive…” is somewhat ironic, David B, considering your statement that “…whole industries are disappearing filled with smart, driven, skillful people (investment banking, magazines, music publishers, manufacturing) due to poor leadership and economic shifts caused by technology and globalized markets…”

    Whole industries are disappearing because the leadership within those industries has failed to evolve. If a company is still doing business the same way they were 25 years ago, they deserve to fail. There may be smart, driven and skillful people within those industries – as you claim – but they’re clearly not the ones calling the shots. Nor are they in control of making the necessary changes to their companies’ business models that would help to ensure their future success…apparently.

    For those among the smart, driven and skillful people within a fledgling industry, you have a few choices: do something to keep the company you’re currently affiliated with afloat, start your own venture in your current industry or change industries altogether. The thing about people that are smart and driven – those attributes translate into any position in any industry.

    Frankly, using examples like investment banking, magazines, music publishers, manufacturing to illustrate your point is proof enough of your own naivety. Those are four industries in particular whose standard operating procedures are woefully behind the times. They’re finally paying a price for their refusal to evolve along with the rest of the world, as if the world wasn’t going to leave them behind.

  • Tim Staines

    Wow, this has really spun a bit out of control:

    1) @David B – If you’re a hungry, hard working, information vacuum and you got laid off . . . as long as you have an internet connection and are willing to work in a restaurant while you’re building an online business, you should be able to make a better life for yourself than the one that landed you in the unemployment line. Your brain and a couple hundred dollars are really all you need to start a business online if you have a computer and an internet connection. Show me someone with those characteristics (hungry, hard working, information vacuum) and I’ll show you someone who can succeed without the job the got laid off from. It’s time to stop giving those types of people excuses for being in a shitty place and start opening their eyes to the possibility that they can succeed on their own.

    2) @SEO Aware Re: “- Women can run circles around men at work and at home (sorry guys it’s true)” . . . I’m sorry the men you have worked with have sucked so hard, but here’s what I’m “thinking”: I always try to keep my mass over-generalizations to a minimum, especially when they are completely off topic and might make people think I’m out of touch with reality. If you, Lisa and many other women are hard workers, that’s cool, but there are PLENTY of women (& men) who are not, and in my experience those that do the circle running are not a majority male or female. Rather, they are quite a good mix of each.

    3) @ Those who are offended by the tone – That’s what makes this a good blog post, no? I mean, who wants to read something that doesn’t have any bite?

    4) @ sherisaid – IMHO, formal education is highly overrated. I have a bachelors degree in marketing (2002) that had so little focus on internet marketing, that I would have much rather spent that time in the business rather than “learning” all the impractical, macro perspective stuff that I was fed in school. Higher education has it’s advantages, especially in the sciences and languages, but until you get into masters level classes, you’re probably just as well off to learn on the job and on your own if you know what it is that you want to do in life.

  • Lisa Barone

    Sheri: I don’t think not having a college degree means anything today, to be honest. Yes, I have one and I think the lessons I learned were helpful, but I don’t know that I wouldn’t have been able to find success without college. Rae doesn’t have a degree and she’s one of the most successful people I know. And she’s like that not because she’s a rocket scientist (I love you, Rae), but because she works harder than anyone I’ve ever met. That’s why she’s successful. It’s not easy and it’s harder for certain people, but it’s always doable.

    You didn’t go to college, but you found a way around that because of your IQ and because you’re a self starter. I have a severe speech disorder which means a lot of times I flat out can’t communicate with people. I couldn’t pick up the standard Office Assistant or Editorial Assistant job out of college like everyone else because I couldn’t be put near a phone. I had to focus on the fact that I could write like nobody’s business and find a way to use that to break through.

    We all have reasons to fail. Successful people simply choose not to accept them. They don’t whine or complain about their situation. That was really all I was trying to say in the post. Somewhere along the line it became a different discussion, I think.

    And you’ve been SEVERELY lied to because I have ZERO social skills. Ask anyone who knows me in real life. ;)

  • Lynne

    Thank you for another totally, completely bang on post, Lisa. I can’t say much more than what everyone else here has already said. The bottom line is that being successful means being accountable, and anyone who doesn’t understand this is doomed to fail. I get really tired of hearing about how I ‘work too much’ from people who in their next breath will complain about how concerned they are for their jobs and their finances. I’d seriously rather be stressed about how I’m going to get everything done than be stressed about not having enough to do and I just can no longer identify with or tolerate people who don’t get this.

  • Alysson

    I agree with Lisa that a college degree doesn’t separate the successful from the unsuccessful these days. Some millionaires today never spent a moment in college. And some PhDs today are living in tents. Some are compelled to get a college degree and some aren’t…likelihood of success has nothing to do with a degree today.

    I, for one, know some crazy smart people who have college degrees – about 1% of whom hold a job that has anything at all to do with their degree. I also know some wildly intelligent people who don’t have a degree. Many of them, based on our discussions, saw the 4 or more years and tens of thousands of dollars spent getting a degree as a disadvantage because of the real world experience they were missing out on while in school.

    And yes, this discussion seems to have gone off on a tangent a bit…as with any good post, you have stirred emotions. Go, EMO…GO! ;)

  • Patrick Sexton

    Wow. Alot of comments about different points of view. Yum.
    Lisa is a blogger. Her goal is to get comments and interaction and has achieved her goal well, as she normally does. Is it helping anyone? Probably not.
    I don’t think people who need a kick in the ass about motivation are going to be looking for information of how to succeed by searching Google for “you suck”. Bloggers tend to title things dramatically for drama and contreversy.
    I have always argued that titles should be accurate and descriptive, as do the Google guidelines. If this post was titled “How to overcome the challenges of the recession” or something of that ilk it would have more credence to me and more usefulness to others (as someone needing such advice might actually find it.
    I do not think Lisa would be so cavelier with her “luck” opinions if she lived in Africa and was dying of maleria at age two as tens of thousands of two year olds are dying every month – appearantly for their lack of motivation :)
    It is just a blog post, if she were trying to be useful she might take other action, but bloggers have te motivation of stirring contreversy and Lisa has stated for a long time that this is her goal.
    My beef is the belittling of others to make her point, particularly when it comes to over half a million dollars of support for a charity that takes direct steps to save lives.
    One of the first things I had to do in Africa when I worked there as a logistician for humanitarian aid groups was to arrange the burial of hundreds of children who had died of malaria. Over the years I have buried thousands of children. I am glad that tens of thousands of children have a better chance at life becuse of the Oprah / Ashton thing. It means the person doing my job over there now will bury less children this year. Yet Lisa states :
    “Are we really going to spend our entire Friday talking about Oprah’s caps locked Twitter debut? Or invest more time discussing Ashton Kutcher and his one million followers publicity stunt? Seriously? Do you ever think that we’re wasting far too much time on stuff that isn’t making us any money or helping anyone? ”
    These things are doing useful things, and are saving lives.
    This is just a blog post created for contrevesy folks, you can tell alot from a title and a title that states “you suck” is not likely geared towards usefulness.

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    College education – I don’t have one of those. I do have over 30 years experience working in over almost dozen business markets (though the past 14 years have all been internet related).

    Big corporations never want someone like me because 1) I dont have a college education, 2) never stayed at one “job” more than 2 years before moving on, and I refuse to wear a tie.

    Yet it’s that very formula that has allowed me to find my way into my ideal career working for myself and making five times as much as I could have ever made working for a corporation doing the same work.

    When people blame society for their problems, they are not open minded to the possibility that a way exists out of their situation. By taking ownership of my situation I give myself permission to look beyond the sheep to slaughter mentality.

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    Insanity can be defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    If you hate your job, or if you gave your soul to a corporation and got laid off anyhow, why would you even consider just going to work for another company, only to set yourself up for the same results?

    And the economy has NOTHING to do with it. My grandfather thrived during the great depression. How? He was a butcher. And even in a depression, people have to eat.

    As long as America remains a society with human beings needing to live, there will always be opportunities. Find a service or products that people need, and be of service.

    Even if the Internet collapsed tomorrow I would not be afraid of losing my income. Sure I’d no longer be in the SEO field. But that’s okay – years ago I learned carpentry. And painting. And gardening. And computers. And about 20 other skill sets that can be a career.

    Except I would NEVER just go to work for a corporation doing those things. I would make a business out of it. If in the short term, I had to work for someone else, it would be for a very small company. And I would carefully look for the most successful company I could find. And ONLY apply there. Because at least there, the owners would have a similar mentality of success.

  • Alysson

    Wow, Patrick…your recent comment took a wild turn into “personal attack on Lisa” territory. You seem to have latched onto a VERY tiny and inconsequential part of this post by running to the defense of Ashton Kutcher and Oprah, as if you’re either BFF or on their PR payroll. What’s that all about? Talk about not providing anything useful, constructive or of help to anyone. Wow.

  • Lisa Barone

    Okay, I’m putting my moderator cap on now. This conversation has gotten WAY off course. Let’s try to keep the conversation on topic and constructive. The topic is not Ashton Kutcher, malaria babies or whose better in the fight between Corporate America or Entrepreneurs. Comments to those subjects will be deleted, as will personal attacks. Go enjoy your Friday or something, eh? :)

  • Jure

    An interesting post, but I believe you are over simplifying a very real, complex problem. Maybe there are slackers out there, but the dozens of people I know who have been left in dire straits by the recession are talented, hard workers who are diligently searching for new employment. Many of then were forced to spend all their savings on health care and rent. They didn’t have the luxury of starting a new business when they had to worry about fighting off a foreclosure or paying for their children’s medicine.

    It’s great that you are doing well. But it’s in poor taste to chastise those who haven’t been able to bounce back from the recession as well as you have. Your last paragraph seems disingenuous considering those (and the tone) that preceded it. The unfortunate and unhappily unemployed deserve compassion, not pat self-righteous advice. Empathy is what makes us human.

  • Esther


    At last a young person (actually many young people, it appears) is saying what is usually dismissed when someone my age says it. We’re just the cranky old people muttering about what the world is coming to. Your comments apply just as surely to my generation and to those of us for whom entrepreneurship is not possible.

    After thirty years of hard work, raising our family, and doing more than our share of volunteer work, my husband and I took early retirement. We spent a year and a half on the road and explored the byways of America. We stopped and helped friends, we played tourist, we soaked up history, and researched our genealogy. Then we found a small town, bought an old farmhouse on several acres, and settled in to enjoy our “golden years”.

    And then the golden glow began to dim. So I gathered up a lifetime of professional skills, minus the professional license I would have had in CA, and started over. I packaged my skills as well as I could and was hired full time at the age of 60.

    I don’t make nearly the money I would with the professional license and I’ve had to get used to reporting to a supervisor young enough to be my daughter. But I’m working, I have the respect of my colleagues, and I’m constantly challenged to learn my new profession. By bringing old skills to my new setting, I have educated my co-workers and changed some of the ways we work with children. And I’m finally old enough I’m not afraid to speak my mind. My BS radar is pretty finely tuned and it goes off regularly.

    Has this been easy?? Hardly. Rediscovering 6 am was brutal. Giving up volunteer work I loved was hard. But the bills are getting paid, the mortgage is almost clear, and a few more brain cells have been coaxed into action.

    Your life really is what you make it. Just don’t expect it to stay made.

  • MikeTek

    Wow this comment thread is incredible.

    I think people need to recognize this for what it is – a stiff toe to the ass. Did it cross a line here or there? Yeah, probably. But that’s what gets you thinking and talking.

    Lisa doesn’t have all the answers – but she’s no doubt taken risks and faced some harsh realities. I’m not prepared to belittle her experience (or anyone’s for that matter). And I would consider myself naive if I took this post to be her claim to some throne of entrepreneurial greatness or an indication of her self-righteous attitude.

    Instead, I’m taking away a crucial point that I think we need to be reminded of: Circumstances often suck. Bitching about them is worthless.

    Blaming the recession (or any environmental factor) is 1) a cop out and 2) a waste of time.

    The basic stoic principle to apply: ” You should not worry about or place value in anything you cannot control.”

    Read this post from Tim Ferriss’s blog.

    And take responsibility for the future.

  • Chaalz

    Thx Lisa. Your post inspired me to write “Would You Hire You?” over at Just Too Logical”.

    I agree with the overall idea of many people not really sacrificing in this recession. I caught myself early on doing this. When I started listing out the things that we could cut back on, HD service, DVR, etc weren’t on the list. I quickly realized that these “luxuries” had become “necessities” and my perception was warped.

    Many people have had it so good for so long that they don’t know or have forgotten the concept of saving for a rainy day. Throw your $$$ at the stock market and of course it will break $200. Buy 3 houses and of course I’ll be able to sell them whenever I want and for how much I want.

    For the first 5yrs of my 10yr career I could not make a financial mistake. This success was like a drug and I (the whole country really) became more and more reckless. The post I mention talks about how I was an excellent worker, but still slowly drifted closer and closer to being expendable. I would love to get your take on that.

    And finally, we should keep in mind that no amount of “just do it” and “dont be lazy” will make a bad idea into a good one. Not everyone laid off will be able to be successful on their own. If it were that easy we’d all be rich. I can’t offer anything to those about to loose their houses. My only advice is for those still in their jobs and that is to differentiate yourselves now, when you don’t have to, so that when judgment day comes, you won’t have to.

    ps: Outspoken Media is such an excellent name. (Might have to look into you gals more for a little project I’m working on. :))

  • Hannah

    I say this with all the respect in the world for the idea that you should remain hungry and motivated: this post is horribly naive. Most of the points I’d raise have already been stated, but they include —
    1. Not everyone has the time or money to learn a good level of new skills. My parents’ neighbour in Norfolk worked at Woolworths. It shut down forever recently. She can find small bouts of cleaning work, which has meant that she isn’t eligible for much government money… but she can’t support three teenagers for much longer. She actually found out last week that she is eligible for £9 more per week. La de da. It’s really hard for people like her. She can’t spend money on learning new things and she spends her time trying to find work. One son has a degenerative eye condition which our national health service pays for. No idea how people like that cope in America without it. No way to go into business by herself. Prior to this, she had worked at Woolworths and earned good money for sixteen years. And her story isn’t unique… it’s common in this country and in yours.

    On the other hand I have a degree in maths, can speak two foreign languages (self taught) and have five years of savings… I could do anything, but some people *can’t*.

    2. I follow you on Twitter and you spend a fair bit of time on stuff that doesn’t make you money ;) So do we all, of course! I am quiet, but yeah, I’ll be reading something useless and wasting time… or IMing which is like Twittering after all. Not sure that you are quite yet the shining example of shutting up and getting on with it. But not many of us are. How many hours a day are spent on IM and Twitter? Three? So then 3am would turn into midnight pretty quickly, wouldn’t it?

    3. Good on you for going it alone. Don’t know why you did it; everyone does it for different reasons, but yeah, only been at it for three months. A three-month perspective is worthwhile from the perspective of the transition from ‘first 100 days’. I believe in America they just looked at that for a new president… he hasn’t experienced anything like what he’ll go through in four / eight years and neither have you.

    4. Whether meaning to or not, you come across as belittling of people who work for companies with ‘I stopped relying on a company to support me and my cats and instead learned to hunt for myself.’ I tell you what, my dear, I have always worked for a company (three of them to date and I am 28) and I do not ‘rely’ on them without a lot in return. We rely on each other. This does not make me lazy or unmotivated, or them chumps. And if I got laid off due to the recession, it would *not* mean that I was lazy or ‘sucked’ or had a ‘cushy job and a cushy paycheck’. I’m actually stunned that more people weren’t disappointed in those words. You try to fix this sentiment in comments, but it’s there for all to see in the post.

    I know you’re around my age but this sounds like it was written by an 18 year old who just got herself a job and is scoffing at her peers who haven’t got one yet. You aren’t giving people a kick up the behind with this, you are just revealing that you seem to lack compassion and an understanding of economic downturn. I hope you don’t take this as a personal attack and refuse to print it but honestly, you just overstepped the ‘outspoken’ mark again and ended up being a loudmouth again.

  • B.

    “I’m actually stunned that more people weren’t disappointed in those words. You try to fix this sentiment in comments, but it’s there for all to see in the post.”

    I saw it as yet another “Nation of Whiners” diatribe. Gosh, I was a Young Turk in my 20s too, filled with piss and vinegar. That was before marriage, kids, divorce and job loss. Yes, I am currently striking out on my own, I am hungry, smart and motivated, but I am mindful of other people’s plight and to keep from succumbing to hubris, I think “There but for the grace of God- or random toss of the cosmic dice – go I.”

    Ms. Barone’s characterization of the rest of the workers as lazy slobs is classic “I’ve got mine, so f^ck the rest of y’all!”. It’s almost as disappointing as her later backpedaling when a few people called her on her tone. If you’re going to make sweeping generalizations, then own them or apologize if you’ve had a change of heart. Don’t try to justify them.

    To Lisa: I did read this blog as you touting your success, sorry. I thought that your tone was arrogant and narrow-minded. Congratulations on your current success, really, but if your luck changes, it’s going to be a long, hard fall down into the masses of the hoi polloi.

    I know people who have lost their jobs and who have just as strong a work ethic as you, possibly even more so since they are fending not for themselves and their cats, but for their children. These are folks who have been working since you were in diapers, yet you have the nerve to tell them that they suck and that they should shut up? Wow. Tacky.

    The bigger issue that needs to be addressed is keeping jobs local. Not everyone has the skill set to be an “internet entrepreneur,” so that leaves us with the question, “Where are the jobs?” Our society has become predominantly a service industry, which is like building a fortress on sand. We don’t have the industrial and manufacturing base that we once had and which was the engine that really pulled us out of the Great Depression. After all, it was Rosie the Riveter who was the icon of the time, not Candy the Cocktail Waitress.

    Soapbox time: I say boycott companies who routinely close factories here and move them elsewhere so they pay pennies on the dollar for wages. Force them to re-open factories here and provide jobs for people who want to work. The hell with NAFTA. /soapbox

    One final note regarding “internet entrepreneur.” Any idiot can purchase a web domain and create a website, but I think real entrepreneurship is found in longevity. You’ve been live for what, less than a year? Good luck.

  • Lisa Barone

    If you’re out of work and work hard and busting your ass, then this post was not for you.
    If you “know someone” who was laid off unfairly, then this post was not for you.
    If you’re making generalizations about the work situation in America, then this post was also not for you.

    This post for the hoards of people on Twitter bitching about their situation instead of actually fixing it. It’s for the people blaming everyone else for their failures instead of taking responsibility. That’s who the post was aimed at. I’ve been on my own for less than a year. WAY less than a year, but I’ve been busting my ass for a long time. And if Outspoken implodes and falls apart in 2 months, then I’ll still be busting my ass to make someone else for myself. Your current employment situation has NOTHING to do with this post. It’s your mindset that does.

  • MightyCasey

    Whining gets you nowhere, in kindergarten or in the hurly-burly of the business world. Neither does following the crowd. Lisa’s got it 110% when she says you gotta work your *** off while avoiding whining from any quarter, even your own. “Physician, heal thyself” is as true in the world of work and business as it is in medicine – don’t tolerate behavior from yourself that you’d despise in others.

  • Tim Staines

    Ms. Barone’s characterization … Wow. Tacky.

    This is a severely twisted interpretation of the post. Including the disclaimer paragraph at the end was well thought out and intentional. It allows us to read the post and get engaged on a sensitive topic, while still offering appropriate clarification. The post would have been less valuable if that paragraph were at the beginning. And just for the record, “Tacky” is writing an anonymous comment that drops bombs, or is that “Troll?”

    The bigger issue that needs to be addressed is keeping jobs local … Candy the Cocktail Waitress.

    This is just plain stupid. We’re 80 years past the Great Depression. Industrialization and manufacturing helped us because we were the innovators on the cutting edge of that technology at that time. We (as a country) need to focus on innovation & technology and NOT cling to the success we had three generations ago. Industrialism and manufacturing didn’t get us through those tough times, the fact that we were the best at it DID. Now lets figure out what we’re the best at and do that instead of complaining about losing jobs to people that will do the same work for less. See GM & Chrysler

    Soapbox time: I say boycott companies … The hell with NAFTA. /soapbox

    Yes, let’s boycott companies who are trying cut costs and survive in a Global marketplace. We Americans deserve to get paid much more than the rest of the world for the same low skill jobs.

    One final note regarding “internet entrepreneur.” Any idiot can purchase a web domain and create a website, but I think real entrepreneurship is found in longevity. You’ve been live for what, less than a year? Good luck.

    That’s just the thing, there are MANY people (or idiots as you call them) in this country that don’t know how to purchase a domain and create a website. This is the “industry” we should be dominating and websites are the things we should be “manufacturing.”

  • Dan Hughes

    Generally in life I am way more of a hugger than an a$$ kicker when it comes to help and advice and so on… but when is comes to financial results, I am completely in alignment with Lisa.
    Professionally I come from a sales background, and sales people are notorious for finding reasons (read excuses) as to why sales are “down”. Unquestionably, negativity breeds negativity. I have yet to find *any* aspect of life of business that are not radically impacted by mindset. Trust me, I wish it wasn’t the case, but it *always* is.

    CA unemployment is now ~11% – Guess what… that means that ~90% still have employment. All of them still making money. All of them still spending money.
    The economy slows down or starts contracting. Let’s say 2009 ends up down 5%. That would be considered a *huge* problem, but it’s really just semantics. 5% of what?? 5% down means 2009 is exactly the same as 2007. Was 2007 some heinous kinda year for people? Talking to them in 2007 would almost certainly not have made you think that.

    For anyone who is currently part of CA’s 11% or unemployed in any other state or country, I would love you to read Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week. Mentioning his name or that book normally necessitates a severe a$$ kicking… but hear me out. Ignore the fact that he is somewhat of a d0uche and read the part of the book that covers “What’s the worse that could happen” . He presents an incredibly pervasive argument that even the -most incredibly hideous life events- you can think of are really not that bad. Not to mention the fact that -incredibly hideous life events- almost never happen.

    So, if I have a point, I guess it’s really this. Sales / finances / the economy are really “down”, they’re just not “up” as much as you would like. This is not B.S. “glass is half full” thinking. Your glass is still full… it’s just not overflowing at the moment.

  • B.

    “This post for the hoards of people on Twitter bitching about their situation instead of actually fixing it. ”

    Fair enough, then this post was probably aimed at all the Gen-Yers and Millennials out there moaning madly on Twitter. I guess the Gen-Xers and Boomers are safe from criticism.

  • Wyn Lydecker

    I totally agree that it’s the entrepreneurs who will get us out of the recession because they are out building businesses instead of complaining. I’ve been blogging about that at Small businesses create most of the jobs in this country. I’m now following you on Twitter because you make sense. The folks who are caught up in the Twitter/Oprah hype are “twitterpated.” I suddenly remembered that word from “Bambi”; Thumper said it when Bambi became infatuated with the female fawn.

  • Ursula

    Brilliant post. Thanks for putting it out there and reminding us all what we need to do to not just survive but thrive in this recession!

  • AJ

    Got here via a friend’s Twitter mention. I suppose it’s good for something.

    I agree in general that action is better than words. I also agree that most new entrepreneurs fail because they don’t know enough about running a business — building clientele, doing follow-up, marketing or advertising, how to buy services from 3rd-party suppliers — than they do about their specialty. These skills can be learned, though, and sometimes it takes failure to learn the lessons.

    That said, I do agree with many of the posters that the overall tone of the post, and not the content, is what is coming off as harsher than intended.

    What I’m finding fascinating in the post and in the comment thread, is to look at the words used — “you suck”, you have to be a “hunter” and “hungry” (for what exactly? Wild boar? A Hummer and a McMansion?), “stoic,” people are “busting ass,” were “bit in the ass,” need “a kick in the ass,” etc.

    Taken as a whole, this language expresses an antagonistic view of the world — life is war, and you have to fight to survive. It’s a zero-sum game, in order for me to win, you have to lose! A battle to the death! Take that! En garde!

    Isn’t that all a bit silly?

    What about ensuring quality of life (not quantity of luxury stuff)? What, indeed, about unions that help ensure a decent wage and basic labour standards? Personally, I think it’s not about how hard you work (whatever that means – I’ve worked in a factory and trust me, anything done on the computer is easy by physical comparison) but it’s about working well and working intelligently.

    What about national healthcare — in Canada, this is what encourages entrepreneurship more than anything else, because it means you can a) quit a job and not lose anything more than supplemental coverage and b) start a business and not worry about providing healthcare to your employees. And yet people jump up and scream ‘socialism!’ It’s a huge burden OFF entrepreneurs and consultants, you’d think there’d be more of a push FOR it. It’s not even that you’d have to pay any more, it’s just a question of how the money is distributed and removing the profit motive. Consider it infrastructure, like the Internet and running water.

    One thing that bothers me from a rhetorical standpoint in the blog post is that the author invokes a strawman argument. Who are these people who are whining on Twitter, exactly? It’s like that segment in “Outfoxed” where they catch Fox anchors using the “some people say” argument to advance outrageous thoughts all the time. Name names, already, or debate someone’s points if they’re out there, but if the entire thing is just kinda based on one whiner annoying you, it’s a little harsh to generalize that to everyone who’s out of work and a little frustrated about it.

  • Glenn Hilton

    Pretty harsh title, but I’m sure it will get you lots of attention. I realize your post is meant to be a bit tongue in cheek & provocative and that you aren’t trying to be haughty or vindictive. I also think that in writing it you are aiming the article more at the excuse laden whiner who may just need a bit of a kick in the butt and that you can’t possibly know everyone’s unique situation and why they may be struggling to find work. I whole heartedly agree with you that it’s easy to make excuses for why things aren’t going well. The media hype around the recession is causing many businesses to be overly cautious and in turn increasing the problem. This problem only gets worse when individuals start believing that there lack of success is due to outside circumstances and allow themselves to start thinking headtrash that gives them an excuse to not give their all. So though some may not like what you’ve had to say, I hope they’ll see it not as a slam, but as a wake up call that maybe one day they’ll thank you for.

  • sherisaid

    About the unemployment rate, it’s deceptive. It does not take into consideration the underemployed, or the millions faced with loss of hours, pay or benefits, the deep cuts companies had to make to keep the majorities in their jobs. It would be nice to assume everyone could get along with 10 or 20% less income, but that is not always so.

    Someone is going to say “they should have bought houses that cost less, then” and my answer is “really? where? Cracktown?” because in most places, an average house in a reasonably safe neighborhood costs a certain amount of money and no less. This may be a foreign concept to city-dwellers, but we suburbanites don’t take drive-bys in stride. Is it that drastic? You bet. To get a house that costs only 20% less than where we live, we’d have to move to a very unsavory neighborhood. The difference in crime rate is significant. But a lower mortgage is only part of the picture. Utilities would not go down – and in fact may go up if you move to an older, less insulated house. The cost of food gets higher every day. The cost of gas fluctuates wildly.

    My point is that it’s a drastic oversimplification to conclude that the cost of a house is the only matter for consideration in people landing in financial trouble. A sensible person, during a sensible time, when starting to drown, would sell his house and buy something less expensive, but these days there’s no one to sell it to and nowhere to buy something cheaper. That’s the real crux of this issue, the extent.

    Working at McDonalds for $7 an hour would not pay my mortgage if my husband lost his well-paying job, even if he could get such a job in this economy. I make half as much as he does (and still above average) so I’m lucky in that way. He is very unlikely to lose his job because he is in the middle, not on the top of the seniority list where they may force him to retire, or on the bottom of the list and therefore first to be laid off. Losing my job hurt, but I had the luxury of time to regain my feet. We’re a little buried in bills, but we can recuperate. But if it was his job lost, we’d be moving into a nice cardboard box down by the freeway. And I would not be discussing this, because there would be no money for internet. Which means I could not do my job either, come to think of it.

    oops, got carried away. I seem to be blogging on YOUR blog…

  • Jeffrey Summers

    Absolutely love it Lisa! More! More!


  • alirayner

    Wonderful post!

    Finding people who are honest about taking accountability for their own actions is so rare these days. I think how good a person is at it speaks to their integrity.

    I keep accountability top of mind all the time, and when I feel lazy I remember the type of person I want others to see me as.

  • Ann Smarty

    I cannot afford to read all the comments (as I am independent and a mom and I am smart and hungry and motivated, so I have little time), so someone must have mentioned what I am going to say – but I find it funny how the post that was started with the idea that successful people can’t afford the time to waste it on Ashton Kutcher’s one million followers and “Oprah’s caps locked Twitter debut” eventually resulted in discussing it…

  • Lynne

    Lisa can correct me if I’m wrong but I saw this post more as something directed at all the capable people out there sitting on their asses, rocking back on their heels and blaming the state of the economy for the fact that they’ve fallen on hard times. I’m sorry, but unless you just spent 25 years slugging it out on the line at GM and were laid off or practiced law 90 hours per week for decades before your firm downsized you really have NO excuse. I’m frustrated mostly with all the twenty- and early thirtysomethings out there who have buckets of skills, college degrees, helpful parents and ridiculous lifestyles who are doing nothing but whining and complaining. Most of my generation have this unbelievable sense of overblown entitlement that just makes me ill and this is who I’d direct a post like this at.

    I really feel for anyone who has invested a huge chunk of their life in a career and is now out of work and struggling. Ageism is alive and well out there and re-training isn’t an easy process.

  • tommyofroguestar

    Thank you Lisa for saying it.

    Simply put. Shut the fuck up, grow a pair, and do something!

  • Gabriella

    Ann Smarty… I was thinking the same thing. Here I am thinking wow this post rocks (still does) but how did Oprah & Ashton take center stage again.

    Personally I think what’s going on with unemployment is people are using the Internet more and places like Twitter & all social media is the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Moses Ma wrote a wonderful article about it, therefore I urge you all to read it here
    Basically, it boils down to people are looking for their need to be fed… regardless of whether they are out of work or at work, Social media has given many a “raison d’etre”.

    What is amusing to me is I believe that this phenomena of becoming a celebrity or even talking about & to celebrities is driven by existential anxiety. I blog, therefore I am. I matter. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough… so what if I don’t have a job I could become famous. Your article brings it all to a nice close taking risks, shutting up and listening while learning, and ultimately achieving your own perfect job.

  • Sam Higgins

    Great post, everyone STOP WHINING! Brilliant.

  • Brian Littleton

    Great post, especially the bullet points on how to get it done. Learn, work, risk – and surround yourself with people that do the same. Great stuff.

  • Charlene

    Thank goodness for the whiners – that many less people out there going for my market share. *shrug* quite honestly, most people are not cut out to be entrepeneurs – they are great workers, have terrific family lives, and give a lot to their local communities by volunteering and/or participating in the community events. Then there are those that are simply lazy. They’re smart enough, but don’t want to put forth the effort – these are the true whiners. Then again, there are those who truly are not smart enough to to go out on their own, but they, too have a story to share – and they are the laborers and basic skills workers that keep the products going out the door.

    So, this is a great post for the lazy smart people to read. As for popular entertainment (Oprah and Ashton) taking center stage? I really don’t care because they don’t bring value to my daily life.

  • Raquel Hirsch

    OK. I am a fan now. Wasn’t so sure before, but this is *it*! Extremely well put!

  • Chris

    Absolutely brilliant!

  • netmeg

    There are always going to be plenty of excuses for the people who need them. It has nothing to do with education (my last completed grade was NINTH) or current skill set (you wouldn’t believe some of the jobs I’ve had over the past thirty years); it has everything to do with the ability to adapt. Quickly. People who learn to do that realize that there isn’t *time* for whining, or making excuses. Learning to adapt is also excellent training for spotting opportunities that others will miss, and for preparing for whatever the future brings – for good or ill.

    I am so tired of hearing (and reading) people whine about how things aren’t like they used to be. They aren’t. They never will be. Get over it, lest you fall further behind.

    Lisa’s young, and maybe she is naive; I don’t know her. But this post wasn’t.

  • Jim

    While I agree with the general sentiment of the post, I gotta disagree with the tone and underlying value judgment.

    I think we have become a nation of whiners and more importantly a nation of people that no longer take responsibility for our actions. It’s always someone else’s fault, Spill hot coffee on yourself and sue the restaurant, the cup maker, the clothing manufacturer and your PE teach for making you clumsy. People need to take responsibility of their own actions and that include their jobs, their lives, their finances and their family. It made me sick to hear people say that BHO was gonna pay their mortgage or give them a job.

    On the other hand, I think your tone speaks of some immaturity. After you’ve had a few failures in your life ,a few children, a few mortgages, a few relationships, a few sicknesses and even a few losses, then I think you can speak with more credibility on value judgments. You left your last job after a few weeks and your ‘success’ so far with Outspoken Media is probably due a lot to the already well established cache your partners brought to the table. I think you’ll be a bit more humble and understanding in 10-15-20 years after you’ve experienced some of the significant curve balls life can throw at you.


  • Tania

    A friend of mine, a very successful businessman and creative innovator, said to me once, “Your income is directly related to your philosophy and not the economy.” It may seem a little glib but it was a revelation to me. To me it describes the difference between a victim of the recession and a survivor. If you have a strong skill set, and a productive work ethic then you have all you need to survive the recession.

    And not just survive, but thrive. Things might be tough for a while, but tough is not bad. I know a young man who was laid off from his very well paid job in the mining industry. He was devestated by the loss but when he was done being devastated he asked himself…what do I do now? Now he has moved to a new city, stripped his life back to the bare necessities and is focusing on his art. That is what he is good at and what he is passionate about. He has no excuses now, no choice but to make it work, to back himself. Its not easy but then nothing worthwhile ever is. I can’t wait for his first exhibition.

    The recession presents an opportunity to re evaluate our lives, our values, our direction. What are we doing and why are we doing it? Change is good. It hurts sometimes and its damn scary but its also an evolutionary necessity.

    Lisa, kudos for posting, for being so articulate and for engaging the discussion. Yep, you pushed buttons but thats what you get for being outspoken. Nice work…way to speak out.

  • Lisa Barone

    That reads like a whole lot of assumptions, Jim.

    After you’ve had a few failures in your life ,a few children, a few mortgages, a few relationships, a few sicknesses and even a few losses, then I think you can speak with more credibility on value judgments.

    With all due respect, how do you know what my life’s been like to this point? You don’t know the losses I’ve had, the challenges I’ve faced, the hard relationships I’ve endured or anything else I’ve been through. A lot of people are trying to play the “immature” card, but the truth is, I have more life experience than I should for someone my age, I assure you that. If anyone’s coming in here lacking credibility or showing immaturity its you for making assumptions on my life experience based on a few blog posts you may have read or, god forbid, reading my Twitter account.

    You left your last job after a few weeks and your ’success’ so far with Outspoken Media is probably due a lot to the already well established cache your partners brought to the table.

    I left my last job after THREE MONTHS, not a few weeks and I left because it was either that or become one of the whiners that I wrote about in my post, someone who’s unhappy with their situation but who doesn’t have the balls to actually do something about it. I chose to do something about it, even if that meant leaving a well paying job in the heart of a recession. Sometimes you have to jump with nothing more than the hope that things will be better on the other side because you’ll MAKE them better.

    And I’m sorry, but if you think any “success” Outspoken has had is directly related to my partners and doesn’t include what I’VE brought to the table as the daily voice of this company and the brand that I’ve busted my ass to build over the past few months, then you’re certainly new here. I’m hardly riding on anyone’s coattails. Outspoken is successful because of what all THREE of us bring to the table. It’s not a 2 out of 3 ain’t bad deal.

    I think you’ll be a bit more humble and understanding in 10-15-20 years after you’ve experienced some of the significant curve balls life can throw at you.

    Again, you have no clue what I’ve already been through. But if you mean that in 10-20 years, I’ll be as jaded and broken down as you are, then I doubt that. My guess is that in 10 years I’ll still be as passionate and unwilling to face failure as I am now. But we’ll have to see.

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    If anyone is arrogant, it’s you – first Lisa just pointed at how you made serious invalid unsubstantiated assumptions. Second, your bitterness clearly shows that you are offended on a personal level, and thus the buttons this article pushed go directly to the heart and point of the article.

    I say this because I used to be in your shoes Jim – completely discounting the voice of anyone who “appeared” to have not gone through the trials in life that I had gone through over decades. And THAT arrogance caused me to become humbled. I went from making $115k at one point to making $12 k the following year. And now, in the heart of the recession, my latest business venture is thriving and I’ve had to hire people to help me keep the business growing. And I made the jump with NO capital, and no credit cards.

    Because I stopped whining, pulled myself up by the bootstraps and got back to doing what worked to get me success in the past, but with even more clarity.

    Is MY history good enough for you to believe that my current attitude is completely in alignment with Lisa’s? I’ve been in the work force since 1978. Is that enough cache for you Jim? That you’ll take me for my word and give MY view enough “trustworthiness?”

    If so, then you owe Lisa an apology. If not, then look in the mirror Jim. Your immaturity is showing.

  • Justin Brooke

    HaHa… I love how even in the comments of this post people are making excuses as to why you are wrong. “You haven’t had kids” “You don’t donate money”

    I could make an excuse for how donating isn’t even really helping since it’s giving a man a fish instead of teaching him to fish. I’m NOT saying that though.

    Killer blog post and looks like it got some traction! ;-)

  • Rhea Drysdale

    Yep, Rae and I totally wanted to partner with someone that doesn’t pull her own weight. That’s our brilliant business model. ;)

    For the record – Outspoken is a complete partnership. Each of us gives 110% in entirely different ways with entirely different skill sets. Lisa brings the voice. She builds our brand. She gives me bigger balls than I probably have. She deals with comments like these and provokes conversations that need to be had (Rae and I keep telling her to let us blog, but she just loves it so darn much). Because of the blog, the conference coverage and Lisa’s tireless community building, we’re a louder company than most after just three months. When the former job didn’t pan out, the ONLY thing I was absolutely certain of is that I HAD to work side by side with Lisa. She can be emo sometimes, but she keeps me in my place and mostly importantly, she’s hugely successful at what she does. She gets it. She gets things I’ll never dream of with regards to people and dialogues. I just want to stay quiet and play with spreadsheets, she pushes me to be a better SEO, a better marketer, a better business person. She’s just one of three incredible partners and she more than carries her own weight. I’m pretty low-key and Rae’s insanely busy, if it wasn’t for Lisa, we wouldn’t have the success we have today. Period.

    Lisa said I didn’t need to leave a love letter comment and I didn’t intend to, but I’m sick and feeling all lovey-dovey. This whole comment thread made me sicker. Lisa made a simple observation based on Twitter activity with some professional advice thrown in. If people take it personally, it’s because of something inside of themselves. I took certain parts personally because I made some excuses for work last week and have been known to whine. We all do it and we all distract ourselves from time to time with things like Ashton on Twitter. This wasn’t a post saying that every unfortunate person out of job is to blame for their situation. It wasn’t written to turn noses up at good causes. So, let’s put a positive spin on these comments and sing kumbaya beside a campfire.

    What did you do instead of tweeting about Ashton and Oprah?

    I got a nice kick in the nuts and helped three super cool clients.

  • Todd Heim

    “I find it funny how the post that was started with the idea that successful people can’t afford the time to waste it on Ashton Kutcher’s one million followers and “Oprah’s caps locked Twitter debut” eventually resulted in discussing it…” I love you Ann Smarty!!!

    Lisa: You’re a great writer and the comments here are a testament to that, but I find the entire premise (ESPECIALLY the title) to be in poor taste and TOTALLY naive.

    The only thing I hate more than laziness is whiners, but the fact is: it’s tough out there. I know too many fully educated, hard working people that are struggling to find a job. NOT because they aren’t trying or are lazy…but because there are twice as many people looking for jobs and half the jobs to go around! Plus: Entrepreneurship isn’t an option for most people (not to mention it can’t work for everyone!!!)

    I’m not saying that the lazy-whining-jobless don’t exist (and NO, I don’t feel bad for them either) But what perspective could YOU POSSIBLY have? I wonder how much time you’ve had to spend looking for work while you struggle to pay bills…WITH a family to feed? Did you bother to put yourself in the shoes of these people?

    I hope it feels good to belittle those who are less fortunate than you. And if you really intended for the “lazy-whining-jobless” to read this post, I’d suggest NOT insulting them before the end of the title.

    Perhaps you could be a TAD more constructive in your next post? Then again, you probably won’t top 100 comments that way, huh?

  • Lisa Barone

    Rhea’s lying. I don’t actually *do* any work. I just sit here and chew gum all day. Sometimes I don’t even chew it. I make Rae and Rhea do it for me.

  • Rhea Drysdale

    LMAO. eww… I will never chew gum for you. I draw the line at that, I’m sorry, I don’t think this is going to work out. :)

  • Lisa Barone

    Todd: I’m at a loss of words with your comment, to be honest. First because you’re calling me out on my experience when you’ve had your own company for about a day and a half now (with a domain that’s going to get you sued).

    And second, you know me personally. We’ve worked together. So you know that driving 100 comments to a blog post has never been my core objective. But if that’s how you feel about me and you don’t respect what I do, consider taking the LinkedIn recommendation I gave you months ago off your new Web site. Clearly you wouldn’t want the association, right? Not sure why you slapped it up there.

  • melanie

    Very well said. I totally agree. If something happens to you (either good or bad), it’s you who’s totally responsible, not anyone (or in this sense, not anything).

    by the way, I saw about that Oprah thing in E!News, and I was thinking “So what?”. It’s totally useless. hehehe..

  • Jim

    You are right, I don’t know about your life, I did make some big assumptions, in part, because of what I have read in your many blog posts. I could be completely wrong, if so, I really do apologize.

    So here’s my point, I admire people the most who have been down, failed, have huge responsibilities, don’t complain, get up and still succeed. Again a HUGE assumption, but I’ve never read about you being fired or laid off or failing a business or being married or having children or a multitude of the other aspects of life that give people a more humble view of others. I could be completely wrong and if so, I sincerely apologize, but if not you might seek more compassion for folks who have a more complicated life than you do.

  • Todd Heim

    Lisa: Perhaps I was a bit harsh… But perhaps some people don’t deserve the “you suck.”

  • Lisa Barone

    Jim: I admire those people to. I think we all do. That’s *who* we should be admiring. That’s a bit of what the post was about, actually.

    I still think its a bit unfair to say I haven’t been through anything (getting fired, failed marriages, failed business ventures, etc) simply because you haven’t heard about them. You’re on a blog about Internet marketing. When exactly should I casually mention my sordid past? It’s not exactly relevant to the conversation. :) This isn’t a blog about Lisa. It’s a blog about SEO. Had I started this entry off with a laundry list of of obstacles I’ve had to overcome to be here, I likely would have gotten blasted for singing my own praises. Just because every detail of my life is not public, does not mean those hardships don’t exist or haven’t happened. I’ve acquired quite a few battle scars.

  • Misty

    I think a lot of the commenters have already summed up my thoughts, but I think the one thing that I always try to keep in mind in these situations is that you never know what you would do in a situation until you have been there. Choosing to go out on your own is a heck of a lot different than getting laid off from your job unexpectedly when you have 4 kids and 2 houses and the entire industry you’ve learned is dead.

    We are taught to specialize in our careers, we spend 4-8 years in college, or at a job, studying one set of skills, and when we can no longer use those skills, we don’t know what to do. People could literally hunt food for themselves when we settled in this country, now they can barely balance a checkbook and we expect them to be able to pick themselves up by the bootstraps when disaster strikes.

    Lisa’s particular viewpoint is quite narrow – yes you do only have yourself to take care of, in a city that is quite affordable, and your career is one that you have learned the big picture giving you the skills to be able to do a website on your own from beginning to end. Most people have careers where they specialize in one area, they can’t just go out and create a company out of what they know, immediately. For instance, my partner is a quality engineer concentrating on manufacturing car parts – obviously a dying industry, and he did just lose his job about a month ago, for the second time in 3 years. My kids live in one state, his in another, so we have to keep 2 houses, and all the expenses that go with that including commuting back and forth every single week. Most people would have lost everything in this situation, but because I’ve learned the same things as Lisa, for much longer though, I can grow my business and help him do something online. That is not so for the rest of the people that lost their job at his company, they are all very knowledgeable in what they are trained in, but they can’t use those skills somewhere else, and they may not have the time to learn new skills before the food and money runs out. But they were just as eager to learn new skills in that career while on the job, they weren’t lazy, or stupid. Imagine if you could no longer write and SEO was dead, how fast could you support a family? How much harder would your transition have been?

    Rae is very successful, so am I, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took years of hard work. You have been successful in your company so far because of the years of hard work that went into your past jobs, you didn’t just walk into it. I think that’s the part you are missing, you acknowledge how hard you worked in the past, but don’t really count those years as part of your current success other than saying you worked hard. Had you had to start this company 5 years ago, how successful would you have been? If you had to start in a brand new industry today you would have a much harder time.

    In the end the post was done for shock value and to get attention (*links*shocked*) and it was successful, but don’t forget that your worldview is always limited by where you have yet to go.

  • streko

    Can everyone who is leaving deep/long comments and refreshing this page like mad to see what else has been said please email me any affiliate niches that you are into so I can take them over.


  • Dale

    I lucked out and found a job the first month I was out of work.

  • Therese Pompa


    I was kind of conflicted with your article at first, one part of me thought the article was right on and that there are a lot of lazy people out there that use anything they possibly can think of for an excuse, it does not have to be that we are in a recession – I don’t think that this is a behavior or mind set that is something new. Then in another moment I thought, wow – this article is kind of harsh, and a little judgmental and pretentious. With that being said I do respect you for speaking your opinion, and for you sticking to the way you feel regardless of the backlash that I am sure you anticipated on getting. My husband was laid off the day after Thanksgiving and he was probably the hardest worker that company had, but the layoffs were done based on seniority and he was there the least amount of time – 3 years. He has looked for a job, he has searched for side work, we both have networked and through that networking we have a guy that is trying to get him into the union faster as there are 100’s of apps they have to go through. Needless to say he still does not have a job and although we are making it – times are tight, so in that sense I feel that my husband has a right to say that we are at least partly in this situation because of the economy, that is why he was laid off, that is why he cannot find a job in his industry as no one seems to be hiring electricians. Does this mean he is going to give up, absolutely not, but it is not him being lazy either.

    I also do not think that people are necessarily tweeting instead of working because they are lazy or are blaming the recession for their problems. I think that at times, especially with so many channels out there, it can be hard to keep yourself disciplined, there are times that I tweet or post on face book or read blogs that are just not productive, I could be working instead. I think with so many new channels out there that are positioned as networking sites, that people think they are making the right choice signing up, etc. and then just loose track of why they joined the networking sites in the first place and get caught up in things like the Oprah scenario. There are plenty of things that are unproductive like me reading this post and reading half of the comments you could say is unproductive, and I should be working, but it was interesting so when I should be working – which is all the time, I am instead responding to your post.

    I also think there are people that work very hard but they may not work hard at things that necessarily generate income. Even though I am not in the best situation I choose to work hard at not only my job which brings me in money, but I also dedicated many hours a week to a non profit doing pro-bono consulting, this may not sound right or wise and my husband does not get it, but I still feel a need to give back.

    Basically in short – being concise is not a virtue of mine; I just think this is a very grayish issue which is made to sound kind of black and white.


  • Todd Heim

    Lisa, First of all: I wasn’t trying to compare our entrepreneurial experience…that’s not really relevant. I just find it hard to believe you could hold such a harsh opinion to the lower middle class labor worker (and others who are TRULY in trouble) if you’d been there.

    Second of all, if you aren’t trying to elicit comments, why are you being so harsh? Can’t you be encouraging instead of insulting? Perhaps you and I are motivated differently, but my inspiration never includes the words “you just suck.”

    I respect what you do and commend you for it…This blog is a f*#&ng hit! But try not to be so testy when people criticize you for being….um critical.

    As per your wishes, I removed your recommendation of me from my site…seems to me like you’d rather not be associated with US….Thanks for the legal advice…cheers!

  • Alysson

    I pity those of you who can’t articulate an opposing viewpoint to Lisa’s without attacking her personally.

  • Quinn

    Uh, please hold while I go kick ass in the world…I’ll be back for more advice shortly, so please keep it coming!

  • Steph

    a-F’n-men. I’m printing that out and sticking it above my desk. Work, work, repeat.

  • Maureen Jann

    Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

    Being productive, learning new things and offering up something to world is the way to get something back. Re-brand your reality. Use your clever marketing techniques on your situation and start seeing the opportunities.

  • Do512_Jimmy

    Thanks for the post, I agree whole-heartedly…particularly for people that are in sales/marketing/entrepreneurial careers. A lot of people were already screwed from the get-go, because their business idea sucked, their product/service sucked, and they dont have the skills/charisma to run a successful business. For those people I think the recession is a blessing, because it gives them something to blame their failure on.

    And BTW, I think Ashton’s Twitter stunt is brilliant brand-building and everyone is just jealous they didn’t think of it first. The man has become a media powerhouse in a matter of days, and has everyone talking about him. Kudos Ashton. And who cares if his raising money for charity is self-serving…isnt that always the case?

  • Sean Reiser

    I’ve been saying for a few years “the only job security in this world is to run a business and have a number of clients, if you lose one you’re only out a portion of your income” which is how I’m living right now, so I agree with 90% of what you’re saying. People need to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and find ways to get through this.

    Even before I owned my own business I’ve always had a rule when it came to being out of work, which happened twice. I spent the weekend after being layed off in a pity party, give myself 48 hours to feel like shit and that’s it. From that point on every morning I’d get up like I was going to an office.. spend 2 hours doing job search activities (job sites, networking etc) and follow up on anything fruitful. When that was done the next 7 or 8 hours were dedicated to either learning something, working on opensource software, or doing volunteer work. Of course, if the phone rang or an email came in for a job I’d follow up. I came out of my breaks in employment stronger and ready to go. Interestingly, the volunteer work always made it seem like I wasn’t on the beach. On more then one interview I referred to it as being on a sabbatical and was able to list what I had done (built these sites for non-profits, learned Drupal, contributed these modules to these projects).

    All that said I have to admit to discussing the Oprah and Ashton effect. Less out of gossip and more because it impacts a project I’m on these days.

  • Nick

    I agree with everything Todd Heim. It’s easy for you sit in judgement on the ‘little people’ up there in your ivory tower and thus blog poisonous invective such as this.

    Patronising those who work hard, have families to provide for, but through no fault of their own have suddenly found themselves a statistic has to be one of the cheapest and lowest shots I’ve seen – but then, what can you expect from an ‘internet marketer’? If you hadn’t noticed entire industries are being wiped out because of the actions of money-greedy people like yourself.

    Well here’s some poisonous invective for you : I really hope you lose everything, see how it bloody feels!

  • Grow Up!

    Well, I was a fan of this blog, until I realized that the person that writes for it is just a child with an inflated ego. This is the biggest piece of shit I have ever read in my life. Wake up little girl, not everyone in the world knows how to make money online nor do they have friends that will help them out to get a new business going. I am in my 40’s and I know quite a few people that are my age who are having a very difficult time finding work in the fields they have worked in for 20 plus years. These are folks who have a track record that eclipses yours, and they are very talented and smart folks who have just run into a hard time because yes, we are in a recession and certain industries are hurting, obviously the industry you are in is not. I had to state my opinion on this because I find this whole post totally naive. I am going to make a point of posting this everywhere online that I can find where there are people desperately looking for work and in bad situations, I am sure all these folks will love to hear they suck.

  • Rae Hoffman

    Holy hell Batman… I go away for three days and come back to find one group of people holding my business partner above their heads yelling good game and another group standing across from them with pitchforks and fires on sticks.

    Lisa was in NO WAY saying that EVERY person out of a job or having financial trouble is in that situation because of their own fault. You can’t control cancer, you can’t control (in most cases) being laid off and you can’t control your entire industry going down in flames (waves to all real estate agents). But, what you can control is everything after that first six months. Losing your job, someone getting sick, your industry being eaten alive – at some point you have to TAKE CONTROL and move things in the direction you want them to go.

    Those of you using fake names to tell Lisa what a bitch she is and hoping she loses everything – well, you’ve obviously failed to take control after the first six months and hate her for taking away your excuses – deal with it.

    “Not everyone has a college degree, not everyone is born with the same opportunities, not everyone has the time to…” seriously? EXCUSES.

    I don’t have a college degree and barely got my high school diploma (I actually have a GED). I come from a broken home, with a family that could fill any daytime talk show. I was out on my own at 16 (no shit) and was working two jobs (sales clerk at a mall store during the day and a Waitress at night) so that I could eat (and thus why I have a GED instead of a high school diploma). I was married at 19, had my first child at 21 and he had a massive stroke soon after. He is severely multiply handicapped and then I had two more children before my 26th birthday. Ten dollars was a thousand to me back then… my ex husband made 35K in a good year. I had no formal education, no money and “extra time” was not in surplus. I have every possible excuse to hate Lisa and be on welfare. But I’m not. Cause I decided not to be.

    Very few people in this world have no choice except to accept what has been handed to them (my oldest son, unfortunately, is one of them)… the rest of you, especially if living in North America have the world at your fingertips. For those of you saying “Wake up little girl, not everyone in the world knows how to make money online nor do they have friends that will help them out to get a new business going” – you know what? I could easily make a point to post your message (had you had the balls to sign your name to it) on every message board where parents of children who fight to lift their head daily hang out so they can see you whine about how helpless able bodied 40 year olds with years of experience and talent are.

    It’s all about PERSPECTIVE. Lisa was trying to give people some so that a few of them might do what I did ten years ago and say “you know what? I want more. And I CAN get it.”

  • Kelly Myers

    I think the article is outstanding and should be inspirational. Anyone that takes offense to something like this has NO perspective. I HATE dealing with people who are always “victims”. Bad stuff happens so just STFU and get out there and do something about it.

    Good Comment, BTW, Rae.

  • Dave Tropeano


    Your six points were spot on and hopefully a wake up call to everyone that wants to whine about how “bad” things are today with the economy.

    Life doesn’t come with a box of kleenex to whipe snivelling noses with.

    As for Oprah, it’s fun to see so many Oprah haters. There’s no reason to hate though. Riding Oprah’s coat tails is a freakin easy way to do trend marketing. You can be a lazy suck bastard and still make money watching Oprah.

    Then again, to do this you have to actually work a little, get ahead of the crowd, and have something to say. Or you could just slap up some flogs and pretend to be a mommy that lost 35 pounds with the acai and colon cleanse that Dr Oz and Oprah “recommended”…

    But even that requires work.

    Lisa – a GREAT piece of bait here.

  • netmeg

    You obviously can’t control all the circumstances of your life.

    You do have control over your reaction to them, and how they shape your future.

    I can think of no better example of this than Rae.

  • Lisa Barone

    I think the conversation has run its course on this one so we’re closing comments before things take a nonproductive turn. Thanks to everyone for participating in what turned out to be a very passionate discussion. :)