On My Own

It has been a little over a year now since I left the firm and started Dillon Consulting Services LLC. It has been an interesting, if not unexpected, year.

The first thing that happens when, after thirty-three years, you leave a major professional services firm to start your own firm in your early 60’s is that people make an awful lot of unwarranted assumptions. They automatically assume that something happened—that you really got fired from the firm, and that, at your age, the only thing left for you professionally is to hang out your own shingle, since, face it, no one is going to hire you at your advanced age. The other thing that they assume is that you must be in desperate financial straights, since they figure that your regular income has been “cut off”—so, you must be living on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and mac and cheese.

All of this without knowing any facts, whatsoever. This is the convenient stereotype. And, we tend to automatically put people into stereotypical categories. It makes thinking about them, and positioning them in the status hierarchy, so much easier, even though it may bear absolutely no relation to the actual truth.

The second thing that happens when you leave a major firm to start your own firm is that you are swiftly dropped by your so-called “friends” and “business acquaintances”. This is because, without a major firm behind you, the perception is that YOU can no longer do anything for THEM. And, that is what it is all about, isn’t it—-THEM.

It gets even worse.

The perception is that, not only can YOU no longer do anything for THEM, but–but, heaven forbid, now YOU MIGHT BE ASKING THEM FOR SOMETHING! And, my God, that is a “no-no”! I mean, that’s not how it’s supposed to work. See, THEY want to be in a position to be asking YOU for things, not the other way around. Oh, the horror! Oh, the calamity!

Of course, I knew all of this before I left the firm, since I’ve seen this occur with many others who have done the same thing. But, it must be a hell of a shock to executives who have sat in the catbird seat at major firms for many years, and who now find themselves adrift on the lonely sea of solo entrepreneurialism.

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