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Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself Paperback – May 1, 2002
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"As beautifully written as it is profoundly prophetic... the best book on work since The Organization Man."―Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence
"Provocative."―New York Times
"A delight."―Financial Times
"Warning: This book may make you rethink your career."―CNN
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Never the less, a great deal of it has happened.
A lot of us no longer have jobs. We have customers. Read all about it.
We are no longer in the "new economy" of 2002 and the playing field has changed a bit. Is this book still worth reading? In the reviewer's opinion, it remains relevant for three reasons. First, even in a challenging, then recovering economy, there are many opportunities for "nanocorps" that can offer quick, flexible service to corporations that don't want to bring those services inside. Second, the recent economic pressures have spurred many to pursue after-hours work in a second job that supplements their daytime paycheck. Much of the author's advice is relevant to members of this second-shift workforce who don't have to entirely support themselves as free agents.
The third and best reason to read this book applies to those working for large companies as well as free agents, second-shifters, and other independents. Even if you are in a seemingly secure job, you should take a large measure of responsibility for your own career, thinking like a free agent or as someone who may become one with very little notice. This includes taking initiative to develop new skills, even funding training out of your own pocket. It may include purchasing your own computer equipment, reference materials and business cards when your employer will not. This book encourages all of us to prepare for portability to another organization--or to no organization. We are more occupationally and financially secure if we listen to this advice.
A final thought. As we move into an era of increased government regulation, what will happen to free agents? It is unlikely all will be absorbed into large organizations, even if the regulatory environment becomes unfriendly to small businesses. Some, perhaps many, will go underground to become economic partisans, fighting their own low-profile war for survival. I wonder if a new version of the book will be released as "Black Market Nation?"
This book is recommended. The author's latest thinking about the workforce can be found on the "Fast Company" web site and in his latest book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.
Personally, I found reading this book often resembled looking into a mirror of the life I plan to enter shortly.
To be sure, Dan doesn't just show you the mountain tops of Free Agent Nation, you get to see both the valleys and slums. Yet, there is an overall hopefull tone to this geography of the new nation state. There is a life outside of Corporate America and that place isn't the desert nor the slums that we often equate with going solo.
Just visit your local Starbucks, Kinkos, or Mail Boxes,etc on any given day and you will meet the varried citizens of Free Agent Nation. This is their infrastructure and this is where they are to be seen and observed (in their natural habitat). These folks are not universally anything other than independent people making a living by blending their family and work lives. (Nope, it isn't a balancing act, it is a process of blending the two.)
If you've ever given a thought to becoming a Free Agent this is the first map of the territory. You will read about the heights and depths of this emerging nation state.
Note: In reading this, I found more than a few holes in The Free Agent Nation that could be filled by an enterprising Free Agent. For starters, sombody who knows the intracacies of health insurance who would setup a cooperative where free agents could purchase health insurance at group rates. There are even more, but I'll leave those to the enterprising readers.