Daniel Robinson is a bookkeeping and business kind of guy. He’s not really who you’d think of when you think of a “creative.” But there was a creative spark deep down inside of him that he couldn’t ignore as he sat in his Kansas City corporate cubicle.
“About 2 years into working at my corporate job I felt this restlessness. I wasn’t happy. I could see it when I came home from work in the way I was interacting with people. There was this emptiness that I didn’t really understand. I quickly figured out that it was because I was doing something that didn’t excite me,” Daniel said. So the not-quite-thirty-year-old heeded the advice of some Nashville friends, quit his corporate job, and moved in with them for five weeks just to clear his head and discover adventure.
He ended up working for a business management company in Nashville. The job revolved around a different process, but it ended up being the same old corporate thing. So he went and got a part time job, and began to help his buddy do business management for a successful singer-songwriter. For a few months he did the work for free. Once the songwriter’s team realized he was pretty dog gone good at what he did, they brought him on to do paid work, and his business management company was born.
At his corporate job, Daniel remembered thinking that he would never use the skills he was learning there in the cubicle. But now he’s using all the skills that he acquired from both of those companies to help other people who are on the creative path. Daniel is passionate about interacting with people and helping them. Now he creatively cares for and loves people by taking on the moving parts of their lives and enabling them to focus on just a few things. His clients include musicians, entrepreneurs, and independent artisans.
You can almost hear the “corporate” Daniel coming out when he says, “Be ‘mindful’ of what it is you’re good at. Hear what people say you’re good at. Don’t ignore it. People don’t just tell you you’re good at things when you’re not. People have told me ‘you’re good at this.’ That’s why I have a little business today.”
But don’t think for a minute that there isn’t a creative side to him as well. Daniel’s encouragement to those who feel trapped in a corporate life is to be creative in figuring out what it is you’re good at. When you notice that you have some special skills you can start to foster those and press into them. You can do it whether you’re coming out of college or if you’re forty years into a corporate job.
He says, “If you want to do something on your own, take notice of the skills you have that people will pay you for. In all reality I don’t know if three or four years ago I even really wanted to be a business manager. I wanted to be a design guru. But I learned that I’m skilled in this area and people can pay me right now. And out of that has come this really rewarding fun job where I get to work for myself.”
Moving out of the corporate life and into his own business has made Daniel happier than he’s ever been. He says, “I might not be making the most money, or have a home right now, but I’m more happy than I’ve ever been in all aspects of life: work, relationships, being active.”
The next time you drive by an office building, think about all the creativity that’s pent up in those corporate cubicles. Maybe it’s your own. And maybe, just maybe, there’s a “Daniel” inside of you waiting to move from corporate to creative and experience a brand new life.
“I can remember sitting at my old job and wondering what it would be like to be outside, work in a coffee shop, or go get food and not feel pressure about taking a little time to go and get it.”
What skills do you have that people might pay you for right now?