What I’m reading and writing, June 2

• Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich offers some reasonable proposals — especially related to tax credits and “earnings insurance” — to help the ranks of the self-employed (trendy current euphemism: entrepreneurs) put out by the bad economy:

“New businesses are vital to job growth, and entrepreneurship does fuel the economy. And surely some of America’s new independent workers will build their own companies. But when the economy is still so hard on so many, it’s important to distinguish between entrepreneurial zeal and self-employed desperation.”

• Seth Godin asks aspiring “free agents” (Daniel Pink’s term) 16 questions, and predicts the most persistent, and unanswerable, question of all:

“In my experience, people skip all of these questions and ask instead: ‘What can I do that will be sure to work?’ The problem, of course, is that there is no sure, and even worse, that you and I have no agreement at all on what it means for something to work.”

• A blogger who started writing about sports as a hobby, with a special focus on sports media, has sold his site for what’s reportedly a low seven-figure sum. One of his rivals is not jealous, but rather impressed, and finds the prescription for bootstrapping success of both The Big Lead and Pro Football Talk:

“Three easy steps: Work your ass off. Rinse. Repeat.

“Somehow more impressive is that McIntyre and Florio completely committed their lives to blogging with zero guarantee of future financial security. Without that kind of risk, it’s almost impossible to achieve their results.

“They embraced the abyss.

“But those abilities only achieve financial fortune with unrelenting effort. Effort that 99% of the population isn’t willing to commit.”

And in the case of the newest sports blogging millionaire, that content formula also included lots of pop culture and celebrity references, rumor, gossip and babes.

I’m not trying to be dismissive. This is common fare on some of the top sports blogs, and I’m fine with that. But they do help those “three easy steps” along quite well, and I wish the admirers of these sites, and their business models, would be a little more forthcoming in pointing that out.

Apparently McIntyre had a day job, until recent months, and has a wife who is gainfully employed. So how much was he really risking?

I have to remind myself that while the material The Big Lead serves up is rarely to my taste, what’s important is what can be drawn from the process of what McIntyre has built, and how he made it so valuable to a buyer.

• I’ve been absorbing this truth while reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Crush It!” Absolute passion and commitment are required, and nothing less than that.

Yesterday I was handed a tremendous opportunity to help promote a project that I’ve had percolating for a while. I’ve been absolutely energized and excited about this, and will explain more soon.

I’ve had some of the best days of my post-newspaper life recently, despite the anxieties that Reich has so sympathetically described. While there are no guarantees, it’s exhilarating that some of the aspirations and visions I’ve had for my work are starting to take shape.

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