I am, I say

(From January 13, 2009 newsletter)

I am.

These are the most powerful words a new freelancer or consultant can say (of course, when supplemented with a word or phrase that completes the thought). For instance, “I am a training consultant.” Or, “I am a writer.” Or, to tweak the pattern slightly, “I design” or “I advise” or “I plan.”

What all these statements have in common is that they state who we are in the present tense.

Take a stand–now

Now I’m not speaking as my former-English-teacher self here. It’s not the grammar, it’s the sense of identity that comes from telling ourselves, and telling others, who we are.

Consider the alternative, a vague statement of what we may do in the future. “I’m thinking of …,” or “I’d kind of like to …” or “I’m looking into…” or “Maybe I’ll…”

The difference seems slight at first. But in terms of moving a business forward, the difference is huge. It takes a certain decisiveness to tell the world what we do in the present tense.

Say it aloud. When networking or simply talking to friends, family and acquaintances, use the present tense. At the beginning–and perhaps even after we’ve been at the business for awhile–it can be difficult. We may have to consciously take this step, thinking about what we say to make the change.

When people tell us, “That’s nice,” it’s not nice.

When we speak vaguely about the future, no one can challenge or even question us. People respond with an equally vague–but positive–response: “That’s nice.’ Or, “Sounds good.” Or, “Great idea.” They won’t ask questions because they expect no answers.

Wimps describe their business in future tense

Future statements don’t engage others on either a practical or a spiritual plane. If you are looking for serendipity (unexpected opportunity!), this won’t coax its appearance.

What we say is not etched in stone. There is nothing weak or embarrassing about refining our mission over time. Even after we print business cards or create websites, our visions continue to evolve. But speaking in the present sense helps us try on an identity and gauge how it fits.

At this point you may be thinking about elevator speeches and two-minute intros. While crafting snappy marketing messages may be in your future, for now, simply stating what you do in a word or two, in the present, is a brave step.


I’ll go first. Here’s who I am:

I coach and write. I help unemployed and underemployed people start earning money quickly by freelancing and consulting.

I’ve experienced everything that a new freelancer and consultant goes through, starting with my first “I am” as a freelance writer in 1992. As the sole support of three children, I focused intently on what earns money and pushed my niche definition and marketing efforts in the most lucrative directions appropriate to my background, skills and preferences.

Over time I’ve advised many others, first through casual conversations and then through more structured coaching, on how to start earning money quickly. With the launch of Stand Up 8 Times as a business, I’m expanding my reach.

Do you have an “I am”? How have you stepped into your identity? I would love to hear from you at Diana@StandUp8Times.com.


2 responses to “I am, I say

  1. I agree with your contention that the words we use make a psychological impact on how we think. I find myself describing what I am doing in weak wimpy terms and end up feeling bad, even apologetic! One of my promises to myself is that I will be more definite and bold in describing my job, though part of my problem is that I haven’t defined it completely….

    I am a PR and marketing communications consultant. I write press releases and copy for marketing materials. I do simple graphic design.

    I began as an assistant to a local chiropractor, learning marketing and PR from the ground up. Using what I learned there, I am now building my own business helping small businesses in my community get their messages out to the public via marketing materials and media.

    Thanks for your newsletter, Diana. It is a gem.

  2. Leslie,

    I think it is amazing that you are establishing your practice from learning on the job. What a non-traditional approach! I look forward to seeing your progress.


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