When in the course of career events it becomes necessary for professionals to dissolve the economic bands that have connected them to the corporation, and to assume the powers of free agency, these free agents should declare the ideals for which they quit their day jobs, even without the benefit of severance pay.
Sorry, John Hancock, but we couldn't resist. After all, this year marks the 232nd anniversary of the birth of the United States of America, the original free agent nation. To celebrate, we asked consultants and contractors to declare the meaning of professional independence in their lives. With no further ado, here's what they told us:
"When you work, you sell off units of your life called hours in return for units of freedom called dollars. Professional independence allows you to control the ratio of life you sell for liberty, and therefore achieve a more perfect balance in your pursuit of happiness." -- Matthew Strebe, owner of Connetic, a network-integration firm in San Diego, and author of From Serf to Surfer: Becoming a Network Consultant.
"It is the right of every independent agent to use his or her time to make decisions, not stuff, to be productive, not busy, and to leverage every moment to make a difference, not just dollars." -- Seth Godin, online marketing maven based in Dobbs Ferry, New York, and author of Survival Is Not Enough.
"The essence of working solo is to embark on a path of self-discovery through entrepreneurship. It's the freedom to craft the life you want to live." -- Terri Lonier, president of Working Solo Inc. in San Francisco, and author of Working Solo: The Real Guide to Freedom and Financial Success with Your Own Business.
"Independence allows us to pursue our passions. The ability to do this is something extremely American, and the best way to do it is alone or in a small team." -- Bryan deSilva, IT consultant in Scottsdale, Arizona.
"Leaving the corporate world for free agency isn't quite on the same moral plane as breaking free of an imperialist power that crushed religious freedom and taxed people without giving them the full rights of citizenship. But for me, the animating ideals were remarkably similar -- life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." -- Dan Pink, free agent guru based in Washington, DC, and author of Free Agent Nation: How America's New Independent Workers Are Transforming the Way We Live Ebb Associates in Portage, Wisconsin, and author of The Consultant's Quick Start Guide: An Action Plan for Your First Year in Business.
"Freedom of choice is one good reason to be self-employed. I choose whom I will work for or not. It's good to say no sometimes and not worry." -- Caricaturist Kid Cardona, owner of The Infamous Cartoon Posse in Austin, Texas
"My professional independence means I love what I do, do what I love, and never wear pantyhose or hairspray again." -- Elaine Biech, president of the management consulting firm
We, therefore, the freelancers and consultants, do, in the name and by authority of the good people of these silicon valleys and post-industrial plains, solemnly publish and declare that tens of millions of Americans are -- and of right ought to be -- free agents and independent professionals.