I’m guessing you’ve never had that question asked of you.
I, however, hear it about once a week and always from a complete stranger.
“Blup-Gen” (accent on the Blup) is the way most humans choose to pronounce the vanity license plate on my car: BLUPGN.
They see the plate. They try and figure out what it means (only one person in 10 years has ever done so correctly). They finally give up and ask.
The answer, if you haven’t already guessed (or fallen asleep) is that BLUPGN is my attempt to spell out the name of my company – Blue Penguin – using the measly six-letter allotment granted to drivers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
I admit that it’s kind of frustrating. Just a couple of more vowels would clear things up, putting an abrupt and permanent end to my ongoing relationship with the “What’s Blup-Gen?” people.
So why bother?
Is it because I’m trying to impress other drivers with my vehicular flashiness? I don’t think so; there’s a limit to how cool one can be while piloting a Ford Focus.
No my friend, I got the special plates back in early 2001 for one very simple reason: I wanted to paint myself into a corner.
Here’s what happened…
At the time, I’d been working as a solo professional for less than a year, having left my well-paid, comfy day job in search of “something better.”
I don’t like to brag, but in just eight months, things were going along … I think the word is … crapily. So much so that I was starting to wonder if I’d have to go back and get a job.
One day, I had a better idea: I’d eliminate Plan B.
Instead of “keeping my options open,” as my careful brain suggested, I’d deliberately close them all. I’d make it harder – not easier – to climb back into my former self.
Back to my car.
Driving around with license plates that nobody can decipher is odd. But driving around with license plates that reference a failed company is embarrassing.
The thought of having to pull into my driveway every night advertising a mistake helped keep me focused.
I looked for other “Eliminate Plan B” opportunities. I signed a one year lease on office space. I hired an attorney to incorporate my company. I had a blue penguin tattooed on my left bicep.
Okay, I made that last bit up; I don’t have a tattoo (I barely have a left bicep).
But you get the picture. I jumped, all in and with both feet. I stopped worrying about “What will I do if…?” and stopped thinking about my back-up plan. Instead, I got busy working on my new business.
Here’s the bottom line. As a solo professional, you’ll never do great things with one foot on the brake and one foot on the accelerator.
Ignore the well-meaning friends and family who advise you to hedge your bets. Scrap Plan B and just jump.