It’s time to stop minimizing self-employment

As I transition to working for a new company today, I’m reflecting on the language people have used when talking to me about working as a self-employed person vs working for a company. After news broke that I’d be transitioning my practice to Reed Longyear, I heard “When do you start work?” My new job was referred to as “gainful employment.” Another person called today my “first day of work.”
All of these phrases subtly minimized the work I was doing as a self-employed person. It suggested that my foray into entrepreneurship was somehow less than working for a company. It was not gainful; it was not work.
I don’t think the people who used these words had ill-intent, or even thought about how cutting and hurtful their language might have been. It is representative, however, of a deeper cultural disregard or diminishment of a self-employed person.
Don’t believe me? Just look at the advice surrounding how to write about self-employment on a resume. One article suggested addressing extenuating circumstances that took you away from your career path. As if running a business wasn’t part of your career? Many others discuss the pitfalls of what a prospective employer might read into a period of self-employment. One article even suggested not listing short periods of self-employment, because it could be seen as a liability.
When we think about our self-employed friends, I want to challenge each of us to be mindful of how we talk to and about their work. Owning and running a successful company (even if the sole “employee” is the owner) is hard work. Harder than showering and showing up at an office to work for someone else. Self-employed people must be entrepreneurial and willing to take risks to achieve great success. They have to work hard to build great relationships with clients and do impeccable work. They seek out challenges. And they likely have experience in many aspects of running a business besides doing the work they promise to clients (e.g. finance, marketing, etc.).
In the end, if they do it right, it will be gainful – both personally and financially.

Matho Tapila Mega Moto Adventure

My new favorite picture of Nick and me

In June, Nick, my dad, Karen, Dave and I undertook our most ambitious motorcycle tour ever. Twelve days, five states, seven national parks, 3100 miles, and only two notable bike issues. Whew!

Highlights included a return to the 99 miles of twisty road leading to Lolo Pass, seeing all sorts of wildlife (moose, buffalo, big horn sheep, grizzly bear, pronghorn, and more), bowls of legendary cheeseburger soup, seeing the Brewery Follies in Virginia City, geysers and thermal springs in Yellowstone NP, showing those WY people how we dance in Seattle, an unexpected visit to a roadside air museum, hilarious entertainment by a singer in Gillette, WY (where Les Canards Sauvages almost got renamed “the water people”), contrasting visits to Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore, meeting an artist whose work was solicited for inclusion in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, walking around Devil’s Tower, prairie dogs, surviving 30+ mph cross-winds, a sobering visit to Little Big Horn, $2 margaritas and evening games of pool, an early morning blast up the Going to the Sun Highway (with no cars!), skinny dipping in Avalanche Lake, rafting the Middle Fork Flathead River, a visit with long-time family friends in Sandpoint, ID (dinner at a floating restaurant!), twisting the throttle through some of Washington’s best roads, being met by riding friends (Mark and Laura) in Winthrop on our last night, and surviving the final day’s ride home.

We live in an amazing country, and I’m so glad I get to experience it on two wheels with friends and family. Watch the slideshow below to see some of the visual highlights. (The arrow in the lower right corner will embiggen it.) Additional pictures by my dad are here.


Assortment | 3

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone NP

I’m buried in photos from my motorcycle trip in June, an impromptu trip to Dublin, and a few hikes, climbs, and overnight bike adventures in between. Thankfully, while the rest of the world is out adventuring, gear manufacturers are hard at work in Friedrichshafen and Salt Lake City, showcasing drool-worthy new gear for adventures to come. Some of it is available today, and some of it will arrive in stores this winter. Here’s a few of my favorites.

roof-top camperWhite Lightning Hard Shell roof-top camper. You can put racks on top of this low-profile camper so you can carry your bikes, surfboard, kayak, or whatever and have a comfy place to sleep. (At $3800, it’s pricey, but if you preorder this for delivery in the fall, you can save $500.)

pocket cleatsThese ultralight Pocket Cleats look like the first decent alternative to microspikes. At only 5.6 ounces per pair, that’s half the weight of the alternative. Oh, and did I mention they’re $10 cheaper, too?! It’s hard to imagine buying winter traction in August, but they may be hard to come by this winter.

There are a lot of portable espresso makers out there. Reviews are mixed, however, on the quality of the espresso produced. The Caflano All-in-One Coffee Maker looks like it could possibly make the world’s most perfect, fresh cup of drip coffee. A little adjustable grinder nests inside a mesh drip filter. Coffee drips into an insulated thermal mug. You’ve got to see the video to appreciate just how slick this thing is.

ATCBlack Diamond is releasing an upgraded ATC belay device. I don’t know anything about it, but it looks right sexy.

nano air lightAnd when the Patagonia Nano Air Light comes out, you can bet I’ll be buying one for super cold cross-country ski days. It looks like the existing Nano Air Jacket, but with hybridized panels for extra breath- ability – perfect for high-exertion activities in winter.

One helmetBolle has also introduced The One Helmet, a bike helmet I think I pretty much need to have. It’s got removable areo shells (okay, I don’t really need this), a built in LED safety light, interchangeable liners for summer and winter, a removable visor, and a “sunglasses garage” to hold your glasses when you want to take them off mid-ride.

Finally, if all this gear didn’t make you go glassy-eyed, Will Gadd’s article on overcoming fear is fantastic. Lean into it, analyze/learn from it, and when you decide to go for it, really commit.




Sometimes you find a rare, beautiful gem in an airport. Next time you fly through Chicago O’Hare, I challenge you to find this passageway. The neon flickers in a surreal, technicolor light show.

(It’s been there since I was a kid and I still it!)

Air time


You could hear it in the woods that afternoon. Around the corner, obscured by the forest.


(A scream of joy? Or terror?)