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Hopkinton Resident Pens Third Book

 

by Anne Mattina

January 6, 2008 — Hopkinton resident Michael J. Katz has just published his third book. The first one, he explains, “was entertaining, but not very useful.” The second, according to the author, “was useful, but not very entertaining.” This latest? Well, “is neither useful, nor entertaining” he explains, his grin revealing a wry sense of humor.

It Sure Beats Working: 29 Quirky Stories and Practical Business Lessons for the First-time, Mid-Life, Solo Professional provides a humorous view and a lot of practical wisdom for people considering making the leap to working for yourself.

Katz, founder, owner and sole employee of Blue Penguin Development located at 1 Ash St, left corporate life a few years ago because things “were just too predictable.” He explains, “The way I look at it, working for someone else, particularly when it is a large company, is like living with your parents: you’ll never starve but you’ll frequently be bored to tears.” Logic like that is hard to argue with, but it is Katz’s perspective on the whole process that is most persuasive.

Katz’s belief in the positive potential of being a solo practitioner is infectious; and he presents his ideas in pithy, down-to-earth vignettes to which readers may easily connect. He shares his own experiences as a mid-level professional, having gone the route of “college, business school and Corporate America.” During his final stint in that world, he thought “Life’s okay, I’ve got a job,” but didn’t feel as if he was “firing on all cylinders.” He found a creative outlet in writing a humor column for his then hometown newspaper, The Reading Advocate. Encouraged by a New England Press Club award for his work, he thought writing professionally might be his just the thing to get him out of his rut.

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Utilizing additional skills as a marketing consultant, he created a niche for himself producing electronic newsletters for professional service companies, a business that has successfully evolved over the last 7 years. Katz is “living his dream,” and enumerates the many benefits of working for himself including being able to spend more time with his family, lack of stress that often accompanies the “undercurrent of competition” in even the friendliest of corporate environments, and being able “to dress the way you want!" When asked if he missed the relationships found at work, he asserted that he has just as many as he did, through membership in various professional groups. The biggest difference is now he can “pick them,” which makes the relationships all the more meaningful.

Why the book? According to Katz, he found himself telling the same stories over and over again to people who, upon discovering his path, confessed to a similar desire to go it alone. His advice is based on what he wishes someone had given him as he made his decision. “Taking a leap is based on believing you can do it,” he insists, and that message comes through clearly throughout the book

Katz clearly enjoys motivating and inspiring people, all complemented by a good laugh along the way. Some of the lessons in the book include the very straight-forward “Make Yourself Accessible” to the reminder “Don’t Ignore Your Flashes of Insight” to the not-so-obvious “Beware of Successful People” using everything in life from his son’s preschool’s pet turtle to his experience as a rec basketball coach here in Hopkinton. This is not to say that the book should be taken lightly, as it is filled with accessible, useful advice. “In the end," Katz notes, “starting your own business is not always easy and not always fun. But ...it sure beats working”

 

NOTE: Anne Mattina, Ph. D., is an Associate Professor of Communication at Stonehill College.

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