Life after Startup – The humbling solo-narrative

From managing dude to Podcast maker

“Hi I’m Alex, from Funk-e.. eh wait no, from Mister Awesome and I founded a company before going solo and doing podcasts…”


This is something funny I caught myself doing the first weeks when introducing myself to people at the new co-working space where I installed my new office.

Somehow all of a sudden being a freelancer/solo-preneur/podcast maker feels uneasy. I also felt the need to explain to people that my life wasn’t always a me-myself-and-I renting a desk, my company covered the entire top floor of the very building we are in.

The normal thing to do would be to just say I make podcasts now, and tell stories about entrepreneurship. However years of building a company from scratch and also gaining the fancy title of co-founder of awesome and being the “big boss” were hard to flush out of my system.


Professional identification

The reason this happened has everything to do with identity. I have spent years defining myself and becoming part of a closely knit community of likeminded professionals: Entrepreneurs.

According to Wikipedia, the process of professional identification Is the “sense of  oneness individuals have with a profession (Law, Medicince), and the degree to which they define themselves as profession members.

In the graph below you can see exactly how that works. 

This is very often the first thing Americans will ask right after you say your name: What do you do?

A choice of profession gives us an awful lot of information about a person, do they like numbers? Are they creative? Do they care about money? Are they likely to be planners or do they like to just wing it?

However it doesn’t just stop there, as an entrepreneur there is also something else to consider, which is Entrepreneurial identity.


Entrepreneurial identity as a form of expression

According to this article “..many entrepreneurs start their ventures moved by the desire to express who they are particularly early on entrepreneurs make decisions that align with their Entrepreneurial identity. These decisions span product and service design business location hiring and more.”

When we first started Funk-e we started out as an animated explanation video company. I had a very specific idea about how everything we made needed to sound, feel and look.

This means I literally did the first 500 voiceovers of the videos we made and custom made the sound effects for each “Swoosh” for a scene transition and “pop” for objects appearing in the video.

I didn’t give clients a lot of choice in the matter. The videos were cheap and very quickly made, so the only way to do that without becoming boring was to have a very clear identity. The videos needed to have a casual tone of voice, have plenty of jokes to keep the complex topics light, and be super simply animated to not distract from the topic.

The process of crafting that specific look and feel was everything to me, and it is a very clear example of what entrepreneurial identity is. Everything about the product was a direct extension of what I found important in life as well: to keep things simple, not taking myself too seriously and definitely not take too much time for something.

Coming to terms with my new entrepreneurial identity

Last week a friend of mine told me a very simple but powerful story about a journalist friend of his. She had just started her new adventure as a host for events after a long time creating content as a successful journalist.

Every time she introduced herself she would start by talking about her past career as a journalist first and then later hint at the fact she had started a new business as a event host.

She was frustrated during a lunch and said she didn’t really manage to get any clients and was thinking about quitting.

Weeks later they met again. She was overwhelmed by the amount of new projects she got and interest in her new activity. What changed? 

She decided to drop that first part of her story about her past, and just introduce herself as a professional Event host.

So here I go again:

I’m Alex, and I tell exciting stories about entrepreneurship, how about you?

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