The Power of Being Part of a Tribe

After nine years as a freelance copywriter, I felt an urge to return to the corporate world. My kids were older and needed me less. I was single again. And the “writer’s life” that felt full of freedom in the early years now felt, well, a little lonely. For the first time in years, a steady paycheck, regular hours, co-workers, an office, benefits … all the things I swore I’d never want again … started to look good.

My job search went relatively smoothly. I found I was worth much more out in the “real” world than I was when I left after having my own successful business as a copywriter, coach and marketing consultant for nine years. But I also was appalled at how incredibly uptight – and downright invasive – employers had become in the intervening years. They are able to mine an incredible amount of data about you before they even talk to you on the phone, let alone invite you for an interview. Your online presence, a litany of personality tests, even details about your credit report, can all precede any human interaction. And in such a tight employment market, they can get away with it. Plenty of people will submit to just about anything to get– and keep – a job in this economy.

Just as I was about to reach the altar and take those employment vows, a crazy thing happened. First, my almost-employer objected to the title of a play I had written, produced and was about to perform, and they rescinded their job offer. On the same exact day, I found out that six of my copywriting colleagues were travelling from five different states across the country just to see me in that very same play!

That’s when I understood what copywriting – and the community of writers I have been a part of for almost a decade – had really become to me.

Copywriting was no longer just a job, or a business. It had become a way of life. And my fellow copywriters had become my tribe.

We are a group of motivated, smart, and extremely fun people. We have lively conversations about all manner of things. We may not agree with each other, but we always respect each other. We share secrets about what works. We help each other succeed and improve. We compete in the spirit of upping everyone’s game, not cutting each other down.

And when we get together, there is no group of people who laughs – or plays – harder.

That’s why I’m coming back to Bootcamp this year. Yes, I need to brush up on a few things for my new client. And I need to source some new writers for them as well!

But I also need to hang out with my tribe. To have a few drinks at some of my favorite places along Atlantic Avenue. To catch up with old friends and meet some new ones. To stay up too late dancing at Boston’s, and get up way too early and try to look like I got more than 3 hours of sleep the next day. I need to sit in the back of the room and hear Michael Masterson give his last Bootcamp address – and reminisce that I was nursing my now-10-year old daughter in the back during my first Bootcamp.

Bootcamp is not your average conference. Copywriting is not your average profession. And copywriters are definitely not your average people. And you certainly don’t have to conform to some accepted norm, or pass a battery of personality tests, or reveal your credit scores to complete strangers to attend. You just need a desire to learn, a commitment to improve, and the determination to get your first client.

That’s why, every year, the most interesting, intelligent and engaging people I know assemble in Delray Beach.

Real people who come together to learn a real craft. And forge real relationships that can last for years.

I can’t wait to come back … home.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: October 5, 2011

2 Responses to “The Power of Being Part of a Tribe”

  1. Great story, Monica. I left corporate life only two years ago, and haven't had a job interview in ten years. After reading your story, I have no desire to ever go back! Thanks for the reinforcement.

    Steve Roller

  2. Monica - Bravo!! So glad to hear that you found your calling and it was Not in the corporate world!! I left corporate life 7 years ago - but returned out of necessity last year. The money is good for now - but it is not my life style. I am not a company person and I hope I can "retire" from corporate life next year. I am so looking forward to working on my own terms once again! Thanks for sharing your experience!!


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