Brian Shaler

Occasionally Interesting

Gravity is for chumps

Cutting Loose

photo by pcgn7

This is how I feel right now.

I’m taking a leap of faith, and I don’t have much runway. I’m in that pivotal moment where everything needs to be executed just right to avoid falling on my face.

I’m shedding a pair of golden handcuffs. I have a good job with fun work and good people, plus some paid travel. There are few things I could complain about during these last few years of employment. I love direct deposit. You have no idea. I love not having to worry about money. It just shows up. Magically and predictably.

Golden handcuffs are handcuffs nonetheless. It’s human nature to want to grow. Stagnation is the enemy of ambition. A plateau, no matter how high, is terrifying. It’s a ceiling. I could continue being content, or I could strive for more.

Generally, you can only go so far working for someone else. I’ve resisted entrepreneurship and justified my decision to remain a full-time employee, much to the dismay of my entrepreneur friends. I know my strengths and my weaknesses. I’m a builder. I make prototypes. I’m not a manager or an accountant or a salesman (well, I used to be, but I didn’t enjoy it). The force of inevitability, however, can eventually catch up with you. It can push you forward.

Seven months ago, I realized the path I needed to go down. Everything was pushing in the same direction. I needed to specialize the work I do, instead of just being a guy who makes stuff move with code. I needed to branch out, and work with more clients and more visible clients. I needed to establish myself within my industry. I wanted to travel more and farther. What I needed and wanted was looking less and less like a full-time job.

I am extremely fortunate to have a rare and valuable skill set. By blending visual and technical thinking, I can create compelling interactive visual experiences. Not only is there money in what I am good at, but I enjoy doing it. However, I need to be very tactful about where I apply my abilities. I could easily tie up all my waking hours building interactive web sites for people, but that won’t make the type of impact I want.

My goal right now is to ride a wave.

Five years ago, I became interested in data visualization as a hobby. Since then, I’ve followed the industry and have noticed a wave coming. More developers are getting involved, more tools are being built, and more people and businesses are learning what data visualization is. I don’t have to be the first, and I don’t have to be the best. But if I’m one of the first and one of the best, I’ll get on top early and ride the wave. After a year of conceptualizing and building various data visualizations professionally, I know what I should be focusing on exclusively.

To a worm in horseradish, the world is horseradish. Data visualization has become my horseradish.

I’m starting my own business. I’m specializing in data visualization. And for lack of a better term, I’m going to “Crush It”.

More information and announcements soon!

UPDATE: Progress Report: The Free Fall

31 Responses to “Cutting Loose”

  1. June 29th, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Judson Collier says:

    Congrats dude!

    As vague as “Data Visualization” is, I can imagine awesomeness :).

    Good luck, and keep us in the know!


  2. June 29th, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Chris Hutchins says:

    I have no doubt in your ability to crush it.

    Always keep me posted if I can ever help!

  3. June 29th, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    MauraLee says:

    That’s awesome! Way to go :) Way to be you.

    Good luck in your future chapters.
    Peace & Light,

    Maura Lee

  4. June 29th, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Paul says:

    I was exactly where you are 9 years ago (and by exactly I mean not all exactly because I was somewhat forced into “entrepreneurship” if that’s possible). It’s a magical and stressful place to be; if you ever have anything you want to know, I might be able to help.

  5. June 29th, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Alan Hogan says:

    That was even sooner than I’d expected.

    I wish you the absolute best of luck, Brian!

  6. June 29th, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Jeff Moriarty says:

    Hey, fantastic news! I have zero doubt you are going to crush at this – I know it’s been a passion of yours for quite a while. Kick ass, take names, and looking forward to seeing great things from you!

  7. June 29th, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    acmephoto says:

    Just don’t try to be the google wave which made as big of a splash as orkut.


  8. June 29th, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Brandon Franklin says:

    Awesome, man. I am confident you’ll do awesome things. Hopefully this means you’ll be staying in PHX more now, too. :)

  9. June 29th, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Sally Strebel says:

    Congrats Brian. As one of your entrepreneur friends, I’ve got to say that it’s about time. You’re brilliant and you’re going to build great things. Let me know if you need anything. =)

  10. June 29th, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Derek Jay Steen says:

    Giddy up, Brian!

    I look forward to visualising your data in futuristic ways. (That’s what she said.)

  11. June 29th, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Chis Shaler says:

    Nice, about time. This is going to be an awesome ride.

  12. June 29th, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Chris Lee says:

    Congrats, brother!!! Gonna be exciting. Sure it will work out stellar for you!

    That’s how you become great, man. Hang your ____ out there! (there’s a name that quote for you)

  13. June 29th, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    iamchanelle says:

    good on you!!!! inspiring.
    best with this new venture. you will be great.

  14. June 30th, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Alan Dayley says:

    Go, Brian, go!

  15. June 30th, 2010 at 5:57 am

    dick shaler says:

    atta boy,

  16. June 30th, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Craig says:

    Awesome! You sir are doing what I lack the courage to do. Please be awesome as I will be living vicariously through you. No pressure. :)

  17. June 30th, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Tomas says:

    Congratulations Brian, awesome news and here’s wishing you all the best!

  18. July 1st, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Andrew Hyde says:

    Fist pumps and excitement for you.

    Great post, will love seeing what you do with it.

  19. July 1st, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Jay Baer says:

    So incredibly excited for you. It won’t be easy, but it will be the time of your life. Having gone down this road several times, anything I can do to help, I will.

    Via horseradish.

  20. July 1st, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    mattsito says:

    Way to take the plunge Bri. I can visualize it from here. :)

  21. July 1st, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    cory huff says:

    Congratulations Brian! I love stories where people go for it. I just recently left my F/T day job for my own business and it’s a beautiful thing!

  22. July 1st, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    RobinLK says:


    Found your post via @pamslim’s tweet and was intrigued. Fantastic news! Congratulations from an Orlando educator, trainer, and speaker trying to make the leap. You give me further inspiration as I continue to read Pam’s book and figure life out. :)

    Wishing you much success and ass kicking!!

    ~ Robin aka “Orlando Turtle Runner”

  23. July 2nd, 2010 at 7:03 am

    Leslie Poston says:

    Congrats. :)

  24. July 2nd, 2010 at 7:53 am

    John Clore says:

    Brian, great stuff here man. Very inspiring. I love your way of describing the “golden handcuffs.” Best of luck to you in every way.

    John Clore

  25. July 2nd, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Kat Jaibur says:

    You had me at “Cutting loose.” When what we’re doing looks better to the outside world than it does to our inner world, something has to change. Too often, people think that means “kill the dream” instead of “go for it!” YAY for you for going for it. I love that you know you don’t have to be first or best — just one of that group. Look forward to finding out what the heck Data Visualization is. And saying, “Hey, I remember when that guy wrote that Cutting Loose post.”

  26. July 4th, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Wendy Coneybeer says:

    Congrats, and good luck to you, my friend! You have a fantastic, supportive community to help you :)

  27. July 7th, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Ben Sweaney says:

    Had to read this after talking with you last weekend in Santa Cruz. I second Kat’s sentiment, I look forward to the day I can say “Hey, I remember when we talked about how data visualization was the next big thing for you, look at you now!”

  28. July 14th, 2010 at 6:11 am

    Tim B says:

    good luck man, you’ll crush it easy

    I look forward to reading about it

  29. July 20th, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Alex says:

    keep it up !

  30. June 6th, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Brian Shaler / Is Entrepreneurship the Right Answer, Right Now? says:

    […] congratulate those who cross the threshold from full-time employment into the world of self-employment. Making such a transition is seen as a rite of passage. A frightening, stressful, and challenging […]

  31. June 7th, 2012 at 3:47 am

    Brian Shaler / Is Entrepreneurship the Right Answer, Right Now? | The Entrepreneurship Blog says:

    […] congratulate those who cross the threshold from full-time employment into the world of self-employment. Making such a transition is seen as a rite of passage. A frightening, stressful, and challenging […]

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