Ha! Got you with one last click-baity headline. Freal tho, I’m leaving full-time liberty-movement work to do sales at a software directory company.
Before I go into the why and such, I just want to first say a massive THANK YOU.
I want to thank first the Charles Koch Institute, then Reason, and last Students For Liberty. Y’all are why I got to come do liberty full-time in the nation’s capital. You helped me escape from Alabama, and live in the big city, and sell the product I’m most passionate about for going on three years and I’m so, so grateful.
Next I want to thank the individual people who reached out to me with comfort, opportunities, encouragement, debate and kindness. I want to thank everyone who ever read me, and especially the people who did so on a regular basis. I want to thank everyone who went out of their way to be in my corner every time internet libertarianism had a meltdown over some minor diversion from libertarian orthodoxy. I want to thank the people who shared my work. I want to thank the people who gave me a shot. And I especially want to thank the kick-ass girls who have told me that I’m part of why they’re involved in libertarianism. Y’all have made it all worthwhile. Yes, libertarians can be the worst, but on the whole, this movement has treated me very, very well. Far better than my level of talent and charisma deserves.
I mean, in the past year I got to go on national TV twice, get quoted in the New York Times Magazine, make David Frum cry, create another web show, get published in The Week, the Daily Beast, the Huffington Post, VICE Motherboard and other places. I set up my second weekly column, after Thoughts on Liberty, at Townhall.com. I spoke at tons of conferences, and appeared on tons of podcasts and radio shows. I got in a million online arguments about some really interesting topics. I have fans! How fucking insane is that? (very)
So, why leave all that?
I’ve been selling free-market ideas because their adoption makes creating the conditions necessary to innovation easier. And innovation begets prosperity. It’s easier to sell respect for private property, etc. when people understand how it’s helpful. If more people understand why fewer regulations make people more prosperous, hopefully we’ll get fewer regulations.
So those are the necessary conditions for innovation. But we still need innovation. It is what advances human prosperity. It’s the only way to get more out of the same amount, to grow the pie, as it were.
Basically, I’m leaving one side, creating the conditions, to work on the other side, the actual innovation. I’m not an innovator, but innovators need sales to disrupt markets. That’s where I want to come in.
I’m learning sales skills in the tech space to eventually grow disruptive innovators like Uber, or SpaceX, or peer-to-peer, decentralized payments systems, or encryption.
In addition, that side is certainly more lucrative. The market has spoken, and the demand relative to supply of libertarian commentators is low. I’m so incredibly blessed to have been able to make opining about markets and editing and placing others’ opinions about markets my full-time work, and to make enough to live in the most expensive city in the country and very occasionally even eat out or go to a happy hour. SFL kept me in drugs for a whole year as a professional libertarian, and I’m so very grateful.
But, at some point you want more than the occasional happy hour. You want some security. And all the paths to becoming any kind of decently-paid pundit or public intellectual require partisanship or going to grad school, or both. I think we all know my feels on the two major parties, and I’d rather make money than spend it.
All I wanted to do when I started out was sell liberty. I’ve done some of that. There are a few, at least, amazing people who are in the liberty movement, in part, because of my scribblings.
I have to admit that it’s been hard, psychologically. I’ve not been able to always stay positive in the face of negativity. I’ve been quick to get combative. To forget to assume good intentions. While I’ve thrown off parts of my ideological past, I find certain parts of that old skin are still sticky, and I wrestle with them, in public. And with anyone who seems to embody what I hate about who I was.
I’ve thought about getting into sales for years, since before coming to DC to start work at Reason. Truth be told, my media work, as well as pitching editors, has done an enormous amount toward making me ready for this job. I think sales, in a lot of ways, is life. Learning to meet needs, to build trust, and relationships, quickly, to mirror and empathize and be positive and friendly, these are all things I want to learn. I get my meaning, as I think most people do, through human connection. I want to learn to connect better. And getting successful at sales will require humility and constant feedback, and self-improvement is so incredibly important to building a happy life.
So I’m going to continue writing, a little, at least. Probably just on this blog, unless someone wants to give me a paid column. And then I’ll repub here. Hell, I might start writing about sales. Lord knows libertarians need to learn how to sell their ideas.
I hope if you’ve been reading me, you continue to. I hope to keep having really interesting conversations, if for fewer hours a day. I hope the people who are good at it continue their work in this movement. I hope the ideas of a free society continue to flourish and grab hold of young minds.
I’ll still be grinding away at building prosperity for everyone, but now I can include myself. I’m really excited.