Welcome to Reclaiming Employment! I’m Laysha Ostrow and I am the project director for Reclaiming Employment, which is funded by a three-year grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.
Together, our mission is to help you ‘make your journey work for you.’ As you probably know, this project was designed and created by a team of people, most of whom have experienced significant mental health challenges at work – from discrimination and educational barriers to painful conflicts and disabling burnout. Most of us are or have been self-employed, or have worked to help friends, family, and colleagues start and run small businesses. The offerings that we designed for Reclaiming Employment are based on these experiences and on research.
A community of support and practical tools can go a long way in overcoming the dismal statistics about starting a business.
I like to think that ‘people like us’ have an advantage in business because we have been vulnerable – by choice or by force – at work. And if you haven’t been vulnerable at work before… welcome to self-employment! You can read more about my employment journey here.
Owning a business will push you out of your comfort zone. For me, it has fundamentally been a joy. It’s not joyful all of the time though, it has made me face my worst fears: That I won’t be able to take care of myself. That I’m not competent to make decisions that might affect my ability to feed and nourish myself. That I might fail.
And yet I’m still here! I’ve been running Live & Learn, Inc. for almost eight years. In the beginning, it was really hard to make a buck and maintain my self-worth while navigating this journey. But I’m still here doing this. Because I’m a survivor, and so are you. That’s why you’re here.
Or maybe you’re here because you just don’t know what else to do. Work is a harsh and uncertain landscape stretching out before you; you have better ideas about how things should be done. You’re ready to be your own boss.
Your mother may have had a business, and she taught you well, but now it’s your turn. Or you want to nap at 3pm and work at midnight, and not have to ask your boss for an accommodation. Or you no longer want to work with people who don’t act like teammates. Or you want to build a path to greater economic empowerment.
I’d also like to welcome our excellent team of moderators: Autumn, Christina, Dom, Joana, Keisha, Keith and Thomas. The moderators are here to help users navigate the forums and keep our community safe and engaged.
We need your commitment to make this project a success. We hope that you, as part of this community for the next six months, will help us help you make Reclaiming Employment a good experience. We invite you to use the Social Network to connect with others, and to ask for and offer support. Take your time with the Courses to expand your knowledge and plan for your next steps. Visit the Library to find information and perspectives you need to take care of business. Treat yourself gently and allow yourself to explore, learn, and make mistakes. The most important thing I’ve learned in self-employment is that sometimes you just have to leap, even if you don’t know where you will land.
This is also a central principle in research: to ask questions that you don’t know the answers to, and then make observations that lead you to new understanding. Thank you for filling out your surveys; we deeply value and rely on your honest feedback! And, most of all, thank you for being good to one another on this rewarding, uncertain journey.
Over the next six months that you are part of this community, Reclaiming Employment will offer live events for us to come together and explore questions and predicaments in self-employment.
On Thursday, June 10 at 1pm Pacific Time/2pm Mountain/3pm Central/4pm Eastern, I’ll be hosting a live orientation webinar to walk you through the site. A link to the webinar will be posted on the “Welcome” page.
On Monday, June 20, we hope you’ll join us for an Ask Me Anything (AMA) webinar on preventing burnout with Leah Harris, Ysabel Garcia, Matthew Hubbard and Iden Campbell. This event promises to be enlightening, fun and cathartic. And, if you need additional motivation to attend, we’re offering a $20 gift card raffle!
Events will be recorded and posted on the website for those who can’t join.
We also look forward to more blog posts from the team of advisors on topics like marketing, paying quarterly taxes, corporate formation, and building a support network. Let us know if there are any topics you’re particularly interested in by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for joining us and let’s get started!