He strolls into the kitchen, sets the kettle on the stove, and takes out the trash while the water starts to boil. This is Mitch Wagner, multitasking. “I’ve done management before,” Mitch says, “but once you hit middle management, you have to start flying into the office two and three times a month.” Mitch has been teleworking as a writer for fifteen years, and he likes the efficiency of hot tea and an empty waste bin.
You don’t get a spiel from Mitch because he’s just as efficient with conversation. But that’s not to imply he’s short of things to say. I kept finding myself saying, “interesting,” almost to the point of becoming a beat poet. And he is interesting.
Let’s start with his Star Trek blog post. The 2009 movie made it big in theatres. I grew up with Star Trek on the tv, albeit mostly because my dad held the remote. If you had me classify tribbles in the animal kingdom, I’d say the cotton candy family. I went opening night (without a spandex suit), and enjoyed it. Mitch, however, noticed something else. “The television show always had this message that if you work hard, you will succeed,” Mitch points out, “but in this movie, Kirk boards the USS Enterprise because his dad was a captain.”
Mitch wasn’t given a spaceship. His success comes from the old school Kirk and a home office door you can close. “I’m interested in my work,” Mitch says, “My problem isn’t tv. It’s pulling myself away from work so I can do other interesting things besides that.” And that’s why Mitch partially credits his wife for his telecommuting success.
His wife is an interior designer, and while that is far from what Mitch does, a few things have rubbed off. Mitch explains that he’s social because his wife is. “I can also pick out colors that go well together,” Mitch laughs, “And when people tell me to write about different topics on my blog, I tell them it would throw off my blog feng shui.”
“A friend of mine, Joe Haldeman, once told me that if you’re a writer, you shut the door behind you and you come out squirrelly thirty years later,” Mitch reflects. I’d say he avoids the squirrel effect quite well. He’s a heavy social media user. Twitter, Facebook, blogging, etc. He talks with lots of people. He makes a conscious effort to be social.
Mitch has some advice for new teleworkers. “Keep a professional appearance,” he says, “And that’s easy. Just behave professionally on the phone.” He didn’t mention it, but Mitch is also professional in all of his communications. That includes casual outlets like Twitter and Facebook. I suggest we do the same.
Last time Mitch was looking for writing opportunities, he didn’t even bother with non-telework companies. He did tell a few companies that if the price was right, he’d relocate, but they couldn’t make a high enough offer. If companies want people like Mitch, they need to get flexible. He’s writing in warp drive, and you’re throwing of his blog feng shui.
Find more from Mitch here:
Do you want to get together on the phone sometime? Let me know, and I’ll be in touch.