If you are feeling trapped in a job that’s just not you, it’s time to break out that career cage. But how to find the work-life balance that fits who you really are? Beyond fashion, an inspriring, unconventional and practical guide exists: Be A Free Range Human,authored by Marianne Cantwell. Interview with an elegant free ranger, carrying her business in her lap top.

Hi Marianne, so why did you write this book… now?

Marianne Cantwell: There are many myths about work that need to be busted so people can know what options are really available to them. One of them is that a job is your only option, or your safest option. Another is that if you start a business, it has to look, sound and run in a certain way. Both of these have held even very intelligent people back and I wrote this so people could see the options available to them and create a career that fits who they are. 

It’s also important to me that people know that their real personality has value even if it is a bit different to their colleagues’. Many of us are taught to think that if we want to do well we have to leave a piece of themselves at the door. But as I’ve learned through my work, the opposite is true: when you learn how to harness your true personality, and create an environment that fits you (rather than trying to fit yourself to someone else’s environment) you can do better than you ever imagined. 

Showing people that who they are is more than enough is one of the big reasons I wrote this book.

An extract from your book that best represents yourself?

MC: There are lots! But here is one I’ve been thinking about today:
“When you see stories of people who are thriving in what they do, try this: instead of thinking, ‘Well they fit into their field perfectly, of course everything works smoothly for them!’ flip it around and ask, ‘How were they different from others around them early on? What was it they could easily have hidden away but chose not to?’Do this and you might just find the reason they rose up in the first place.”

The trends that are just emerging and that you believe in the most?

MC: I’m not sure I believe in trends in general. There are a lot of people who spend time waiting for a ‘hot’ new idea, hoping to ride that wave. However if you don’t have a good grounding in what you have to offer, a grounding in your best ‘success style’ (and a lot of other things) we talk about in the book, then you won’t make it (at least not for long!). The people who have true success didn’t get there because they rode a trend once. They got there because they understood how to make something work, using what they already have. I started my business in a recession, and have been going for ten years, and in that time I learned to start with the foundations first (who you are, what you have to offer, and how you work best) and only look at different trends to help you move forward even more than you already are, rather than waiting for a clever sounding emerging trend to be the answer to all your problems.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a reader of this article, what would it be?

MC: There’s no such thing as a generic ‘good business idea’. There’s only a good idea – for you.

In a nutshell, what are the next topics that you will be passionate about?

MC: My main interest topic right now is idea that your ‘Weirdness Is Your Edge’ (ie: that the quality about you that doesn’t quite fit the mould of your industry / peer group, that thing that you feel is a bit ‘too much’, or maybe ‘not enough’, that personality train you may sometimes feel shame about, might just be your greatest superpower). 

Bertrand Jouvenot : Thank you Marianne

Marianne Cantwell : Thank you Bertrand

The book: Be A Free Range Human, Marianne Cantwell, Kogan Page, 2019