5 Year Anniversary of The Niche Movement

The Niche Movement is celebrating its 5 year anniversary this October! To commemorate this milestone, The Niche Movement Founder Kevin O’Connell reflects on the 5-year-long journey and the moment that started it all.

Yesterday was the five year anniversary of the first day I officially launched myself into self-employment.

This throwback picture was a picture I shared on Facebook at the end of my workday that chilly fall Monday. My wife Courtney and I were up in Saratoga Springs as she was delivering a keynote to a regional NY State higher ed conference.

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I remember waking up around 6am excited to start the day and crack open my brand new laptop. The two big focuses at the time were to:

  1. keep the momentum up to write The Niche Movement book

  2. make money

I had less than 60 days of "financial runway" and less than 90 days of health insurance.

I was purely motivated by running away from the work environment that I outgrew (and if I'm being honest, was toxic and did not align with my professional values). I also was motivated by realizing "Shit, this is it, I need to bring in money and start "selling.""

I'll be the first to admit that even though I had somewhat of a game plan I didn't know what was going to work.

For those of you on this email list, you might know me from The Niche Movement and as the career exploration community/expert that is helping others find the work they ️love. But I knew that this wasn't going to be my only bread and butter - mainly because I never wanted to charge college students or young professionals who were just starting out. And to this day this community is grassroots and any revenue through TNM finds its way back into making this community better. Whether it be events, resources, marketing, or helping pay the overhead for Carmen (our Editor in Chief) or Jaylene (our marketing assistant).

I am lucky that 5 years later you are all still here. I am lucky that I still get to keep this community alive and even get to teach workshops, deliver keynotes, and utilize a lot of this content in a college setting. And I have done this by realizing you can be a multi-passionate and multi-skilled entrepreneur. I didn't want to conform when I worked in higher-ed and I certainly don't want to be put in a box working for myself.

As I type this on Monday morning from my office at WeWork Crystal City, I am working on projects for FYN Creative, my digital storytelling agency that takes up 75-80% of my time. See, I left a marketing and media job at Rutgers, but I wasn't about to leave that all behind me.

So one freelance opportunity turned into a retainer client, turned into now helping over 30 organizations in the nonprofit, higher-ed, and startup space. The other 10% of my world is doing something I really love - teaching. I currently teach 3 sections of a First Year Leadership Development class to incoming business school students at GW and I also teach classes monthly at General Assembly.

Why am I sharing this?

Well, I wouldn't have gotten here if it wasn't for this platform of The Niche Movement. To this day I catch myself having to take my own advice as finding your "niche" is an ever-evolving, moving target.

If you've made it this far - thank you. Also, if you feel like you don't have it all figured out, that's ok. And if you are thinking of taking a leap like I did 5 years ago (or have recently taken a leap and don't know what you are doing), I'm right here in your corner cheering you on.

Over the coming weeks and months, I want to continue to pay it forward and share more resources, tips, and lessons learned on how I grew my business.

If I can personally help you or give you some motivation, please don't hesitate to reach out.

To another 5 years and beyond,

PS - The photo below is from 10/6/12 sitting around our fire pit at our house in NJ where my friend Benee said "You are helping students find their niche." The next day I took out the domain and started a blog on thenichemovement.com.