Remote Freelancing

I started my career, working without at net. Full commission insurance sales with my family’s business. Scary. The good part was that my father believed I should get into as much debt as possible as an incentive. Heh. No kidding.

However, he was one of the most successful salesmen I ever met (in many ways). He taught me two really important things: how to prospect, and how to follow up. If you can do that, you will be successful at anything. Now you have to understand what those two simple things mean….

  • Prospecting =
    • Cold Calling
      • Phone calls to expired insurance policy holders
      • Walking into a business “cold” and asking to speak to the owner.
    • Looking for new or closed businesses as you drive around, taking notes
    • Looking at commercial trucks to see if they are maintained well and clean, taking notes
    • Who do you know, what do they do?
    • Can you help them by looking at their present insurance?
    • Can you do a better job that what you found?
    • Can you out price the other policies?  If you can’t, can you sell service?
  • Follow Up
    • Keep your word – Do what you promised to do
    • Provided Customer Service that leaves “not a penny on the table”
      • the customer will be so satisfied, he will never go anywhere else
    • Remember important facts and details to provide stellar Customer Service
    • Earn your customer’s business with service
    • Be honest

No, this is not an insurance course, but it is one of the foundations that I feel makes a person successful at anything.  No, you don’t have to do it exactly like this.  But these are good to know.   If one plans to be on their own and freelance, this would be a great framework to learn.  Can you see how this would be of value?  Has anyone ever laid this out for you?

Oh, one more thing, one of my dad’s friends (and clients) invited me up to his office one day.  This was before computers.  Yes, I am still alive!  He taught me about his “treasure chest”.  Let me explain what kind of guy this was.   He was the son of a man who built a moderately successful chain of appliance stores.  He leveraged his dad’s few stores into a multi-state empire, which ultimately went public.  Have I gotten your attention?

The treasure chest was a metal box large enough to hold a set of 3 x 5 index cards, and a set of 3 x 5 index cards with daily dividers for the month.  He said this was his secret to success.  Well, it was more than that, but it was the principle.   Each day, he would go to the date for that day, and look to see what index card he placed in it for that date.  He would do what ever it took to give that prospect, customer, or issue the best customer service and make a sale.  What ever it took.   This was a CEO who walked the floors, visited his properties, solved problems on the spot, took care of his employees (including paying for them to go into rehab).  He EARNED his way into everyone’s heart.  What did he get back?  LOYALTY.

This one word is the fruit of all these ‘tricks’ of the trade.   I have used them in several careers, including the last 19 years in the IT / QA business.  I have  been independent Contractor, Full Time Employee, but not yet a “FREELANCER”.  Why?  I guess I didn’t feel my network was strong enough.

Enter TopTal Software Development group.  I just signed up yesterday.  Why?  I am on the market, trying to do things the “old” way.   I found that TopTal has a structure, a framework, and a network – different than all the recruiters in the world.   I am writing this to show that I FULLY APPRECIATE what it took to build such a company, filled with loyal, inspired, talented and gifted creators and artists in the technical trades.   I also am making a transition out of quasi-technical coding into pure language coding.  No crutches.   I only need to be with a group that is willing to share with me if I need it.  I will do my part.

So, not only has Toptal Software Development group challenged me to write an article that features them, I am challenging them to show me as well what kind of company they are.   I am betting they will exceed my expectations.

About me?  I was in insurance for 9 yrs with my family, 8 years full time Professional Entertainer, helped to build two booking agencies, started and built a management consulting firm for 12 years, became a Sr. V.P. of Operations for a Mortgage Company, and finally struck out on my own as a grunt tester 19 yrs ago, with the express goal of working my way up from the bottom to learn the industry.  I have been a tester, Lead, Manager, Sr. Manager, Practice Head, Trainer, Offshore leader, Delivery Manager, BA, system analyst.  I learned the Credit Card and Insurance back end systems for CITI, JPMC, BoA, Home Depot, AIG, CNA, Zurich, Bank of Montreal, President’s Financial, Fireman’s Fund, and survived the big 5 consulting machines.  My last contract was as a Sr. Business Architect using Mulesoft API Designer, Kibana, Elastisearch, Cloud hosting, PHPStorm, Ruby, Cucumber, JSON, Jenkins, and so on to reverse engineer a legacy platform driven by a hard coded front end with PHP, into an extensible framework of RESTful API and Microservices delivering as part of a Java middleware to the unchanged database.

I was a music major in college.   I learned all this on the fly, and because I wanted to.   Now I am retooling again, and plan to be more successful than ever.  I am betting on Toptal!


Have you ever noticed…. | Bill Fulbright | LinkedIn


Boy, Have I EVER!!  Just when it is time for production – erk.  there it is.  How could we have missed it?

A missing requirement?  A sneaky service with a bad gate issue?  An API with one of it’s Camels out of case?  What — a profile permission got changed?

I know you know.

So that’s why when people ask me what I do, I say “I look for what isn’t there…” or  “I think backwards”, or “I ask the stupid questions”.  Heh.  Right?  So much in a system can bounce or jiggle until we literally remove all exceptions.

But how can that be done without a seasoned QA approach?  When there is an abundance of  ‘rabid deployment’, splinter releases, and .2.b releases, mistakes are bound to happen.  Simple stuff.  But overlooked stuff.  Snags that cause delays.

Today in Agile approaches, I have thankfully seen automation turn these things up quickly before a sprint is done, and wham-bam, it is done and fixed.  So much can be done now to remove the human error, but how much of the behavioral testing gets pushed to the side?   I, to this day, still hear.. “Oh, we don’t use automated Unit test tools”.  I say, “Oh, really?”  Then, I might hear, “Yeah, we just do it manually”.  My thought bubble says, “hmmm”.  I can take an automated unit test tool and build it into a stack of tests, scenarios and e2e tests running critical path workflows.  But if the unit test fails, it all crumbles.   What happens if (God forbid) the code must be regression tested?  Manually?  Really?  Sigh.

All I am saying, which is old news, but still fun to expose, is that there are simple ways to think things through to help make the system more bullet proof.   I kinda like the idea of stacking up a series of small tests into a test case, then into a scenario based upon a workflow.  If that works, geez, we can get fancy.  Jus’ sayin’.  Fun with testing, right?  But will the budget allow it? erk.

Source: Have you ever noticed…. | Bill Fulbright | LinkedIn