While sitting around a table dotted with spaghetti stains and breadsticks, a bunch of fellow marketers, writers, branding experts, graphic designers and other freelancers were coming out of a pasta coma. Our collective sluggishness probably loosened guards, and we (all respected professionals) confessed to hating our websites, biz cards, and LinkedIn profiles. In essence we were the people on a plane that ensured everyone else enjoyed the flow of oxygen, but when it came time to strap on our own air masks, we were too exhausted to care.

It didn’t take long to order another bottle of Chianti and scream “I hate turbulence.” Each of us knew we had to course correct. If we were going to be able to afford fun, expensive Italian dinners–much less travel–we needed to start putting our own interests right up their with our clients.

A few weeks later, I ended up with Johan and Tom at Dogma Cocktails–during my 40-day alcohol embargo, no less. While they drank wild concoctions (bacon-infused whiskey?), I sipped Austrian Almdudlers and listened intently to the media and marketing war stories. At one point, they both shared how much they liked my emails—”but, they’re too long. Split them up.” Tom patted my shoulder and encouraged me, “Justine, I even put a check next to it so it’s flagged to read later.” I was clear-headed, so wasn’t hallucinating.

In an effort to take personal branding more seriously, the email & blog is back. Website and biz cards follow shortly, too. If you’re a freelancer/creative/entrepreneur and want to join the next informal dinner that ends in debauchery and/or shocking career-changing revelations, email me at foodfest@hadto.be and I’ll put you on that list.

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