Read the Fine Print (And Do It Anyway)


By Dani Kreeft | Twitter: @danipress


Many of us aren’t 9-to-5er’s anymore. We’re fuelling a job culture without convention or boundaries, regular hours or even regular bosses. We’re backing a lucrative “If you can dream it, you can do it” slogan that’s perfect for anyone who would rather set her own hours rather than sign up for her own pension. We’re leaving the office behind and changing our desks into park benches, front stoops, bus seats and the corner cafe. What is the definition of a freelancer or entrepreneur these days? It’s a sprinting target, constantly evolving.

But there’s an unadvertised catch to all this free-spirited enterprise. There’s fine print and sinkholes that come along with the new gigs. What people don’t expect is the burden of risk.

Yes, the burden.

Risk is a fundamental, irreplaceable have-to if you are going to be a leash-less something-preneur. You have to be a risk-taker. You have to leap. You have to get used to wondering if you’re falling or jumping.

I’ve been wondering that very thing since starting my own paper goods brand, Dani Press, nearly six years ago. I had just come out of years of on- and off-road tripping through over 20 countries when, at 26, I stared at that age old question: What am I going to do with my life?

Little did I know that somewhere between a refugee camp near the border of the Congo and the backseat of a camper van in New Zealand, a vision had already come home to rest in my rib cage. That vision combined the photography I’d shot all over the globe with words from my life’s experiences, and the thoughtfulness that had driven my spirit since I was a child. That vision called me to redefine what something as simple as a card could mean.

It’s a bit of an understatement to say that I didn’t see this coming. I never sat in my high school career counselor’s office, flipping through a book and leaping at the titles “entrepreneur” or “business director” or “CEO.” But when time gets hold of your gifts, experience and values and lifts it up like four corners of a sheet, there’s something in there that needs to be carried. So I am carrying this dream, risk and all.

I am now an entrepreneur. I carry both the burden and the greatness of being a risk-taker, of attempting to stand straight with commanding presence while getting hit.

And hit.
And hit.

That’s what happens, over and over. Nobody told me about this part when I was queuing up to write my own paycheques. I risk myself with my work and the world swings back. It hits my self-esteem and my pride, my confidence and my vision. It hits back when my bank account is thin and the bills are thick and it would be so much easier to let go of the dream and go back to the safe thing I did before.

I have zero orders. Hit.
Am I going to take this personally? Hit.
Stop trying. Hit.
Sleep in. Hit.
I didn’t make a profit. Hit.
I am still so small. Hit.
Their company is growing faster. Hit.
I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Hit.
I didn’t make the cut. Hit.
That design flopped. Hit.
I can’t do this. Hit.
Give up. Hit.

I have had to come back from every one of them, every, single day and remember why I’m standing here, why I am risking.

Sometimes I wake up and I just don’t have it. I’m tired, bored, lacklustre, uninspired, blah, scheduled, edgy, testy, impatient, cold, warped. It’s barely 9am and I want to throw in the towel. I wonder what’s off. I toss back my morning coffee heavy with this question. “If this is what I love, why am I not in love with doing it today?”

I consistently forget that every morning I’m required to throw all my weight back into the ring. Every day requires my exhaustible everything.

It’s only human to wake up every once and a while with a completely empty tank. Yet, even on those days, the bell rings for another round. And when I hear its familiar racket, I have to decide. On the first place, triumphant days and on the sucker punch knockout days, I have to decide.

How convinced am I that this is the work I was built to do?
If it’s anything less than deeply and absolutely, I’ll go down.

How badly do I want to see this vision through?
If it’s anything less than fully, completely, and past the finish line, I’ll go down.

How much is risk a part of the foundation and fundamentals of who I am?
If it’s anything less than the engine and oxygen of who I am, I’ll go down.

It has taken all I’ve got to stay standing, but when I do, even after one too many punches that steal my stamina, I can’t describe to you what it’s like to lift my heavy, gloved hands, sweat sliding down my forearms, chest heaving, and experience a win.


About Dani:

Dani-Kreeft-sqDani Kreeft is the thundering force behind Dani Press a paper goods brand sold in shops all over North America and sourced from her travels backpacking the world, from Indonesia to Malawi, New Zealand to Panama, Zambia to Costa Rica. She is absolutely convinced that thoughtful airmail can change the world, that her vision will see exponential fruition and that God is using her risk-taking nature to encourage and inspire others to risk themselves for the sake of being truly alive.