Shel Horowitz was probably destined to escape from the 9 to 5. He simply has too many interests and passions. “Sorry, but this is how I’m wired, even if it’s not the best business strategy”. He had his last “real job” in 1978, when he was fired from a crooked literary agency sweatshop, probably because he was making noises about organizing the workers. For the next few years, Shel worked as a community organizer, did odd jobs, and was a full-time student in a program in nonviolent social change. “One person can make an enormous difference, and that difference is magnified by working with others”.
In 1981, Shel moved to Massachusetts and started his business. The first six months, he only made $300 total. But he hung in there, moved to a town that offered a better market, invested $200 ($176 of it to buy a used IBM Selectric *typewriter* at a school auction, $12 each on marketing and supplies), and started again. And that time, he developed something viable. “Start small (keep expenses down, develop one or two niche markets at the beginning)—but think BIG”.
His business is constantly evolving. Every few years, it has morphed into something different and now bears no resemblance to its original form and fairly little resemblance to what it looked like even as recently as 2000. It started as a term paper typing service, added resume writing (which
became the primary service for ten years), added writing marketing materials for businesses, and then successively added strategic marketing consulting, publishing consulting, green business profitability consulting, and–for the past two years–consulting on how business can transform society: turn hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance. For the most part, these are additions rather than instead of. However, he hasn’t typed a term paper since around 1990. Escaping from the 9 to 5 has given Shel the ability to be there for his kids’ special moments, the luxury of frequent travel and daily time outdoors, the absence of a boss—AND (most of all) that he has been able to influence the world for a greater good.
In the process, Shel Horowitz has managed to write 9 of his 10 books (the first was written while he was still a community organizer) and develop a sideline as an international speaker. His latest book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the world will be published in April (just in time for Earth Day). Previous books include the long-running category best-seller Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, named a Groundbreaking Indy Book by Independent Publisher magazine.
Shel is actually looking to do more consulting in the corporate world–but certainly not as an employee! He wants to show businesses how to profit by turn hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance. “Be a trend watcher. If your business provides a service no one will need in five years, figure out where you need to be and how you’ll get there.” It’s largely the theme of his 10th book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World. It’s good enough that people like Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup) and Seth Godin (Purple Cow) have endorsed it; Jay Levinson (founder of the Guerrilla Marketing brand) is his co-author—their second collaboration.