Faces of Freelance Austin is a monthly feature to get to know one of our many members just a little bit better. For this month’s installment, we check in with Freelance Austin committee member Michelle Dickens.

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Name: Michelle Dickens
Business name: Behave Strategic Consulting
Email: michelle@behavestrategicconsulting.com
Website: behavestrategicconsulting.com
No. of years freelancing: 1
Located: Austin, TX
Accepting new work? Yes

What’s your superhero power?

Helping people see the obvious truth.

How do you describe the work you do?

I help brands find their emotional center, which means their belief system and purpose. Then I help them turn those into a brand narrative and overall strategy for their brand. I do this through strategic qualitative research, where I dig into the intersection of what drives people and how that affects how they live with brands.

Describe your path to becoming a freelancer/small business owner/solopreneur.

After 20 years working for big branding and ad agencies, it was time for a change. There is only so much you can do within the confines of an agency. I wanted to work on the projects I wanted to work on without the demands of hidden agendas that might get in the way of helping grow the brand.

Was there an “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to strike out on your own?

Last year when I was working on a project and the prescribed solution was obviously not going to be the right thing for the brand in the long term.

How has career independence changed your professional and personal world?

My husband says I am 99 percent happier!

Tell us what your day is like. Do you have a routine?

I don’t. Every day is different.

What outside of your professional work drives you? Any hobbies, passions or side projects?

I’m also a real estate agent, which keeps me busy on the side. It uses the very same skills but on a much more individual basis. I love working with people, and helping people find their little piece of Austin is a thrill.

What was the biggest surprise or shock you found in freelancing? If you could share a bit of wisdom with your newbie freelance self, what would it be?

You have to treat this like a business. Set up a routine. Keep track of your contacts and be consistent with following up with them.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?

Start liking the word “no.”

Don’t forget to nominate someone for a future Faces of Freelance Austin interview! Who should we feature next?

Kristen Hicks