November 30, 2018
Earlier this year, I came across an opinion piece from Ben Middleton of Creature that offered a pretty scathing review of the side hustle. His perspective is essentially that marketing itself is a career worthy of one’s full passion and dedication. While I can appreciate the sentiment, I found it to be ignorant about the myriad reasons why marketing may no longer be an attractive industry for folks. Additionally, what the piece missed for me is the ability to see how a side hustle can make someone an even greater asset to their agency.
I’m not going to lie to you about this. I’m biased. A year ago, I started a business with three close friends. Our idea was inspired by many of the tough realities facing our industry today: a lack of diverse representation in our agencies, and the growing revelations of sexual harassment that many individuals experience in their workplaces, to name just a few. Our ambition was to create a new world for women and non-binary folks where the environment was designed specifically for them. Fast-forward one year: we are proud owners of a thriving business with more than 400 members.
This journey has brought an enormous amount of richness and new experiences to my life. One of the best things about my journey with The Coven is that it has made me better at my job in marketing. I now have an ability to empathize with business leaders in a way that I couldn’t possibly have developed without becoming a business owner. It’s helped me understand why decisions, which may at one point in my career have seemed unreasonable, are made in a certain way. Starting a business of my own has inspired me to look for the non-obvious solution, and continually refer back to business “basics” for answers. In an industry that is infatuated with the latest, greatest trends and technologies, there is so much to learn from how things have been done in the past.
I’m grateful to work for an agency that supports and celebrates the side hustle. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how my experience in one place can enhance the other, and vice versa. Part of what I’ve enjoyed most is stronger relationships with clients, coworkers and partners. I’m finding that today people want to be defined by far more than their career. Side hustles give folks an opportunity to create a more dynamic future for themselves. For an industry that prides itself on being on the leading edge of culture, I find it limiting to accept that marketing would or should be the only way to pursue professional growth. Finding what you love to do isn’t easy. Trying a few things outside of your day job to explore other strengths is empowering. Leaders across industries might see the benefits to their own business that come from supporting their employees’ passions and seeing them as an asset versus a threat.