Emma Gannon on “side hustles”, creating the flexible career you want and why it’s good to get offline6 min read

If you’ve always considered yourself a person less ordinary, then allow us to introduce you to the unstoppable Emma Gannon, a writer, broadcaster and podcast host.

Her hit podcast CTRL ALT DELETE (which also happens to be the name of her first book) discusses work, social media and careers and features guests such as Ellen Page, Richard E Grant, Lena Dunham, Gillian Anderson, Elizabeth Gilbert, Ava Duvernay and Greta Gerwig.

It has now reached over four million downloads and has been voted “best tech podcasts” by the Evening Standard. But that’s not all. Emma has also been one of Management Today’s 35 Women Under 35 and was selected in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list 2018 in media and marketing.

Her writing has been published everywhere from The Telegraph to Teen Vogue, and she is a regular columnist in Courier Magazine. Now she’s launching a new book, The Multi-Hyphen Method, which teaches us that it doesn’t matter if you’re a part-time PA with a blog or a physio who runs an online jewellery store in the evenings – whatever your ratio, whatever your mixture, we can all channel the entrepreneurial spirit.

It’s about dispelling the stigma of being a jack of all trades and why having more strings to your bow is essential to getting ahead in the modern working world. We chatted to Emma about her new book and much more.

There is growing concern that jobs are threatened worldwide. That automation will have an impact. Is that what spurred on this new book?

It was definitely one of the reasons. The world and technology so changing so quickly and yet the workplace still feels so old-fashioned and it frustrated me. I wanted to write a book with tons of research, anecdotes and personal stories to show that it is possible to go off the beaten track and design your own career.

We are still made to feel small and ungrateful if we want bigger things or quit our OK-ish jobs, and “climbing the career ladder” is often deeply ingrained in us from school. The book is about how we can take technology and make it work for us, not against us.

Some people are increasingly resentful of being told that they need to “hustle” or get a side project. What would you say to that?

I agree. I don’t think everyone should have a side hustle. It’s ridiculous for it to be “a requirement” for everyone. The Multi-Hyphen Method is actually about aiming for your own balance and ratio, the point being that it is personal. For example: do you want to work four days a week and work on a side hustle for one? Do you want to go freelance or do you enjoy have a part-time job and side projects?

It’s about starting a conversation and discussing the many other options that are available. It’s not just a fun lifestyle choice though, having multiple skills are becoming more and more important in a world of jobs diminishing and companies closing down. It’s an investment in yourself to have a side hustle or learn new skills on the side. We can’t necessarily rely on big companies to train us properly anymore as they usually aren’t nimble enough, things change too quickly.

So this isn’t about “burning the midnight oil”?

Well, each to their own. I personally work really well in the evenings! There’s a whole section that looks at when you work best. I work less now than my old job on the whole but sometimes work at night.

The book is really about looking at life outside of a 9-5 and all the very different ways we can all work, now that we aren’t living in the Victoria era shackled to factory machines. But no, it’s not about overworking yourself. It’s about making small adjustments and working a bit more flexible. My main aim of the book is for people to question things a bit more. To ask “why are we still doing things this way?”

How would you describe entrepreneurial spirit? Can anyone have it?

I think human beings are natural entrepreneurs. As economist Muhammad Yunnus says: “Human beings are not born to work for anybody else. For millions of years that we were on the planet, we never worked for anybody. We are go-getters. We are farmers. We are hunters. We lived in caves and we found our own food, we didn’t send job applications. So this is our tradition.”

What was your own experience of moving from job to “jack of all trades”?

It was great. I moved from a job where my boss made me physically ill from stress to a lifestyle that is still busy but diverse and exciting. I can work on multiple projects with different people and I love the variety. I can send emails from anywhere, travel, work from home and now have my own team. I am in control of my time and I love it.

What does success mean to you?

It is always changing. Right now, it means both earning good money and doing charitable projects I care about.

We’re often called the “always on” work generation. Does this new way of working encourage that? Certainly, if everyone else starts to “hustle”, too?

Yes, I think Millennials have also been forced into this new way of working, which isn’t exactly ideal. I am glad there is more conversation about mental health, boundaries and avoiding burnout.

I think it’s important to point out that there is no “perfect” way of working. Work is work, but it’s good to have a few options available to us so we can try and work out what better suits our lifestyle now that we have so much at our fingertips.

Can you summarise in three tips what we can all do today to transform our working lives?

Ask for flexible working. I feel like us Brits can find it quite awkward asking for things we want.

Learn new skills on the side: Skillshare, YouTube, webinars, podcasts, we can learn so much now that can help our careers or help us start that side project.

Get offline. There is a misconception that if you do a job that requires a lot of online time that it’s good to network online. In my opinion, no good networking happens online. It happens in real life.

The Multi-Hyphen Method: Work Less, Create More: How to Make Your Side-Hustle Work for You by Emma Gannon will be published on 2 May. Meanwhile, to find out more about Emma, visit her website at www.emmagannon.co.uk or follow her on Instagram.