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  • Paul Hobin

Opinion: The "Side Hustle" Is Bull

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

Modified road sign with arrows going in four directions: methaphor for how "side hustle" pulls employees in directions that are good for no one

I’m getting REALLY tired of people writing about the “side hustle” as if it were some great entrepreneurial gold mine and not what it actually is: having two jobs in order to survive.

Employees should not be looking at the side hustle as a good part of a good life. And companies should be concerned if employee focus is bleeding away into side hustles and be asking themselves, "What are we doing wrong?"

I have zero desire to have a side hustle. I want one job, with one great employer, to which I devote my entire attention. They pay me well and in return they get effort and innovation that changes their paradigms.

I understand that this is not the 1950s. None of us are going to have a career with one employer, or two, or probably even three. That's fine.

But today’s “wisdom” that we’re all “brands” who are never going to “work for” an employer again and only “work with” as short-term contractors (even when on the company payroll) is wrong. It dismisses an employer/employee dynamic, a bond, that great companies rely on for sustained success measured in decades, not quarters or years.

Companies that accept the side hustle as a new norm degrade themselves. Unintentionally perhaps, but they do. They think so little of themselves, so little of their products, so little of their place in the world, they don't believe they deserve and do not seek any long-term loyalty, any commitment, from the people who work for them.

Employers should not demand that employees exclusively belong to them. (What employees do off-hours is largely their own business.) They should not demand hard work. But they should expect to get exactly those things voluntarily because of the organizations they are. Their people should not need, want, or remotely consider any “side hustle”. EmployEES should consider side hustle as not only a betrayal of the employer, but a betrayal of their own promise and future making that employer legendary.

Fairy tales from the middle of the last century? Not according to Jim Collins who has spent the last 30 years researching and writing about what makes legendary companies legendary....and KEEPS them there, decade after decade. Read Collins’ books like Built to Last, Good to Great and Great by Choice if you want to define corporate greatness and the practices that create it.

Dedication is something Collins writes about. Dedication companies earn and employees are driven to provide by a shared sense of purpose and recognition of value that develops and expands year over year without limit. Side hustle is not part of that picture.

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