The Gig Economy: Stop Looking For Kansas!

As Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz, “I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”  She was right.  And you may as well stop looking for it.  Life as it once was – a singe job or even career that spanned a lifetime – is a relic of times forever gone.

The real challenge has been that we’re still in transition.  There’s still  too much lingering fantasy that you’re getting a degree in “X” and the “X” will be your lifetime career or pursuit.  And that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

But we probably need to go deeper than that.  Because even the innocent questions posed to our kids plants outdated seeds.  Yes, even “What do you want to be when you grow up” needs an update.

The Gig Economy: Here To Stay

So, since Kansas is off the map, where are we going?  Or, perhaps a better question is, how do we get there?  It begins with the realization that you are the new boss of you.  Whether you wanted it or not,  you’ve been promoted and now have all responsibility for your future.

That may feel like a bucket of icy cold water, but it’s really good news.  You now have much more control.  Moving forward, as you build on this, you’ll be building ever more strength and resiliency.  Think of it as never having to worry about the dreaded pink slip again.

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Where To Start

As the saying goes, don’t quit your day job.  But what once meant that you should forever plan on staying there, because that’s all to which you should ever aspire, now means something different.  That day job pays the bills while you’re working on something that actually belongs to you instead of the company.

Author Diane Mulcahy outlines these ten rules for successful navigation of the gig economy:

Define Your Success

Discover your personal vision of success, which might look very different from the traditional American Dream.


Learn to identify and find gigs to increase your opportunities, improve your skills, and expand your network.

Create Your Own Security

There is no job security.  Understand how to create income security, an exit strategy, and your own safety net.

Connect Without Networking

Decide if inbound or outbound connecting works better for you, and discover how to make great asks and offers.

Face Fear By Reducing Risk

Tackle the big fears that are holding you back, break them into manageable risks, and develop an action plan to overcome them.

Take Time Off Between Gigs

We can expect to take a lot more time off in the Gig Economy.  Here’s how to plan for it, and make it meaningful.

Be Mindful About Time

Reboot your calendar to spend time on what matters.   Consider whether a Maker or Manager schedule works best for you.

Be Financially Flexible

Forget the save-your-latte-money approach to money management. Restructure your financial life, and increase your financial flexibility and security.

Think Access, Not Ownership

Owning is so Baby Boomer.  Access the things you want with less debt and more flexibility.  Examine the myths of home ownership.

Save For Traditional Retirement . . .

But don’t plan on having one.  Answer the question: When can I stop working?

Excerpted with permission from The Gig Economy: The Complete Guide to Getting Better Work, Taking More Time Off, and Financing the Life You Want by Diane Mulcahy. Published by AMACOM Books. @2017 Diane Mulchay.   

Take Action!

If you’ve been finding yourself ever more frustrated by lack of progress in your career and about the things that really matter to you, maybe you’ve been still too stuck in old-world thinking.  Let the above rules inspire you to action.

The Gig Economy tackles each of the rules and gives effective coaching on getting yourself energized in each of them.  So if you’re really serious about creating some change in your life, I’d highly recommend picking up a copy.  But above all else, remember this:  the future doesn’t care how your world looks when you arrive there.  It’s up to you to create it by the actions you take and the choices you make right now, today.


About  Diane Mulcahy

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Diane Mulcahy is author of The Gig Economy: The Complete Guide to Getting Better Work, Taking More Time Off And Financing The Life You Want (Amacom, November 2016). Five years ago, long before the Gig Economy was part of the popular lexicon, Diane created and launched an MBA course on the Gig Economy at Babson College. That course gained immediate traction and was named one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Business School Classes in the country by Forbes.

A former venture capitalist, Diane is a Senior Fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where she manages the private equity and venture capital investment portfolio.  She writes and speaks frequently about the VC and PE industries and entrepreneurship.  With two earlier books to her name — Venturing Forward and Angels and IPOs — Diane has had her articles and work featured in The Harvard Business Review, The Huffington Post, The Economist, the New Yorker, Forbes, Fortune, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Institutional Investor, and on NPR and ReutersTV.  Diane holds B.A. and Master of Public Policy degrees from Harvard University.


Image credits.

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Jackie LaMar

Beach lover. SoCal dweller. Life is never over unless you surrender. Keep going, the prize IS out there.

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