The Side Hustle and Flow series profiles real people who started their career in large corporations, and worked a side hustle until they were able to quit their job and support themselves full-time as an entrepreneur.
Today I bring you Dan Schawbel.
Dan is the author of the upcoming Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future. He is known as a “personal branding guru” by The New York Times, and the Founder of Millennial Branding, LLC. Dan operates the syndicated and award winning Personal Branding Blog, and publishes Personal Branding Magazine. Recently, he was named to the Inc. Magazine 30 Under 30 list.
He’s also very fond of Pam Slim! (His editorial note — and for the record, I am very fond of him too.)
What was your former day job?
I worked for EMC Corporation for three and a half years, in three different roles, after graduating Bentley University in 2006. My first job was product marketing, then online support, and then as their first social media specialist.
What was your side hustle?
During the period when I was employed full-time, I started the Personal Branding Blog, Personal Branding Magazine, did some consulting, speaking, and freelance writing. I also wrote Me 2.0, and drummed up a lot of buzz around it, while positioning myself as a personal branding expert.
When did you start working on it?
March 14, 2007 at 7:30 pm EST
Did you tell your employer you were working on a side project? Why or why not?
Yes, my employer knew exactly what I was doing outside of work and it’s important that they did. All of my work was extremely visible, and if I didn’t mention it to them, they would discover it, and I might have been penalized. Transparency is becoming mandatory in a world where it’s easy to discover what people are doing in and out of the office. I did make a strong case that what I was doing outside of work, was helping promote EMC.
How did you know when it was time to quit your day job?
I spent years building primary demand for my business and made a calculated decision to leave my company, when I saw enough revenue potential in consulting, speaking, and advertising. I also didn’t feel like I was mature enough to run my own business when I first started. After I started to speak multiple times in one week, I had to make the tough decision to leave because it was unfair to my employer, and myself.
What scared you about that decision?
I wasn’t too scared because I was confident in my product(s) and I had always intended on starting my own business. For me, it was a major lifestyle change that I have since adapted to. I was working 60 hour at EMC, and then 40 hours on my own business after work, and on weekends. It wasn’t a healthy situation, so I knew I had to change it.
How did it turn out?
I’m loving life right now, and feel very fortunate. I sat down with David Meerman Scott for lunch a few weeks ago, and I looked at him and said “can you even believe how lucky we are to be doing this right now?” Since my entire business is based on what was once a hobby, my attitude and work ethic have withstood the test of time. I’m really happy that I left at the right time, and ended up with a corporate case study (EMC) and a personal brand case study (myself) before I ventured out.
What are you doing now?
Pam, I don’t think we have enough time to go through this question ;). I own and operate two blogs, a magazine, an online TV series, and four other websites. I do live events, speak nationally, and consult for people and companies. I also write for BusinessWeek, WSJ, Metro, Yahoo!, and several other publications and blogs. The 2nd edition of my book just came out, called Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future. I’m working on several other book concepts right now.
I’m also retweeting this post as we speak
What advice would you give for others who are working on a side hustle now that you have a bit of distance?
It has to be something you love and you need to be confident in your product. Also, I’m a big evangelist for having long-term goals and sticking to them.
How can people find you, or hire you?
My corporate website at Millennial Branding, LLC
My personal website at DanSchawbel.com
Thanks Dan, I really appreciate you taking the time to share your story! Your tireless work ethic is really inspiring to me. And I love all of our early morning and late night g-chats. Thanks for being a friend and a young mentor.