The Side Hustle and Flow Interview Series is designed to inspire hard-working corporate employees to either start a side hustle if they are interested in eventually starting a business, or to keep going with their existing side hustle through the inevitable challenge of limited time and energy.
Today we profile Desiree Adaway.
What was your former job?
I was the Senior Director of Volunteer Mobilization with Habitat for Humanity International (Global Volunteer programs). I have worked in the nonprofit philanthropy field for over 20 years. I have either designed or administered more than 150 global programs to engage 500,000 people into action directly and almost 1 million indirectly through creation of global strategy.
What was your side hustle?
Actually building an online presence. I knew that I would be leaving the organization by spring 2011 at the latest. My youngest daughter will start college in the fall so it was really important that I designed a life for myself that defined how I want to live, work and play for the next 30 years. A key objective for me was to be self-employed and live a location independent lifestyle. Having a website, blogging, using social media were key parts of building my foundation until I was ready to quit my job and go live.
When did you start working on it?
Fall 2009 after I attended an Escape from Cubicle Nation workshop in Atlanta.
Did you tell your employer you were working on a side project? Why or why not?
No I did not, but I did not keep it a secret. Lots of colleagues knew I was blogging and gave me great feedback. I did not ever mention specifically on my blog who I worked for or my specific role until after I had left.
How did you know when it was time to quit your day job?
I was sick all the time, and while I still loved the organization, it no longer was exciting to me. I knew I needed a challenge after 6 years with the organization.
What scared you about that decision?
I am a single parent with one daughter in college and another joining soon. I am not just the primary breadwinner—I am the ONLY breadwinner. If I fail we do not eat and they have grown accustomed to eating …so I knew that success was my only option!
How did it turn out?
Really well. I have been working steadily and consistently since I hung out my shingle. I have been learning TONS and getting so much support from folks that I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Building my tribe of supporters, advocates and ambassadors has been a blast.
What are you doing now?
I just finished an exciting project for an International NGO and am helping a startup nonprofit put some key metrics and foundational pieces in place.
What advice would you give for others who are working on a side hustle now that you have a bit of distance?
Network, network, network….find out how you can be of service to others and always look for new opportunities to collaborate and co-create. Wake up every day hungry and swinging for the fences. Some days you will miss—but others will be home runs.
How can people find you, or hire you?
In addition to being an amazing leader, Desiree has been my best friend for 27 years, since we were freshmen at college. Our daily calls give lift and humor to my day. Thanks Desiree, for your tremendous heart and deep commitment to service. Here is to a thriving consulting practice in 2011!