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.
So far we have profiled Chandoo, Willie Jackson, Dan Schawbel, Laurie Gay, Carmen Sognonvi, Desiree Adaway , Gwen Morrison, Jenny Blake and Glen Southern.
Today’s interview is with author, speaker and journalist Alexandra Levit.
Alexandra has written for publications like the Wall Street Journal, and was named Best Online Career Expert of 2010 by Money. She has written six books: How’d You Score That Gig, Millennial Tweet, They Don’t Teach Corporate in College, New Job, New You and her latest, Blind Spots.
What was your former day job?
At first, I was a PR Manager for a Fortune 500 software firm in New York with about 20,000 employees. Later, I moved to Chicago and became a vice president at Edelman, a top global PR agency, and focused on creating online campaigns in the early days of social media.
What was your side hustle?
Originally, my side hustle was just to get a nonfiction business world advice guide for twenty-somethings published commercially, but when the book came out, the hustle blossomed into a multifaceted career that involved speaking, column and blog writing, and consulting.
When did you start working on it?
Did you tell your employer you were working on a side project? Why or why not?
Not at first, because I performed my job duties on the weekends and didn’t use any company resources. At the time that I needed to start traveling a lot for the side hustle (2004), I went part-time at the PR agency, and my boss did know what I was doing when I wasn’t in the office.
How did you know when it was time to quit your day job?
When I had my first child, I knew the gig was up. I couldn’t have a day job, an active side hustle, and a kid. So in 2008, when I was making enough money as a career and workplace author, speaker, and consulting to support myself, I left PR.
What scared you about that decision?
I am a rather risk-averse person, and to be honest, not knowing how much money I’m going to make in a given year is a little bit distasteful. All of the accounting and tax implications scare me too. On the other side, though, I have found that my self-discipline and great time management skills are a terrific fit for entrepreneurship.
How did it turn out?
It has turned out better than I expected! I have grown my business to the point where I can earn a good living yet still manage things myself, and my flexible schedule allows me to work hard and still spend quality time with my children (my second was born this year). I have been exposed to so many incredible opportunities, from working with Microsoft’s young professionals in Europe and Asia to developing a new career transition program for veterans for the Obama administration’s Department of Labor.
What are you doing now?
I’m a business and workplace author, speaker, and consultant. My goal is to help people find meaningful jobs, and then succeed beyond measure once they get there. My days are a mix of creating new content, speaking to media, corresponding with clients and colleagues, and promoting my projects/helping colleagues and friends promote theirs!
What advice would you give for others who are working on a side hustle now that you have a bit of distance?
Don’t expect things to explode overnight. You may have to chip away at the hustle a little at a time, and there’s nothing wrong with that. For me, it was over 4 years between the time that I started my side hustle and the time I stopped my day job. In that time, take advantage of any and every opportunity your company provides for you to learn! Also, realize that every path you take has its purpose. If it wasn’t for my years in PR, I would not have the expertise and contacts to make my solo career a success. I value every day I spent in that environment.
How can people find you, or hire you?