Celebrating those with multiple hats/jobs/business cards — the new ‘slashie’ culture

If you’ve spent time in LA you will have met interesting people working a variety of jobs while perfecting their craft/s and chasing their dreams of being the next success story in their field. The city is flooded with talent. Yet there’s a slightly judgmental view of the stereotype that every beautiful waitress is a model/actress/singer/songwriter/fashion designer/author. Has this stereotype damaged the view that having a job/passion/multiple passions/dream is a bad thing? (And why does it largely get applied to women only? I’ll leave that point here for now ….).

When I moved to Wellington, New Zealand in 2013, and over my time there, one thing that stood out quickly (in addition to the awesome coffee, arty/creative vibe and amazing people), was that the “slashie” culture (slashie = model slash actress slash singer slash movie producer, you get the point) is woven into the city’s DNA and applauded by individuals and their employers alike. There was this celebration of talent and excitement that by day, someone is a focused, detailed project manager, by night is collaborating on a short film, and spends other spare minutes working on his or her own PM software startup. One friend described this as someone’s ‘night job’ — what else do they do that combines passion, income and creativity?

It was refreshing to find that companies and managers of these talented people were excited by the passion and drive these kinds of people show throughout their ‘day job’ fuelled by their activities outside this environment. Traditional views may be held by some who believe that interests, work, projects outside one’s “job” detract from their ability to do their best work. Yet research, and anyone who’s worked alongside a ”slashie” knows the opposite to be true. When we fuel our excitement, learning, passion and creativity outside our working commitments, we come to work turbo charged and alive.

In Wellington, there was this incredible mix of people focused and achieving incredible things in multiple areas that may in time turn into new technologies, new businesses, new jobs and better opportunities all round. Who doesn’t want that?

As the workforce is further shaped by technology savvy, society and contribution focused millennials, I predict having multiple hats will be the norm and more traditional, linear careers and jobs that demand 80 hours a week commitment will become extinct. How to engage, encourage and lead people like this, and others who are unlike them around them, is something to be mindful of.

One of the people from the startup BOLSTUR, when talking about hiring sales stars for startups, quoted a speaker from an event “if you’re hiring someone and seeking entrepreneurial flair, the first question should be ‘how many business cards do you have’” — or what are the major projects you’re pursing? Those that are truly entrepreneurial will most likely have several projects or ‘night jobs’.

Sometimes, we love the job we have and don’t wish for more outside of this, or the practicalities are that we need a day job to pay the bills, or to fund us to study so we can one day pursue passions, or we have responsibilities that restrict us from pursuing those passions now. There is no need to join the slashie crew unless you choose too — this is more a reminder to be excited and open minded when engaging with or employing someone who wants to work full time with you and wants to drive their startup and write their hit song — they can often do it all, they are not mutually exclusive. Of course, if performance standards aren’t met then standard measures need be taken, but please keep an open mind and don’t assume they won’t kick all the goals!

We need diversity in society and in organisations, we need those that have their eyes on the one job, and we need those doing that and pursuing their passions, and we need everyone in between. For now though, I want to acknowledge and celebrate the driven, creative, passionate people out there who are trading in hours of downtime or juggling all their responsibilities and putting effort into what lights them on fire.

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