Ruby Lee Side Hustles

I am triggered AF.

An article hit Australian tabloids this week roasting the side hustle movement deeming hustlers as uncommitted, untrustworthy employees.

Every insecurity of a hustler was hung out to dry calling us a 'hassle' and stating that 'if an employer lets you work on your side-hustle they may actually want you to hustle out of the organisation'.

It also triggered because it hit on what my community of hustlers most fear - the defamation of a personal brand, the worry that they will be overlooked for promotional opportunities or worse, get fired.

What the article does highlight however is the very real, very raw reality of speaking to employers about a planned venture. 70% of side hustlers I coach seek out advice on how to communicate their hopes, dreams and vision to their employer. Many are in a cold sweat at the thought of it and if they chose to talk about it to their employers, most are still told to do it on the quiet or their entire career could be up in flames. 

Unfortunately, this did actually happen to me.

I lived in a fear of my own entrepreneurial ambition for years. I started a little recruitment blog on the side and not to make money, but to help out a community of job seekers desperately needing help and clarity. I never worked on it during employer time. I was careful about not using my work phone or my work laptop EVER. My content and blogs never referenced my employer and I was so mindful to keep my work life and blog separate. I never spoke about my side project too candidly on any of my social channels, most certainly NOT on LinkedIn. My blog at the time never referenced me as the author, just an inconspicuous blogger who knew stuff about recruitment.

I never had the ambition to compete against my employer, on the contrary, I loved where I worked and thought that my future would be with them.

So although I did mention my blog to my manager I'd avoid going into too much detail. All of this energy was simply exhausting. But I point the finger at myself - I should have right from the start been more open about it.

That's why I am so adamant with my coaching clients to be upfront with their employers. The lack of transparency and living a double life as a secret side-hustler was depleting my trademark high energy persona.

In 2016, I found out the hard way. All of the secrecy and fear I had held me back from communicating my hustle effectively. It all came to a screaming halt when I was asked to take down the blog and was slapped with a first and final warning from my HR team.

I think when I initially told my employer they didn't take me seriously or thought it was just a little blog that would pass. But when they realised I was creating a following and an engaged community, they became concerned about how my personal brand would affect their employer brand.

I talk about this experience a lot over in my Own Your Hustle Facebook group and today it helps hundred's face their fear and learn from my own mistakes.


2 weeks ago I was lucky enough to address a room filled with side hustlers (almost 350 registered!) in a Melbourne-only event run by General Assembly.

Just look at that room!

This was an EPIC realisation for me, game-changing even. 

As I looked out at the sea of faces I could feel the future of work staring right back at me. Driven individuals whom all know there's more to their careers than just a 2D view of it. Gone are the days of graduate to full time employed work F-O-R-E-V-E-R. In fact, many of the new generation aren't even contemplating securing a 'good job', many launch hustles during university/ college and go on to grow it as they graduate into empires.

Oh, and if you didn't get to make it to my talk you'll be able to catch the full Livestream over in my group too.

As many of my community know, I stand firmly pro on the side-hustle generation. 

We are crushing the game.

We are the ones who are future proofing ourselves today. Side-hustles represents freedom, creativity, resilience, grit financial stability, choice, the ability to continuously learn and for some of us, grow empires. As a people, we have tossed the idea of the gig economy around like an overturned salad for too long now. The gig economy is not just here, it's here to stay.

I'd like to make it clear that many of the 700+ in my Tribe aren't all starting a sideline business to leave their employers. Many side-hustlers just want another income source or an avenue to find more creativity or intellectual stimulation or even just give back.

I'll continue to fly the flag for side hustlers and aspiring side hustlers globally. Today my message includes that of finding balance in investing in their careers AND building amazing passion driven hustles if they want to.

Here's the article I referenced. Let me know your thoughts and what you agree/ disagree with?

In the meantime, if you are considering growing your side-hustle and want to learn how to balance that with at thriving employed career - consider Personal Brand Boss - my online course that teaches how to be unapologetically you and attract amazing opportunities to your side hustle.

So here's to hustling on strong in our careers, and let's raise a glass to freedom of career choice no matter how you want to or chose to structure it. It's time to #ownyourhustle

Ruby Lee