John Jantsch: You know, in my podcast, I generally talk to entrepreneurs, but today I want to address those of you that are in a company, that are working in a job, and the need for a side hustle — not only the monetary aspect of a side hustle, but the confidence and the ability to really give you something maybe over and above what you’re getting from your job. And that’s why I talked to my friend Chris Guillebeau to talk about his new book “Side Hustle” the complete plan in 27 days for you to create your side hustle, and, again, this is not a job, this is not a part-time job, or a replacement for what you’re doing, this is something to have in addition to what you’re doing. Hopefully, you’re really fulfilled at your job and this is another way to really enhance both your financial situation and maybe your life in general. Check it out.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Chris Guillebeau. He is author, blogger, speaker like all of us these days, and he’s best probably known for “The Art of Non-Conformity”, “$100 Startup” and, of course, World Domination Summit. Today, we’re gonna talk about a new book/project for him called “Side Hustle”, so, Chris, thanks for joining us.
Chris G.: Hey, John. Always a pleasure.
John Jantsch: So this book, quite frankly … and I suppose all books to some degree, but this one seems even bigger for you, that it’s almost like this is a whole side hustle by itself.
Chris G.: Yeah. I feel like I have a specific targeting for this book, too, which is kind of interesting because I think … Ten years on into this business, I’m finally understanding you’re supposed to have a market in mind for your book. This book is … it’s interestingly enough, because you’re a marketer; I’m a marketer; we’re both entrepreneurs … This book, in a lot of ways, is not really for entrepreneurs. This book is for employees or people who are otherwise just really busy, have lots of responsibilities, but they want to create a new source of income. So, yeah, I’m hoping it’s gonna be big. I’m hoping it’s gonna reach a lot of folks, but ultimately I want it to help a lot of folks — that’s the longterm goal, of course.
John Jantsch: But you have, for those … obviously some people have stumbled across it, but for those who have not, in addition to the book, you have how many episodes of podcasts and all kinds of case studies and things that you’re doing, so you really have built almost an ecosystem around this book.
Chris G.: Yeah. I felt like I had to get my act together ’cause I’m doing all this different stuff and lots of projects and that’s just partly who I am. I don’t necessarily want to do only one thing. But last year … I had this other book come out last year “[inaudible 00:02:42]”, and I did a 30 city tour, and it was really interesting because I would talk about side hustles for maybe like two minutes of my little 30 minute stump speech, and afterwards all the questions, at least 50% of the questions, were about side hustles. I noticed everybody wants this basically. I’ve been writing about it in some ways for eight years, but I was like … I just want to take a year and go kind of all in with this concept. So, I started the podcast on January, one episode a day, seven days a week. Every day, I’m telling a story of an employee who starts a side hustle without quitting their job and, “Here’s how they did it. Here’s how much money they made. Here’s what they learned along the way,” et cetera. And now the “Side Hustle” book is out.
John Jantsch: This theme kind of of starting small, if you will, but kind of doing what you would enjoy doing — I mean, it kind of runs through all of your books a little bit. I mean, even “The $100 Startup” — obviously you were encouraging people to build world empires as well, but … Is there something in your past, your background, that really kind of makes you gravitate towards that idea of, “Every body can start something. Every body can do a side hustle”?
Chris G.: Sure. I think it has to do with the values of independence — independence or even like rebellion kind of … like freedom, you know? Just embrace it — like choosing to stand up for yourself and to create something for yourself. It’s just something that I think a lot of your listeners will resonate with — just the idea of building security for yourself. So, not relying on a company, not relying on an organization to do that … I feel like that’s probably the consistent thing, and helping people to do it … I don’t want to say risk-free, but kind of with manageable risk, or with lowering the risk and making it easier to get started I think is important.
John Jantsch: Would it be your contention that in this day and age some very large percentage number of people should be doing this?
Chris G.: I think everybody should have more than one source of income. Absolutely. I don’t think everybody should be an entrepreneur like us — you can be a fulfilled person working for the right company or organization. There’s benefits to doing that, or you can choose like a hybrid lifestyle, like so many are doing these days. But I do think, like no matter what you do, that you need more than one source of income and that’s just wise. It’s not just wise, it’s not just for security — it’s also fun. It’s empowering. It’s good. It’s good to … You might have your paycheck, but then you have this other thing coming in and it just feels so nice to be able to look and say, “I made that thing. I have ownership over that.” That’s what I’ve seen with a lot of people who are not like me, people who have had a job their whole life and they’re in a company structure, but then they create their little project and then they all of a sudden have that money coming in. It’s just it feels really good. It feels empowering.
John Jantsch: Would you say that there are any distinct differences between what you are suggesting and what maybe people would have traditionally called “moonlighting” or “freelancing”?
Chris G.: So, a lot of what I’m trying to encourage people to do is not just get another part-time job. I think that’s important. Uber right now has this advertising campaign about how driving for Uber is a side hustle, and I feel like I’m really gonna go after this a little bit on my book tour because Uber, and Lyft, and those companies have done a good job disrupting the taxi industry, et cetera, but I’m not sure they’re really presenting amazing opportunities for people to kind of take ownership of their lives. I think it’s just like a part-time job because you’re in somebody else’s ecosystem if you’re doing that kind of crowd sharing thing, or even some moonlighting and freelancing. What I’m trying to help people do is … don’t just go out from your 40-hour-a-week job and work another 20-hour-a-week job — let’s think about how you can actually create something that you’re able to influence that doesn’t have an income cap, it doesn’t rely on somebody else’s rules, so maybe that’s a little bit of a distinction, but obviously there’s some overlap.
John Jantsch: So selling to Starbucks would be a side hustle, but selling at Starbucks would not be?
Chris G.: Yeah. That’s great. So, even like driving for Uber. There’s a guy, you might know him, his name is Harry Campbell. He started as an Uber driver and then he went online, he was trying to get some advice, just some tips, looking for a forum of other drivers and it didn’t exist, so he created it. He actually built this whole coaching and consulting business called “The Rideshare Guy”, essentially serving tens of thousands of Uber, and Lyft, and other company drivers. I think that’s really smart. So, like driving for Uber kind of leads to like, “Here’s how I can actually create something that I’m in control of.”
John Jantsch: That kind of leads into my next question, how do you suggest somebody start this idea?
Chris G.: Yeah. So, in the book, I’ve created this like 27-step plan, and it’s 27 days, so day one, step one; day two, step two. It’s over like a five week period. The idea is that you spend 20 to 30 minutes a day working on this project. So, everybody’s buys, nobody has a ton of free time, but if you want to invest in yourself, then you can spend 20 to 30 minutes a day. You can also work on your own pace, of course. So, five steps in brief: first step is about understanding where ideas come from. Where does a good viable side hustle or business idea come from? Step two is, okay, you’ve got a bunch of ideas — you got three, or four, or five ideas — how do you choose one? ‘Cause you can’t do everything, so I’ve got this little process called “Side Hustle Selector” to kind of narrow it down. And then step three it’s about, “Okay, what do I need to get ready to launch this project and put it out into the world?”
And then step four, “How do I put it out into the world and launch it probably before I’m ready?” I just want to make sure that people take action quickly, that’s why it’s 27 days. And then after that, step five is like, “Okay, let’s regroup and refine. What actually happened when I put it out there? Was it a huge success? Was it a big failure?” Chances are, for most people, it’s somewhere in between, you know? I think people always think it’s like outcome number one or outcome number two, but what I’ve seen even in my own projects is like often something works a little bit, but not quite what you hoped for, so then it’s a question of like, “What do I do? Do I fix it somehow, or change something about it, or do I go on to another idea?” So, basically the whole book, the whole process is to help people walk through this in 27 days.
John Jantsch: In your research, and certainly in doing your interviews, have you … are there tendencies to what makes a good side hustle? I guess I’m somewhat talking about monetary being one of those parts of that.
Chris G.: Sure, sure. Of course. Yeah, I mean, what’s interesting is people have different goals for their side hustle. Day number one is like, “Let’s identify your side hustle goal because,” … Like on the podcast, where like every day a different story. There’s quite a range of stories, and so I have some people … I have a minimum standard. A minimum standard is it has to be at least $500 dollars a month. I have a lot of stories like $500 dollars a month, $1,000 a month, $2,000 a month — and that’s meaningful, like that’s meaningful and significant to lots of people for all kinds of reasons. I also have stories of people that go on to make like six figures side hustles and they’re still working their regular job.
Maybe eventually they transition, but they’ve got this ultimate backup plan. So, I guess first prerequisite is like I am talking about income-generating projects — I’m not talking about hobbies. It does have to make money, so that’s probably characteristic number one. But characteristic number two very closely aligned is … for the most part, I’m trying to encourage people to use the skills they already have as opposed to like going out to learn a new skill. You might have to learn some business skills, but those are really easy to learn. That’s not that difficult. The main skill, the main expertise you have is your life experience, whatever education you’ve had, whatever you’ve done in your career — there’s probably something there that we can pull out and then that can then become your side hustle.
So, I think a mistake people tend to make is people say things like, “Oh, I want to make an app because I heard that making an app is like a good idea,” and I’m like, “Okay, are you a developer? Have you ever programmed? Do you know how to make an app?” They’re like, “Nope, so I’m going to go out and learn how to make an app.” Generally I don’t think that’s the wisest idea, right? Because there’s all kinds of developers that are busy making apps all the time and that’s their thing. So, how to work with people with where they are, with the skills you already have, and how can we then translate those in some way.
John Jantsch: You mentioned the hobby word, and, I mean, for a lot of people, they do things that are considered hobbies because they really enjoy them. So, is there a place for turning a hobby into a side hustle, or is that as place to go and really waste a lot of time?
Chris G.: I think it’s entirely up to you. I think it’s up to the individual, and I think there’s all kinds of things in life that we do for not monetary reason, and that’s great. I mean, that’s art. That’s life. That’s entertainment. But, if you want to take your hobby and turn it into a side hustle, then that’s great, too. I’ve been presenting stories of people doing that all the time in different ways, so I think it’s pretty cool to have something that you actually enjoy doing, but it actually happens to pay you money — that’s what a side hustle can be. It’s like something you actually look forward to, it’s not something you dread. But unlike other hobbies, unlike golf, or whatever else, or video games, or anything — like it doesn’t cost you money, it actually brings you money, so I think it’s pretty fun.
John Jantsch: Have you found any kind of patterns about how much time somebody should think about investing in this and how quickly they could make it to where it’s $500 a month?
Chris G.: Yeah. That’s a great question. I feel like it’s kind of a self-pace thing, and some people will do it quicker than others, some projects will take off much quicker than others, so I don’t know. I am trying to … When you choose between different ideas, I am trying to kind of steer people towards the idea that they can get going quickly just because, like we touched on earlier, I do see how empowering it can be for somebody to create that source of income for the first time. So, maybe if you’ve done this for a while, you can be more intentional and think about, “What do I want to create for the next three to five years?” But a common problem I think some people have is they feel like they’re making this side hustle decision for the rest of their lives, so then they don’t ever make a decision. They feel this huge pressure, can’t decide what to do, and I’m like, “Does it matter? Let’s just pick something because if it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work, and you do something different.” I feel like relieving that pressure is really important.
John Jantsch: So, startup incubators are all the rage these days, do you ever see a side hustle incubator?
Chris G.: No. I haven’t. A side hustle doesn’t need capital — that’s the main thing — at least the kind of stuff that I’m talking about for the most part. So, I guess incubators are good for support, for mentorship, or connecting with people and stuff. But, yeah, I don’t know. Maybe you should start one in Kansas City.
John Jantsch: I think it’s a great idea. But-
Chris G.: Yeah.
John Jantsch: I’ve got a little corner of my office and we’ll start a knitting side hustle.
Chris G.: Perfect. Great. That’s great.
John Jantsch: So, what about teaching these principles in schools? Again, what I’m asking is did you ever see a world where that would be considered mainstream enough that it would be taught in school?
Chris G.: I think so, because I think eventually … We’re not quite there yet, but I think just as generations change and career paths change … I feel like millennials get kind of dumped on a lot, and I feel like millennials are really smart and now they’re thinking about a lot of career stuff because they don’t have the same … I don’t know, illusion that this traditional company path is gonna work for them, and so they’re not necessarily going to invest in that. So they are kind of thinking about hybrid approaches, and now you can walk into a coffee shop and 8 out of 15 people there are like working on their little side hustles. So I feel like if that’s what’s happening in the culture, then education eventually has to catch up, right? Education either has to catch up, or education becomes irrelevant, so hopefully it will catch up.
John Jantsch: Well, they’re still teaching a lot of irrelevant things in school, so who knows.
Chris G.: Yeah. Well, there’s always a lag.
John Jantsch: So, that’s interesting though because I’m with you — I have 30-something kids and I hear from them and their friends. They’re always thinking, “Hey, I could be doing this over here. I could be making coffee, or I could be doing something.” But I wonder if there’s also another really big demographic, and that’s that 55, 60-year-old that maybe is sort of sun-setting on a career, but is not ready to quit.
Chris G.: Yeah, and so they’re interested in reinvention in some … Maybe they’re interested in like wholesale career reinvention. They want to start something completely new and build a business. In other cases, it’s just, like we’ve been talking about, for other reasons like they want to have more than one source of income and they should. They should have. If you’re sun-setting, if you’re at that age, you had some life experience — like you’ve learned over time what you’re good at, what you’re not — so you might actually … like that self-awareness might help you make better decisions, or help save you some time. I feel like I hear from people sometimes who worry like, “Oh, I’m a little bit older. I don’t have the technological skills of a younger generation.” I say, “Well, you have the life skills of your generation,” I mean all skills are valuable one way or another, so, again, don’t make an app if you don’t know how to make apps, but let’s figure out what you can do.
John Jantsch: Yeah. So, I know that you are trying to kind of ease the idea of, “Hey, you can start this, and it’s easy, and have a goal of $500 dollars a month,” but what if there’s people out there that actually think, “You know, I want to have a business, I think, but I got this job and I don’t know,” and so is there a path that you have included in here for people that actually their intention is to replace their job, but they want to do it with a side hustle?
Chris G.: Absolutely. I mean, I think about some of the stories that I’ve had. So, here’s a good story of a woman who … actually, she was a marketer, and she works for this company and wanted to send candy hearts as gifts for her clients, like these personalized candy hearts that have like texts on it that include the client’s name. So, she goes to look on the internet, and basically it’s hard to find manufactures that do this. They’re like on the seventh page of the Google search results, and they’re not responsive to email, et cetera, et cetera. So, she decides to basically start doing this herself, and she does it kind of on the side over like a year and a half. Eventually, she actually has the machine, and she’s doing this in her house, and so she has this really big season during Valentine’s Day, ’cause that’s when the majority of these orders are placed. She’s making a $100,000 dollars a year from it, but she still actually has her marketing job because she likes the marketing job.
Interestingly she said — this is the best thing, I thought, about the story, well besides the fact that she’s making $100,000 a year seasonally — but also she said this has actually increased her value at work because he boss knows about the side hustle. The boss knows she has this very significant second income, and she could leave any time, but she’s there because she wants to be there, not because of just the paychecks. Interestingly enough, she said it’s helped her be secure in lots of different ways, so lots of stories like that.
John Jantsch: That’s interesting, because I’ve actually heard that from people lately. I remember … I’ve been doing this a long time. I remember 10, 15 years ago, if you were doing a side hustle, it was on the down-low if you were part of a company. And now you hear a lot of people that are like, “Oh, yeah. This is so-and-so on our team, and they also have this business.” It’s kind of like really state-of-affair now. Yeah, that’s very cool.
Chris G.: Yeah. I think there’s … I mean, there’s still some of both, right? Like I definitely hear questions from people who are like, “I’m writing you from my cubicle and I’m not supposed to be doing this,” so I definitely hear that still, but I think it’s kind of like the education and culture thing, like this is changing and some companies are gonna catch up and some aren’t. So, I do think forward-thinking companies, or just companies that are smart … If you’re an employer, again, don’t you want your people to be there because at the end of the day they believe in the mission? They want to get paid, of course, but they’re there because they actually want to contribute something. I think that’s much better than your employees are there because they’re afraid, and they’re only there because this is the means to an end for them, and if they had another means to that end, they would go somewhere else. That’s not a great place to be in as an employer.
John Jantsch: Yeah. You are … At least in this day and age, your book tours are still sort of epic. Most business book folks are … maybe they’re speaking at a couple of conferences, but they’re not doing the 30 city tour like, I guess, at one point in our history was very common. Tell us about the “Side Hustle” book tour.
Chris G.: Yeah. So, I decided to step it up and not be a slacker this time, because last year I did a 30 city tour and everybody was like, “30 cities? That’s it?” So this time I’m gonna do a hundred city tour. Like I said, I’m really kind of investing in this whole concept myself with the daily podcast and the book. I have readers all over the world and I’m gonna go about 40 to 50 cities in North America, and then the other half elsewhere. I actually really love it. It’s a lot of work, it’s always exhausting, but a lot of things in life that are exhausting are also very meaningful. I love going out to meet readers and listeners. Anybody who wants to sign up, by the way, tickets are free. It’s sidehustleschool.com/tour. I would love to see some Duct Tape Marketing folks on the road.
John Jantsch: Well, is there a “Where’s Chris today” blinker bulb that shows on the map kind of thing?
Chris G.: Yeah, that would be … social media’s behind on that, so I’m actually terrible with social media. But if you go to that website, you can actually see all the dates.
John Jantsch: All right. So, I’m working on another book myself, and so I’m asking a lot of folks … I’m not gonna talk about it necessarily, but I’m asking a lot of folks what some of their favorite books are, and they don’t have to be business books.
Chris G.: Okay. My John Jantsch book, I know you didn’t ask me this, but I think I’ve said this before, is “The Referral Engine”. I thought that was really unique. I think I’ve recommended that book like over and over. I know Duct Tape Marketing is your evergreen, longterm best-seller, but I thought that was really an interesting take on getting people to recommend your business. So, I’ve thought about that a lot. Let’s go outside the business world … Well, let me do one more business one: “Captivate” by Vanessa Van Edwards just came out a month or two ago. I think Vanessa is super smart. She’s all about personality skills and behavioral stuff, so she has her own kind of take and her own approach that’s very different from a lot of business-y authors.
John Jantsch: And a Portlandier.
Chris G.: Yeah. What’s that?
John Jantsch: And a Portlandier.
Chris G.: She is, in fact. That’s right. That’s right. She is. Let’s see, what else? I’m mostly reading fiction these days. I don’t read a ton of business books ’cause I write business books, so I try to go outside a little bit. Favorite author is Haruki Murakami. Have you read his stuff?
John Jantsch: No.
Chris G.: Oh. So, let’s recommend “A Wild Sheep Chase”. For your first Murakami book, “A Wild Sheep Chase” — great novel. It’s all about exploration and going off on a quest, but it’s in a very unique Japanese style.
John Jantsch: Cool. All right, well there’s money to Amazon.
Chris G.: Exactly.
John Jantsch: Well, Chris, hopefully we’ll catch up with you somewhere out there. I’m gonna look at the map and see where the heck Chris is today, but I’m actually … I’m gonna be in the Northwest in November a couple times, so maybe we can catch up then.
Chris G.: Oh, fantastic. That’s good. Well, by the time your next book comes out, I might still be on tour, so hopefully we can join forces.
John Jantsch: Awesome. Well, thanks so much, Chris. Always great to visit with you.
Chris G.: Awesome. Thank you, John.
John Jantsch: Hey. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Wonder if you could do me a favor? Could you leave an honest review on iTunes? Your ratings and reviews really help, and I promise I read each and every one. Thanks.