#WhatILearned: The Hustle Economy

The Hustle Economy, edited by Jason Oberholtzer and illustrated by Jessica Hagy, is an anthology of insights and advice for creative entrepreneurs by creative entrepreneurs, representing a wide spectrum of artists and makers.

If you believe, as I do, that we’re entering a new era of work, freed from the factory, yet even more connected by the internet, and you do creative work of any kind, then it’s helpful to have a guide…and this is a good start.

The whole book is great, but here are a few of my favorite insights:

Nick Douglas

  • Just make good work and put it out there
  • Over time, a creator convinces people that their work is consistently good, enough so that their next piece of work will be worth betting on
  • It’s really rewarding when you can help people who are a little behind you in their career. Not selfishly, not to “earn points,” but because you genuinely feel they deserve more opportunities than they have right now”
  • Pick your collaborators by their talent, creative ambition, and ability to work with others

Jason Oberholtzer

  • The typical journey is part willingness to get by with less at times, part luck, and part grace – in different proportions for different people
  • Being involved in the hustle isn’t about arriving anywhere – it’s about being “in the mix”
  • When you aren’t focused in one area, building specific, marketable experience and skill, you are cultivating another broader skill: getting good at getting good at things
  • …embrace that which motivates you to action rather than that which taxes your energy so much that its toxic energy reaches into other areas
  • Invest in yourself in concrete ways…learn new tangible skills

Jessica Hagy

  • You’re always still learning
  • Make room for the next bigger, better thing
  • Surrender is not an option
  • Every chore can be a creative exercise
  • Just. Keep. Going

A few tips:

  • Spend at least 15 minutes making something new today
  • Figure out a natural first starting point. Want to write a book? Write a chapter.
  • Now is the time to articulate what you want
  • Reach out to others, and reply with generosity when others reach out to you
  • Start working on something that is worth working on

It’s a collection intended to inspire. And it’s filled with Jessica Hagy’s illustrations, which are great for opening your mind to a different way of thinking about work. I hope you check it out and it gives you a kick in the ass to bring something new into the world.

“Keep your mind on the things you want and off those you don’t” – Bruce Lee

Poignant words of wisdom from recently released notebooks from the Bruce Lee Estate:

  • You will never get any more out of life than you expect
  • Keep your mind on the things you want and off those you don’t
  • Things live by moving and gain strength as they go
  • Be a calm beholder of what is happening around you
  • There is a difference a) the world b) our reaction to it
  • Be aware of our conditioning!
  • Drop and dissolve inner blockage
  • Inner to outer ~~~ we start by dissolving our attitude not by
  • altering outer condition
  • See that there is no one to fight, only an illusion to see through
  • No one can hurt you unless you allow him to
  • Inwardly, psychologically, be a nobody

I know that I have the ability to ACHIEVE the object of my DEFINITE PURPOSE in life; therefore I DEMAND of myself persistent, continuous action toward its attainment, and I here and now promise to render such action.

via Brain Pickings

“What it meant to be part of a community with common goals of which mutual aid and support were not the least”

This will bend your brain, but is so interesting:

The wellbeing ideology is a symptom of a broader political disease. The rigors of both work and worklessness, the colonization of every public space by private money, the precarity of daily living, and the growing impossibility of building any sort of community maroon each of us in our lonely struggle to survive. We are supposed to believe that we can only work to improve our lives on that same individual level. Chris Maisano concludes that while “the appeal of individualistic and therapeutic approaches to the problems of our time is not difficult to apprehend . . . it is only through the creation of solidarities that rebuild confidence in our collective capacity to change the world that their grip can be broken.

”The isolating ideology of wellness works against this sort of social change in two important ways. First, it persuades all us that if we are sick, sad, and exhausted, the problem isn’t one of economics. There is no structural imbalance, according to this view—there is only individual maladaption, requiring an individual response. The lexis of abuse and gas-lighting is appropriate here: if you are miserable or angry because your life is a constant struggle against privation or prejudice, the problem is always and only with you. Society is not mad, or messed up: you are.

Secondly, it prevents us from even considering a broader, more collective reaction to the crises of work, poverty, and injustice.

Source: Laurie Penny | Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless

“The connection economy values the bridges between the nodes as much as the nodes themselves”

If you’re looking for as good an explanation as I’ve found about the shift from factory work to the connection economy, read Seth Godin’s post linked below.

No, the good jobs aren’t coming back. But yes, there’s a whole host of a new kind of good job, one that feels fundamentally different from the old days. It doesn’t look like a job used to look, but it’s the chance of lifetime if we can shift gears fast enough.

You don’t have to like this shift, but ignoring it, yelling about it, cutting ourselves off from it is a recipe for a downward spiral. It’s an opportunity if we let it be one.

Source: Seth’s Blog: The computer, the network and the economy

“Every day of your life is an opportunity to create”

A good reminder:

The problem is that when we go for years (or decades) without flexing our creative muscles, they atrophy until, on a core level (even subconsciously) we stop believing that it’s even possible for us to create.

You can create change in yourself by building better habits. You can create change for others by pulling them up when they’re down and giving them opportunities. And you can create change in the world by leaving something behind that’s uniquely yours.

So, it doesn’t really matter if you feel “ready” or if you’re “sure” of yourself. Just ship the damn thing.

via Just Start Doing Whatever It Is You Can’t Stop Thinking About

“To your highest purpose and best self friends”

It take[s] a lot of courage to speak your truth and use it to rise above tragedy and injustice. It takes a lot of courage to use that truth to forge your own path to independence based on your true character. Your willingness or failure to do so will, however, not stop life from throwing the ‘opportunities’ for you to you; over and over again. So why not use them for a higher purpose?

Why not make your legacy, in part, that you broke the mold in your family. You were the one able to create opportunities for others; you were the one able to create jobs; you were the one able to care for your family and the children of your children; you were the one able to to be the shining example in your community that others wants to emulate. We all want to be a part of history and through seeking and finding your own liberty we all can.

via What will be in your declaration of independence? | Entrepreneur the Arts

“The rise of monopolies hurts the middle class by taking away from people the ability to run their own businesses, and sell their own labor in the open market”

Economists are still trying to hash out how the country got to this place, where so many jobs pay less, comparatively, and so many workers are struggling to make ends meet. The work of the economist David Autor suggests that automation is partially to blame. His research finds that improvements in technology helped augment a certain class of jobs, making the people in them more productive, while also replacing the more repetitive jobs with computers and machines. That means that the top earners are able to make more money than they were in the past, and that there’s a growing need for people to fill lower-wage jobs that can’t be automated (think janitor or nursing assistant). But the jobs that once built the middle class—bookkeepers, assembly-line workers, call-center employees—have disappeared.

Other economists, such as Thomas Lemieux, argue that a shifting labor landscape is to blame for some of the decline in middle-class wages. As companies outsourced jobs to cheaper locations, U.S. jobs either disappeared or paid less, in order for companies to remain competitive. Additionally, declining union coverage means people who would normally get union wages no longer do, which also puts a downward pressure on non-union wages, since non-union plants no longer have to compete. And because the minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation, Lemieux and others argue, other wages haven’t either. If minimum-wage salaries remain low, other salaries up the income ladder—including those of managers—remain low too.

In addition, American companies have become very good at cutting labor costs, said Harry Holzer, a professor of public policy at Georgetown. They turn people who were once full-time employees into contractors, cut back on wages and benefits, and do everything possible to maximize productivity without sharing those gains with the workers. “Employers have become very good at taking the low road, minimizing labor costs, no matter what it takes,” said Holzer.

via A Middle-Class Stronghold’s Uncertain Future – The Atlantic

The strong middle class of the 20th century “was a choice. It was a policy choice; it was an American choice.”

A strong middle class is, for many people, central to the American idea. There are other core values too, of course—freedom, political representation, individualism, etc.—but an economy in which families can feel economic security, live comfortably, and build up wealth is definitely on the list.

But that’s not the economy America has today. The middle class is getting smaller by the year: According to Pew, the percent of adults in solidly middle-income households has fallen to 50 percent in 2015, from 61 percent in 1951. And belonging to the American middle class doesn’t guarantee financial security either: 44 percent of Americans making between $40,000 and $100,000 say they can’t come up with $400 in the event of an emergency without borrowing money. For black and Hispanic middle-class families, that figure is 58 percent, compared with 40 percent for whites.

Source: A Strong Middle Class Doesn’t Just Happen Naturally – The Atlantic

“There’s no good name for this phenomenon of a middle class imploding while economies nominally ‘grow.'”

Good read on business’ responsibility to create work, not just profit, in order to prevent future Brexits:

To prevent such catastrophes from happening, business needs to play a more active, engaged role in creating the kind of thriving, vibrant economies that inoculate societies from self-implosion—because those implosions take businesses down with them, too. Brexits don’t happen in thriving economies; they only happen when the pie is shrinking. People who have good jobs — jobs that allow them to do something useful, that pay livable wages, that come with good benefits — who can educate their children, get the health care they need, and live lives that are decent and whole generally don’t blow up their own economies in a misguided bid for attention, justice, and vengeance.

Source: Business Leaders Have Abandoned the Middle Class

How Can We Make Music More Sustainable?

Vickie Nauman provided some great questions to start making music more sustainable.

We need companies and organizations investing and competing to be the best in each of these five areas:

(1) Great Music – which labels, publishers, management companies and organizations are best at identifying and fostering new talent?  Helping invest at different career levels?  Have the best accounting systems to track micropayments and ensure accurate metadata?  Who is helping the self-released artist?

(2) Engaged Fans – which platforms and services know their customers well enough to engage around music?  How can they encourage more listening and connect artists meaningfully with these fans?  How can an engaged fan turn into a high value fan for an artist?  How can we better serve tribes and casual fans

(3) Rights Data Management – who is optimizing modern technology so that rights data is simply a conduit to attribution and getting paid?  How can data that is in a state of constant change be cleaner?  Which practices need to be left behind, while new methodologies adopted?  Privacy need not be lost in the establishment of consistency and standards.  I dream of a future state for industry events without the need for metadata panels.

(4) Copyright Law – is it possible to have laws stay current with technology?  What will get core stakeholders aligned to foster protection that is better for the whole?  Short of massive overhaul, are there interim wins?

(5) Business – we’ve currently got a handful of multi-billion dollar companies offering legally licensed music to fans – this is a fantastic new baseline, but is it enough to sustain the entire industry?  Is niche, mid-tier, and back catalog music reaching fans and generating adequate royalties through the pipes to the niche, mid-tier and heritage artists?  How can we move to spur innovation while retaining value?  Are there other ways to grow now that the industry is somewhat painted into a corner with a value proposition of $9.99/month for every crown jewel ever created?

Source: Sustainability in Music — Rethink Music