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Gone are the days of lifetime careers. Today we think of multiple income streams as our safety net. Job security is an illusion. Accountants become farmers or bloggers on the side; plumbers become landlords; police officers offer fitness training on the weekend. Today we live in the world of slash careers.
Empowerment comes from educating ourselves in multiple disciplines. The accountant/blogger brings experience from the slash career back to her office providing clients with a better understanding of their personal tax and accounting needs.
So what is a slash? A slash is a professional person with mixed identity. Therefore, the professional can be an accountant slash blogger. People cannot settle on a single career path as safety nets disappear. Families cannot count on the government as their sole source of survival when things head south. The new paradigm has created mixed professionals with skills and experience crossing professional fields. Sometimes there is a correlation between the professions, but it is not necessary.
Slash careers are a beneficial advancement to society. A lawyer working weekends as an Uber driver learns different ways to interact with people. The unique additional skills are valuable in the court room and in negotiations. Each step of the way the slash professional increases her skill sets in ways never before imagined. By crossing disciplines, individuals bring new understanding and creative growth prospects to their future endeavors.
My personal life has including a lot of slash careers: accountant/landlord/hedge fund manager/farmer/blogger. Each slash gave me more experience in fields outside taxes and accounting. Every slash made me better than my competitors. Imagine this blog without my massive reservoir of experiences to share. Without a good story to illustrate a point the message becomes dull info dump. The smartest woman in the room is not always the most successful. Knowledge, skill, and talent only take you so far. To excel you need to integrate your abilities into a team effort. This is true of employers and employees. It is also true for bloggers. You do understand I receive a lot of help with this blog? If I lacked the ability to communicate great ideas to influential people you would not be reading this.
The slash, or hybrid, career creates enthusiasm for new opportunities. Golfing is great fun until you do it fifteen hours a day every day without a break. Then it turns into drudgery. A game of basketball might improve the golfer’s game due to the break in monotony of doing only one thing, the increased exercise of different muscles, and a new and greater understanding of how the body works in different situations. The golfer/basketball player is better at both professions. Coaching is another complementary slash profession for a golfer.
Once upon a time I was a martial artist. I spend several years perfecting the art. I needed a break from my normal exercise routine. It made all the difference. I lost some weight I wanted gone and discovered a better way to build muscle mass. Today I am proud of my physical improvements. The midsection could use some work, but I will blame that on age. (I see you rolling your eyes.) The benefits did not stop at health. I am an accountant, a tax guy; that is what I tell people when they ask what I do. My martial arts training allowed me to have productive conversations with clients, new and existing, who owned a gym, ran a studio (Zumba, martial arts, yoga, et cetera), or planned on doing so. My martial arts training produced over $400,000 of revenue over the last twenty years for my accounting practice. I had a skill and experience my clients wanted because they knew I understood their business and could help them grow into a successful business.
Slash careers are not always formal. My martial arts class was in no way a profession. Running a hedge fund was. The hedge fund fit nicely with accounting. Accountant/hedge fund manager. See how nice it rolls off the tongue. Accountant/farmer. A bit harder to wrap the mind around that one until a rancher walks in the door. Accountant/landlord is understandable when you consider how many landlords I have as clients. It becomes clear income properties provided much more than rental income for me.
Where Slash Careers Began
The concept of slash careers started as an accident of our evolving society. An article by Kate Hamill introduced me to the idea and codified it for me. I realized a significant percentage of the workforce engages in some form of slash career. Clients rarely have only one income anymore. More common on a tax return is several W-2s mixed with a small side business and a rental property.
Changing careers is no longer taboo, either. Once upon a time you were expected to get a job out of high school or college and stick with it until retirement age. It was the era of the company man. The company man died for a good reason. Good riddance, too. The company man was never as valuable as he was rumored to be. Varied skills and experience are what is needed to run a profitable company today.
Even retirement is a slash experience. Gone are the days when you reached a certain age and were put out to pasture where you sat on the couch waiting for a visit from the grim reaper, your usefulness expired. Retirement is now an enriching growth experience of travel, volunteering, socializing, and sharing with younger people.
Slash is good for all involved. Slash allows us to reach our potential and feel useful and productive from day-one-to-day-end. Formalized work is frequently missing from the routine. The unstructured form of productivity is better for the soul and mind. You can explore ideas like never before, even when it is totally unrelated to your prime line of employment or retirement.
Too many people feel embarrassed when they mumble their extra professional careers. Stop it! Retirement is also different. We don’t really stop for retirement anymore; we switch gears and grow. And why not? Who wants to be put out to pasture waiting for the reaper? Exactly! When you grasp the slash culture you start to realize you get to do many of the things you want to do. It kind of turns your whole life into a retirement lifestyle. I don’t know about you, but I like that thought.