Jobs and the Future of Work

This woman has seven income streams and suggests diversifying income power

Dorie Clark recommends diversifying income and career, so that you're never left in the lurch if you lose a job.

Dorie Clark recommends diversifying income and career, so that you're never left in the lurch if you lose a job. Image: REUTERS/Jason Reed

Shana Lebowitz
Strategy Reporter, Business Insider
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Future of Work

  • Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist and the author of "Entrepreneurial You."
  • She recommends diversifying income and career so that you're never left in the lurch if you lose a job.
  • Having multiple jobs and income sources also helps you develop your skills and build your brand.

In 2001, Dorie Clark was working as a political reporter. It was her first job out of grad school.

One day the director of human resources called her into his office. "I thought perhaps they were changing our dental plan," she recounts in her new book, "Entrepreneurial You." "Instead, I got laid off — effective immediately."

Today, Clark is a marketing strategist, an adjunct professor of business administration at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, and the author of multiple books, the most recent of which is "Entrepreneurial You."

On an episode of The Art of Charm podcast, Clark explained the value of diversifying income streams and professional pursuits, so that should you meet a fate as she did in 2001, you won't be devastated.

Here's Clark on diversifying income and career

"Everybody knows if you have money, you shouldn't invest it all in one stock. Everybody knows that's a bad idea. You need to diversify there.

"But for our jobs, for how we make money, I think many of us — most of us — have one way we make money. It can be very risky. I've really come to believe, and have done a lot of research over the years that one of the best ways we can create real, legitimate professional stability for ourselves is by diversifying income streams.

"That's certainly true for entrepreneurs, but even for people who work inside a company, cultivating a side income stream of some sort — whether it's having an Etsy store on the side, or doing a little bit of coaching or having a workshop now and then, whatever it is, doing a little bit of paid speaking — having that sideline gives you additional protection against uncertainty and also has a lot of other benefits.

"Frankly it helps you build your skills; it helps you develop your brand."

In the book, Clark writes that she currently earns a living from seven sources: writing books, speaking, teaching at a business school, consulting, executive coaching, running online courses, and generating affiliate income through her email list.

On the podcast, Clark shared another story that illustrates the power of diversifying income and career streams drawn from "Entrepreneurial You."

Lenny Achan started his career as a nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City; on the side, he was developing apps. His boss found out and was impressed and gave him the chance to head up social media for the hospital. Achan accepted the opportunity and performed so well that he subsequently became the head of communications at Mount Sinai.

Leonardo da Vinci is another example of someone who was a "wide achiever," in the words of Roman Krznaric, author of "How to Find Fulfilling Work." Da Vinci was alternately a portraitist, an inventor, and a scientist. Krznaric says that in light of decreasing job security today, spreading yourself among several different jobs, as da Vinci did, is probably a smart thing to do.

In "Entrepreneurial You," Clark quotes Jenny Blake, a former Googler, a career coach, and the author of "Pivot."

Blake said when she was starting to build her speaking business, she relied on one-on-one coaching sessions to provide "bridge income." That is, even though speaking was her passion, she wasn't yet earning enough from her speaking gigs to support herself — the income bridged the gap between two career phases.

Clark offers a free online assessment to see how you can start diversifying your income and career. But there are plenty of so-called "side gigs" you can take up, from web designer (up to $32 an hour) to group fitness instructor (up to $41 an hour).

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