Meet Emma Gannon. A Sunday Times Bestselling business author, podcaster and broadcaster. She talks to us about turning her back on the corporate world to design her own ladder, balancing a busy, all-consuming job with friends, and the release of her new book: The Multi-Hyphen Method: a toolkit and manifesto for designing your own personal career path…
What did you study at university and how important was this experience in shaping your career path?
I studied English and Film! I loved doing both things, it gave me variety, and also meant I was exposed to more interesting people and made friends from both courses. English was really tough, so much hardcore reading, but I really enjoyed continuing my love for Shakespeare and poetry. The film course was fun too, our guest lecturer was Mark Kermode! We had modules on script writing and learning about how films make money etc. I suppose the writing and marketing aspects of my course has been helpful in some way. But I also think I could have done my course in a year, not three years…. I really resent my student debt, and find that I have learned far more by being on the job, thrown in the deep end and seeing as new jobs are being constantly created I don’t know how useful my actual degree really was.
What was your first job after graduating?
I worked as a paid intern at a PR agency in Soho. I learned how big brands plan global campaigns, how to contact journalists and write press releases. I think knowing ‘how to PR something’ is a pretty crucial skill if you want to run your own business. The skills I learned there I still use in my job today when launching new projects. Getting good press is a key part of being self-employed.
When did you realise that the corporate world wasn’t for you? Did you always have a strong entrepreneurial drive?
I don’t really like sticking to rules, ha ha! In a lot of big companies you have to follow a lot of set-in-stone rules because you are one cog inside a big machine, and there is normally a hierarchy and everyone climbs the same ladder. I wanted to invent my own ladder.
How did you get into blogging?
In 2009/2010 I started to love reading blogs. The PR company I was interning at was contacting bloggers for the first time. Hardly anyone was doing it, so I wanted to give it a go. It was the reason I could side-step from PR to journalism, because magazines could see my writing. I got my first book deal thanks to my blog, I owe a lot to that little (sadly now dead) blog!
Tell us about your book The Multi-Hyphen method….
Essentially, it’s a best friend’s guide on how to future-proof yourself, as the world of work evolves and the days of the ‘job for life’ are fast becoming a thing of the past. It’s not a ‘quit your job and follow your dreams’ book, or even a guide on being a freelancer, it’s more of a movement (I hope) on taking risks, refusing to be pigeon-holed and defining your own work/life balance. It’s about allowing tech to work for us, not against us. It’s about having multiple interests and identities at work. It’s about how multiple income streams can being empowering. It doesn’t glorifying the ‘hustle”, but instead more a toolkit and manifesto for designing your own personal career path.
What advice would you give to those who are itching to convert their craft into a career, or side-hustle into a start up?
I’d say just start, now. It’s really easy to make excuses for why something won’t work. Confidence, time, money and fear can get in the way. But just start really small, even if you’re just dedicating twenty minutes a day to a new side project. The more it grows over time, the more motivated you will be to keep going.
How do you balance a busy, all-consuming career with friends / relationships?
I set boundaries. I set out-of-offices a lot (so people know that you are not going to reply straight away). Sometimes because I’m giving myself a day off to read a new book or sit in the park. I worked non-stop in my twenties, had endless amounts of energy and it was all-consuming, but now things are doing well I am looking forward to working a bit less in my thirties! (I am 30 next year). My boyfriend doesn’t really ‘do’ social media so he is someone I can really switch off with. Same with my best friends, I try not to go on my phone when I’m with them.
List some jobs that don’t exist now but might in the future…
Oh god that is a hard question. I don’t want to freak anyone out! I would say lots of jobs with “robot” in the title.
What are 3 things you wish you could tell your younger self?
– Follow your gut, you already know the answers deep down.
– Don’t take advice from random strangers off the Internet
– Don’t ‘network’, make genuine connections
Stolen from Caitlin Moran: “Nine times out of ten, you probably aren’t having a full-on nervous breakdown – you just need a cup of tea and a biscuit’.