The gig economy. It's been getting a lot of headlines this year. When you read the definition of the gig economy, it makes sense enough. Unfortunately, for me as an ex-musician, it feels like another bad buzzword that we pulled from something legitimately cool and are now applying to macro-economics. Don't get me wrong, macro-economics is really, really cool. It's just not quite as cool as a searing guitar solo being played by a dude with a fan on him.
Maybe I'm hyper sensitive to business buzzwords. I'm actively seeking help for this. The question is whether the term "gig economy" is just a flash in the pan cringe-worthy business term that will soon go away as people go back to looking for more traditional jobs or whether it is actually got sticking power and might even be an OK term.
In spite of my bad business buzzword radar going off when I hear the term "gig economy", I am actually thankful for the gig economy - and maybe even the term. That might just be because I'm actually part of the so-called gig economy. I wouldn't want to bite the hand that feeds me, would I?
In the spirit of Thanksgiving this year, here are three reasons we should all be thankful for the gig economy:
1. We all get to feel as cool as musicians
I remember an earlier version of myself when I was a studio musician who played, well...gigs. The musical kind. Shows. Concerts. A gig was a cool thing. It was dark. There was a big stage. Lights. Big speakers. At least one person with ridiculous hair.
Now we all get to be cool musicians doing gigs. Data processing gigs. Systems implementation gigs. Accounting gigs. Merger integration gigs. No one should ever take anyone else down a notch for that short-term temporary year end close "gig" or that systems implementation communications execution gig.
Now those are just as cool as the alt rock gig. Just remember to autograph the final audited P&L or officially signed-off communications plan for all of the raving fans when you're done.
2. Maybe we can actually now finally stop talking about "side hustles"
I think there is definitely some fringe benefit to how much we talk about the gig economy these days. Maybe one bad buzzword can eat a worse buzzword for lunch. Before the gig economy became such a prevalent term, we used to call these gigs side hustles. I always disliked that term more than most bad buzzwords because it felt like we weren't focused on our main hustle (you know, the hustle that actually paid the bills) or that my mom kept thinking it was some modified version of the dance move from a ways back.
But now that the gig economy has become so big, it seems like most of our side hustles aren't really side hustles anymore anyway, right? I might not be really understanding this gig economy concept properly, but it seems to me like the side hustle has now been properly categorized as a gig.
I suppose you could have a side hustle to your main gig in the gig economy. Back when I was a musician, we used to just call them side gigs - you know, cheating on your main band with another band. Everyone did it.
So if the gig economy can completely subsume the side hustle, then I'm very thankful for that. I'll drink to that with an extra glass of wine at the Thanksgiving table.
3. The 57 million of us freelancers can now feel part of something important and meaningful
I remember when I started my own consultancy almost ten years ago. In some ways, I did it because I didn't want to be part of the big system. Part of the machine. I liked the independence (or at least the perception of it), the flexibility, the entrepreneurial spirit of it.
But it is also nice to have a network of other freelancers. That's one of the ways that I've run my business - by actively affiliating with all sorts of other "independents" out there. It has been kind of like a virtual team that makes each of us bigger than we really are individually but keeps us at the individual level of independence we like.
It now seems like there's enough of us out there doing just that such that we've created our own machine that even deserves its own bad buzzword - the gig economy. Nice, if not ironic. But it's nice to have a network. And if I have to suffer through a bad buzzword for it, I'm thankful for that.