Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Slash Effect

I just finished reading "One Person/Multiple Careers", by Marci Alboher, Author/Speaker/Coach. Like with other books described in this blog, my reading agenda is highly influenced by authors visiting Google (which happens often enough to keep any reader quite busy).

The main contribution of this book is to get you thinking. Slashers are people who have multiple parallel careers. Through numerous examples, the book claims that this is a growing phenomenon in today's culture, and describes the challenges, opportunities and benefits having to do with slash careers. The point that I found most interesting about all of the above is that slashing essentially gives you multiple identities in society. Think of what you answer at a party when people ask you what you are or do. Being a slasher means you can give multiple answers, or choose one you think best suits the situation. But more than that, slashing means you gain some internal balance in life, rather than being tied to one professional identity.

Marci gives examples of lawyers turned writers & coaches (including herself), a teacher with a modeling career, a computer programmer who also directs a theater, a lawyer who's also a Baptist minister, Sanjay Gupta, the CNN health correspondent who also does surgery a few times a month, and the list goes on and on. She discusses how people manage multiple careers, some of the cross-over benefits and life-style benefits they obtain, and she offers practical advice on how to become a slasher. The book essentially revolves around all these examples, and every chapter ends with the highlights of its main points (great for future reference).

Being a somewhat formal guy on occasion (perhaps one of my slashes?) I found myself looking for a definition of a slash. Marci seems to focus on aspects of life that are part of your career (it doesn't actually matter whether you derive much income from it, otherwise most of the poets and actors would not have made it into the book). But, for example, does a hobby count as a slash? Does it depend on how much time one spends on the hobby? In fact, many jobs are composed of multiple slashes (e.g., professors spend half of their time teaching, half their time doing research, and the other halves raising research funding and sitting on committees).

Clearly, parenting is the most common form of parallel activity adults engage in. The book contains a chapter on parenting and how parenting and slashing share many challenges. The book even claims that a slash life can prepare you better for parenting (though clearly, some of the slashes may take a back seat for a while).

However, my search for a formal definition of slashing is missing the point. As I stated at the outset, the point of this book is to make you think about all the aspects of your life whether they count as slashes or not. Personally, the most common slash combination I've encountered (and personally experienced) is the professor/entrepreneur combo, and I can speak at length about the benefits and challenges there.

Finally, one point that was not addressed in the book is multiple careers that happen in sequence, rather than in parallel. Perhaps I'll take the opportunity to coin a new term: the double backslash, (for those of you who haven't had the pleasure of using the Latex word processor, I should explain that a double backslash creates a new line in the text). I would think that slashing and double backslashing share many of the challenges and benefits.

In summary, this book is a rather quick read (you can skip parts, but pay attention to the boldfaced sentences). I found myself reflecting on my slash/double blackslash riddled career and wondering what other slashes may come into my life at some point.

1 comment:

mommycares said...

Good one on Alon Halevy's Blog - it helps a lot!

We clearly share similar parenting experiences and views.
I've been reading one that I'm hooked on -
I have a feeling you'd get a lot out of it.

Incredible job on your blog; keep it up.