Career development and scaling the ladder of corporate success; nailing the side hustle until it becomes the real hustle; building the homegrown brand; and growing the company that one can only dream of owning. Let’s face it, under 40s today face the growing quagmire of options to pursue relentlessly in an effort to make (good) money. Whether it’s having the job or the business venture, the ‘multiple streams of income’ rhetoric is out there and it’s coming at us hard every which way we turn. Does the under 40 professional join the pursuit of the side hustle or press in at the 9-5 in the hopes that it will translate to a strong sense of financial freedom and winning at life?
words by yvonne mtengwa
Being in what felt like a perennial state of migration as a modern expat always made me feel a certain way about which of the above to go after. While living in Zambia, working wasn’t an option, as the work permit was reserved for my husband whose budding career exploits had paved way for our relocation to the country. And so perhaps starting a business (whether it was enrolling in a network marketing program or utilising my marketing skills as a consultant) seemed to make sense. But we all know businesses need a little more than just one or two years before they really take off.
It would only be several years later that I would feel confident enough to leverage the skills formerly attained during my corporate years, to build a business in PR and communications strategy for entrepreneurs and small businesses. In my case, I was fortunate enough to now be able to use this as my creative outlet too — balancing the skills in marketing with the passion for creative expression. My PR career was birthed from the need to find something to do because sitting at home packing lunch boxes wasn’t going to work at the time for this former corporate high-flyer.
I don’t know about you, but for young women raised by medium income earning parents in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the key message was clear and simple: work hard so you can get good grades that would garner your acceptance into an institution of higher learning so you could become the enviable doctors, lawyers and accountants of your communities. Then, and only then, would you drive the nicest car and live in a fancy house with a sprawling lawn in its backyard.
The notion of being paid bloggers and influencers, musicians and fashion designers was nowhere near any scope of conversation nor parental advice back then, yet here we find ourselves today, actively looking at what we should invest in further in the hopes that one day, the titles of VP or CEO of some company we work for will be embossed in gold typography in our business cards. If that’s seemingly unattainable, maybe our creative gifts could be watered and developed well enough so much that we can actually get paid to do what we love.
Winning in the game of both
There are countless under 40s who have opted to dabble on both sides of the fence to balance the pursuit of financial freedom through both corporate growth and entrepreneurship. Take for instance Takudzwa Chitsike, legal counsel at a multinational organisation with operations across Southern Africa, who doubles up as the owner of a handmade jewellery brand Dee-Kaw-Zee. Her passion for making jewellery was ignited during a long season of job-hunting after having graduated with a law degree from the University of the Western Cape.
With mounting bills, one afternoon stroll at a Pretoria flea market led to her meeting a stall owner who quickly showed her how to make a piece of statement jewellery within minutes. Today, Dee-Kaw-Zee jewellery is shipped to customers across Africa, the US, the UK and Australia, while Takudzwa works her day job practicing commercial law. The balancing act is by no means easy, but she maintains that there is no other way she would rather have it as she’s doing what she loves across the board and ticking the rudimentary ‘multiple streams of income’ box.
Tshepiso Dumasi, Director of his self-titled Foundation which seeks to develop and mentor young boys into the leaders of tomorrow, is no stranger to wearing multiple professional hats while pursuing his social entrepreneurship goals. Having held numerous executive posts at FMCG; in manufacturing; the building materials and packaging industries, Dumasi was moved by the rising statistics of young children being involved in gang activity and other forms of crime in their communities.
His decision to leave corporate South Africa came out of the sheer desire to not only build his own businesses, but also enjoy the freedom of being able to impact the youth through mentorship programmes. His new book Uncovered: “Discover that you are born a leader and unlock the leader in you” – is an ode to the journey he has walked in his professional and entrepreneurial journey; one he wrote with the hope that it would encourage young men to look beyond their circumstances in their pursuit of success, on whichever path they have chosen.
The question begs of whether one can attain both; success in the corporate upper echelons of power, or as an entrepreneur on a quest to, one day, free themselves of the 40-60 hour work week. Today’s under 40 continues to illustrate the abundance of possibilities that one can create for themselves with commitment towards a distinctive pathway to success.
This group is debunking the myth that one need to work hard to be awarded the corner office, which subsequently translates to financial freedom, power and sustainable growth. We are witnessing the rise of the creative, the social entrepreneur, the change agent and the innovator, all of whom are coming together to curate personal journeys that shape industries and build communities. Perhaps the question we should all be asking ourselves is whether doing one thing really is enough to live a life of purpose, self-mastery and of course, freedom from not having enough resources to build foundations that will impact the lives of others.
-Yvonne Chiedza Mtengwa is an international speaker, publicist and the author of “Reinvented: Challenging insecurity to live authentically through faith”, a book encouraging women to confront their issues with relationships, insecurities and self-fulfilling prophesies, in an effort to truly discover who they were created to be. Visit and subscribe to her website on ReinventedToday.com or check out her Instagram @quintessentially_yvonne.
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