I realized the problem on the day my second son was born.
In the end it was the unavoidable truth. Something relentless and inescapable and terrible and a little bit wonderful all at once. But there it was staring me right in the face:
Kids are damn expensive.
Fortunately, I already had a good sales job with a good company. One of the great things about sales is when your compensation is uncapped, you can always turn up the volume if you need to increase your cash flow.
But in a world where seemingly everyone had a side-hustle except me, I wanted to be one of the cool kids too!
The only issue was I didn’t perceive that I had any fungible skills in a pandemic world of new paradigms. That’s when I stumbled upon “human intelligence tasks”, basically any research related activity that still requires elements of human nature to properly evaluate.
Which is a really fancied-up way of saying studies and surveys.
I did all the studies that interested me. I described the results of single pitch sequences of baseball games at $0.20 a pop for an AI learning project. I did month-long group study on counterfactual analysis and multiweek studies on strategic board games. Some paid okay. Some paid like shit.
So it goes.
The real benefit was I got a much better sense of what my time was worth. I realized that my best financial ROI opportunity available to me right now was my current job. Accordingly, I turned the effort and discipline levels way up and improved results quickly followed.
What also followed was a promotion to lead our sales team, bringing with it the nice boost in compensation.
As it turns out, the most valuable thing I got from my side hustle wasn’t a few extra bucks after all, but rather a whole new sense of self-worth.