Oct 8 2020

What Kind of Gig Economy Executive Are You?

(This post also appeared on Bolster.com).

As we wrote in The Gig Economy Executive, the major societal trend to “gig,” or part-time/freelance work, has reached the C-Suite.  We created Bolster to help organize a talent marketplace out of what is mostly an informal economy today – one where VC- and PE-backed companies find trusted freelance executives and consultants from their networks.  

In that earlier blog post, we wrote about the different types of on-demand executive work that C-level executives engage in:  interim, fractional, mentor/coach/advisor, project-based consulting, and board roles.

As we’ve been building Bolster this year, we’ve come to appreciate that not only are there different types of gig economy roles…there are several different archetypes of gig economy executives, too.  While there is a clear common theme of the desire to do some form of freelance, or non-full-time work that cuts across the four types, they are very different in their stage of life and their needs.  These are our four main Member user personae, to use the language of Product Management.

First, there is the In Between Executive.  This is the original concept of our founding investors at High Alpha and Silicon Valley Bank that drove their interest in Bolster.  The In Between Executive is someone who is generally mid-career and used to working in full time C-level roles and is, for whatever reason, between jobs at the moment.  Maybe her company just got acquired and she is taking a break.  Maybe her company restructured her out of a job.  Maybe she needed or wanted to take a break from work for family or health reasons.  Maybe she was just ready to look for a new career challenge.  The In Between Executive is perfectly suited to any of the on-demand executive role types but is a particularly good fit for interim CXO, mentor/coach/advisor, and project-based consulting roles.

Second, there is the Career On-Demand Executive.  The Career On-Demand Executive is usually someone who has had many years of experience as a full-time executive and who is now looking for something more flexible, or who just enjoys more variety in his work.  One of the Career On-Demand Executives in the Bolster network I spoke with early on described her journey to me like this:  she was “between things” when a friend of hers who had moved to France and started a company asked her to come set up her HR Department and run it for 6 months while hiring full-time staff.  She took a month off, lived in Paris for 6 months, took another month off, then started to look for something else like that.  Ooh la la.  Sounds pretty good to me.  The Career On-Demand Executive is a particularly good fit for interim CXO, fractional CXO, and project-based consulting roles.

Next, there is the Not Retired Executive.  When I think of the Not Retired Executive, I think of my Dad, who was a successful technology entrepreneur for 30+ years.  Since he sold his company several years back, he has helped a number of startup CEOs do everything from raise money to build a sales and marketing plan, to manage supply chains.  Sometimes he gets paid in cash as a consultant, sometimes he gets equity as an Executive Chairman.  Sometimes he talks to younger entrepreneurs and helps them out “just because.”  The reality of the Not Retired Executive today, however, is that many people are “not retiring” younger and younger because they’ve made enough money to take a step back from hard-charging full-time jobs.  The Not Retired Executive is perfectly suited to any of the on-demand executive role types.  The ones who are later in their careers and closer to being actually retired are particularly good fits for mentor/coach/advisor and board roles.

Finally, there is the Side Hustle Seeker.  The Side Hustle Seeker is someone who is a full-time executive somewhere but who is looking for additional professional opportunities.  She may be an experienced CMO who is excited about mentoring up-and-coming marketing leaders via a local or industry-based professional organization.  She may be looking for chances to “pay it forward” because someone mentored her along the way, earlier in her career.  She may have accumulated enough experience and wisdom to be ready for her first board of directors seat.  Regardless, she’s someone who is a “high wattage” professional who wants to learn and grow herself by connecting with others outside her day-to-day role.  The Side Hustle Seeker is best matched with mentor/coach/advisor and board roles.

So, what kind of gig economy executive are you, and how can Bolster help you find the kind of work you’re looking for while providing you with tools and resources to simplify your life?  Join Bolster as a member to find out!