Hobby as a mainstream career

Hobby as a mainstream career

Hobby as a mainstream career

One of my earlier posts, “How to prepare for a Solid Career in a Dynamic Environment” elicited numerous discussions.  As I read and thought more on this interesting topic, the one topic that keeps coming up is about one’s hobby as a mainstream career.  The idea of having a hobby has been passed on as good advice for generations.  While I have been fortunate in receiving that advice, I have been guilty of passing it on “as is”.

Generally a hobby is perceived as a “cost” and a “stress-relief”.  A popular example is of Einstein who used to play the violin to take a break from his regular vocation.  Music, painting, sports, collectibles, reading, etc. are hobbies professed by celebrities and leaders.  In fact, not having a hobby was looked down upon.

The old resume format used to have a section where one listed one’s hobbies.  Again, this was at the very end of the resume, giving the impression that the hobby was way subordinate to the main career, education and work experience.

What is a hobby?

Dictionary.com defines hobby as “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation”.

When I examine this definition, I observe a few things:

1. Hobby is an activity secondary, or subordinate to the main occupation

2. The main occupation is the one to which most of the time is expected to be devoted (as is ostensibly the primary or only source of income)

3. It is not clear whether the hobby could be a source of income

4. The hobby is the activity that provides pleasure and relaxation

5. The main occupation is generally not expected to provide pleasure, and is not a source of relaxation

I want to challenge this concept and brainstorm ways of making the hobby as the main occupation, which is both pleasurable and also income-producing.

Let me cite two sets of discussions that I had recently that lead me to believe this is the way to go.

The first one was in Mumbai at a cricket match.

When in Mumbai last week, I spent quality time with my friend at one of the IPL (Indian Premier League) cricket games.  It was a cracker of a game between Mumbai and Bangalore.  As we were exchanging thoughts during the game, my friend lamented the standards of batting, bowling and fielding that is on display during the current IPL season.  And these are players that are making a living out of playing cricket!

The IPL has made cricket a profession.  Each of the eight teams has a playing squad of about 20 players.  Support staff (coaches, physiotherapists, computer analysts) makes up another 10-15 per team.  If you add the administration in the IPL, the ground staff, the marketers, the media folks, you have almost a thousand people that can earn a living out of a very popular game.

This is a far cry from about 10-20 years ago, when only 11 people played Test cricket and the odds of getting into the Indian cricket team were miniscule.

Today, a kid with a passion for the game and a decent aptitude, can put in a high level of effort, get coached and make it to one of these professional teams.  He can make a career out of playing the game.  And there are several such leagues in other countries where the player can play his trade.

While the better (star) players make hundreds of thousands of dollars, earning $100K a year is not far-fetched.  This is what a solid career is expected to deliver for a decent living.

The second discussion took place after a team dinner in Switzerland.

After dinner as were walking up a very pretty hill overlooking the city of Berne, Switzerland, my Swiss friend and I were discussing career.  He mentioned that he’d like to get a Masters degree.  That picked up my interest and I asked him which subject he was interested in getting the advanced degree in.  He mentioned something to do with Supply Chain so that he could further improve his productivity and the quality of deliverables at work.

Now I also know that this friend of mine is a very passionate camper.  He is a great cook and loves cooking during camps.  He is serious about it.  So serious that he has an awesome set of kitchen knives, one of which is a $500 Victorinox limited edition classic.

Between work and his passion with campfire-cooking, it was a no-brainer where my friend would like to spend more time and with greater interest.  I almost was urging him to start building a training course in campfire-cooking instead of him taking a course in Supply Chain!

As we discussed, it became very clear that the potential for his hobby as a mainstream career was very high.

The above two examples can easily be extrapolated to other hobbies, such as cooking, working with wood, video-gaming, collecting anything (stamps, clocks, toy trains, old records, currencies), indulging in outdoor activities, having a passion for music, photography and many more.

Of course, not all hobbies can be converted into a career.  In a future post, I will write about HOW one can go about transforming one’s hobby as a mainstream career.