Writer and broadcaster, Emma Gannon, is probably best known for her book and podcast of the same title, Ctrl Alt Delete: an exploration of growing up online and the way in which our online projects are revolutionising our lives. After graduating from Southampton University with a degree in English Language and Literature, Emma has written a weekly online column for The Telegraph and blogged for The Huffington Post UK before securing the role as Social Media Editor for major magazine publisher, Condé Nast. Emma has received international recognition for her successful career after being listed in the 2018 Forbes Europe 30 Under 30 category for Media and Marketing. However, over the last few years her projects have been created outside of the workplace and in all different areas since she made the decision to become a freelance writer.
Now, Emma identifies as a Multi-Hyphenate, which means that she pursues other projects alongside writing, including working as a digital lecturer at Condé Nast College and collaborating with brands such as Microsoft (you might recognise her from the national advert that she starred in last year). She has explored this multi-faceted career style in her latest book The Multi-Hyphen Method: Work Less, Create More and Design A Career That Works For You. Praised by The Evening Standard, which stated that the book is a guide on “how to prepare for the new workplace”, The Multi-Hyphen Method challenges the idea that your career is defined by your job-title. With case studies and practical exercises, Emma Gannon proves that anyone can create a successful side-hustle to generate an income. Whilst on her UK Multi-Hyphen Method book tour, hosted by Bumble Bizz, I met Emma at her event at The Mercure Rougemont Hotel, in walking distance from her family home.
The Multi-Hyphen Method challenges the idea that your career is defined by your job-title
As I sit down to talk to her, it is clear to see that she carries her success with modesty and compassion. Following the launch of her book, she is amid streams of interviews and magazine pieces, yet you can tell that Emma is genuinely energised by this conversation. “When I left Glamour magazine I realised the shift with how people treated me. When you are asked ‘what do you do’ and if you have a solid response, people are impressed.” She found herself trying to explain that is was not simply a case of multi-tasking and doing everything at once. This break with the traditional security of a 9 to 5 job meant that Emma had to cope with outward perceptions of success (a stark reminder of the challenges our digital generation face). “The reality is that the magazine at the time was really struggling, I didn’t feel successful there- Condé Nast is a great company, but it wasn’t fulfilling me.” Emma felt that there needed to be a shift in the language surrounding side-hustles and wrote The Multi-Hyphen Method to legitimise the career choice that more and more people are making.
“The reality is that the magazine at the time was really struggling, I didn’t feel successful there- Condé Nast is a great company, but it wasn’t fulfilling me”
Of course, this style of work is typically associated with glorified socialites and the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow who try their hand at different careers. However, online platforms have made a tangible and widespread difference to our work. “The playing field has been levelled”, Emma tells me, she herself having initially learnt how to edit podcasts via YouTube: “I started to talk to people who were similar – the podcast I have interviewed over 120 people who have lots going on.” Her interviewees include Elizabeth Gilbert, Lily Cole, Reni-Eddo Lodge and Tavi Gevinson, to name but a few.
Whilst Emma has had many high-profile guests on her podcast, she wants to highlight the accessibility of having a Multi-Hyphenate career. A central feature of the book is the case studies of everyday people, the majority of whom work around their regular jobs. “I realised that I didn’t want it to just be about the media, I didn’t want it to be like ‘London Bubble’ – I’m a London girl living in Hackney, working in media – I didn’t want it to be trendy.” She tells me about a part-time Nurse who is also a Children’s Author and who she interviewed for her book: “she has to go and be a Nurse during the day – so you are focused and you get stuff done and work really hard and you work on long-term projects. It’s just you divide it up in a way that suits you, you design your own career.” Clearly, Emma wants to generate an inclusive movement to prove that it is possible for people with all kinds of backgrounds to be a Multi-Hyphenate. Testament to this is her recent work for The Prince’s Trust where she has been leading Multi-Hyphen Method workshops for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to instil in them the self-confidence and skills needed to pursue their own projects.
“It’s just you divide it up in a way that suits you, you design your own career”
Despite being a female entrepreneur with a seemingly linear career, Emma reveals that, she too, has experienced issues with self-confidence. In a society that privileges youth, she acknowledges the confidence acquired with age: “I have boundaries now. You don’t come into my physical space. You don’t come into my inbox. I don’t give out as much anymore – I was such a people pleaser and now it’s like ‘No I’m in control of what I do’ “. It is this confidence which she sees herself continuing to fiercely write with about feminism and technology into her next decade. For those of us learning to navigate a career, she recommends starting small as well as putting your sister’s friend in the Cc of an email (you’ll instantly appear more professional).
“I was such a people pleaser and now it’s like ‘No I’m in control of what I do’ “.
Currently, The Multi-Hyphen Method is already listed as a bestseller for both Amazon and The Sunday Times, attracting readers of all ages, including a typically overlooked demographic: “I’ve had so many people over the age of 60 at my book events coming up to me and buying it and being really enthusiastic.” She earnestly adds, “That’s what would make the book a success for me.” If anything, The Multi-Hyphen Method is a positive reminder that it is possible to make time to begin a project, even if it isn’t the minute after you graduate.
The Multi-Hyphen Method is available now.