Piecing Together A Living In The 'Gig Economy' Nowadays, the word "gig" is not language used exclusively by musicians and creative types. Journalist Tina Brown believes that we are in the age of a "Gig Economy," and anyone trying to pay the rent is piecing together work, hustling to find their next gig.
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Piecing Together A Living In The 'Gig Economy'

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Piecing Together A Living In The 'Gig Economy'

Piecing Together A Living In The 'Gig Economy'

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This is Talk of the Nation I'm Neal Conan in Washington. In the gig economy, the name of the game is making the nut. That's the money you need to pay the rent, the cable, your cell phone, feed the kids and buy the health insurance you might have used to get at that 40-hour-a-week job. For more and more Americans, that's old economy. Writer and editor Tina Brown calls this the age of gigonomics, where everyone's a hustler. And whether you call these new jobs gigs, freelancing or contingency employment a growing number of Americans have changed the way the work, some out of necessity, others by choice.

If that's you, tell us your story about how life works in the gig economy. Our phone number is 800-989-8255; email us, talk@npr.org. And you can join the conversation at our Web site. Go to npr.org; click on Talk of the Nation. Later in the program, why fewer bombs and less force and increased U.S. casualties could be the future in Afghanistan. But first, Tina Brown joins us. She's the founder and editor-in-chief of the Daily Beast, where her article, "The Gig Economy," appeared last month. She's with us from our bureau in New York. Thanks very much for coming in.

Ms. TINA BROWN (Editor-in-chief, Daily Beast): Delighted to be here.

CONAN: And the terminology, gigs, the nut, a lot of that seems to come from musicians.

Ms. BROWN: Yes, it does. I mean, I feel it's just such a very strong trend. And one thing I feel keenly about it is, you ask somebody today what they do, and it takes to about 10 minutes to answer.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BROWN: Because they say, well, I'm doing this consultancy, and then I'm doing this other job, you know, and then I'm speaking here, and then I'm not - and then I'm doing. By the time they finished speaking, you know, you know, it's a whole five minutes has gone by without actually knowing what they do.

CONAN: As it used to be, I'm in advertising, yeah.

Ms. BROWN: Sure. It used to be very simple.

CONAN: Yeah. And this is not just - well, as we've said in the beginning of the program, musicians have done this almost forever - at least most of them; I guess some of them work for Disney and work full-time - but nevertheless, this is not something unfamiliar to a lot of people. It's unfamiliar to a lot of people in a lot of the fields, as you describe, that they're going into now.

Ms. BROWN: Yes. And of course, there's always been a very healthy freelance element to, you know, the component of the workforce. I, myself, have been a freelance over the years, have been in a job for many years, but also have also been a freelance. So, there's nothing wrong at all with freelancing. I think the difference is, is that there are people now are leaving this 40-hour jobs without any real time to kind of prepare that freelance kind of basis. And so, they're pitched into this gig atmosphere, where they have to kind of basically do three jobs to make the same amount of money that they were making before. And of course, this time, it's without benefits.

So, it's a very stressful situation, really, for a great many people who always thought that a college degree was a kind of passport to a 40-hour-a-aweek job, because, you know, we've seen for some time now; of course, people at the lower end of the economic spectrum have understood this for a long time and they've done what used to be called piece work, obviously for years, working two or three jobs at a time. What I think is new and has really come with this downturn has been the college-degree, $75,000-a-year-and-over element of the workforce who now are having to sort of work two or three times - you know, work two or three different jobs when they never had to do that before.

CONAN: And is this age specific? It does seem to be more frequent with younger people.

Ms. BROWN: It's actually quite across the board. I mean, it's really just the way it's going. I mean, again, you know, women have been quite used to this for a long time as well, because women with children, in a sense, have elected to live this way for a quite a time because they've sometimes felt that job-sharing or two or three days a week is the only way they can raise their families and still kind of earn some money but also spend quality time with their kids. Again, what is different is the fact that people are really being told by their employers we can't sustain your salary for, you know, a five-day-a-week time. We don't want to lose you, though, so we'll cutting you back; we're cutting back your days. And of course, you know, this should be an absolutely fantastic thing for employers because, you know, they should be in a situation where they can have - they don't have to pay benefits and they've got a whole bunch of revolving people that they can call on.

Actually, it's pretty discommoding to the employer, too, because, you know, your workforce turns out to be this revolving cast of characters, none of whom are ever there by time when you want them. So, you call a meeting, and you turn around and you say, where's Julian or where's Fred? I mean, this meeting is about his area. And they say, oh, this is not Tuesday, so it's not the day when Julian nor Fred would come in. You know, we can give you Frances, you know, and you say, well, what's Frances going to do with it? And they say, well, Frances is, you know, she's in on Thursdays.

So, it's a kind of a - it's very different new world. It can create a lot of confusion, but I think it's something we're going to have to get used to, because my sense of it is that I don't know that we're really going to return to the, sort of, the old way of the old, sort of, structured, nine-to-five, five-day-a-week jobs for many reasons, not only, of course, the downturn, which might well, you know, change, but because the way we live today - the expense of the health benefits, the way that companies now are so much more constantly influx and changes happening so fast in technology and so on - it's probably going to be something that we have to get used to and that the gig economy is actually going to become the way we just simply live now.

CONAN: The standard, and don't count on the gold watch.

Ms. BROWN: Absolutely. A gold watch is a...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BROWN: Thing in the past.

CONAN: We're talking with Tina Brown, founder and editor-in-chief of the Daily Beast, about the gig economy. If what we're talking about describes you, give us a call and tell us about life in the gig economy, 800-989-8255; email us, talk@npr.org. And Nicola is on with us from Auburn, California.

NICOLA (Caller): Hello.


NICOLA: Yes, I wanted to comment that I have exactly this experience. My career really broke up when I had children and I decided I wanted to be home with them. And my husband was the main money earner, and I did lots of different things. And in the last two years, I've done - I've been a wedding singer; I'm a business consultant; I'm a copy editor; I do tray(ph) designing for a Web site; I'm a family consultant; I teach parenting classes. And the other day, somebody - I had this exact experience that your guest said. I started to tell them what I did and I actually started to feel embarrassed.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BROWN: I think you sound like a one-woman consortium. It's absolutely extraordinary the amount of different things that you're doing.

NICOLA: Well, what I did was I took some training that encouraged me to look at all the things I'd ever done in my life and basically start selling them, because my lifestyle is such and the child commitments that I have are such that even if I could get nine-to-five, which I can't right now, I couldn't hold it down.

Ms. BROWN: Well, it's very interesting. One of the things that our poll that we did, actually, with this piece that I wrote, showed is that a lot of people in the gig economy are using one or two of the things that they've done as a hobby or as sort of part of their lifestyle to become a new way of making an income.

CONAN: Earning money, yeah.

Ms. BROWN: So, in the same way that if you've been really good at organizing your daughter's wedding, you can actually become part-time wedding planner because you've done it before for yourself and you proved that you were good in it.

CONAN: Nicola, that might be wedding singer on your resume.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NICOLA: It does say wedding singer, I'm afraid.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Are you a good wedding singer?

NICOLA: Well, I've been told that I am. You know, one can't judge that sort of thing for yourself when you do it. But I - it was one of those things. I used to do a lot of musical theater; I used to actually write and direct theater in England. So, when I found myself in California, I didn't have the same network, but I still have the ability to sing.

CONAN: Well, congratulations, Nicola. Good luck to you.

NICOLA: Thank you very much.

Ms. BROWN: Good luck.

CONAN: Bye-bye. Let's see if we can get - this is Zach, Zach with us from Highlands Ranch in Colorado.

ZACH (Caller): Hi. I just wanted to make a comment. I'm an appraiser, so I have to generate all my own business and that sort of thing from a variety of different kinds of clients. And I just wanted to say, I think this is a best way that anyone, you know, can function and make a living because you're your own boss, set your own hours. And I think the potential for income is really only limited by yourself and your own ingenuity and innovation. And I've worked for a company before doing appraisals, where it was kind of a nine-to-five thing. And you know, I just - I think it's fantastic to work for yourself, and I would encourage a lot more people to do that because, you know, all the corporate downsizing and things like that, you know, your potential, in my opinion, is really limited when you're working for a company and oftentimes overlooked or even exploited. But if you're working for yourself, you know, your potential, in my opinion, has only limited by yourself. So...

Ms. BROWN: Well, it's certainly true. It has a great upside once you've got over the adjustment period. And what I'm finding that - I mean, I myself went through that adjustment period when I was editing a magazine that didn't function anymore and had period where I was literally sort of thrown back on myself. And it takes time. It takes a couple of years, really, in a way, to sort of settle in to this slightly disorientating new feeling of not having that job to go to in the mornings. And I think that once you're through that period and start to understand that you have other things about yourself which, you know, has potential and things that you can learn to - that you didn't even think that you could do, you start to realize that you can take other parts of your personality and experience and turn them into something that makes money. I think that can actually be a very exhilarating kind of self-growth experience as well.

CONAN: I worked as a freelance for awhile, too, and one of the most exhilarating parts about it was the theory that you could say, you know, I'm going to turn this job down; I'm going to go to the track today; I'm just going to have a good time. I never did. I don't think I ever turned down a job.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: But at least in theory, I could.

Ms. BROWN: That's a heady feeling, indeed. You know, it can be difficult, though, to juggle it, particularly when you do have it, on the other side of child care, of course, is that sometimes it's very difficult when you don't know what your hours are going to be. And when you have a child care booked and suddenly, you know, the job comes up and the child care isn't there, I think that can be very difficult for some working mothers. So, there are upsides and downs to it. I think what is difficult for people is just being pitched into it without any preplanning because it does take time to lay the groundwork of a freelance career.

CONAN: Zach, good luck.

ZACH: Yeah, thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye. Let's see if we can go quickly to Phillip, Phillip with us from Cincinnati.

PHILLIP (Caller): How're you doing, Neal?

CONAN: I'm good.

PHILLIP: What I wanted to say that I'm a recent graduate from college. I had a - I was fortunate enough to go to the University of Maryland, and upon graduating, I have not been able to find full-time work yet, and I currently hold two jobs, one as a tutor and the other as a general laborer. But what I find is that my parents' generation kind of seems to look down on this piecemeal work. And I don't why, if it's because, as you were mentioning before, you know, this type of, you know, many jobs used to be done by people without college degrees. But you know, they always ask me, well, you know, what's your profession? What's your line of work? And just as you guys were talking about before, it takes, you know, five or 10 minutes to explain to them all...

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Yeah.

PHILLIP: The different things that I'm doing.

CONAN: Yeah, and suddenly the idea of career, Tina Brown, career, where does that enter into the equation(ph)?

Ms. BROWN: Well, it's very interesting. I mean, maybe the word career is going to seem completely antiquated soon because the idea of career and a career path all seem, kind of, somewhat passe in this really rapidly changing work world that we find ourselves in. And really, I guess we have to shed those old prejudices about, you know, well, so-and-so is, you know, a banker. I mean, let alone...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BROWN: God forbid...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BROWN: Be a banker or so-and-so is a lawyer.

CONAN: And boy, your parents would really disapprove of that.

Ms. BROWN: Yeah, exactly. In fact, as a matter of fact, the idea of corporate loyalty just seems to extraordinarily old-fashioned, because what we're seeing is that, you know, the corporations themselves have so little loyalty to the employee; why should the employees, really, spend all their time wondering about how they can serve their corporations? So, you know, all of these things have huge, kind of, social and economic implications and forces at large. And I think we're seeing a very rapidly changing, sort of, portrait of what we think of as a career.

CONAN: Phillip, good luck with both - all of your careers.

PHILLIP: Well, thank you very much, Neal. Have a good one.

CONAN: Bye-bye. We're talking about the gig economy with Tina Brown of the Daily Beast. When we come back, we'll talk with somebody who's trying organize freelancers. This is Talk of the Nation from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. During hard times, people adapt. Nearly three million full-time jobs have vanished in this recession so far. Many of those people now work independently as freelancers, contractors or temps. If that's you, tell us your story about how life works in the gig economy. Our phone number is 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our Web site. That's at npr.org; click on Talk of the Nation. Our guest is Tina Brown, founder and editor-in-chief of the Daily Beast. She wrote the article "The Gig Economy" for that Web site; you can find a link to it at npr.org/talk. And joining us is Sara Horowitz, who is at our New York bureau. She is a founder of Working Today and executive director of the Freelancers Union. And good talk to you, Sara.

Ms. SARA HOROWITZ (Founder, Working Today; Executive Director, Freelancers Union): Hi, thanks for having me.

CONAN: How many people do you think are living on gigs or part-time work?

Ms. HOROWITZ: You know, it's now gotten to be about a third of the workforce. And you know, the interesting thing is that it's been this way for many years, but I think what's starting to happen is the change the economy, the layoffs, it's just making it clear that this is going to be the way people will be working in the future.

CONAN: And are we talking about people in a specific income bracket? Is it more lower-paid people?

Ms. HOROWITZ: No, you know, that's thing. I really agree with Tina that it's something that's happening across the board from really low-wage workers up to really high-level professionals. And I think, really, if there's a distinction that we might be seeing, it's one of age and expectation. So, when you think about people, let's say, who've just graduated from college, they didn't have an expectation that they would find a full-time job with that gold watch. Maybe it would be a digital watch, I'm not sure.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HOROWITZ: And that as people have been working for several decades and then get laid off, I think that's really where we start seeing just this huge adjustment period and it becomes difficult. But I think it really is happening across the board.

CONAN: The last time we had you on the show back in November '07, you were talking about independent workers then, that - of course, before the recession. What's changed since?

Ms. HOROWITZ: You know, one of the things that's kind of an interesting thing that we noticed is that both things are happening to freelancers. And when I say both, I mean this: freelancers, part-timers, are often the first to get laid off. It just makes sense; they're easy to just fire. But then after you fired the rest of the staff and you start realizing, as Tina was saying, you have that staff meeting and you suddenly realize there are key jobs that need to be filled, freelancers are the ones that are getting hired back. So, we just had an event last night and asked people, how are you doing? And more than half of the people said they were actually doing better right now because they're picking up a lot of gigs, and that's going to be the key.

CONAN: Now, freelancers getting hired back, but aren't they in a position to be exploited by employers? They're not going to get health-care coverage; they're not going to - they're not going to get a lot of things.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Well, yeah, you know, one of the biggest problems that we have is that our laws are still stuck back in the 1930s. So, in some ways, this workforce, the career freelancer has known that it's going to be pretty rough getting health insurance, retirement. They're not eligible unemployment insurance. They don't come under RAGe, race, age or gender, discrimination laws. So, what I think is significant about them is that they already have very well-established networks and are able to pick up and be nimble. I think the exploitation has been happening for awhile in terms of people being misclassified. Sometimes they're misclassified as independent contractors, so they don't get benefits. And sometimes, particularly in media, people are termed W2 employees, because the companies are fearful of the IRS, and then they can't get any of the deductions for paying for their health insurance. And I think all of this, instead of, you know, one big complaint, I think what we could really do is say, we at an exciting moment in time; we're realizing these big trends. Let's start planning for this next safety net and let's plan into it flexibility, portability. Let's be imaginative and creative as people were, you know, back when Franklin Roosevelt was president.

CONAN: Tina Brown, you, among other things, you make assignments to freelancers, a lot of people who right for the Daily Beast and certainly did for your other magazines when you edited those, too, and how do you respond when people try to jack you up for higher prices?

Ms. BROWN: Well, you know, I've always taken the view that in some ways, when you work with freelance people, it's a wonderful way to date before you get married, as a matter of fact. And I frequently end up starting with people in freelance situations and then bringing them closer and closer in. It is a very great way to kind of get familiar with the way people work and if they're a good fit with the organization. And I think, by the way, that's true also of some freelancers, when Sara was commenting that sometimes people right now feel they can be doing better. In a way, their expertise becomes very clear when they're not there for three days in a week, and suddenly that the bosses are saying, that person was so valuable in that meeting. What can we do? This is really aggravating that she's not here on Thursday and Friday. And they wind up being able to kind have a - quite a strong negotiating position to get those extra two days. So, it has some upside to it, I think.

Ms. HOROWITZ: You know, it's funny, I think that one of the things that I really appreciate about Tina's column is that "freelancing" used to be a euphemism for being unemployed. And I think that thing...

CONAN: So did "consultant," yeah.

Ms. HOROWITZ: And consult - although I - a little joke I make is the difference between a freelancer and a consultant is 20 years.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HOROWITZ: But...

CONAN: Or about $20 an hour, yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HOROWITZ: Right, right, back in the old days of valuations. But you know, I think we're really getting to a point where we have to say freelancing is just one way of working. There's a traditional workforce, there is freelancing, and it's just as legitimate as any other. But one thing I think is a really good point, that women have been doing this in raising their children and going in and out of the workforce. The downside is when you start looking at the effects on pensions and other things that once women do leave, they don't make that up. And same with freelancing, if you're not one of those freelancers who's really able to buy, in effect, your own safety net, you really can anticipate, kind of never, retiring. And these are the problems, and it's an issue, as we're looking at developing and maintaining our middle class in America.

CONAN: Yeah, again...

Ms. BROWN: That's right. I think there's also one other point for companies, too, which is from the side of it, is that, you know, the whole accountability issue becomes very difficult. You know, when people are not fully vested in what they're doing and really can feel, well, you know, Wednesday is not my day and so forth, there can be an awful lot of things that fall between the cracks, and you can suddenly feel there's a lot less quality control when people are in and out without any full accountability.

CONAN: Let's get another caller on the line. This is Lucas, Lucas calling us from Phoenix.

LUCAS (Caller): Hi, Neal. Thanks for taking my call.

CONAN: Sure.

LUCAS: Hey, I just wanted to - I wanted to say that both of your guests are right on, on a lot of the concerns that I have. I have - now I know there's a word for what I do.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LUCAS: I guess it's called the gig economy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LUCAS: But I had been a freelancer for about eight years now, and I'm doing really well right about now, actually. But that does raise a bunch of concerns for me and stresses one of them being insurance. My wife is newly pregnant. We don't have insurance and are not going to be able to get it, at least not affordably. And the other parts - the other stressful parts of my day-to-day life really come in - you know, for example, this weekend I was out skydiving with my niece, and I'm getting phone calls from customers. And they call from six a.m. to 11 p.m., and they expect that I answer the phone, and you know, it creates a lot of stress at home. And I was wondering if your guests have any kind of tips. You know, how can we, as freelancers, kind of deal with these day-to-day stresses?

Ms. BROWN: It is a very difficult issue, that, the feeling that your working life never, in fact, stops, there's no delineation between it. Of course that's also true, I think, even when you have an office now. With the advent of computers and BlackBerries, people tend to be continually on. I think one has to just be very firm about creating hours in one's day that really are one's hours in the day where you're just not on the radar and simply make that clear that you have working hours. And it's hard to do as a discipline, but I think otherwise, you'll go crazy with the demands pouring at you at every time. I also think the other big anxiety for people is that frequently, people don't - bosses, in a way, they want to know something when they want to know it. So, even though your days are not necessarily going to be Tuesday and Thursday, you can still find yourself suddenly half working on those days for the company that's got you the other days, because, you know, they want to know stuff and you're the only the guy who knows it. And I think that's a very dangerous situation for people, where they really end up sort of still working more than they should for less pay.

CONAN: Even more dangerous, Lucas, to log in on your BlackBerry as you're falling from the sky.

(Soundbite of laughter)


LUCAS: Yes, yeah. Definitely, I have to watch out for that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: I've heard of jobs that crater, but we really don't want to go there.

LUCAS: Right, right. That would be bad.


LUCAS: I appreciate it.

CONAN: Thanks very much. And let me ask you, Sara. He raises a huge question: insurance.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Yes. And let me just say, insurance definitely, but I think one thing also that Lucas is pointing out is that people's income is so episodic in this work life, so it's feast or famine, and people are so fearful of turning down work because they know what it's like when the famine side comes. So, not only are we not seeing the boundaries that we used to, but just in taking on the work, it's so hard, and then, of course, insurance.

You know, one of the things that I think is just the craziest thing about where we're at as a country is that if you are human being in New York versus a human being in Texas versus a human being in North Dakota, you're treated just so completely differently by the different laws and regulations. So, in New York, we pioneered a way of getting freelancers health insurance that they can take from job to job and project to project and just raised $17 million for our own social purpose insurance company, so that it can be tailored to the ways that freelancers work. And I think again, interestingly, freelancers are leading the way; they're the next architects of the safety net and they're showing us how we need to adapt our companies, our structures.

And for us, it's got to be social purpose where the freelancers union is the owner so that we can have our interests aligned. We want to make sure our members stay with us in the long term, so we want to make sure that their health concerns are front and center. And one of the major issues for our members are access to mental healthcare, alternative health treatment, and that they care about health, whereas we always are talking about fighting disease. And fighting disease, of course, is imperative, but so, too, is designing a system about what kinds of needs you want and need. Do you need to see a chiropractor? Do you need to see a nutritionist? All the things we know that makes somebody a healthy person from a 360-degree perspective.

CONAN: Let's get Matt on the line, Matt with us from Syracuse, New York.

Matt, you there?

MATT (Caller): Yes, I'm here. Hi, Neal. How're you doing?

CONAN: I'm well, thank you.

MATT: I have one problem with this freelance thing going on. I believe we're sacrificing quantity - or quality for quantity, and there's people that are getting in these higher-up positions and they're splitting themselves between two and three separate jobs and they're not doing one properly, which is affects people underneath them.

CONAN: Tina Brown, that's a problem of a lot people worry about.

Ms. BROWN: I - indeed, and I said in my piece, actually, that the snag of all this is doing two things badly, you know, three things badly, instead of one thing well. And I think actually I know quite a number of people in my profession we know, which is media editing, writing and so on, who feels strongly that they can't ever get, sort of, absorbed into one thing and give it their all ,because they're always haring off to try to do the other thing to make the money. And it definitely does affect quality. You're actually beginning to see it in many ways. For instance, in newspapers now, you'll suddenly see a rash of typographical errors, you know? There's a lot of misspellings and mistyped words. It's not a coincidence; it's because so many people have been laid off in the copy department and the people who are left are sort of freelancers who don't really know the style of the paper and so forth, and a lot of mistakes are getting in. And so I sometimes think, well, if that's happening in newspapers with typographical errors, it must also be happening in much more scary places like hospitals or, you know, all kinds of businesses where it's pretty scary when there is something falling through between the cracks.

CONAN: Now...

Ms. HOROWITZ: Tina - I'm sorry. Tina, I'm wondering, as you're talking, do you think in part it's also that we're restructuring the way we work? You know, I think of it as we're all multitaskers now, so how do we do it to avoid those kinds of mistakes? Do you know?

Ms. BROWN: Well, I agree. I think that there's nothing like being fully-vested, though, and caring and having that, you know, follow-through to make a job be done really well. I mean, I think, there are quite a number of people who would much prefer to be full-time and see the thing through and really feel that, you know, it gets done to their absolute perfection. And in some ways, we're having to ask ourselves to have less perfectionism about what we do because you're not there to see the follow-through.

Ms. HOROWITZ: It's interesting. If you ask freelancers, I think one of things that's so striking is they have a such love of their career, you know, as you're talking about the five minutes in describing it, it's so much - they're like the old craft workers. They love what they do and don't want to compromise it. And I wonder if sometimes it's in the structure of how we're setting up our work that it's sort of back in the old industrial time, but we're staffing it so completely differently.

Ms. BROWN: That's...

CONAN: We're talking about the gig economy with Sara Horowitz of the Freelancers Union, founder of Working Today, and with Tina Brown, the founder and editor-in-chief of the Daily Beast. And you're listening to Talk of the Nation from NPR News. And let's get Bruce on the line, Bruce from Wilmington, North Carolina.

Hello, Bruce?

Bruce, I think, has left us to probably go to work.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: And let's go to Paul, Paul with us from Louisville.

PAUL (Caller): Hi, Thanks for taking my call.

CONAN: Thanks. Go ahead, please.

PAUL: Well, yeah. I was - I lived in Chattanooga for a year, and I was teacher, you know, normal teacher at a school, and then had to move to Louisville to go to graduate school. And now I was kind of - with cut backs in funding, they're not hiring a lot of teachers. So, now I've kind of patched together this teaching job - I guess you'd call it gig teacher job. I'm doing some tutoring after school, doing some No Child Left Behind teaching English, and doing some editing of people's papers, and some substitute teaching and kind of patching together and trying to use what I know how to do. But a big - another issue, I don't know if you guys talked about this, is actually, now I'm a 1099, you know, so it's the whole different tax thing I'm having to learn, and it's getting kind of weird, it being now tax season. But it's kind of interesting I have to patch to get out my job after, you know, having a pretty steady one down in Chattanooga.

CONAN: Yeah, it's a big difference between being a W2 worker, as you described it, Tina Brown, and a 1099 worker

Ms. BROWN: Well, I think it is. And I think it does take, as I was saying at the beginning, a couple of years to really know how to balance all this stuff. I mean, you know, unfortunately, it's one of those areas where, although you can get help and support from other friends who've done it and it's really worth talking to other people to see how they do things, you know, as mothers will tell you raising kids, when people say, how do you do it, unfortunately, everybody has to patch together their own funny little ragbag of solutions and shortcuts. And you do a sort of start learning, you know, how to save time, how not to waste your time, how not to find yourself working for a long time for too little money because you don't quite know how to figure it out. I think all of us do that, too, when you're on these gigs, that you suddenly find you're spending two days or something that just isn't cost-efficient. And I think people have to really look at that and say to themselves, is this really, you know, worth the money, what I'm doing? You've really got to figure out how to structure it. It's - each person has to do that themselves. There's no answer for it, unfortunately.

CONAN: Paul, thanks very much for the call, and good luck.

PAUL: Thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye.

Ms. BROWN: Good luck.

CONAN: And Tina Brown, one final question. You've pointed out you've been a freelancer before; you've also had big-time editing jobs, including this one. Which do you prefer?

Ms. BROWN: Well, it's interesting. There's a lot to say for both of them, is the truth, you know? I spent two years writing my book, which was one of the gigs that I - in between one of the things that I wasn't doing anymore, and I - first six months, I found it really difficult. I really missed not only the steadiness of the job, but the collegiality of other people being around, which is something we haven't really discussed today. But by the time I was entered in my second year, I really adjusted and really come to value the fact that I could work at home, that I could decide to, you know, leave the city on Thursday and work, you know, at a place, you know, out of town, I could, you know, take a vacation with my daughter, and you know, all that kind of thing really did seem very valuable because a job is very, very constraining. So, you know, fortunately, the one thing that I was doing, writing a book, was actually able to support me in that time, but there's a lot of be said for it. And when I came back to working full time at the Daily Beast, I actually found it pretty difficult to get on those - put on those makeup in the morning and getting to that car and come downtown and work in a full time job. So...

CONAN: Tina Brown is the founder and editor-in chief of the Daily Beast. Thanks for your time today.

Ms. BROWN: Thank you.

CONAN: And Sara Horowitz, executive director of the Freelancers Union and founder of Working Today, thank you.

Ms. HOROWITZ: Thank you.

CONAN: Coming up, the man who wrote the book on military tactics in Iraq on Afghanistan.

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