Eggs and Baskets

Eggs and basketI was chatting with my young son, a millennial you see.
He’s telling me how different things are for people his age.
He’s saying; even though there’s no shortage of part-time work, that good jobs—real jobs—are hard to come by.  And those part-time gigs, most of them are menial, low paying positions.

It reminded me of a conference I attended, earlier this year. One of the themes dealt with something called, Millennials in the Workplace. It surprised me to learn that the number of self-employed millennials is, compared to previous generations, uncharacteristically high. I also learned that the reason so many millennials are self-employed is that there’s no other choice. In other words, the job market is bad, so bad that these kids have to carve out a living in some other way. Via-self employment.

But you know what?
In my mind, that’s not a bad thing.
And the reason it’s not a bad thing has to do with eggs and baskets.

When it comes to saving and investing—when it comes to money—who hasn’t heard that age-old maxim, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

Years ago, I had the brilliant, or so I thought, idea of investing in nothing but bank stocks. My rationale? Great dividend, stable client base, well-managed businesses… What on earth could be wrong with that strategy?
I remember bringing up my idea with a couple of high-powered advisors—one of them a well-known investment journalist.

I still remember one fellow’s (a stock analyst) harsh reply, “You’ll get killed.”
The other guy, the journalist, was somewhat kinder—more gentle.  Shaking his head, he said, “You need to diversify. You just don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

History, by the way, has proven that those investment know-it-alls knew their stuff. It wouldn’t have been, to put it mildly, a brilliant move.

So yeah, keep your financial eggs in multiple baskets. Wise words. Words I heed to this day.

And yet, and yet. When it comes to careers, why do so many of us want one single job? Talk about eggs in one basket. If you have one employer, you have one source of income. If you lose that employment position, you have zero sources of income. You’re on your own. With no eggs; no basket.

Contrast that to someone—a consultant or a carpenter say—who has three, four, ten clients. One client disappears and, unpleasant as that might be, they’re at least not left standing there. Holding an empty basket. No eggs.

So maybe, just maybe, millennials, whether by fate or by design, are actually onto something. Maybe, with their multiple revenue streams, they’ll have at least one or two eggs. Maybe they can scramble them, boil them, fry them. And naybe, hopefully, they, at least, won’t go hungry.