episode 48 the career rx podcast how many income streams do you need

How many income streams do you have? How many income streams do you think you should have?

In this physician focused episode, I answer the listener question, “how many income streams is really the right number? And how did you decide?” Then I take it further and explain four key reasons why the number you have in mind may not be the right number! I know this episode is longer than usual but trust me, you’ll wanna stick around until the end.

In this episode of The Career Rx we’ll discuss:

  • What being overextended means for your side-gig
  • What’s the magic number? There’s real, peer-reviewed science at work here.
  • Putting social comparison into perspective.
  • How credible sources build credible businesses.

You’ve been told that you need a bunch of side gigs and income streams. Being a doctor isn’t enough these days. But, if you’re feeling exhausted and burned out and all those things, your reality check is here. By the end of this episode, you will have an understanding of what income streams you need (or don’t need). These real-world examples will guide you through your feelings of burnout, buying happiness, the pressure of social comparison, and the most important thing to get right if you DO decide you need more income streams.

There’s a million things you could do, but only a few that you really should do.” – Marjorie Stiegler

In this Episode:

[1:35] Stop hustling.
[4:40] If it’s not about the income, then what’s it all about?
[6:00] A purely professional point of view
[7:50] Falling victim to the outsourcing paradigm
[9:30] “Just be a doctor.”
[11:15] The magic number that ‘buys happiness’
[15:30] Mo Money, Mo Problems
[17:50] Social media is a highlight reel – and you’re comparing to your inner critic
[21:21] The right reasons to start a business
[23:00] Irony alert – from a doc with lots of income streams…
[25:10] My gift to you – we can celebrate together!
[26:00] You’ll wanna hang around for this news

Links and Resources:

The Branding Rx 18 hours of CME, mastering digital strategies for advancing your career, building your business, and growing your professional brand

The Speaking Rx learn the business of professional public speaking to establish yourself as a thought leader you are, and get paid for your speaking expertise

Industry Insider – learn exactly how to land a rewarding nonclinical career without a new degree, connections on the inside, prior experience, or a pay cut

Launch an Online Course on Any Budget – know your course will sell before you spend any time or money to create it; plus, the exact logistical blueprint to get paying customers and a way to deliver your course without spending a dime (ready to scale up when you are!)

The How of Happiness



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The Social Rx


The Branding Rx 18 hours of CME, mastering digital strategies for advancing your career, building your business, and growing your professional brand

The Speaking Rx learn the business of professional public speaking to establish yourself as a thought leader you are, and get paid for your speaking expertise

Industry Insider – learn exactly how to land a rewarding nonclinical career without a new degree, connections on the inside, prior experience, or a pay cut

Launch an Online Course on Any Budget – know your course will sell before you spend any time or money to create it; plus, the exact logistical blueprint to get paying customers and a way to deliver your course without spending a dime (ready to scale up when you are!)

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TRANSCRIPT: Episode 48 – How Many Income Streams Do You Really Need?

Hey there, welcome to The Career Rx. I’m your host, Marjorie Stiegler. This podcast is all about the important stuff. They don’t teach you in medical school, about how to treat your career, like the business it really is, and how to be strategic about your success. I’ll show you how to use modern strategies to get ahead, create your own path, and do more of what you love. Every episode is inspired by questions from listeners just like you. So be sure to subscribe and of course, send me those questions, so I can use them on a future episode. So you don’t miss anything, be sure to always check the show notes on my website. Are you ready? Let’s get into it.

Hey, there,welcome back to the career prescription. This episode, I wasn’t really intending to make a question I was surprised to be asked. But I’m certainly happy to answer it. And I hope it is helpful to you. Because as I started thinking about how I would answer it, I realized maybe this is very much needed. Like maybe this is maybe not the answer this person was hoping for, but maybe they really, really need to hear this. And maybe you do too. So anyway, I’m going to get into it.

A listener wrote me and asked, and now I’m starting this quote, the listener says, “Marjorie, you have a book, multiple online courses, you hold live events, you have affiliate programs…, how many income streams is really the right number? And how did you decide?”
So that’s the listeners question.

Wow, this is a really, really important question. And it makes me want to just say like, Hey, everybody, in case you need permission, slip, go ahead and just stop hustling.

Stop hustling. I think maybe too many income streams are making people miserable. You know, in recent years, I’ve seen a really big increase in groups for physicians and for other people, right, that are all about chasing those additional income streams. A lot of people like to say seven is the magic number or whatever, through some side gigs through monetizing their websites, or their social media or getting these envelopes or contracts or monetizing their podcast or being in a multi level marketing business or doing real estate and just it goes on.

It seems to be everywhere. So either, that’s because it’s everywhere among my students. So that’s what I see all the time. Or maybe it really, it really is everywhere. But a common theme, though, that’s going along with all of this is that people are feeling utterly exhausted. They’re utterly exhausted. And that’s no way to live. So I think there’s about, you know, four sort of broad buckets, four key reasons for the exhaustion. So I’m going to get into that here in a second.

But I’m going to answer this listener’s question first, right? Because they deserve an answer. I’m going to answer it, and then I’m going to give you like, the real answer that you should stick around for.

Okay, so the answer to the question is, I did not set out to create multiple income streams. So maybe I could, you know, sound more sophisticated or forward thinking, if I told you that this is all by design, you guys know, I’ve been doing this kind of work since about 2010. So it’s been a long time in the making. And at that time, I had no master plan, I did not set out to create multiple income streams. It’s just that I love to teach. And so as you can see, you know, writing the book, having the podcast doing all the webinars, the whole existence of my website, definitely the evolution of my courses, my consulting, my speaking all of this, this is all just an extension of what I love to do. It’s all just teaching what I know. And admittedly, I’ve done a lot of different things in my life that are different from sort of standard medicine, I have a lot of passion for that. And people seem to have a lot of need for it. So a lot of the social media and the digital, professional branding, all the things that I’m speaking about a lot of the time, I’m very passionate about it, I love to talk about it. People seem to really need it very much these days. And they seem to get a lot of benefit from it. Because when they take my courses or by my books, or whatever, they send me back notes telling me how it changed their lives. That gives me a lot of internal fuel and warm fuzziness. And then around round, we go and I keep doing it. Now, if that ever stops – nobody listens, nobody needs it, nobody benefits from it, I’m not effective, my advice is outdated or whatever – If any of the magic of all of that stops, then I’m sure I will stop too.

So none of what I’m doing here is about the income. I admit it does earn me good income, but it is not about the income. So back to the hustle and the exhaustion that everybody is feeling I mean that you do not need to be seeking any certain number of income streams, especially if you are feeling in the way in these four buckets that I’m about to just share with you because I I think you know, these are, of course, very high level, there may be dozens of little reasons of why people are feeling tired and exhausted. And of course, none of this even begins to address, you know, family life, health effects COVID, you know, just all the stuff that people are dealing with, I’m talking sort of purely from a professional point of view, this is what’s going on. And I think it might be actually making the case to have fewer income streams, instead of more. It’s a personal decision, only you can decide as some people will be very happy to just be employed and have that be it. Other people I know really, really want to do a lot of different things. And some people want to do different things for different reasons. Some of those reasons revolve around money and financial security or goals. And other reasons are, you know, similar to mine, right? It’s like a passion project, they would do it anyway, kind of thing. So you’ve got to, we’ve got to take a step back. Before we know how many income streams is the right number, we’ve got to take a step back.

And also I have to caveat and say I am speaking right now to my primary audience, the people I know who follow me the most, which is a physician audience. So I am making some assumptions about your sort of good old fashioned day job potential and your earning potential with that job. So admittedly, if you’re listening to this podcast, and you’re, you’re not a physician, then you know, some of these things will need to adjust perhaps for you. Okay. Why is everybody feeling so exhausted? Emotionally, physically here is reason number one.

Number one is because you’re already overextended as a physician. Being a physician, generally speaking, is already taking more hours out of your day and your week than a typical full time job. You are already overextended just doing your primary job and working at night, working on holidays, working on the weekends, working 10 and 12, and 14 hour and 24 hour days. And so you’re already overextended. And then you’re working on these side gigs, like all the time. And in case no one has told you this, I’m sure they have, it takes a long time to grow a successful business from scratch. So you should never start a business just to make money. You have to love what you’re doing. Ideally, you should be doing something that will make you money, right. But otherwise, it just saps your strength and your energy then, so you’ve got these people who are overextended already, and also working on these side gigs all the time.

So they literally are just giving of themselves way more than they even have to give or one of the reasons that their businesses are not working out is that they actually know they’re overextended. And so they have this outsourcing paradigm where they’re like outsourcing, all their social media, they outsource the website, outsource the marketing, they outsource pretty much everything. And they are sort of still hope to make money and have a business that revolves around their professional brand. This is like a recipe that will not work. If you already have a successful business, say it’s your coaching business, or there is something you know, online monetize, and you grow a team, that’s one thing, but you can’t outsource that kind of thing from the beginning.

And so many people think they can and there are so many businesses that promise to do this for you. But, you know, this is you spending time, effort, and money to get something off the ground that just isn’t going to work. So you’re overextended with your actual job. And either you’re spending every other single second, working on your side gig, or you’re spending sort of emotionally and with your money to try to get results by outsourcing the growth of your business and it isn’t working. So that’s just very discouraging, right?

And so to you, I say, look, you already have a job. It is okay. It is more than okay for that to be enough. That’s all you need. Now, if you don’t like that, and you want to do something different, that’s a totally different story, right? That’s a different problem. And it’s a different solution. But if you just know, stick with me through the episode for a little bit more on that, right. If you don’t like what you’re doing that’s different. It’s a different problem. It’s a different solution.

But just know from somebody who does have multiple income streams and is doing a lot of stuff. It is okay, it is more than okay to sort of, “just be a doctor.” That’s actually an enormous amount of work. It’s a huge amount of responsibility. It’s a tremendous sort of emotional lift. It’s enough. You don’t need to do anything else. So if you’re feeling overextended, pause and consider. Maybe you shouldn’t be doing it at all. Maybe one income stream is enough and that’s just your regular job.

Okay, bucket number two. So beyond being overextended, there is a scientific reason why having these income streams really probably won’t help your happiness. And this is where I’m coming in, again, talking to my known audience, generally speaking, of physicians, multiple income streams seem to provide some added financial security, and even some amazing freedom and profitability, but for really a very small number of people. For everybody else, it really doesn’t matter. Why not? Because science researchers and these numbers are well documented, well supported in the modern day today, the magic number is sort of supported by science, is that about $75,000 is the tipping point in the United States today, where money sort of stops buying happiness, meaning that making more than $75,000 does not correlate with more perceived happiness or positive emotions on your part. Most doctors are making more than this already. And you have your basic needs met, right? So if you don’t have enough food, or housing or clean water, or like basic things like that, because you can’t afford it, then yes, you know, proverbially speaking money buys happiness, because it secures you your basic needs. But once you have that covered, and again, that’s about $75,000, where you have that, and then some right, you have discretionary income, you have fun, leisure income. That’s it. And after that, there’s really not that much of a difference.

According to that same research. Most people who earn more don’t actually spend their time doing more fun stuff. There’s no more leisure activity, they’re not enjoying life more. So I would suggest that, you know, if you’re concerned about financial security, think carefully about that, you’re probably already pretty financially secure, admittedly, you may have a lot of debt. But you’re also highly employable. Don’t know that you need to have all of these additional income streams. And I don’t think the additional money that they bring you is going to give you satisfaction. I think what it is going to give you is a more complicated tax return, right? I’ll vouch for that, just for myself, the amount for many of you that you’re actually earning and keeping in your side gigs, in the context of the number of hours that you’re like hustling and working, I think is basically probably unacceptably low for most of you.

And there’s also strong scientific evidence that pursuing goals around money and physical attractiveness and material possessions, makes people less happy. So if you’re dedicating your mental energy and your emotional investment and your physical time and your money, trying to make more money, but you have already reached that tipping point of $75,000, you’re probably making yourself less happy. Now again, if you love the work itself, that’s different. And again, we’ll talk a little bit more on that later. If you love the work itself. And you can make money doing that work, then super “Yay”, income stream, you love doing what you’re doing. That’s totally different. But if what you’re doing is running around saying how can I set up multiple income streams or worrying that you don’t have enough, then I would really encourage you to think about whether your basic needs are being met. If you’ve reached that magic number of $75,000.

And what you, you know, what complexity is that adding to your life? Like, what is that making you more happy? Or is it not and is the pursuit of it making you less happy?

I’ll take a quick digression actually to say, just the other day I was I was watching TV with my husband, we were kind of he was sort of flipping through Instagram at the same time, we came across someone that, you know, we continue to follow because I worked with her for a couple of years, some years ago, maybe six, seven years ago. And we work together in one of my online businesses. And she herself, super creative, very, very bright, essentially started a multi-level marketing company of her own right, so she didn’t get in on the ground the way you think of people, you know, getting in early or whatever. Like she made her own fitness based. She started it. She grew it, you know, it had a little couple bumps or whatever. But anyway, her net worth as I understood it, last year was $65 million. And she’s at the top, she’s at the top of a very flourishing, I don’t want to call it a pyramid scheme, because it’s not a scheme. It is a business. But if you can imagine what I’m saying, right? Because part of the business model is enrolling people below her to do more work, who then enroll people below them and so on. It’s multi-level marketing of a valuable service. But my point is, she is at the very top and it’s her own, she started it. This is an absolute outlier, like absolute outlier. And when I look at her and I think wow, $65 million bucks like I’m not making that, not even close. And maybe $65 million, maybe that would put you on a different happiness scale. I don’t know. Book that I read recently suggests, actually, that people who make, you know, a lot of money and the researchers, I think quoted this at over $10 million a year or something like that actually feel like they have more problems, just like that old song like Mo Money, Mo Problems. But I guess the main point is, it’s not that it’s impossible, it’s just that it’s extraordinarily rare to be doing any type of side gig, or even have your own business that really takes off to that level of success. And since I’m not in those shoes, I can’t say that she doesn’t have more happiness.

But for the vast majority of us, even if, you know, you would think like a couple $100,000. Like, there’s a big difference between $75,000 and $500,000, or $75,000, and a million dollars, but the research does not support that. It doesn’t support you being happier. And, you know, that if you’re hustling and doing all this stuff, and stressing about it, and it’s money that you have to take as a consultant, so then you have to pay your own taxes and all, it’s just I don’t know that it is worth your time. So just putting that out there for you to think about. I’m really not trying to be Debbie Downer here, I’m just trying to reality check.

Okay, the third bucket, while you may want to, you know, what you want to consider when you’re thinking about your income streams, and so forth, is social comparison. So the people in these groups that are obviously in these groups around their multiple income streams, they’re in the groups for the reasons of wanting to learn from and support each other. Obviously, a few people are going to be frequent contributors, the people who are the moderators, or the owners of the groups are going to have a little bit more visibility. And there’s going to be a handful of people that really seem too shy, and you’re going to be looking around at other people in the business And you’re going to be saying, “Why is their business, apparently so successful?” You know, why is there that like, they’ve got people signing up for their thing, they did this, they did that their website looks like this. And you’re going to be involved in all of these different comparisons.

And science tells us that also is an absolute thief, it robs you of your joy, it robs you of your ability to be happy and content with what you have. Because someone is always going to be able to outdo you. And in fact, probably multiple people will be out doing you. But the problem is, of course, you’re only seeing their outside, right, their total highlight reel. And in fact, I’m gonna say this, not all of what you see is true. I know this, because I’ve had clients, students, webinar attendees, who are people who have businesses, where they themselves either don’t have the appropriate credentials to be offering that service, they don’t have the personal experience or expertise to be offering that service, and sometimes they’ve never actually had a paying client. But when you look at their posts, you would not know that because they’re presenting themselves as if they have this flourishing business. And in part, I think that’s because they think that, that is going to help them get their next client.

So my main point is you’re looking at their highlight reel, which might be true is certainly selective, could even be fictional. And you’re comparing it to your own experience, but not just your own experience, your own experience, where you have your inner critic, putting yourself down. So you have your own experience that you’re devaluing sort of seeing all your flaws. you know everything you’ve tried to do that didn’t work, you know all of the things you tried to launch and fail, you’ve got negative self talk, you’ve got your inner critic, you’re degrading your own awesomeness at its baseline, you’re bringing it down, and then you’re comparing it to someone else’s highlight reel that, as I’ve mentioned, again, may even just be straight up fictional.

So for many people, you are not feeling supported, actually. And you are not getting advice. You’re living in this sort of strange world where you’re lost in this battle of social comparison, this is another reason to really consider whether you want to be pursuing all those income streams. Because these support groups and these like, you know, business support groups, this might be actually making you less happy, the science says. Because again, you’re engaged in pursuing something that is, you know, falls in that category of money or material. And above that $75,000 basic needs-met threshold. Science just says that doesn’t make you happier. And constantly comparing yourselves to others in similar types of attributes, also makes you less happy. So I don’t know if you need those income streams at all. If they’re causing you to feel that way. Only, you know if you’re feeling that way. So take a look. See how you feel this could ebb and flow could change over time. But it’s another one of the very, very common things that I hear. And people don’t say it explicitly, but it comes out in there talking about their challenges and their struggles. And you realize, wow, if they weren’t comparing themselves to all of these other things that are really not fair competitors in the first place, then they wouldn’t be feeling so bad. And they wouldn’t be feeling so tired. And they wouldn’t feel like they had to keep striving for that next thing, I don’t know that you have to. I think maybe you don’t have to.

All right, now I’m going to change gears a little bit. Another one of the reasons that you may be feeling really, really exhausted and burned out around additional income streams is that you do not have the right guide. So if there is something that you love to do, it’s a passion, you love to do it, you want to do it, and you’d like to make some money doing it and you provide a valuable service, so you deserve to make some money doing it, right? Assuming that all of that is the case, then absolutely, you can and should pursue that. But you should do it with the right guide.

So you can google how to start a business, create a website, grow your brand on social media, get more folks enrolled, you know, as partners under you, and a multi-level marketing, business and so forth. direct sales business, you can get an overwhelming amount of advice from all kinds of sources, and some are more credible than others, as we’ve already discussed.

There’s a lot of coaching and expertise and consulting going on these days that just doesn’t have. It just doesn’t have a lot of rigor behind it. Perhaps a classic example, there are a lot of people who became very, very burned out and so they turned to coaching. And now they are trying to build their own life coaching businesses to prevent burnout. But they themselves are still stuck in their burnout. And they’re still wishing for something different. And they still haven’t left the job that they hated that was making them miserable. Like that might be your best friend or a good person to be in a support group but I’m not sure that that’s the right guide for you if that’s a description of like your circumstance, and in what you need.

So anyway, there’s a ton of free info everywhere. But that’s exhausting to sift through because you don’t know like, what’s right, what’s current, you don’t know who the authors are the creators of that free advice. So, I don’t recommend that route. I think that is, it’s nice to do self learning, if you’ve got the time and the leisure and you’re curious, but if you really, really want to learn you want a streamlined path to doing that from somebody that you trust.

There’s also tons of people that you could hire both for outsourcing, like done for you, or programs that teach you how to do stuff. It can be really hard to figure out who to go to, and having to sift through that can be really exhausting.

So it may sound ironic, having said all that, that’s one of the reasons I created The Branding Rx. If you guys know me, you already know right, that the people who know me for my blog, my webinars, my podcast, like you know me, and you know, the kinds of business successes that I’ve had, and the kinds that I haven’t. The lessons that I’ve learned, and you know what I teach, and you’ve got real testimonials, you can read and you’ve got real people who are having real results. And you also know that I am not the right guide for everyone because obviously it depends on your style.

One thing you know for sure about me is I don’t do one on one coaching, right? So you can’t come to me for coaching because I don’t do that. And a lot of people ask, they still ask and I don’t do it. Why? Because I’m not chasing every income stream. If I wanted to, I would just set up yet another one, right doing that. I don’t want to do that. I want to give advice in the way that I’m doing it now or in my courses or at a workshop or at an event and help as many people as I can like within that context. So whatever is your style, I don’t know.

But the one thing that I’m obsessed with on my side in my teaching, is that laser focus on doing what matters most and in the right order. Because I’ve heard all of these things that I’ve been talking about on this podcast, that these are the reasons why people who really do have a passion, they really do have a side project they want to pursue, but they feel deflated, they feel exhausted, they feel like they’re not getting their results. And that’s because they are indeed running around doing all kinds of stuff. Because they’re doing social comparison and like someone else is doing this, so I better do it too. Now they’re doing that I better try that too. And that is absolutely exhausting.

So The Branding Rx and my teaching is laser focused on exactly what you need to do. And in the right order to do it. There’s a million things you could do, but only a few that you really should do for that highest yield maximum results right up front. And of course this is different for doctors and it is for the general public. So most of the websites and courses and books out there aren’t really the best guide for other physicians either because it leaves out a lot of the really important considerations both, you know, reputational, legal and otherwise, that physicians need to deal with. So, if you are feeling exhausted and burned out and all those things and if you have realized listening to this podcast that, hey, you don’t need any more income streams, you’re okay just being a doctor, then I want to applaud you and say that is good.

That is, that’s huge. In fact, so if that’s you, like, let’s have a party, send me a tweet, I’ll be really, really excited about it. If that’s not you, and you feel like you really want to go and do something, but you are spinning around and having a hard time, and you’re not sure like, what to trust and what to outsource and whatnot, outsource of what to do, then I might be the guide for you, if you are determined to grow your brand or your business, even if it’s just your professional brand, you know, as a person, as a physician, as someone who provides a medical service. I mean, I think that’s really great. That’s obviously why I do what I do. I think it’s great, but it’s not for the income streams. So if you’re determined to grow it, I urge you to come and check it out.

And as a bonus, if you’ve listened to this whole thing, and you’ve given careful consideration to whether or not you even need an additional income stream, or you even want one, and what you want it for. And I know the vast majority of people start podcasts, but they don’t listen all the way to the end. If you are still here, here’s a treat for you. You can use the code “CareerRx” – all one word CareerRx, take 30% off any of my courses, any of them at all, go do it right now, because I haven’t decided how long to leave this discount in effect, I might pull it at any time.

But this year has been especially hard on a lot of people, I want to do something to give back. So that’s what I’ve got for you, you can use it on The Branding Rx, which is growing it that professional brand or side gig, you can use it on The Speaking Rx, which is understanding the business of paid professional speaking so you can finally get paid. You can use it on Industry Insider, which is a smaller course that is all about transitioning to non clinical careers, like how to do that. Or you can even use it on my sort of it’s almost a micro course how to Launch an Online Course on Any Budget in which I will teach you how to know your course will sell before you even bother to make it and also, from a logistics point of view, how to like market, get people signed up, take their payments and deliver the course spending like zero money at all.

You can buy one program, you can buy multiple programs. I have never given a discount like this in the past. And again, I am not really sure how long this mood is gonna strike me so don’t wait. CareerRx over on courses.MarjorieStieglerMD.com, take 30% off any or all – go bananas. But before you do it, be sure you’ve given careful consideration to whether or not you want additional income streams. Because if you’re pursuing that, because you think it will make you happier, I would argue the science is pretty strong, that it won’t, if you’re doing it for the income. If you’re doing it for the passion, it’s pretty good, it’s a great ride, well worth the ups and downs and heartaches. And it’s just so so so rewarding for the income, even when it’s pretty good income. That’s not enough to make you truly happier.

So back to my listener, I’m not sure that that’s the answer my listener wanted. But that’s the answer that I’ve got. I didn’t set out to create a bunch of income streams and I am not on a hunt, or a hustle to make more income streams. And if any one of these things ever stops filling that passion bucket, stops feeling meaningful, stops helping other people in a way that I find to be important and fulfilling to me, I’ll stop doing it. Because it does make a pretty good income. But life is not all about money. That sounds sort of trite, but it’s true. That’s it for me for today. Bye for now.

Thanks for joining me on this episode of The Career Rx. Be sure to leave me a review on Apple podcasts or whatever podcast player you’re using to listen today. And definitely send me those questions so I can answer them and give you a shout out on a future episode. Bye for now.

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