In the world of tech, it can be tricky to stay ahead of all the innovators continually changing things up at such a breakneck pace. From researchers and entrepreneurs to thought leaders and hackers, tech innovators wear a myriad of hats and engage in a myriad of activities — just ask Elon Musk — and for many of them, lucrative and meaningful work in fields they probably never dreamed about participating in await them if they want it. Here are six side gigs true tech innovators can look forward to after they’ve made their mark and their millions, depending, of course, on what they’re inclined toward and desire to tackle next.
Perhaps one of the most common side gigs a great tech mind can look forward to is that of speaker. Whether it’s for college graduations, corporate retreats, nonprofit think tanks, or technology expos, the greatest thinkers and doers in tech are always in high demand on the speaking circuit. For the tech leader who doesn’t suffer from stage fright, public speaking can be a fantastic fit as it has the opportunity to benefit both the speaker and his or her audience. After all, for an inspirational and respected speaker, there are few experiences as satisfying as interacting with an eager and equally inspiring audience.
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Similar to speaking, but easier on the socially anxious, many technology gurus have penned bestselling books. From Bill Gate and Steve Jobs to Reid Hoffman and Andrew McAfee, there are hundreds of topics a technology giant could potentially and knowingly tackle that the public will happily read. Even if a tech leader isn’t a great writer, his or her ideas often still lend themselves to the page. All it takes is a reliable co-author or ghostwriter and the potential for a bestseller — based on reputation alone — is in the bag.
Especially for tech innovators who are concerned about the many challenges faced by today’s world and its inhabitants, becoming a philanthropist can seriously change conversations, action, legislation, and a legacy. Many tech leaders, once their work and fortune are well-established, have gone on to start foundations and give away massive amounts of cash. Notable among them are Jan Koum, Sean Parker, Bill and Melinda Gates — who routinely give over $1 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation each year — Mark Zuckerberg along with wife Priscilla Chan, and many more.
4. Angel Investor
Another common side gig for tech innovators is that of angel investor. Different from a more traditional investor, angel investors provide capital for startups that may seem too far-fetched or risky for more traditional investors to get involved with. Often, an angel investor is someone with so much money that losing a few million wouldn’t be too big of a deal — something that allows for an extreme level of risk-taking that only a wealthy few can emotionally and financially endure. Often in exchange for ownership equity or some other incentive, being an angel investor can be an exciting and lucrative side gig for a tech innovator. It’s also another great way to participate and assist in the churning and changing world of tech that doesn’t require an innovator to come up with the next big idea on his or her own.
Many technology leaders become entrepreneurs in order to continue to fuel their hunger for continued innovation. Dean Kamen, Elon Musk, and Nikola Bozinovic are a few who have gone this route. Of course many innovators, with the aid of the parent company or companies they started, also buy up startups, inventions, and other companies. While the ideas inherent within these ventures may not be their own, their entrepreneurial spirit can help bring those ideas to a larger market.
6. Health Guru
It may seem an unlikely turn of events for a tech innovator or inventor, but every now and then, a technology guru takes to health concerns like a fish to water. One such version of tech innovator turned health guru is futurist Ray Kurzweil, who is actively trying to keep his body and mind as youthful and healthy as possible for the day when we all can become cyborgs. Then, there’s the Dean Kamen version of health guru. Much less titillating, Kamen simply continues to invent machines and products that improve the health of people whose circumstances are less than ideal.
For the tech innovator who’s interested in a second or third chapter in life that’s decidedly different than the first, there are plenty of options. As this list of side gigs show, everything from author to entrepreneur is on the table.
Elon Musk image by OnInnovation from Flickr.com