Moon(lighting) changes with the seasons

Moonlighting gets a bad rap.

Note: This is the twenty-eighth post in a group series called #ArchiTalks started by Bob Borson of Life of an Architect. This month’s topic comes from Mike Riscica: “Moonlighting”.

Moonlighting changes with the seasons.

It’s true. It does. There is nothing wrong with making money on the side, IF…
  1. You’re doing it respectfully
  2. Because of 1, you’re constantly checking in on your priorities.

L²? Total moonlighting.

WHAT???? You ask agog, under the impression that it is a full-fledged business. Why thank you, and you wouldn’t be wrong. It is. It just happens to be my *second* source of income, which is the definition of moonlighting:

“have a second job in addition to one’s regular employment.”

For me, based on my current priorities and respect for my employer/team at RATIO (see 1 & 2 above), L² is the moonlighting. RATIO pays the bills, keeps a roof over my head, gives me insurance and retirement savings, teaches me, helps me grow, etc. My business as it relates to L²…teaches me and helps me grow. It doesn’t pay the bills. It keeps a roof over my head…until I decide to tear the roof off during a renovation. It definitely doesn’t give me health benefits. In fact, sometimes it might decrease my health by increased stress.

Sidebar: That’s the funny thing about doing your own thing. You’re accountable to you. You screw up, it’s on you. I’m not in the business of letting people down, so when I say I’ll do something – it means late nights until it’s done.

Now let’s get back to the money part, because that’s how most people define a job.

Here’s the thing about respect and priorities. When I was at my previous “regular employment” that was anything but regular, I worked my tail off on L² after hours. I took side residential work. I looked for work. I started self-influenced passion projects. I started outside-influenced passion projects, like AREsketches. I did it all. Anything to grow and test the boundaries of my capabilities…and make some money.


You see, my previous employer had quickly shown me that he did not respect me and that I was not a priority to his company. Both of those things leave a passionate emerging professional with little desire to invest in a business that doesn’t respect them. So I shifted my priority in that season, and focused on growing me and those surrounding me. What could I learn and pass onto others? What had I learned and could share? How could I serve my architecture community in another way, that just didn’t happen to be at my “regular job”? Most of those outlets used L² as a conduit. I did a couple house projects. I started the Architects Traveling Library. I started sharing the AREsketches online, not yet knowing that they would turn into published ARE study guides. I found ways to provide an outlet for the design passion, and those ways were through moonlighting.

Now I’m in a different season. Yes, L² will always be my baby. And when I transitioned jobs, I took great care to make sure those AREsketches and these blogs and anything else under this umbrella was protected.

But here’s the thing.

My employer respects me. My team respects me. And I respect them.

So instead of taking side jobs and keeping them side jobs, I take them into work – even if they first come to me through L². I show my respect by bringing food to the table, so to speak. We’re not that far removed from our cavepeople of eras past.

By bringing work to the firm, I show them I respect them. I want to be here. And I also show them I’m valuable. Which in turn, hopefully, makes them respect me more. It’s a positive loop.

L² will always be an investment, and they understand that, too. My bringing in L² work helps remind them that moonlighting is worth it. The connections I make, the things I learn outside of work? They influence work. They influence my abilities and the every day. And my employer, my team…because they understand those influences; they respect that time. My respect for them as a team makes them secure in the understanding that the moonlighting shines a little less bright these days. So long as they continue to show respect…and a path towards leadership and learning, every single time I check my priorities, the firm will be at near the top (health and sanity, people. Health. And. Sanity.). And it’s a season I’m totally okay with.

The flashlight’s still here. So are the survival skills. But these days I’d like to think I help light the path, and spend a little less time wandering in the dark.


To see the take on “Moonlighting” from other Architects, follow the links to the others in the #ArchiTalks group who are posting today on the theme:

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