Kathy Kristof AKA “Queen of Everything” is the editor, founder, and CEO of SideHusl.com, the web’s best resource for money-making opportunities in the gig economy. She is an award-winning journalist who has written for the Los Angeles Times, CBS News, Kiplinger, Inc., Forbes, and dozens of other publications. Kathy is also the author of three books, including Investing 101 (Bloomberg).
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
This is going to sound corny. But that’s who I am, so I might as well own it.
I grew up in the Los Angeles area, with a close family and 22 first cousins. My cousins often spent summers — and other months (at a time) with my family. It was awesome.
I think because there were so many of us and every one was different and took a different path, it helped me realize that your job, your education, your politics, how you look — none of those things really matter.
What matters is the person you are. Are you kind? Are you responsible? Do you look out for your fellow man? I’m really proud to say that I’m related to this big, unwieldy group of great people. I still keep in touch with most of my cousins and, outside of this weird Covid year, we get together regularly.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
Childhood is like dog years. It just counts for more…
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
I see a lot of people touting really miserable side hustles — jobs that pay less than minimum wage or don’t pay at all. I can only guess that they do this because they haven’t taken the time to thoroughly check these things out.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
I had a tough first marriage. Not trashing my ex-husband, but our backgrounds and upbringing couldn’t have been more different. He came from a pretty abusive household. And, when we were first married, he did a lot of shouting/criticizing/swearing.
I shouted back. I felt like I was defending myself. But one day I managed to hear myself and realized that whatever my justification, I was becoming a foul-mouthed shrew.
I didn’t want to be that person, so I started walking away instead of shouting. Not only was that more effective, I liked me better.
What did I learn? No one can force you to be someone you don’t want to be. You make that choice yourself. Or, as William Henley says in Invictus: “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishment the scroll. I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
I work incredibly hard every single day.
What is your morning routine?
I wake up (without an alarm) at some time between 5 and 7; get coffee; go through email and start working. Break for a walk or workout; go back to work.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Exercise. Regular exercise not only makes you healthier, but it also helps you think more clearly.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I do my level best to stay off of social media and focus on the task at hand.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
I suppose it would be “Bleak House” by Charles Dickens. It’s a story that ultimately lays the blame for many ruined lives on England’s Courts of Chancery — essentially their estate courts.
While fictional, the story brought attention to the dismal state of the country’s estate law and was a key catalyst in reforming the system. It taught me how a powerful tale could shine a light on injustice and help fix broken systems.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” — Edmund Burke.
To a great degree, this is why I launched SideHusl.com. I saw these big freelance platforms, like Uber and Postmates, misleading people with stories about how much they would earn by driving for them. They conveniently forgot to tell drivers about all of the expenses and the fact that the earnings weren’t guaranteed — in fact, the pay formula was subject to near-constant change, almost always to the detriment of those doing the work.
I thought that the deception was just wrong and likely to cause harm to economically vulnerable workers. At the time, there was no independent review site where people could go to get an honest assessment of these freelance work platforms. I felt that my background in financial reporting made me uniquely capable of ferreting out the details that would matter. So I launched my site. We’ve now researched, reviewed, and rated more than 350 online platforms that purport to help you make money. Some are great; some stink.
Sure, it’s not running into a burning building or saving lives with medicine. But, I believe we all have unique talents that we can deploy to make the world just a little bit better. A little bit fairer. If we all just do what we can — and I don’t care whether that’s recycling or being kind to a neighbor — the world would be a better place.
You don’t have to do everything. You don’t even need to do something big or dramatic. Just do something. Be a force to promote good in the world.