I’m the Head of a Major Media Company: This is How I Manage My Side-Hustle

I first started working with Trevor Christensen — better known as DJ/producer Said The Sky — in 2014, when I was a college student at the University of North Florida. Back then, I had been working as a social media editor at EDM.com and juggling school, when a friend of mine who was preparing to launch an artist management company asked if I wanted to help with PR and social media for his clients. I was introduced to Trevor, and we got along immediately. I knew we had to work together.

At first, Trevor and I were both working full-time while pursuing the Said The Sky project on the side. Neither of us were making any money — and as is usually the case with these things, Trevor was putting his own money into the project. It took several years for us to start seeing a return on that investment.

During those early years, we worked with Create Music Group on YouTube monetization for Said The Sky. I became friendly with the team there and started working full-time at Create Music Group in Los Angeles in 2016. When Create Music Group acquired Flighthouse — the most followed brand on TikTok, known for its original game-ified influencer content — in 2017, I immediately saw potential with the platform and shifted my focus within Create Music Group to work on Flighthouse, where I now serve as CEO, leading a team of 30 (give or take). We work closely with lots of blue-chip brands who want to leverage TikTok for their marketing campaigns and we at Flighthouse are great at that. While we built Flighthouse, I was always managing Said The Sky.

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Similarly to my experience with Said The Sky, the early days of Flighthouse required me to adopt an entrepreneurial spirit and put in late nights and long hours to build the brand up to what it is today — a short-form media house and creative agency that’s not just known for its viral influencer-driven original content, but also specializes in TikTok music marketing, brand and influencer partnerships across TikTok, and more.

Everything I’ve ever worked on in my career, I’ve focused on it because I truly believed in it — and that goes for both Flighthouse and Said The Sky. This belief in the projects I involve myself with makes it worth it to put in the time and effort to build them. In the case of both Flighthouse and Said The Sky, I’m extremely passionate about seeing the results unfold over time. The genuine love that I have for both Said The Sky and Flighthouse is what drives me to balance these two demanding projects, and over time I’ve developed tools for helping to achieve that balance.

Flighthouse logo

From an organizational perspective, a strong team is imperative towards helping me to manage my primary job and my side-hustle. Having people I trust at both Flighthouse and on Said The Sky’s team allows me to keep the wheels turning at all hours of the day on both projects, even during times when one of them demands more of my attention than the other.

While it’s tempting to try and have my hands in every aspect of both Flighthouse and Said The Sky, I’ve had to learn to delegate in order for both of these entities to function smoothly. Delegating is a powerful thing, and it goes back to having a trustworthy team — if I trust that my teammates understand our goals and we’re in agreement on the best ways to achieve them, then that allows us all to accomplish much more in the long run, and in a more efficient way that doesn’t lead to burnout.

Time management is also imperative when it comes to managing a side-hustle. There are only so many hours in the day, and I can’t afford to dedicate my time to the small things — I have to eliminate distractions and carve out space for myself to think about the bigger picture. I’m still learning how best to manage my ever-growing list of tasks, but for now I’m a big to-do list fan. Every single morning, I write out my tasks for the day (and the week). I’ve tried a couple different to-do list apps, but for me, nothing beats putting a pen to paper. I’m also the type of person who can get distracted by sporadic mid-day meetings; I find it difficult to accomplish any meaningful work in the 30-minute breaks between calls. So, I’ve recently started blocking out entire days or half-days for head-down ‘get shit done’ work with no meetings on the agenda. Not a perfect process, but it’s been working for me so far!

But beyond the technical ways I manage my side hustle, the primary thing that keeps me going is passion. With Said The Sky, we don’t often have a specific road map that we’re working off of. I take it a day at a time, and I trust my gut when it comes to decisions both big and small. This approach has led to a lot of major milestone moments for Said The Sky. Trevor recently headlined Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado, which was a huge achievement for him. When I look back at his first sellout in Denver, at a small 500 capacity venue, the Red Rocks show feels like a massive win, and it inspires me to keep up the momentum. That feeling when the wheels are turning, and the train is moving helps me to stay focused on my side hustle.

Another thing that keeps me going is the way Trevor and I have started to use his Said The Sky platform to give back. Over the course of the 7 years that we’ve been working together, we’ve been able to grow Said The Sky’s audience massively. Trevor and I both feel passionately about using his influence to benefit the greater good. Last year, in recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day, we released a song with Hopeless Records benefiting To Write Love On Her Arms, a nonprofit that provides help for young people who are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.

The video for the song (called “Worth Living For”) featured fan-submitted videos of moments that reminded them that life is worth living. We’ve also partnered with 4 Paws For Ability, a charity that trains service dogs for disabled children and veterans, on a limited-edition hoodie, which raised $17k for the organization. We’ve also donated 100% of proceeds from a limited Said The Sky’s “Anti Sad Ppl Sad Ppl Club” merch line, a gender-inclusive version of Said The Sky’s signature merch to LGBTQ+ organization The Trevor Project. Being able to make an impact like this reminds me that the hustle is worth it.

When I think back on the biggest moments that Trevor and I celebrated together, one that stands out was when he was able to quit his job and start doing music full-time. He recently paid for his parents to re-do their floors, and someday he’d like to pay off their mortgage. These meaningful, tangible achievements help me to keep my eye on the prize and continue to prioritize Said The Sky in my off-hours, while also leading Flighthouse. With Said The Sky, we might never feel like we’ve truly made it, because with each major win, the goalposts move forward — which is a good thing and leads to bigger and better goals. But when it comes to balancing my side-hustle with being the head of a major company, it’s the little milestones that keep me going.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ash Stahl is the CEO of Flighthouse Media, a leading digital entertainment company in Los Angeles. Previous to that, she was Project Manager for Create Music Group and Social Media Manager for EDM Network. For more information, visit https://www.flighthousemedia.com

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