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Nate’s Notes 68: Sue Ashford | How To Thrive in the Gig Economy

By May 1, 2023June 8th, 2023No Comments

Sue Ashford

Professor at the University of Michigan

Sue Ashford’s Lessons:

I love the framework that Sue shared for how to thrive in the gig economy.


Connect with other people. There is power in connecting with other people, in seeing their perspective, and in generating new ideas. We can get so busy with our work that we don’t take time for significant human connection, so remember the value both for your mental health and productivity, of connecting with other people.


Connect with a place. Be thoughtful about the place you choose to work. For Sue, she has created a place that inspires her, full of carefully chosen pictures, thank you notes, and products she has created. Her chosen place reminds her who she is and what she should be doing. 


Create a routine. By creating routines, we make work and life easier for us. The more we can routinize, the better off we can be because we don’t have to think so hard. Of course we shouldn’t take this too far and eliminate all randomness from our lives. But those who thrive in the gig economy establish routines.


Connect to a purpose. Having a purpose helps us choose work that will maximize our well-being rather than just maximize our income. By having a purpose, we also increase our motivation and inspire ourselves and others. 

In summary, to thrive in the gig economy, remember the framework of people, place, routine, and purpose. 

It’s a simple idea. Please take it seriously. 

Sue Ashford Bio:

Sue Ashford is a Professor at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business where she has served as senior associate dean, faculty director of the executive MBA program, and area chair of the Management & Organizations group.

Sue researches leadership development and effectiveness, persuasion, job insecurity, and individual proactivity. And currently she is researching how to thrive in the gig economy, which is the topic o our discussion .

Sue’s research has been covered in the Harvard Business Review, the Washington Post, and New York Magazine, among others, and Sue has served on the editorial board of the premier academic journal in management. In 2002, Sue was named a Fellow of the Academy of Management, recognizing the top 1% of scholars in the global professional association of 20,000 professors and practitioners. In 2017, Sue was awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award, and in 2020, Sue won the Lifetime Achievement award from the Academy of Management.

As a teacher, Sue focuses on negotiation skills and persuasion, and also teaches in two programs aimed at accelerating careers for women: Ascending to the C-suite program for Inforum, and the Leading Women Executives program in Chicago.

Prior to joining Michigan, Sue was a professor at Dartmouth, and she received her Master’s degree and Ph.D. from Northwestern University. 

In short, Sue is an academic superstar. I hope you enjoyed learning from Sue Ashford today, because I certainly did. 

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