Are you looking to shed the need for corporate structure and the monotony of the 9-5 cycle? And how do you get there? We think Demi Diaz can help with that.
As the world continuously shifts and changes, both professionally and personally, our social norms of working prove themselves to be exactly that: socially constructed and based on traditional standards from the past.
Common knowledge tells us that getting a job and moving our careers forward involves committing to financial stability, corporate structure, and, for lack of a better word, the monotony of the 9-5 cycle.
What we’re seeing more than ever is that rigid standards of the work ideal may have to be changed and uprooted for the new generations expected to work. Financial stability can become financial responsibility, where the corporate structure’s walls can be broken down and molded differently by individuals willing to take risks and allow room for more choice in their careers. The Young Workaholic has considered that already.
Demi Diaz is a New Orleans based, first-generation, Dominican-American entrepreneur. In 2017, the New York City native decided to pack up her life and move out of her parents’ house, away from the city’s hustle and bustle to continue what she deems an “unconventional” career path. From a young age, Demi considered herself born with a hustler spirit and raised on pure survival. She considers herself a strategic planner fueled by a passion for crafting ideas and finalizing details: a modern-day “workaholic,” though as she describes, not in the traditional sense of someone who is overworked. Rather, as “someone who likes working,” she says, her New York accent reminding me of her roots, before she traded dreams in the Big Apple for lifestyle in the Big Easy.
In the years prior to her move out of the city, she has continued to neglect the traditional work standard, instead deciding to manifest new ideals as the CEO of her own company, The Young Workaholic, a now-registered LLC that aspires to change the narrative of what the ideal work-life looks like, with goals to support young entrepreneurs who also want to begin breaking the mold. We caught up with Demi to chat about her business’s first steps, her upbringing as a daughter of immigrants to NYC, both of whom fueled her desire to work and why she will never commit to a 9-5 job.
From Humble Bloginnings
In 2011, as a first-year student in college with big ideas, but not enough work experience to execute them, Demi started a Tumblr blog under her own name. What was initially just a joke between classmates about her need for money tied with her love of working (and networking), became a platform where she would post feasible “side hustles,” that gave her a passive income while studying.
“I would post jobs that I found on Monster, Craigslist, Indeed. [I did that] to show people the jobs I was applying to that related to me as a Latina woman in college with no experience; the identifiers that made me who I am. I would spend hours trying to find jobs that would hire people who looked like me, [had my profile] and I’d post them [on my blog] for other people to see [and do] the same,” says Demi.
This blog would eventually become the basis for her company. With this new identity, Demi found herself not only going beyond making ends meet with various odd jobs—particularly in event staffing and remote part-times—but also growing her knowledge as a budding businesswoman by building connections. Her passion for work would ultimately give the brand she was building for herself, and for others, a purpose and mission: “I really want[ed] to give back to young people who [didn’t] want to have to resort to traditional paths.”
“My upbringing has everything to do with who I am, especially when it comes to my brand and how I work, mainly because, even when I was a young girl, I always loved [working].”
A Familiar Drive For Work
Born to Dominican parents who settled into the Hispanic Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights, Demi recalls first finding her entrepreneurial footing at a young age by helping those around her who were in need but did not have resources available to them. “When I was a very young girl, I’ve always looked out for [girls] like me, [girls] who could be like me in my community,” she says.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Diaz had the desire to become entrepreneurs themselves, being very involved in their children’s lives, but also the Dominican community in their neighborhood. However, their inability to speak the language, no proper education, or resources to make their dreams flourish beyond that of their community stopped them from moving forward.
Demi doesn’t blame her parents for their expectations of her to follow a more conventional path, especially given their own circumstances. “Our parents [only know one version] of the American Dream, [which] is for you to go to school, get a job, have your family, but you know, not everything that others want for you is right for you.”
Instead, she says that many of the qualities she now holds close, especially her affinity for work and risk-taking mindset, and how she’s been able to become the entrepreneur of the Diaz clan, is due to the responsibility she learned from her family. Of these responsibilities included finishing an education she did not feel fulfilled in, nor planned to use professionally post-grad, given her rebellious mindset regarding her career.
“My father gave me the ultimatum [that convinced me not to drop out]. He said: ‘I’m not leaving you a business, […] a house, [or] a trust fund. I’m not leaving you anything. You are the sole person that needs to make a name for yourself.’”
“It is super interesting to think about: why is there a bias for people like me?”
Since graduating, Demi has continued to invest in the lessons from her childhood, which have allowed her to envision how it can be possible to turn experiences, rather than experience, into this era’s new way of working— one that does not rely on a typical office setup, long hours or unhappy employees.
A big move, a registered company, and still no full-time job in the works, Demi says she is no longer going to commit to anything that doesn’t make her happy. One of the goals of her company, now a branding and consulting agency, is to help others understand that they shouldn’t either.
“You know how many of my friends say they hate their jobs? And I keep saying, you do understand that you don’t have to do this? You can discover so many different ways for you to work that work for you. We can be happy by not committing to unhappiness.” Instead, Demi vouches to continue offering as many seats at any table she’s seated at, hoping to cultivate success stories from her many networks, especially her family and friends, the very community who have released hold of their normative expectations of the work ideal and embraced her mindset as a new normal.
“I feel I would have wasted a lot of my potential had I chosen the route that everyone else wanted [or expected of me] and that was to work a 9-5. I knew that there was so much more strength in who you know, not what. I just want to be the one person to show people you don’t need to work in an office to be happy or successful.”
Now, as The Young Wokaholic brand has continued to grow, Ms. Diaz’s story is testament to the fact that unconventional and less traditional work structures (and mindsets) may very well become the new normal for people like Demi, but also people who are looking to her, and others like her, for guidance on how they can follow suit, without resorting to wearing a suit themselves.
“Once you have that idea [about what you want to do], everything comes into play. That’s where consistency, content, and work come in, and that’s where I want to help.”