Hiring Efficiency Through Technology

In every aspect of our lives, new technologies are being presented to us on a daily basis. Often these new advancements in life are referred to as disruptive technology because they can help transform our lives, transform the way we run our daily business and in some cases, transform the global economy.

Online talent platforms like Freelancer, TaskRabbit and Angie’s List and even companies like LinkedIn are assisting employers and employees to connect with each other faster and more efficiently than ever before. These companies are helping enable the unemployed to get back into the workforce. On Demand work platforms use technology to connect employers with workers instantly and efficiently. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the increase in numbers of these online talent platforms could add $2.7 trillion to the global economy by 2025. Countries where unemployment and part-time workers combined are between 30% and 40% allow these platforms to really thrive.

The benefits flow in both directions for employees and employers. Companies can benefit from online talent platforms because they enable the organization to efficiently and effectively source new talent. Workers on the other hand benefit because these work platforms offer flexibility in the workplace. Many On Demand workers will be employed by multiple organizations which allows them to be in control of their work and also helps to keep them interested in learning new skills. Some onlookers have suggested that as independent contractors, they can be poorly paid but the theory behind the On Demand workforce is that the employee can simply move onto the next employer if the working conditions are not satisfactory. For many, the On Demand workforce is a foreign concept as it is still in its infancy. Most companies and organizations are still geared to full-time employees. However, to keep competitive in the marketplace, it is in the best interest of the company or organization to think outside of the box when it comes to how they organize their workers and work processes.

The slow reaction from organizations towards the On Demand community is primarily due to a lack of data from governments. Governments should be gaining updated data to better understand how this On Demand economy is currently unfolding.  The world as we know it is changing and the ripple effect is still to be measured.  As people and companies shift towards an On Demand economy, traditional work hours disappear, the geographic ties will be broken; meaning that urban sprawl and living choices will change.  As a result, so will traffic patterns, infrastructure and ultimately political make up.  Where this ends who knows…we are only at the beginning.

 

Can Anyone Tell Me How The Movie Ends?

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” Winston Churchill

When I first began my career all I wanted to be was a strategic consultant. They were the company rock stars…flying to exotic locations, expense accounts, dinners in the best restaurants.  And so I put my head down and worked.  I worked until I too became the sought after expert that everyone wanted to have on their projects.  But what nobody told me is that behind all the “glitz” was a whole lot of “grunt”.

A young consultant’s life is gruelling. A typical week starts before dawn on Monday, with a rush to the airport and a flight to wherever the client is based. A typical brain-for-hire can expect to stay in hotels at least three nights a week, gorging on minibar peanuts and glumly texting a distant lover.

So the job appeals to “insecure overachievers”—a phrase widely used in the industry—“who are always worried that they haven’t done enough work.” Some 60-65% of consultants are recent college-leavers. Most drop out within a few years and take more settled jobs elsewhere in the business world, where their experience and contacts allow them to slot in several notches above their less-travelled counterparts.

But while you’re in the trenches what nobody ever tells you is that you are nothing more than a mercenary.  The job requires you to be objective and as such you cannot allow yourself to get close.  While a few relationships will continue with you through your career the truth is that most will not.  You learn to carry everything you need… 2 laptops, chargers for each, tablet (with a library of movies for the flights) phone (and phone charger), headphones, wifi hotspot, Ethernet cable…in case your wifi doesn’t work and even an umbrella all in your backpack which goes with you everywhere.  Yes you may be in beautiful locations but don’t fool yourself.  You will most probably never see the outside of the office or hotel where you are stationed. Instead you find yourself sitting in conference rooms, at empty cubicles, even on the floor in a corner under flickering halogen lights for 10 hours at a stretch. 

Yes the consultant’s life is not for the faint of heart.  We see a problem, devise a solution and fix it.  But perhaps the most difficult is the fact that we never stick around long after to see the results. And so while we may even get to the “red carpet” event we never stick around to see how the movie ends.  Instead we silently exit stage left and are on to the next town, the next client and the next project where we set up shop and start the process all over again.

So please please, can anyone tell me how the movie actually ends?

 

 

There is no I in Team but there is a ME.

Otherwise known as the “what’s-in-it-for-me” factor. Let’s admit it there are very few people whose actions are truly altruistic.  So for those of us who aren’t Mother Therese (ie. the rest of us) nobody does anything without expecting some sort of return.  And guess what, that’s OK.  It is OK to admit it and most importantly OK to understand that most folks expect some kind of a quid pro quo.  If we are honest in this exchange and with expectations clearly set, all parties can mutually benefit and in fact be an asset to each other no matter what each other’s’ goals may be.

 

How people perceive you has always been critical to a successful career. Now add in the internet, social media, and the unrelenting hum of 24/7 business, and the ability to brand and promote yourself effectively becomes absolutely essential for young professionals to land the job, earn the raise, or get that much deserved promotion. It is only with the ability to promote yourself that managers and executives can see Gen Y workers as invaluable employees, game-changing managers, or the people whose names are synonymous with success.

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Message Received? Are You Sure Your Audience is Are Hearing You Loud and Clear?

"Do you ever feel that you are talking and talking but nobody is really listening to you? ~ Jerry Maguire

Communication is everything! And yet in today’s world with multiple platforms to connect with quick sound bites, EFFECTIVE communication is struggling.  Everyone, it seems, has something to say.  And everyone, it seems, is trying to get the attention of an increasingly distracted audience. So how, in this era of information overload, do you find information that resonates and ultimately engages?

People have to understand what you want.  And conversely you need to understand what they want.  This is vital in personal relationships but even more important when in the professional sphere… everyone needs to communicate effectively with customers, clients, vendors, and others who are important to a business. 

Phil Simon, author of Message Not Received, suggests that much of [business] communication today is broken, and most people don't know how to fix it. Says Simon, "As a general rule, the quality and clarity of communication have deteriorated considerably over the past 10 years. Many people have lost the ability to communicate clearly (read: without jargon). And, by relying far too much on one medium (e-mail), we muddy our messages even further."

Here are a few possible suggestions in order to help us connect better:

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Here’s to a New Year with New Idea’s and Inspiration

Happy New Year!  Is it just me or was 2015 the longest yet shortest year in recent history.  When I look back it seems as if I blinked and 2016 was upon us.  And yet when I reflect I realize that so much happened in such a short period of time.  In fact I often find myself saying when I remember something that seemed so far ago, “Wow, that was only this past year?!”

One such memory that now seems like ancient history was the inception of the SDS.  It’s hard to believe that we are only in our second year and yet we have accomplished so much. We started with the concept of a brick and mortar road show.  We swore we would keep is small and quiet and intimate.  So much for that.  The drum beat was always for more more more.  We couldn’t keep up.  And geography continued to be a challenge that we simply couldn’t overcome. 

So the following year we made the decision to expand our reach by moving the SDS to an online community.  We began with a written column and soon expanded to an online, though leadership session.  12 phenomenal writers and 6 video contributors later we find ourselves embarking on the next chapter in the evolution of our crazy idea. 

So what’s next?  Simple....

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The Power Of Partnership

Two heads are better than one.  This well-known phrase is often used to explain the power of partnerships, teamwork, and typical ideation in today’s business world. This is not only true but a necessity in the startup and entrepreneurial space. In fact alignment is vital to the success of companies for many reasons.  Below are just a few of the benefits.

A Better Aligned Ecosystem
The biggest struggle for most small business and expanding organizations is the many hats that each role within the organization has to wear.  The result is a work force that is often stretched too thin, overworked and overburdened.  In other words, a classic recipe for burnout. This is the last thing a growing company needs. Yet another issue is that no one company does everything and it is unlikely that one ever will,  i.e. the classic saying, “jack of all trades and master of none”. Having a better connected ecosystem allows for people and companies to focus on their core competencies and come together with allies that are not only aligned but ultimately a stronger offering when working together towards a single goal.

Greater Collaboration
Greater collaboration brings on more knowledge transfer. More knowledge transfer leads to ideation and ideation leads to innovation. Innovating with a partner can ultimately speed up the process and help marketers do their jobs faster, easier, and better...

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Smashing The Clock

No schedules. No mandatory meetings.

At most companies, going AWOL during daylight hours would be grounds for a pink slip. Not at Best Buy. The nation's leading electronics retailer has embarked on a radical--if risky--experiment to transform a culture once known for killer hours and herd-riding bosses. The endeavor, called ROWE, for "results-only work environment," seeks to demolish decades-old business dogma that equates physical presence with productivity. The goal at Best Buy is to judge performance on output instead of hours. Hence workers pulling into the company's amenity-packed headquarters at 2 p.m. aren't considered late. Nor are those pulling out at 2 p.m. seen as leaving early. There are no schedules. No mandatory meetings. No impression-management hustles. Work is no longer a place where you go, but something you do. It's O.K. to take conference calls while you hunt, collaborate from your lakeside cabin, or log on after dinner so you can spend the afternoon with your kid. 

Best Buy did not invent the post-geographic office. Tech companies have been going bedouin for several years. At IBM, 40% of the workforce has no official office; at AT&T, a third of managers are untethered. Sun Microsystems Inc. calculates that it's saved $400 million over six years in real estate costs by allowing nearly half of all employees to work anywhere they want. And this trend seems to have legs. A recent Boston Consulting Group study found that 85% of executives expect a big rise in the number of unleashed workers over the next five years. In fact, at many companies the most innovative new product may be the structure of the workplace itself. 

And this shift from the clock in clock out / butt-in-seat mentality is reinventing the way people look at the concept of work. Executive recruiting firm Thompson and Ressler recently published a study that showed a trend towards the virtual office...

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Communities Are Strongest When Everyone Plays A Role

Last month I talked about the power of building an online community and the feedback that I got was unprecedented in all the months since we launched the advisory column.  Realizing that I touched a nerve, I thought it best to talk some more about this topic.

People participate in communities for a wide variety of reasons—to find emotional support and encouragement, to explore ways to contribute to the greater good, and to cultivate interests and skills, to name a few. Opinion leaders and evangelists play important and well-documented roles in social networks. They spread information, influence decisions, and help new ideas gain traction. But whereas focusing on opinion leaders may be sage advice for “buzz”, it is a misguided approach to community building. Robust communities establish cultural bedrock by enabling everyone to play a valuable role.

Research on communities including the Red Hat Society, Burning Man, Trekkies, and MGB car clubs, show 18 social and cultural roles critical to community function, preservation, and evolution...

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The Need For Branded Communities

As social media and other online interaction platforms continue to mature, the amount of “white noise” becomes harder to tune out.  As such, the question of where to go in order to find quality content
that truly advances knowledge vs. simply trying to market and/or sell also becomes a challenge.

The reality is, social media isn’t changing at the pace it once did. Sure, social data breaches and increased government regulation will change the landscape next year — but don’t expect 2015 to be a year of social transfiguration. Instead, as the industry matures, you’ll have a chance to catch your breath and focus on a few really important social initiatives. As a result, predictions are that as social media matures, branded online communities will make a comeback.

Many brands try to garner word of mouth by posting content on Facebook and hoping it goes viral. But this “post and pray” method rarely works.  Rather, interaction and content have been proven time and again to be the only sure fire way to truly interact, i.e. have a digital conversation...

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The Rise of the Necessity Entrepreneur

The economists David Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald set out to find the answer to exactly that question.  Their main discovery was not at all what was expected. They thought they’d find that the unifying theme among entrepreneurs was an outsize willingness to take risks. No. It was very different, almost the contrary, and much  more concrete: “The probability of self-employment depends positively upon whether the individual ever received an inheritance or gift.” In other words, those who already have some form of security are the people most apt to work for themselves—and by a wide margin, the authors added, even when factoring in “personal, family, and geographic characteristics.” This would likely explain why one of the largest dives in self-employment in the U.S. happened in 2007, just after the cratering of the housing market. “Home ownership made it possible to be self-employed,” explains Blanchflower, a professor of economics at Dartmouth. “They had something to borrow off of. You can’t do this now.”

Kathleen Christensen, who directs the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Working Longer program, suspects many aren’t starting their own businesses because they’ve been seized with a vision or ...

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The New Boundaryless Work Economy And The Need for Community

In October 2010, Intuit, the Silicon Valley–based software company, estimated that more than 40 percent of the American workforce would be made up of “contingent workers” by 2020, a statistic that has since been repeated with almost religious regularity.

Robert Reich, the Berkeley economist and former Labor secretary, once said “At the rate we’re going now, it could be higher than 40 percent by 2020. A majority of workers will be on their own by 2030.”

Offices are factories in drag, their indifference to your life reflected in their most basic unit of design, the cube. Even if management is experimenting ...

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The Future of the Start Up Economy

I was reading a few statistics out of the Gallup offices the other day and I was thrilled to see that U.S. Small-Business owners' optimism is the highest it’s ever been since 2008.

According to a survey conducted by Wells Fargo and Gallup Small Business Index, small-business owners' improving views of their revenues and other aspects of their businesses have propelled the overall Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index to its highest level since 2008. This continues the general upward movement seen in the index since it reached its low point in 2010, although it remains below the high points registered in the years prior to the Great Recession. Small-business owners' more upbeat views of their operating environments come at a time of generally positive economic trends in economic growth and unemployment, as measured by the government, as well as year-over-year upticks in Gallup's consumer-based reports on employment, company hiring and consumer spending.

However the report also had some chilling news. While small business owners are more optimistic than ever, the deaths of businesses ...

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How Technology Is Changing Our Economic Models

I was having lunch with a colleague the other day and as we commiserated about the state of this new and crazy world we live in, the discussion shifted to doing less with more.  And the question arose if technology is allowing us to live in a world where we don’t need to own as much anymore because there is now an intricate community with people who will share or provide services. 

There is a new organizational paradigm that is happening. It is actively transforming how we build businesses, how we work and how we create economies. If we think about crowd sourcing, Web 2.0, all that stuff, people are empowered. And many say this is “because of the internet.” But that lacks specificity. Actually what's happening is we're leveraging excess capacity, building platforms for participation that ...

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The Evolution Continues with Community

Ah…spring is finally in the air.  Well for most of the country that is.  For us here is in SoCal it means that we’ve gone from a sunny 75 degrees to a sunny 90 degrees. 

But the rebirth of spring brings with it a wonderful newness and a chance to look at things through new eyes. Such is the process that we are going through at the SoCal Digital Symposium. We have had several successful brick and mortar gatherings over the course of our short existence and what we have realized is an even greater thirst for knowledge that is not being served because our geography is still very much an issue.  When you couple that with the fact that this crazy world we live in today continues  ...

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Community In The Age of Isolation

A few days ago, I was watching a movie on my couch with a friend. It

was a movie that we both had wanted to watch for the longest time, and the movie actually lived up to my expectations. It was one of those movies that ended depressingly with the protagonist and practically everyone else dying in various ways. I remember sniffling for a good half an hour and my friend trying unsuccessfully to console me. ("At least they all died -- It's more consistent that way!") I knew that in this kind of situation, most friends would have given me a hug, and I do think that my friend would have done this for me... If my friend was in the same country as me.
 
Yes, you read that correctly. The friend who was watching the movie with me didn't live in the same state, country or for that matter, the same continent as me. We were screen sharing and watching a movie on Netflix. A decade ago, inventions such as screen sharing, video calling and Facebook, that define our networked world, simply did not exist. I still remember having to rewind a VHS tape to return it to my neighborhood Blockbuster.
 
Although we are more technologically connected we have never been more isolated as a society and it is because of this that I believe the need for community is more important than ever. I think nowadays in a world which seems...

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Happy New Year! 2015

Here we are and another year has come and gone.  And as I reflect, I am proud of all we have accomplished!

When the SoCal Digital Symposium (SDS) started as an idea back in 2013 I never would have imagined it would have the respect and following that it has today.  While we launched last year…first in the February at CSU Chanel Islands and then in November at Big Door Studios in El Segundo, the mission and vision has never been more clear.

The SoCal Digital Symposium (SDS) serves as an exciting gathering for Southern California’s diverse group of tech entrepreneurs, scholars, visionaries, business leaders, developers, and power brokers. Every session allows engaged professionals access to stimulating discussions with thought leaders in their respective fields to discuss emerging trends, share innovative ideas, and learn about new and relevant strategies, technologies, and techniques.

The goal of the SDS is to create a forum which allows for open source knowledge that hopefully will be the catalyst for the next wave of innovation in the region.  And as such we spot light leaders who work fervently at their craft whether in the...

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