Tag Archives: connection

What the Inauguration Tells Us

Jan. 20, 2017, Washington, D.C.: Donald Trump takes the oath as the president of the U.S. Something that was unthinkable even a year ago has actually happened.

A lot has been written about this event in political terms and in economic terms, but what does it mean to us as human beings and as professionals? What does it tell us about the world we all live in and work in?

It’s the perfect postcard moment, the perfect imagery that captures the paradigm shift that has been going on for some time at a human level and a societal level. It tells us unmistakably that the world works differently now and values things differently now.

Pithy Trumps Thorough. Our attention span is measured in seconds now. We rarely sit down for an hour or two at a stretch to read something and consider something deeply. We are drawn to pithy, memorable soundbites and no longer have the patience to go through a logical, comprehensive analysis of anything, even if that is of monumental importance. This is not just in politics; even the business world is awash with soundbites, fancy infographics and short-term tactics.

Connection Trumps Content. If we like a leader — if we feel a “connect” with the leader — we support the leader even if the leader’s ideas are not great or they don’t have many ideas. If we feel a job-seeker is like us — if we feel a connection — we hire him even if he doesn’t have the experience we said we wanted. If we like a brand, we buy its products and pay more for them even if they are not the best products.

See also: What Trump Means for Best Practices  

Confirmation Trumps Consideration. If someone says something that confirms our own preferences or ideas, we believe it. If someone says something that is contrary to our preferences or ideas, we shut the person out. We don’t wish to spend the time needed to consider, to think, to examine, to perhaps change our minds. Conversations have become echo chambers. Again, this is not just in politics. Just think back to the last time you witnessed a conversation between business managers and risk managers in your own organization.

Passion Trumps Perseverance. Our image of the last several generations is that of people persevering to achieve what they want. People starting out with very limited means but working their way up over the course of many years and decades. The current generations are more about passion. If we believe in something, we want everyone to know about it. We want everyone to know our passions and to experience our lives just as we are experiencing it.

Fast and Fleeting. Everything seems to happen faster. Stories build up in hours — globally. Leaders rise to the top in a few short months. New products and companies become dominant in a year or two. But things fade away faster, too. Stories become stale in days, and then no one cares any longer about the Syrian toddler or the burning cell phones or that game-changing corporate merger. Fifteen minutes of fame has become fifteen seconds of fame. Window of opportunity has become a small keyhole.

Digital Unites Us. And It Divides Us. It is no surprise that digital technologies are making the world a smaller place. In politics, pundits and ideas and even fake news seamlessly travel from one country to another. In business, we routinely work with people scattered across the globe. In our daily lives, we use products and services coming from everywhere. However, at a micro level, digital seem to be separating us, putting us in our own bubbles. If you go to a restaurant or observe a family sharing a meal, more often than not their faces are awash in the digital glow of their own devices. The impulse each of us feels to “like” a post or send a message at that very moment is so much stronger than the desire we have to look into each other’s eyes and have a real conversation. Just as technology has broken up and reorganized entire industries, it seems to be reorganizing the society — earlier, we belonged to a family or a tribe or a city or a nation, but now we belong to a global, digital, amorphous, even transitory group of people who share our interests.

What should we do?

As professionals and individuals and as mentors and parents, we need to put more emphasis on these traits and skills:

  • Be a marketer. Good work is important, but talking about it and selling it in a pithy, passionate, confident and catchy way is equally important.
  • Connect with people. Learn how to understand, relate to and connect to people. Find areas of agreement. Appeal to their heart.
  • Truly embrace change. Like it or not, change is happening and happening fast. Better to be on its side than to be complacent, comfortable or cocky.
  • Use the power of digital. It is much more than devices and apps. It can help you find allies across the globe and collaborate with them. It can fundamentally change how your business or home or community operates today.

See also: What Trump Means for Healthcare Reform  

But remember to check the devices at the door, when you are with people who are important to you. Just like Trump, your most loyal and trustworthy fans and advisers are likely those you live with or those you often meet face-to-face.

How On-Demand Economy Can Prosper

Even some of the most successful innovators in history would tell you, “Don’t quit your day job.” George Eastman worked full-time while tinkering in his mother’s kitchen on the inventions that let him found Eastman Kodak in the late 1880s. A century later, Steve Wozniak worked at Atari while developing the computer that he and Steve Jobs would turn into Apple. The fact is: No matter how great the idea, or how great a worker’s skill, it’s hard to mesh with an existing enterprise or any other group.

The reason is explained by Nobel laureate economist Ronald Coase in his influential 1937 essay, “The Nature of the Firm.” He theorized that people choose to organize themselves in companies and corporations rather than contracting their services out directly because of transaction costs. He cited: search and information costs; bargaining and decision costs; and policing and enforcement costs. “Within a firm, these market transactions are eliminated, and in place of the complicated market structure with exchange transactions is substituted the entrepreneur coordinator, who directs production,” he wrote.

Essentially, marketing, selling, pricing, negotiating and getting paid as a self-employed person isn’t all rainbows and unicorns – the work critical to running a business can be enormously complicated, time-consuming and costly.

Thanks to technology, much has changed since 1937. Mobile connections, broadband and ubiquitous data have reduced transactional search and information costs considerably. It is much easier, faster and economical for a small business to effectively compete with larger firms.

There has been a major shift in our buying behavior, too – consider how profoundly Amazon or iTunes has altered the way we discover, compare and purchase goods. Companies like Uber have used technology to reduce our search and information costs, as well as our bargaining and decision costs and policing and enforcement costs. If reducing one transactional cost shifts the economy, then reducing all three transforms it….

We are now officially unlocking the potential of the on-demand economy – one that will revolutionize the 21st century workplace and workforce. It’s so new, we haven’t decided on a name for it yet; it goes by various monikers like Uberization, the gig economy, the on-demand economy, the access economy and the peer-to-peer economy.

This on-demand economy offers the exchange of goods and services between individuals instead of from business to consumer. The people providing goods and services aren’t necessarily employed by the company connecting them with the customer, either. Many are independent contractors or freelancers.

Technology acts as the intermediary automating the handling of pricing and payments, vetting providers through a user-rating system and matching providers with consumers’ needs. This intermediary speedily brings together supply and demand via a platform that can be controlled by an app on any mobile device. The platform makes information available and accessible in the manner most efficient for the business, ensuring that transactions that are started are more likely to be concluded. The platform often obviates bargaining, directly polices its members, enables community-driven self-policing and enforces the terms of interaction. The costs of this coordination is added to each peer-to-peer transaction.

The new economic model is a highly efficient, productive and cost-effective marketplace. Platforms like Luxe, Lyft and Uber offer transportation services; Caviar, Doordash and Munchery deliver food from local restaurants; Instacart will shop for and deliver grocery orders; AirBnB, HomeAway and Onefinestay connect renters and homeowners offering available space with people seeking accommodations; Handy, Taskrabbit and Thumbtack will help a household find an available plumber, drywaller, cleaner or furniture assembler; and delivery services like Postmates and Shyp will pick up, pack up and send packages.

There appears to be no lack of supply or demand in this rapidly evolving phenomenon. Almost 53 million Americans currently serve as providers to on-demand platforms, at least part-time. Having goods and services on demand satisfies our need for “instant gratification” and allows consumers to find a broad array of competitively priced services 24/7 – they can get what they want, when they want with the touch of a few buttons.

The advantages for providers are many, too. No longer saddled with the time-consuming chores of the self-employed, like marketing and promoting services, negotiating transactions or chasing down payments, the on-demand economy provides freelancers with a turnkey, hassle-free method of accessing a large market of ready-and-willing customers whenever they want to work. It’s freelance freedom and flexibility with almost no barriers to entry.

You don’t need to be an economist to envision how the on-demand economy business model can benefit the marketplace as a whole: The Ma & Pa local restaurant that can easily deliver through a fleet without incurring staffing costs can substantially expand its market and service underserved markets. People can now use their cars to transport passengers and generate income rather than leave vehicles parked in driveways, resulting in a very good use of underutilized resources;. And, when a student can help an eBay seller package and deliver parcels on the fly, a job and professional support network are created that had not previously existed.

The new economy is here. It’s poised to democratize the marketplace and its workforce by maximizing underused assets, creating jobs, expanding markets and meeting the needs of underserved markets, all while creating a faster, easier way for us to get what we want, when we want it.

But this new business model comes with new world challenges as the distinction between personal and commercial activities becomes blurry. To thrive, policymakers, regulators, insurers and the companies enabling the new economy will have to work together to design a platform that protects consumers when they are operating as businesses.