Jeff Staebell - The Reluctant Gigger
Do you know what the Gig Economy is? Have you ever heard this phrase before? Is it any different than Freelance? I first heard this word earlier this year when I was telling a friend about my decision to become an independent consultant. As a Social Media Manager, she has her finger on the pulse of what’s going on in business. She told me that what I was doing is part of the Gig Economy. Uber and AirBnB are always the two most often mentioned due to their successful popularity but what is it really especially seeing that it’s grown to be an almost $800 Billion industry with no end in sight?
Many articles treat these two words, Gigging and Freelancing, as basically the same, but I have discovered that is not necessarily the case. A Fox Business article by Dr. Woody Woodward from 2012 uses the two in the same beginning sentence and then goes on to describes it as “essentially freelance or independent work. Independent contractors, often referred to as “1099” contractors, work for themselves and offer services to individual clients and corporations. Essentially, it’s about creating and marketing the business of “You” to both individuals and companies looking for contractors. As result of the recession and tight budgets, companies started moving towards a more contingent workforce to save on salary and benefits costs, thus creating opportunities for freelancing or “gigging”.
Although freelancing and gigging may have been originally considered as basically the same thing, this appears to be more of a corporate usage of these terms, yet in the interim a difference has arisen as this continues to evolve outside of corporate activities. That difference appears to involve the definition of the word “gig” which has traditionally been associated with musicians.
In a January 2016 NPR article written by Geoff Nunberg he states the word Gig “goes back more than a century as musicians’ slang for a date or engagement. Nobody’s sure where it originally came from, though there are lots of imaginative theories out there. But the word didn’t have any particular glamour until the 1950s, when the hipsters and the Beats adapted it to mean any job you took to keep body and soul together while your real life was elsewhere. The earliest example of that usage of the word that I’ve found is from a 1952 piece by Jack Kerouac, talking about his gig as a part-time brakeman for the Southern Pacific railroad in San Jose. For the hipsters, calling a job a gig was a way of saying it didn’t define you. A gig was a commitment you felt free to walk away from as soon as you had $50 in your pocket.”
Geoff goes on to say that gig Continue reading
Little did I realize when accepting a one year contract position in United Airline’s Cargo Division in 1999 that I’d become not just an Excel Power User but also an expert in automation, data tools, and most importantly a Metrics and Reporting Specialist. Here is my story of The Journey to Here.
From Vision Inspired Conversion to Hardware to Software
I can trace back the origins of The Journey to Here almost to the day if I took the time to look into it. It was an early Saturday evening in September of 1997. I was house sitting for a friend including taking care of his dog. The Bulls were going to play within the hour; in the back of my mind I knew Michael Jordan would almost always find a way to pull it off, the anticipated excitement was how was he going to do it this time? I had been jamming in my friend’s music studio and was powering it all down getting ready for the game. Then it hit me like a Bolt of Lightning; “Do you want to be teaching Nirvana when you’re 75 years old?” I was living my passion as a successful guitar, keyboards, and music theory teacher at a local music store and was supplementing that variable income with working at a friend’s restaurant. I had never ever considered that after teaching for upwards of ten years, what the next 35 years would be if I kept on this path. It was a Mind Blowing experience that set me on an eventual course of a Major Life Change. The following month found me in Hawaii for 10 days to attend my little sister’s wedding. I used the beauty and various adventures of that get away paradise to ponder this revelation yet had no idea what direction to go; if not teaching music, what new passion would take its place? It was a suggestion from my other sister that I go into computers as she thought I would be good at it that set me on a path that eventually led to discovering the exact local education program I needed to get started. This program would prepare me to become an Entry Level Novell Network Admin that also included acquiring A+ Certified Technician along with learning Windows 95 and Office 95 with a little Mavis Beacon thrown in for full corporate readiness. In the interim my sister also informed me that software was where it’s at, not hardware, in both employment and income opportunities; little did I realize just how prophetic that advice would be. It’s a good thing I paid attention as not only did Novell eventually lose its market share but also hardware has been outsourced over the years.
The Innocence of New Beginnings
The actual Journey to Here started on Monday April 12, 1999 when reporting for what I thought was a temporary role as a “foot in the door” opportunity in this major corporation where my new career in Entry Level Network Admin or other IT related role would eventually occur. Although the prior year’s training prepared me for this, little did I know I was about to embark on a long and continuing passion for Excel, VBA, Data Analysis, and Metrics and Reporting along with automation and documentation skills. Fast Forward 13 months and I’m turning down the efforts of my manager to find me a permanent internal IT role. For the past year I had done this “metrics thing” with Excel and even got to travel twice as a contractor and really liked it especially in contrast to an entry level IT role in a 24/7 company. Eventually I travelled around the world talking about metrics, seeing my metrics on display and learning the value that metrics play for a company in determining and resolving issues and rewarding successes. I used to joke that my name was literally known around the world, even if it was only in the United Airlines Cargo facilities.
Being Bullet Proof as a Precursor to Advanced Automation Skills
During a meeting with my manager at UA, he told me that the work I was doing had to be “Bullet Proof” because of the nature of the goals associated with it aka bonuses. That produced something of a “GULP!” from me Continue reading
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