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The Gig Economy Preparation Guide

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As a result of my extensive experience as a Metrics and Reporting Specialist I’ve come to understand or at least seriously question something about CEO’s.  I would discuss this confusion with friends and perhaps associates yet I had never given it a name.   I’m now calling it “The CEO Conundrum”.  This may come as a surprise or even be shocking once I get into it and perhaps even irritate those in executive positions yet once I explain how it is I eventually came to this awareness it will be clear that I’m correct in what I’m saying at least from what I’ve experienced.  Much of this comes from the fact that the higher you go up the corporate ladder the more accountable you are to multitude of various functions of the company with each level having some element of Direct Reports taking care of details at that level which the leader of that level cannot personally keep in touch with and therefore depends on those various direct reports to attend to those details.

How This Conundrum Unfolded

United Airlines Cargo was my first corporate job to support a monthly book for cargo service performance which eventually evolved into me creating the first weekly report in an effort to get the reporting closer to when the actual performance had occurred.  Monthly and quarterly reports ensued.  I was eventually tasked to build a reduced version of these metrics as guided by my manager. Other metrics from the division were added such as some financials.  This was to be included in a distribution package that was used for meetings with the C-Suite.  As I became more involved with reporting on the various levels of the division and then to the company at large, the higher up they went, the simpler they got.  None of the upper level metrics included a lot of data.  They had to be more simply expressed as meeting or not meeting a target and nothing else.  This is where I came up with the phrase “Look and Go” in relation to these upper management metrics realizing if the person had to spend time analyzing what it said it was either ignored or rejected flat out.  My first exposure to “metrics manipulation” happened here.  The director of cargo would at times come to me with “recalculations” of the goals that were also used in the C-Suite report in order to assist them in meeting their goals so as to not be called out (aka embarrassed) for any lackluster performance in these round table meetings of all of the divisions of the company.   Although the data reported was always very accurate, these “recalculations” were at times very creative as it was an attempt to avoid the embarrassment with peers.  One in particular was where he asked me to remove the goal lines in the C-Suite version.  I had to submit them to someone who aggregated them all into a single package.  An hour later I received a call saying that the Senior VP who reported to the CEO noticed they were gone and requested them to be immediately reinstated.  The director happened to pass by just as I got off of the phone and when I informed him of it his response rhymed with yuck.

My next Metrics and Reporting role was at Allstate Insurance in their application development division with the initial task of rebuilding a massive quarterly division report containing a lot of different metrics from financial to people to various ITIL based metrics.  Upon completion the next task was to develop weekly and monthly reporting for the department.  As I worked with the various departmental stakeholders I again noticed that these contained not just more metrics but also more detail than the executive quarterly report.  I also worked on a variety of other reporting that depending on the audience would depend on the detail of the results.

The reports I created at my next role at Caremark were very similar to the Allstate metrics.  I designed and created metrics that reported the same pattern of detail at the department level, less at the Director level and even more consolidated for the Vice President. Continue reading

What does Amazon and Whole Foods have to do with the Gig Economy?  Funny you should ask.  No really!  When I mentioned this to a friend as the subject of my return to a long absence from blogging on the Gig Economy, this is the exact question she asked!!  Things had finally settled down enough to where I started going over my notes where I left off and which idea I would work on when I noticed the news of this merger between Amazon and Whole Foods had been completed.   The news was all a buzz with loads of clickbait Grocery Store Gloom and Doom due to some serious price drops at Whole Foods.  I was already familiar with Amazon’s role in the Gig Economy from doing research on Amazon Flex and Mechanical Turk.  Amazon Pantry, Fresh and Go have already been implemented as part of their move into “Grocery Profits”.  Although it’s too early to tell, this Whole Foods acquisition could easily be referred to as being part of “The Grocery Plan” as it all has the essence of something big beginning to take shape.

From my extensive experience as a Metrics & Reporting Analyst I had discovered that a thing has a meaning unto itself and when you compare it to another thing that has its own meaning unto itself, the two then take on additional and expanded meanings when being compared due to the interaction between them.  This is what happened when Whole Foods was added to this current Amazon comparison.  Some of this involves some extrapolation and projection yet I believe I see a long term plan unfolding which Mr. Bezos is known for and quite good at.  The previous posts outlined at a very high level the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Corporate America and how that is and will impact the Gig Economy.  I will use this as the basic background for this subject as both of them have been involved with that to some degree.  To review, I used the following topics to discuss these corporate elements; The Entrepreneur Spirit, Infinite Growth = Infinite Profits, Job Creation, The Cold Sweeping Hand, Infinite Profits > Life, and The Race to the Bottom.  I will reference these categories or a variation thereof so you can see how they apply to these individual companies including this merger.  Hopefully you will begin to see it in other corporations as these essential elements are quite prevalent if you take the time to look for them.  There’s so much information out there on Amazon that I had a real hard time deciding what to include yet in order to tell something of a complete story I’ll be dividing it into three parts the first of which explores his history that will indicate from childhood to elementary school to high school to college and his ensuing corporate career that his entrepreneur elements have been part and parcel of his life’s journey

Amazon: From Book Seller to The Everything Store (Part 1)

The Rise of the Entrepreneur

Jacklyn Gise and Ted Jorgenson, a onetime circus performer in a unicycle troupe, gave birth to Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen on January 12, 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Jacklyn had just turned 17 when she gave birth to Jeff and her marriage to Ted lasted slightly over a year.  Several years later she met Miguel “Mike” Bezos, a Cuban immigrant, while working as a bookkeeper at a local bank.  They quickly fell in love and were married in 1968.  Mike adopted Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen changing his last name to Bezos.  Although Jeff was 4 years old at this time he had already previously demonstrated his budding genius.  At 3 years old he no longer wanted to sleep in a crib but his mother resisted.  “One day, Jackie found her little boy playing with a screwdriver.  Jeff was working on the crib, trying to take it apart himself to turn it into a bed.  Others noticed his persistence.  Teachers at Montessori preschool noted that once Jeff was involved in a project, his concentration became so intense that they would have to life him up, chair and all, to move on to the next activity.” (Google Books)  This is an early indication of knowing what he wanted and doing whatever it took to get it with a genius mentality to support it.

His father went to school to become an engineer and supported his son’s love of science.  Mike eventually landed a job as an engineer at Exxon that moved Jeff and his new brother and sister, Mark and Christina, to Houston, Texas.  Here he was able to expand that love of science by spending many summers of his youth with his grandfather, Lawrence Preston Gise who not only retired to a family ranch but had his own science background at DARPA working on technology and missile defense systems and then as a manager at the Atomic Energy Commission “where he supervised 26,000 employees in the AEC’s western region, including the Sandia, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Livermore laboratories.” (Wired) He was an intelligent hardworking man who “who was able to show his grandson the high-tech world and life on the ranch at the same time.” (Google Books) Jeff is known to be a hardworking man and I’m sure he got this foundation from those many bonding summers with his grandfather where they built an automatic gate opener, fixed the Caterpillar tractor whenever it needed repair, how to weld, how to castrate and brand cattle, fixing windmills, repairing pumps, and laying pipes.  On the technology side, “[h]is grandfather sparked and indulged Jeff’s fascination with educational games and toys, assisting him with the Heathkits and the other paraphernalia he constantly hauled home to the family garage… Jackie Bezos’s challenge as a parent was to stay a step ahead of, or at least next to, her prodigy. “I think single-handedly we kept many Radio Shacks in business,” she jokes.” (Wired) There were times with these kits that he didn’t need to follow their instructions. Continue reading

The Gig Economy Fallout

When I first started researching this “gig economy” thing I was constantly coming across articles about the flexibility and freedom it offered making much of it seem so sunshine and rosy primarily due to the constant referencing of what I’ve come to call the Uber Et Al’s which is primarily the On Demand Economy which can be more succinctly classified using a JP Morgan Chase study called “Paychecks, Paydays, and the Online Platform Economy” (February 2016) where it distinguishes these various On Demand Gig Economy elements into the Labor Platforms and the Capital Platforms.  This Platform Economy doesn’t include traditional freelancers so it’s still not a complete picture of the entirety of the Gig Economy.  The majority of these articles I originally read made this whole thing sound wonderful but from my discerning eye I was sniffing marketing or at the very least a lack of understanding depending on the intention of the writer.  The more I looked into it the more I discovered that they are not as wonderful as they appear especially in the level of income they generate if you are accustomed to making more than the average $15/hr many of the Uber Et Al’s yield.  This is primarily because getting started in the larger income arenas of the Gig Economy such as freelancing takes time to build what Seth calls “Trusted Connections”; these don’t happen overnight so are you prepared for the interim?  Do you have an Unemployment Contingency Plan?  The Big Picture aka serious income generation is more in alignment with conclusions from the excellent report by the McKinsey Global Institute called “Independent Work: Choice, Necessity, and the Gig Economy” (October 2016) where it delineates the type of people involved with the Gig Economy into four categories; Free Agents, Casual Earners, Reluctants, and Financially Strapped.  It is from this that I now refer to myself as “The Reluctant Gigger”.  This does include freelancers which appear to be where the better income generation is overall.  This is expected where labor won’t generate as much income as specifically honed skills especially when they come with some tenure.  Seth’s wisdom addresses this where he discusses the difference between the Average Freelancer and the Quality Freelancer where the averages ones are more often engaged in some element of the race to the bottom in contrast to the quality ones which are in the race for the top.

The point is that not everyone entering into this arena are doing it only because they are seeking the glories of the “freedom and the flexibility” regardless of percentage of total income.  Many people, myself included, dream of being independently employed, answering only to ourselves, working the hours we establish instead of those often excessive corporate workweeks of way beyond the “traditional” 40 hours without all of the corporate politics etcetera yet it’s that “Real Job” or “Permanent Employment” resulting in that “Steady and Dependable Paycheck” that we’ve been conditioned to adhere to as a form of being a “responsible adult” that keeps us going instead of voluntarily pursuing it.  We admire those who have it at a distance yet cower in fear of the reality of having to always “hunt down” that next bank deposit, all of which is also mirrored in the wisdom of Mr. Godin.

Some are seeking it because they have no choice such as long term positions being eliminated resulting in immense re-employment difficulties in conjunction with depleted cash reserves essentially “shoving” them into the Gig Economy whether or not they’ve heard of it and whether or not they like it as a desperate attempt to maintain some element of their current lifestyle.  Or finding work that pays the same but now you’re a contractor which then can mean when that gig is up Continue reading

The Cold Sweeping Hand

My first exposure to the devastating affect that infinite profitability has on those that supply the labor for those profits aka the employees came during the three year financial restructuring at United Airlines which was my first corporate job.  There were pay cuts and employee benefit reductions that also resulted in paying more for your insurance.  The combination of the cuts resulted in an average of a 15% reduction in Net Pay.  Eventually the pension system was dissolved and replaced with the now standard 401K; which if you knew the history of it would realize what a joke it is as it was never designed for the purpose that its used for today.  Then there were reductions in the number of people to perform certain roles which then forced them all to re-interview for the same job they may have done for years.  I saw people with 10, 20, and 30 years of service to the company basically being told “Thank you for your service” which was absolutely devastating to these people who believed they had a “Permanent Job”.  These very same people had many times over the length of their careers taken one for “Team United Airlines” that had some level of financial impact on them all under the guise of permanence.  Some were forced into early retirement.  Others were simply pushed out as Corporate Politics played out using the phrase “moved on to other opportunities in the company”.  I heard a lot of inside information during this time which was jaw dropping for me being such a novice in the ways of Corporate Life.  Other than the politics, it was all primarily based on cold, hard calculations because plain and simply The Corporate will survive, even if it’s at the devastation of many of their devoted employees.  As a result of these observations I came up with this phrase, “The Cold Sweeping Hand of The Corporate” as I watched it sweep across divisions throughout the company with some never knowing it was coming much less what hit them when it happened.  When you’ve worked at a company for so long, starting over can have a devastating impact on your personal financials regardless of the severance pay that was given.  This was the worst I witnessed because it was the only company I’ve worked for that went through this deep of a financial restructuring.  Yet other restructurings had many similarities so I’ve been through this a number of times in various guises.

Infinite Profits > Life

Depending on to what degree you may have researched what I refer to as “Corporate Shenanigans”, what I’m about to say may come as a surprise if not shocking.  I’m an Info Junkie and Truth Seeker in conjunction with having a fascination about everything so I’m always seeking truth and understanding in its various guises.  It’s not that all corporations are involved with this but unfortunately more that you may realize because the face they put on to the public can sometimes be more marketing than reality.  This all derives from the previous section discussing the drive for infinite profits and how they can actually get to the level of what I refer to as “psychopathic”.  I first came across this perspective when stumbling upon a documentary many years ago called “The Yes Men”.  It was about these two guys who punk various elements of Corporate America exposing many of its ludicrous behaviors.  It wasn’t these actions that took me by surprise but an element in the opening sequence that was demonstrating why they did these things.  Someone is filming a middle aged man sitting on a chair in a suit whose tie had been slightly loosened.  It had the air of being some kind of seminar.  You hear the man behind the camera say something to the effect of Continue reading

This post marks the return from a very long and unexpected hiatus from regularly posting my blogs. At first it was only supposed to be a small one of a couple months while I put all of my focus on creating a course on Udemy called The Gig Economy Preparation Guide which is essentially a “One Stop Gig Economy Information Central”. It’s primarily an analysis driven course of 4 hours yet I consider it to be a “Living Course” that will constantly be updated and expanded as I continue to explore this phenomenon. That being said, I already have plans for updates and a major new lesson on the AI impact. Shortly after the course was launched essentially my life informed me that it had other plans all of which were related to dealing with becoming The Reluctant Gigger which I will go into in future posts. I’m now permanently back with lots to say so let’s get on with it…

It’s not too much of a stretch for anyone who takes even a few moments to ponder the relationship between Corporate America and the Gig Economy that they are interdependent.  The purpose of this post is to bring forth elements of companies that feed into this expansion of the Contingent Worker and to some degree have caused the expansion of what has now come to be known as the Gig Economy including its many various nomenclatures.  It also shouldn’t be too much of a revelation that much of this revolves around its financial aspects.  Before I embark upon this little adventure I want to emphatically state that I am not in any way an economist or financial analyst.  Everything I will be discussing comes from over 18 years of experience as a Metrics & Reporting Analyst coupled with my innate analytical ability to take in large amounts of information, see their eventual patterns, and from that construct well thought out conclusions.

Over the course of my career, some of my reporting has gone from the “worker bee” to the C-Suite and all points in between.  Because of that level of visibility, some people in management would befriend me to get an “inside track” of their information.  From that relationship they sometimes would relate some of the “inner workings” of the company.  For example, one company was involved with a proposed merger that would give them a better predominance in a region they didn’t have.  The news was all a buzz about how this would be used to dominate that market driving prices higher.  Their response was that this was not the case and just business expansion.  Yet after the merger didn’t go through, I was secretly told that dominating the market and driving up prices was exactly their intention contrary to what was said in public.  A combination of these “Whispers at the Watercooler” in conjunction with various news items over the years has resulted in this perspective.

This will not be a one sided account on the “Evils of The Corporate” as I will be covering elements of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  I will be using these as a foundation when exploring the recent merger of Amazon and Whole Foods where you’ll see they have participated in these elements to some degree.

The Entrepreneur Spirit

Many companies start out with what can be called the Entrepreneur Spirit.  One or more people have a vision that fulfills a need or even can see a need before anyone knows it and then embarks on the creation of this vision.  There are many examples of humble beginnings in a living room, garage, basement, or small store with little or no startup cash, long hours and loads of diligence.  This can also easily start out as freelancing.  Seth Godin says, “Freelancing is the single easiest way to start a new business.”  It is the Business Model that determines if the initial business is entrepreneurial or just an independent business.  The determining element of this Business Model is the concept of scalability.  The vision must be able to expand beyond the initial efforts of those that initiated their vision to the point that they eventually oversee it such as becoming the CEO.  This then brings in the element of “money while you sleep”.  Referencing Seth again, “Entrepreneurs make money when they sleep. Entrepreneurs focus on growth and on scaling the systems that they build. The more, the better.”  This then can go in one of two directions.  The Entrepreneur(s) either sell the business and move on or continue to have a hand in its ongoing development as it continues scaling.  Eventually outside money becomes involved in order to reach the higher altitudes of scalability.  “Entrepreneurs use money (preferably someone else’s money) to build a business bigger than themselves.” – Seth Godin.  Throughout several videos and articles Seth gives multiple examples of how businesses can appear to be entrepreneurial but are not because of this fundamental concept of scalability.  One reference to this is “infinite growth” which is an important reference to the next foundational element, Profits.  Without this, there is no business no matter how big, small, or scalable. Continue reading

It is actually somewhat stupefying the wide variety of ways the definitions used to describe the Gig Economy are used.  As I continue to investigate this I keep coming across the same words but not always used in the same way.  There are some basic things that are the same such as being an independent contractor and perhaps a Freelancer yet beyond that it’s almost the author’s personal preferences of how to use them especially the term “gigging”.  Some gigging articles don’t even mention freelancing and only focus on the On Demand app aspect of this.  If you’re like me finding yourself at the short end of a very long stick requiring you to re-invent yourself to some degree, this can be very confusing leaving you to figure it out for yourself even if it means using these terms for your own personal use.  It appears that pre-Uber et al, gigging and freelancing were easily interchangeable especially in consideration of the origins of gigging.  Freelancers would have a continuous flow of work or gigs some of which are one offs while others would be repeat business of some degree.  When Uber et al entered the picture then this concept began to morph into something else which is when “On Demand” entered the Gigging Vernacular differentiating itself primarily via being app based, a “Tap and Go” sort of activity which is not part of freelancing because it is more connections based mostly through Social Media and referrals.

What’s in a name?  Well if used to describe something you do, then your identity is involved such as Continue reading

My research into what this “Gig Economy Thing” is all about continues to uncover more and more interesting aspects that I’m not sure are truly being addressed by any one person or organization resulting in a myriad of opinions some of which appear thought out and others not so much.  Some of this is due to it not just being relatively new but also as a result of these activities, there appears to be a new employment designation arising as a result of these confusions as this continues to iron itself out which I will explore in a future post.  The first question was the most obvious; “What’s the difference between Gigging and Freelancing?”  I discovered that although they are frequently used interchangeably, digging deeper demonstrated that is not the case especially due to the persistent growth of the On Demand App aspect which doesn’t necessarily require a specific skill set whereas Freelancing does.  You can review that here.  The one thing that differentiates a traditional employee from those in the Gig Economy is their tax status of 1099 from which I discovered that this is not a simple tax designation as evidenced by the number of various tax codes.  This then brought up the fact that technically those that are considered “entrepreneurs” are also under the 1099 designation so how does that play into the Gig Economy thus explored?

Interestingly and amusing that poor ol’ Freelancing is stuck in the midst of this contrast again, yet when being compared to entrepreneur there appears to be better definitions which at the onset would make one think that it’s better defined but not so much as it appears that many are stuck on the allure of the word “entrepreneur” with some of them either refusing to accept it or at the least not happy about it.  The illusion comes from the misconception that anyone who is in business for themselves is an entrepreneur and even further compounded by attempting to understand if one is better than the other or that there’s a wide gap between the two or putting the two together as if they were the same thing but never delineating it.  Frustrating when all you want are answers on what they are and how they are different so as to know how it all applies to this Gig Economy.

The dictionary definitions that many articles use further compounds this confusion because although they all have similar initial definitions, it’s when you look at the second definition that it becomes apparent how this definition is being confounded due to “cherry picking” the one you like the best.  I’ll use the version from dictionary.com for my example:

  1. a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.
  2. an employer of productive labor; contractor.

Its origin comes from the French word entrepredre which means to undertake (1875-80; < French: literally, one who undertakes (some task)).  There’s also an indication of its use in connection with theatrical production; 1828, “manager or promoter of a theatrical production,” reborrowing of French entrepreneur “one who undertakes or manages,” agent noun from Old French entreprendre “undertake”. The word first crossed the Channel late 15c. but did not stay. Meaning “business manager” is from 1852”.  In contrast to this is the Oxford online dictionary’s definition; “A person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit”.  This definition only references “business” with no reference to enterprise, both mentions risk, yet the latter “hopes” for profit.  Using the French derivative of “one who undertakes or manages” you can understand how some would think that if they are in business for themselves in any capacity they are “undertaking or managing” a business yet its use has continued to expand over time.

That’s enough of these “Blathering Vernaculars of Confusion” as the more you look, the cloudier one’s understanding becomes.  A post on Seth Godin’s SAMBA Blog titled “Freelancers vs Entrepreneurs” Continue reading

My research into the Gig Economy phenomenon has resulted in several confusions of terminologies.  To some degree that should be expected because it is still in something of a “growth phase” resulting in many personal interpretations.  Alternate terminologies such as the On Demand Economy and the 1099 Economy appear to assist in coming to at least a general understanding of what it is because their words at least are better indicators than the generic word “gig” which can be applied to just about anything short term or impermanent.  Yet even those have their interpretations the more you look into it.

For example, the 1099 Economy is based on the 1099 tax denomination and does help to understand what’s going on because Independent Contractors use this when doing their yearly taxes.  The generic concept is that it differentiates between the Independent Contractor who is responsible for all of their taxes and must file tax estimates quarterly in contrast to the W2 worker which is the traditional “Nine to Fivers” whose employers take care of the majority of the taxes prior to distributing paychecks and are required to file yearly.  The thing is that 1099 isn’t as simple as it sounds once you look into it because your yearly taxes can include both a W2 and a 1099.  So just exactly what is 1099?

An article by Bill Fay on Debt.org (published date not given) states, “1099 forms are federal income tax information forms from businesses and other institutions to document certain financial transactions conducted during a tax year”.  “Tax information forms” is the most often used definition when researching these.  Yet here’s how W2 and 1099 can be on the same tax submission; “Specifically, the 1099 series reports all earnings and proceeds other than wages, salaries and tips, which are reported on the federal W-2 form. There are more than 20 different versions and variants of the 1099 form, but the most common is the 1099-MISC”.

For example, many years ago I taught guitar, keyboards, and Music Theory at a local music store along with a full time job.  The owner just wrote a check each week for the services rendered so I had to use a 1099-MISC to report that income in conjunction with the W2 from my full time job.  In order to get the biggest bang for those bucks I used a Tax Accountant who knew the Ins and Outs of write-offs.  I never filed quarterly and just took the penalty because the yearly total wasn’t significant enough and the penalty was “buried” in my refund being slightly lower.

I have also received other 1099’s that I had to claim on my taxes such as Continue reading

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

The Teacher playing at a Christmas Student Recital

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

United Airlines Employee Photo circa 2000

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