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The Gig Economy Preparation Guide

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The Gig Economy Fallout

Source: JP Morgan Chase & Company | Institute February 2016
Paychecks, Paydays, and the Online Platform Economy; Big Data on Income Volatility

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.

SOURCE: McKinsey Global Institute (October 2016)
INDEPENDENT WORK: CHOICE, NECESSITY, AND THE GIG ECONOMY

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 you end up “on the bench” seeking out that next contract or at any time it can suddenly end leaving you hanging yet again.  There’s also the alternative of keeping to that “Permanent Job” mentality and taking new roles with pay cuts that are sometimes severe and lowering their lifestyles accordingly without ever realizing there are more alternative sources of part time income generation than previously available thanks to the continuing development of the Gig Economy; if you don’t’ think outside of this shrinking box it will stifle you.   The other side of this is you still have your “permanent job” but now need to replace degrading income generation from things like corporate re-organizations that result in wage reductions or lack of yearly merit raises where little by little your money spends less as the cost of living continues to rise with much of it due to this whole “race to the bottom” phenomenon in some form.

The Job Creation of Corporate America then evolves to supplying Giggers for this new economy yet it doesn’t stop with staffing and wage reductions.  UK Economist and Nobel Laureate Ronald Coase published a small but highly influential article in 1937 titled “The Nature of the Firm” where he “stepped back and asked a fundamental question about why firms exist. The answer was that it is cheaper to perform many functions within a company rather than going to the market every time something needs to be done.  Companies want to avoid finding an outside provider for every function then processing a multitude of contracts and transactions—all processes that were difficult in Coase’s age of limited and slow communication. Keeping functions in-house avoided what he termed “transaction costs.”  But the Internet is bringing those costs down dramatically. Search algorithms make it possible for companies to find the talent or service they need instantly, while technology enables seamless payment and coordination of the details of each transaction. Digital technologies challenge traditional business models by considerably reducing costs associated with search, coordination, and monitoring. Search algorithms make it possible for companies to find the talent or service they need instantly, reducing search costs, while automated systems enable seamless payment and coordination of the details of each transaction. Rating systems and user reviews send rich information signals to establish trust between unknown parties.” (Source: The McKensey Report)

I keep reading about how executives are finding ways to more often incorporate contingent workers (contractors) into their corporate work structure all in an effort to rein in costs aka increased profits while maintaining that aspect of “in house” transactions as identified by Coase.  Of course there is always the “on call” contingent worker aka the freelancer who may establish a relationship with a company yet never truly be “in house” as they are more of an “On Demand” labor that’s only called upon when needed.

From what I’ve said so far over the course of this subject matter it would appear that Corporate America is at the very least obtusely supplying Giggers for the Gig Economy yet according to the statistics in the aforementioned McKinsey Report, their global survey isn’t showing that or at least not yet.  Per this survey of over 6 countries; “10 to 15 percent of the working-age population relies on independent work for their primary income” which is contrasted by “another 10 to 15 percent of the working-age population engages in independent work for supplemental income”.  This equates to 20% to 30% of the working age population deriving some aspect of their income from independent work.  Extrapolating that to population, this “adds up to an independent workforce of up to 162 million people in the United States and Europe combined”.

SOURCE: McKinsey Global Institute (October 2016)
INDEPENDENT WORK: CHOICE, NECESSITY, AND THE GIG ECONOMY

Of the 4 previously mentioned types of independent workers, Free Agents, Casual Workers, Reluctants, and Income Strapped, 40% of the independent workers surveyed are Casual Workers.  30% are Free Agents equating to 70% have chosen to be independent workers in contrast to 30% doing it out of necessity (14% Reluctants; 16% Income Strapped) yet that 30% extrapolates to 49 million people in the Gig Economy not by conscious choice.  The full report is almost 150 pages and I’ve not yet read the entire thing but so far I’m not seeing many references to what is driving the current and most importantly future growth.  Whenever the American job reports come out they are primarily focused on the Full Time employment versus those collecting unemployment with the caveat of those that have left these statistics.  I always wondered what happened to them as most would still need to have some kind of income generation in order to survive at the meekest level.  Once I began this research I realized that other than those referenced working Part Time, they are either homeless living on the streets, living with friends or relatives while working it out or have ventured into some form of independent work.  This would not include those who are working Full Time but at a lower wage.  Much of corporate contract work is W2 working a 40 hour week and may not be included in those stats.  This obfuscates the impact of the race to the bottom.  The McKinsey Report does give this statistic; “In addition to drawing people out of traditional jobs, independent work may reengage some portion of the inactive and unemployed population. Government data reveal 232 million adults in the United States and the EU-15 are inactive, unemployed, or work less than full time—and at least 100 million of them would like to start working or increase their hours (20 million in the United States, and 84 million in the EU-15).

When you look around your life, what is the percentage of people you know that are W2’s versus 1099’s?  The result nowadays is the largest majority is the former as far as the main form of income generation is concerned as supported by the previous stats.  Yet every day of every week of each of the oncoming years this will be slowly changing like a canvas being painted using Pointillism where each day is another dot juxtaposed to the next until little by little the real picture begins to form.  When the race to the bottom is the source of each of these points fueled by the incessant corporate addiction to infinite profits with the old adage of the rich get richer, which one of those four types will end up dominating that picture which is now a contrast of voluntary versus involuntary?  Have you thought about this?  Many around me have not.  I can tell by the way they talk about their jobs and the future.  I can tell by the way they react when the word “Gig Economy” comes into the conversation as most react just like recent surveys, that if they’ve heard of it, then to them it’s just a “buzz word” having no clue what it is other than recent Uber Et Al’s news which has no immediate impact on most of their lives.  Yet from what I’ve experienced over the past year is that this is an oncoming and unstoppable storm the arrival of which I will be monitoring and reporting on as The Reluctant Gigger Weather Report.  It will arrive in an eventual greater magnitude than many nowadays could ever imagine and for those unprepared it will leave a wake of devastation not unlike recent hurricane activities in Texas and Florida.  It may sound dramatic and even over the top as you look around because today the weather is clear, the sun is shining and all is well while many have a regularly scheduled deposit in their bank account yet ask yourself what would happen if the quest for infinite profits in conjunction with the race to the bottom continues unabated for the next 10-20 years?  Just how far down can the price of goods be driven down in contrast to depleting wages and/or opportunities to drive income generation?  Seth said in the aforementioned television appearance, “Here’s the thing.  The recession is a forever recession. There’s a cyclical recession that comes and goes but there’s this other thing and it’s the end of the Industrial Age.  It lasted 80 years…and it ended. And so 2012 is not going to be more of the same, it’s going to be worse than the same in that the Industrial Age is going away and a new thing is going to take its place.”  This begs the question of if the quest for infinite profits will bring such a perpetual race to the bottom, will it result in a permanently depressed economy where “permanent jobs” are still around but few and far between and thus going full circle to the days prior to the Industrial Revolution where almost everyone was a contingent worker of some form and those with the lowest level of talent will scrape by for a living and those with the higher levels of talent will get by but the days of easy living will be a thing of the past?  How will this impact the Goods and Services so many enjoy today not to mention those that supply them?  This begs the larger question of if humanity will do what’s best for itself which then has to remove that “psychopathic” element of profiteering driving prices in that race to the bottom in order for all to win; will Prosperity be for a select few or for the good of all?  Who gets to make these decisions and will your voice be included?  Until then, there will be those who continue to plod along with their heads down doing their version of the Daily Grind adhering to the old adage of a “Real Job” with permanence and steady paycheck as they continue to pretend that nothing is changing continuing to live their lives as The Pretender.

(cue song with lyrics)

The Pretender by Jackson Browne
I’m going to rent myself a house
In the shade of the freeway
Gonna pack my lunch in the morning
And go to work each day
And when the evening rolls around
I’ll go on home and lay my body down
And when the morning light comes streaming in
I’ll get up and do it again
Amen
Say it again
Amen
Caught between the longing for love
And the struggle for the legal tender
Where the sirens sing and the church bells ring
And the junk man pounds his fender.
Where the veterans dream of the fight
Fast asleep at the traffic light
And the children solemnly wait
For the ice cream vendor
Out into the cool of the evening
Strolls the Pretender
He knows that all his hopes and dreams
Begin and end there
I’m gonna be a happy idiot
And struggle for the legal tender
Where the ads take aim and lay their claim
To the heart and the soul of the spender
And believe in whatever may lie
In those things that money can buy
Thought true love could have been a contender
Are you there?
Say a prayer for the Pretender
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender

 

 

The Cold Sweeping Hand

Real world example of The Cold Sweeping Hand of the Corporate

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