Monthly Archives: August 2016

Matchmakers in the Gig Economy


Matchmakers and the Gig Economy

On my way to Rotterdam to see my daughter compete in the World Rowing Championships, (Go USA! Sorry I digress...) I finished the book, "Matchmakers, The New Economics of Multi-sided Platforms" by David Evans and Richard Smallensee. Although I wished they had spent a bit more time on talent marketplaces in the gig economy, they provided wonderful examples of successes and failures in the new world of two-sided digital platforms. One point in their conclusion I particularly appreciated was this:
 "2.    A lot of what the new market darlings do is old stuff. They just use technology to improve on things that other matchmakers have done for many years. "

How right they are!

In my research for "Thriving in the Gig Economy", I have met many talent platform entrepreneurs.  I think many of them have been surprised at how facile I am with the issues they face as they grow their business. I have been out of my firm for several years now, and my firm was. It a technology platform. But we were - and it is today - matchmakers. As such the challenges a digital platform may encounter when recruiting talent, finding consultants or establishing contract terms are not dissimilar from those I faced over the years.

They conclude with the fact that passed on the long history of matchmakers, dating back to the Greeks and the agora, the current crop of digital platform firms will not be the only ones to  disrupt economies.  In fact another quote I liked is this

"With all due respect to the brilliant entrepreneurs behind today’s unicorns and yesterday’s huge IPOs, the telegraph was a far more important multisided platform in terms of its impact on the global economy than anything the Internet has yet spawned."

They got that right too. On the whole, I solidly endorse this book. I welcome your thoughts on it and the gig economy.

Thriving in the Gig Economy Update

“Thriving in the Gig Economy” – Research Update

So the work continues on my upcoming new book, Thriving in the Gig Economy.  It has been an interesting adventure in the word of publishing; editors seem intrigued, but some editors say my subject is too narrow, while others say it is too broad.  I guess it just goes to show you can please some of the people some of the time…

What is interesting to me though is the reaction I get when I discuss my work thus far with just about anyone. In two words, the response is, “at last.”  The managing partner of one of the biggest professional services firms in town seemed relieved that someone would finally make sense of this world for her.  Some of my Alliance of CEOs cohort working deep in various on-line spaces were thrilled to hear about the digital talent marketplace for data scientists.  I , of course wondered, since they are the perfect target for the service, why was it I had to be the one to tell them…

Even some of the players aren’t always aware of new developments in the space.  I was happy to introduce a new platform for consultants to secure professional liability insurance to several firms who had no idea such a web site existed.  Similarly, one digital platform US sales manager was delighted to hear about an industry conference coming up in the fall.

I am not saying I know everything about the gig economy world.  Although I am fairly certain, no one has a total handle on it. In fact,  I welcome any insights you may have or suggestions of avenues to pursue as I continue my exploration of the wonderful world of the professional end of the gig economy.


Retire the Word Retirement



Retiring the Word Retirement

I listen to podcasts while I walk the dog and recently heard two different comments about retirement, not the concept but the word itself.  The podcast was the Ted Radio Hour show on Aging.  One commentator, Dan Buettner,  was describing his research into parts of the world where people live longer on average then the rest of the population. These pockets of longevity included Okinawa.  The researcher notes that in the Okinawan language there is no word for retirement as Americans think of it.  The closest they come is a term, eekeegai ( I apologize for my spelling…it is radio after all…)  that describes “the reason for which you wake up in the morning”. Retirement in that sense is the ultimate reason for being.

A later segment in that same show featured the wonderful Chilean American novelist,  Isabelle Allende. she says that in her native tongue the word for retirement is “jubilation” related to the american term of the same name.  Retirement, her argument went, is something joyous.  It is the time when one has paid his/her  debts to society and can therefore enjoy life; it is a time to be celebrated.

When you think of the English term, it does not quite convey the same import or celebration. Consider the Wikiword definition of retire.  The first entry is the one traditionally associated with work,  “to stop working on a regular basis.” The subsequent definitions are a bit more off putting. They include to withdraw,  to remove from circulation ( e.g. old bank note are retired) , to retreat ( e.g. to retire the regiment),  and to draw back or away — to be aloof. ( he retired to the library.) Then there is my personal favorite, to make a play in baseball which results in the batter being out. This may be the only one that conveys any joy, although the joy would be for  the defensive team only.

In the spirit of creative solutions, perhaps we need a better term to describe the period after “one stops working on a regular basis. ” The encore career notion is gaining traction in some areas, but many people are unfamiliar with it. We seem to be stuck with retirement. Maybe that is why so many (including myself) are flunking retirement.

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