Tag Archives: Board

Talent Platforms for the upper end of the Gig Economy

Small Business Trends today had an article entitled  "20 Platforms for Workers in the Gig Economy".https://smallbiztrends.com/2017/02/gig-websites.html It was a good list, but one that was heavily skewed toward driving, leading off with Uber, Lyft and Turo.  The author also include some sites which are not gig economy sites at all, like Air BnB and Etsy.  In my upcoming book, Thriving in the Gig Economy, I differentiate between the sharing and gig economies.  The former involves  a physical asset, like renting your home.  The latter involves work of an uncertain duration performed in any field.  Moreover,  what many people do not appreciate about the Gig Economy,  is that it encompasses a wide variety of fields, not just driving, errands or delivery services.

Thriving in the Gig EconomyAs part of  the research for my book, I learned about a lot of platforms.  Some, like Tongal, https://tongal.com/who hold the Tongie Awards every year to celebrate the creative talents on their platform, I first discovered in a great book, Lead the Work. ( You can see this year's nominees on their website now. )  In many cases I met with the founders or leadership teams  of over a dozen talent platforms to  better understand the business model. These included  Experfy,  a talent platform for data scientists,  https://www.experfy.com and UpCounsel  a platform for certain types of legal expertise. https://www.upcounsel.com .  I mention these two in particular, because these were sites for which, I as a gig worker myself, would not be qualified.   However, if there was a remote chance that I was qualified, I not only tried to interview the founder, I also joined the platform.  I wanted to get a sense of the "user experience". All told, I am a participant in over a dozen high-end talent platforms right now.

It continues to be an interesting education. No site turned me down, which surprised me.  If you check out my LinkedIn page,https://www.linkedin.com/in/marionmcgovern/ I do not represent myself as a consultant, but that didn't seem to matter.  In the sites touting "experts",  I wasn't sure what qualified me, though I do know quite a bit now about the Gig Economy. Some sites, used only my LinkedIn info and asked for little else, while others tried to be far more expansive in their vetting. A few put me through additional screens; one had a requirement that I complete a confidentiality course, while another required a human on-boarding session to review the inner workings of the technology.

Two site  ignored me once I signed up, oblivious to my  lack of engagement with their platforms. Most sent some sort of newsletter, although in one case it was more of a holiday missive; I am not sure I will hear from them until Christmas Carols start again.  Several send regular project listings, and a few, a very few, send targeted projects that might appear to be meant for me - might being the operative word.

The matching process  for the high-end talent platforms is not a passive one; it requires effort on the part of the worker to make it effective.  Since virtually every site draws at least in part from a Linked In Profile, the potential matches may result from your background as represented there.  As Chair of a humanitarian NGO, ReSurge International, I lead my LinkedIn profile with that role.  Most of the platforms don't do to well differentiating governance expertise and Board roles.  Consequently, I received a projects involving setting up clean water facilities in Uganda, which is not a skill set I can offer.  But now that the book is largely complete, I can turn a bit more energy to evaluating these platforms as a discriminating user. Perhaps I could start my own Yelp category...

A New Gig given the #ImmigrantBan

I had plans to write a totally different post today about the Gig Economy related to some work I had done for my new book, Thriving in the Gig Economy.  But the political events of the past weekend changed my thinking.

I had a Board Meeting on Saturday for ReSurge International http://www.resurge.org/home/home.cfm, where I am the Chair of the Board. (It is one of my gigs, as a member of the Gig Economy myself.)  The Resurge mission is twofold: we provide reconstructive surgery to the poor around the world, but just as importantly, we train developing world surgeons in the latest techniques of plastic surgery.  By doing this we are building medical and surgical capacity in parts of the world that are in dire need. Our patients, whether treated by our volunteer surgeons or the international partners we train, want to undergo a transformation that will improve life for themselves and their families.  And in that desire they are like many immigrants and refugees; they just want to create a better life for their families.

After our meeting we had a Board dinner at my home.  The wife of one of our newer Directors was a bit late, because, as an international law attorney, she had signed up to help represent immigrants, and so had been called to the San Francisco Airport to help out amidst the chaos.  Her description of her day dealing with the concerned and sometimes traumatized families of the immigration ban victims was riveting and led to many discussions of the immigration ban and the confusion  and angst that now surround it.

However, the other thought I had during these discussions was gratitude for the generosity of this lawyer, and hundreds of others like her across the country,  who just jumped in  to help people caught up in this awful mess.  That's the American spirit the resonates with me.  That's the commitment to helping others that I see so regularly in my Board work with ReSurge.

It struck me that for those who do not have the legal skills to help in this  situation, there are other options.  Protests may make a symbolic point, but they don't help those people in need. There are other ways you can help the people in need.  Several companies have taken strong steps:

You can help by patronizing those companies.  I for one, have always been a regular Uber customer.  Somehow I could never get past the weird pink mustaches that Lyft drivers hung on their grills  in the early days.  Now I will become a Lyft customer as well. And, right after I post this I may go out and get myself one of those new  cascara lattes at Starbucks.

You can also support the international humanitarian NGOs that support people who need help around the world.  Speaking as a Board Chair,  the not for profit world always needs donations, so making a donation will help.  But donations are not just financial, though that is always welcome.  Donations , the saying goes, include treasure ( money ),  talent, and time.  You might want to think about the talent and time part of the equation as a potential new gig.  Organizations differ regarding the type of volunteer expertise they need. One option is to join the Board of one of these organizations.  Skilled professionals with financial, marketing, technology and organizational skills who are willing to donate their time and talents can help advance the mission of these organizations dramatically.

As I  read about the chaos, protests, and signs of ill will toward the US around the world from what seems like an action that is counter to everything our country stands for, I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to help people around the world through my Board Service at ReSurge. Even though our government may seem heartless now, I know there are so many caring Americans who do want to help people around the world, whether they are immigrants, refugees, or impoverished families with no access to surgery. These Americans are making a difference, these Americans are inspiring.  You can be one too.

ReSurge – Transforming lives through Reconstructive Surgery and Training

 

resurgeHere s a great video of our ReSurge Gala last month.  It was a tremendous success and honor to be in a room filled with so many people passionate about our mission to transform the lives of the poor around the world by not just providing reconstructive surgical care, but more importantly, training the next generation of plastic surgeons in the developing world. It is our Global Training Program that makes us unique.  It is our commitment to advocating the need for Global Surgery, a need that the WHO and the Lancet Commission is now recognizing. Our partners, plastic surgeons, anesthesiologists, pediatricians, nurses, translators and donors, share the satisfaction of knowing we are not just helping people now, but we are building a solution for the future.  Please enjoy this wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate our work.

https://youtu.be/eH1HBHevLF0

The Value of Non-Profit Board Service

As the Chair of ReSurge International I attended a great event this week called Board Match put on by The Volunteer Center. http://thevolunteercenter.net/?The_Board_Match_NPO The event brings together not for profit organizations looking to add board members and individuals interested in joining a board.  There was one moment in the evening where I surveyed the scene, looking out on a trade show like assembly replete with animated conversations and thought how lucky we are for the wonderful spirit of service there is in America.

Well...yes and no...We were lucky and spoke to several qualified candidates who had done their homework on our organization and truly wanted to see how they might add value to our Board and help advance our mission.  Although I don't know how many of these folks will follow-up and proceed through our board vetting process, I am confident that our time was well spent.

On the other hand, there were several candidates who responded when asked why they wanted to join a board, that " it was the right move for them in their career". As I used to tell my students at USF, if you only take one thing from  the class, take this -- serving on a non-profit board is not about you. Rather it is about 4 things -- to make it easy to remember, it is about the PEGS.

P  is the fact that you need to be passionate about the mission.  ReSurge transforms lives by providing free reconstructive surgery and medical training, so it is very inspirational, and it was easy for me to feel passionate about the mission.  Alternatively, I served on the Board of the American Liver Foundation, a very laudable organization that funds research for liver disease.   Having no personal connection to liver disease, it was hard to be a great ambassador for the cause.  When I contrast the two Boards,my role and my engagement level,  being passionate about the mission makes all the difference.

E is about extrapolating from your experience.  As I said in a Ted Talk at my Haas Business School reunion, with the great training we get in our MBA program, we can offer so much to the non profit sector. But your expertise could come from other areas beyond business, including your own volunteer activities.  We all have many gifts to offer.

G is for the fact that not only do we offer our expertise, but we gain learnings as well.  My first board role was with an emergency homeless shelter for families. Since I was in the human capital space I volunteered to provide some guidance on HR policies and employee benefits.  Based on my private sector experience, I was quick to point out that their sick leave allowance was way too generous.  I was informed that given all the sicknesses the residents, especially the children, were bringing with them, staff really needed all those sick days.  It was a great learning not just about the different workplace cultures, but also how best to make observations - now I ask why first.

S is for supporting governance.  It is an adjustment for some new board members to understand that a board governs, it does not manage.  The staff runs the place, not the board.  The board provides strategic guidance, fiduciary oversight, and supports, selects and evaluates the CEO.  Good governance is like the lighting in a museum; you couldn't see the art without the lights, and when its bad, you notice.  When it is good it is effective, effortless and elegant.

So if you are considering board service, think of the PEGS and be sure your peg fits the opportunity.

You never know why they want you on a Board

I have been on the Board of CPP for 16 years.  CPP Inc., owns the publishing rights to the Meyers Briggs Type Instrument (MBTI), the most widely used personality test in the world. During my tenure the company has expanded internationally, purchased three companies and bought the IP rights to two additional instruments.  The amazing growth has not been without its challenges, the most significant being the untimely death of the incumbent CEO  about 10 years ago.

The experience has been tremendous for me – I have learned so much about governance, publishing and organizational development.  It is no wonder I want to pursue more board roles. That said, I don’t know that I can replicate the process that earned me the CPP role.

When I was approached to join the CPP Board it was 1998.  M Squared had been on the Inc 500  list several times as well as the SF Business Times list of the fastest growing companies in the Bay Area.  I was experiencing that glow of a high growth CEO that was firing on all cylinders.  (Of course 2001 was right around the corner, but who knew that then…)  I presumed that it was my managing growth expertise that prompted the call. In my various interviews at the firm, we discussed future growth plans quite a bit, which further supported my notion as to why this opportunity came to me.

Several years later I discovered the truth. At a board offsite we were all sharing our stories about how we ended up there.  When I provided my rationale, the CEO laughed and said I didn’t quite have it right.

It turned out that he had seen me speak about my entrepreneurial journey  at the Governor’s Conference for Women in 1998.  In my remarks I spoke about the work I had done in the community, specifically my role as on the Board of the Hamilton Family Center, San Francisco’s (then) only homeless shelter for families.  I sheepishly admitted that I had been on that board for six years.  The president mused that if I could put up with all of the drama a homeless shelter had to offer, I could certainly put up with them,  and  since CPP was all about “making people better”, my humanitarian leanings played well.  Plus, what a bonus that my business was in the human capital space.

I was a bit surprised by the discovery of why I had been chosen, but gratified too.  It is wonderful to discover that all of our experiences contribute to our expertise, not just the ones that have the highest profile.  Maybe I will get my next Board role the same way…

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