Blogging & Thoughts

Shortform thoughts & posts in the spirit of old-school blogging

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Receiving Incredible Gifts in Pai, Thailand at “The Split”

December 15, 2018 in Gift Economy, Thoughts, Travel

In 2008 a seismic event created a literal “split” in a part of the land in the northwest of Thailand outside of a small village called Pai.  This is now a minor tourist attraction.

When you ride up to the location, you are greeted by a family who runs a small farm on the village.  Upon arrival, they immediately started to offer their homemade Roselle juice, but we declined and entered the “split.”

This split is not the Grand Canyon but is still quite fascinating.  You can walk through and be amazed at how our seemingly stable land can split open it two.

Walking in the “split”

Walking through the whole thing takes about 10 minutes.  When you exit, you are again greeted by the lovely family and with a sign offering the chance to give a donation.

Walking out, I offered a donation of 100 Baht (which is a little less than $3 USD) and walked away.  We were planning on heading out so I gave the donation and walked away.

Immediately, the owner runs over and insists that we sit.  He immediately brings over two drinks of Roselle (which taste slight less bitter than Cranberry juice).  We were pretty flattered, but he was not done.

More food came, including fresh sweet potato, banans, nuts, homemade jelly, plantain chips and nuts.  Wow!

His gift to us

While eating I noticed this book sitting next to us and I couldn’t agree more with its takeaway.  While a cynic could easily read this as asking for more money, it was obvious that this family just wanted to share what they had and create a deep bond (and memories) with the people that they served.

Having received this incredible gift and seeing this notebook, I asked myself “what more can I give?” and decided to leave an additional gift for him and his family. As we were walking away, I put a larger gift in the donation box and went to board the motorbike.  This wasn’t a life-changing gift for either  of us, but it was something I was drawn to do.

As we were about to ride away, he comes over again with more gifts!  This time he had two bags of stuff for us to take away.  In one bad was a can of homemade jelly, some plantain chips, and some nuts.  In another, a massive fresh Papaya.  Wow.

Another gift!

As I’ve embraced experiments in giving over the last year, I have continued to be blow away with the kindness and generosity of strangers.  In sharing this, I hope more people find out about this incredible man and his family who now have a place people come to because of a minor earthquake in 2008.

Isn’t life grand?

The Tom Brady Principle: Don’t Promote Your Best People

November 4, 2018 in Bad Business Ideas, Conventional Practice, Leadership, Organizations, Talent, Thoughts

Imagine after Tom Brady won his first Super Bowl in 2001, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft sat Brady down and told him, “Tom, you had a fantastic season. We want to see you keep growing with the organization. We are going to promote you to General Manager.”

In sports, we would quickly question Kraft’s sanity. Yet, in the corporate world, we call this talent management.

Google indirectly addressed this issue after trying to figure out how to keep its high performers after the IPO in 2004. They stumbled upon research from Ernest O’Boyle and Herman Aguinis showing that across a wide range of fields, human performance followed the power law: high performers are not only one or two standard deviations above the average — they have dramatically higher levels of impact than average performers. This led to changes in the way google rewarded its people.

As google’s former Chief People Officer Laszlo Bock wrote in his book Work Rules! “we have many cases where people at more “junior” levels make far more than average performers at more “senior” levels. It’s a natural result of having a greater impact, and a compensation system that recognizes that impact.”

Google tells their MVPs to stay on the field.

Do people even want to climb the ladder?

Despite the clear signals from organizations that success and climbing the ladder go hand in hand, most people are unconvinced. McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2016 laid out this lack of desire for both women AND men.

They found that only 40% of women and 56% of men had the ambition to become a top executive in a company. If we are basing our metrics of success on obtaining powerful positions, why don’t more people actually want that power?

It could be because the climb is exhausting. As companies have become more complex, the range of functional expertise and skills has expanded. What this means for selecting today’s leaders is that they need to meet an almost impossible set of requirements.

At the CEO level, the demands are even more extreme, with them having to be highly skilled in investor relations, operations, strategy, community relations, politics and on top of that, being cheerleader in chief for the organization.

We are requiring today’s leaders to be the best player on the team, the coach, general manager and CEO. Instead of attracting people that want to lead and inspire, we end up attracting those the types of people who are motivated by money, power and status – many of which happen to be narcissists and psychopaths.

Creating paths for coaches

Bill Belichick is seen as an incredible leader. However, in sports, that is exactly what you are looking for in a coach. In organizations, there is no coach. You have to throw 50 touchdowns before you even have the chance of leading others.

If we want more diversity, more vibrant organizations and more fulfilling work, we need to change our assumptions that being ranked higher in a company should be the goal for everyone. Authority does not equal performance and being promoted is not always the best way to unlock creativity and innovation.

We need more organizations that want to let their star quarterbacks stay on the field and create paths for the people that are driven to lead and inspire those stars.

How many freelance consultants are using talent platforms?

October 18, 2018 in Freelance Talent Markets, Future of Work, Gig Economy, Thoughts

The “gig economy” is one of the hottest terms in the business world right now.  As someone who is a living, breathing consultant who has done work via multiple talent platforms the coverage is a bit mystifying.  Companies who have thousands of full-time workers are writing about the great benefits of the gig economy while likely employing only a handful of gig economy workers to work on projects at their company.

The BLS recently released data on “electronically mediated employment” which covers both in-person works like Uber, Consulting and TaskRabbit as well as online-only work such as remote consulting, and online workplaces like Mechanical Turk and Clickworker.

The takeaway from the data: The platform gig economy doesn’t match the buzz

When  I group the workers in the professional, finance, information industries, I found that only 770,000 people are doing work in the gig economy via talent platforms.  This is less than 1% of the workforce.  This is likely a good estimate of the number of freelance consultants doing work via talent platforms.

Uber & Airbnb Have Created Opportunities, But Not That Many

Within the data, you also find that the number of people operating via platforms like Uber and Airbnb is surprisingly small  These workers make up an even smaller proportion of the workforce, less than 0.3% of the employed population.

The gig economy makes for great headlines and the talent platforms may be a great idea, but they are doing a better job of creating international labor arbitrage opportunities and enormous wealth for anyone with equity.  In the US at least, most of the work in our economy is still being done via traditional work arrangements.