Working Beyond Free Agent Nation


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“Working Beyond Free Agent Nation” with R.O. Why! Marketing’s Brian LeCount. The power of one is being proven as individuals strike out on their own in the world of work. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

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  • Empowerment: In the free-agent economy, individuals empower organizations -- not the other way around. (Hidden thought: "I think I'll empower General Motors by showing up for work today.") Forget your patronizing attempts to spoon a few dollops of power into your employees' bowls. Instead, thank them for empowering you. Flexibility: Nice try, but you're not quite there. You can't just extend the curfew. You have to treat people like adults. Don't think flexibility. Think liberation. Human Resources: Oil is a resource. Timber is a resource. Water is a resource. People are not resources -- they're not waiting in reserve to be mined, irrigated, or drilled. Alternative: talent center. Retention: You can inspire, motivate, challenge, terrify, and bribe people. But thanks to man's powerful combination of brains and legs, you can never "retain" him. Things you can retain: cattle, earnings, water. Things you can't retain: human beings. Pay Your Dues: Work isn't a country club. Nobody has to pay dues. They just have to do great work. Promotion: The free-agent economy operates by the Peter-Out Principle . Wanna crush the job satisfaction of most creative and technical people in your company? Try promoting them. Work For: Question: How many people work for you? If your answer is greater than zero, you've got a serious problem. Nobody works for you. People work for themselves, for the challenge, for the money, for their families -- but not for you. If anything, you work for them.
  • How many people here work for themselves either full or part time?
  • Things are dramatically different now. How many of you know someone who’s lost a job in the last year. How many of you know someone who’s lost a job and gone out on their own in the last year?
  • Things are dramatically different now. How many of you know someone who’s lost a job in the last year. How many of you know someone who’s lost a job and gone out on their own in the last year? By 2020, 50% of workers will NOT be employed by a company.
  • Results only work environments like that at Best Buy are changing how employers and employees define work. The common perception of work (showing up in an office) were born in the days of the assembly line. You had to be there. These conventions are being challenged, and because of that, everyone is questioning the norm. When Sun Microsystems can save $400MM in real estate by allowing half of employees to work wherever they want, corporate America is paying attention. As companies unleash workers and pay for results, the entire employee-employer relationship is coming into question. We’re in the middle of a SEA CHANGE in how companies engage talent and how we construct our professional lives.
  • You can look for a job forever, or you can go out and do something about the income situation. Many I meet aren’t waiting around for employers to start hiring again. Are you guys feeling it? There are a LOT of us out there!
  • - We chose the freedom & flexibility to do what we love, set our own schedule, avoid office politics, gain greater control over our lives, AND select our projects BUT - How many independents in the room have 5 or 10 great opportunities and the luxury to choose the 1 that they really want? It’s a different market out there. - We’re tired of working out of coffee shops. Little interaction outside those they don’t already know very well. - Difficult to develop truly collaborative relationships that result in new business opportunities - We spend significant amounts of time on non-core activities that drain us (sales, customer service, HR, billing, taxes, legal) We chose this path to focus on getting all of the good stuff, but how many of us are truly there?
  • I see a few key problems with FREE AGENT NATION - Many miss the team environment, collaboration, friendships - The coworking movement is trying to address that, but I think it falls short - People get together, chat a bit, but does true collaboration really take place? - Particularly in the creative disciplines, we’re competing with each other. graphic designer is trying to get a print design project.  The client may also need help on how to use the output to win new customers, but the designer isn't experienced in building that type of solution.  So it doesn't get offered.  In addition, the designer is reluctant to bring someone in alongside them to discuss higher level strategy for fear of derailing the original project.  We're all protecting our own little slice, and in some respects failing to serve the client in the best way possible. We’re competing for the attention of the same customer; selfish view of customer needs - they need what I have! - Extremely fragmented market of providers & solutions & clients are forced to pick specialists for each variable of their project. - Can you imagine trying to shop for a copywriter, web designer, programmer or SEO consultant right now? - No consulting on how the solution to problem A affects or creates problem B - Project Mgt more difficult; alignment of efforts over complicated - Who’s looking out for the client? - Devoid of a refined approach and clear collaboration, we’re reinforcing the Elance model of just go get it as cheap as you can
  • - I think it could be done so much better As independents, we like to think we have control of the client or the engagement. - We certainly don’t own the customer - How many in here found out far into the client relationship that they were using another specialist on something else? - How many thought, “hey, I wish I would have known or I would have brought so and so.” - We’re only as good as our next project, and the client is going to shop that one too - There are too many benefits of working together to not be doing this right now - We can be offering complementary solutions - If we were more strategic, we could do more by helping each other. EXAMPLE: We’re all protecting our own little slice, our project, but what if... - Designer brings a strategist, and all of a sudden there’s more design work - PR pro brings a social media expert and they collaborate on redefining the impact of PR for the client - SEO guy brings a content developer, and there’s more content to optimize - We can make projects bigger, better and more profitable - We can deliver a better total solution than we can independently - We can take this creative class movement to places we’ve never been
  • HABITAT - A structure that affords a controlled environment for living in otherwise extremely inhospitable locations - Physical factors that place like minded people in close proximity for sustainable living - Environmental factors that lower barriers, remove the boundaries to our success and help each other thrive ECOSYSTEM - A complex set of relationships of living organisms functioning as a unit and interacting with their physical environment. which interact to form a stable system A biological system consisting of many organisms that exist in mutual dependence with the other organisms in the system All of the factors that allow a healthy environment to function; the complex relationships among an area's resources, habitats and residents.
  • - The gap between what clients get with agencies vs. freelancers is huge - There’s BIG opportunity here - Teamwork - Collaboration - What if we could take away all of the roadblocks for independents to have all the work they wanted? - For some, that would be the sales & the marketing - For others, they wouldn’t miss the billing, technology, administration - And yet for others who are great at the sales & marketing, it’s the pesky work that gets in the way - What if we created an environment focused on making sure we all win? - I have a client meeting and I commit to bringing one of you. You’ll ask questions I won’t ask, see things I can’t, and help create a bigger, more valuable opportunity
  • The gap between what clients get with big agencies vs. freelancers is huge.  I believe we can work to close that gap, capitalize on the fact that the way we work and the way companies engage us is changing, and redefine an efficient model for delivering killer work. This is a community building idea.  It's social networking on steroids.  It's focused on creating maximum value for independent professionals and clients alike.  It's about changing the status quo and redefining what can be done when a community of talented professionals comes together with a common goal.  Who knows what it could become.  
  • Let’s brainstorm, throw some ideas around and see what we could create.
  • Working Beyond Free Agent Nation

    1. 1. beyond free agent nation <ul><li>July 30, 2009 </li></ul>
    2. 2. <ul><li>“ In good times, people leap into </li></ul><ul><li>free agency. In bad times, </li></ul><ul><li>they get pushed.” </li></ul>
    3. 3. words we don’t use <ul><li>Empowerment </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility </li></ul><ul><li>Work/Life Balance </li></ul><ul><li>Human Resources </li></ul><ul><li>Retention </li></ul><ul><li>Pay Your Dues </li></ul><ul><li>Work For </li></ul>
    4. 4. words we use <ul><li>I’m the one that empowers you </li></ul><ul><li>Liberation </li></ul><ul><li>Work when I want to </li></ul><ul><li>Oil is a resource. Me? I’m a talented individual that you want & need. </li></ul><ul><li>Retain your earnings, water, or your cattle, but not me </li></ul><ul><li>Pay myself </li></ul><ul><li>Just in Time Politics </li></ul><ul><li>Peter Out Principle </li></ul>
    5. 5. the change is underway <ul><li>14 million self-employed Americans </li></ul><ul><li>8.3 million independent contractors </li></ul><ul><li>2.3 million finding work through temp agencies </li></ul><ul><li>Fewer than 1 in 10 work for a Fortune 500 </li></ul><ul><li>74 million copies of Form 1099-MISC headed </li></ul><ul><li>out in January - the pay stub of free agents </li></ul>
    6. 6. 16% of the workforce
    7. 7. that was 18 months ago
    8. 8. by 2020, 50%
    9. 9. what’s driving this? <ul><li>Movements like ROWE are changing the definition of work </li></ul><ul><li>Organizations are engaging talent on a contract basis </li></ul><ul><li>In times of scarcity, companies are reviewing agency relationships & engaging specialists </li></ul>
    10. 10. more striking out <ul><li>In Cincinnati, there are 5 candidates for every open position and that number is growing </li></ul><ul><li>2005 Study: 26% of salary & wage earners plan to hang their own shingle </li></ul><ul><li>Not only can it be more fulfilling to work for 5 clients than it is to work for 1 boss, many find it’s also much safer. </li></ul>
    11. 11. It’s come a long way <ul><li>Companies are embracing independents like never before </li></ul><ul><li>Tools & technologies make working without boundaries easy </li></ul><ul><li>Professionals are taking many years of broad experience & focusing on niches </li></ul>This town is oozing with amazing talent
    12. 12. significant barriers exist <ul><li>Who’s living the dream? </li></ul><ul><li>Who wants another cup of coffee? </li></ul><ul><li>Is your network REALLY working for you? </li></ul><ul><li>What % of your time is spent on your core passions? </li></ul>
    13. 13. free agent nation is flawed <ul><li>Isolation </li></ul><ul><li>Territoriality </li></ul><ul><li>Harder for the client </li></ul><ul><li>Are we becoming a commodity? </li></ul>
    14. 14. it can be better <ul><li>We don’t OWN as much as we like to think we do </li></ul><ul><li>Let’s lose the ‘fiefdom’ mentality </li></ul><ul><li>It’s bigger and better if we work together </li></ul><ul><li>Client-focused strategic solutions </li></ul>
    15. 15. imagine... <ul><li>Doing what we love, and none of what we don’t </li></ul><ul><li>Professional interaction among like-minded, independent individuals </li></ul><ul><li>Camaraderie of an office environment, without the politics </li></ul><ul><li>Source of new business, resulting from close relationships </li></ul><ul><li>A self-sustaining coworking community. In fact, a series of them. </li></ul>
    16. 16. what does it look like? <ul><li>Coworking on STEROIDS </li></ul><ul><li>True strategic collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Social networking, but even more connected </li></ul><ul><li>Closer, more aligned community </li></ul><ul><li>Better model for delivering great work & protecting our value </li></ul>
    17. 17. let’s start a movement <ul><li>Teamwork, community, collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>A habitat, an ecosystem delivering mutual benefit </li></ul><ul><li>The best talent for the job without big costs </li></ul>WE CAN DELIVER A BETTER PRODUCT THAN WE ARE TODAY
    18. 18. INTERESTED? <ul><li>@blecount </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>513.791.8670 </li></ul>