The social contract
between employers and
employees is broken.
The deal used to work like this: go to school, work hard,
do the work you’re given. In exchange, you’ll receive
security in the form of a full-time salaried job.
People have gone to school. People have worked hard.
But the security isn’t there anymore.
Why did that happen?
There are a lot of reasons. Outsourcing. Automation.
Technological advances. Economic shifts.
Working a full-time job in one location for one
employer for forever is rapidly losing its place as
the de facto way of approaching employment.
A lot of people still behave like that’s
the case, but it’s pretty clear that’s
not how it works anymore.
This group represents traditional,
At the extreme left is the 30 year veteran of
one company: the quintessential employee.
This group represents people
building & running high-growth
CEOs. Founders. People who employ, or aspire to employ,
the group on the other side of the bar. At the extreme right
end of the spectrum is... let’s say it’s Mark Zuckerberg.
I should note that this is not drawn to scale... yet.
Help me out with better numbers if you have them.
In between are people who are...
somewhere in between.
Contractors. Freelancers. Small business owners. People
who don’t easily fall into the other two groups.
These are people who are not
dependent on a single employer,
nor are they dependent on
investors or shareholders.
Let’s take another look at that spectrum.
What haven’t we covered yet?
How about these folks in the middle?
What’s their story?
We don’t hear much about them in the news.
Let’s break it down a little further and see
what we ﬁnd.
These folks on the left side of the
spectrum service the traditional employers,
just in a more transient capacity.
This group is growing drastically.
These folks on the right side of the group are
running small and medium sized businesses.
These businesses make money by providing goods and services. They
don’t make billions or employ thousands, but they do make enough
to employ the people they need to sustain themselves.
This group is growing too.
So this whole Independent
workforce is growing. Why?
Work is increasingly done on the internet.
That’s increasingly something that can be
So things like telecommuting and contracting become
more practical, while working full-time in one designated
place becomes less necessary.
The internet happens to be a great
place to make money building, selling,
and generally doing stuff.
So the line between doing business and starting a
business is getting blurrier. Who isn’t engaging in
some kind of commerce online these days, right?
These people are self-reliant.
They are making money doing stuff.
They are using readily available technology.
That sounds like a good start!
Independent workers need not wait
for an employer to hire them or an
investor to back them.
That means, if you are an independent,
you have the ability to CREATE value by
doing the work you do.
(From what I understand, offering
something of value and being
compensated accordingly is sort of
how an economy is supposed to work
in the ﬁrst place.)
So when you get people to pay you for something
that you build or offer yourself, you happen to also
be helping to strengthen the economy.
That sounds pretty good!
So what’s stopping more people from doing this?
The ﬁrst challenge is awareness.
People aren’t used to thinking of an independent
path as a viable option.
The second challenge
Working for yourself means you don’t enjoy the
support systems you’d expect in a traditional job.
It also means you’re responsible. For everything.
That’s really scary.
The third challenge is support.
If you want to get a job or start a growth business,
there are tons of systems designed to shepherd you
through the necessary processes.
But to hack it on your own? Not so much.
What would happen
if we started to
Maybe, just maybe, we
could start creating
jobs for ourselves.
And each other.
In fact, it’s already begun. New
communities of independents are
emerging everywhere. These
would be perfect starting points
for people to gather and work on
these things together.
(They’re called coworking spaces.)
So we have a way of looking at work that
empowers people to to create value for
themselves on terms they deﬁne.
We have the beginnings of
a local support system.
We have a decent idea
of what’s holding it back.
Is it possible to inspire enough
people to hire themselves to put
a serious dent in the job crisis?