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The Gig Economy: What it Means and How to Survive It

Business

If you’ve heard of the gig economy before, you may not be sure if you’re apart of it. Are you a full time employee in a full time job? If not, you’re most likely within the “gig community” and may not have even known it.


According to Diane Mulcahy, professor of the “Gig Economy” class at Babson College in Boston, the gig economy covers anyone from a contractor, a consultant, a freelancer, a part time worker, and even on demand workers. Clearly it includes a lot of different professions, industries, sectors, and income levels.

Mulcahy is an expert on the gig economy, and has also written a book on the subject. To start off by giving you some of her wisdom, here are the ten “rules” Mulcahy lists to become successful in this economy.

1. Define your success

2. Diversify

3. Create your own security

4. Connect without networking

5. Face fear by reducing risk

6. Take time off between gigs

7. Be mindful about time

8. Be financially flexible

9. Think access, not ownership

10. Save for a traditional retirement, but don’t plan on having one

Now let’s look at some of these aspects in more detail. Creating your own security and thinking access, not ownership are two very big points in today’s day and age. Within the job market, full time jobs are actually decreasing in favor of people who can do the work on the side or part time. There are so many changes in the business world that you can’t rely on any one job or any one employer. Full time jobs aren’t going to disappear completely and most people will hold full time jobs at some point during their career, but that isn’t what graduating students these days should strive for.

Therefore: create your own security. Figure out what your skillsets and expertise are, then brainstorm what kind of gigs you can do. There won’t be the financial and job security for something such as buying a house or a car, but with more living and transportation options available, those things aren’t as necessary as they used to be.

“The gig economy is here: it’s growing, it’s growing quickly, and it’s here to stay.”

The gig economy is also an economy of skills. You really have to constantly keep track of what your skills are, what your expertise is, what your value to the market is, and what people are willing to pay you. This falls under diversifying yourself and defining your own success. Ask yourself, how can you gain new skills? How can you expand your network and develop new opportunities for yourself? Developing this mindset is the most important.

Also on Mulcahy’s list is connecting without networking. This is especially important for introverts who abhor situations where they have to walk around a crowded room, introducing themselves to people who might be important. Great news--you don’t have to do that anymore.

Writing is actually one of the best and easiest ways to make connections with people. This could be on social media--tweeting or having a dynamic Facebook page-- or it could be writing articles for an industry publication or a blog. If you’re comfortable with speaking, you could also put out podcasts to reach people. With these techniques, people will come to you, which also makes your audience much more targeted and relevant to you. You have to put yourself out there, but on your own terms.

So what are some other skills that are important to have as a “gigger”? Make sure you’re somewhat proactive in the entrepreneurial field, as gigging often goes hand in hand with entrepreneurship, and make sure you have the financial wherewithal to go out into the gig economy. Savings and a lifestyle that’s financially flexible is what makes surviving in the gig economy both successful and beneficial.

With all of this information to digest, there’s just one point left to take in: make sure to take time off.

“Time is the new money--that is the scarce resource that we all are facing.”

Whether it’s for a week or a year, give yourself time to figure out what you want and hone in the skills you need to succeed.

We all struggle with how to balance professional and personal lives, and the gig economy allows you so many more opportunities to do that effectively.

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8min read
Politics

Do 2020 Presidential Candidates Still Have Rules to Play By?

Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.


When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.

2016: What rules?

Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.

Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.

And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.

And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?

Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.

Digital policies for 2020 and beyond

While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.

Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy

Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:

  • If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
  • While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
  • If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
  • Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
  • Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?

Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.

Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply

The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:

  1. Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
  2. Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
  3. Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
  4. Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
  5. Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
  6. Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
  7. Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
  8. Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.

Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles

Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.