Friday, September 21, 2012

Time to Hook Up: Employers and Freelancers Make A Beautiful Partnership

This afternoon, I tuned into the International Freelancer's Day Conference hosted by Ed Gandia, founder of the International Freelancer's Academy. One of the presenters, Erik Vonk described in detail why he believes society-at-large has now entered the "Era of Dynamism," during which people worldwide will begin to work for themselves.

Here are some key points from Vonk's presentation.

Today's worker has become global and independent.The way we used to work was rigid and carries significant liabilities. Today no one believes in job security or job loyalty. Temporary enterprise is flexible, talent-centric, and networked. Exchanging competencies for income is no longer tied to a job. In 2011, 59% of workers had been employed in the same place an average of only four years. In short, there is nothing permanent about work anymore.

Migration-enabling developments are prevalent all over the world.
There is an uncommon transference of wealth globally -- for example, we all buy oil from "somewhere else." This new "transference" creates dynamism and fluidity.

Todays modern temporary enterprise is platform agnostic. 
In society, we are beginning to see that on-demand work arrangements have evolved from being tolerable to being desirable to being aspirational.
1. The "position" does not define work platform. Agreements today are based on supply and demand. The need for certain competencies within an organization determine the work platform.
2. Any eligible position can be filled by a contractor.
3. Megatrends promote this dynamic situation.

A number of realities define the work world today, including these often misunderstood myths about taxes and business method.1. Myth: Contingent [temporary] work produces tax savings. Reality: The revenue value of an independent contractor to the IRS/government is the same as for employees. An organization saves money by using independent contractors, but the IRS/government gets the same money no matter the work status of the worker.

2. Myth: A payrolled contractor has independent status. Reality: An independent contractor employed by a third party [for example, a temp agency] does not have independent contractor status.

3. Myth: Self-incorporation [being "incorporated"] leads automatically to tax compliance. Reality: The rules that surround compliance lie with the IRS or with individual states, not with the "incorporation" of a particular business. Nevertheless, incorporation does act as a liability shield for the independent contractor and also, incorporation may make it possible to change from an employee status to a vendor status.

What does/will "Obamacare" mean to independent contractors?
1. Provides access to health insurance
2. Creates federal health insurance requirements for everyone.
3. Creates health insurance exchanges, places independent contractors can go to buy state-operated policies.

The individual mandate means that -- as of 2014 -- every individual must be enrolled in a health plan. Those not covered will pay a penalty through tax returns [Note: there will be exemptions for those below the poverty line and certain exemptions based on religious rules can be sought.]

The solo practitioner may live in a state that offers coverage to a small business or as individual. That capability varies among states.

How can we freelancers thrive?
1. Inform prospective clients about tax realities and be informed with tax, legal, and business issues.
2. Play into the momentum. The desire is there. Megatrends are pushing the tsunami of change and influencing the role of work in the society toward independence. Be informed and help others to understand.
3. The last barriers are crumbling: retirement options (401Ks, IRAs); health coverage (Obamacare, regulatory initiatives, the marketplace already underwriting plans); banking and insurance; IRS (villianization of independent workers is waning through efforts of entities like the Freelancer's Union); more examples of progressive employers (IBM, for example has "liquid" players, Microsoft modern thinking is prevailing).

The best advice is: Keep your options wide open.
1. Worldwide companies are looking to replace fixed costs with variable expenses. They want access to talent pools.
2. Continue to think from the organization's perspective. increasingly, the "business plan" -- not historic work conventions -- decide who will be employed and who will be contracted.
3. Do not be guided or distracted by fear-mongering: Get good advice and move ahead confidently.

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

Erik Vonk is an internationally recognized expert in the field of freelancing and independent contracting. As the architect of the staffing contract between Randstad Staffing Services and the Atlanta Olympic Committee, he orchestrated the provision of all 16,000 paid personnel for the Centennial Olympic Games in 1996. This is still the largest single supplier contingent workforce arrangement on record. He is the author of the book “Don’t Get a Job, Get a Life” (2000), which makes the case for replacing outdated employment conventions with "on demand" work platforms. Follow him on Twitter: @erikvonk.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hey, Marketer! Got An Idea? Read This Before You Pitch It to Anybody.

The Art of the Imperfect Pitch, a compelling article from Professor Baba Shiv at Stanford Graduate School, tells us exactly how to sell our ideas to other people. Shiv bases his advice on brain research, especially that of American neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky..

To put it simply, Shiv describes the "X framework" wherein anxiety and fear and contentment oppose one another on the bottom and, on the top, excitement opposes apathy). If, while facing a decision, a person is fundamentally anxious or fearful, that decider will seek to avoid additional stress by "playing it safe." If, on the other hand, the decider is feeling contented, he or she is ready for some risk or excitement -- in other words, open to a new idea.

In a nutshell:
Those with ideas to sell, should avoid pitching their ideas to anxious/fearful colleagues who are predisposed to apathy and likely to retreat from change or risk. Rather, the pitch should be directed to a contented colleague -- a "champion," if you will -- who is open to excitement and change.

Shiv suggests that ideas be pitched in draft or incomplete form, not in full-blown detail. Why? As Shiv puts it, "I have observed time after time that if you build a polished prototype, others will see flaws. If you build a rough prototype, they will see potential."

Here is a final key point from Shiv:
"So, from an innovation standpoint, you must discern where your ultimate target manager is on this X Framework. The tip here is that people habitually ride one pathway or the other. Type I personalities are those who instinctually stay on a groove between stress and comfort. These people typically fear making mistakes. In contrast, what I call the Type II personalities are those who tend to move between boredom and excitement … I have found that chief marketing officers and chief information officers, tend to be Type IIs."

And who are the Type Is? The maintenance folks like the information technology managers and chief operating officers.

We knew it was true and now we know why.

Source: Morning Advantage newsletter (September 6) from Harvard Business Review