Changing Nature of Work and Your Value Online

Two buddies of mine, serial entrepreneur George Johnson and business change agent, Jeff Staggs, started Entrevis and their “A Better Way to Live and Work” program. It’s a very solid process to walk through with any of the 17-21%+ of workers dissatisfied with where they are and helping them walk down a path (e.g., see “20 Percent of Workers Plan on Changing Jobs in 2007” and “One in Five Government Workers to Leave Jobs in 2007“. That path starts with a persons own vision, their values, what they think their purpose is, and the other dozen or so lessons coach them to partnering, negotiation, their business plan, execution, etc.

I’ve gone through the program with amazing results. Still…I’ve been kicking around ideas with both of them as they strategize over increasingly better ways to align with the macro trends in the world…namely that the lifetime corporate models of work, typical staffing models, opportunities to mass collaborate on the Internet all point the way to the changing nature of work AND that each of us need to find containers within which to put our personal value propositions. Let me go a little deeper on this…

Think about the modern corporate organization and its just over 100 years of existence. From this Wikipedia  article on the corporation comes this quote from Adam Smith’s the “Wealth of Nations” which criticized the corporate form because of the separation of ownership and management.

The directors of such [joint-stock] companies, however, being the managers rather of other people’s money than of their own, it cannot well be expected, that they should watch over it with the same anxious vigilance with which the partners in a private copartnery frequently watch over their own…. Negligence and profusion, therefore, must always prevail, more or less, in the management of the affairs of such a company.

The modern corporate entity is, as Smith points out, an abstract one by its very nature. Remarkably complex and with numerous layers of specialized functionality, making it work as a whole is an ongoing challenge. With little true ownership by those that work within the corporate structure and loyalty (by both sides) fleeting, its no wonder that people are searching for meaning and aligned jobs while corporations are seeking human resources that provide a competitive advantage. Now throw in the explosion in instant and cheap communications, idea generation, knowledge transfer and social connections that the Internet has enabled and the corporation itself is undergoing massive shifts.

Now throw in the disruption of outsourcing, specializations that perish and retraining that takes years — coupled with the masses that are working in jobs that pay the rent but are misaligned with what each view their mission, values and purpose to be, and you have a climate ripe for disruption and change.

So what does this have to do with you and what can you do about it?

This entire post started because of an online conversation with a guy, Christopher Mengel of RazorWest, whom I’ve never met in person ironically…but we connected due to our respective value investments online. We’ve talked on the phone several times and for long duration since we spark one anothers thoughts.

One of Chris’ successful efforts surrounds staffing. Companies have needs to quickly scale efforts, augment their own internal teams, and find people quickly that can add value to their companies. Chris understands the global shifts that are occurring in work, the corporation, with outsourcing and has responded to fill demand.

This makes me think about the next leap forward in creativity and innovation that is already apparent to anyone who cares to look. Strategists and thought leaders are writing extensively about this topic and it makes me wonder about the mechanisms which will enable someone in a company to have a vision for a product, service or to fill a need; locate and hire the best they can afford; and deliver the outcome they’ve seen. How will leaders find the people? Assemble them into teams? Collaborate virtually?

My growing and currently strongly held belief is this: your resume is dead and you’ve got to choose a “container” within which to place your personal value proposition. I’ve thought and thought about this topic and examined numerous software solutions and hosted offerings (e.g., LinkedIn) and have come up with what is currently (and for the forseeable future) the best, easiest to put together and most powerful container that meets the need: the blog.

Wait! Don’t roll your eyes just yet. Let me flesh out the argument:

  • I’ve been hired as a management consultant three times in the last year because of my blog. Partly it’s my resume, my experiences and what others have said is my “executive presence” whatever that means…but the #1 reason three clients brought me in was due to the depth, breadth and clear understanding of Web 2.0, Internet as a platform, social networking and more that I bring forth in my posts
  • My reading list also says something about my knowledge capture and learning style
  • Those who link to me and the links out that I do demonstrate the sweeping view I’ve gained and enjoy
  • I’ve connected with people all over the world in my areas of interest. Besides being delightful and a great way to feed my strengths in learning and ideation, it just feels good since this activity perfectly aligns with those two of my top five strengths
  • A delivery vehicle for  value (that I currently offer for free) in the form of my report Rise of the Participation Culture. This blog is the perfect way to keep it front-n-center and is a great distribution channel. Soon I’ll be delivering products for a fee and again, this will be a good venue for delivering those
  • With a blog you’re in the conversation. No…a social site “space” doesn’t suffice since someone has to join in order to view your stuff and most of them are what they’re intended to be: social. But in the marketplace of ideas, social entrepreneurship, learning or any category you specialize in, a value-based blog ensures that YOU are a player in your game instead of just another person sitting in the stands watching
  • Lastly, this blog has been my ticket-to-the-Web_2.0-dance, a door opener for  conversations with an amazing number of thought leaders and C-level executives at technology companies, with analyst groups and with other seekers on the ‘net.

I’ve heard these same things over-n-over again from other bloggers. I understand that this placing of your personal value into a blog could be seen only as one for knowledge workers, but think for a moment of going to a web site for a body shop. You see a link at the top that says “blog” and you click on it. Within its posts you get an immediate sense of the quality, care and intrinsic value that this body shop delivers. I’m not naive enough to think that this will be your only criteria for selection, but it will be a personal connection to intrinsic value that we’ll all increasingly expect and demand going forward.

Though my current momentum on my own as a management consultant is too appealing to walk away from right now, a CEO of a startup and one from an established larger company have asked to hire me in a leadership role. Again, it’s the intrinsic value contained within my blog and what others perceive as being an additive to the global conversation that has made me marketable and desirable. (For more thoughts about this, here are some value-centric posts).

So unless you’re a year or so away from retirement, you need a personal value based blog. Not a daily diary where you talk about your infant daughter barfing on your sweater, but a blog devoted to your passion or passions. Aligned with your vision ten years out.  One that is authentically you (i.e., don’t be fake, lie or mislead). Content that adds to the global conversation and moves us all forward.

I absolutely guarantee that within a year or so — if it already isn’t starting to happen in earnest — when you apply for a job they’ll do a Google search on you in order to discover if you are a participant on the ‘net (and if so what value are you adding) and the high value jobs, customers (if you’re a business owner) and subcontracting will go to those that understand and deliver their value in a container that is accessible, real and authentic.

If you’re not a participant adding value online, I’m sorry to report that you’ll be sitting in the stands eating a hot dog while those that do are playing the game (and earning those high player salaries!). So carve out your niche aligned with your passions, value and purpose; get a blog (they’re free or really cheap!); get a feel for how to do it authentically (read Naked Conversations to start); and just do it…today.

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3 Comments

  1. Robert Lingley on February 20, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Hi Steve!

    I really appreciated your article on “Changing Nature of Work and Your Value Online”. I absolutely love the internet and the potential that it holds. I have looked at blogging on and off over the last few years wondering how I could make use of the technology, how it might help build my business and more importantly, how I could learn and grow through my interaction with other like minded people.

    My concern is that I already spend enough time on the keyboard and maintaining a blog appears to be a great deal of work. This is something that I will have to weigh.

    But you captured my attention when you summarized and said it this way, “So carve out your niche aligned with your passions, value and purpose; get a blog get a feel for how to do it authentically.” Maybe I would rather create a personal blog rather than a business based blog. Something to think about.

    Thank you.

    Bob



  2. Steve Borsch on February 20, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    Bob,

    Thanks for reading…and for commenting!

    For grins I went to http://www.artofdisplay.com and checked out your company. Nice site, good products, great client list.

    Here’s a thought…even though I don’t necessarily go for his approach…the concept is still sound: the CEO blogger.

    One of the ones I enjoy most is Bob Parsons, the CEO of GoDaddy: http://www.bobparsons.com/

    This guy came out of nowhere and I’ve heard him speak. He’s an ex-Marine with a drill sergeant demeanor and talked about being “counted out” by the smart people since he didn’t come from an internet-centric background and was fairly clueless. He’s put GoDaddy on the map and is an absolutely rabid blogger. In my view, his offbeat demeanor comes through in his blog and he gets to interact, engage and talk with his customers via the blog.

    The Art of Display web site is good and you point our your values: Communication is Key; It’s About Life Not Work; It’s About Making Good Choices; Our Clients Partner With Us; and so on.

    Where is the human being talking about these and your other values? Telling your clients stories about how you or your people did something that embodied them? I submit that you could blog and do so right on the site itself (though in Flash you might have issues…but I digress).

    Another benefit would be to empower your team — especially those that interact directly with clients — to have their own value in their own blog so they could talk directly to clients. I’ve even seen CSR’s (customer service reps) within companies that have had a series of blogs for all clients that both management and the CSR themselves could instantly post to as well as have links to important information…all while the CSR is able to personalize a post for a specific client.

    Where could you talk about what’s happening in the virtual trade show space and what it means for your business? This is already moving forward within, for example, Second Life and I’ll bet your clients are looking at better and cheaper venues and methods to sell to an interested clientele.

    Does it take alot of time? Maybe. Depends on the value you decide to put in. I’ve had C-level executives simply use one key advantage to blogging platform software and that is sending an email to a “super secret” email address. The Subject line is the blog post title and the email body is the body of the post. Tough to stick images in using this method, but it’s really fast and easy (if you send email…just kidding!). These same C-level exec’s also sent their posts via Blackberry or Treo from the road.

    My $.02…



  3. George Johnson on February 20, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Thanx for the plug Steve. I agree that the personal blog is way better than a resume. I’ve had mine for about two years and what it does is let people know right up front whether we would be a fit for coaching.

    http://betweenseeing.typepad.com/between_seeing/



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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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