When I was at a corporate IT job, I kept wondering: What are all these people doing?
Many people were on the phone. Or were already outdated by new software systems. The corporation wouldn’t fire them until much later. When layoffs were mandated.
But they were mandated. And they lost their jobs. And now I don’t know where they are.
I ran into one of these useless people at a minor league baseball game about seven years ago.
I said, George, what are you doing these days?
He said, I follow this one team. I go around to all of their games. He pointed to a woman in the first row of seats.
See that woman? She’s married to one of the players. I sat next to her at dinner last night.
I walked back to my seat. I thought to myself, good ol’ George. Like I used to say to myself when we sat next to each at work 14 years prior to that. Things change — and then they don’t.
As for me, 14 years later, I have my masks also. I am trying.
Automation is eating the world
Here’s the problem: Industrialism consumes itself. As an example: Every time a line of software is written, a job is lost.
Software increases automation, which removes the need for a worker.
Think of all the innovations happening and what they replace:
- Artificial intelligence removes the need for thinkers of basic jobs (and later…more advanced jobs).
- 3D printing removes the need for construction and many manufacturing jobs.
- Virtual reality is going to be a trillion-dollar industry that removes the ultimate middleman…air and distance.
- Robotics removes the need for much manual labor. Walmart shelves are already being stocked by robots and not humans.
And on and on. Autonomous cars remove the need for drivers and will eventually replace public transportation.
The company that hires you eventually will quit you.
Robin Chase, the founder of Zipcar, told me that automated cars will eliminate 90 percent of the auto industry.
Biochemistry and personalized medicine will turn insurance and the drug industry upside down.
If the ultimate innovation happens — “the cure” — then doctors will be needed less.
All innovation consumes the innovation of the generation earlier.
Corporatism, which is different from capitalism, wants to appease shareholders, not employees.
Employees are paid salaries that allow the shareholders to extract as much profit as possible.
And innovation forces the gap wider between the needs of the shareholders at the top and the employees who are moving closer to the bottom.
This is not a bad or a good thing. It’s reality.
Corporations want to ultimately fire you, whether you like your job or not. Their entire purpose is to create and squeeze the efficiencies out of you until you drop dead or are no longer needed.
You can love your job so you don’t want to quit. But the company that hires you eventually will quit you.
Eventually they will squeeze every bit of profit out of you. Eventually you will join the class of workers who have become outdated. Eventually they will fire you.
Quitting at the right time
View your life as a business. A business has many product lines and shifts many times during the course of its life.
Let’s call your life, Me, Inc.
When you have a single job, your life has a problem. Me, Inc. has only one product (you) and you are charging, by definition, less than what Me, Inc. should charge.
Why? Because, a corporation is really the distributor of Me, Inc. It buys you and then rents you out for a higher amount to its customers. Customers that you may never even meet or see.
And you have no other product. Because the corporation fills up all your time or you get “warned.”
The corporation (in partnership with the mortgage industry and your bank) tethers you to a location to make it harder for you to seek alternatives.
The corporation often only hires people who paid $100,000 or more for a piece of paper (a degree) when they were aged 18-22. This tethers you even more because you have to pay back that money or the government comes after you.
It’s a partnership of corporation and government and college to enslave you.
Our goal is to break out of the slavery.
It’s too easy to slip into melancholy and gloom.
And the corporation even dictates your social behavior of how you can interact with your new “friends” at the workplace.
The manual of rules is bigger than you can read to make it as easy as possible for them to discipline you or get rid of you once Me, Inc. has exhausted its own resources.
You have become an asexual, friendless, low self-esteem person handcuffed to a file cabinet that contains your mortgage and your student loan debt.
But even though it’s only one line of income for Me, Inc., it pays the bills. Until it won’t anymore.
Let’s say you have a great idea. You will want to leave your job as quickly as possible and start your own business. But have patience.
Steve Wozniak stayed at Hewlett-Packard before he finally jumped to Apple. Larry Page and Sergey Brin stayed in graduate school until Google started to become viable as a business.
I never started a great company like those guys mentioned above. Many of the companies I started were consumed by innovation so fast I either failed or was lucky to sell before that innovation hit.
But for my first business, I stayed at my full-time job for 18 months until I finally jumped.
I loved my job. And it paid well. And I liked my friends there; my boss was even a good boss.
So I left when my side business was finally able to replace my salary and a little more (a “little more” because you have to be compensated for the risk).
My side business then was able to flourish until it was sold a year later. But I never would have been able to do that if I jumped too early and was scared and anxious all the time.
Finding “the one”
The 80/20 rule refers originally to the fact that 20 percent of the seeds planted in a garden will result in at least 80 percent of the flowers that eventually bloom in the garden.
It’s applied to every area of life. Twenty percent of employees do 80 percent of the work. Twenty percent of your customers will result in 80 percent of your profits. Twenty percent of your studying will result in 80 percent of what you remember.
And so on.
But what if you square it? So 20 percent of 20 percent of what you do will result in 80 percent of 80 percent of what you value. So 4 percent of your work will result in 64 percent of the value. Square it again. One percent of your work will result in 48 percent of the value.
Everything is an experiment.
This is the rule I like. One percent of the seeds planted in the garden will result in almost 50 percent of the flowers that will bloom. For entrepreneurs, those seeds are business ideas. You need to constantly be coming up with ideas, knowing that most of them won’t work out.
And then you experiment.
Everything is an experiment. Me writing this post is an experiment.
Maybe it will be just a post. Maybe it will turn into a book. Maybe it will help one person. Maybe it will help me to get more motivated when I am most down.
I don’t know. I’m just experimenting. When you take that view, you can risk failure and know that you can learn from it.
What if I’m not a natural entrepreneur?
Stop telling yourself a corporatist myth. Corporatism has only existed for 200 years, give or take.
Before that, everyone was an entrepreneur.
Not everyone is Mark Zuckerberg. But everyone had to know the basics of negotiation, sales, coming up with ideas, apprenticeship, etc.
I called Matt Barrie at Freelancer.com, which is a half-billion-dollar company that sees 10,000,000 freelance jobs posted every month.
I asked him, “What jobs can people with just three months of online training find on your site where they can make $2,000 a month?”
Here is what he wrote me: “Every single project is tailor-made based on the needs and requirements of each employer. Nevertheless, please find a list of projects below where freelancers can easily make $2,000 or more in just a couple of days:
- Video Animation: Video projects for KickStarter/Indiegogo or an animation explainer videos for a new product/service launch are an easy and quick job to do online.
- Programming for e-commerce stores (Shopify, Magento): We have seen a huge increase in e-commerce, as well as social media commerce.
- Website testing or Web Scraping: Last minute changes on the site before the big launch, companies want to make sure the site would work as intended so they simply hire someone to test it throughout.
- Website Development and Design: WordPress fits in this category. It can be templated but it’s quick and efficient and it looks good.
- Children’s Book Illustration: Incredibly popular job on the site that pays quite well. Self-publishing is a big thing these days and illustrators on the site can provide for a huge range of different design styles that fit any requirements.
- Writing: We have seen numerous requests from people needing help with their business plans or book editing hiring experts in the field on com. It’s especially popular among non-native speakers when they need something done in English or another language and they want to do it right.
- 3D Rendering and Architecture Design: Huge skill on the site, studios are willing to pay a lot of money to get last minute support and help with their projects or contests.
- Software Architecture
- App development: Full-time staff or freelance temp workers may not always be available to help out, especially during the weekends, while our developers on the site can easily fix any issue or help to finalize projects when deadlines are tough.
- Photoshop or any other design work: Companies would pay substantial money to have their PowerPoint, Infographics, Brochures or Keynote presentations designed by a professional designer on the site.”
Where can you learn these skills?
For instance, my 14-year-old takes classes at Codecademy. One of her classmates makes a few thousand a month doing basic website development for local businesses.
Making the move
It’s too easy to slip into melancholy and gloom. Where we seek meaningless stimulus to plug the holes in our lives.
Where we focus on something from our past that latched on and never let go and now we can’t escape it. We are enslaved by it.
Every day I want to be healthy. Every day I want to be creative. Every day I want to improve my relationships. Every day I want to be grateful in difficult situations.
Then I improve. Then my evil plans work.
I can quit my job. I can quit whatever I want.
I won’t be a slave anymore.