Working Five Jobs at One Time is Never Worth It

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My lake house serenity

I used to live full time on a beautiful lake in middle Georgia.  The view from the house was simply gorgeous (that is the view from the upper deck above) and the sunsets were breath taking.  You would think that the first thought every morning was to look out the glass doors and gaze at the lake as the morning sun began to sheen across the water. 

But it wasn’t.

My first thought was, I have to get to work to pay the mortgage and that job was 65 minutes away.

You would think after a two plus hour commute, that my final thought at the end of each day would be contemplated as I sat on my dock, listening to the gentle lapping of the lake against the rock wall along the shore of my property and the sporadic splash of a fish that would interrupt the soft chorus of the woodland creatures and insects.   

But it wasn’t.  I rarely got down to my dock.

My final thoughts were expended within the darkness of the four walls of my master bedroom, as I lied awake in bed, wondering how I could make more money.  There was always that pressure, the pressure of finding new opportunities and the time to implement them.

Time was the real problem because opportunity is all around us.

Time was my biggest nemesis because I had four jobs.  I held an IT management job forty hours a week that also consumed another 15 hours of commuting time.  I served as the music director of a local church, which included playing the piano and organ for all the services as well as leading and conducting the choir.  If that were not enough, I taught an online IT class two nights a week.  That would not have been prohibitive other than the fact that the students were located in California and the studio I taught from was in Georgia.  Class did not end until after midnight my time.  And then, just for giggles, I worked for a well-known IT guru performing a multitude of tasks to make his life more efficient, probably so that the first and last thoughts of each and every day were not about making money.  Who knows, he may have emailed me my assignments as he sat on his own dock somewhere, listening to the lapping of the waters of his own lake.  Come to think of it, I also remoted in now and then to an IT server farm in Perth, Australia where I did maintenance on this company’s datacenter out there. 

So I guess I had five jobs.  I’m not sure.  They all seemed to run together after a while.

None of those jobs were overly strenuous.  They weren’t like nailing shingles to the roof of a two-story house in the hot Georgia sun as I did one summer in my mid-twenties.  I actually enjoyed each of the jobs, especially the music gig at the church.  It was just the consortium of all of them together, week after week, month after month.

And why did I work these four, scratch that, five jobs?

It wasn’t to retire early.  It wasn’t to start my own business.  It wasn’t to pay for the cancer treatments for a loved one.

It was to pay for stuff.  Stuff that if I died, I couldn’t take with me.  Much of the stuff consisted of things I didn’t want anyway.  During my marriage my wife and owned two houses simultaneously, well, we didn’t own them, the bank did.  The bank held the deeds; I just worked five jobs like a slave to pay for those deeds sitting in some bank vault in some far off city somewhere.  I did use those houses.  I used them to lay on my bed at night with my heart racing trying to figure out how to work a sixth job in order to pay for them. 

Some of that stuff included a fancy SUV.  I forget most of the other stuff; after all, it was just stuff.  Stuff is forgettable.  The kind of stuff you remember is special moments like when I took my daughter and her best friend bar hopping in their favorite college town one night, or one glorious afternoon I spent hiking the cliffs of Moore with my girlfriend, gazing out at the north Atlantic and watching the waves crash against the east Irish coast.

Those are the kinds of things that worth working for, maybe even working two jobs for at one time.

Just not five.

But today I am free of most of the stuff that consumed my life, and thus free of the burdening obligation to pay it all.

There are still times that my first or last thought on a given day concerns money.  Old habits are hard to break.  But I make a point for at least one of those moments each and every day to center around something beautiful about life.

 

 

 


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How Many Unproductive or Dead Assets do you have in your Personal Life?

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Few will debate that 2016 was the year of the disruptors.  Whether it was the proliferation of industry disruptors such as Uber and Airbnb or political disruptions such as Brexit and the Presidential elections, the past twelve months have brought unprecedented levels of change, confusion and at times, disorder.  To some degree, the fruition of the political disruptions taking place in the United States and Europe is attributed to the stagnation of wages and personal income across the western world.  According to research conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute, close to 70% of people in 25 advanced countries saw no increase in their earnings between 2005 and 2014.  This translates into roughly a half a billion people whose earnings have languished for a decade.  Whether political solutions can reverse this trend remains to be seen.  It may be in fact that the western world is only in the early innings of what will be an elongated quagmire of stagnation.  If that is the case, it is time for individuals to examine and streamline our lives in the same manner as a small business owner of corporate CEO.

How many unproductive or dead assets do you have in your personal life?  Logan Green, the CEO of the #2 car sharing company, Lyft, foretells an inspiring vision of the transportation revolution he sees taking place in the United States.  For most people, the automobile is the second most expensive asset they own and correspondingly entails their second largest debt expense.  Green points out that the average vehicle in the U.S. is only utilized 4% of the time.  This means that your most expensive asset is lying dormant 96% of the time.  Imagine if you were a business owner and your second most expensive asset was unproductive 96% of the day?  You would probably be out of business!  Yet, millions of people wake up every day to go to work in order to finance an asset that adds no value to their lives 96% of the time.

Which is why companies such as Uber and Lyft have experienced prolific growth rates over the past several years.  For some people in urban areas, Uber and Lyft have become their primary means of transportation.  For others, it allows them to put their automobiles to greater use and supplement their incomes in their free time.  Their dormant automobiles are now revenue generating resource.  Eliminating a dead asset from your personal life or increasing the productivity of that asset by even 15% can result in huge dividends.

Real estate is another example.  I know an empty nester couple that resides in a three-story house.  When asked why they continue to hold on to such an expensive house in the suburbs that is far from their work they explain that they need the extra room for when their kids come to visit.  The kids come to visit once a year during the holidays.  In other words, for 51 weeks out of the year, this couple continues to finance, clean, heat and cool rooms they do not need.  What’s more, there is an opportunity cost for holding on to a house with so much wasted space.  Instead of supporting empty rooms, they could be funding more vacations, paying off debts or even retiring early.  Now consider all the people with second homes?  They visit their beloved lake or beach homes 6 – 10 times a year and much of that time is spent cleaning, mowing the grass and doing everyday repairs.  For the same amount of money they allocate to twelve mortgage payments every year, they could be frolicking in Europe and taking an African Safari.  Like Uber, share economy websites such as VRBO and Airbnb are opening up new opportunities for homeowners on both sides of the business.

Two years ago brought in a turnaround specialist to examine my life.  That specialist was myself, and for months, I conducted an inventory life looking for ways to streamline my life and garner greater levels of efficiency and productivity.  After years of juggling multiple jobs to finance multiple mortgages, car payments, and a slew of other cinder blocks that were dragging me underwater, I can breathe again.  Like so many other Americans, my work generating income has remained stagnant, yet I have more discretionary income than I have had in twenty years.  With a new level of agility, I am able to take advantage of opportunities, rather than be inflicted with opportunity costs.  Just like the business world that is learning that flexibility and responsiveness are essential ingredients to sustainability, we as individuals must become nimble and agile in order to live the good life.


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The Curse of the Capricorn

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the capricorn goat

I am a Capricorn.  I’ve never been one to look at my daily astrology chart, but my dad instilled a sense of Capricorn pride in me from an early age.  My dad is a Capricorn as well. He told me he even had a boss at one time who only hired Capricorns.  If you are unfamiliar with the Capricorn symbolism, we are the mountain goat that scales the rocky cliffs.  We are planners and are constantly working on multiple goals simultaneously.  Like a good chess player, we are always thinking five moves ahead.  We are part juggler and part conjurer, part manager and part engineer.  We need our lives to be in order to keep everything running smoothly. 

We relentlessly pursue our goals and do not rest until we achieve our objectives. Everything we do is about reaching the end goal.  We are obsessed with seeing the fruition of our dreams.  Almost everything we do is part of a greater plan.  Every act, every intention, every undertaking has a purpose. 

We are silent achievers, and most people underestimate us.  They compare us in contrast to the robust looking Aries ram, Taurus the bull or Leo the lion and just nod their heads.  They say to themselves that goat doesn’t have a chance. 

But while those mighty signs charge ahead of us, relying on their physical strength to overcome whatever obstacles lie ahead, we have already mapped out the journey.  And as they stumble, and eventually fall, tumbling back down the mountain, we meticulously make our way up the rocky cliffs, one step at a time, carefully maneuvering the narrow path, until finally it is us who stand at the crest of the mountain peak, enjoying the view in our success and triumph.  Never underestimate the goat.

Being a Capricorn is also a curse. For as we are enjoying the crisp mountain air, the wondrous view from the mountain peak we have just scaled, taking in the sense of accomplishment, we see another mountain peak just ahead.  That mountain is taller than the one where we stand, its view even more enticing, or so we tell ourselves.  This discovery propels us forward on an endless journey to scale that next peak, and the next one, and the next, for there is always another one.   Any sense of accomplishment is quickly circumvented by the desire to achieve the next objective.  It is a never-ending cycle.  It is the curse of the Capricorn.

It gets tiring being the goat.  Ask those who personally know us well, and they will tell you.  Now and then, we crash from exhaustion.  At times we get overwhelmed from overcommitting ourselves. We forget that Father Time only allots 24 hours in a day, and that we have to find time to sleep at some point.  However, it’s hard to sleep restfully on the mountain.  There is nowhere soft to rest your head, the air is cold, and you have to constantly be aware of the edge of the cliff beside you. 

Lately, I have taken a break now and then, while ascending whichever mountain I happen to be climbing at the time, and gaze down at the lush green meadow below me.  The problem with climbing rocky cliffs is having to constantly watch out for the trail in front of you, a trail of dirt, gravel and an occasional boulder.  The sprouts of grass growing along those cliffs are few and far between and barely satisfy.  I have recently become infatuated with the meadow below and long to repose in its appealing dark green blades of grass. The meadow looks so inviting.  I long to run amongst the blooming wildflowers and enjoy their fragrant smells.  I aspire to enjoy the warmth of the sunshine, rather than continue to endure the cold thin air of the mountains.  I dream of spending days upon days in the meadow with no sense of purpose other than my own personal enjoyment and pleasure.  Rather than accomplish lofty dreams of aspiration, I find myself desiring only to lie in the meadow on a comfortable blanket with the woman I love beside me as we bask in the sun, relishing the simple enjoyments in life we’ve missed.

The truth is, I am tired of climbing mountains.  I now long for the simple pleasures of life.   My definition of Someday has now changed.

Earlier in my life I said, “Someday, I am going to record an album,” and I did.

Earlier in my life I said, “Someday, I am going to become a syndicated newspaper columnist,” and I did.

Earlier in my life I said, “Someday, I am going to break into the IT field and be very successful despite no formal academic IT training,” and I did.

Earlier in my life I said, “Someday, I am going to run for political office and get elected,” and I did.

Earlier in my life I said, “Someday, I am going to write a book,” and I did.

But now I want something completely different.

I accomplished so much in my life thus far, and yet I felt unhappy.  I sought a counselor last year to help me examine my life.  During our first two sessions, she asked me a number of questions about all of the commitments in my life at the time. At the end of the second session she said, “As I look over my notes at everything you’ve told me about your life right now, the word that comes to my mind is OVERWHELMING!  Where is your fun?  Where is your night out with the boys to go bowling, or play poker, or do a round of golf on a Saturday?  You have to crash at some point.  There’s no way you can keep up this pace without a breakdown now and then.  How have you managed to keep going at this pace for so long?”

She was right.  There was little fun in my life.  That was the moment I realized that I was tired of constantly climbing.  What good is accomplishing greatness if I have no time to enjoy it?  On my deathbed one day, it is not my accomplishments that I will relish in my last moments of life, but the loving and joyful memories that I created at one time or another with the people I love.

As I walked out of her office, I said to myself, “Someday I am going to do nothing, nothing but enjoy life to its fullest.” 

Yes, Someday, I am going to put the needs of my heart above the needs of my financial obligations.  Someday, I am going to put my personal needs ahead of my career.  Someday I am going to rediscover my spirituality.  Someday I am going to wake up and spend the entire day with the woman I love beneath the sheets.  Someday, I am going to enjoy doing nothing.

Doing nothing is very hard for a mountain goat.  It’s not in our nature.  But I know that if I don’t attain my Someday now, that I may never see it come to fruition until it’s too late to fully enjoy it.  It was upon leaving her office that the idea for this book came to fruition.  I also realized something else that day.  I recognized that I am 49 years old and that it is a very critical year for me as a human being, which is what the next chapter is all about.   

From the book, Someday, I am Going To… by Brad Rudisail, available on Amazon

 


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My Life as an Airbnb Gypsy

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My life as an Airbnb Gypsy, the new definition of home

Confessions of an Airbnb Gypsy

The other day my mom and I caught an Uber ride leaving the Atlanta Falcons game.  I love the convenience of Uber and I also enjoy talking to their drivers as my inquisitive mind is constantly fascinated with people working in the gig economy.  As I barraged the young lady at the wheel with my usual questions about life as an Uber professional, she interrupted my train of thought with a questions of her own.

“Where do you live?” she asked.

I paused for a moment, not because I felt she was imposing on my privacy or because I didn’t want to tell her.  I sat there in twenty seconds of uncomfortable silence because I didn’t know how to honestly answer her question without a twenty-minute dissertation about my life.  I responded, “That all depends on what day it is,” I said in a humorous tone.  Thankfully she let that one go with just a chuckle.

I answered her question in an attempt to be funny, but I was also being totally serious as well.  I am an Airbnb gypsy.  My residence literally depends on what day it is.  I’m not an Airbnb resident because I’m a perpetual traveler exploring the world.  I have a regular 9-5 job five days a week.  I don’t do it because I can’t afford a place of my own.  As a matter of fact, I own a house that I rent out as a vacation rental or Airbnb hub myself.  People love my home and stay at it constantly all year round, so much so that I couldn’t stay there if I wanted to, which I don’t.  I would sell it in a heartbeat if my house weren’t turning a profit.  My home is an employee to me and it is expected to produce.  If it doesn’t, a “For Sale” sign will serve as its termination notice.  Like a valued employee however, I take good care of it.  Right now it is enjoying a kitchen remodeling.  I hope my guests love the fresh new look because I am doing it for them, not me.

The road that led me to my cynicism of home ownership today was a long journey filled of stress and remorse.  I was married for over twenty years and the majority of those years we owned two houses, just not the same two.  To me they were anchors that were dragging me under, drowning me.  Despite a very successful career, we were always house poor, doling out two of everything in Noah’s Arc style: 2 power bills, 2 cable bills, 2 property taxes etc.  The second house was always plugged to me as an investment but I never witnessed any positive returns from it.  In 2002 I lost my job and was unemployed for nine months and those two houses nearly emptied our savings.  The housing bust of 2007 wiped out that fickle hallucination we refer to as home equity, wiping out any hope I had of selling them and ridding myself of those inflexible moors.  I have turned down magical career opportunities because my houses couldn’t relocate.  We could never afford exotic vacations and never saved enough for retirement.  To me, home ownership meant a life of slavery that constricted our lives.

Today I am free of the chains of home ownership.  For $30 a night I stay in a charming home that is wonderfully furnished.  I have a great bedroom with my own TV and fast Internet.  Every week I enjoy clean sheets and am furnished with fresh towels and toiletries.  The kitchen is fully stocked with every utensil I would ever need.  I have a favorite house I primarily stay at but I rotate locations as I have the privilege to be able to call some of my Airbnb hosts, friends.  Every once in a while I venture out of my comfort zone and try a new Airbnb to stay in a different part of town just to see what it is like.

I don’t stay seven nights a week at Airbnb.  I visit my mom two nights a month.  On the weekends I visit my girlfriend or go visit other friends.  If I were to stay seven nights a week I would be spending upwards of $800 a month.  Yes, you could argue I could have my own apartment for that.  But now consider that I have no power bill, no cable bill, no first and last month deposit and no contract.  My life is fluid and agile.

Because my budget is no longer busted by housing costs, I am able to travel and see the beautiful world we live in.   I was able to take a bucket list trip to Ireland earlier this year where, yes, I stayed at Airbnb homes.  In two months I am headed to Utah to go skiing where I will call a lovely Airbnb right off the ski slope my home for four nights.

This life isn’t for everyone, but it works for me, and in a time in which the uncertainties of a global economy and the impending threat of the vanquishing of jobs by technology and robots, it provides me the elasticity I need to feel secure.


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7.9 Million of Us!

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Are you 1 of the 7.9 million multi-jobbers in America today.  Buried in last Friday’s jobs report last Friday was that 301K more Americans now hold that title, the 5th highest spike in a decade.  For some it is a circumstance foisted upon them by the inability to meet their financial obligations with one job.  For others, it is a choice that garners them a good night’s sleep knowing that their personal finances and dignity are not controlled by a single job, boss or organization.  And for others, it is because of the great opportunity that the new technological world we live in allows people of talent to compete anywhere they wish.


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How Much Money did You Trade Your Dreams For?

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bob1

In the movie, Up in the Air, Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney, is informing a long time employee, Bob, that he is being let go of his position due to a large company downsizing.  Ryan is an outside consultant hired by the company because he specializes in the art of laying people off.   Bob is just one in a long line of people that Ryan must meet with over the course of two days.  As Ryan unveils the bad news to Bob, the following conversation takes place,

Ryan Bingham:  Most students work the frier at KFC. You busted tables at Il Picatorre to support yourself. Then you got out of college and started working here. How much did they pay you to give up on your dreams?

Bob: Twenty seven thousand a year.

Ryan Bingham: At what point were you going to stop and go back to what made you happy?

The movie doesn’t reveal Bob’s last name.  Bob represented more than a simple character.  Bob is an icon, a symbol of our society today, representing thousands, maybe millions of people.   At some point, many of us exchanged our dreams for a payout.  For some the payout may have been twenty-seven thousand a year like Bob.  Some may have settled for fifty-thousand while others were fortunate to negotiate six digits in the trade.  In the end, the payout doesn’t matter if you aren’t happy.  Happiness has no price tag.

At the time, we probably told ourselves it would only be temporary.  Maybe you wanted that shiny new car and you said, I will take this job I loathe just long enough to pay for the car.  Then I’ll go back to doing what I love.  Perhaps the dream of owning your own business was forestalled for the mirage of being a home owner, only to find that the upkeep and expense of a home extracted so much of your resources and time to maintain it.  Maybe we told convinced ourselves that security was more important than chasing our dream, only to find that a disruptive economy and constant technological change stifles and extinguishes whatever sense of security we convinced ourselves we had acquired.  The animal at the zoo is secure, that is along as the zoo keeper continues to come by and feed it every day.  It is only as secure as the financial viability of the zoo itself, for which it has no influence or control of.  Job security is just that, unless our boss decides he doesn’t like us, or the company’s profit margin is being squeezed by an industry disruptor, or the company’s board decides to move our division to Mexico.  We can tell ourselves we have security, until we’re called to meet some guy liked Ryan Bingham.

At one time I was working four jobs at one time.  I was working four jobs in the name of job security.  I was working four jobs to support two houses that had enslaved me.  I was working four jobs to pay for a shiny BMW for a family member and a list of other stuff.  I was a rat on a wheel, very productive, but not much sense of introspective happiness.

And then I had my Bob moment and was reminded about the trade I made years ago.  Since then I have been going through a process of decoupling and self-actualization.  Two weeks ago, I went to Ireland, a place I had always dreamed of visiting but never had the time or money.  I stayed at Airbnb’s across the country and traveled lite.  As I hiked along the Cliffs of Moher and inhaled its incredible beauty every time I turned my head, I realized that the fruition of one’s dreams is what life is all about.  That is what makes one truly happy.


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Two Very Deadly Words You Should Stop Using Right now

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You may remember from your high school chemistry course that the ordinary table salt you use every day to improve the taste of your food is made up of two deadly poisons; sodium and chlorine. Imagine that, two lethal elements come together to form a compound that not only doesn’t kill us, it actually adds aesthetic value to our lives. It makes our food taste better, and since food is such a primary part of our lives, these two toxic elements actually improve our lives when used in conjunction with one another.

In the English language there are two words that when used singularly or isolated from one another, are useful wonderful words. But when they are used in conjunction with one another they form a deadly phrasing compound.

I’m sure you’ve uttered these two words in succession. They seem innocent enough. It seems perfectly logical to use these two words as a pair. And once I point out the dangerous oxymoron that these two words make up, you will realize that you’ve probably used them more times than you will care to admit.

These two words are an evasion that help ensure that Someday never comes. Are you ready for these two words?

Here they are: “I should.”

And after today, you need to wipe these two words from your vocabulary!

So what is so terrible about this phrase? It’s because like an iceberg, you don’t see the entire object. It’s not the visible part of the iceberg that sinks ships. It’s the part that lies hidden underneath the ocean that rips a tear in the hull, sending the ship to its watery grave, and sometimes the crew as well.

“I should,” has an invisible element as well. “I should” is actually the visible part of a five word phrase and it’s the hidden aspect of it that is holding you back from seeing your Someday through.

You see, “I should” is invisibly followed by “but I won’t”

When you utter the words “I should,” you are really saying “I should, but I won’t.”

When you use that phrase with someone in a conversation, what you are saying is, “I agree with you, but I’m not going to do that.”

Maybe a friend of yours at one time suggested that you scale down your life and decrease the size of your overhead because the financial pressure of having to meet all those payments prevents you from enjoying life and you said, “I should (but I won’t).”

And now five years has passed and the bills are still mounting to support your overly large home, your two new cars and the store size selection of clothes in your master bedroom closet. You find yourself working all the time, which keeps you away from your family or simply relaxing on a lazy weekend.

Maybe you’ve reiterated the news to your family that your doctor gave you that you need to start losing weight before it starts impacting your health down the road, and when your family asks you if you will indeed follow the doctor’s advice, you answered, “I should (but I won’t).” And now ten years later, you are even more overweight and your back aches every morning and your feet hurt at the end of every day as they are forced to support your ever increasing weight.

So what are the two words you can use instead?  I will tell you next week in my blog.

Brad Rudisail
Author of the book, “Someday I’m Going To…” (on Amazon)
www.bradinthecloud.com


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What is the True Cost of Buying Something?

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Why not live more simply?

Because the more stuff we buy, the more we end up exchanging our life for the things we own.

This is a radical way of thinking about cost. Normally, we think of cost as a measure of dollars and cents. The latest iPhone costs $399. A new Toyota Prius costs around $25,000. A house on the beach in Malibu costs $20,000,000. You get the idea.

Thoreau’s key insight is that the things we buy don’t just cost money, they cost us time, effort, and sacrifice. They cost us our life.

Example. Let’s say you decide to buy a million dollar house. Thoreau would say that the real cost of the house isn’t one million dollars. The real cost is the number of years of work required to pay it off. So if it takes you 40 years of long hours working a job you hate to pay off that house, then it’s real cost is not one million dollars, it’s 40-years of life.

This is an excerpt of a blog by Nate Klemp.  The entire blog can be read at Thoreau’s Guide to Living More by Spending Less


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How VRBO and Airbnb Changed my Life, and Can Change Yours

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A short while back I inherited a lake house as a result of a divorce.  Ironically, the house was a contributing factor to the demise of our marriage.  The house had sucked the life out of me for years, foisting into juggling multiple jobs in order to subsidize the mortgage, utilities, taxes and upkeep while supporting a primary residence as well.  I had a great amount of resentment towards that house and stressed over what I would do with it.  The numbers on paper made it virtually impossible to sell it and living there would mean commuting multiple hours every day to get to my job in order to pay for it all.  Having endured so many long commutes for most of my career, I couldn’t bear the thought of being trapped in a car day in and day out for so long.  I felt like a rat on a wheel.   I would stay awake at night dreaming of how I could get away with burning that malevolent house to the ground.

And then, I discovered VRBO.com – Vacation Rental by Owner, where travelers can rent an entire house or condo rather than utilize a traditional hotel room.  With nothing to lose, I created an ad and waited.  I didn’t have to wait long.  Three days later a young couple contacted me about renting the house for a weekend so celebrate their anniversary.  Since then, I have had half a dozen anniversaries, two family reunions and a wedding hosted at my home.   What was once a hotbed of anguish and anxiety has become an epicenter of joy and celebration.

The house is now continually rented year round and it completely pays for itself today.  I even make a small profit that allows me to do renovations and upgrades to the house.  I take care of it, and it takes care of my wonderful guests.  VRBO dramatically changed my life, both financially and emotionally.

In the meantime, came the issue of where I would live?  Uncertain of what I wanted to do with my life at this point, becoming burdened with another house was the last thing I wanted to do.  I needed flexibility in my life now.  I considered an apartment but there were few choices near my employer and since all of my current furnishings had to remain at my lake house for my guests, the thought of furnishing a residence I might only be at for a year or so seemed illogical and daunting.  Both my mom and my girlfriend gave me open invitations to reside with them but both of their residences meant even longer commutes.

And then I discovered Airbnb, a truly amazing sight where people rent out their spare bedrooms to potential guests needing to a place to stay a few nights.  There was a lady named Emily who had an apartment ten minutes from my work with a furnished bedroom and private bath in a separate wing of her apartment.  She was unemployed and wanted to bring in some needed revenue.  For one year I stayed three nights a week with her.  Six months into our arrangement she obtained a job which prevented her from getting home until late in the evening due to a horrible commute.  As a result, I agreed to walk her dog when I would get there after work.  I miss walking that dog because Emily moved in order to be closer to her work.

Since Emily’s departure, I have begun staying at a variety of Airbnb’s.  I stay with a host name Kendall, an Uber driver, half the time who lives the closest to my work.  I also reside with over half a dozen other hosts as well.  I will stay just about anywhere that is within 25 minutes of my work and charges between 20 and 35 bucks a night.  I haven’t met a bed yet I didn’t like.  As a result, I have met some interesting hosts and been able to explore parts of the city that I never exposed myself to before.

On the weekends I usually stay with my girlfriend which manages to ground me just enough so I don’t feel like a wandering gypsy.  I have no power bill, no cable bill, no water bill.  I only have one bill – Airbnb.  In three weeks I am taking advantage of a rare opportunity to go to Ireland for a week, and yes, I am staying at Airbnb’s every night I am there.  In a way, I am simply moving my residency to Ireland for a week and since I won’t be paying rent back in the U.S., it will make the trip a whole lot cheaper.

Airbnb allows me to be close to work, save money and remain highly malleable at a critical junction in my life.  It is truly an interesting time to be alive.


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The New Employment Paradigm

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A couple years ago, the owner of a software company and dear client of mine proudly emailed me a picture of what he referred to as his “command and control center.”  It was an impressive array of servers, dual monitors, printers and laptops all congregated on a large table in his dining room with Ethernet cables and a multiport router.  Two weeks later I emailed him a photo of me on the beach sitting in a lounge chair, my laptop opened up in my lap and my cell phone sitting beside a cold beverage.  “This is my command and control center,” I wrote. 

When you work in the cloud, your office or command and control center is simply where you are at the time.  Geographical location and distance are irrelevant.  The cloud is where entrepreneurism, mobility and specialization combine to form an emerging new employment paradigm.  Just as the cloud is liberating organizations from the confines of the physical datacenter, it is slowly unshackling knowledge workers from the cubicle forever.

In 2009, renowned MIT Management Professor, Thomas Malone, authored a book called “The Future of Work,” in which he described the labor market of the coming decade:

“Imagine organizations where bosses give employees huge freedom to decide what to do and when to do it. Imagine electing your own bosses and voting directly on important company decisions. Imagine organizations where most workers aren’t employees at all, but electronically connected freelancers living wherever they want to. And imagine that all this freedom in business lets people get more of whatever they really want in life—money, interesting work, helping other people, or time with their families.”

This new future goes by more than one name.  Some call fractional employment, others call it hyperspecialization.  Whichever term you prefer; the prevailing concept is that the unit of work is no longer a whole job.  A unit of work today can be a project in which one person or a team of highly specialized workers operate together to see a project to its fruition. In this new fractional paradigm, employees will not work for a single employer, but will work for multiple employers, juggling a variety of projects and tasks, offering their skills on an as-needed basis.  A job done by one generalist is now being dispersed across whole networks of very narrow experts, a process which has usually resulted in improvements regarding quality, speed and cost. 

Of course, there is nothing new about this concept.  Business has always increased productivity by breaking work down into smaller units, the classic example being Henry Ford’s implementation of the first automobile.  By breaking down the assembly process into hundreds of small tasks, he was able to make a car that the masses could afford.  This constant division of work has traditionally benefitted society as a whole, resulting in periods of lifestyle and prosperity on a scale unimaginable two-hundred years ago.

So how did we get to this idea of fractionalizing jobs through the cloud?  Just like the computer virtualization paradigm, the initial appeal of utilizing the cloud to outsource work was simply cost savings.    The fiber optic cable that was placed under the oceans gave way to the idea of outsourcing call centers to India to the point that Bangalore, India is the highest concentration of call centers in the world.  And then, just like computer virtualization, organizations soon recognized that the value of cloud outsourcing went far beyond mere cost savings.  

“Technology shapes styles of work,” says Ed Lazowska, who holds a chair in computer science and engineering at the University of Washington. “One critical advantage of the cloud is that sharing becomes dramatically easier.”  It’s easier because it makes global communication so cheap that organizations can communicate with anyone in the developed world at virtually no cost.  This allows them to the ability to locate new talent that can not only contribute specialized tasks and knowledge, but innovation, new ideas and perspectives as well.  In the constant race to value that organizations find themselves in today, businesses must constantly pursue new means of creation and innovation.  They must achieve levels of unprecedented agility in order to respond to ever diminishing product life cycles.  With product margins continually growing smaller, businesses must turn to flexible adaptable work forces that can be created and terminated at break neck speed just like virtualized computers.

The 80’s brought us just-in-time manufacturing, which led to just-in-time product delivery for chains such as Wal-Mart.  It was only a matter of time until just-in-time employment naturally came to fruition as well.  It is cloud technology which has provided business the tools to create this new delivery system of work. 

So what type of value do cloud workers receive in this seemingly frightening model of temporary virtual teaming in a highly competitive global environment.  Well how about having more control over their careers and the types of projects they choose to become involved with?   Imagine a work life in which every day is truly a new day, bringing with it new tasks, new opportunities and new relationships?  Both workers and companies will also benefit from the elimination of the commute which wastes time, energy and brainpower.   It is an environment that will provide unlimited opportunity for specialists that are good at what they do and know how to market themselves.  Traditionally, one was limited to the geographical area as their market for their services.  Today, the world is their market.  This also means that mediocrity will have nowhere to hide as markets which lacked superior talent in the past will no longer have be restricted to the local talent pool

So how does one take part in this movement?  Well, for starters, there are sites such as upwork.com, elance.com, peopleperhour.com and 99designs.com are all sites which match employers and specialists together.  In the end though, it’s about marketing yourself through resources such as linkedin.com and other network building resources.  The catch phrase, think global act local is as trued as ever.

Some employers may require a confidentially agreement.  Some may provide or even require an email account with their organization for intercompany communication.   Virtual teams can share access to resources through cloud services such as Dropbox or OneDrive for Business, allowing file editing.  Employers can then provide access to needed resources through cloud drive services such as OneDrive and Dropbox.  Team members can communicate with each other using services such as Skype of Lync and hold weekly meetings utilizing cloud conference services such as Join.me.

Just like my earlier reference to open up this article, life can be a beach working in the cloud.  Early adapters and entrepreneurs are embracing this new paradigm of agility and mobility.  The cloud has brought with it an era in which an app such as Uber can dramatically change the business landscape of an industry.  Think of yourself as an app and get it distributed to as many phones (employers) as possible.  That today, is the recipe for success. 


Share the joy
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