Sunday, August 20, 2023

Gigs and Jobs and Careers - Oh My!

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

“Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!” This quote, made famous by Judy Garland as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, could certainly apply to a zoo.

Or a life in business. If we change it to gigs and jobs and careers - Oh My!

What is the gig economy?

The IRS defines the gig economy as “activity where people earn income providing on-demand work, services or goods,” often through an app or website. This area of the job market consists of temporary, contract and freelance jobs.

The term “gig economy” gets thrown around most often in reference to jobs like working with a rideshare company, such as Uber or Lyft, making deliveries or walking dogs. But the gig economy spans virtually every industry and represents a large part of the workforce. A 2022 survey commissioned by Upwork found that 69 million Americans had freelanced within the previous 12 months.

What is a career vs. a job?

A career is a lifelong professional journey. The purpose of a career is to support your lifestyle while also reaching your goals and ambitions. In order to reach such goals, you may need a certain level of training, education or experience. Your career path tends to build upon itself. When first starting out in your profession, you typically have an entry-level position. As time goes on, you progress in your career, getting more advanced opportunities.

A job is something you do to earn money. It is less focused on your future achievements and more on the present moment of supporting yourself. Most jobs are short-term experiences, where you work for an hourly wage. Rather than focusing on your professional development, you're more focused on getting a specific task done.

Here are a dozen differences between jobs and careers:

Benefits: With a career, you often see full-time benefits. These may include paid-time-off, sick days, health insurance, dental coverage, retirement contributions and stock options. Jobs typically do not come with such benefits.

Hours: Those in careers tend to work a set of regular hours. Rather than clocking in and out of work, they are paid a set salary. With a job, your work tends to be more time-oriented. Your employer tends to pay you on an hourly basis. You may not have as predictable of a schedule, potentially working part-time hours.

Education: Careers tend to require more education and training than jobs do. With a career, you typically need some kind of degree or specialized skill set.

Intentions: The purpose of working a job is to earn money. Although your career is still how you support yourself, you also work toward reaching your goals and ambitions. When choosing a career, people tend to base this decision on their talents and passions.

Goals: Jobs focus on short-term goals while careers are centered around your long-term goals.

Turning one into the other: What starts off as a job can actually turn into a career. Think of your career as your long-term professional experience. Your jobs can make up a part of this experience.

Where you learn skills: While your main intent of a job is to make money, you can learn valuable skills that could translate into a career. For instance, when working as a barista, you learn how to follow directions and provide customer service. These skills are helpful for a wide variety of long-term careers.

Hierarchy: Those deeper into their careers tend to oversee people with jobs. For instance, a restaurant manager typically has a career in food and hospitality. They oversee waiters and waitresses who may not intend to turn foodservice into a career.

Types of work: Over the course of your career, you're likely to try a wide variety of responsibilities and tasks. With each individual job you have, you're likely to have fewer responsibilities compared to your entire career.

Work environments: Those with jobs vs. careers work in a variety of environments. Those with careers tend to get to know their teams better since they are in this role long-term.

Advancement: With a job, you may see a raise or promotion. This then can build into a career. As you get more experienced, you'll see even more job advancement opportunities.

Continued education: In order to progress in many careers, you need to continue your education. For example, many healthcare professionals must complete a certain amount of credits to keep their licenses.

OK, land the plane, Tom.....

Today, as of this blog, the 2023 Writers Guild of America strike has been going on for 3 months, 2 weeks, and 1 day. They say that the strike will continue on indefinitely. It surpassed 100 days, which is how long the 2007-2008 strike lasted. So, the 2023 strike is now officially the second longest WGA strike in history. The 1988 strike lasted 154 days. For the first time in over 60 years, the unions representing actors and Hollywood writers are staging a strike at the same time, protesting low pay and studios' proposals for using artificial intelligence tools in production. More than 175,000 union members are out of work until a deal is made.

The WGA demands increased minimum compensation in all areas of media, increased residuals, appropriate TV series-writing compensation from pre- to post production, increased contributions to pension and health plans, the strengthening of professional standards and the overall protections for writers, and more.

A “gig” (sometimes called a “side hustle”) is generally a short-term task, project or job that a person takes up to make extra cash. But many do gig work long term or as a main source of income. Some gig workers get paid per task or assignment. Others earn an hourly rate. The WGA is not gig work.

The folks that worked at Verizon on the BlueJeans product, no longer have jobs - with BlueJeans. They might still work at Verizon, in another product line. Or, they might go work for a competitor of BlueJeans, such as Zoom or Webex or GoTo, or Adobe, or RingCentral, or Dialpad, or...

Careers, are different. When you have a career, you are committed to an industry, to a cause, to a purpose. 

My friend Lee Cockerell is the former Executive Vice President of Operations for the Walt Disney World® Resort. “As the Senior Operating Executive for ten years Lee led a team of 40,000 Cast Members and was responsible for the operations of 20 resort hotels, 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, a shopping & entertainment village and the ESPN sports and recreation complex in addition to the ancillary operations which supported the number one vacation destination in the world.” One of Lee’s major and lasting legacies was the creation of Disney Great Leader Strategies which was used to train and develop the 7000 leaders at Walt Disney World. Lee has held various executive positions in the hospitality and entertainment business with Hilton Hotels for 8 years and the Marriott Corporation for 17 years before joining Disney in 1990 to open the Disneyland Paris project. 

Lee had a career in hospitality and entertainment. Not a gig. Not a job. A CAREER. 

When you are willing to go on strike, when you are willing to walk a picket line, protesting for 3 months, 2 weeks and 1 day to fight for your way of earning a living, I think that is the purest definition of a CAREER. You are willing to NOT work, to have the opportunity TO WORK, in your chosen profession. 

Again, when planning your professional goals, it's important to know the difference between a gig, a career and a job. Although you work different ways to earn money and support your lifestyle, the various concepts aren't quite the same. With a career, you focus much more on your professional journey and achieving your goals.

They say that "you are not your job" but I am not so sure - because when your job becomes a CAREER, and - that career is something you are willing to fight for, to sacrifice for, to walk a picket line for - I think that you are indeed your career. You become your career, you identify as your career. The Writers Guild of America, the more than 175,000 union members are out of work - by their choice - until a proper deal is made. 

The WGA writers and SAG-AFTRA actors are demanding revised residual revenue structures from streaming platforms, higher salary minimums, and strict restrictions on the industry's use of A.I. MANY unions will now face the same existential question: Will A.I. be a useful tool to elevate and enhance artistic accomplishment, or will it make their jobs obsolete? For many union members, it is not just about money, or a way to make a living. [ How will AI change medicine, law, education, transportation, retail..... etc.? ]

It sounds like this WGA / Hollywood strike is all about their LIFE. They are fighting for their lives

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Jean, why so blue?

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

Jean is a common female given name in English-speaking countries. It is the Scottish form of Jane (and is sometimes pronounced that way). It is sometimes spelled Jeaine.

And, Jeans are a type of pants or trousers made from denim or dungaree cloth. Often the term "jeans" refers to a particular style of trousers, called "blue jeans", with copper-riveted pockets which were invented by Jacob W. Davis in 1871 and patented by Davis and Levi Strauss on May 20, 1873.

OK, Google, what is BlueJeans? Ah, not the pants....

BlueJeans by Verizon is a cloud-based video conferencing service. Verizon acquired BlueJeans in 2020 for $400 million. BlueJeans is a top-rated service for online meetings. It offers high-fidelity audio and video, collaboration features, and enterprise-grade security. BlueJeans offers a free plan - BlueJeans Basic - that lets you meet for as long as you want without a time limit or credit card. You can use the BlueJeans mobile app to attend and host conference calls from an iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Verizon plans to shut down BlueJeans in 2024. 

Wait, wut? Did you say........ shut down??? 

Google: Tom, did I stutter? Let's try again:

Verizon is shutting down BlueJeans, its Zoom competitor it acquired in the early days COVID. They sent out an email to BlueJeans customers that said that “we have made the difficult decision to sunset our suite of BlueJeans products.” BlueJeans’ recently introduced free Basic plan and free trial offerings will be discontinued on August 31st, according to the email. That email doesn’t say how long people on BlueJeans’ paid offerings will have access to the company’s services. Verizon didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

BlueJeans was a huge acquisition for Verizon; when the deal was announced in April 2020, CNBC reported that Verizon was going to pay around $400 million for the company. At the time, video conferencing companies like Zoom and BlueJeans were seeing increased usage during the pandemic, but now that many companies have implemented policies bringing workers back to the office, virtual collaboration apps aren’t quite as hot as they used to be.

OK, like they do in the movies.... A FEW YEARS AGO....

Verizon called me and said, "Tom, we see what you did with Zoom. Would you like to sell BlueJeans? Sure, why not. "OK, we'll make you a partner."  Cool.

One week later: "Tom, you should be a DIRECT partner, so that you don't have to buy through distribution." Cool.

One week later: "Tom, you are actually at TIER 1 partner, and your new margin is 30%." Cool. 

One week later: "Tom, you are actually a TIER 1 ELITE partner, so you can offer the entire portfolio of Verizon (not just BlueJeans) to all of NYDLA | USDLA | NADLA." Cool. 

One week later: "Tom, we are thinking about launching something like BlueJeans Academy, to teach mastery of all things BlueJeans. You run the Distance Learning Association, would you be interested in running BlueJeans Academy, for ALL BlueJeans customers? You would be a perfect fit for this...

You mean something like ??? 

OK, like they do in the movies.... PRESENT DAY......

As I write my Sunday Blog, I reflect on the last two years as a Tier 1 ELITE partner for BlueJeans. I would try to "fit that into" almost every conversation... "well, as a TIER ONE ELITE PARTNER:....blah, blah, blah... In the last year, with spiffs, we were making 50% margin. FIFTY PERCENT. Well, that's just nuts.

In May 2020, when Verizon acquired BlueJeans it was a business-focused video app that first launched in 2011. At the beginning of 2022, Google and Verizon partnered to preload the BlueJeans app on (since-discontinued) Glass Enterprise Edition 2 smart glasses sold by Verizon. More recently, BlueJeans gained a free tier this year, opening the app to many more potential customers and competing with the free consumer-ready services of Google Meet and Zoom. As a Tier 1 ELITE partner, I was TELLING THE WORLD to for free - from ME! And then, upgrade to paid, as necessary, when necessary. Again, upgrade to paid through ME

That said, many people in North America were unaware of BlueJeans until they might have joined a meeting via BlueJeans. Suffice it to say BlueJeans didn’t take off in popularity. Verizon seemed to be happy keeping BlueJeans a secret. Must be nice to have so much damn money. Ok, moving on...

This past week, all of the members of NYDLA | USDLA | NADLA using Verizon’s BlueJeans service were sent an email explaining that the app is being “sunset.” The first phase of that shutdown process is that the free trial and the free “BlueJeans Basic” tier will no longer be available as of August 31, 2023. Business customers of BlueJeans will likely be given a longer period to transition off of the platform.

When pressed, the CFO of Verizon said they shut down its video conferencing service BlueJeans due to a "changing market landscape". BlueJeans was never able to gain the same traction as apps like Zoom and Google Meet. Additionally, BlueJeans' user base reportedly declined as workers returned to the office after working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The REASON why Verizon made us (me?) a TIER 1 ELITE partner was because we should know what we are talking about, for all things "remote". We were (still are) the #1 promoter of Zoom in North America. Whenever I was presenting live, or when I was doing keynotes at events, I would say "just call me". Ahem. 

OK, land the plane, Tom. 
In my career, I have learned that no amount of marketing can offset a bad product. Also this: no matter how good the product, without proper marketing, it will fail. 

I spent the last two years telling the world to and proudly hosting LIVE and hybrid events that were  As I write this blog, I STILL think that the BlueJeans technology, the BlueJeans experience is (ah, was) amazing. HD Video. Dolby Audio. No other platform in the industry had that combination, only BlueJeans. 

I respect Verizon's decision. It makes sense on a business level, on a Wall Street level. I get that. Now, I have to get used to saying that I WAS the Tier 1 ELITE partner for all things BlueJeans. Past tense. It was a great ride. 

OK. No more pity party for me. We have work to do - migrating all of our BlueJeans customers over to Zoom. And now we are going to be very busy telling every business and every school in North America to get from Verizon, since the world seems to (once again) be...

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Ice, Ice, Baby

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

We just signed up to be a Master Agent with  Cool! I'll save that story for next Sunday.

THIS Sunday, let's talk about marketing. As a thank you, as a small but very classy gesture, the folks at sent me the super cool ICE SHAKER (as seen on Shark Tank). First, it is a really good water bottle. 

But here is where it gets interesting. The packaging, the stuff that came inside the bottle, asked me to register. You know, activate my warranty. And, I'm thinking to myself: what warranty? I was trying to think of what could go WRONG with the bottle? Anyway, I took the bait and I clicked on the QR code.

And so begins the email drip marketing parade. I was expecting it, I predicted it. Welcome email #1. Welcome email #2. And, a VIDEO from the founder, Chris. 

But this was different. Right off the bat, the video from Chris said: "Hey Tom!"

Wait, wut? How did he know my name? How did the video have my name - in the welcome video?

I walked back the link to find a company Maverick. I found their website. It says:"At Maverick, we're building a new way to send personalized videos at scale for online retailers."

Yes, Maverick. Yes you did...

I have since played that "Hey Tom!" video many times. If one looks real close, it seems that they have spliced in a "Hey Tom!" with the rest of the generic welcome video. Unless you really look super close, you cannot tell. Now, I am not sure exactly how this sorcery is done, but it caught MY attention for sure. As I write this Sunday Blog, I am thinking to myself "Self, did Chris record everyone's name, creating like a library of names? Or is this some form of AI wizardry? Did they get my name from the warranty registry, and did AI make this personalized video for the "Hey Tom!" intro? 

I need this marketing automation technology for my stuff. I need Maverick for my products, my services. I'll be reaching out to the CEO of Maverick. I'll be asking them if they have any type of reseller program, or agent program, or VAR program. I can sell this marketing technology stuff, big time. The personalized video grabbed me and it shook me - kinda like an Ice Shaker bottle. (sorry...had to...).

Selling is not Marketing. People confuse the two all the time. 

Marketing is the process of getting people interested in a company's product or service. It includes activities such as advertising, selling, and delivering products to consumers or other businesses. Marketing also involves market research, analysis, and understanding the interests of the ideal customer. 

The purpose of marketing is to generate revenue for a brand, company, or organization. Marketing professionals and teams achieve this through strategic digital activities that drive traffic, qualified leads, and sales. Hello Maverick. 

Marketing pertains to all aspects of a business, including product development, distribution methods, sales, and advertising.

Selling is a transaction where money is exchanged for a good or service. It also refers to the process of persuading a person or organization to buy something. During a sales negotiation, the seller attempts to convince the buyer on the benefits of their offer. If the buyer wishes to strike a deal, they will give the seller an agreed upon amount of money. 

Selling is about generating sales by maximizing sales and is a money oriented approach. In marketing, emphasis is given on the wants of the consumer. Whereas in selling, emphasis is on the company's products. 

In my world, the marketing guy (or gal) tees up the ball - and the sales guy (or gal) hits the ball. Marketing gets the eyeballs, sales does the right thing with those eyeballs. 

Ok, so I am now a fan (like Mark Cuban is...) of the Ice Shaker. And, I definitely think that the folks at Lumen are a classy bunch for sending me one. But I am really impressed with this marketing technology. 

Expert Level: what if I use such marketing automation technology as we march across North America, telling the world to ??? 

Yeah, that would really be something, right? 
Hey Lumen! Look what you just did!!!