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Rethinking Retirement

21 Mar

Retirement to most people today means the end of working a job and living off of portfolio income (401k), a pension and social security. This concept, which is fairly new, is already obsolete. To understand this let’s examine its origins and progression.

Traditionally, in early America (from its founding until the mid 1880’s), when a family member was too old or physically unable to work, the other members of the extended family took care of him. However, four important demographic changes happened in America beginning in the mid-1880s that rendered the traditional systems of economic security obsolete: The Industrial Revolution, rapid urbanization, the disappearance of the extended family and a marked increase in life expectancy.

The Industrial Revolution transformed the majority of working people from self-employed agricultural workers into wage earners working for large industrial corporations. This meant mass migrations to urban centers where the work was to be found. In the crowded urban environments, family sizes were forced to get smaller. The cost of housing, clothing and feeding an extended family (grandparents, parents and children) was undoable in the new economy. This fostered the creation of the “nuclear family” (parents and children only) which most of us are accustomed to seeing today.

The final significant change happened in the early decades of the 20th century. Better health care, sanitation, and the development of public health programs, led Americans to live significantly longer. Between 1900 and 1930, average life spans increased by 10 years. This was the most rapid increase in life spans in recorded human history.

The net result of these historical demographic and social changes was that the traditional strategies for the providing for those no longer able to work quickly dissolved.

The decade of the 1930s found America facing the worst economic crisis in its modern history. Millions of people were unemployed, and the majority of the elderly lived in dependency. The traditional sources of economic security: assets, labor, family, and charity had all failed. Radical calls for action were being made by the public. President Franklin Roosevelt responded by signing into law The Social Security Act on August 14, 1935 to pay retired workers age 65 or older a continuing income after retirement.

Fast forward to today… Four major demographic changes have made that system obsolete as we emerge from the second worst economic crisis in US history. Change from the Industrial Age to the new Innovation Age, globalization, further dissolving of the nuclear family, and another marked increase in life expectancy.

The loss of manufacturing jobs, the increase of exportation of jobs, and importation of goods from the global economy has changed the face of the job market forever. Companies no longer promise work until retirement and a pension plan for your twilight years. Nuclear families have gotten even smaller and young people are more detached from their parents as this society celebrates individuality and independence over cooperative living. Finally, as medical technology improves, people are now outliving the age for which social security, their pensions and portfolios were designed to last.

The solution… the whole concept of retirement should be reevaluated. You only retire from a job (earned income) – especially a job you don’t enjoy. There is no retirement from passive income sources. With passive income sources that pay dividends (real estate, securities and business ownership), you work hard to acquire the asset and then it continues to pay you continuously until the market changes and it can no longer provide positive cash flow. You don’t retire; you simply shift your resources into a new cash producing asset.

Peer-to-Peer Job Sites Inspire Micro-Entrepreneurs

12 Feb

By Darren Dahl

Thu Feb 9, 2012 2:32pm EST

(Reuters) – Chris Mok, like many Americans over the past few years, lost his job in the wake of the Great Recession.

While Wok, 46, diligently sent out resumes trying to replace his Macy’s marketing job he lost in 2009, he also kicked in to help his wife, Isha, run Hi’iaka, her Hawaiian-themed florist shop in San Francisco.

It was early last summer, when many florist businesses see a bump in business from graduations, that Wok first heard about a site called Task Rabbit, where people can post jobs of any just about any kind – such as helping with a move, painting a room or even running an errand – or bid to work on a job posted by someone else via computer or on the go with a GPS-enabled smartphone. Mok suggested that his wife try the site out as a way to hire on a few extra hands for the busy season.

His wife’s experience with Task Rabbit went so well that Wok, who hadn’t worked outside of his wife’s business in about nine months, came to a realization: why couldn’t he earn some extra money bidding on jobs himself?

“I hit the ground running and have been working almost seven days a week since July,” says Mok, who now makes about $3,500 a month tackling everything from handyman repairs to hanging whiteboards and assembling Ikea furniture for the burgeoning number of startup companies in his area.

“It feels great to be your own boss and to pick and choose the jobs you take on.”

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that the hot button political issue these days is the nation’s unemployment rate. In January, the U.S. jobless rate was 8.3 percent, on its way down from last summer’s rate of 9.1 percent.

That’s why the rise of online marketplaces, so-called peer-to-peer job sites like Task Rabbit are so exciting. They promise to generate new employment opportunities, or let just about anyone earn some extra income.

“We’re enabling people to invest in and engage with folks in their community in a way that I think we’ve forgotten,” says Leah Brusque, a former programmer with IBM who founded Task Rabbit in 2008, just as the recession was unfolding. “And we’ve done that by turning them into micro-entrepreneurs.”

Online job sites have been around a while, of course, and even sites like e-lance and oDesk have become viable markets to outsource highly-skilled jobs such as programming, design and writing tasks.

But what makes Task Rabbit and the growing number of others like it such as Coffee & Power and Zaarly different is that their jobs vary widely and often involve face-to-face interactions in the real world. Skillshare, for instance, is a site based in New York City that enables people to teach or attend a class on just about anything. A recent search revealed classes ranging from how to eat healthy or how to crochet an Alpaca rug – not online, but in person.

“We are changing the way people think about doing business with the people around them,” says Bo Fishback, formerly the vice president of entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation, who founded Zaarly in March 2011. “We’re making it possible to ask for and get anything, in real time, from the people around you.

Mechanically, most of these sites work in similar fashion. People can post jobs, or bid on them, while the site handles the payment process – usually taking a small percentage fee of the transaction for itself. Both parties involved in a transaction can then rate each other after the job has been completed. At Task Rabbit, which has some 3,000 registered bidders, some $4 million of activity is reported every month, which, while impressive, is still a sliver of the estimated $473 billion earned by freelancers in 2010.

Those kinds of numbers have given high-profile investors reasons to take notice. Zaarly, for instance, reeled in $1 million from a group of investors that included Ashton Kutcher (while also adding Meg Whitman as a board member). Similarly, Coffee & Power, which was founded by Philip Rosedale, the creator of the virtual online world game SecondLife, recently raised about $1 million from investors like Jeff Bezos.

“Our mission has been to find out how you get people who are interested in working for each other to cluster and find each other in the real world,” says Rosedale, whose business plan combines an online market with currently three physical locations – upscale coffee shops in San Francisco, Santa Monica and, soon, Portland, Oregon – where people can meet and make a deal.

There are, of course, critics who point to the fact that it can be difficult if not impossible for someone to earn a living bidding on $100 jobs. But, if the number of people flocking to these sites to not just bid on jobs but also post them continues, we might just see a change in the concept of what a job is.

“We’re still early in the game, but we think we’re reinventing the concept of how we all go about working,” says Rosedale.

Twitter Redesigns Its Site

12 Dec

DECEMBER 9, 2011

By AMIR EFRATI

Twitter Inc. on Thursday announced a redesign of the micro-blogging service and new features to help widen its appeal.

In the biggest announcement since Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s creator, returned to the company as an executive in March, the company said that when people first sign up to use the service, Twitter will help them discover information that might interest them, based on their location and other signals.

“It’s not just a visual redesign but a conceptual redesign to make Twitter more accessible to the next billion users,” said Satya Patel, a Twitter senior executive, at an event inside the San Francisco-based company’s future headquarters in an Art Deco building in a blighted neighborhood here.

The redesign, which will roll out globally over the next few weeks, will add a section to every Twitter user’s account called “Stories” that shows them content on Twitter they may find interesting. “It’s the first step to start to surface all the rich content that’s pouring into the platform for people who are experiencing it for the first time,” Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said.

Twitter announced a redesign of the micro-blogging service and new features to help widen its appeal, Amir Efrati reports on The News Hub. Photo: AFP / Getty Images.

Twitter, which lets people broadcast messages called “tweets” of up to 140 characters in length, is attempting to become an online-advertising powerhouse but still faces challenges including the perception that many people don’t understand how to use the service, which includes symbols such as “@” and “#,” and don’t know what kind of information they can view on it. People use Twitter to keep up with the latest news about everything from technology and politics to transportation delays and promotions by big retailers.

The company recently said more than 100 million people actively use Twitter. The majority of its accounts are based overseas, the company has said.

In August the company raised money at a valuation of more than $8 billion and now has more than 700 employees, who will move into the new headquarters in mid-2012. Its fledgling online-ad business is expected to generate around $145 million this year, according to research firm eMarketer, as brands such as Starbucks Corp., luxury-brand giant LVMH and others dip their toes into Twitter’s ad products, which aims to target ads based on people’s personal interests. That revenue figure is up from $45 million last year.

Mr. Dorsey, who was Twitter’s first chief executive and has long been chairman of its board, said that, on average, between 3% to 5% of people interact with, or “engage,” with ads they see on Twitter. That figure is higher than many other forms of online advertising.

Bloomberg NewsExecutive Jack Dorsey, in New York this year, oversees Twitter’s look.

The five-year-old Twitter is competing with other social media companies such as social network Facebook Inc. for the attention of marketers. Mr. Costolo said Thursday that the company is testing a long-awaited “self-serve” system that lets anyone buy ads on Twitter, similar to the kind of system that propelled Google Inc.’s growth, and that it would become available more broadly next year.

Twitter on Thursday also announced that brands such as American Express and organizations such as the American Red Cross will soon be able to customize their publicly-viewable Twitter pages to have more control of how they look.

The company has leased 220,000 square feet in its future headquarters, a space that “holds thousands of people,” Mr. Costolo said.

Alicia Keys Gets In A Global State of Mind

28 Nov

By Christopher John Farley
Alicia Keys proclaimed that she was in an “Empire State of Mind” in her hit anthem with rapper Jay-Z. But recently, her outlook has been more global.

Keys, a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, is the co-founder of Keep a Child Alive, a nonprofit that offers support to children and families affected by HIV and AIDS in Africa and India. The native New Yorker is featured in a new documentary called “Keep a Child Alive with Alicia Keys” for which she took five young Americans on a tour of places in South Africa that have been hit hard by HIV and AIDS. The documentary airs on Showtime on Dec. 1.

Keys also produced and wrote music for the new Broadway play “Stick Fly,” which tells the story of a wealthy African-American family on Martha’s Vineyard. The show opens Dec. 8. “It’s totally life,” she says about the production, which is not a musical but features her music between scenes. “And so the music will assist—I hope—in that energy and the emotion that you’ll get from seeing the show. I’m excited. I can’t wait for people to see it.”

Speakeasy talked to Keys about her most recent work.

In order to win a trip with you to South Africa as you filmed your documentary, people texted you words that they associate with the country. When you think of South Africa, what words come to your mind?

When I think of South Africa, I really think of…I guess I can only say one word, but the word that comes to mind is inspiration. The people that I meet, they are the most powerful people I’ve ever met. I’ve met kids who are 14, 15 years old who have lost everything but are still figuring out ways to care for a younger brother or a way to keep a roof over their heads or put food in their mouths, or figure out a way to still go to school which is so hard when you have to be the adult, the parent, the breadwinner, the caretaker. I feel like that’s so inspiring to see how strong the spirit of a human being can be, how much gratitude there can be for the simple things in life.

Have your experiences in Africa had an effect on your songwriting?

If affects me very deeply, and I have definitely always wanted to do a conceptual album, like my version of [Marvin Gaye’s 1971 album] “What’s Going On.” Those kinds of albums can be brilliant, but they’re not easy to do at all. Because there’s a particular way they need to be done so the audience feels the emotion of it as opposed to feeling like someone is telling you something you already know. I would really like to figure out my version of that.

There’s a striking moment in the documentary where children in South Africa who have been sexually assaulted write about the abuse on the body parts of a stuffed bear. When you first saw that, what were your emotions?

Operation Bobbi Bear is an incredible organization that was started by women that saw this large problem happening in their area and wanted to do something about it. Keep a Child Alive helps to fund NGOs like that who are on the ground, know exactly what is happening in their community, and refuse to let it go on any longer. And so Bobbi Bear saw that there were these young children who had lost parents to AIDS being raped, and would often times end up infected because there’s this terrible myth [in parts of Africa] that if you have sex with a virgin that you’ll be cured…The first time I saw the bear was when you saw it on the show. I was pregnant. You see that the bear represents the child’s emotions and what they went through during the assault. I felt so angry at anyone who had ever touched a child like that. The evidence is right there, and they’ve been able to put away a lot of offenders with it.

RECESSION DRIVEN RICHES book signing at the Circle Of Sisters Expo on Saturday 10/8!

6 Oct

 

Join our very own Heru Nekhet at the Circle Of Sisters Expo this Saturday (10/8/2011)  from 3-6pm as signs & sells copies of his new book Recession Driven Riches.

He’ll be at The Network Journal table (booth #534).  See you all there!

 

For more info on Circle of Sisters, go HERE.

 

You can also order the book at Fast Pencil Amazon.com, or Barnes & Noble (in paperback and eBook)

High Performance … How Companies Can Stay Ahead of the S-Curve

24 Aug

Successful firms don’t just go from good to great, they do it again and again by managing in tandem today’s business and tomorrow’s

by Catherine Bolgar

What beats the taste of success? Tasting it over and over.

A company finds a winner with a product. It takes off, then gains momentum. Sometimes companies make the ride up last longer by introducing spin-offs or entering new markets.

Unfortunately, at some point, sales level off: markets become saturated, competitors launch even better products and tastes move on. The overall sales trajectory, therefore, resembles an S.

High-performance businesses—the ones that consistently lead their industries over many business cycles—jump from one S-curve to another again and again. How they do that is the subject of a new book, “Jumping the S-Curve: How to Beat the Growth Cycle, Get on Top, and Stay There,” by Paul Nunes and Tim Breene, leaders of the High Performance Business Research program at Accenture, the global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. The program was born in 2003 to determine exactly how some companies become high performers, through good times and bad, while others lag behind or fail.

Mr. Nunes and Mr. Breene directed the analysis of the performance of more than 800 companies around the world in dozens of sectors, most over a 10-year span. They identified key differences in the companies that successfully make the jump, versus those that peak, then stall and decline. According to Accenture’s research, high performers:

resolve the conflicting needs of today and tomorrow—trading some of today’s performance for tomorrow’s gain
build a hothouse of talent to nurture employees, which then attracts more people with skills and vision, ultimately creating a talent surplus
change top management while business is still thriving
pursue “big-enough” market insights—ones based on changes in the marketplace that are certain to occur—and sure to shake up the competitive landscape
refuse to scale up for scale’s sake and actively manage the downsides of scale at every turn

The challenge is difficult. The research showed that companies that failed “were not illogical,” says Mr. Breene, the former chief strategy and corporate development officer of Accenture. “They acted reasonably. You can look at why the things they did each year seemed to be the strategically correct response at the time.”
Today and Tomorrow

High-performance businesses juggle the contradictory needs of the present and the future. “While the core part of the business might be working to eliminate failure and error, you have to have parts of the business where intelligent failure is accepted. Failure allows you to get insights and innovations and breakthroughs,” Mr. Breene says.

High performers fix what doesn’t seem to be broken yet. The ride up the S-curve can be exhilarating, but high performers don’t just revel in the success. They use it to prepare for their next act, and they actively manage the cresting of their S-curves.

Companies can try to predict when they will reach the revenue peak on their current S-curve by gauging and forecasting market saturation. But there’s always the danger that disruption will strike—a competitor unveils a new product, or technology makes a leap forward—and the curve’s life will be shortened.

Incremental innovations are useful for extending an S-curve and bringing in revenue to fund the next S, but high performers are “remarkably committed to breakthrough innovation,” Mr. Breene says. “They have market-changing ambition. They look farther out. They are happy working on seven-to-10-year time frames.”

High-performance businesses take a long-term view for talent, too. They understand that it’s not enough to “optimize” the workforce. That’s why they turn themselves into hothouses of talent, where they can give people room to grow. They glean insights from employees at all levels and they give them stretch assignments to learn new skills.

“High performers have much deeper planning and talent-management systems,” says Mr. Nunes, the executive director of research at the Accenture Institute for High Performance.

UPS has long been a “hothouse.” For example, it has a tradition of promoting people from within, says Kurt Kuehn, chief financial officer at the Atlanta-based logistics company who himself started as a holiday-season driver more than 30 years ago. “Because we do focus so much on employees as lifetime assets, we have this incredible residual base of talented people”—what Mr. Nunes and Mr. Breene refer to as a “talent surplus.”

A talent surplus makes a company blossom with innovation and creativity. Employees are not just responding to the challenges of the moment but are thinking about how the company can do something better or new.

“As we create a new S-curve, we need an infusion of new talent,” says Mr. Kuehn. “We mix maybe two parts old skills and one part new skills.”

High-performance businesses like UPS become magnets for “serious talent.”
New Strategy—New Leadership

High performers also constantly groom and challenge the upper ranks to prepare new teams to take over when new strategies require. That means not just the CEO but the entire C-suite.

“In order for the company to evolve ahead of the curve, the top team has to evolve first,” Mr. Nunes says.

UPS has transformed itself through many S-curves. Founded in 1907 as a messenger service in Seattle, it began serving more kinds of businesses, then spread geographically, then added air services, international deliveries and logistics.

UPS’s chief executives have had tenures in the four-to-seven-year range—close to the typical S-curve cycle. There’s no bell that rings when a CEO’s time is up, but since the company’s CEO comes from within, he already has been implementing his vision and strategy even before taking the helm, according to Mr. Kuehn.
Early but Not Too

While high-performance businesses think big, they aren’t always first with an idea. Zenith successfully moved from one S-curve—in radio—to another—in TV—but stumbled as it focused on high-definition TV in the 1980s, well ahead of the market.

By contrast, Porsche of Germany was far from first to market a sport-utility vehicle. Porsche tailored its Cayenne to its customer base, offering a unique SUV, rather than a me-too vehicle. It gained traction gradually—the 911 sports car line remained the best-seller during the Cayenne’s first year. Eventually the Cayenne became the company’s top seller—Porsche took its time to get everything right before scaling up.

The secret at the core of high-performance businesses’ successful market moves, however, is something the authors call a “big-enough market insight,” or BEMI. High performers put wind in the sails of their strategies by moving in alignment with a major market shift. Zenith’s insight was perhaps too big and too soon. Porsche’s insight was recognizing that demographic shifts meant growing demand for SUVs was more than a fad, and that a portion of that fast-growing market would favor a company that could deliver in an SUV everything a sports car lover would want.

High-performance businesses go to extraordinary lengths to understand their customers. Procter & Gamble even sends researchers to live with customers to observe how they use products and to reveal unmet needs.

While tending to core businesses, high performers also prepare for their next S-curve with an “edge-centric” strategy. That is, they pick up insights from looking at the periphery of market evolution and customer demand, often by keeping better tabs on what is happening on the periphery of their own organization.

“While it can look like you’re taking your eye off the ball, moving off into uncharted territory, actually you’re keeping your eye on the ball by searching where the best ideas are most likely to be found,” says Mr. Nunes.

Accenture’s Mr. Nunes and Mr. Breene also point out that size doesn’t correlate with success. In picking out companies that maintained high performance over the long term, they noticed that the winners were often midsize contenders in their fields.

“As you scale, it gets more difficult to sustain the characteristics of high performance,” Mr. Breene explains. “You get more complexity and that leads to a tendency toward process, policy and rules. The emphasis shifts toward incremental innovation. The vitality that made the business great in the first place begins to die as it becomes more like a machine and less like a living organism.”

Adds Mr. Nunes: “Everybody wants growth, but scaling, size and complexity tend to drive out headroom. You need headroom to jump the S-curve.”

For more information:
Accenture
WSJ.com

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Realizing Innovation’s Full Value in Alignment with The Insider’s Group’s Revelation on Innovation Age…

10 Aug

Realizing Innovation’s Full Value

Forbes

By Deborah Mills Scofield | Forbe

August 9, 2011 at 7:59am

Many of us agree innovation = invention + commercialization.  Commercialization is usually defined as

launching the ‘invention’ so you and your customers realize value.  But how many of us include how well we’ve extracted the innovation’s value in the market as part of our innovation process?  Probably, not many; it’s just not that easy.  Whirlpool, a long-time innovator, discovered that many of its innovations were not succeeding as planned in the marketplace.  Moises Noreña, Whirlpool’s Director of Global Innovation, was tasked with finding out why and fixing it.  He recently detailed how they went about it.

Moises created a team to focus on the go-to-market aspect of innovation.  They discovered innovations were handed off to traditional market category teams and included in existing product lines.  So, when the innovation didn’t seem to sell well, the usual excuses were given: the product was too expensive, it didn’t work as promised, and consumers need to be converted.  So, what was going on?  Apparently, the innovation & marketplace performance processes were separate and mutually exclusive so products were killed because non-traditional go-to-market options were not explored.  In addition, business leaders frequently confused experimentation with market research leading to unrealistic expectations.  Bottom line? The issues were cultural and process – self-reinforcing both positively and negatively.

A very thoughtful and comprehensive approach was taken to address how to really extract an innovation’s value in the marketplace.  I encourage you to read the detailshere. Whirlpool’s values were the foundation for all approaches: teamwork, respect, diversity and collaboration.  The approach included selecting the right pilot to test, in this case, a pilot right in Whirlpool’s core – laundry; challenging the status quo; integrating innovation and marketplace performance processes; and having the business ‘own’ and take the lead for the pilot.

The pilot was a success, resulting in the creation of a new process.  Many new insights and ideas were created that translated into actionable opportunities for development, sales and operations with significant revenue potential.  Perhaps more significant were the intangible benefits.  The team’s common pilot experience resulted in a common consumer language, aiding understanding of and empathy with consumers’ issues.  Result? The team started dreaming about other business opportunities with a sense of camaraderie and hope not seen in the standard S&O process.

How can you apply Whirlpool’s learnings to your company? What can you adapt and apply?  Provide your experiences, comments, suggestions in the comment, at Moises’s MiX story or email me.  Let’s leverage each other’s learnings!

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Gigwalk: Make money on your morning commute

2 Aug

By Jennifer Alsever @CNNMoneyTech June 22, 2011: 6:06 AM ET

Gigwalk founders (from left) Matt Crampton, Ariel Seidman and David Watanabe.Gigwalk founders (from left) Matt Crampton, Ariel Seidman and David Watanabe.

(CNNMoney) — Most people make a living while they’re at work. But what if you could earn a few bucks just walking to the office?

Gigwalk, a startup founded last summer in Mountain View, Calif., takes the phrase “mobile workforce” literally. The company harnesses America’s vast army of iPhone users, enlisting them to complete various “gigs” when they’re out and about.

Rates for these micro-tasks have included $5 to snap a picture of a restaurant’s chalkboard menu for an online restaurant guide, $7 to visit a wireless store and check on product placement for a cell phone manufacturer and $30 to test out a new iPhone app. Users are encouraged to work gigs into their regular routines, picking up pocket cash while they make trips to the gym or run errands.

“It’s whatever is convenient,” says Ariel Seidman, the co-founder and CEO of Gigwalk. Inspiration for the service came last spring when Seidman, 34, was the director of mobile search for Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500). He watched mapping companies spend exorbitant amounts of time and money dispatching contractors to gather information from far-flung locales. What if they could rely instead on iPhone users who were already there?

Seidman left his job last June. He enlisted two former Yahoo colleagues, Matt Crampton and David Watanabe, to help build the software platform that would bring his idea to life. In December, Gigwalk landed $1.7 million in startup capital from sources including the Greylock Discovery Fund, managed by LinkedIn (LNKD) co-founder Reed Hoffman, and Harrison Metal, founded by Michael Dearing, a former senior vice president of eBay (EBAY, Fortune 500) and an early funder of AdMob, which Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) bought for $750 million.

“I thought it was an amazing concept,” says Jeff Clavier, a managing partner at SoftTech VC, which also invested in Gigwalk. “After five minutes I thought, ‘This is like mobile crowdsourcing.'”

Gigwalk’s corporate clients include TomTom, the Dutch maker of portable GPS systems, and MenuPages.com, the New York online restaurant guide. Gigwalk executives would not say how many clients, in total, have signed on so far. They also declined to release their revenues and the number of active “gigwalkers,” saying only that thousands of people have completed tasks in seven cities: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

To sign up for the service, iPhone users download an app, then register with Gigwalk and pass a background check. The company plans to launch an app for Android owners later this year.

Gigwalk uses iPhone owners’ GPS locations and home addresses to filter and distribute appropriate gigs for them. Once a user accepts a gig, there’s a limited time to finish it, usually a couple of days. After a completed task is approved, the user gets paid through PayPal.

To commission Gigwalk for a job, companies specify what tasks they’d like to outsource to smartphone users and pay Gigwalk a lump sum upfront. A percentage of that sum goes directly Gigwalk — the company would not disclose how much — and the rest goes to paying “gigwalkers” as they complete their tasks.

Reliable workers — those who do a good job and don’t submit fuzzy menu photos — are rewarded with the first pick of better-paying gigs.

Gigwalk has become a big time-saver for MenuPages, which maintains 32,000 online listings for restaurants across the country, according to Tom Bohan, the company’s director of content operations. One of MenuPages’ biggest challenges is keeping track of current information: new food items, hours of operation, whether there’s outdoor seating and wheelchair access. In the past, they’ve mostly used Craigslist to hire hourly contractors who can visit those businesses in person to collect data.

Bohan discovered Gigwalk late last year. Though they cost about the same as his regular contractors, gigwalkers turn assignments around for him much faster, he says — typically in about two weeks instead of eight.

Gigwalk’s biggest challenge? Getting people to take time out of their day for small payouts of just $2 to $15 apiece. Seidman says he doesn’t expect anyone to drive 15 minutes to do a $2 or $5 gig. But he hopes they’ll be willing to work multiple gigs into their morning commutes, or squeeze in a task that’s just two doors down from wherever they happen to be at the moment.

That’s worked out well for Andrew Schut, 47, a medical device consultant in New York City who’s the top-grossing gigwalker so far, earning $2,173 since March. Schut maps out clusters of gigs whenever he goes for a walk and tries to knock out a couple on the way to his clients’ offices.

“It’s given me the motivation to see parts of the city I didn’t know about,” says Schut, who created an online community called gigwalkingtips.com. “The beauty of it is you do it when you have time, and if you have time.” To top of page

Tech Mogul Pays Bright Minds Not to Go to College

17 Jun

(While we promote higher education here at Insiders Group Inc, it really isn’t for everyone (Bill Gates was a college dropout, keep in mind).  What’s more important is doing what works best for you and promotes a strong mindset and future.   So read on…)

By MARCUS WOHLSEN, Associated Press Sun May 29, 3:41 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO – Instead of paying attention in high school, Nick Cammarata preferred to read books on whatever interested him. He also has a gift for coding that got him into Carnegie Mellon University’s esteemed computer science program despite his grades.

But the 18-year-old programmer won’t be going to college this fall. Or maybe ever.

Cammarata is one of two dozen winners of a scholarship just awarded by San Francisco tech tycoon Peter Thiel that comes with a unique catch: The recipients are being paid not to go to college.

Instead, these teenagers and 20-year-olds are getting $100,000 each to chase their entrepreneurial dreams for the next two years.

“It seems like the perfect point in our lives to pursue this kind of project,” says Cammarata of Newburyport, Mass., who along with 17-year-old David Merfield will be working on software to upend the standard approach to teaching in high school classrooms.

Merfield, the valedictorian of his Princeton, N.J., high school class, is turning down a chance to go to Princeton University to take the fellowship.

Thiel himself hand-picked the winners based on the potential of their proposed projects to change the world.

All the proposals have a high technology angle but otherwise span many disciplines.

One winner wants to create a mobile banking system for the developing world. Another is working to create cheaper biofuels. One wants to build robots that can help out around the house.

The prizes come at a time when debate in the U.S. over the value of higher education has become heated. New graduates mired in student loan debt are encountering one of the toughest job markets in decades. Rising tuitions and diminishing prospects have led many to ask whether college is actually worth the time and money.

“Turning people into debt slaves when they’re college students is really not how we end up building a better society,” Thiel says.

Thiel made his fortune as a co-founder of online payment service PayPal shortly after graduating from Stanford Law School. He then became the first major investor in Facebook. In conversation and as a philanthropist, Thiel pushes his strong belief that innovation has stagnated in the U.S. and that radical solutions are needed to push civilization forward.

The “20 Under 20” fellowship is one such effort. Thiel believes that the best young minds can contribute more to society by skipping college and bringing their ideas straight to the real world.

And he has the shining example of Facebook to back up his claim. Thiel’s faith in the world-changing potential of Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg’s idea led him to invest $500,000 in the company, a stake that is now worth billions.

Still, the Zuckerbergs of the tech industry are famous because they are the exceptions. Silicon Valley is littered with decades-worth of failed tech startups.

Vivek Wadhwa, director of research at Duke University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and a writer for TechCrunch and Bloomberg Businessweek, has assailed Thiel’s program for sending what he sees as the message that anyone can be Mark Zuckerberg.

“Silicon Valley lives in its own bubble. It sees the world through its own prism. It’s got a distorted view,” Wadhwa says.

“All the people who are making a fuss are highly educated. They’re rich themselves. They’ve achieved success because of their education. There’s no way in hell we would have heard about Peter Thiel if he hadn’t graduated from Stanford,” he says.

Thiel says the “20 Under 20” program shouldn’t be judged on the basis of his own educational background or even the merits of his critique of higher education. He urges his critics to wait and see what the fellows achieve over the next two years.

According to data compiled by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, workers with college degrees were laid off during the Great Recession at a much lower rate than workers without degrees. College graduates were also more likely to be rehired.

But for fellowship recipients like John Burnham, 18, such concerns pale next to the idealism of youth. At his prep school in western Massachusetts, Burnham started an alternative newspaper to compete with the school’s official publication.

The entrepreneurial experience of creating something out of nothing captured his imagination. Now his ambitions have grown.

Burnham believes that the world’s growing population will put an unsustainable strain on the planet’s natural resources. That’s why he’s looking to other worlds to meet humanity’s needs.

Specifically, he believes that mining operations on asteroids could hold the key. For the next two years, he’ll be studying rocket propulsion technology and puzzling through the economics of interplanetary resource extraction.

“This fellowship is so much of a better fit for my personality than I think college would be,” Burnham says. “When you get an opportunity of the magnitude of this fellowship, I couldn’t see myself being able to wait.”

Corcoran Forced to Correct False Neighborhood Boundaries in Brooklyn

15 Jun

We missed this story last month, but better late then never in applauding our Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries for representing his districts properly…

Residential real estate giant the Corcoran Group has been commended by King’s County Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries for correcting its advertising practices.

Corcoran, Jeffries said in today’s statement, had been falsely stating the boundary between Prospect Heights and Crown Heights in an effort to market Crown Heights’ properties as being in the more desirable Prospect Heights neighborhood. (TheRealDeal.com)

Read the rest HERE.