Written by: David L. Lantz, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
In his book, The World is Flat, author Thomas Friedman writes on p. 278: Every young American today would be wise to think of himself or herself as competing against every young Chinese, Indian, and Brazilian. In Globalization 1.0, countries had to think globally to thrive, or at least survive. In Globalization 2.0, companies had to think globally to thrive, or at least survive. In Globalization 3.0, individuals have to think globally to thrive, or at least survive. This requires not only a new level of technical skills but also a certain mental flexibility, self-motivation, and psychological mobility.
Futurists – people who write about the future – have been predicting for decades that technology would revolutionize our world. Alvin Toffler became famous for writing about the future in his book, Future Shock, first published in 1970. Thomas Friedman is one of a new generation of futurists talking about how “The Future” is changing everything about our daily lives.
One thing is clear: There are people across this planet who are starving – literally – for the jobs Americans do. With the global connectivity of the Internet, they can now directly compete for those jobs.
The technology that brings you instant communication with people on the other side of the planet also affects the way you earn a living. Because of trends that have been building since the dawn of the new millennium, it is more important than ever before that you adopt an ownership mentality, instead of an employee mentality.
If you do not learn how to own your work and create your own business, you will be swept along by a global tide of change that is transforming the globe. Briefly, there are three forces at work.
One: The internet allows the creation of a wider and deeper talent pool
If a business needs to hire someone to create a website, do its bookkeeping, or create a video, it is not limited to the people who live within driving distance of their business. Companies like Upwork.com connect people worldwide with project-based assignments. With revenues of nearly $700 million, Upwork is one of the leaders in the freelance industry. They have more than 18 million freelancers working with them to service 5 million clients worldwide. According to Yahoo Finance, the total global freelance market was valued at $4.5 billion in 2022, and is expected to grow 13.7% annually, reaching nearly $9.8 billion in 2028.
Two: Technology facilitates the standardization of work processes
As computers and software have evolved, we have moved steadily from having multiple people perform a variety of tasks in order to produce a product, to more and more functions being done by either one, or a few, individuals. In the early 2000s, companies realized that having a team of IT professionals that could constantly upgrade computers and software was very expensive. To reduce the need – and therefore the cost – of having to hire a staff of highly skilled IT professionals, companies offered to provide the software application over the Internet.
Called “Applications Service Providers” or ASP, they sell a subscription-based service where all you have to do is log in over the Internet and “talk” to their computers from your computer. With an ASP, you no longer have to worry about upgrading the software and the hardware needed to do the work. You just need an Internet connection. As this “Cloud Computing” continues to expand globally, operating procedures are standardized, and the unit cost of production is held down. Udemy is a company that has leveraged this ASP concept to create on-demand video courses. To learn about one of mine, visit How to Teach with Technology Online.
Three: Competition drives companies toward leaner, more efficient operations
As companies in the United States seek to remain profitable in the face of a wave of new regulations, they are looking for low-cost solutions. In some cases, companies are reducing the number of employees they have, reducing the number of hours they work, or both, in order to avoid mandatory “triggers” to provide health care and other benefits. This means that more companies are willing to hire remote workers, thus fueling the demand for freelance workers that I’ve just discussed. Seldom seen a decade ago, teleconferencing and remote video technology have advanced to the point where some businesses thrive with completely remote teams.
What does this mean for you and me? In my course, Why Have a Business, I discuss the fact that you will need to figure out how you can earn a living in this new Generation Self-Employed economy. To return to what Thomas Friedman had to say about this in The World is Flat, he writes: “In sum, it was never good to be mediocre in your job, but in a world of walls, mediocrity could still earn you a decent wage. … In a flat world, you really do not want to be mediocre or lack any passion for what you do.” He then imagines a conversation he might have with his own daughters about the reality of the world in which he lives. He concludes by saying the following:
“Girls, when I was growing up, my parents used to say to me, ‘Tom, finish your dinner – people in China and India are starving.’ My advice to you is: Girls, finish your homework – people in China and Indiana are starving for your jobs.”
Friedman’s point is simply this: In a flat world, they can have them because, in a flat world, there is no such thing as an American job. There is just a job, and in more cases than ever before, it will go to the best, smartest, most productive, or cheapest worker – wherever he or she resides.
What will working online require of you? To succeed in this emerging global economy, you will need to develop an ownership mindset – instead of an employee mindset.
Can you? Will you?
We’re not just talking about becoming more technology savvy. It will require greater mental flexibility, becoming self-motivated instead of waiting for someone else to give us instructions. And it will require a higher degree of psychological flexibility.
Answering the question about what type of person you are – someone who makes things happen, watches things happen or says “What happened?” – is up to you. But don’t take too long to decide, else the changing global economy may make your choices for you.
David L Lantz, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
David Lantz is a leader in the field of online instruction. He was awarded a Master of Public Affairs from Indiana University’s School of Public & Environmental Affairs in 1981 and served as their Alumni President from 1990-1991. In 2005, he was named Faculty of the Year by the first graduating class of the University of Phoenix’s Indianapolis, Indiana campus. Having taught both face-to-face and online classes since 2003, he received the distinction of Advanced Online Instructor/Facilitator from the University of Phoenix in 2012. Since 2011, he has been creating online courses in the fields of entrepreneurship and online instruction. A self-published author, he has authored both fiction and non-fiction books, which can be found on Amazon.com. His mission can be summarized in the proverb: “The wise man makes knowledge acceptable.” To learn more about David, visit his website at www.wisejargon.com.