The Future of Women: Globally Connecting in the #GigEconomy

Women are one segment of society benefitting from the #GigEconomy.  They are taking advantage of being globally connected in a big way!  Women are selling products on Etsy, Amazon and their own stores.  They are using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites to grow their online presence while supporting their businesses and families.

In 2015, I co-published an article, Become a Future-Focused Leader:  Use Three Megatrends to Grow Your Rural Business, with Alyssa Dye (an amazing young female entrepreneur!)  We also published three videos on the three megatrends I will share in the Future of Women series.  You can download the full-text article focused on rural entrepreneurs, including related references by clicking here.  The first video is below.  The article and videos were targeted to rural entrepreneurs; however, the same ideas are important for female entrepreneurs.  I made a few changes to the original article and posted a few segments below.  When you read or hear “rural entrepreneur” in the video you can think “female entrepreneur.”  The #GigEconomy is full of challenges and opportunities for women in business.

No one can predict the future; however, entrepreneurs and business owners can use a future-focused leadership approach, which includes examining megatrends, to shape the future of their businesses and lives. Megatrends are global shifts that influence society, the economy and the environment. This “Future of Women” series will  discusses three megatrends shaping the future:
1) The Rise of the #GigEconomy
2) Living with Purpose and Meaning
3) The Decentralized Marketplace

While many companies are struggling to keep up with the rapid rate of change, future-focused entrepreneurs are growing their businesses by blending technology with the human experience. And, many of these entrepreneurs are women.  Together, with a common purpose, female entrepreneurs can examine megatrends, utilize emerging technologies, and monitor analytics while creating meaningful experiences and innovating businesses in ways not yet imagined.

Why is this so important?  I believe many women are naturally future-focused leaders.  Research published by the National Women’s Business Council shows that nearly 91% of female entrepreneurs are in business by themselves.  They have no employees.  I believe this is by choice.  Women are working to support themselves and their families; however, they also want to build a future for their families that includes more than money.  They are looking for ways to live a full and meaningful life designed to support their families for generations.

The trend of female entrepreneurs is a critical global trend.  Women have long been leading families and communities with little to no recognition.  This trend is changing, and women will be shaping the future in ways the world has not yet imagined.

The emerging Gig Economy (#GigEconomy) will create new challenges and opportunities for entrepreneurs, businesses and communities. An emerging trend, the rise of global joblessness (International Labour Office, 2014), is supporting the growth of the Gig Economy while creating a need for the marketing of talents and skills in new and meaningful ways. The ability to sell, purchase and promote goods and services, as well as individual brands, on the web has created a need for entrepreneurs to add value to the lives of others in innovative ways. People are increasingly defining success for themselves, which does not always include a college degree and a 9-5 job. In many ways, it is now much cooler to be a successful start-up entrepreneur, famous blogger or YouTube sensation than a person working in a traditional office setting for 40+ hours per week.

Approximately 53 million Americans are engaged in some manner of freelancing, which is adding around $715 billion to the economy (Edelman Berland, 2014). Further, the number of large employers is predicted to shrink in the future, causing people to find new and inventive ways to make a living. Self-employment has been identified as a vital economic tool for rural people and communities (Goetz & Rupasingha, 2014). The rising #Gig Economy may be one megatrend that can benefit rural places if technology can be leveraged to reach both local and niche audiences interested in purchasing goods and services from freelancing entrepreneurs.

One common denominator will remain the same: Women-owned businesses and people need to be found on the already crowded World Wide Web. They have to build their brands and levels of influence to strengthen both credibility and success. Businesses like Fiverr.com and Iotronics are disrupting the traditional career and job search with technology. Need a logo, book review or video? No problem. Go to Fiverr and hire outsource experts in almost anything to help you. Services start at only five dollars! Iotronics helps people generate Twesumes (Twitter + Resume = Twesume), which are resumes in 140 characters or less) to land jobs or gigs (thus, the #GigEconomy).

Connectivity is key. Female entrepreneurs can participate in the #GigEconomy as both entrepreneurs for hire as well as employers. Entrepreneurs can use #GigEconomy tools to diversify their profit centers, contract with other entrepreneurs and generate income.

Coaching Tips for Female Entrepreneurs:

1) Consider marketing goods and services on websites that can help you test the marketplace, connect with customers and take payments. Amazon, Square and Etsy may be places to sell your ideas. Fiverr and Elance can help entrepreneurs find help or land gigs. Online marketplaces may be a way to begin selling on the Web. Make sure to do your homework first to ensure that you are working with a credible source.

2) Connect with other entrepreneurs inside and outside of your niche. Look for other entrepreneurs (both competitors and collaborators) on Fiverr and find gigs on places like Mom Corps, TeachersPayTeachers, Square and similar resources. LinkedIn is a great place to connect with like- minded entrepreneurs and industry leaders. Many states have an online marketplace focused on selling goods and services available in that state. For example, Grow Nebraska is a marketplace resource for Nebraska’s entrepreneurs.

3) Become vigilant and creative about building your brand. Blend online and offline worlds in ways that engage people in meaningful experiences. Have some fun and let your personality shine through! For example, a Twitter Party is a great tool to expand your brand online in real-time.

Successfully making your mark in the #GigEconomy takes patience and hard work.  However, it also presents the opportunity to earn extra income along side of your current career or as a part- or full-time entrepreneur.  The opportunities are truly endless!

Go Wild with Your Opportunity in the #GigEconomy!  This is your chance to…Be You & Do Something Cool!

-Dr. Connie

 

Join Me Today on 1110 KFAB Radio!

Status Update: I will be on from 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM today, and Clint will be taking callers!

In addition to the topics I listed in the original blog post below, we will be discussing the 3 Mega-Trends I recently wrote about and presented on: 1) The Rise of the #GigEconomy, 2) Living with Purpose and Meaning and the 3) Decentralized Global Marketplace.

Plan on calling in with your questions!

Looking forward to hearing from you all!
-Dr. Connie

I am counting down the hours to my interview with Clint Bellows this afternoon on 1110 KFAB (www.kfab.com). I will be in the studio at 2:30 PM.

Our conversation will focus on creating your desired future in the current economy. We will touch on the power of your beliefs and talk about how your brain impacts finances, the future and of course fun!

Let me know if you have any questions you want me to answer on the air. Clint talked about taking live calls. I would love to hear from you if he opens the phone lines!

Going Wild!
Connie

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Megatrend 3: Decentralized Global Marketplace

Distance learning is in the age of the “Empowered Consumer-Learner” who has a buffet of educational choices.   The empowered consumer-learner decides what educational experiences and knowledge they need, when they need it and how they want to experience it.  The wide-array of non-credit and for credit choices makes for a very competitive marketplace but also a field of new opportunities.

Venture capitalists continue to invest in distance education because of the return on investment potential.  Big Data is being used to develop marketing campaigns, study human behaviors and determine patterns.  It is also being used to examine various areas of teaching and learning.  Data can help create bite-sized, customized courses and programs that are both personalized and interactive (Koller, 2012). Technology enables the delivery of information and education anytime, anywhere and from anyone in a way that makes sense to the learner while adding value to their lives.

It’s no longer necessary for people to enroll in college, formal classes or workshops to learn.  They are learning what they want to know from their networks and resources they find on the Web, through Apps or in iTunes.  People will increasingly be able to create and print their ideas from wherever they choose with 3D printing.  Technology, combined with the continued growth of self-expression and meaning, will continue to change education at a rapid pace.

Value is becoming less about college credit and more about meaningful outcomes and self-expression through enhanced skills and evolving abilities.  The world is fast-becoming an “Add to Cart” society for anything and everything, including educational experiences.  Individuals are creating local, national and global communities of meaning and change that are self-selected and self-formed.  Many of these same individuals are transforming distance learning in new and innovative ways.  Technology, combined with the need for meaning, self-expression and self-actualization, has created an increasingly decentralized marketplace.

People are choosing how to meet virtually, when, where and whether-or-not to meet face-to-face and connecting over common causes.  Education, along with so many other areas of life, is becoming increasingly decentralized.  Savvy consumers seek and create the value they crave to transform their lives.   They are choosing whether or not they want a badge, certificate, credit hour or degree, and their demands are shaping the marketplace and future trends.  The Empowered Consumer-Learner wants a unique experience that adds value to their life.  Future-focused leaders who ask and answer not, “What is the lifetime value of a customer?” but rather, “What value can we add to a lifetime?” will be in a better position to compete in the increasingly decentralized marketplace.

Innovation Retreat: New Ideas and New Dollars on April 29!
As educators, what is the value we can add to a lifetime?

Megatrend 2: Living with Purpose and Meaning

Our society is quickly evolving into an era characterized by shared purpose and meaning.  Leaders must be willing to create an atmosphere of sustainable innovation designed to continuously move organizations forward while connecting employees and clientele to meaningful experiences and their definitions of personal fulfillment.

How many distance-learning leaders are adding value to the lives of learners, faculty and staff from a holistic perspective? 

Personal fulfillment is a growing trend and may be a growing trend in distance education as well.  Research on the “entrepreneurial learner” in the distance learning environment demonstrated an increase in credit hour completion as learner motivation associated with personal fulfillment strengthened (Reimers-Hild & King, 2006).  People are looking to decrease their levels of stress and strengthen their healthy habits while finding greater fulfillment.  Minimalism is one of the trends shaping the Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend because people are seeking less stuff and more life.  At first glance this may seem like an odd topic for administrators in the distance learning arena to consider; however, minimalism is gaining popularity in trend-setting places like Silicon Valley and is influencing everything from living spaces, to workplaces and web design.  The Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend will continue to grow as the global population increases and places more demands on the planet’s limited natural resources.  How can future-focused distance leaders create a better experience for learners and employees alike?  Leaders can connect with individuals’ beliefs while helping them find purpose and meaning in their educational endeavors and careers while living fuller lives with less clutter and greater health and well-being.

Technology may help distance learning administrators holistically add more purpose and meaning to the lives of both learners and employees.  For example, a forecast by Carbone and Nauth (2012) describes the evolution of the “cloud.”  They discuss the cloud evolving from a place to store data to an intelligent resource that will actively help people improve their lives:

Virtual agents will migrate from being an automated form of phone-based customer service to a personalized form of support and assistance that provides information and—more importantly—performs useful tasks. For example, such agents might design a weekly menu based on a family’s health profile, fitness goals, and eating preferences, and automatically order ingredients.

This forecast provides an example of how distance leaders can use technology to help their organizations innovate with a focus on the future.  A transition from cloud-based computing to cloud-based living and learning might be help institutions focus on both learners and employees in a more holistic manner.

Two trends supporting the Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend include: 1) life increasingly flowing together instead of being compartmentalized into work, family, recreation, etc., and 2) the quest for greater well-being, health and vitality.  People are increasingly learning and living on the go in both the virtual and physical senses, which blurs the lines between family, self-care, work and play.

How do these trends influence distance learning?  As more people want to connect with their purpose, find meaning in their lives, and increase their vitality, educational institutions should take a more people-centered approach focused on meaning, well-being and the mind-body connection supported by the right social networks, experiences and technologies.  A few ideas might include:

  • Integrating holistic, healthy living and self-care principles into distance learning programs in an effort to create better learner experiences and to create more value in courses, programs and the lives of learners (including the lives of their families).
  • Providing coaching for learners and employees to help them uncover their purpose and create strategies and structures to support meaningful actions designed to improve their educational endeavors and lives.
  • Adding physical activity and fun to courses or programs in an effort to stimulate creativity, decrease stress, build camaraderie and strengthen overall wellness (perhaps an App or the intelligent cloud can help).

It’s time to move beyond the traditional grading scales, discussion boards and homework assignments and focus on the whole person and what life means to them.  Helping people find their fulfillment, purpose and definition of success may provide distance-learning administrators with tools to innovate their institutions.  Competition for learners, along with their precious time and dollars, will continue to increase.  Distance-learning institutions will have to find new ways to add increased value to the lives of learners, employees and their families.  Not only can people choose to learn anytime from anyplace, people can choose what they want to learn and from whom they want to learn it.  Institutions that add the most value will have the competitive advantage.

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Megatrend 1: The Rise of the #GigEconomy

The rise of the entrepreneurial individual, and what is currently referred to as the Gig Economy, will create new challenges and opportunities for distance learning administrators.  How can institutions of education help learners create value for traditional employers and for their individual brands?   If not as many people are investing in education to land a full-time job, what does this mean for higher education?

An emerging trend, the rise of global joblessness (International Labour Office, 2014), is supporting the growth of the Gig Economy while creating a need for the marketing of talents and skills in new and meaningful ways.   The number of large employers is predicted to shrink in the future causing people to find new and inventive ways to make a living.  The ability to sell, purchase and promote goods and services as well as individual brands on the Web has created a need for education to add value to the lives of learners in innovative ways.  People are increasingly defining success for themselves, which does not always include a college degree and a 9-5 job.  In many ways, it is now much cooler to be a successful start-up entrepreneur, famous blogger or YouTube sensation than a person working in a full-time job.

One common denominator will remain the same:  People need to be found on the already crowded World Wide Web.  They have to build their brands and levels of influence to strengthen both credibility and success.  Educational institutions should keep a close eye on the rise of businesses like Fiverr.com and the use of Twesumes (Twitter + Resume = Twesume = a resume in 140 characters or less) to land jobs or gigs (thus, the #GigEconomy).

Leaders should also consider building their brands, as well as those of students, faculty and alumni.  The rise of social networks and technology has enabled people to both learn and teach at anytime from any place.  These same tools have helped people create their own businesses and design their lives in ways that best suit them, which supports the Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend.  Life purpose is shaping everything from healthcare to education.

Dr Connie’s 2010 Prediction #3. Innovation will Explode

When life is good, most of us have the tendency to become very complacent. We are happy and don’t have the desire to change things. When life presents us with challenges, we find ourselves thinking of new ways to do things. In 2010, many of us will begin to take a good look at our personal situations.
Many of us have taken a strong hit over the last two years. Actually, our “hits” have been coming for a decade. The chart (below) from the United States Bureau of Labor Statics, demonstrates the rise in U.S. unemployment over the last decade. Rising unemployment is not a new phenomenon. It has been in the news more recently because it hovered right at 10% in December, 2010. Ouch!
More and more Americans are in the “I might lose my job” category everyday. Nevertheless, we will start to thrive in this environment. Americans are resilient. We will stand up, brush ourselves off and learn how move forward in this crazy economy.
Necessity and desperation ignite creativity and innovation. At Wild Innovation, we define innovation as “coming up with new ideas, products, collaborations, services and solutions that can be used.” Companies and communities need ideas to turn into reality because ideas are the true economic driver of American society.
More and more Americans will begin to put their thoughts into action as the economy continues to throw them curve balls. It is time to face the idea that our globalized world will continue to evolve very quickly, and we have to become more agile so we can adapt and thrive in it.
Change can be a bit painful and difficult, but it can also be a great way to ignite our passions and get more out of life on both a personal and professional level.

The First in a series of Dr. Connie’s Top 5 Predictions for 2010:

Prediction #1. The Economy will still be in Flux (I know…big shocker!!): There is a lot of speculation on what the economy will do this year; however, there is no doubt that it will still be in a constant state of flux. We will see some good times, yet we are also going to struggle.

People talk a lot about 2009’s high unemployment rate. A little deeper look into this situation reveals a steady increase in unemployment over the last decade. According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation’s average unemployment rate in 1999 was 4.21%. We hit 5.07% in 2005 and stood at 9.19% by the end of November, 2009.

Some futurists predict that we are in an era of creating jobs for ourselves because the number of big organizations that employ people will continue to decline. They may be right. On the other hand, this is really not a new phenomenon. It has only been in the last generation or two that our mindset shifted from “I want to build my own future” to “I want to get a good job.”

I often wonder what my 62 year old Father really thinks about all of this. He wanted to farm but could not work out the details with his family, co-owned a TV and appliance store when we were young with my Mom (we had a great time living in an apartment above the store). As our family grew and the politics of buying and selling appliances become more complex, he “got a job” at the local meat packing plant. He started in one of the lowest (and grossest) positions and worked his way up to plant engineer over time-an amazing feat that came with a great deal of sacrifice. His time as plant engineer was short-lived. The meat packing company he originally worked for was bought out by another company. The new company decided to close the plant in which he worked despite its solid performance. So, my Dad recently started another “job” with the company that bought the plant in which he used to worked (are you following all of this?) He is grateful for the benefits and pay but does not seem overjoyed with his new situation. My Dad is one of the hardest working, greatest people of all time (I may be a little biased here but I know at least six other people who would agree with me). I often wonder what his life would have been like if he kept his entrepreneurial spirit alive. I think he wonders the same thing.

The Bottom Line: The economy is still going to be in flux. For some of us, it will be all right. For others, it will be an extreme challenge. No matter what our individual situation, it will be up to us as a nation to work together and improve our situation.

How do We Turn the Economy Around? With Entrepreneurial People and Innovation of Course!

How do we lift ourselves out of the current economic situation? We become more entrepreneurial and focus on innovation (notice I did not mention getting in line for a check). Entrepreneurial individuals and continuous innovation are vital components of successful organizations. Therefore, the public and private sectors must develop the entrepreneurial characteristics and actions of individuals with a focus on innovation. Institutions of higher education have an especially important role in the development of entrepreneurial individuals because innovation is and will become an even more essential component of success to employers, employees and business founders in the emerging entrepreneurial economy. Further, educational institutions must become more entrepreneurial themselves in order to complete in an increasingly competitive industry. This requires entrepreneurial leadership.

Research has shown that entrepreneurial individuals, learners, educational institutions and leaders are needed to address the complex global issues associated with the continuously evolving knowledge economy. Entrepreneurs are needed to establish new ventures and to employ others while developing new products, services and solutions. Entrepreneurial individuals, who may or may not start a business, are needed because they are innovators who behave or act in a proactive manner and move organizations forward. In general, entrepreneurial individuals have the ability to recognize and capitalize on opportunities, innovate, take calculated risks, adapt to rapid changes and marshal resources to achieve their goals. Entrepreneurial leaders are the individuals who have the ability to create dynamic, competitive organizations where innovation and change are as common as employee, clientele and stakeholder support.

Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial individuals are vital components of 21st century communities and organizations because they have the ability to advance themselves, other people, their businesses or places of employment and even the economies and societies in which they live. Therefore, countries, communities and individual organizations as well as educational institutions benefit by developing the entrepreneurial learner and leadership capabilities of individuals.