Timothy Vasko

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The Death of Employer/Employee Paradigm in the Digital Age

August 3, 2016 19:21

With the proliferation of connectivity, the measure of “an hourly wage” has become irrelevant. If a business can’t afford the national average for a particular task, the employer can simply go online, and find an equivalent skill set in a less developed economy with lower hourly wages. Not only has the world gotten more competitive – it has become more flat as to the wage scale. This is why “hourly and salary” no long make any sense. In the next years, I predict the minimum wage will evaporate, and benefits will be provided in new ways to those who earn them.

Employment, like business, is facing ‘disruption’. Just look at Uber. Electronic access to employment base is a new reality, a global experience, that is shaping the linked, global, economy. Every individual, business owner and government needs to embrace the possibility, instead of fear the future – because, the future is here, and it has only begun to emerge.

Not only will employment continue to go to the most efficient, cost effective, productive place, and people, regardless of geography. But, as with the beginning of the industrial age, when machines were feared, today we fear further automation, through the use of Artificial Intelligence.

Like the industrial revolution, however, these fears have been overstated. Human’s are not yet obsolete. Humanoid employment won’t diminish. We don’t have to “fear the (mechanized) reaper,” or the wages in other countries. We have to embrace what else a productive thinking sentient human being, no matter of country, race, culture, language, gender or wage scale, can do. People can no longer go to work and park all or a portion of their brain – or park their butt, in an office chair. Nor, can they say they are “working from home” and not do productive work. It’s become to easy to identify what productivity is, and when something’s not getting done.

Humans are getting better, more productive, with technology advances.

Sure, there is more competition as a result. It is compelling us to become more creative at problem solving, and use more of our brains. In short, it is taking out the “slack” of inefficiency, and compelling everyone, every business, every government go get smarter, better, and do more things that are of more benefit to, well, everyone.

Need to grab a ride easier than the outdated taxi system allowed? Great! Uber it!

Need a less expensive place to sleep than a $400 a night hotel room in San Francisco? Hop on AirBnB and snag that spare room.

Need a transfer from Canadian Dollars to Indian Rupees immediately, to pay someone overseas? Fantastic, use TransferWise or the recently acquired XOOM (bought by PayPal), instead of the age old banking wire system!

All of the examples above demonstrate how the internet age has brought better service, at a better price point. It’s the same with wages and employment. The trick is the platform – how employers engage on the platform. How employees make their time more valuable and productive. And how “sharing” the wealth is formed and divided. These will form the new basis of “job security” – on a global scale.

From the most basic work, to the most complex, what technology is telling us as employers and employees is, get smarter, better, more productive and faster. Those who embrace this dictate will drive the next generation of stream-lined business. Those who don’t, will falter and eventually fail.

This goes for employees, business leaders, entrepreneurs and entire countries. Get smarter! It’s time to change your systems. It’s time to adapt, to become more in line with today’s reality. Adopt a Global Integrated Platform (G.I.P.) mentality that enables engagement on many levels, and establishes a new “sovereignty” of nation and state, one that can be integrated into a truly global economy. The protectionist mentality of the old system will fall. Ditch the old way of thinking, find new ways of productive creation, for both the employer and employee – supporting the effectiveness of the business and then nation, is the way to evolve on the global landscape. And it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Every business, no matter how large or small, can incorporate the balance between making a living and living life.

It’s happening already, it’s simply not well organized in our companies or personal lives yet. There is still that tension between work is work, and “time off” is all about me. These are leftovers from the industrial revolution. The “employer - employee mentality” won’t give up easy.

But, the innovators of platforms, when you go to Google, or Apple, or Twitter, the “office” is more like a “welcome home” than a set of cubicles with miserable environments. And there are successful companies that don’t even have “offices” any more – completely virtual enterprises that blend cultures all over the world, where gatherings are by web conference.

These companies are seeking to blend what “life” is – since the better part of our lives is spent working, it should be an experience we love and enjoy, rather than a grind we dread every day. And “flexibility” is a responsibility all need to embrace – from the business to the employee, to the Governments and bankers who deal with both.

Every one, every business owner, every person who works for a company, is “on the front lines” in some way today. Employer-Employee relationships built for production lines, manufacturing and the industrial age, are giving way to a new era of intelligent, and committed engagement. More than ever before the competitive landscape is bigger and more effective.

This is all happening because of the platform we currently call the Cloud.

Today, employers who embrace and provide platforms on the Cloud for work, and even snappy, fun, environments “when and if” employees show up to the office, will succeed more and more. The idea, however, of the flexibility to work from anywhere, to an employee who works for a company that has a platform that allows this sort of work, means, too, that that same platform can be open for business and employment anywhere in the world.

Mom always said, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Sorry, mom, but thanks to the internet, yes I can. Want to work from home or from a hotel room at any time, day or night? If your employer has a system to allow you to do that, you love that flexibility. What’s the trade off ? We’ll that means you now have about 4 Billlion other possible candidates for your job from every wage scale, and a giant talent pool to compete with! So, you better be effective, smart, and really WORK to make your work the best you can, for your employer – or guess what? Someone else will.

The idea of being an employee, then, is to engage 100% in the future of your primary employers platform. When the going gets tough for the business, which it always does, you don’t just skip ship, you stick it out and become better, make that business better. That is how to earn “job security”. Become smarter, more valuable, supportive and committed. Then, not only will the employee earn and learn more – the business they work with will thrive and consider them irreplaceable.

The next organizations we form, will not require “work hours” or even “pay by the hour” – but “pay by the engagement” and “work accomplishment.” The Employment office is rapidly being replaced by digital platforms like UpWork and Fiverr. Economics, at various levels, in the cycle, will be based on outcomes.

What does this mean in real dollar terms? A $50 an hour job, is a $96,000 income. If that job, at the basic level can be done for $24,000 somewhere else on the planet, then what innovative, special talent and effort, creative work, does the employee bring to the employer to make that worth a factor of 5? So the $96,000 wage, actually is a value of $120,000 when the work is done during the year.

Are you faster? Did you find a new way to do something, produce something, that can be replicated and delivered to more customers or clients? Did your experience become such that you can do the job in 25% of the time it would take someone else? Are you helping expand the outcomes of the work you do (deliver it better, to more people, for more revenue to the business), or are you just doing the job and leaving it to the business to figure out what to do with your work?

And employers, are you always looking for a way to improve the access to your work force, your customers and clients, your products and services, through your platforms? If you aren’t, you’ll pay more in wages, deliver less to your team and customers, than your competitors. Think Blockbuster vs. Netflix. Who has more “employees” today? What made that possible?

The platform! Instead of employer/employee, it’s time to think about platformer/platformee.

New business models will look a lot more like video game platforms “Worlds” where resources and players operate on different levels, with different rights, tools and permissions. The most skilled players (platformees) will become critical and rise to be the top players of the game. The most successful games (platformers) will have designed a World that will attract devoted platformees.

Revenue, will be split in creative new ways too – based on productivity, performance and delivered between the platformer and platformees at the various levels. Accounting, as we know it will change (see my prior blog post “The End of Accounting”), and, so too, must the Government concerns, programs and operations of agencies that were part of the Industrial Revolution, that “protect workers rights”.

There is no “think tank” that can solve the climate change issues in the world, it has been recognized from climate to human equality, there needs to be global effort, cooperation across borders, and platforms that work together. This is as true for employees, employers and governments who value their economic engines of business, as it is for the air we breathe.

Global trends show us that the Platform is more important than anything else in any business. Competition, no longer, is defined by geography. It is defined by how easily one can reach beyond geography to access resources, be it human resources, raw materials or finished good, globally.

This is just the beginning. When we look at the H.I.T. (Human Intelligence Tasks) today that the Millennial have to compete for, from far and wide, to find an “acceptable wage” - the next generation will have to compete with AI (Artificial Intelligence) workers that achieve things, without health care benefits, without “time off” and for a fixed cost, do as much work as the processor speeds allow – which are increasing exponentially.

We need to recognize that our employment systems, our ideas of what employment even is, has been stripped away, and is falling further and further behind. The Global Platform is already here. And, that Platform, composed of exponential intelligence and opportunity, will become more and more available. The world we live in will be more and more automated, available, and recreated, or created, over and over again, by technological advances.

“Platformers” who are today’s employers, will maximize resources, and build their business operations better – it is what must happen for a Platformer to stay relevant and in business. Platofrmees, then, must adopt a new level of thinking and engagement, to be relevant, important, and to rise to the upper levels in the age of the Platform.

Our systems, understanding of what is “employment” and what it is to be an “employer” must change too. It’s no longer the “owner – employers” world. And there is no longer room for the “hourly wage – employee rights” systems that were critical during the industrial age. It is the engagement, access and platform generation that will shift all of these outdated mind-sets and systems that have supported them for the last few hundred years.

The Importance of Being Equitable: Thoughts on the NEO Exchange

March 27, 2015 07:51


Today, March 27th, 2015 the NEO Exchange officially became a part of the Canadian financial landscape. And, after three and a half decades in the financial markets, I can only shake my head and say “Finally!” when I think of the changes about to come to fruition thanks to the innovative and courageous work of Aequitas.

I’ve had the opportunity to get to know the people behind the NEO Exchange over the last 12 months, because my company, 1to1Real, was selected to be apart of the new exchange. It has been quite a journey, and everyone has worked incredibly hard. Yet this hard work has been extremely rewarding, first and foremost, because of what we’ve been working towards. The NEO Exchange presents a vision of a more equitable world. This is a world where investing is equitable for both the investor, and the investee. The NEO Exchange provides opportunity for investors, but also for companies that need financial support to operate, grow, invent and innovate.

Businesses need capital at all stages.   Funding these businesses requires outside capital. This is essentially how the “stock exchange” was born. Despite its reputation today, the public market has humble origins. Historians and economists have argued that the first stock exchange dates back to Roman times. Others point to the Dutch East Indian trading company as a point of origin. But no matter the century, stock exchanges, public markets, have been an integral part of the world economy for centuries. Historically, they have presented essential resources for companies to raise capital, to trade the ownership through shares and bonds, and thus to bring new services, products and jobs, to the world.

For the investors, the people who have that much needed capital, stock exchanges present an opportunity to “recycle” capital in imaginative and productive ways. To extend the impact of capital, to invest in the ideas that people believe in – that’s what the “stock market” is truly about.

Being an entrepreneur my entire adult life, I’ve been involved in the markets from every angle. From my beginnings in the early 80’s, when I established my own Investment Banking Brokerage company and commodities trading firm (I was backed by now infamous REFCO - and Tom Ditmer, when I was the ripe old age of 21); to my trials, being a part of the early fall-out after creating (again from scratch), my own public company that was forced to fail under the weight of the now defunct and fraudulent antics of FINOVA (one of the largest bankruptcies in US History and a prescient precursor to Enron); I’ve experienced the good, the bad, and the incredibly ugly.

The financial markets, the way things really “work”, what forces are behind the way money moves and is managed, manipulated and used, from the bad, to the good, to the ugly, has directly impacted my life in countless ways. In fact, these markets impacts us all, every day, from the politics behind the products we buy, to the payroll we receive or make as business owners, ultimately, the public markets shape the very way we see and experience the world.

The public market, despite affecting everyone, is not accessible to everyone. The model of high frequency trading (HFT), that rips profits off the top hurts not only investors, but the integrity of the businesses.

Derivative activities like HFT, left unchecked in the market, prevent a fair playing ground for investors and businesses to operate, to invest capital, to get capital to operate and grow, from emerging.

The “fundamental” investor, who invests at a company because they believe in what it does, who is ready to hang in for the long haul, is damaged and discouraged by the manipulations of volumes of trades that “clip” coupons off minor fluctuations. Due to HFT, companies are not measured by financial results, or the opportunities of R&D and the future; they are measured by micro-movements, pushed to and fro by the programs that trade in Nano seconds.

How is this productive? For anyone other than the folks who own the firms that take profits for their own benefit out of the market, instead of letting the markets emerge to assist the best investments to rise and fall based on the merits of the management, to put it simply, it is not. It is not productive for our economy either, as we have seen time and time again. The markets should benefit those people who invest wisely.   Warren Buffett, the famous investor of “buy and hold” didn’t have to worry about program trading back in the 50’s when he started his trek with now famous Berkshire Hathaway. He had an investment philosophy: invest in the fundamentals, invest in the management.

It is these fundamental values that made Buffett the most famous investor in the world. It is these fundamental values that the NEO Exchange, and the team behind it, are boldly seeking to bring back to the public market. Personally, my interaction with the people behind Aequitas’ NEO Exchange, true visionaries, brought back those early dreams of how the markets could work for investing and for business. It’s been exciting to be a small part of this big picture they’ve spent the last several years working tirelessly to create.

Want some financial advice? Support this exchange. Support NEO. When you do, you are bringing more than a better chance at profits into your pockets. You are supporting the autonomy of business, the creation of new opportunities for investors, businesses and entrepreneurs who also work tirelessly to imagine and realize the innovations the world needs.

Thanks to the NEO Exchange, businesses and investors can collaborate without the fear of an HFT program trading engine. So, the next time you invest, the next time you consider a company to invest in, be confident that you can evaluate it for the people and products behind it. Be confident that you are “investing in the fundamentals”.

For me, that is what NEO Exchange is all about. Making sure “equity” remains “equitable” all the way around.

As a fellow believer in the fundamentals of business, I’d like to extend my thanks to the team at Aequitas NEO Exchange. Your vision and courage to bring an equitable financial landscape to Canada and to the world, to create a new stock exchange will make Canada stronger, our economy stronger, and the world more aware than ever, of how money and markets are supposed to work. For everyone.


Tim Vasko