Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Web secret 459: Fiverr

Fiverr is a global online marketplace offering tasks and services, beginning at a cost of $5 per job performed, from which it gets its name. The Fivver taglines are "Everything your business needs, simplified. Talented freelancers, millions of digital services, on budget and on time."

The site is used on the one hand by freelancers who use it to offer their services, and on the other hand by small businesses, private practices and startups to inexpensively create and grow.

Typical services include:

logo creation

article and blog post writing

social media marketing

website building

viral videos

and much, much more.

Fiverr explains the power of getting s**t done in an amusing video.

Freelance services for the lean entrepreneur.

That could be you.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Web Secret 458: the real impact of workplace automation

We have all heard the dire forecast: in about 10 years or so, half of the jobs in existence today will be automated.

Bye bye jobs.

Not so fast.

It's more complicated than that explains James Manyika, a Director at the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), in his recent article, "Workplace automation: Separating fiction from fact."

The article explains that - astoundingly - back in 1964, US President Lyndon Johnson created a national commission to examine the impact of automation on the economy and employment. At that time, LBJ pointed out that automation should be viewed as an ally, not an enemy:

“If we understand it, if we plan for it, if we apply it well, automation will not be a job destroyer or a family displaced. Instead, it can remove dullness from the work of man and provide him with more than man has ever had before.”

Hard to be that optimistic a half century later, because technology has advanced at breakneck speed. Manyika writes: "...who back then could have imagined the legions of robots at work today in manufacturing... Machines today increasingly match or outperform human performance in a range of work activities, including ones requiring cognitive capabilities....Will robots replace humans in the workplace? And if so, how quickly?"

Manyika proceeds to quote from a recently published McKinsey Global Institute report on automation and its potential effects on productivity and the global economy.

Among the findings, "...almost half the activities we pay people about $15 trillion in wages to do in the global economy have the potential to be automated using currently demonstrated technology."

Scary, but there is a twist. "More jobs will change than will be automated away in the short to medium term. Only a small proportion of all occupations, about 5%, can be automated entirely using these demonstrated technologies over the coming decade..."

Manyika adds: "As companies deploy automation, we ... need to think more about mass redeployment rather than unemployment, and also ... think about people working alongside machines and the skills that will be needed for the workforce of today and tomorrow... They include capabilities that are inherently human, including managing and developing people, and social and emotional reasoning.

He concludes: "Just because the technical potential to automate a workplace activity exists does not mean that it will happen anytime soon...The pace and extent of automation will depend on a range of factors of which technical feasibility is only one—and there are still some important barriers to overcome, including the ability of computers to generate and understand natural language. Other factors include the dynamics of labor supply and demand. If there is no shortage in the labor market of cooks, it may not make business sense to replace them with an expensive machine."

Turns out that for the near future at least, humans are tech proof.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Web Secret 457: Millenials in the workplace

Working with Millennials can be a challenge.

Here's why...

... As explained by Simon Sinek, a British/American author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant. He is the author of three books including the 2009 best seller, "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action."

And that is all I am going to write about that topic.

He said it better.

So watch. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Web Secret 456: Honey

I never buy anything online without using ebates, a browser add on that gives you cash back when you spend money at one of over 1,800 stores.

In addition, I also used to comb sites like retailmenot.com for coupons.

Well there is a better way.

Introducing Honey, another browser add-on that automatically applies coupon codes at checkout and, also finds better prices on Amazon for you, immediately.

Here s a 25 second video that tells you everything you need to know:


Happy shopping!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Web secret 455: High Tech, High Touch redux

 I first wrote a web secret about high touch in 2014. I am writing about it again in a different context.

In a recent blog post, I asked what does increased automation mean for those of us who are working in behavioral health care or employee assistance?

I pointed out that fortunately, what we do as mental health professionals is tech proof.

At least until right before The Singularity, when robot brains will be indistinguishable from human ones.

I feel confident that we will continue to thrive for at least a few decades, maybe even 50 years or more, because of a concept coined in 1982 by John Naisbitt, an expert in futures studies.

Naisbitt wrote Megatrends, the fruit of 10 years of research, in 1982. In it, he theorized that in a world of technology, people will long for personal, human contact. High tech, high touch.

How prescient!

He thought about this before Time Magazine's famous "The Computer, Machine of the Year" issue of 1983, for which the caption was "The computer moves in." I can still remember how shocked everyone was that a machine was on the cover instead of a person.

Naisbitt further elaborated on his concept in his 1999 update "High Tech, High Touch - technology and our search for meaning."

Based on exhaustive research, he described us as living in "a Technologically Intoxicated Zone," where we are bombarded with technological stimuli and live distanced and distracted.

At that time, Naisbitt noted that we struggled to bring high touch back into our lives, seeking meaning in religion and self-help books, popping Prozac and seeking connection to nature by driving SUVs and buying clothes from L.L. Bean.

The book suggested we pull the plug on the computer and TV, turn off the cell phone and beeper, and spend more time with family and friends.

He wrote this in 1999, before the smartphone and social media...

Back to the present, we may deliver services via portable technologies, but at least for a while, the therapist/client relationship will still be valued.

And employees will need the help of their EAPs to cope with the rapidly changing employment landscape.

And we will still need to pull the plug.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Web Secret 454: the robots are coming

As I write this, the New York Times published 2 articles today:

The first: Amazon to Add 100,000 Jobs as Bricks-and-Mortar Retail Crumbles

The article's key points are:

"Amazon’s new warehouse in Baltimore is a rare economic bright spot there, employing 3,000 people full-time...

...With Amazon’s announcement ... that it plans to hire 100,000 new employees in the next 18 months, the Baltimore facility and at least 70 other Amazon fulfillment centers across the country stand to be among the biggest beneficiaries.

Fifteen miles away in the suburbs, all that is left of Owings Mills Mall is rubble, demolition having started in the fall, after the last anchor stores, Macy’s and J. C. Penney, closed within months of each other.

...the two scenes [are] an example of ... 'creative destruction'

...it’s key to remember that online retailing has destroyed many times that number of positions at malls and shopping centers across America."


The second article "Robots Will Take Jobs, but Not as Fast as Some Fear, New Report Says" opines that:

"...A measured pace is likely because what is technically possible is only one factor in determining how quickly new technology is adopted, according to a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute...

The report...concludes that many tasks can be automated and that most jobs have activities ripe for automation...

[Other reports are less sanguine.] Examining trends in artificial intelligence, researchers at Oxford University, estimated in a widely cited paper published in 2013 that 47 percent of jobs in the United States were at risk from automation...

...Such uncertainties led the McKinsey researchers to calculate the pace of automation as ranges rather than precise predictions. The report’s multifactor scenarios suggest that half of today’s work activities could be automated by 2055. That threshold could be reached 20 years earlier or 20 years later, the report adds, depending on economic trends, labor market dynamics, regulations and social attitudes.

So while further automation is inevitable, McKinsey’s research suggests that it will be a relentless advance rather than an economic tidal wave..."


What does this mean for those of us who are working in behavioral health care or employee assistance?

What we do is tech proof.

At least until right before The Singularity, when robot brains will be indistinguishable from human ones.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Web Secret 453: 3% and other miracles

When I was a tween we moved from the U.S. to Switzerland, and lived there for two years.

This was the late sixties and in those days, when you were in another country, you were completely cut off from just about everything in your native land.

Long distance phone calls were prohibitively expensive. Air mail took two weeks to get there. It took time - months - for the latest music to get to the local record store. Forget about watching current TV shows. Those took years.

You were effectively walled off.

After two years we returned and I was a stranger in a strange land.

I was out of the loop, didn't get the jokes, or the references.

Fast forward to 2017. Everyone around the world can watch Game of Thrones at the same time.

Spotify allows me to access the music I heard at a restaurant in Italy, upon my return to New York. Versailles, a French TV series broadcast on Ovation about a young Louis XIV's quest to build his famous palace, was made in English so as to reach the largest global audience. The show's creators asserted that if Louis was alive, he would have agreed to the use of English, because he was always trying to communicate his ideas to the largest population possible.

But this isn't just about the globalization of American entertainment.

It's about all entertainment, from every corner of the world making its way to your screen as well.

Netflix recently released 3%, their first ever Brazilian science fiction TV series - available in English or Portuguese.

I'm watching.