The “gig” economy (and why it’s a good thing)

Note: I asked my 16-year-old son to write about the “gig economy.” This is his view of it with just a few edits from me. Let me know what you think.

Stable salary, health-care benefits, steady hours — these are the things that might come to mind when you think of jobs that are largely considered desirable. But all these things come with a price some aren’t willing to pay: repetitiveness, little opportunity for advancement, and short, scarce vacations, among other things. However, there is another option outside of a traditional workspace.

Many people work outside of the organized system, and they’re all the better off for it. A wedding planner, for example, chooses what events they organize, how much they will be paid, and when their hours of client service will be. These same freedoms are afforded by freelance writers, photographers, and anyone who chooses to take “gigs” as they see fit, for prices they see as fitting.

This idea may seem scary. It may seem to threaten the very foundation of the American workplace. But it has enormous benefits for all of us. Freelance workers have much more freedom than those who work for an employer, and that tends to magnify their skills. Because they have no one to look up to — no one to rescue them if they get into a bind — they tend to work harder, and with more passion for the life they’re pursuing.

Ambition is the driving force behind so much of the progress we see in this modern day. People with original ideas, who choose to work on their own accord and not under another’s thumb, have brought us many of the products we use every day. If it weren’t for these brave people, you’d be hard-pressed to find top-notch creative minds. Organized corporate jobs can be stifling.  Freelancers are not only defying tradition, but they are paving the way for those who feel too constricted by workplace structure to pursue the ideas that may very well be the next big thing.

However, there are many challenges in working for oneself, and health-care comes in high on the list. It’s expensive. Outrageously expensive. You pay your own taxes and Social Security and file quarterly.

There’s also the aspect of loneliness associated with this workspace. The self-employed often have no co-workers. Their only regular human interaction would be with clients, and those they spend their free time with if they have any to spare. However, organizations such as collectives and networks can help these people communicate with and work alongside others like them.

Yes, the “gig” economy may seem like a threat to traditional jobs. But, traditional jobs are not for everyone. Freelance workers are facing the challenges of expensive health-care and questionable stability to bring upon us a more innovative and passionate America. They are bringing us the America of tomorrow.

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How mindfulness can sharpen creativity

mindfullnewssThis post was written by Lee Webb.  

According to The Merriam-Webster dictionary, mindfulness is “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis…” The way I view it, mindfulness can be as simple as paying more attention. It’s this idea that taking time to better sense the world leads to a better appreciation for it and a more positive outlook on life. The concept of mindfulness also proves extremely useful for creatives. Whether you write words, mix sounds, capture photos, or do anything that involves making something new, allowing yourself to be more mindful has the same benefits. Taking the extra moments to process affords you a deeper understanding of the object of your art.

Say a small town journalist named Pam has been assigned an article on local luxury home. Pam can interview top designers and high-class residents. She can photograph and examine the diverse angular features and stylistic preferences of many. But, Pam has a deeper technique in mind for producing this article. She takes time to stop and pay attention to what she feels when she steps into a room. She notices the way the light seeps in and how the smells seem to transport her to another time. She takes the time to search her emotions and notice how the various environments affect her thoughts. This is mindfulness at its finest.

All this uniquely personal information transforms Pam’s somewhat basic assignment into something much more connected and real. It makes her work something special that stands apart from the cold, only-technical work of her peers. She has created something that her readers will not only be informed by but feel connected to on a deeper level. Years down the road, Pam may be an award-winning writer for the New York Times with an enormous, loyal following.

Mindfulness can seem like some sort of hipster joo-joo at first, but it’s actually so simple and easy that it seems foolish to ignore the benefits. Being sharply aware of the world around you has a way of deepening the already infinite creative well inside, allowing us to transform simple things into art that is layered, unique, and unforgettable.

Priceless

I purposely positioned my desk in front of the window so I can raise it most mornings and listen to the birds sing. A woodpecker joined the tunes today. The sound of the train through my little town provided some background music every hour or so.

Among the robins, sparrows and blue jays, two cardinals were playing in the trees. The cardinals are my favorite birds because they represent so many things—faith, vitality and creativity. Some say they represent loved ones who have passed away. This thought gives me comfort that my parents are free and playful as the birds.

I am not writing about very exciting subjects today. But the inspiration outside my window is priceless.