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Gini Dietrich

A New and Prosperous Economy

By: Gini Dietrich | August 23, 2011 | 
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“We’re not going to have a jobless recovery. We’re going to have a jobless future.” – Jeff Jarvis, author of “What Would Google Do?”

It’s been said the Industrial Revolution is now complete as technology begins to replace the jobs that were created for people to run the machines.

Some have said we’re entering an intellectual property revolution, which makes sense with the Google purchase of Motorola Mobility.

Or perhaps it’s more a service-focused era where the jobs no longer run things, but provide expertise.

Regardless, Jarvis is right: Our jobs aren’t coming back.

Take, for instance, the book industry. Amazon began to kill retail bookstores, first by giving us online book buying and then the Kindle, and Apple finished the job with the iPad. Those jobs will never come back. No matter what happens to the economy, jobs for retail book salespeople will not reappear.

And the newspaper industry? With sales declining, advertising nearly non-existent, and everyone moving their subscriptions online, the jobs of the printers, the distributors, and the carriers will never reappear.

What about the jobs that created 8-tracks, then cassette tapes, and then CDs? Gone.

Technology, social media, and the web, in general, are creating a new revolution for us, yet a good majority of leaders are still doing business the way it’s always been done. Is it hope that the economy will recover and the things that made us successful in the past will, once again, work?

Hope is not a strategy.

Is there too much change and instability, what with the Great Recession and then the debt ceiling debate and then the S&P downgrade and then a continuous slide of the stock market that makes us want to hold on to what we know and not change?

Not changing is not a strategy.

I spend a good amount of my time traveling the country, talking with business leaders about using the web for growth. Do you know how often I hear “My customer isn’t on the Internet”? Every time.

Do you know how often I hear, “I have to close business by looking in the eyeballs of my client”? Every time.

Do you know how often I hear, “My customer isn’t a 20 year old so they’re not using social media”? Every time.

These are the same people who are hoping things will rebound to where they were or that they’ll retire before technology really has to be implemented into their companies.

But guess what? It’s not going to rebound. The jobs aren’t going to reappear. The way you’ve always done things is not going to work.

It’s our jobs, as business leaders to create jobs from something that doesn’t, right now, exist, so we can form a new and  prosperous economy.

Otherwise Jarvis is right: We’ll have a jobless future.

This first ran as my weekly column in Crain’s, the Chicago business journal.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

112 comments
lannygoodman
lannygoodman

well said, gini. when things go non-linear, we have to question all our assumptions. for example, is the concept of "job" still relevant? how else might people pool their resources and talents and create organizations the serve all their interests? my pet peeve is that we continue to design and build companies based on a hundred year old model that was based on four hundred year old science. there aren't many hundred year old technologies in use, functional or relevant today. there are a few (light bulbs, furniture and paper come to mind), but damn few.

the real tragedy of this economic meltdown is that the people who have dutifully punched the clock have never had their full potential developed by their organizations. aside from the skills required for their immediate jobs, employees are astonishingly ignorant of anything outside their cubicle or workstation. the tragedy we are seeing is the legacy and symptom of a system of leadership , management and organization design based on "check your brain at the door and do just what you're told." is it any wonder when the job is gone they are lost and clueless about what to do?

the good news is that it is only when things are falling apart that real change (for good or bad) can happen quickly. your article and this forum is just one example of the revolution of which we find ourselves in the middle. we don't need to worry about washington. they're clueless. we are the leaders if we decide to be and only we can reinvent business and how the world works. we get the leaders we deserve. the reality is that they follow us.

ExpatDoctorMom
ExpatDoctorMom

Very true Gini! I think though the practice of medicine for the initial visit will likely need to be face to face. You need to examine and touch to come to a diagnosis. Follow ups and those visits which are "talk" visits, I can see being virtual. There are plenty of company's on the web offering these.

Sadly, I will grieve the demise of books and newspapers as i like the physical aspect of holding a book, turning the pages of a newspaper while drinking a latte or a good cup of coffee...

cheers,Rajka

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

YES YES YES!!! I said this to Mikal Belicove about his Daily Dose article about Facebook Techniques: I'd like to print this up and shove a copy down the throats of my clients.

Bravo Gini. The sooner we realize all of the above, the sooner we can get on with rebuilding our economy.

MarcMaWords
MarcMaWords

@ginidietrich So true! It's like a child growing out of their old clothing & expecting, and hoping that it will still fit

lamiki
lamiki

Damn, Gini, way to tell it how it is. I'm trying to think of the best comment to leave you in appreciation for this post, but I'll try anyway...

First off, this blog post is exactly what I needed to read today. It's interesting, every single one of my jobs that I've help during and post college were with companies and in positions that didn't exist before I held them. And as I'm on the cusp of building my own company that doesn't exist yet (this stage is called stealth, right?), I know that I'll give the same opportunity too. And you know what, it's kind of fun to know that I couldn't have predicted my career moves a few years ago :)

Needless to say, thank you for writing this and telling it like it is -- this is a post that I need to print and post on my wall. You're right -- stop bitching about being a victim or collateral damage of the great late-2000s depression and be your own solution.

JoelFortner
JoelFortner

Gini, you nailed it. Those who fail to evolve to market demands will fail. There are many examples out there of people who have chosen not to participate in this recession. They're not playing the blame game. They're focused on making stuff happen. They're not looking for excuses. They're chasing after their cheese. In short, they're fighting and thinking their way to success.

MSchechter
MSchechter

We see far too much of this in the world of fine jewelry. People keep waiting for the 80's and early 90's to come back. They want the same big ticket sales on dated jewelry. I keep telling my industry to take a day and go to the opera or the theater, just look at what people are wearing. There isn't a venue to wear the jewelry of the past and there aren't going to be anymore going forward. Time to change. But sadly, change is never easy and often happens too late.

corinadexel
corinadexel

Very interesting picture of this momentum! No fun in short terms.

From the bigger picture of the worldwide techdrive especially in the emerging world its pretty clear that the digital revolution incl. web and social media.... can help us and our economies.

But there will be lots of rethinking, reinventing and reshaping.

From governments to businesses and individuals.

And that kind of change takes time, guts and entrepeneural spirit.

Let start with ourselves: rethinking, reinventing and reshaping.

bdorman264
bdorman264

We can do it, but hope is not a strategy and we definitely need forward thinking solutions because what we knew as the good ol' days aren't coming back as we knew them. However, there is still plenty of opportunity and we'll get it figured out.

The current thinking and agendas in DC will have to be changed and we might have to do it at the ballot box. Maybe we can get some Chicago style voting in...........early and often; but change of thinking needs to occur.

This was good ma'am.

lisarobbinyoung
lisarobbinyoung

Two things come to mind, first: the recollection of big companies like GM sticking their head in the sand hoping that competitive new technologies will just fade away and they can maintain their pole position in the industry - we've seen how well that worked.

The other is an idea I've been marinating on for a while now: The Rise of The Guild. Back in the middle ages/renaissance there weren't unions, but there were guilds. These independent, mom & pop type artisans would band together, teach each other, learn together, and grow their industry through mutual innovation - sounds kind of communistic in today's world, but I see it happening.

I see groups of entrepreneurs pooling resources, asking questions, getting help, and taking action to innovate and try new things on in an effort to match the square peg to the square hole so to speak.

I see many more solopreneurs making a way when it was very difficult to do so before. Big industries are being "taken down" by little guy innovators.

We really need to be paying attention to this.

jonbuscall
jonbuscall

PossiblY the best spinsucks post EVER. This says it all Gini and it's something I hear every day. Yesterday I wrote about a business who are starting a Facebook page with no wall, no comment and no photos. The page is their one concession to social media!!! And they think they are really being social. It is this kind of attitude to the net - that it's not real marketing, not the real world- that will drive them out of business. It's not their failure to use facebook socially. It's their old world arrogance and ludite thinking.

TheJackB
TheJackB

I call this a depression. I know too many people who are losing their homes, out of work and desperately trying to find something new. The problems we face aren't new and they aren't getting much better at all.

That being said I am confident that we will find our way provided that we don't succumb to a culture of fear. There are an awful lot of smart people- we just need to keep our eyes open and help each other through the rough spots.

wabbitoid
wabbitoid

The big problem among our nation's leadership - business, political, and so on - has been denial. There was evidence of a serious problem as far back as 2002, and the warning bells were very loud in 2007, yet we are only now fully engaged in the problem at hand. What is important about Gini's piece is that we are all talking about this and insisting on action. Remember Y2K? Nothing happened - because we were all aware of it and on top of it. The same sense of urgency, and then some, is the first step past the denial that has plagued us.

Once we are past the denial there is no reason to panic. This is at least the 5th Depression in US history, and we've learned a lot over the many years. I call this a "Managed Depression" because our leaders have tried their best to do what they knew needed to be done.

http://erikhare.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/the-managed-depression/

Why didn't it work? Because for all the levers being pushed, pulled, and turned this is not an event like those we have seen since the last Depression, 1929. It takes a full Restructuring to get us out of it. I have a short list of relatively cheap and simple ideas that can get that process started:

http://erikhare.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/moving-the-economy-forward/

The most important problem right now, however, is psychology. As we move past denial and towards acceptance, grieving the death of the old economy, we first have to pass through depression (small "d"). That, and fear, are driving people right now as a poll of my readership showed clearly:

http://erikhare.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/after-the-storm/

While I'd like to tell you that "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," I can't in good conscience. There is one more really big bump out there, the thing that will liberate our economy from the constraints that have killed so many middle class jobs - and also end the material good fortune we have greedily enjoyed for 2 generations. It is the coming end of the US Dollar standard around the world:

http://erikhare.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/death-of-the-mighty-dollar/

http://erikhare.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/fear-the-dragon/

As we work through all of this the problems that should have been obvious for at least 4 years will rattle markets and continue making us very afraid. I think it is best to ignore that noise and concentrate on the opportunities ahead of you:

http://erikhare.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/stock-pigeons/

http://erikhare.wordpress.com/category/money/on-the-margin/?orderby=ID&order=ASC

(an old series but still valid)

I've written much more on this topic, but this is far more than enough for now. What matters is this: we have to make the opportunities we can and STAY CONNECTED to our world so that we can insist on appropriate leadership and action as we all make the new economy that will arise from Restructuring. There is a temptation to withdraw and look out for #1, but we are stronger together. This will take leadership as well as our own efforts, and until we insist on appropriate leadership nothing will happen.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@AmyMccTobin I think I'll print it and shove it down the throats of some of the business leaders I run in to, as well.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@lamiki I really believe in creating your own destiny and not relying on someone else to do it for you. The idea that we can all be entrepreneurs, even inside companies, is very appealing to me. It's how people like you and me can create jobs from something that doesn't yet exist.

wagnerwrites
wagnerwrites

@theantimedia That remark was 4 biz leaders. You & I get to be our lazy, funny selves & not create jobs. 'Cept 4 your t-shirt makers.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@JoelFortner One of the things I repeat to my team over and over again is, "We can blame the economy or we can go out there and take charge. Which would you rather do?"

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@bdorman264 Hello invisible. To your point, I actually think the voting is going to clear Washington and start with a clean slate. We shall see.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@lisarobbinyoung I don't think that sounds like communism at all. It sounds smart. We do this with some fellow agencies - I spend a lot of time with other agency leaders. We share resources, we brainstorm ideas, and (in some cases) we pitch business together.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@jonbuscall Thanks Jon! Unfortunately you're right. I spoke this morning and the first thing out of one of the attendee's mouth was, "My target isn't for 20 year olds. This isn't for me." I hope I proved him wrong, but he's not the only one who feels that way.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@TheJackB I think it's a Depression, too. I think there are two reasons they're not calling it one: They don't want to instill fear in all of us and it feels different than 1929.

rustyspeidel
rustyspeidel

@wabbitoid

This all started in 1985 when it became more compelling to break up and sell off our manufacturing capability than it did to maintain our companies here. I was just reading a post that basically said unless we want to become an elitest state where a small group of "haves" manages a huge population of poor service workers, we need to reinvent ourselves to restore the middle class core where much of our economic and social stability was held. That middle class spent the money that filled the coffers that paid the taxes that kept things rolling. When they left, so did a HUGE tax base. Hard to believe our leaders let that happen.

I agree with you that denial, protection of the status quo for the few at the expense of the many, and self-interested leadership have allowed this to spin out of control. It's almost like this political generation needs to retire before the policies will change much--not that it's helped much in the past. ;) Like Mimi says below...there is a lot od positive to this, if we'd embrace it. But those "haves" want to keep having.

wabbitoid
wabbitoid

@ginidietrich@lamiki This may seem like a quibble, but it isn't to me. I know many people who are not built to be entrepreneurs, and that generally includes myself. A craftsman is a person who is not interested in selling things, preferring instead to focus on what they do best and doing it well. Craftsmen can include chefs, mechanics, programmers, or any other field that includes some level of art.

Not everyone wants to promote themselves. Not everyone can. It would be a very shallow world that didn't have room for people who would rather be craftsmen, IMHO.

KenMueller
KenMueller

@ginidietrich@bdorman264 as much as i would LOVE to see that happen, I can't see it ever happening. the system is so skewed toward the status quo and the incumbent. and...even when an incumbent loses, the "new blood" that wins is usually of a typical political bent.

KenMueller
KenMueller

@ginidietrich@jonbuscall And your post was great as well, Jon. I hear this argument all the time. And the small business folks I talk to still insist on all the old methods without demanding any proof that it works. They never check to see if their Yellow Pages ad is working, or their newspaper ad, but doggone it, that's all they've ever done! And leave the Internet to those young kids! I commented on another post yesterday, either yours, Jon, or Shonali's, I think, that the real problem is that the last demographic to understand the Internet, and SM, are older males. And they are the ones in charge of small and large businesses. They aren't on Facebook, so no one is!

Dangit, I don't need The Twitter. That's for kids!

wabbitoid
wabbitoid

@rustyspeidel I think there is considerable evidence that the inflection point was indeed int he 1980s. I wrote this piece, more overtly pro-Democrat than usual, back in January:

http://erikhare.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/i-still-like-mike/

I can't say where the new leadership will come from to get past this, but a new generation is probably necessary. I know there are a few elders who can help us and I'd hate to take this out of the historical context that still has a lot to teach us, but the balance of leadership is likely to be new.

Gini is helping a lot by doing her part here. As a free market economy there is only so much that political leadership can do, and it will take business leaders speaking out and doing their part. The sooner they and the general public become engaged the sooner we can make it happen.

bdorman264
bdorman264

@KenMueller@ginidietrich The problem is, who in their right mind would want to take on the task and subject themselves to microscope type scrutiny? The true leaders don't want any part of it because they know they won't be able to accomplish anything. That only leaves the nut jobs and ego maniacs. Heaven help us.............

KenMueller
KenMueller

@ginidietrich@bdorman264 i feel like we have. and no one does anything. when the people running both as incumbents and challengers are stereotypes and parody's of themselves, the only ones who win are the late night comedians and SNL.

JamesBSchultz
JamesBSchultz

@KenMueller

If you are speaking to Lancaster or Central PA SBO, I can relate. My Vistage group has 16 business owners...all in the boomer generation. Only one dabbles in social media. My Vistage group universally ignores any social media speakers. @GiniDietrich, what was your experience with Vistage? Are older white males (like me) just dumb?

Ken, we should have lunch one day.

wabbitoid
wabbitoid

@Lisa Gerber Thank you very much - I've been studying this for years. It takes a little fortitude and a willingness to ask dumb questions over and over to make it. :-)

wabbitoid
wabbitoid

@rustyspeidel@ginidietrich Rusty, when it comes to politics (a topic I have too much experience in) I think of two things all the time.

The first is that politics is not about money or power or influence, but improving people's lives. Sen Paul Wellstone used to say that all the time, and it's actually a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt. If you are more to my right and want to say that "Sometimes improving people's lives means getting out of their way" I can accept that and we can have a grand ol' time debating just how we can move forward. But I take that statement as a simple truism. Politics, either the art and science of human interaction (ie, office politics or domestic politics) or as the operating system of a Democratic Republic MUST be about improving people's lives.

The other thing is a line I stole from Stan Rogers - all poltiical discussion should have something for heart and arm and brain. You need the passion, the intellect, and a clear course of action to make it into something that works. In this case, we're at square one and I would like everyone to speak honestly about their own economic situation along with their hopes and fears. Many fear losing status by being honest, but we are all feeling it. There is much more to gain working together for solutions than there is silently defending the old, dead regime that isn't working anymore.

The Emperor has no clothes - and, for that matter, I can see why the Empress had a thang goin' on the side. Let's start with honesty and commitment to making things work for people again and see where it goes.

rustyspeidel
rustyspeidel

@ginidietrich@wabbitoid Part of the challenge is getting leaders to put the country's interests ahead of their own...bipartisan agreements, limits to individual, elected and corporate power, a sense of national pride that is not rotted in extremism, etc. I know those sound all socialist, but they don't need to be...politicians currently prey on fear because it galvanizes voters.

Hope is what we need--hope and creativity from the top down in terms of incentives, tax management, regulation (or lack of it) and infrastructure that will make it easier for companies to start up and succeed.

Also, the lesson I've lived by--own your shit. What are YOU doing to make it better--or worse????

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  1. […] was cheering-on Gini Dietrich yesterday as I read her post at Spin Sucks. In short, she wrote about how difficult it is selling change-resistant business leaders on the […]

  2. […] Last week I quoted Jeff Jarvis and how he thinks we’re moving to a jobless future. […]