President Obama with Teacher of the Year

Teacher of the Year, 2014

Today’s blog was supposed to be about my favorite teacher. But I quickly recognized I had more than one. Then I read about the attrition rate of U.S. businesses, thanks to Christopher Ingraham’s Washington Post blog yesterday. So I decided to provide some unsolicited advice to new and current teachers, based upon the Brookings Institution’s latest report.  The report shows that new businesses are failing faster than they are starting. While the BI’s researchers are working on the reasons for this trend, teachers may benefit from pondering the report’s consequences for their current and future students. Here are several possible repercussions of the study’s findings that teachers might help students better prepare for:

1.  Racial and geographic economies will proliferate.   Future workers will find they will be relegated to either industries or services in which their racial and geographic peers predominate. That simply means that the flat-lining of jobs growth will result in fewer opportunities for minorities to break out of traditional employment patterns. Affirmative action aside, it is human nature to hire and promote more of those who look like the boss.  Minorities who dominate particular industries will continue to do so, unless so-called disruptive economics introduces more diversity. Teachers should continue to teach students to be tolerant of differences so they have a better chance to benefit from the global economy.

2.  Technological advances will shrink employment opportunities. Competition for fewer jobs will also mean that students who develop both social, math, and technological skills will fare better in the future. The debate about teaching to standardized tests and teaching students to think critically should be a moot point, based upon the study.  Both are needed. Clearly, future workers must learn early how to practice creative economics, using problem-solving and basic accounting.

3.  Research skills will become as important as social skills.   Google’s search engine makes some of us think research is like slicing a piece of cake. But with an ever-shrinking jobs pool, students who can navigate the Internet to accomplish a strategic goal will be the better survivors. Teachers who understand that will help students immeasurably.  Their students will recognize the power of technology when used as a bridge to communities of people they know how to relate to–no matter their race or locale.  Have them think about ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft as cases in point.

While I have never been a classroom teacher for more than a few months, I know and respect the power of teaching and of being a lifetime learner.  I am grateful to a long list of teachers in and out of the classroom for helping me navigate in our New and Shared Economy.

Jobs Report: Is Tech Part of Our Recovery?

Chart of Jobs Growth in US, 2008-2011
Job growth since 2008 Infographic: Visual.ly
Chart of Jobs Growth in US, 2008-2011

Job growth since 2008
Infographic: Visual.ly

This morning, my WTOP.com SMS alert told me what I used to report every month on the radio: last month’s jobless rate. It’s good news by most standards. Six percent (6.3 to be exact) of people actively seeking work is the lowest rate in 5 1/2 years. Nearly 290,000 new jobs added. All good indicators our economy is bouncing back.

But are Baby Boomers bouncing back, and if so, how? The Urban Institute’s report on joblessness among the 50+ crowd, coupled with a GAO analysis, during The Great Recession painted a pretty dismal portrait of the financial well-being of this pre- and currently retired demographic in the US.

Being a techy Boomer, myself, I am curious about how the tech sector is playing a role in helping my folks out of the most recent jobs rut.  So, this May, I am putting that question out to my network…on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIN and traveling around the country to investigate it.

As part of my personal research, I’d like to find success stories of Boomers using technology to bounce back from a tough financial spot. If you can help with this research, send or Tweet me a link or a personal contact that I can interview anywhere in the country.

And if you’re a Boomer who wants to jump into the tech economy (check out Xconomy.com) to improve your financial position, here are five revenue-creation companies you may want to explore:

 

1. E-Bay

2. Flex Jobs

3. Postmates

4. Thrillist

5. Lyft

Subscribe to this blog, and I’ll help keep you posted on this and other digital cues in the rapidly changing world we share.

Social Media_Boom or Bust?

On King Day, I decided I needed to balance cultural reflection and community service with communication best practices for economic gain. So my schedule was rather eclectic I’d say. The morning schedule included a Webinar by Social Media Magic, while the afternoon was consumed with MLK speeches, good food and by-law revisions for The Young Masters, an youth arts advocacy non-profit I support.

I was grateful I made time for the social media Webinar. While most of us know about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, I now know that Fastpitch!, Biznik and Plaxo offer major business and PR advantages. The social media info nuggets discerned from this 90-minute session merit sharing. Heard before, but worth repeating: social media can hurt business, if it is not focused. That means rather than hiring an intern to learn on the job, hire a nouveau expert to execute specific social media-related tasks. The hourly model apparently is dead or dying when it comes to social media, which can take the unfocused worker on a journey that saps the employer’s money without results. Other nuggets of knowledge from the Social Media Magic Webinar:

*Use Twitter as a search engine to identify prospects
*Use Fastpitch! to interest reporters on business news
*Shop around before paying for Social Media Training or certification
*LinkedIn Company Websites reap more engagement when they are engaging

What I appreciated about Social Media Magic’s Webinar was that it was focused on business needs, rather than being about the aimless community watering holes that connect old classmates or neighbors. At its best, social media can raise thousands of dollars for nameless earthquake victims in Haiti. At its worst, it can suck precious time away from the unfocused with little return.