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Blurring Lines, Entrepreneurs vs Employees, and the Future of Collaboration with James Kemp – Episode 11

  • August 1, 2018

Episode Summary

Years ago, James Kemp decided he wanted to help aspiring entrepreneurs reach the success they saw as their future. Over 11 years he has helped a variety of businesses increase their sales exponentially.

This week on the show, Carl welcomes James to share his experience. They discuss the expectations people today have for the work for which they are hired, from working full time, part time, or something in between. Then, they discuss how important it is to not lose your identity to your business. Finally, James speaks about how aging workers who feel they have been left behind by the technological revolution can still be relevant today.

What We Covered

[04:00] – The blurred line between work and family life

[06:00] – The changing expectations of work

[09:30] – The proper way to build your brand that will cause you the least stress

[13:35] – Maintaining a clear sense of who you are with your business

[15:45] – The continued evolution of the definition of employee

[24:00] – New ways to hire the people you need for your business

[27:35] – The effects of scale in building a business

[31:35] – The people who will survive the more entrepreneur-based market in the future

[37:20] – Adapting to a new working environment

[43:00] – The increasing trend of citizens with dual citizenship.


Links Mentioned

James’ Website


Read Full Transcript

James Kemp: Like with anything, when you are "putting yourself out there," you need to have an element of confidence and self-esteem about who you are. The people I see burn out or most affected by the building a personal brand are the people who spend too long in someone else's shoes, who spend too long pretending to be something online that they're not in real life.
Speaker 2: A wise man once said.
Speaker 3: A wise man once said.
Speaker 2: The best way to predict the future.
Speaker 3: Is to create it. You're about to experience [inaudible 00:00:37]. Scientists, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, you're listening to the Future Of Humanity Podcast.
Carl Taylor: Hey, and welcome to another episode of Future Of Humanity Podcast. If we haven't met yet, I'm so glad that you have joined us. I am your host, Carl Taylor, and I have the privilege of bringing into your ears, some of the most incredible people on the planet. Today's episode is another discussion episode. Rather than a straight interview, this is going to be far more collaborative, and this is because we're joined by a friend of mine, James Kemp.
Now, James is originally from New Zealand, however, he's really more of a global citizen of the world, traveling the world with his family and running his business from anywhere. Now, the reason I brought James on the show is he and I have had some interesting discussions around the future of organizations and companies, and I thought that you may like to listen in as we have this discussion.
So, a bit about James. James has a single goal, to make your business better than before you met him. He's helped professionals, service businesses, media companies, NGOs, and startups to build growth systems that grow sales and increase revenues across seven countries over the last 11 years. He's also spent $20 million on marketing to grow his own business, as well as other people's.
In a fast moving digital world, more importantly, he shows business how to translate their impact and talents from the old model into this new model, and become the default choice in their market. That's really important, because if you're listening going, "Well, I'm not a business owner," please do not go anywhere. Because we are not talking to entrepreneurs and business owners today about how to grow your business.
That's not what today's episode's about. There's plenty of other podcasts that can discuss that, and James definitely could help you with that. However, we are all about the future and today, we have a message that I believe everyone needs to hear. If you're a student, if you're an employee, if you're an entrepreneur, if you're a manager, whatever it is, however you define yourself or label yourself, we are discussing the trends and changes that we are seeing in the world of employers and businesses, and how we believe that may affect you and your ability to earn an income.
I don't want to say much more than that. Let's just welcome James to the show. Welcome James. So excited to have you join us, and we were just talking about before we hit record, about what is our agenda for this discussion? This is another great discussion. We were saying it's kind of like the future of the gray, the future of the blurry lines. You have some very interesting stories yourself to tell, and very interesting perspectives and thoughts about where these intersecting lines align between jobs and projects, definitely you and I, both as an entrepreneurs, can relate to the blurring line of work and life. Welcome, I'm so excited. Maybe tell us a quick snapshot of where you think the biggest blurring of line is happening right now in the world.
James Kemp: Thank you, Carl. Thank you. Great to be here as well. The biggest blurry line I believe is between what we used to define as a job and what we used to define as a personal life. I think with the rise of say the personal brand, something that I've built my business off the back of, I think it's increasingly hard to work out where the person stops and the business starts, and I think that's both for the individual and it's something that I admittedly grapple with myself sometimes, and I also think it's very difficult for the market, the rise of the celebrity means that I think lots of people think they can live inside someone else's life.
We live in a pretty transparent time, and I think it's very blurry between the line between work and the line between family and play nowadays. And some of us are taking advantage of it, and others are I think struggling with it. I really see that intersection as something super fascinating and as a trend as well.
Carl Taylor: I think it's interesting, because as you say, the rise of the influencers, the Instagram influencers, I mean, there are kids now who are still teenagers who are raking in huge lucrative contracts, just through their Instagram’s. That's definitely a trend that I see continuing in the world of business and what's interesting for me is that my early mentors and as I grew up and my views on business, a true business is something that could work without you.
If you wanted to build a business that was saleable, you didn't want to have your personal brand too attached to that business, because how if you sell it, then you're going to be looped into that business as well. It's very interesting, in the small business space. I mean, maybe if you're in the bigger end of town like Elon Musk and Richard Branson, well your personal brand, if they sell Virgin, then you're not expecting Richard Branson to be there. They'll just wheel him out every now and then.
But on a small business space, that's definitely an issue. We just talked about business, what about in say the corporate world of people with jobs? What do you think about that?
James Kemp: Well, I think the people with jobs are now, they've got the opportunity to ... I'll bring it back to the influencer frame that you've just set out there. It used to be your side hustle, if you had a job, you'd get a side hustle and you'd make a few dollars on the side, maybe selling something at a market, or some kids had a paper round, for extra income, people who wanted to bolster their income can work in a bar at night, or whatever it was in the old economy, and that still happens.
But now, as an influencer, the side hustle can now be a million dollar side hustle. Is that still a hustle or is it now a job? I think again, the definitions of these things have got super blurry because of money and because of the scope that an influencer can have. Fundamentally, they're getting paid to be themselves, the business model is turning up and making yourself look good, and being yourself.
I think the definition hasn't changed. It's just the exponential wealth generation of the channels, the connectivity, the social media, and the web have created, have meant that the old version of the paper round or the part time job to earn some extra money can now become a full time gig very quickly, and then become the main thing.
I think it's largely a product of exponentialism, and if I look at myself, again, a five person business that turns over mid seven figures, with the team fully remote, me traveling with my family in multiple locations, bringing in experts and other people in, it's super fascinating to see what we can actually, how big we can build something with a minimum number of people.
We're seeing that in the corporate space as well, as they're building. They're building smaller teams within teams, going agile, and bringing in expertise and some of those people are part of an organization, and other from outside organizations. I think that trend is actually coming into the corporate fold where the teams are getting smaller and organizations are consciously getting smaller with a lower number of people.
Carl Taylor: Is that what you're referring to? You used the word exponentialism before. Define that for us.
James Kemp: Our increased ability to earn a higher effective hourly rate through amplification of digitization. In a previous life, as a coach and consultant, someone who helps people change their business, a previous life it would have required me to sit down with someone face-to-face and deliver that one to one, and I'd be limited by my potential earnings and output from that.
Now, I can do that with 20 or 30 or 50 or 100 people through the rise of the internet. It just allows me to leverage myself and my time in a much greater factor, just like an influencer previously would be a local singer in a band, or some kind of performer, could stand up in front of 50 people, and now they can stand up in front of a million, using the power of the internet.
Carl Taylor: One of the things that I wonder about here is we, in a previous episode, we were speaking with an expert on Generation Z, and Gen Z in particular, they're the generation below us, who have grown up connected to wifi from day one, and they just are so hyper-connected, and they're these kids that are earning big dollars on Instagram and Snapchat and all of that.
One of the things that she mentioned is that a lot of them are feeling a lot of pressure to document their life in the social media world. I don't know whether they're pursuing building this brand, or whether it just feels like life to them, but she was saying that they were conscious of how it was affecting them mentally. So, I'm curious, when we talk about this idea of putting ourselves out there and building that brand and building ourselves, amplifying our audience and really building us I suppose, it's amplifying us and putting it out there, do you think that there's a right way and a wrong way of doing it, that can affect your mental health, or do you think it's all going to affect your mental health?
What are your thoughts there? 'Cause I know you work with a lot of people helping them build their brands, so how does that, do you see there's a right and wrong way to doing it that can be negative, positive? What's your thoughts there?
James Kemp: I think there can be a right and wrong way for the individual if it's not their way. Like with anything when you're "putting yourself out there," you need to have an element of confidence and self-esteem about who you are. The people I see burn out or are most affected by the building a personal brand are the people who spend too long in someone else's shoes, who spend too long pretending to be something online that they're not in real life.
I think that the right way is the way of the individual turning up and sharing and saying and documenting the things that they're comfortable with and the things that are real, rather than having to live up to someone else's ideal. That's the key distinction I see, and the key distinction I make as well, and it's something I consciously pay attention to myself.
I've got some insight into that, because I work with professionals. I work with very sophisticated business owners who their lives have seen a lot, and when I first started out going after that market, I turned up and I was trying to be something I wasn't. I was wearing collared shirts, and I was occasionally putting a suit jacket on, and I was talking with very precise language.
It wasn't until I really turned up to be myself, which is, frankly, I'm a Kiwi who loves beaches and loves the sunshine. I'm a guy who wears thongs as you call them, t-shirts, and shorts. As soon as I was that, I both felt more liberated, but also people had a better connection with me because they could see I was being real rather than a character that I thought I had to be because of some element of professionalism.
Carl Taylor: I think that's really important, and just for our Americans listening, when he says thongs, he's talking about flip flops. He's not talking about underwear. Just to make that clear for you.
James Kemp: Let's get real clear on that one.
Carl Taylor: In Australia, we call them thongs. But yeah, I think it's really important that you've brought that up, because I think, and even for myself, one of my businesses many years ago when I was doing a lot of coaching, I was teaching people about buying and selling businesses, and I would wear these suits, I would wear these expensive jewelry. The reality is that I bought, just when I was at those seminars, and I hit a point of going, "This is not me. I'm being someone I'm not. I don't give a crap about fancy cars, fancy jewelry.
I don't want to look rich. I just want to be happy and financially free" and it was at that point that I decided to quit what I was doing and realizing that I was going down a path of trying to build this persona that was not me. Yes, I bought and sold businesses but the way I was going about it and the way ... I never actually said anything that wasn't true, but there were people making assumptions based on this persona I was creating, that then it was just inauthentic and it didn't sit well with me.
I think it's really important, and I look online sometimes at a bunch of people that I personally know, and I look at how they present themselves online, and in my mind, it's not a clear connection. It's not really them. So, if you're doing that, what were the situations? What situations did that put you in when you were doing that? You were pretending to be someone you're not. Was it just not working? Did it ever get you into sticky situations? What's your experience of being not your true authentic self-online?
James Kemp: I don't think it ever got me into sticky situations, 'cause I wasn't being untrue. Just as you referred to. I was just being slightly inauthentic in my presentation, and authenticity is a word that I kind of dislike at the moment, because it's bandied around in all the social media circles. Just turn up, be authentic and vulnerable, and all these kind of things, but you have to be yourself.
You have to have a clear idea of who you are before you put yourself out there. I do observe that larger companies are getting this too. There's a democratization of dress codes and democratization of device use in social media, where large organizations are also letting people be individuals within the auspices of a company as well, which I think is extremely healthy rather than everybody having to toe the corporate party line per se.
I hope it's a growing trend that we're understanding that the downsides of pretending to be someone you're not online over the long term outweigh the benefits of just being online and being out there and being in front of a lot of people.
Carl Taylor: I mean, bringing it back to you were talking before this changing face of business, and so we've talked about this, the rise of the celebrity and the personal brand, and the blurring of that line, but what about some of the other lines that are blurring in business? I know previously, we've spoken about the line being blurred between employee and business owner. So let's talk a bit about that.
James Kemp: I think as a business owner, increasingly I bring in outside ... I think I bring in outside expertise that we don't currently possess, but I less and less have the expectation of that person as an employee. I see it as delivering on something and the timeline and the remuneration and the rewards for that are variable based on the thing that I need them to do.
For example, if we need some things, some copywriting done, we bring in a copywriter for a specific project, but we don't need one full time. I think this kind of, our old definitions used to be full time and part time. Now, I see more definitions being around specific projects where even whole businesses come together and then disband based on the timeline of projects.
Some people might be remunerated through equity and other people might remunerated through payments and cash and the traditional way. Again, I think the lines are increasingly blurry and a lot of my friends and contemporaries from my old corporate days who are still in large organizations, and mainly in Australasia and some in Europe, increasingly they are turning up as senior job titles, C-Suite job titles or vice presidents, but they're actually contractors and they're actually working for themselves, and they're actually involved in multiple projects.
I see the trends in small business where we're very agile and we can rapidly expand and contract our team size and our capabilities, I see that marching up the change organizations where they're just using the right expertise at the right time, and they're flexible on the remuneration and how someone's rewarded for that expertise.
Carl Taylor: I completely agree with you. My partner, she works, I would call it an employee, but she's a contractor. She gets assigned a fixed contract for a particular project, she works on films and TV and things. When that contract's up, she's essentially looking for new work again, and looking for a new contract to start all over. I know that's very standard in the creative space, it has been for a long time, but we are seeing that trend, and I think it's a broader trend too, of not just on the employee side, but entire businesses looking at I like what you said, about the word exponentialism.
Because we look at these businesses like Airbnb who are one of the largest hotel chains, if you want to define it that way, without owning a single hotel. Uber, fleet of cars without owning a single car, although that's probably not true because they've probably got some self-driving cars that they do own, but there's this rise of these middlemans if you like.
I know we have previously had discussions around the futures of what you think organizations, big businesses, small businesses, are going to look like. Like, you think that what we might end up to, if we project into the future, we could end up in a world where do you think employees will exist at all, or do you think we're moving to a world where everyone will essentially be their own business, whether they know it or define it that way, or not?
James Kemp: The definition of employee will morph and change dramatically over time, and traditionally an employee was just remunerated with money and maybe some benefits and occasionally some equity. I think again, that spectrum will start to expand. I believe that large organizations will, in a fast moving world, the larger you are the more humans you have, the less efficient you are. That's an unfortunate fact of life that the more complexity you have in an organization, the slower and less agile it is.
In a world that's very fast moving, and we need to rapidly respond to market trends to the customer centricity of the way we need to trade, means that I believe organizations will get functionally smaller, and large organizations will actually just be made up of a series of teams, and within those teams, there'll be a mixture of what we traditionally call an employee, contractors or equity partners or other things that have skin in the game on that particular project or the wider organization.
I think we're just going to see a further fragmentation of the traditional job, and the lines will increasingly get blurry between those.
Carl Taylor: Yeah, so that's interesting. I mean, you're not wrong that the more team members you add, the more complexity comes. I mean, I face that personally in my business. I've got a team of 30 something right now and yeah, the speed at which we can move and implement new things in the beginning, if you're an entrepreneur listening, and you're in startup mode, you'll remember or maybe you're living the world of have an idea and tomorrow it's implemented.
Then, as you add more people into your organization, whether they're employees, whether they're contractors, whether they're freelancers, whatever the actual mechanics of how it's put together, the reality is the more people you add to it, the slower it all becomes. I can still have that idea and be like, "Yeah, I want to implement it tomorrow," but the reality is all of a sudden, training materials have to be created, got to get feedback from everyone, make sure everyone's ready to roll it out, set out a date of when we're going to aim for.
It's no longer the small speed of implementation, and obviously that's why we're seeing a huge rise of startups, because they're able to move faster than the big incumbents, so I 100% agree with what you're saying there. I do wonder, though, if I look at the clients that we have at Automation Agency, there are a lot of businesses who come to us and one of the things that they come to us is because they don't want to employ and build their own teams.
The reality is for us to continue to serve more and more clients, we have to keep building our team. While they may not want to build their team, and it's moving them more to this model you're talking about, I wonder whether there'll be businesses like mine and others where their model will still very much be a more not quite employee based, but far more of a more traditional style thing. Although, granted, we are talking about my team are distributed all around the world, and are contractors themselves. So, I suppose in that way, they are their own separate business, even though they're coming onboard and working with us. They also have other clients that they're working with as well.
James Kemp: Yeah, I think someone has to deal with complexity, and at the moment, artificial intelligence and machine learning, while they can deal with highly complex tasks, especially when we're talking about the creativity and nuance sometimes that we have to deliver, that a person still does the better job. I'm not a full believer that we're all going to be replaced by robots within five years.
The truth will probably lie somewhere in between, but someone has to deal with complexity. If you look at say the advertising and marketing ecosystem, the traditional creative agency is now being replaced by the full service big four agency. Some recent stats in Ad Age showed the total revenue in the large ad agencies in the US last year declined by 4% yet total revenue of digital services and creative services from companies like Accenture, PwC, Deloitte et cetera, had risen by 16%.
I think people are increasingly looking for generalist, specialist capabilities, where someone can deliver, both on the creativity but also in terms of the implementation and the output, and still someone needs to deal with complexity. It's interesting that many businesses are coming to you because they don't want to get bigger, because they've maybe recognized that the bigger you get, the less efficient you can, but also a specialist agency such as yours can do it at a per unit cost, to a much higher standard than someone can do it themselves.
You are going to be faster, cheaper, more efficient, and ultimately more effective at what you do, than them bringing an in-house person, training them up, and actually trying to bring that capability in-house, plus the added complexity and cost of doing it.
Carl Taylor: Yeah, absolutely.
James Kemp: Someone still needs to deal with the complexity, and I think Accenture for example, have 160,000 people across India and the subcontinent doing digital services and delivery, but probably those jobs were offshore, to take them from somewhere else, definitely looking at the numbers around advertising and marketing, and the creative agencies are taking the business from somewhere.
Carl Taylor: Yeah. It gets me thinking about well, maybe the world that we're going to see in the future is almost like there'll be a lot of smaller teams as you were talking about, with this trend of being able to create more with smaller teams, utilizing technology and a blend of these ad hoc, more project based or shorter term outcome based team members that you bring on, but I wonder, is it going to see a continued rise of organizations like mine and others where it's like almost, a bit like how we have electricity. You just plug into electricity, that you can plug into these other companies to get the skills you need.
I mean, even Amazon, they have their Mechanical Turk, which is basically this is what they were doing before AI was as good as it is, and it still is, where you can plug in to Mechanical Turk and it's essentially people from all around the world doing these little tasks for a couple of dollars really, and it was a way of giving software app developers the power of AI, someone uploaded an image, it could create a task for someone who's a part of Mechanical Turk to read it, define it, and tag it.
Now, AI can completely do that, there's no need for humans to do a task like that, is this backend of delivery of skills and people. Maybe we'll see these small pods of organizations, but then they're connected into these bigger providers, if you like, of specialized skills.
James Kemp: Yeah. I believe so. I think again, if we look at the statistics, the number of one-man million dollar plus turnover businesses, one man or woman, has risen dramatically over the last five years, purely 'cause of the capability of someone such as myself. I've built quite a large business on my own before I realized that I needed to scale with people and that assistance as well. We can plug in and get services from a multitude of places that we'd previously need to do in-house.
Carl Taylor: And you've done that with your clients as well, right? Like, you've worked-
James Kemp: Yeah.
Carl Taylor: ... with a number of people who are small. Are they one-man bands, and then you've been able to ... I think you said you shrunk their business while growing it?
James Kemp: One of my clients is a full service email marketing agency, and they tended to work with mid to large retailers who had multiple skews, multiple retail locations and an online store. Their services really evolved to the point where they can now serve anyone from any point in the market, to a small Shopify store, all the way up to a full complex bespoke eCommerce integration. He's actually shrunk his team by 50%. They are all now-
Carl Taylor: Wow.
James Kemp: ... distributed. Through leveraging good systems and efficiency of communication, and also streamlining the way they deliver their service, in terms of delivering less services, less possible services to more people, shrunk his product offering from 15 to 2 core things they're doing. They have grown their revenue, but they've grown profitability exponentially as well. They're just a generally, a more efficient unit, able to work with more customers over a wider spectrum, while having half the number of people within the business, just by efficient use of people, communication, and ...
And also the business owner has in this case decided that running a distributed team and not having an office, and the overhead was both a good thing for his business, but also gave him more flexibility in his life. He had the option to work from home and work from overseas and live a little bit more location independent as well.
Carl Taylor: It's the old saying, right? The simplify to scale, we've talked about it already, complexity creates chaos, creates slowness. If you really want to scale, you need to simplify. It does bring up an interesting thing, though, that I do wonder personally about the obsession in the entrepreneur market of scaling.
Not just in the entrepreneurial market, I feel like it's even moving into the bigger business market too, of everyone's so obsessed in general about more, more, more. It's part of our societal structure. While we're saying, "Well, we can create more money with less people," on the flip side of that, that means there's less jobs in those organizations, which then has to fuel more people to become entrepreneurial. I don't know about you, but for a long time I used to believe that everyone could be an entrepreneur.
I believed that everyone should and could be an entrepreneur, and over time, my thoughts on that have shifted. I no longer believe that everyone ... I believe everyone should try building their own business, but I no longer that every single person has what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. What are your thoughts there? We've talked about all the benefits to the business owner which makes a lot of sense. We're both business owners and you work a lot with business owners.
For the people who might be listening going, "Well, that all sounds great" but they're an employee, they've always been an employee, the thought of running their own business is not great, and this trend worries them. What would you say to that?
James Kemp: My take on the entrepreneur, the core driver of an entrepreneur is significance in creativity. The core driver of an artist is usually significant in creativity. They want their work to be recognized, and they want to make things that manifest in the world. My take on an entrepreneur is that they're cut from the same cloth as any other creative or any other artist.
Entrepreneurs just like making things, and I fell into this trap where, you say, into the scale, scale, scale trap. Where my peer group and the people around me were always talking about how fast their business was growing and the metric was money. But as an entrepreneur, I like making things. I like creating things, and then other people operationalizing those, and actually helping me take those things and bring them to life.
The delivery and the follow through has never been my strong point. The ideas and the commercialization, the manifestation of those ideas into a business has always been my strong point. I'm one of those people, I'd rather, if I set out with a goal of making $5 million, I would rather have five businesses making a million dollars each than one business that I was trying to scale that was making $5 million.
Carl Taylor: Couldn't agree with you more. 100%.
James Kemp: I like making things as an entrepreneur. It just happens that my creativity manifests in the form of a business, and I'm rewarded for that in the form of money, whereas an artist is manifested in the form of their art, and they're awarded with recognition and feedback and all the other things that are intangible. That's my view on those things. I often see one of the things that I work on with my clients closely is making sure they're not too much in the scale and the status quo and the business as usual side of the business, that we've always got a small, fun, innovative project working on the side, that there's something that they can create and have their hands on and they can make, that might turn into a business opportunity one day, but it's still something that drives them creatively, but they don't feel guilty for neglecting their business when they spend time on it.
Carl Taylor: Do you believe that every person, I mean we talked about entrepreneurs being very similar to artists and creatives, and I agree with that. The question is, do you believe that everyone out there, every man, woman, and child, is creative by nature and able to ... We talk about this world moving towards where you're now ... Take it from an employment point of view. We previously had Fiona Anson on, talking about the future of work and how yes, we are already seeing the trends of people moving towards more casual work, all these things which are great for us as the business owner, but on the flip side, if you're the employee, this is less security, less ... All the things that us as entrepreneurs have had most of our life, right?
James Kemp: Sure.
Carl Taylor: When you start a business, there's no security, and we thrive off that. I think that's why we succeed, because we thrive off that. But there are a lot of people that that is overwhelming, stressful, and they're just not capable of coping. I do wonder if this trend continues, will this create a split in class of the people who can succeed in this more siloed, running your own show world, versus others, or do you think everyone is able to step up and ultimately have a role to play and have that security and financial stability, and live the life that they enjoy?
James Kemp: I would like to believe that everybody can, but unfortunately I don't. I don't believe the world is going to get more equal. I unfortunately believe the world is going to get less equal, because in a fast paced, high cadence and rapidly changing society, it's chaotic. From the very us debating the semantics of what to call an employee or an entrepreneur, as one of the smaller problems, right? In a high cadence and rapidly changing society, many people can't sit in the chaos of the speed of change.
Because they need a defined path, they need to know what is happening tomorrow, and we really just don't. I do believe that everybody has creativity in them, and as a parent of two young children, I see that creativity manifest every single day with the creativity of play.
There's a base creativity, but I think potentially the journey that many people have been on, in terms of the job, has potentially removed their confidence around exhibiting their own creativity, because they've been told what to do in a relatively narrow channel, and tried to fit into a job title.
So while I believe everybody has creativity in them somewhere, I can definitely see how lots of people don't have the confidence and maybe the self-esteem to manifest that creativity in the form of entrepreneurship, or the form of something that earns a crust. But I don't believe the world's going to get more equal, because the people who can sit in chaos and be agile and ride with the times are the ones who are currently winning.
Carl Taylor: Yeah, absolutely. I remember growing up, I was the one that stood out in my family. It was not something that was looked at fondly that I was an entrepreneur. I mean, I think I'm a bit younger than you, James, but I started my first business when I was 15, continued on that journey, and for a long time, it was not cool to be an entrepreneur at 15, when I was being a business owner.
Even at 20, I was friends with people who were in their 60s, because no one else my age was really doing business. Very different world we live in today where there's kids as young as 10 making millions of dollars. It's good to see that the younger generation are probably being set up. A lot of them are getting set up with the skills, but I do look at it like I'm very thankful that I went the journey I'm on, because I think I have more of the skills because of the journey I've been on, to ride this chaos that is coming, and we're already in, with the fast changing world.
I do look at others that I went to school with or even in my more immediate and extended family, and I do wonder how well that they're going to cope with it. That's concerning, I think, and I'm sure others listening, if that's you, you're possibly, maybe this is the first time you're hearing about it and now you're worried. I would say don't stress out. The opportunity is there for you to learn to be okay with, what would the word be, James? Be okay with what?
James Kemp: I think it's chaos. I just think there's so much going on, and there's so many things that are poorly defined or ill defined now. I do think it's chaotic. I was 38 last week and there are many people of my age group and my generation who feel very frustrated, and I speak to these people quite regularly.
They followed the rules. They got the qualifications, they got the university degree, and they got the job title and they got a level of status which said, "I'm a professional." They go out there and they want to trade on experience and they want to trade on credibility and time in the market, and the market's not listening anymore, because someone cooler, younger, and more hipper and agile has come along and said, "Well, these people are the dinosaurs and I'm the new generation and I'm [crosstalk 00:35:35]-
Carl Taylor: Climbing the market's seen as a bad thing. It's like, "Oh, you're old. You're doing all the old stuff."
James Kemp: Yeah, so there's this palpable sense of frustration, people I speak to regularly, who feel that they should be able to ... They followed the rules and they feel that they should be able to trade on the equity they've built up, the experience, the skills, the knowledge, and those things. That's just not the case, but the wonderful thing is they have experience, skills, and knowledge, so if they've got a willingness to adapt that, then they can be better than the guys who've just arrived, and are brand new on the scene.
It's a willingness to adapt and be a bit of an [inaudible 00:36:12] and modify yourself around the market, because we're so customer centric these days. Every organization's talking about customer centricity. "Customers are the center of the universe" and those things. As a professional or a business, we need to adapt very quickly to whatever the market wants and speak the language of the market, and use those skills and experience to do it. Otherwise, we're not willing to adapt, then the market will listen to the latest and greatest, and the shiniest promises rather than maybe the necessary, the experience, and the steady hand.
Carl Taylor: I think the biggest benefit, if you're listening right now, and you are in your late 30s, moving into your 40s or older, and you are one of these people who look at the future of your work and if you're not already an entrepreneur, or you're not someone who's feeling that confident, one thing I would say to you, and Gary Vaynerchuk is someone who says that if you're 40 thinking you can't do it, you're probably only a third of your life, because our lives are living longer, and it's even said that if we can live for the next 10 years, chances are the average age will then become about 150 years old.
That's how fast some of these technologies in longevity are coming, so if you're 40 thinking, "Oh, my life's over," if you can last 'til your 50, then chances are you've still got another 100 years of life ahead of you if you choose to take on the technologies and options that are going to come to us.
That's exciting, and the thing that you have over the 20 year olds and if you haven't already listened to it, please go back and listen to the episode about Gen Z, the thing you have is the market is all about talking to the market, right? At the end of the day, it's adapting to give the consumers and customers what they want. You actually are prepared to pick up the phone and talk to someone, you're prepared to sit with someone face-to-face and have a conversation with them, and you can do it well.
You have that, plus you have years of experience. Yeah, I'm sure there's a lot of stuff you have to unlearn, but you have years of experience and I think that if you look at what those opportunities are, that yes you might be competing with the 20 year olds and younger, don't try and compete with them on the tech. If you're not a techy and it doesn't naturally, don't worry about that. Leverage them, use them as part of your team, but do what you can do really well. That's my piece of advice, if you're sitting there and you're freaking out a bit. I wanted to share that. James, do you have anything you'd like to add to those people while we're talking to them right now?
James Kemp: No. I 100% endorse what you're saying. I think when you've been inside a market, you understand it better than anyone else, than someone coming in from the outside. A willingness to change and adapt to the things you already know and see is the greatest strength, because the skills, the experience, and those things just, they're embedded. They're in the subconscious. They're the things that turn up and give your clients and your market or whoever you work with the results that you promised.
It's not a handicap not knowing the tech, it's not a handicap not knowing how to run a Facebook ad or launch a funnel or send an email, or build an automation or any of the things that you hear bandied around. If people start with the core principles, the market of humans, of persuasion, of understanding what delivers results, and stick with those, then the tech and all those things come very easily. There is no real replacement for experience but we've got to be willing to adapt our approach and that's all.
Carl Taylor: Those soft skills, I talked about on a previous episode, those soft skills of being able to have that human engagement is actually probably what's going to be in demand. More and more, as robotics and automation come in, and they'll take over different jobs that some of these smart people, even people like me, our jobs and part of what we do will be replaced by machines and do it themselves. The part that's really going to help you stand out is those soft skills, so if you have people skills, you're going to have a lot of opportunities if you know where to look and you're out there looking for them.
So please, don't feel insecure about the future of work based on some of the things we've talked about. Feel excited, and if you're listening going, "I was not feeling concerned, this is exciting to me," then awesome. I'm so glad for that. James, let talk a little bit about what else can people do today to protect or entrepreneurs, there's a number of entrepreneurs who listen to this, so we've just spoken to some of the more the employees and traditional workers who have maybe been freaking out or not freaking out, let's talk to the entrepreneurs. What are you saying to your own clients right now to help them prepare for what's coming?
James Kemp: Look at who's making the wave that you can surf in. One of the concepts that I regularly talk to about my clients is drafting. In racing, when a race car goes down a track it creates a pocket of air behind it which decreases when resistance, so if another car drops behind it, it can get a full speed boost and follow along, and then eventually overtake.
Many of these exponential changes around technology and many other things are creating pockets of air that people can jump into and take advantage from. For example, one of my clients who's based in Melbourne, he is an accountant, and he qualified as an accountant and was getting more and more frustrated with his ability to get high paying clients.
He highlighted a problem that had come around with as companies moved their accounting systems into the cloud, so thinking MYOB and Xero and these trends towards moving your accounting system into the cloud. The accounting system in the cloud, it created yet another system and created yet other problems that weren't there before when you had traditional accounting and ledgers and those kind of things.
He now exclusively works with people who have a high volume of transactions, such as restaurants and bars, and hotels who have a high volume of cash transactions and were spending a lot of time entering those times and reconciling them into their new cloud accounting systems. He's run a business that now automates those functions.
He is essentially replacing the accounting and bookkeeping function within these businesses, so he's pivoted his soft skills and his real hard skills in terms of accounting, to draft behind the technology platform that has created, was there to make one efficiency and while it delivered some efficiencies, created other inefficiencies, and built a very, very successful business around it. I think in most cases, if we're flexible about how we approach and view the market, then there are the exponentialism and the growth of technology actually creates opportunities everywhere, if we're paying attention to where those opportunities are.
Carl Taylor: I love that term. Drafting. I've never heard that put that way before. As you're explaining it, I'm like, "Well, that's 100% what I did while building Automations." Very much drafted behind many technologies and trends. That's fantastic advice. So, look, let's wrap up. It's been a fantastic conversation. My final question to you is, you've already mentioned that you don't think it's going to become a more equal world, but in general, when you think about the future of humanity, moving forward, where do you see us going?
Do you think it's going to be constructive and great, utopian world or somewhere in the middle? Or, are we headed towards destruction? What's your thoughts?
James Kemp: I think we will revert to type in many cases if we feel threatened, then we will lash out. I think as a citizen of two countries and as someone who's currently in another one, and has a business in another one, a concept of the nation-state is breaking down a little bit in terms of where we're located, where we have taxation, where we have employment and those kind of things.
I think increasingly there'll be more people like me who are more citizens of the world, where we are flexible on our location, we're flexible on the currencies we trade in, we're flexible in on some cases where we reside and even pay tax. That will cause I think conflicts, because the traditional revenue raising methods of governments and those kind of things start to fall down, and I think while some people will be able to create a utopian future where they're flexible and all those things, others will be punished by that, because governments and other organizations will look to raise revenue from them.
I think we'll just see a fragmentation of identity and nationalism and these things to have people who are flexible in their location, their earnings and those things, whereas others are trapped by increasingly desperate systems who are looking to raise money.
Carl Taylor: Yes. I agree with that. That is a very articulate way of describing the future that I see some of as well. Thank you so much for sharing that, and yeah, hopefully we'll have you on in the future, and we can talk more about some of what you're doing with that being global citizen of the world more and more, and my circle and our network, definitely are doing that. I think that's probably a worthy conversation maybe to get a few people on who are doing that, and do a group interview. I think that would be a really great conversation. Thank you so much for joining me, James. For people who want to find you, where is the best place to connect with all of you've got out there for who should reach out?
James Kemp: Like most citizens of the world, I'm everywhere, on every social platform you can possibly imagine. My home online is JamesKemp.co. My area of expertise is really working with services and information businesses to help them build leads, leverage, and ultimately market leadership. I work with six and seven figure businesses who have achieved some level of success and market presence, but want to build leverage in the way they both build and deliver to their clients as well. Love to hear from anybody if they need help with any of those things.
Carl Taylor: Fantastic. Thanks so much.
James Kemp: Cheers.
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