Some of the most painful aspects of life can become core pillars of business strategy
Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz recently published a report on the future of work. One of its key findings is that the gig economy and the “Uber for X" model are partly making way for the passion economy, where micro-entrepreneurs monetize their individuality and creativity. A key reason for the growth of the passion economy is that it offers alternative ways of making money, innovative paths toward professional fulfilment and unprecedented career opportunities for millennials.
New York-based Coss Marte is one such millennial. Founder of Conbody, the famous prison-style fitness boot camp that hires former cons to teach fitness classes, Marte spent four years in prison, where he discovered his passion for fitness, and once he completed his term he turned his interest into a viable profession. A key component of the passion economy is storytelling and Marte tells a gripping story through his business. In addition to becoming fit, the customers are involved in the redemption of their instructors. Marte’s genius is that he has taken objectively negative facets of his life and found a way to tell his story in an authentic way.
There are several other examples that demonstrate the power of storytelling in the passion economy. Dave Dahl spent 15 years in jail before setting up an organic bread company, which he sold for $275 million in 2015.
Obviously, we do not need to go to jail to create a memorable story. The larger lesson is that in the passion economy even some of the hardest, most painful aspects of our lives can become core pillars of our business strategy. We don’t need to appeal to everyone all the time. All we need is a small group of people who understand what we are doing and are willing to support us through subscriptions and micro-donations.
According to Ji Lin, partner at Andreessen Horowitz, these stories are indicative of a larger trend called the “enterprization of consumer". While earlier the gig economy flattened the individuality of workers, the passion economy allows anyone to monetize their unique skills or stories.
Work where it counts Surely, the passion economy is rewarding for the creators, but it isn’t all fun and games. People need the discipline and the rigour to work hard, experiment fast and deliver consistently. Unlike regular employment, creators need to figure out human resource, accounting and legal issues—all by themselves. In Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business, Paul Jarvis writes that today creators spend more than 50% of their time doing extraneous stuff, which is a colossal waste of income and potential.
Instead of debating whether artificial intelligence will lead to job losses, policy makers and creator platforms should find out a way to increase the productivity of creators and micro-entrepreneurs. People should spend their time doing the work that actually moves the needle. That is how the passion economy will blossom and lead to the next wave of economic growth.
Will artificial intelligence lead to job losses? Of course. Are the number of jobs in the world finite? Of course, not. In the years to come, we will witness a reduction in the number of institutional jobs. Governments and enterprises will hire fewer people. Some jobs would be outsourced to robots and algorithms.
This phase shift will be immensely stressful if we keep running after the next big thing or the next new technology without a sense of purpose. If we learn to augment our creative pursuits with meaningful stories and new-age technologies, the passion economy will unleash innumerable possibilities for us and the world.
Millennial Matters recalibrates the skills needed to survive and find meaning in the workplace of tomorrow.
Utkarsh Amitabh is founder of Network Capital, a global peer mentoring community and a WEF Global Shaper.