NEW TECH JOBS: Is the Blue Collar Coder the Future?

NEW TECH JOBS: Is the Blue Collar Coder the Future?

Image Credit: Zohar Lazar

Brilliant article in Wired on how the next big blue-collar job just might be coding. Here are the highlights:

  • Only 8% of the nation’s coders are in Silicon Valley. The rest work in big and small cities around the country for every type of business from banking to retail to healthcare to insurance.
  • Politicians bemoan the loss of good blue-collar jobs but coding is the equivalent of skilled work at a Chrysler plant.
  • Instead of urging kids to enroll in expensive four-year computer-­science degree programs, let’s introduce more code at the vocational level in high school.
  • The national average salary for IT jobs is about $81,000 (more than double the national average for all jobs), and the field is set to expand by 12% thru 2024, faster than most other occupations.
  • There are 7MM job openings in occupations that required coding skills.
  • In Kentucky, mining veteran Rusty Justice decided that code could replace coal. He cofounded Bit Source, a code shop that builds its workforce by retraining coal miners as programmers. Enthusiasm is sky high: Justice got 950 applications for his first 11 positions. Miners, it turns out, are accustomed to deep focus, team play, and working with complex engineering tech. “Coal miners are really technology workers who get dirty,” Justice says.

Read on below for more on the emergence of social media videographers and why some analysts believe the tech industry is “primed for a significant reset” (i.e. layoffs).

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Snapchat – what happened to you?

Snapchat – what happened to you?

I have been a huge Snapchat fan but am reluctantly giving up “the ghost” and pledging my allegiance to Instagram and Instagram Stories. And I am not alone.

Snap’s CEO Evan Spiegel recently admitted that since August 2016, there has been a 20%-30% decline in Snapchat Story views. Other social media trackers paint an even bleaker picture: Nick Cicero tells TechCrunch that from August to November 2016, average unique views on Snapchat stories plummeted by a whopping 40%.

My big issues with Snapchat – and I am getting increasingly irked by them – include:

  • Difficulty of building a following
  • Inability to change my name after they assign you one – e.g. I want to be The Opinionator but no, I have to stick with Irmatz
  • No bios available on people who are following me and secondly, most of them have fake snapchat-made-up names
  • Inability to hashtag posts and become part of a bigger story and build more followers

Instagram and Instagram Stories, on the other hand, are becoming more popular because:

  • They work with your existing follower base
  • Can use hashtags and @ to connect with a broader audience
  • Much easier to build a following
  • Can easily share to Facebook
  • Is VERY public

I’m not 100% ready to throw in the towel on Snapchat but as more of the people I follow drop off (e.g. YesJulz, Mark Suster),  I have less reason to be on the platform. I can’t believe what a short-lived love affair this has been for me. I had such high hopes for snapchat – and it is without a doubt still more fun to use than insta but at the end of the day, I want to grow my social media presence – and I want to do it efficiently and not in the convoluted, crazy way that snapchat would have me do it. Sorry, snapchat!!

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SOCIAL MEDIA: Which Platforms Are Best To Build Your Brand

SOCIAL MEDIA: Which Platforms Are Best To Build Your Brand

I’ve been trying to figure out which platforms will work best to build a more robust following for the Opinionator. Things have definitely gotten more confusing since video has become dominant and since instagram stories was introduced. Pics above are recents from my instagram stories, snapchat and facebook (it should be video I know!).

Here’s a rundown of the platforms I’m most active on as well as the function they play in brand building:

Instagram and Instagram Stories:

This is becoming a powerhouse for me. Am planning to use for storytelling around events that are strong visually e.g. museum and gallery shows, performances, travel.

Here are 2 things that resulted in a big uptick in engagement:

  • Posting almost 100% video has upped engagement tenfold (vs. snapchat). Additionally, video posts get significantly more views than photos.
  • NOT limiting myself to instagram stories. If I have a great video, I post it on instagram and it lives on for days. I am still trying to figure out the role of instagram stories vs. snapchat – as is everyone else including those with huge followings on both.  At the moment, I am seeing lots of redundancy between the two platforms. Nobody has a good answer yet for what they should be doing uniquely on each platform.

Snapchat

Am still a snapchat fan both because of the platform (it’s fun!!) and because of the people I follow e.g. Justin Kan, Brian Park and Tai Lopez (I know, I told you that Tai Lopez was a jerk but I’ve gotten used to him and find him hugely entertaining and informative).

  • Going forward, I’m approaching snapchat as if it were a local news channel e.g. NY1. Focus will be local, newsy topics to inform/entertain, doesn’t have to look amazing.
  • What I’ve learned over the last year is that everyone who I enjoy watching on snap, is the star of their own show – warts and all!
  • Goal this year: stop hiding behind the camera, get over my shyness, be less uptight. I doubt I will ever become a video star but I will be more entertaining!

Read on below for remaining platforms including Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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BOOK REVIEW: Why You Need to Read Peter Thiel’s Zero To One!

BOOK REVIEW: Why You Need to Read Peter Thiel’s Zero To One!

Peter Thiel, the tech entrepreneur and investor, has been much in the news since he went all in on his support of Donald Trump. He’s also known as a contrarian investor, a libertarian and a mentor of the PayPal Mafia. Most recently he’s also been in the news for saying that Apple’s best days are behind it – which I totally agree with but more on that later!

Let’s start with a review of the book, Zero To One: Notes on Start Ups or How to Build The Future. It was written in 2014 but it’s still an absolute must-read for anyone involved in business, start-ups, new product development and technology. It provides a fascinating look into the mindset of Silicon Valley entrepreneurship. The book is a quick read (200 pages), succinct and on-point although I wasn’t fully immersed until about 30 pages in – and then I couldn’t put it down.

Here are the 5 points that especially resonated with me.

10X Better:

Strive to create a product that is clearly 10X better than the competition. If not, you will be an also-ran and face endless, debilitating competitors. This is an especially important consideration when evaluating Apple 2017 vs. Apple 2007 – and why I agree with Thiel that the age of Apple is over. None of their recent launches from watches to Beats to iPhone 7 with its inconvenient dongle are 10X better (Apple Pay, however, I LOVE.) This past year saw year-over-year iPhone sales decline for the first time and CEO Tim Cook got a 15 percent pay cut.

Read on below for points 2-5:

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INSCAPE Meditation App and Studio: Brilliant in its scalability

INSCAPE Meditation App and Studio: Brilliant in its scalability

Over the last year, I’ve noticed everyone getting into meditation. It’s the new yoga. I was even at a dinner last week and every time I thought we were finally going to eat, there was yet another meditation.

Although I am not a fan of meditation (as you can probably tell), I am very intrigued by Inscape. I checked it out this weekend for its gift store but was blown away by the whole concept. This new meditation studio was launched in late November by Khajak Keledjian who was the co-founder and former CEO of Intermix (before he sold it to the Gap for $130 million in 2012) – hence the cash for this very chic meditation center.

Khajak Keledjian has been personally involved with meditation for the last decade. As word spread of his involvement, he noted in an interview with Well+Good: “People started asking what sort of meditation they should do, and I would recommend what I thought could work for them based on their lifestyle and personality. I became a meditation curator.”

With Inscape, he’s now created a meditation brand that’s both an app and a Manhattan studio. What I find especially clever and intriguing is that the meditation is led by an electronic voice instead of a real person. He auditioned over 200 people to find the voice which is used both on the app and in the studio (she goes by the name of Sky). The most brilliant thing is the concept’s scalability! Most people with yoga studios or similar services, are limited in their growth based on finding top-notch instructors. Not so with Inscape. I’m especially fascinated by this concept after reading Peter Thiel’s book Zero to One because the subject of scalability figures prominently in how he thinks about funding start-ups.

Read on below for more on Inscape, as well as photos – it will surely soon be coming to a major city near you. Read More >

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TECH In A Bit Of A Funk: CES and More!

TECH In A Bit Of A Funk: CES and More!

Based on the tech insiders I follow on Snapchat, CES was a bit of a snooze this year (and btw, I think the same will be true for SXSW). As we all use more tech in our daily lives, our expectations have gotten ahead of the industry. They are trying to feed us bells and whistles and we are looking for tech that is genuinely useful – with exceptional UX.

Here are the 6 most talked about tech developments for 2017:

1.SUPER-THIN, MALLEABLE TVS

This genuinely excited my snapchat tech mavens especially the LG Signature W – which I must admit looked absolutely stunning, It is so thin it practically looks like a poster. LG accomplished this by offloading all the power, connectivity, and processing functions to a combined soundbar and control unit that connects to the TV with a ribbon cable.

2. CES = “CAR ELECTRONICS SHOW”

The car is now the biggest connected device we own and cars dominated at CES. Every car maker is getting on the bandwagon. Standouts included the Faraday Future FF91, Chrysler’s Portal – a self-driving electric minivan for millennials, Honda’s NeuV is a two-seater meant to act as a ride-sharing vehicle and includes a slew of emotion-sensing features. Nvidia, meanwhile, has partnered with Audi to put AI-powered cars on the road starting in 2020, a tad earlier than BMW iNext.

3. ALEXA DOMINATES THE SMART HOME!

All kinds of companies are now using Alexa in their products: Westinghouse TVs, Ford cars, LG’s Smart InstaView Refrigerator, even rooms at the Wynn Hotels in Vegas (Steve Wynn considers Alexa the most remarkable thing he has ever encountered!).

Read on below for 3 tech trends that are missing the mark.

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New Collar Jobs: This is The Future, Are You Prepared?

New Collar Jobs: This is The Future, Are You Prepared?

I follow Justin Kan (founder of twitch.tv and a Yale graduate) on Snapchat. Somebody recently asked him if he’d hire somebody without a college degree. He said YES and gave examples of friends in tech who created – and then sold – their companies for millions of dollars – all without having college degrees.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty also recently wrote a column for USA Today, emphasizing that many IBM jobs don’t need degrees, but belong to a novel category of “new collar” employment. They’re “entirely new roles in areas such as cybersecurity, data science, artificial intelligence and cognitive business,” she wrote.

Tech, health care, manufacturing are all struggling to find enough people to hire for jobs which require specific, rapidly evolving skills versus college degrees (e.g. front-end developers, network administrators, technicians). There are more than 5 million jobs open in the U.S., many of which are higher-skill and higher-paid but don’t require a four-year degree.

So, college or no college? That is the question! I know if I had a kid, I would feel remiss advising him/her to skip college. BUT, I also know that there is something really off about our education system. Far too many people are getting generic degrees that cost way too much money and provide learning that is outdated by graduation. The takeaway for me is that the more exceptional, motivated and intelligent the person, the less likely they are to benefit from a standard degree (e.g. Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg, Gates, Branson, Michael Dell).

And let’s be clear, I’m not talking about doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, or other fields where an advanced degree is essential. New skills, on the other hand, might be better taught in newer ways that take into account the rapid changes and need for on-going learning.

Read on below for more perspectives and thinking on the future of the workforce by those in positions to hire.

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