Would you leave Earth to help colonize another planet? This might sound like an absurd question, but, according to many leaders of thought, its one we might have to confront sooner than later. Chris Campbell explores our journey from air to space, and ponders where we’re off to next. Read on…
If you’ve ever wanted to expose some heinous crime against humanity, here’s your chance. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell shows you how to make sure the world accesses to your leaks, even if something happens to you. Chris also shares why this is probably a terrible idea. Read on…
Over a century ago, a hidden energy war began. The bad guys won. For 100 years, man has been a slave to the energy monopolies. But now, miraculously, the good guys are throwing a punch -- and they’re inviting you to fight the good fight. Even promising riches if you do. Chris Campbell fills you in on the full story. Read on…
An ancient guide has been in hiding… until now. As it dusts itself off, some early adopters are calling it “the definitive text on self-discipline, personal ethics, humility, self-actualization and strength.” And, according to Chris Campbell, it could be the only thing you need to thrive in our day-to-day life of modern chaos. Embrace it, and become the hero of your own story. Ignore it, and risk living a whimper of a life on someone else’s terms. Read on…
“What… is… that?!”That’s what one colleague asked when she saw this on my desk…My face, according to 3-D printing“My face,” I said. “What does it look like?”“Uh…”OK, sure. It’s a rough depiction. Eh. It’s pretty choppy…And, as you can see, the glasses didn’t really take well… making for an eerie sunken eye look.Didn’t really turn […]
Where do great investors come from?I’m not sure what the hurdle rate for greatness is, but Guy Spier has put up impressive results. His Aquamarine Fund has returned 463% since inception in 1997, versus just 167% for the S&P 500 (a broad proxy for the market). Put another way, $1 million invested at inception is […]
Bitcoin has been pretty quiet lately. But that doesn’t mean big things aren’t taking place behind-the-scenes for the digital currency. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell pulls back the curtain and shows you how Bitcoin is quietly slipping into the mainstream. He also shows you why now could be the time to buy now, or forever hold your peace. Read on…
In an odd mix of fate, protesters and corporations are holding hands. They both have one common goal: save the Internet from the evil cable companies. We all have a common hate for them. But what if the cable companies aren’t as evil as once thought? What if there’s an even bigger evil lurking behind them? There is. Read on…
Want to get rich? Don’t listen to financial “gurus,” says Chris Campbell. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris shares a Zen proverb and shows how understanding it is the only real way to get rich (and live a rich life). Read on…
Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, you’ll learn about one FREE website that has the potential to not only keep your family safe – but also open your eyes to what’s happening in your own neighborhood. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
Next year is the 65th anniversary of the Peanuts comic strip. And Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and the rest of the gang will appear in their first full-length feature film in 35 years.One small company has the license to the Peanuts brand. The cash flow due to this company could be enormous. In late October, […]
All over the world, power is dying. The dictators and tyrants of the world are no longer able to wield it like they once used to. And they’re losing it to the “little guy.” Chris Campbell shows you how to be the king of your castle by taking advantage of this fact. Today, you’ll learn how to grab “power gaps” in the market and channel them into your product idea or project. Read on…
Chris Campbell got more than he bargained for during Sunday brunch. In a packed restaurant, he learned about a hidden sex boom that’s taking the world by storm. You won’t believe how much money ordinary Americans are making in this boom. It’s so much…you may even consider cashing in yourself.
Hundreds of pictures of nude celebrities were leaked onto the Internet last week. The mainstream is blaming twenty-something hackers, but according to Chris Campbell, everyone must’ve already forgotten what we learned about the NSA only a year ago. Read on…
The fireflies along the tidal rivers of Malaysia show "feats of synchrony that occur spontaneously, almost as if nature has an eerie yearning for order." Chris Campbell tells you where else this might occur in the world. Also, new technology may revolutionize the agriculture industry and what we think of as a farm.
Who can forget Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island? That map, marked with an “x,” is the stuff of high adventure.There is a modern-day equivalent of a treasure map, and it is just as coveted by those who seek reservoirs of oil and gas. It’s called seismic data.What are seismic data? In essence, they’re collected from […]
Jeff Davis is running for Governor in Hawaii and has an interesting campaign strategy. Also, what motivates hackers is revealed and the findings might surprise you. Finally, Ferguson is discussed in a new light. Chris Campbell has more...
When the government pumps trillions of dollars into the economy, they’re not actually printing the money. It enters as digital entries in banks across the country. It’s made the system fast, responsive, and, unfortunately, vulnerable. Now our money is no longer something we hold in our hands, but something that exists on a very susceptible network.
When’s the best time to invest in something? When everyone else is trying to get their money out of it. It might go against conventional thinking, but following the crowd usually makes you miss the real opportunities. At one monetary metal conference recently, the smartest guys in the industry sat down to discuss where these real hidden gems lay.
Say goodbye to your boring morning commute. New technologies are changing the way people drive their cars. It’s making them safer, more fuel efficient, and could reshape the way America builds its roads and cities. The only thing that could stand in the way...
I bet you use different kinds of money all the time, sometimes without even realizing it.In various online accounts, I currently have: some dollars, some pounds, and some euros. I have some air miles from two different credit card companies. I have some supermarket rewards points from three different companies. And I also have some […]
In a 2009 article, the Huffington Post went into considerable detail about the number of people with PhD degrees in economics employed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. This is the government’s branch of the Federal Reserve. It is not one of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks, all of which […]
When the NSA surveillance news broke last year it sent shockwaves through CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Switzerland. Andy Yen, a PhD student, took to the Young at CERN Facebook group with a simple message: “I am very concerned about the privacy issue, and I was wondering what I could do about it.”There was […]
Remember that correction we’ve been quietly talking about over the past couple of months?Well, it might be right around the corner. Stocks waited until the last day of the month to nose-dive. The S&P 500 posted its first 2% down day since April — and the Dow wasn’t far behind. Early this morning, futures continue […]
I was talking with one of my colleagues the other day, and he raised a very interesting question, one that deserves consideration by anyone worried about their digital privacy. He read an article that championed the idea that the more steps one took to protect their privacy by using anonymous Web-browsing tools like Tor, the […]
I’m sure you’ve seen the news. As if recent, past U.S. policy fiascos in Libya, Egypt and Syria were not enough, the wheels are now coming off the proverbial bus in Iraq, site of so much blood and treasure spent in the last decade.Radical Islamist armies are marching toward Baghdad, slicing through Iraqi government troops […]
Health care costs in the U.S. have been rising so steadily for so long that containment barely seems possible. Even optimists don’t dream of cutting the price tag. As its official name — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — suggests, Obamacare aims for affordability, not radical reduction.But at a time when we’re all […]
When you type a website address into a browser, you might have noticed that the letters “http” appear at the front. “HTTP” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In typing a Web address, you are actually sending an HTTP command to transmit that website to you. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the means by which information is […]
Picture the scene. It’s 2020. You’re at the checkout in a convenience store with a carton of milk. But you’ve got no cash and you’ve left your cards at home. No problem. You scan your right index finger; the green light flashes. Purchase approved and you leave. Easy.Is this a realistic vision of the future, […]
After a week of reckoning about the American oil and gas boom… I’ve got to get something off my chest.I can’t stand it when a coworker takes credit for something I did.Whether it’s a special report I wrote or just a little investing trick I found on my own — if someone takes it and […]
In 1995, American agriculture underwent a profound, dangerous change.In that year, Monsanto and other companies pushed through approval for a handful of genetically modified (GM) organisms. These included canola oil tweaked to improve its flavor, potatoes modified to resist pesticide dousing, and tomatoes gene-spliced to delay ripening.“About half of all the crops planted on American […]
Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously used the term “forgotten man” in a 1932 speech to describe those at the bottom of the economic pyramid who, he felt, government should aid.But the originator of the phrase “forgotten man” had a whole different meaning in mind. He aimed to expose the seeming good intentions of government to reveal […]
I want to share some insight and give you a front-row seat to America’s next big shale play.Let’s get to it…Over the past 10 years, the U.S. has turned the ship around, quite literally.We’ve gone from a country that was expecting to import massive amounts of oil and gas — to a country that’s sitting […]
Of all social media on the Internet, LinkedIn is the least splashy. A movie will never be made about this tool. It has introduced no new words into our vernacular. The teen crowd doesn’t download the app. But if you measure these technologies and Web tools by the positive ways they have changed lives, LinkedIn deserves to be listed way up top. It is sheer genius.
I’ve suspected this for a while but had it confirmed for me over the holidays. These are excellent times for the kind of detailed conversation that allows us to track the course of social evolution by seeing the things that are part of people’s lives. I love finding out from people what kinds of technologies they are using these days and what they do with them.
It turns out that LinkedIn was a major subject of conversation. People talked about updating their profile, people they’ve met through the network, how they have found new positions by using it, how they are fielding applications coming their way, and more.
Of course people talk about it nonchalantly, as if it is just part of life. Not so. It is a singular thing in the history of the world, a tool for jazzing up the the labor marketplace in a way never seen before.
LinkedIn is many things and offers many services: a global “water cooler,” a universal job bank, a method of learning from experts, and more. It has more than 130 million users in 200 countries, with two new users per second. It is the 12th-most-popular site in the entire world. The company went public in May 2011 (LNKD), and remains profitable today.
But I suspect that its main benefit has not really been openly noted.
LinkedIn has solved a problem that has vexed people since the beginning of time: the problem of being trapped in a job that undervalues your services. Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but in terms of the actual quality of life for hundreds of millions of people, this is a daily soul-killing disaster. LinkedIn is the liberation.
Had LinkedIn been around in the 19th century, people would have laughed derisively at Karl Marx with his prattle about the need for frenzied revolution. The workers of the world didn’t need to expropriate the expropriators or establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. All they really needed was a well-constructed web-based networking tool.
You might say: “This is ridiculous, since there is no slavery. Everyone chooses to work in a particular job. There is no gun at anyone’s head. It’s all based on mutual agreement.”
All that’s true enough, but the problem is subtler than that. Most employers can’t help but regard any employee on an active job search to be something of a traitor. That’s an unfair attitude, and bosses know this, but it is just the way things are. Hiring these days is a big headache, and it extracts large upfront and ongoing costs. To recoup them, employers have developed unreasonable expectations of their employees.
And here is the problem: Labor mobility is very difficult to put into practice in real life. How do you get your application out there without letting your current employer know that you are looking around? How can you use the capital and skills you have accumulated in your current position to upgrade to a new position with a different firm, without using your boss as your reference? How can you shop for new jobs and go for interviews without letting anyone in your social network know, for fear that your aims might get back to the boss?
It is a even a problem dressing up for interviews. You come back to the office and people wonder where you have been so you have to lie and say you went to a funeral. Or you take a sick day and have to make up some tale about a 24-hour bug. This is all rather ridiculous!
And if you can’t actively search for a new position, how can you actually achieve professional advancement?
These are truly awful problems that end up locking people in positions they don’t like but offer no way out. It restricts labor mobility. People get trapped. Fearing the reaction within the firm of looking outside the firm, people begin over time to block out the outside world. They secretly wonder if they are actually overpaid and worry about testing their wares on the job marketplace.
As a result, they are tempted to turn their attention to other things, figuring that jobs shouldn’t be happy or fulfilling; they are just supposed to pay the bills. The result is internal stagnation, and if many people feel this way, this sorry attitude begins to spread throughout the firm. You can end up with a whole building filled with quietly disgruntled and fearful employees, sort of like the pathetic scenes we see in The Office.
In the early days of the Web, there were, of course, large job marketplaces out there, and there still are. But they were limited because they were for those who had self-consciously decided to look for a job or look for an employer. There is no real reason to be on them otherwise. As we know, that’s not how real networking and good hiring takes place. Great jobs are often the result of a long process of experience and knowledge.
Thus the genius of LinkedIn: it permits you to stay constantly on the job market — cultivating a network — without seeming to be disloyal to your colleagues and managers and bosses. It is a completely unobjectionable thing to put your name up here. And because LinkedIn allows you to create networks based on your current employer, it is even seen as a benefit by your firm. It suggests that you care about your job and are happy to have it be part of your public identity.
If John Doe works at FastCompany, that appears by his name and serves as a kind of advertisement for the company itself. Other employees at FastCompany link up this way, too, so that the whole office can use this as a platform for communication, and even discussion. Yet your profile can be public, and you can send the link out to prospective employers. They can see what you are doing and why you are valuable — and you can do this without ever alerting your present employer that you are somehow looking around.
And then, if you change jobs, it is merely a matter of a few clicks. Your institutional affiliation changes, but the network capital you have built up is wholly retained by you. Your value is yours and it is portable. This encourages every worker to have a better understanding of himself or herself as a self-managing individual firm. You are not part of a collective. You are an individual enterprise unit, offering services in exchange for money — exactly how market theory posits it should be.
It’s a simple solution to a mighty problem — simple in the sense that truly brilliant solutions are obvious once they are stated.
The company opened its doors in 2003 — not even a decade ago! It was founded by Reid Hoffman, along with executives from PayPal and socialnet.com. Hoffman is an interesting guy in his own right. His background is in philosophy, and he was ascending the academic career ladder through his training at Stanford and Oxford. One day, Hoffman realized that he didn’t want to spend his life writing books that “50 or 60 people read.” He wanted to have more impact on the world. In a digital age, this meant developing new and better tools to improve people’s lives.
He got to work on solving this universal human problem. And it worked.
And contrary to the popular perception that social media is goofy and that the main purpose of technology is to push more gizmos, LinkedIn really has improved people’s lives and transformed the nature of the job and employee hunt. It has worked to dramatically reduce the information asymmetries that exist between buyers and sellers in the labor marketplace.
Now, let’s turn to a political point. Think of all the politicians who, for many decades, have claimed to have some great program for improving the lives of workers, making labor more mobile, helping to link up employees with employers. All of this is standard fare on the campaign trail. How many hundreds of billions have they spent? And ask yourself: How many of the zillion programs these people have created have you used? None? Thought so.
What’s more, these programs actually have the opposite effects of their advertised benefits. Government intervention in labor markets has entrenched unemployment by raising the costs of hiring, raising the floor for job entry, forcing businesses to provide benefits that make jobs sticky in ways they shouldn’t be.
With LinkedIn, we have entrepreneurs and private capital coming together to provide an amazing service that directly improves lives, one by one, every day and more each day. A takeaway political lesson: If you really want to do something dazzling, stay out of politics and find a way to do something wonderful in the commercial world. This is the path to human liberation; this is the path to true progress for humanity.