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Brexit bodes ill for US Presidential Elections June 29, 2016

Uninformed decisions tend to have unpredictable outcomes. Few foresaw the Brexit referendum results which have divided a nation along not only national lines but also demographic lines.

With most Brits ill-informed about the real impact of leaving the EU, most voted according to self-interest rather than national-interest priorities. Higher educated, higher income, younger, unmarried, foreign-born Brits voted to remain in the EU, while older, poorer, married and the less educated voted for perceived changes in leaving the EU.

Sadly the 48- to 52-percent vote split has further divided the nation.  And in line with recent trends, the losers appear less-inclined to accept the democratic process than they would if they were the winners. Scotland is considering a second independence referendum and there are rumblings about Northern Ireland breaking away and joining the Republic of Ireland. Canada and Ireland are seeing a noticeable increase in immigration applications from the UK.  Apparently gone are the days of agreeing to disagree but abiding by the democratic process.

Over the pond, we've witnessed the impact of a divided nation with Republicans and Democrats so far apart that we've seen almost 8 years of broken dysfunctional government and a president resorting to executive action to get anything done. And if the vitriol between the presidential candidates is anything to go by, the chasm appears to be widening. Far too many voters are ill-informed about the issues facing this nation and will most likely vote along party lines or motivated by last night's news sound-bite. 

While both parties howl about the sins, alleged sins and suspected sins of each candidate, it's the overseas media like IrishCentral that belie the value of the democratic process with headlines "Fears of Trump win sees wealthy Americans snapping up Irish property".

Sadly, until we view our vote as a privilege rather than a right, and until we start making informed decisions based on knowledge rather than ignorance, we will probably get the president (and the government) we deserve. And perhaps also some unforeseen and unexpected consequences. 

“Gig Economy” poses major challenges to traditional workers June 29, 2016

Almost 90% of Americans don't know what the "gig economy" is, yet 40 percent of American workers are predicted to be independent contractors by 2020,  according to surveys by the Pew Research Center and Intuit.

For the lesser-informed, a gig economy is an environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.

Besides the more obvious impact of loss of those lovely employee-related benefits, such as paid annual leave, paid sick leave, subsidized group health and retirement insurance, there are the versatility implications of rapid learning curves and frequently changing work environments.

A generation or two ago, you found a job, learned the ropes, put in 40 years of loyal service and retired with a gold watch and company pension. Now it's different.

With rapidly changing business cycles, organizations don't want a large, high-overhead, permanent work-force, expensive to maintain and expensive to trim.  They want the flexibility to hire skills when they want those skills and for just as long as they need those skills.

Hence the rise of the self-employed independent contractor, the hired-gun ready to take on a temporary assignment. But not as easy as it might at first appear - this morphing from an employee mentality to self-employed mentality. Ask anyone who has transitioned from the world of employment to the uncertainty of the self-employed.

The independent contractor needs marketing skills - always in search of the 'next' gig. Financial skills to manage the variables of a fluctuating income. Managerial skills to maintain control of the new business model. And above all, the flexibility, adaptability and versatility to adapt to the needs, practices and procedures of each new client.

Starting any new job involves a learning curve. While the time spent on learning the ropes in a new long-term job might be more easily forgiven as a long-term investment, short-term contractors are expected to hit the ground running. And getting up to speed quickly requires solid reading skills.

While average reading / comprehension speeds range from 150 to 350 words a minute, a weekend of intensive coaching consistently yields measurable increases in reading efficiency and reading time productivity with most people achieving an average 5-fold increase.

If you're suffering from reading overload, test your reading / comprehension rate at ExecuRead.com and if a 5-fold increase looks useful, give us a call at 704.451.0525