In this episode, host David Folwell talks with Jeff Wald, Author of The End of Jobs: The Rise of On-Demand Workers and Agile Corporations. Listen in as they discuss how the increase of on-demand labor will change the staffing industry.
Folwell: Thank you everybody, for joining us today at The Staffing Show. Super excited to be joined with our guest today, Jeff Wald, who is the author of The End of Jobs: The Rise of On-Demand Workers and Agile Corporations. With that, Jeff, why don’t we go and start off with a little introduction and why don’t you tell us what you’re working on right now?
Wald: Well, David, thank you for having me. By way of background, I’ve started a few technology companies. The first one failed miserably and basically bankrupted me. If you’re going to start a few of them and have one be bankrupt, it’s best to have the first one drive you to bankruptcy. The next one was a content-sharing platform called Spinback, which eventually got sold to Salesforce. And then the most recent company and the most relevant is an enterprise software platform called Work Market, which enables companies to organize, manage, and pay their freelance workforce.
We raised about 70 million in venture from Union Square Ventures, SoftBank, and a few others. We sold the company in 2018 to ADP. I had the pleasure of serving on the senior leadership team of ADP for the two and a half years of my lockup there. The day my lockup ended, which is not to say anything disparaging about ADP, because they’re the nicest people in the world. It’s one of the best companies in the world. But the day my lockup ended, I left. So, for what I’m working on now, I guess I’m retired right now, but retired and as much as I spend my days writing business plans and thinking about the next startup.
Folwell: Awesome. Awesome. Well, you have an insanely impressive background. I mean, having an exit to Salesforce and ADP alone is something that not many people can have that type of track record, which is pretty incredible. So, with that, why don’t we just start it off? This is some of my own curiosity, but how or why did you start the Work Market? What was the inflection point that got you there?
Wald: So, Work Market.
Folwell: Work Market, my apologies.
Wald: Oh, no worries, no worries. It is a very common error. We quite frankly should have gotten that URL, world market. Work Market initially started in my mind when I was at business school and I was thinking about a thesis for my MBA called The Nature of the Firm Revisited. For those that know the paper, The Nature of the Firm, which is very widely known in the world of work, this was Professor Ronald Coase, Nobel laureate. He was theorizing in the mid-1930s about, “Why do we have these things called corporations? What’s their point? What’s the optimized structure of them?” There was this whole threat around companies would be ideally structured as very small, fixed-cost colonels.
With everything else being done, he didn’t use this word, but everything else is done in an on-demand capacity through temps and freelancers and parlance that we speak today. But the paper actually concluded the corporations are better off being these very large, monolithic, fixed-cost entities. I remember thinking that’s really interesting in 1937, but what would the conclusion be today if we redid that analysis. So, I started to do that. That proved well beyond me intellectually. So, I ended up giving up and just getting drunk a lot at business school, which is what I do sometimes.
Folwell: I did the same.
Wald: And then there was a paper written by McKinsey somewhere in the 2006, 2007 timeframe that talked about the 1 trillion in on-demand spent at the time should grow to 3 to 4 trillion if companies had the right systems and processes to manage on-demand labor at scale and compliantly. I thought, “You know what? As an entrepreneur, we want to solve big problems. We want to go after big markets. Anytime we got the T word in there, the trillion word, that’s pretty big.” So, my co-founder and I began a journey. He had started something in the labor space that was not actually dissimilar from Work Market before. We took those concepts and ran with them. That was Work Market. In June of 2010, we formally got started.
Folwell: That’s amazing. That’s incredible. In the book, The End of Jobs, one of the quotes that I saw… This is on Amazon, but it looks like part of the summary. But I thought this was pretty interesting and relevant for our audience – “The power balance will again shift massively to companies as new technologies drive productivity increases in the service industry, much as the last three industrial revolutions transformed manufacturing.”
This is something that grabs a hold of me in a pretty meaningful way, because I really look at what’s happening with the service industry, what’s happening with staffing, and see this massive adoption of technology happening and really see people coming out and it’s changing the market drastically. I’m constantly talking with people about, “Well, is it going to be a winner takes all in each staffing vertical?” How is the industry going to change from your perspective when you look at what’s going on in the staffing with the rise of on-demand?
Wald: It’s such a great question, David. Look, it’s a big question. It’s an overarching question. So, I’ll tell you this. As we were building the Work Market, we had the opportunity to meet with the CEOs, the Heads of Strat and Corp Dev from I’m pretty sure every major global staffing firm. If you’re one of the staffing firms we didn’t meet with, it’s because I don’t consider you a major global staffing firm. Actually, no, no, a joke obviously. I’d be happy to meet with you. The point being is that they all came to us and they were like, “Are you our friend or you’re our enemy?” I was like, “I’m 100% your friend.” If ever asked that question, by the way, the answer is always, “I’m your friend.”
So, we ended up working with most major staffing firms. I think almost all of them again, major global staffing firms are clients of Work Market. They use us to service their clients because they get a lot of work from their clients that is freelance work and is very short term work. It’s not efficient for them to manage it through their normal processes. So, they use Work Market. A lot of them have multiple Work Market instances. So, they have one instance for each client. So, they’re great clients for us. But it raises this question of, “What are staffing firms at their core?”
You think about the six steps that I think about in the labor engagement, which is you need to find the right person. You need to verify they are who they say they are and they can do what they say they can do. Staffing firms are always going to be very good at those two. You need to set the terms of engagement. You need to manage them through a process. You need to pay them and then you need to rate them or you need to capture data on how they did, because that’s going to inform find as you start that process all over again. So, I think about those steps, I think about the compliance and the identifications that staffing firms give. There isn’t a lot that allows me to draw a conclusion that says, “Well, staffing firms can get disintermediated.”
If LinkedIn adopted all the engagement and compliance and payment tools, could LinkedIn take out staffing firms? I think the answer to that question in the near term and medium term. In the long term, everything’s off the table. But in the near medium term, I think no. Now if I think about staffing firms’ processes and how they go through the process of finding people and verifying them, engaging them and managing them, paying them and rating them, are there areas within that, that allow for the removal of repetitive high volume tasks from humans to robots? Does it allow staffing firms to do those jobs more efficiently? Without question. There are countless startups that are going after each one of these spaces.
So, I think it’s a very exciting time. You see staffing firms. Some of them go and try to break that mold of find, verify, engage, manage, pay, rate by engaging with education and skills training and seeding the find. So, going one step before the find to seed it. Obviously, Adecco I think is the most well known in their acquisition of the General Assembly.
Folwell: Awesome. Awesome. Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, the term that I’m hearing pop up more and more with staffing industry analysts, I think that their exact formula, we’re talking about online staffing as the new wave, which I think is the same, on-demand. It sounds like Work Market maybe falls into that category. It really does seem like everybody’s trying to chase the ability for candidates to do as much as they want on their own and to remove any of the tasks that are not meaningful in terms of the recruiter engagement in a meaningful way.
With that, I think there’s a lot of staffing agencies and recruiters, to be honest, that I hear are like, “Oh, well, our jobs are going to be taken away. We’re not going to have a place for us.” Having listened to a couple of your podcasts, I think we might be on the same page on this one, but I’m just curious to hear your thoughts on how you think the future of work, the future of staffing firms in terms of, “Will recruiters exist? What’s going to happen to staffing agencies?”
Wald: So near term, medium term, hard yes. Recruiters will exist. There’ll be growth in the recruiting space. So, however many number of recruiters there are in the United States now, there will be more in 10 years from now. Now, look, will recruiters become more efficient at what they’re doing? Yes. Will they get tools that help them to do their jobs more efficiently? Absolutely.
Are there AI programs and a host of other things to help separate signals from noise and get to the right candidates quicker? Therefore, the recruiter can spend more time understanding from the client who was really the right candidate. It’ll give the recruiter more time to spend time with the candidate to walk them through and make sure that they are the right candidate for this job and if so, how to make sure they get that job. So, those higher valued consumer interaction points will take up more of the component tasks to the recruiter’s job as the recruiter spends less time sifting through resumes just to put a label on them.
But this all raises very important points, David, around people draw very simple conclusions. They say, “Oh, this tech exists. Therefore, this job goes.” History would tell us, data would tell us how companies actually engage. Workers would tell us that that simple conclusion is almost always wrong. So, people are doing the same in the staffing industry now. They’re saying, “Oh, there are all these AI recruiting bots and this and that. The recruiting job is going to go.” No, that’s just not how it works.
There are so many reasons for that around the technology itself and its capabilities, which people always overestimate in the near term. There are the regulatory constructs. There are the enabling infrastructures that have to be prepared. Importantly, as we’ve discussed briefly here a moment or two ago, is the client service interaction. If the client could have an AI bot do all that’s recruiting, it just wouldn’t want that.
The client wants to talk to somebody. It wants to really explain what they want. Because as you get into those nuances of what really makes the right candidate, we are nowhere, I mean, nowhere even close for an AI bot to really be able to discern that based on resume inputs, video interview inputs, whatever the data input you want to put in an AI bot. Them really discerning who’s the right candidate for the job is not even close.
Folwell: I couldn’t agree more. I actually was at Staffing Tech a few years ago. I was talking to somebody. We were talking about AI. I think that was the core of the event and kept talking about, “Well, what’s going to happen? How’s it going to impact staffing firms?” One of the guys next to me was like, “As much talk as there is about AI replacing recruiters,” he was like, “I can barely get my Alexa to turn my lights on and off when I want it to. I’m pretty sure we’ve got some time.”
Wald: You got some time. You got some time.
Folwell: Yeah. With that, the other thing that you comment on there as everybody is thinking, I think I heard you say this in one of the other podcasts, this time is different.
Wald: Dangerous words.
Folwell: Dangerous words. I think this goes in all of the industries I’ve worked in that business owners are always, “Our business is different.” Whenever I hear that, I think, “It will be because you may not exist. You’re not different. The problems are going to be solved the same. You need to be willing to change and adapt and recognize you’re not special. These things are trends. They’re megatrends. They happen over and over again.” So maybe you can just expand on that a little bit on why aren’t things different this time and what makes you believe that?
Wald: Well, first of all, I’ll just build on your statement, which is whenever when someone says about their startup because I spend more of my time in the startup world is, “Oh, we have a unique approach,” I’m like, “No, you don’t.” Unique as in it doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world, no, you’re not unique. Get over yourself. So, this time, it is different. One of my favorite professors in business school would always say, “The five most dangerous words in business: ‘This time, it is different.’” Look, we all have heard the various different sayings that history tends to rhyme. There’s a reason that that saying has stayed around for so long because it’s so accurate.
Look, consumers move slowly. Companies move even slower. Societies move only when absolutely forced to. So, the idea that a new technology is going to come along and fundamentally re-alter the social contract between companies and workers, look, is it possible? I mean, I couldn’t sit here as a person and say, “No, it’s not possible.” Anything’s possible. It’s just there’s no historic example of it. So, I just think it’s incumbent upon anybody that is looking at these statistics, is looking at these trends.
If you start to see something that has never happened before, my favorite, of course, being the on-demand labor market is going to go from 25% of the labor force to 50% of the labor force, I was like, “I’m sorry. Has ever in the history of work some kind of shift happened like that?” The answer is no, no, it hasn’t. Why do you think it’s going to happen this time if it’s never happened before? So, I would always put the onus on somebody else. Give me the data. Give me your logical, reasonable, and defensible hypothesis as to why it is going to be different because it’s never different. It’s never exactly the same either, but the idea that something is going to happen entirely different than it’s ever happened before, there are too many forces at play here.
The situations are too complex. It goes back to our statement about simple conclusions. This stuff is not simple. It’s incredibly complicated. Just because a new tech exists doesn’t mean that every single company buys that tech and deploys it. A lot of things have to happen. That’s why history tends to move in this very specific and thoughtful rhythm. Do I think that that’s suddenly going to change? Is it possible? Of course, it’s just you’d be making the first bet on that and that’d be the first time it had happened.
Folwell: Yeah. With that, I’m just going back a little bit in our conversation, but I always laugh when people are like, “Oh, well, nobody’s going to have jobs. AI is going to replace everything. Uber is going to be self-driving cars. We’re going to put all these people out of work.” I always think back to the Industrial Revolution. I don’t know the exact timeframes or economists have said this, but I know I’ve read it in multiple books, where I think the estimates were that by 2020 or by 2200, people are going to be working 20-hour weeks, because we weren’t going to have enough work to do. Everybody always thinks all these jobs go away. The hard part, I think, that people don’t understand, we can’t tell what they’re going to become. So, we just assume they’re gone, but they change, people change.
Wald: Here are three almost uninterrupted trends over the last 200 years in the world of work and somebody would need to really argue for me to understand that this trend was suddenly going to change. We have created evermore jobs almost every single year. There are more jobs on the planet than there were the year before. Every single year for the last 200 years, we’ve created this thing called a job because the word ‘job’ as we think about is 200 years old. Every single year, we have worked fewer hours. That is a trend. It is a slow and steady trend. The idea we’re going to get down to a 20-hour work week is to me laughable anytime in the near future, but we have a 10% reduction in our work week over the last 50 years. So, maybe another 10% over the next 50 makes sense.
The standard of living has increased, uninterrupted almost, almost perfect lines up into the right. So, why would those things suddenly change? This idea that a new technology that massively increases productivity, that’s not something new. Robots and AI are just the newest version of every other technology that’s done automation. Automation has existed since the spinning jenny and the weaving loom 200 years ago. So, automation is automation. This is new automation. It will change jobs and there will be jobs lost. No doubt about it. But somebody needs to explain to me a very, very thoughtful argument before I would move away from these almost uninterrupted trends for the last 200 years.
Folwell: I couldn’t agree more. With that, I think we’re on the same page in terms of it will change but it’s not going to be maybe as drastic as everybody thinks. If you are a staffing executive running a staffing firm, what would you be doing? What would you be looking at, reading, consuming, changing your business strategy? What are some thoughts around that?
Wald: That is a great question. I will fully admit, I’ve never thought about that, because it’s never entered my mind that I would run a staffing firm. As much as I love all the friends of mine that run staffing firms, I would say, look, staffing is a relatively low margin business. There are a lot of technologies coming on stream using AI that don’t allow you to get rid of workers necessarily. I mean, you could get rid of a worker or two with these new technologies, not all of your workers by any stretch of the imagination. But in most circumstances, it’s just going to allow you to process more work and be more efficient.
So, things that give you a point here and a point there when I think about the huge revenues in the staffing industry, I’m a huge fan of being at the forefront of a lot of these technologies, trying different things around AI crawling bots, around AI bots that are sifting through resume, parsing for lack of a better term, around using video interviewing, and then using AI to parse the video interviews. So, again, separating signal from noise so that your people aren’t looking at 1,000 resumes. They’re looking at the 15 people that are really the best candidates and then really taking those into the client. There are a lot of places that you can pick up a point of origin here or there.
So, that’s what I’d be thinking about because if I can do that, then I’m plowing that back in and I am continuing to innovate. And then I’m in this virtuous circle, where I’m giving my client the best candidates, actually, the best candidates. The clients love what I’m doing. Therefore, they’re engaging me more and more. That’s where I’d want to be because if I’m not on that part of the chain, then I am the staffing firm that is going to say, “Well, I don’t understand what happened. I just lost all these customers.” You lost them to clients that are able to price better and are delivering better service because they’re using technology to enable their processes.
Folwell: I also couldn’t agree more. I mean, I was just looking at the staffing industry and actually the reports that we do on the state of staffing industry. What we’re continuing to see is that the companies that consider themselves to be early adopters, that are trying new tech and looking for ways to improve but maybe not committing all in but testing new things out to see where they can get those extra few points, those incremental gains. I was talking to somebody the other day. They said they implemented an online staffing platform. I think in six months, they had a 30 some percent increase in GP per recruiter.
Folwell: Yeah. So, I think that with that, it’s more about, “What can you do? What can you test out and apply to see what is going to work for you in the longer run?”
Wald: I think that is a great point, David, because look, one size doesn’t fit all. You can’t paint anything with a broad brush here. I think what people fail to understand about the staffing industry is that each different vertical, if I’m staffing for nurses and I am staffing for computer programmers, those are two entirely different flows. I can’t take the same people and repurpose them from the nurse staffing to computer programming staffing. There are a lot of very industry-specific within our industry, functions in tech and processes. So, trying a bunch of things and seeing what works for your firm, I think, becomes very important.
Folwell: Yeah. With that, as you’re talking about it, I’ve also heard this from others in the industry, which I think is a great concept is recruiters almost transitioning. Right now, recruiters that are running full desk, I mean, they’re doing a lot of admin work, a lot of paperwork. They’re in the end stuck in a lot of things that maybe aren’t as necessarily value add. I’ve heard people talk about recruiters almost becoming talent management, where they’re there to help you succeed in your career, help coach you on what you need to know. The role is shifting pretty drastically. Do you have any thoughts about that?
Wald: I believe and I should know this, but I believe it was Bruce Morton, who wrote one of the essays in my book, who talks very specifically about this, about the talent agent and the role of the talent agent. Bruce is the Global Head of Strategy at Allegis Group and just one of the most wonderful people that I know in the space. I think it’s a great, great concept. It is one of my favorite pieces in chapter 10. I got 20 of the leading thinkers in the world of work to write their vision of what the world of work looks like in 2040. I think Bruce hits on this exact point. I think it was him. Apologies to the writer who it was if it was not Bruce.
Folwell: Well, my apologies. I want to get through your book. I haven’t got there yet, but it’s on my list. So far what I’ve read about it, I’m adding it to Audible for the next month.
Folwell: So, I didn’t get a chance to get through it before this. With that, actually, why don’t you tell me a little bit more about your book and some of the key takeaways from it?
Wald: Well, the whole point of the book was to bring a framework for thinking about the future of work. Because David, I had the opportunity and still do from time to time to speak at conferences beyond these panels. You get to hear all these wonderful people, these “thought leaders.” I will tell you, half of them, I think, are brilliant. The other half, I think, should just need to shut up. They literally are just talking to hear themselves talk. I find that very frustrating. Because if you’re making a prediction, there are people in the audience that are thinking about that prediction and using it to help them plan for themselves and for their families and maybe their companies or their communities.
I do think you have a responsibility to be very judicious with your words and to have your words be based in evidence. In our world and this is the framework I set up in the book, I would argue you need to look at the history of work. You need to look at the data in the world of work. You need to think about how companies actually engage workers and deploy capital. If you put on those lenses and then you look forward, I’m not saying that that gives you a crystal ball and that your predictions are completely accurate, far from it. I’m simply saying that you have a logical, reasonable, defensible argument to be made.
So, that is the point of the book is to look at history, look at data, think about how companies actually engage workers, and to use that lens to make some near-term and some long-term predictions in the future of work. When I did all that, I didn’t have enough pages. The publisher was like, “This book’s too short. We can’t publish it.” I said, “Well, I don’t like to repeat myself,” because they literally said, “Just write a bunch of examples and more stories.” I was like, “Do you want me to just write the same thing over again?” He’s like, “Yeah.” I’m like, “No, no, no, I’m not doing that.” He said, “Well, we can’t publish it yet. You need to have more.”
So, a friend of mine came up with the idea of chapter 10, which is I’d interviewed hundreds of people for this book, again, the men and women shaping the future of work. So, I asked a lot of them, “Will you write four or five pages on what you think the world of work looks like in 2040?” That part of the book, I think, is amazing. I’m absolutely in love with chapter 10. So, these are people that are heads of some of the largest staffing firms in the world, are C-level people, has the largest labor unions in the country, heads of industry associations, largest investors in the space, and legislators and regulators. So, their perspectives were amazing, just absolutely, absolutely amazing. Some of those are CHROs of some of the leading companies in the world.
So, all of them, collectively, each wrote their own vision of what the world looks like in 2040, because I have my framework. I look through those lenses. I make my predictions, but I don’t pretend that that’s the only way to do it. They have their way of looking, and I certainly respect the heck out of each one of them. While I don’t agree with all the conclusions they made, I understand why they made them. We can debate and discuss them.
Folwell: I think that’s amazing. What’s also interesting is that one, you’ve got your insight, your lens on it, your research. I’m showing my cards here, but I saw this on TikTok. There’s a piece of content on there the other day talking about the future of content and say, to your point on there are very few new ideas, if any, at this point, and that the future of content according to a TikToker, I don’t remember who, is curation, careful and intentional curation for your audience to make sure that they’re getting the perspective they need because most of these ideas are out there. A lot of these things have been thought about. So, it sounds like you’ve had a combination of your own framework, your own thoughts, but also, you’ve got some great curated stories and comments in the book as well.
Wald: That we do, that we do. I do actually agree with that Tik Toker that curation is very important. I think Clubhouse is super interesting, but Clubhouse isn’t curated. Most of the stuff on Clubhouse is just garbage, just garbage. So, I think it becomes very difficult. The same can be said by the way of our industry, not to call candidates garbage, but making that distinction, separating signal from noise on the thousands of candidates that are interested in a position. The people that are not appropriate for them are your garbage in that context. They may be perfectly appropriate for another role, but for that role, they are noise.
Technology can empower recruiters to separate signal from noise and then really be the talent agent for the very few that are actually the right people for those jobs, because if that particular job you’re recruiting for isn’t the right one, you’re going to help them maybe find a different job. That is to me and to your point earlier, one of the very highly probable pathways for recruiting in the future.
Folwell: Also, we are on the same page here today. Do you have any thoughts about separating signal from noise? That’s something that I think about quite a bit, talk to a lot of people about. I know HubSpot got the predictive lead scoring. I know that a lot of people are going to go down that path. How do we use algorithms to make sure we get the right candidates and the recruiters spend their time in an efficient way?
Wald: I think it’s dangerous in our world. Obviously, I’m a proponent of it, but I think we need to recognize that it’s dangerous, because the ability to separate signal from noise when the job is very discreet and you understand exactly the skills that need to be done. It is literally just if A then B, if B then C. That is easy to do, which is what we did at Work Market, right? The average job in Work Market, I think, was two hours. They’re very, very discrete jobs. They’re very quick. There’s a big difference between that and I’m hiring somebody to be a part of my team. I can use algorithms to separate signal from noise. Does the algorithm still have bias?
There’s a very important series of conversations that we had for some time about, “How do we make sure that we remove that bias from the system?” Okay, I would say it’s easier to do when it is very data-driven and skills-based. You possess the skill, you don’t possess the skill. We can make arguments about certain people who don’t get to possess the skills because of institutional bias. Well, okay, I’m going to leave that out for a second. I’m just talking about the bias in the data set I’m given. But when you start moving away from that, there are ways to separate signal from noise, but I don’t believe in the near term, there are ways for AI to then just say these are the three best candidates.
So, I think it becomes very important for recruiters to make sure that the AI is being trained to give you one level above that final cut because it still goes to a human to make that final cut. Again, the idea that an algorithm is going to be capable of having the judgment of intaking what the client really wants and then putting that in for a full-time role, I think we are nowhere near that. Any AI that is saying, “Oh, we can get you the exact right candidate,” no, they can’t. Take that one level above where they give you 10 people and then you take that final cut to deliver the right 2 or 1 to the client. But there are important conversations around its efficacy in getting full-time roles correct and the bias inherent in the algorithm itself and then obviously, in the data itself.
Folwell: Yeah. Two, I think some of this is already a conversation, but the people writing the algorithms tend to be developers and tend to be White males writing algorithms with their own biases that they don’t understand. I think there are instances where it’s proven not to be the most ethical. You have to be very careful with, I think, how it’s implemented.
Wald: Yeah, look, I don’t think you’re saying this. So, I don’t mean to imply that, but I don’t think anybody is doing it intentionally. I don’t think people are going like-
Folwell: Agree, agree.
Wald: “… we got to keep X, Y, or Z populations out of this.” It’s just we code what we know.
Folwell: Unconscious bias.
Wald: Yeah. And then within that, there are a host of very interesting conversations to be had, which I look forward to debating and discussing as time marches on.
Folwell: Absolutely, absolutely. With that, I know we’re rounding out our time here. So, I’ve got just a few fun questions to end it up and more on the personal level.
Wald: Love it.
Folwell: So, in terms of curation, these are questions curated closely from one of the people that I’ve, when I started my business, became a little obsessed with early on was Tim Ferriss. Now, moved on to Sam Harris, but still probably Tim Ferriss. One of the questions I had is in the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
Folwell: Brené Brown.
Folwell: It’s amazing what it does. Great, quick answer to it. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? It could be an investment of money, time, energy, et cetera.
Wald: I do not have a quick answer there. I could have said my buddy, his company Knotel, because that I made an investment and it was 200X on paper, but then it went to zero because they declared bankruptcy last month. It was my best decision. I’d back that team again. They’re amazing, but they got hit by COVID. It happens. What is one of the best investments I’ve made? I’m going to give you the softball answer here and I’m going to say, some of the team members at Work Market that raised their hands and said, “I can do more. I want to learn more,” and who were there early in the morning and stayed late until late at night. I invested in their careers. I invested in them personally in some cases, paid for school and paid for books for them out of my own pocket.
When people say, “What are you the most proud about when you think about Work Market and what you guys achieved?”, I just start rattling off these people’s names, because watching them and their careers, that’s been great. So, hokey as an answer, but I’m going to mark that down as my answer.
Folwell: I love it. I love it. So, what are bad recommendations that you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
Wald: What are some bad recommendations? I am still a believer in fundamental analysis. Therefore, I don’t understand Bitcoin. I mean, I understand the blockchain and the distributed ledger and tokenization and things like that. I don’t understand why Bitcoin is worth $1.2 trillion right now. So, this would fall actually in the category of bad advice. As much as I didn’t listen, which was five years ago, I was dating a woman and she was like, “Just buy some ether.” It was like at $1. I literally had a certain amount of money in a Coinbase account.
I was about to click Buy. I’m like, “No, I can’t do it.” It just feels like I’m throwing money out the window. It’s so stupid. That dollar would then went up to $1,900. So, it would have a 1,900X return on that. So, that would be bad listening on my part, but I don’t understand it. I still don’t understand it. That same woman, by the way, still pings me being like, “You’re stupid.”
Folwell: I’ve been talking about cryptos quite a bit lately. I’ve actually come to the conclusion that I don’t know enough about it to be able to pick the winners, but I think there’s going to be some major winners in it. So, my new strategy has been the diversified portfolio of anything that comes on Coinbase, put $50 into it, and let it ride.
Wald: Not bad.
Folwell: I’m okay with losing $50 on each one of these guys.
Wald: That’s not bad.
Folwell: So far, it’s been out all right. I also had a friend about seven years ago that was like, “Get into this, get into this.” I bought my first one at 400, first Bitcoin at 400. So, I did all right.
Folwell: I could have bought it at 50. That’s great. What is the book or books you’ve given most as a gift and why?
Wald: I mean, that’s a softball for me. I’ve got ADP bought thousands of copies of this book. So, I’ve been giving around left, right and center.
Folwell: For all of our listeners, you should pick it up. I’m going to make it mandatory for my team.
Wald: Yeah, look, I actually gave the Brené Brown book out a lot when I first got that. I think that anybody reading her work or watching her YouTube channels, will be better for it.
Folwell: Could not agree more there as well. She’s been pretty powerful. Ever since I’ve seen her TED talk, I got into her books as well. Last question, what is an unusual habit or absurd thing that you love?
Wald: I’m going to go deep here for a second, David.
Folwell: All right.
Wald: I get on my knees every night and pray, which I am Jewish. That is not a part of Jewish theology, Jewish practice. While I am not overly religious, I’m very spiritual. I certainly believe in a higher power and getting down on my knees every night and just saying thank you. I never asked for anything, because I think that would be incredibly, incredibly inappropriate. I just am so fortunate to be able to live this life and that everybody in my family is safe and healthy.
So, it is unusual, especially because I live in New York City amongst mostly atheists, certainly agnostics, mostly agnostic, many atheists. So, when they hear that I pray, it comes across as very strange to them. I mean, they respect it, they understand it, but it’s not a thing that they would do. So, it’s an important practice for me.
Folwell: That’s amazing. I think there’s something to be said just for being grateful on a daily basis, regardless of what practice brings you to that. I think there’s a lot to that. That’s amazing.
Wald: Look, we all live in this great country. We should just be thankful for that.
Folwell: Absolutely, absolutely. The last thing, is there anything else that you’d like to share with our audience? Any closing comments?
Wald: I will tell you that I just put up content at jeffwald.com. That would be the closing thing is that I bought jeffwald.com in 1998. For about almost 23 years, it sat there with no content on it and I just finally put up content. So, you can go there and check out all the different things I’ve written and all the speeches I’ve given. It’s super exciting. I’m very excited to talk about it. I feel like I’m able to talk about it for two weeks.
Folwell: Awesome. Well, congrats to that.
Wald: Thank you.
Folwell: Sounds like you’re on to the next phase of your journey, wherever that may take you.
Wald: That is true.
Folwell: Well, Jeff, I really enjoyed having you on today. Thank you so much. For all of our listeners, again, the book is called The End of Jobs: The Rise of On-Demand Workers and Agile Corporations. I will be picking up a copy today on Audible and be getting some for my team as well. I think you’ve got some great insights and really enjoyed the conversation. Thank you so much.
Wald: Thank you so much for having me.