Executive Perspectives: Technological Unemployment
Michel Bayan, Co-Founder and CEO of DirecTech Labs
This is the first in a series of podcasts where we’re aggregating multiple conversations with different world class direct selling executives around a single topic and this one is about technological unemployment, an idea that AI and automation and robotics are beginning to take away more jobs than they create.
This is a phenomenon that is transforming the future of how people work.
In this conversation you’ll hear from:
- Traci Lynn, Founder & CEO of Traci Lynn Jewelry
- Al Bala, CEO of Mannatech
- Mark ‘Bouncer’ Schiro, Chairman of Stream Energy
- Jared Richards, Former President of Jamberry
- Kris Shenk, CIO of CAbi
Michel Bayan: My guest is Traci Lynn from Traci Lynn Jewelry. What a pleasure to have you today.
Traci Lynn: Thank you so much. What a pleasure to be here.
Michel Bayan: I saw robots the other day, they flipped hamburgers and another one was laying bricks. There are going to be so many jobs displaced and people ejected out of the job market in the next 5, 10, 15 years. We’re going to need a way to put money in these people’s pockets and if we look at direct selling from just a straight economic perspective, like all we really do is we take a person, we make them the center of a good or service in their community. And for every sale that’s generated from their community, we return a lot of that money right back into the community that generated the sale. That to me sounds like an amazing opportunity to absorb a lot of these people that are going to be ejected out of the job market and make them a direct seller, make them the center of a good or service in their community.
Traci Lynn: Yes that’s absolutely right. I mean if we put them in the center now, we’re empowering them to take control over their own financial future so they don’t have to worry if a robot or a self-driving car comes and takes a position they had. then do they lose their home? Are they foreclosed on? are they repossessed with their car? No. We can fix that. We can change that. If they just even believe that they’ve got potential, there’s something else that they can do. We’ve got the solution to direct association is the answer. We’ve got an answer.
Michel Bayan: Thank you so much, Traci
Traci Lynn: You’re welcome.
Michel Bayan: It’s my pleasure today to welcome Al Bala, CEO of Mannatech to DirecTech Labs. Thank you so much, Al for coming and joining us today.
Al Bala: Thank you Michel it’s a pleasure and an honor to be invited on the talk show.
People need to realize that technology has a double edge. Technology would be responsible for literally what the future is telling us. Between now and 2030, the expectation is that half of all employment will disappear. That’s 2 billion dollars and many jobs that will disappear over a period of time replaced by robots or replaced by technology. Technology is going to shift people from this employee mentality to an entrepreneurial mentality, which at the same time will create the greatest wealth since the last revolutions we’ve had; industrial or others. So I believe that this is happening but if people don’t grab onto it, and they don’t realize that change is upon us and they need to become more adept at these technologies or we will end up being roadkill so that’s why for me the proposition of direct selling companies moving forward is one to offer a real opportunity to these people are going to be displaced from job. Give them an opportunity to truly be an entrepreneur in a business model that really is ideal because of the lack of capital that it requires not having to have all the skills and ability when you start because we’re finding ways to systematize the way those skills are taught and how that knowledge is important. And truly again because of technology, it gives us an opportunity to have a global influence fairly easily. We can influence people around the world just at the click of a mouse.
Michel Bayan: It’s amazing and you’re absolutely right. When you’re talking about technological unemployment, I was actually at a conference with a few different Nobel Prize-winning economists and technology people who were talking explicitly about that. And the funny thing was that I was the only one in that whole conference with any experience in direct selling. And just like what you are saying, I think direct selling really has an opportunity here. If we can really grow and evolve the way we do things, there’s an opportunity for us to disrupt the retail space. Direct Selling is already at 186 billion dollars. But retail is so much larger and everyone knows that word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing. That’s exactly what direct selling is. And we should be so much bigger than we are. There’s so much potential. I think that is still untapped for this space.
Al Bala: This is absolutely real. Technology robots will displace a lot of people. But you know what. Instead of fearing that, we need to embrace it because it’s going to accelerate this shift. And we still act like we’re still in the Industrial Revolution when things have moved so fast. So we need to be able to embrace these change and realize that the greatest wealth creation is ahead of us. For those who embrace this technology and know how to use it for very productive means. I tell people all the time “look at all the technology that is on a cell phone, it is not just so you can have selfies. I believe there’s a better use of that phone than just selfies. They’re good at times but there’s more technology in hand that existed in millions of dollars of equipment just in the 80s.
Michel Bayan: That’s awesome. Al thank you so much for the time. It’s been a great pleasure talking to you and we look forward to having you in touch and watching the progress of Mannatech with your leadership.
Al Bala: Michel I want to thank you for the opportunity to be able to speak about these very important matters. And I want to thank you for being so proactive and moving our industry forward and certainly bringing a level of consciousness to how technology can really help us bring better value a better proposition and certainly be more effective in doing that as we go forward
Michel Bayan: My guest is the chairman of Stream, Bouncer Schiro. It’s my pleasure to welcome Bouncer Schiro.
I was reading an article the other day when I started writing about this idea of technological unemployment which is this idea that increasing artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation is going to start costing us more jobs than it’s creating in the near future.
Bouncer Shiro: If you would have told us five years ago I would have laughed at you. But, right now when I’m listening to you I’m going, It’s not IF it’s WHEN. I totally believe that. Look at the kids that recommend things that don’t get paid a dime. They are on social media 24/7 and if they have a good meal, they recommend it, take a picture of it send it to 200 of their closest friends. And I believe you. I think that direct sales is one of the best ways to get referrals, and to network and to improve yourself. I do also agree with your statement that there is going to be a lot of jobs lost in the next 20 to 50 years to robots because everything’s going to be more efficient. They claim that 50 years from now half the jobs that will be there are not even to consider a job today. Half the jobs in less than 50 years.
Michel Bayan: Yeah it’s going to be amazing. I mean the transition is amazing. I was just looking at Forbes yesterday and they had this report that the White House released actually about this research really interesting.
Bouncer, thank you so much has been a real pleasure talking to you.
Bouncer Shiro: You got it Michel. I really enjoyed it. And hopefully, somebody gets something out of it because I am passionate about direct selling and I believe it is the greatest industry in the world.
Michel Bayan: My guest today is former president of Jamberry and CEO of Fight Against Domestic Violence. Jared Richards
Jared Richards: Hey thanks for having me, Michel.
Michel Bayan: How do you look at that problem of technological unemployment and how do we, as a channel, play a role in that future.
Jared Richards: As jobs get replaced by automation and AI, the human element and the human touch will be so critical. But the one thing that we’re going to have to do if we want to stay relevant is that we’re going to have to add value. Sometimes it may feel like you want to be protective of your business. But the real value comes when you can look beyond yourself, look beyond your bottom line and really add value, and the loyalty and the rewards that actually come there are second to none. I see that in direct selling. I’ve seen it in some of the most successful direct sellers. If you ask them how much they sold this month they may not even know. All they know is that they helped these many people, and they know their names and they know what they ordered, and they know why they ordered, and they know how to make recommendations to them because they are not just providing a product. They are actually adding value. And whether that’s in direct selling or across other channels, if you can always just keep that in mind, how can I add value to my customers even if it means that I’m going to get a return immediately. It’s keeping that human element ever present.
Michel Bayan: Thank you Jared.
Jared Richards: it is fun just talking about all these things. I love talking about real issues and the industry. Thanks for having me.
Michel Bayan: My guests today on the podcast is Kris Shenk, CIO of CAbi. Nice to have you.
Kris Shenk: Nice to be here. Thank you for inviting me.
Michel Bayan: I want to move into this idea of technological unemployment because I know it’s something that is a subject that’s really interesting to both of us. Talk to us about this idea of technological unemployment and how you look at this challenge.
Kris Shenk: Good question. There’s a couple of things. As much as we’ve been talking about this concept of automation and how that’s deteriorating some jobs but creating others. From a technology standpoint, there is an increasing need for people who understand data and I think that’s not something that’s going to go away. There are more and more opportunities for technology people as that arena starts to unfold. There’s going to be people who need to know how to collect that data because it’s going to be volumes of data. We think we’ve got big data now, just wait until you start to look at all the personalization and what the data drives as a result of that. So now you’ve got a house that you’ve got to maintain, that you’ve got to be able to keep it safe and protect it. So you’ve got all those tactical things with regards to the data which will create jobs but then you’ve got this whole realm of what-do-you-do-with-it now that you got it. We’ve got volumes and volumes of data. But unless it’s going to tell you something valuable to drive your business forward, you’ve got to have people that are competent and capable to analyze what is coming out of all of that.
Michel Bayan: And we’re already short on that kind of talent now.
Kris Shenk: Oh completely. We’re having a horrible time finding people who are really good at that particular thing. There’s such a nuance to it. So I think that’s going to obviously grow within that industry. On the other side, which is a little more self-promoting for the direct selling industry, I think it was a Forbes magazine article that said by the year 2020, 40 percent of people are going to be looking for an entrepreneurial venture outside of their corporate job or in the absence of a corporate job. And I thought that was an astounding statistic. So when you look at those numbers and you look at the direct selling industry for a real compelling product there’s your entrepreneurial venture or there’s an opportunity for an entrepreneurial venture. So you know these people could also sort of move their ways into direct selling.
Michel Bayan: Awesome. I love it. Kris thank you so much.
Kris Shenk: Thank you I appreciate being here. It’s been a joy to sit here and chat with you. So looking forward to the next.
Michel Bayan is the CEO and Co-Founder of DirecTech Labs, a behavioral science and AI company partnering exclusively with direct selling companies. Known as a futurist within the DS space, Michel has been working with DS companies around the world since 2011.
Learn more at www.directechlabs.com