Gig Economy

So, recently I was talking to a girl, and her first text was ‘User Engaged’. All thanks to this site and the consequential benefits of pull marketing. It didn’t take me any time to figure out that she is an engineer and I sent her a link to the correlated MVP article. She was quite impressed. Less by my writing, more by the muse, and felt that the girl is a keeper.

This elevator pitch went amazingly well, and since I am not into texting, suggested an in-person meetup. She promptly agreed and before she suggested any cafe or a bar, I sent her a link to the landing page To my surprise, she already read this post. This points to two things. Firstly, my writing over the years is paying off by leaps and bounds, now I don’t have to waste my time trying to justify why going to a cafe/ bar/ anywhere outside isn’t worth it as yields little to no returns (both in terms of NPV and LTV), and it does not mean that I am shady or some creep. I am just a practical guy who knows that the most valuable asset with anyone in this world is time. As I say, ‘your time in this world is limited, the people aren’t’. Secondly, she is one of the observant and humble (less self-obsessed) dates that are my ideal target market (TG) as opposites attract.

She didn’t express any apprehensions, but she is also presently staying with family, and unlike the girl from the landing page post, she is a bit risk-averse to sneaking me in the middle of the night at their place. Also, she needed to be back for the night. So we ended up taking an Airbnb near her place with high ratings. It was apparently a boutique luxury concept based on the idea of living in a cave, and the decor and other features were supposed to be in accordance with that. Quite a pathetic property, nowhere close to the ratings and oversell, and wasn’t even worth half the price. But since this isn’t Trip Advisor, so I’ll stick to the storyline.

The place hardly mattered, be it caves or an ultra-modern city with flying Tesla cars on Mars. She is one of the few whose initial impression is completely different from her actual self. When I saw her, she was driving an ‘Aisha’ type daddy’s princess car, carrying a fancy designer bag, phone et al. So my obvious guess was that she’s my ideal archetype, but that was far from reality. She is quite a hard-working, completely self-made girl who actually handled an immense amount of pressure on all fronts right from childhood. Despite that, she excelled and achieved countless accolades and success on the career front. From the moment we hugged, I instantly grew a fondness for her voice, warmth, and cute dimple.

As a part of the chit-chat, I made the mistake of asking her what she does for a living. In a single sentence, I heard so many obscure words that I felt that it was a different language altogether. I will still try to translate. She is working with the research and development think tank to get more insights about making highly efficient fuels. Then she asked me what I did for a living. I went on to show her a couple of my pictures from my ‘cool’ Instagram life. Now don’t mistake me, I am far from being any sort of an influencer. Just for statistics, I have been on Instagram (@sidhants139) since 2013 and have close to 600 posts but around just 500 followers. Even my friend’s 3 months-old dog has more followers than me. And this is despite the fact that my account is public. Let’s save my self-loathing journey for ‘an inspirational TED talk’ and focus on this encounter. She turned the screen away, looked into my eyes, and said: “You look cuter in person.”

Anyway, coming to the MBA concept of the ‘Gig Economy‘. In a gig economy, companies lean towards hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees. The gig economy benefits workers, businesses, and consumers by making work more adaptable to the needs of the moment and demand for flexible lifestyles.

Uber and Airbnb are some classical examples of firms using the gig economy on a massive scale to contract independent home/car owners to replace the traditional hotels/cabs. In the recent past, especially post the pandemic, there is a gig revolution. Even the biggest of firms are hiring gig workers in huge numbers and component professionals are joining the gig workforce for a higher degree of flexibility, pay rates, and a sense of autonomy.

I am a seasoned gig strategy consultant for close to half a decade with big scale strategy consulting firms like BCG, FMCG majors like MARS Wrigley, veteran ex-McKinsey partners, , as well as, some high growth startups. The projects are from diverse domains and at high-intensity stages where firms require high firepower. (Refer to my LinkedIn in case you are actually intrigued)

Coming back to the crux of the site; analogous to this corporate gig economy, with the influx of technology (dating apps), the gig economy (Uberisation) is on a rise in the context of modern-day dating. The increasing individualism and commitmentphobia are making millennial dating habits a lot more risk-averse and transactional. They are hedging the three components of the triangular model (emotional, physical, and intellectual). Analogous to an Uber where you are just along for the ride, you don’t regret a ‘gig’ encounter coming to an end. It just helps in making some cherishable memories without much hassle or baggage and doesn’t require the investment of buying a ‘car’.

There are a couple of points that are essential to keep in mind in the context of Uberisation. Firstly, both the parties should be clear that this might or might not translate into a full-time engagement and is just about testing the waters. It is an Uber, not your own car yet. Secondly, prefer not to suffice the physical component (hookup) with friends/ batchmates/ colleagues, as it might get complicated later if things don’t work out, and will defeat the whole purpose. Thirdly, the compatibility in the component (emotional, physical, or intellectual) should be high to make it worth the risk. Fourthly, this type of lifestyle is filled with mental health deterrents like ghosting, gaslighting, etc. so just be cognizant of that. Fifthly and most importantly, a gig worker’s (Uber driver) life gets lonely at times as it by design is meant to be fueled by dopamine. There are times when you get even two or more ‘rides’ and sometimes you are without any rides for foreseeable future.

That brings me to the cute dimple date. Is the ‘User Engaged’ forever? I no longer need to have a ‘cool’ Insta life because I look cuter in person? Has my churn rate finally dropped? Well, the reason for the docile voice was the genuine American accent. She is an American citizen of Indian descent working with NASA, and was visiting Delhi for a few weeks. She is oxytocin (TG) which explains the warmth, and observative self while on the other hand, I am pure-play dopamine (TG). In fact, in her first relationship (MVP), she invested around seven years, most of which were sunk cost fallacy. She moved across continents, switched jobs, and was even smarter than the guy intellectually so even made career decisions to accommodate him. Ironically, the guy dumped her to get married to that girl for her meaningless USP. Anyhow as she was staying with her extended family and couldn’t stay for long, our interaction was limited to a few hours. I cherished each and every second of that though. In fact, by the end of it, I just didn’t want to let go of that final hug.

But such is life, and me being a gig veteran am back to my ‘rides’. She had reserved some of the ‘privileges’ just for her boyfriends. A privilege involving a ‘job’, but I am a freelancer so am used to not having such ‘perks’. Last year, when on a project outside the country, I was staying in a suite for about four months. I had a bathtub with a jacuzzi in my washroom and I used it on multiple occasions, but this jacuzzi experience was definitely a first of its kind.



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