In this episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS we discuss the on demand gig economy for course builders with Mike Hayes. Chris and Mike dive into Mike’s amazing story of how he got to where he is today. They also discuss the difference between a gig and a job, and why the words ‘on demand’ are important.
Mike has had an interesting journey from his history in broadcast and radio. He also worked at NBC for ten years in New York. Mike has interviewed and worked with people like Oprah Winfrey, Steve Wozniak, and Tony Robbins. Mike also spent a half day with Steve when they were launching Apple in his house. Through spending all of this time with these entrepreneurial minds, Mike decided he would be interested in doing something similar.
The on demand gig economy is the new way the economy works. The economy used to be based around finding a stable job, and large corporations had all of the power. In the gig economy, the focus is shifted to providing value. Websites like Upwork and Fiverr have become major sources of short-term employment or gigs.
Chris and Mike talk a little bit about the rise of the entrepreneur in 2008 when the economy crashed. During this time the economy was riddled with problems, and the people who focused on solving problems instead of looking for security were the ones that would survive and thrive. Ideas like Airbnb and Uber became bigger than Hilton.
Clear communication is a critical part of success in the current economy, because everybody is marketing online now. So being able to communicate what it is you can provide is necessary. Chris and Mike discuss how having the right presentation and distribution is what energizes people and brings life to your product or service. You can also use your course as an introduction or marketing for a suite of products and services you provide.
Mike views online courses as the near equivalent of infomercials in the old economy, because of the way courses have the ability to provide enough information to people. Your course can serve as your distribution as well, because you don’t have to distribute it on the marketplaces. You also have to find out who your audience is and advertise to them on platforms they use.
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Chris Badgett: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and I’ve got a special guest with us today, Mike Hayes. How are you doing Mike?
Mike Hayes: I’m wonderful, because I’m here with you, Chris, and I’m delighted to be your guest today.
Chris Badgett: Thanks so much for coming on the show. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you and getting to know your ideas and what you’re doing out there in the world. Mike is a big proponent of helping educate people on the on-demand gig economy and what that looks like today, what the new economy’s all about, and how to work and exist and succeed in the changed world out there that is the on-demand gig economy. And we’re going to get into that. We’re going to get into Mike’s story and how he sees some things trending that he’s kind of seen before, and there’s some emerging opportunities from his history in broadcast and radio. But before we get into the nitty-gritty and your story, can you just tell us at a high level, Mike, what is the on-demand gig economy?
Mike Hayes: Certainly, and anybody who’s been struggling with marketing, as many of us did over the years, I’ve made more mistakes than anybody and to still be in business, especially with the emerging media and the way things have changed. We finally solved that, and we solved it when we finally discovered that we were doing a lot of marketing in the wrong place and that things had changed, really, to a different playing field. And what that is is in the past, and I’ll kind of explain how we got here, because in the past we had careers. And in those careers we worked for a company like I worked for NBC for 10 years in New York. That was a career path with a corporation.
And then things started to change and we went to more jobs and people started only staying with companies two or three years, and now things have changed again, and those jobs have been renamed as gigs. And so that’s kind of where things have changed. It’s gone from the incumbent economy, careers and then jobs, into the on-demand gig economy. And the reason all of these words are very important, Chris, especially for this group are the words on-demand. So that, of course, is on-demand and now in the gig economy and how you can use it. Now, you were going to ask me about my background, but let me make crystal-clear first that it’s very important that people understand gig is not gigawatts or gig-this. Sorry about that. Let me just turn this off. This is live video, so I’m going to shut this off and I will be back in action here. Yeah, there we go. Sorry about that, folks. My apologies.
So, a gig, you know how in technology we go back to the past to find words that apply to the present and we redefine those words. That’s all it is. It’s just a job, it’s a way to make money. It’s a new way to make money, and with that not only has come the redefinition of jobs, but also marketplaces for those jobs. And that’s where the real opportunity is for course providers and how it’s really going to change the whole course business. And that’s what I hope to discuss today, is to help people who have courses and they’re either struggling to get them really launched at the level they want to get them launched at, or they are already successful and they want to go from one level to the next level, and I’ve been there done that. So that’s what I’m here to talk [inaudible 00:03:57] you about.
Chris Badgett: Can you give a little more detail around the difference between a gig and a job and why the words on-demand are important and how that’s different today?
Mike Hayes: Yeah. Actually, what I would recommend so people understand this is not just Mike talking out of his hat is to google the term “on-demand gig economy”. The reason I say this is because it actually comes up in a Google search two ways. Often it will be either gig economy, and that will come up. Or it’ll be on-demand economy or it’ll come up on-demand gig economy, so you never know. There are a little bit different parts of it, but what’s important to discover when you google it is, folks, you’re going to see some eye-opening news from the major media all the way to academia, like MIT Sloan Business School, Harvard MBA Business School. Everybody is saying, “This is the biggest change.” Like Robert Reich, former labor secretary, says, “This is the biggest change in the workforce in 100 years.” Okay?
So this is a real sea change, this is a huge shift, and we all work in the umbrella of the economy. It’s bigger than marketing. It’s bigger than courses. Nothing surpasses the economy under which everything operates. So if you’re operating under the incumbent or the past economy the things you’re doing are old hat and they’re just not attention-getting, they’re not working, it’s not the way the world is really functioning today. And so if you shift, wow, and you really understand the new rules, the marketing and media and small businesses, solopreneurship, et cetera, that it’s operating in the on-demand gig economy, now you have your bearings. “Wow, I was playing baseball on a football field and now I’m in the right place.”
So I want you to google it, and that’s one of the key points, is awareness about it. There’s so many new opportunities, you’re going to be thrilled. If you’ve been struggling or lost you just maybe needed a little reorientation. There’s some new things to learn. There’s a transition. I call it a transformation because you do have to kind of transform your thinking a little bit, but there’s some great information, but it is dramatic information, truly. And it’s not from me, it’s the whole world, and it’s global as well. So I just wanted to make sure that everyone knew that, and where did it come from?
Okay, we lost about nine million jobs in 2008, so things had to change right there, people were struggling. And entrepreneurs like us, like your audience, we’re problem-solvers. So when we see a problem, find a need and fill it all of these entrepreneurial minds got us thinking about new ideas Airbnb and Uber. And that kind of launched it, but then all the creative minds and money people saw this and saw that, wow, Airbnb is bigger than Hilton. So all of the sudden they started to pour money into supporting the on-demand gig economy, looking at it. And the marketplaces that already existed started to grow and expand and develop and add new things into these marketplaces.
So that’s kind of the background, but I want to make sure I’m clear. So, please, Chris, ask me any of the questions about that, that we had careers, they become jobs where we earned money through often we turned over our economic security to companies who would hire us and pay us. And now gigs are really solopreneur, self-employment, freelance jobs that we either create ourselves or provide to major companies to hire us to do a function, maybe temporary. Like, my partner Chuck would hire various marketing talent and pay as much as 150 thousand dollars a year if you want to work for a corporation. My you’re a life coach, maybe you want to work for yourself. Maybe you want to get new clients, maybe you want to work part-time to get some financial freedom or some extra money. Or maybe you’re in retirement and you want a side gig. Okay? So that’s why I launched Side Gig School, Side Job School, so there’s the job market, and now we’re in the gig market. And to clarify, everybody knows what a resume is, right?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Mike Hayes: It’s a description, review, a presentation you would send off to a company. So let’s concentrate on those two things, one, a resume and, two, a company who would receive it and then hire you to do some work. So let’s change that resume to online multimedia presentation. So it’s a market place, a little more visual and presentation to it. And then instead of a company it’s a marketplace where the company can go to the marketplace and find you, or the public can go and find you because they need a life coach or business coach or something. So, does that clarify it?
Chris Badgett: That definitely clarifies. And I just want to highlight the fact that you’re doing a great job guiding us into this new economy. And for a lot of people out there sometimes we may be operating with the same mental models of how we think the world works and what’s going on. But what happens in the background is reality shifts and changes, new models apply. And you’re really shining the light on some of these transitions that have happened or still happening and how to change and benefit, get unstuck or just benefit further by understanding the new game, so that’s really helpful. Before we go deeper into gig marketplaces and the on-demand gig economy, I want to hear a little bit more about your story and just kind of your career path, your job path, your gig path and how you came to be a guide, if you will, into this new world of the on-demand gig economy.
Mike Hayes: Okay. A quick story. It’s kind of funny so I won’t dwell on it. But I literally was sitting at home one day in Michigan and decided there was more to life than just sitting on my butt on the couch. And so I literally went out, put my thumb out, hitchhiked to New York, walked into NBC in New York, 30 Rockefeller Plaza and said, “I’d like to apply for a job.” And the gal says, “We don’t have any jobs.” Then I said, “Well, I trekked all the way here from Michigan. Let me at least give you a resume.” And so I fillied it in…actually, it wasn’t even a resume, it was an application. I filled it in and slid it through the window. I’m literally walking out the door, Chris, and I hear the gal say, “Hey, you graduated from Eastern Michigan?” I said, “Yeah.” She said, “I graduated from Eastern Michigan. Come back in here.” She hired me to be an NBC page, which is harder to get into than Harvard, truly, if you look at the statistics. So it was just a miracle from taking an action, you know what I mean?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Mike Hayes: Instead of whatever. But I took an action. I did something, and I got hired, and I spent 10 years at NBC. It’s kind of like that was when my real education started. So they put me through a training system, and I was there for 10 years and I became a documentary director, and I traveled every major sporting event in the country and the world for NBC Sports and News. I did a million things, worked with Johnny Carson, created the Johnny Carson talk show game and that’s when I became an entrepreneur at heart, okay? And I never wanted to need the big guy again for my success, so I loved entrepreneurs and boot-strapping things.
So I spent a lot of years there, I learned a lot. And then I went on to CNN and at CNN I created a show called Keys to Success because, again, my entrepreneurial spirit. And I knew the media would allow me to reach out to the biggest names in entrepreneurship. I’ve interviewed Oprah Winfrey, I’ve interviewed Donald Trump, Steve Wozniak. I spent a half day with Steve when they were launching Apple and at his home, and literally hundreds of the top entrepreneurial minds in the world. Two things happened, one, I caught the bug and I wanted to become an entrepreneur after talking to them. And, two, I decided to use my knowledge of the media to help make the media affordable to the small and medium-size profit-oriented business or entrepreneur.
And so I took everything that I learned from them and I started working as a publicist. And then I discovered the television infomercial industry, it was just starting, and I got a call by guy and asked me if I would produce a direct-response commercial for this guy named Tony Robbins. So I actually produced one of Tony Robbins very first TV direct response commercials back in the day. But I was in the room with 60 other people when they started the National Infomercial Marketing Association, that’s what it was called, back in the day, 60 people. And I saw it grow from that all the way to where it is today which is a 350 billion dollar industry, okay?
So to see that and, then, what happened was we had the big crash in 2008 and the digital world really took off, okay? So everything that I had learned changed. And I think one of the first things that really happened in the on-demand gig economy in the digital age was the media was affected first. So first I started tracking what I called the big media shift because it was like the canary in the room. That [inaudible 00:14:56] wow, this is really being affected. And so I saw it early-on because of that.
Then I saw everything else shifting too following along like dominoes. Everything started to fall and adapt and shift and change. And I realized, man, all of the sudden everybody in the world thought they were a marketer and all of the sudden it was so difficult to really clarify and communicate with people. And I thought, “I got to dig deeper,” because I was trained by NBC to observe and report as a documentary director. So I used all of those skills to really look into it and really drill down. I wanted to get to the core of what was happening. And then all of the sudden I discovered that this was a shift towards something. And all of the sudden Airbnb and all of these other sites and then UpWork and Fiver and Freelance.com, Freelancer.com, but this was really becoming a big thing. And then when I started talking to people about it all of the sudden, “Holy cow, I got to know about that, Mike.”
So all of the sudden it was like instead of being in a place where everybody could do something all of the sudden I had unique information. You know what I mean? That I knew where we were and so many people didn’t. Then all of the sudden I went, “Whoa. I got to run with this. This is fun. This is awesome.” And there’s so many opportunities in it that I really decided to make it my mission in life. And I don’t say that lightly because that’s part of a key to success is when you can take something you’re good at and really have enough passion that it literally becomes a life’s mission for you. That’s when you really are happiest and maximize your success. So, basically, that’s kind of how I got here. And there’s a lot that I brought, now, from my history to the present in the on-demand gig economy. Is that?
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I know, at least a lot of the younger generation or the younger world, they don’t have as much perspective and experience. Things shift and they don’t necessarily know how it was before. I grew up in a time when phones were attached to walls and they had a cord on them. But I have friends and colleagues who grew up with the internet. I didn’t really use the internet til high school or college or whatever. So, to have deep perspective is really valuable, and you can do things like pattern recognition and drawing, seeing trends and similarities or you get that hunch like, “Wait a second. I’ve been here before. This is kind of like that.”
And I know you started seeing things related to being a producer and being around the infomercial space with online courses and on-demand gig economy, so can you help a lot of people watching this and listening to this, I’m sure they’ve seen like Oxiclean or whatever the popular infomercials that have been out there. But how do you tie-in what you were seeing there in the media to what’s happening today?
Mike Hayes: Okay. Let me try and start at the bull’s eye there. There’s people probably have courses or probably have tried posting on Upwork or Fiver and maybe they didn’t get hired. And that’s what I understand about, is that it’s words. There are words that you post, and those words either get you hired or don’t get you hired. That’s a presentation. And where my miraculous lightening bolt hit me was I had a guy call me once and said, “Mike, I’ve spent $100 thousand trying to market this product and it’s just not selling and I’m ready to quit, I’m beside myself, can you help me? And I said, “I don’t know,” but I listened to his story.
And I realized he was using words to describe his offer that were reducing the value of his offer in the mind of the recipient. And, literally, I changed one word. I’ll tell anybody this story who wants to contact me what that one word was and how it came about. He went from a self-described miserable failure to a $200 million success story. One of the biggest hits in the history of the direct response industry. And that’s when I realized that it’s about the words that you use to describe something. Are you maximizing and energizing the offer? Because there are offers I see out there that are like Dracula, they suck the life out of you, the de-energize you, you know? And there’s some that are like, “Wow. That’s great. I really want to learn about that.”
So when you have the right presentation, it really comes down to two things, just presentation and distribution. So what I realized is that if you have knowledge and experience about how to define something and describe it in a way that energizes people and brings life to it. That can make the difference between a failure and building an empire. It literally comes down to being that simple if you understand it. You can’t describe anything and make it valuable, but you can change something, and then the distribution.
And I would look at these marketplaces and I would look at the offers being made. There was one more part, a modern study by Go Daddy and a company called Alignable. And what they learned is that today people want to find a free or affordable way to test a new product or service or before they buy. So that’s when I realized, “Okay, so what these marketplaces need to offer is a way to test a gig or try a gig or learn more about before they hire somebody from these gig marketplaces.” Okay? And so that’s when I realized that my background in presentations would be very important to explaining it to people, helping them understand it, what kind of presentations do people what. Today with mobile, and look at the growth of Audible with Amazon. When they bought it, it’s gone to 70 million users or something like that.
People like audio because they can listen to it on the phone, they can exercise, it’s mobile. So that’s a great way to tell your story, you have to have the right story. And then I thought, “Gee, I could use my background as a NBC News interviewer and documentary interviewer and [inaudible 00:22:05] to interview people about their story and bring it out of them and turn it into an audio book that becomes their presentation on the gig marketplaces. I was telling you a little bit earlier about the marriage of the presentation and the marketplaces, but before I go into that I want to turn it back over to you to see if I left out anything, if you have any questions that I could clarify for you before I explain that.
Chris Badgett: So just to reiterate the main points, if you were to compare and contrast certain pieces of the infomercial space with the new economy, what equals what today?
Mike Hayes: That’s a good question. Let’s think of a presentation, and I thought the course is the perfect presentation because now you’re providing value. It’s like Baskin-Robbins. They have the little pink spoon where, “Hey, you want to taste this ice cream?” Okay. So it’s a way to get a little taste of you from you from your heart. I always say that 3,000 years ago the human voice was the best communication channel. The human voice is the Buddhist tool. You have Martin Luther King, you have the Sermon on the Mount. So the human voice is the best way to change a person’s heart. That’s another reason I’m a big believer in the human voice and audio.
So what you have is you have in the past we’d work with commercials and infomercials. And infomercials were a way to provide information that would be enough to get you go buy the product. So I look at these courses as the modern equivalent of the infomercial. If you’re a, let’s say a life coach or a speaker, whatever, let’s say a life coach, you can give enough information so that they’re buying your course, but maybe that course upsells them into your coaching program or your retreat or something else. That’s the perfect way that the direct response industry has worked for decades, all right?
So you have two things, so that’s your story. If you make it good enough that it is a purchase now you have a revenue generating self-liquidating advertising. Instead of paying for advertising it’s a profit center. It’s beautiful. It doesn’t get any better than that. I used to spend three to five thousand dollars a month in USA Today classified ads. Now it’s free, okay? So that’s beautiful. Then the distribution. Now, if you look at the marketplaces as though they were the cable TV networks where we used to run these infomercials and pay thousands or tens of thousands of dollars a month to run them on air so people could see it because they can’t hire you if they don’t know about you or your presentation.
It’s really that simple. So the analogy is your course is, ideally, your story [inaudible 00:25:20] infomercial or [inaudible 00:25:23] if it’s going to be effective, right, and then your distribution. Instead of running it on air run it on the marketplaces. Run it on Fiver, run it on Upwork, run it on whatever one is the ideal marketplace for you. You wouldn’t run a maybe a man’s product on Lifetime cable TV back in the day because women were watching it. You have to find the right marketplace for your message, too. But, really, that is the key. That was the light bulb moment for me. I saw the analogy there. I always say it, I’ve made more mistakes than anybody has a right to and still be in business. So, kind of been there, done that, I know what to do and I know what not to do.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s really brilliant. And I’d like to say that the true power of the internet is not the access to the information. That’s cool, but it’s really the connection, and these marketplaces, like, the ability to offer a service and literally deliver it to a client. I’ve had a lot of clients in Australia, of all places. I live on the other side of the Earth, and you can do that now. You could not do that 10 years ago. Distribution and then the true scale of the web, the internet and also just the connections that can be made are really mind-blowing when you think about that, and that is the new economy.
Mike Hayes: There’s one more part of that, too. Back in that day, you mentioned Oxiclean, if they didn’t like it, they returned it. You had to deal with shipping and handling a physical product, pay for the shipping and handling, and then handle returns too. Now with digital information products, now there’s no shipping and handling so you can send it globally. There’s no wait to worry about the FedEx or UPS distribution. It’s absolutely free and it’s just absolutely brilliant. So when you see those things and understand where you are you get your bearings. If you know where you are then you work your way out of a confusion by getting your bearings. So if you’re confused you’re probably in the incumbent economy. You’re not current, and so it’s time to learn a little bit more, create some awareness, get your bearings, know where you are and start to operate accordingly and you’ll see things really turn around for you.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Just to brainstorm with a listener out there who may be very aware of online courses, but they’re kind of intrigued by what you’re saying about upselling or positioning courses as part of a product suite or an offer suite. What are some ideas that a course creator could upsell into in the new on-demand gig economy?
Mike Hayes: To me the other most important word, more important than technology, is creativity and open-mindedness, adaptability and taking action. A good story can overcome almost anything. It’s like a computer program, it’s garbage in, garbage out. If you have a lousy story, I don’t care how you deliver it it doesn’t make anybody buy anything. There’s no [inaudible 00:28:56] to their head, “Buy this course now, [inaudible 00:28:58].” You can’t do that. So, if you have a great story you can distribute it anyway because it’s a great story, it’s going to compel people. So, first you have to have a great story and then you have to distribute it. So then it’s creativity. Creativity’s free. It’s in your brain, okay?
But, the other thing is I think the human skull is something like seven centimeters thick or something, I forget. But if you have a great idea but it’s behind that skull nobody can see it. It’s great, it could be a multi-million dollar idea and nobody knows about it. It’s locked away. So you have to unleash it. You have to pull it out. Digitize it into a story so that people can see it, get it. And then distribute it globally, “Oh, wow. I didn’t know that. That’s news.” Something that is attention-getting. And the beauty is about working digitally, if you have the right information, if you have the right strategy, if you have the right attitude, which is a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. So there are going to be some people watching this and they’re just in a fixed mindset, they’re just, “Oh, this is the way I grew up and I can’t adapt.” That’s fine.
But, those people that are in a growth mindset and can adapt and adjust, the beauty of this new approach as opposed to look at the investment. When you invested in a commercial you spent a lot of money. When you invested in an infomercial you spent a lot of money. If it didn’t work you were really deep in debt and what were you going to do if you made a mistake, redo it? Not many people had the cohones to go do that, okay? So you have to be really, really careful.
When you can work in the digital age and it’s so cost effective that you can afford to make mistakes, get feedback, and go out with the attitude, “Folks, I’m here to super-serve the super-interested. So if you’re really interested in this topic I’m your guy. Today’s the day, this is the place. I’m ready to super-serve you, and I want to listen to what you have to say. My attitude is if I don’t have a chapter on something you want to know, you tell me what it is. I will not only produce it, I will produce that for you even if you are the only person on the plant Earth that wants that information I will produce that chapter for you.” That’s super-serving the super-interested, okay?
So that’s a key, is to be able to learn, listen and then deliver so you can create a bootcamp. Actually, you can even pre-sell a bootcamp before you even produce it, so that’s a cool thing to get at least some of the cash upfront and listen to your market and then produce it over the next six weeks or six months, and listen to them. And if you’ve got the goods that you can deliver the key, which is a transformation, okay? People buy courses for the transformation that it will give them, not for the course.
They might have a good intention, “Oh, that will help my life,” when they buy the course. But, really, what’s really going to satisfy and make them happy is when you are delivering a transformation in their life that will either give them what they want temporarily or even permanently. And what’s going to give you the most personal happiness is when you can take that mission, that commitment, I should say, to get them that transformation and change their life and turn that in to your life’s mission. Then you can really achieve true personal happiness and financial success and all the other things that go with that. But those are the key.
So, it’s really one of my key mentors taught me, “Mike, you are successful the moment you make a true commitment to your success. Not a half-baked commitment, a true commitment because that means you will do whatever it takes to be successful. And so you’re successful the moment you make that because now it’s just a matter of time. And my attitude is if I have a low-cost way to go about it and I can do it effectively I can’t fail unless I quit, and I don’t quit. So, you take action, you move forward and you see what happens. You get off of your couch, you go hitchhike to New York. No, I’m only kidding. But you take some action. It’s action. That’s why I called my show where I interviewed Oprah, Donald, I called it “The Keys to Success In Action” because oddly enough the people who take action succeed, and those who don’t, don’t.
Chris Badgett: That’s so true. I like to call that trade in a person batteries included. So if you have batteries included, you’re not waiting for permission. You have a bias towards action. That’s the biggest competitive advantage there is out there. And you’d be surprised what doors you knock on that you can get into simply for taking action.
Mike Hayes: I love that, batteries included, Chris.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Mike Hayes: That’s great.
Chris Badgett: You’ve given us so much value here and I know the listener really appreciates it. I’ve seen what you’re up to at sidegigschool.com, so if you’re listening to this and you want to see Mike’s course that he does a deeper dive on the on-demand gig economy and goes into more detail. I highly recommend it. But, Mike, I really want to just thank you for coming on the show and sharing your passion and your wisdom and your commitment with us. If people want to find out more about you and more about the on-demand gig economy where else can they go?
Mike Hayes: The easiest place is just go to gigmarketplaces.com, join us on Facebook. We’ve got some really exciting things going on. Aside from the peer-to-peer networking they can do, getting feedback about their presentation from their peers. That’s a huge part of it. The Facebook group is free, so you can’t lose unless you don’t join. And secondarily, because of my media background, I’ve got connections. We’re doing contests and giveaways, helping people achieve as featured on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN. We’re going to have contests because I know how to help them get that status that they can then post on with their picture and their course and all these great logos around their course that shows they’ve got credibility. So we’re doing some really exciting things that are going to help people with their courses, gigs, get upsells and have a lot of fun doing it. That’s really key. Just go to gigmarketplaces.com.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show, Mike, and we’re going to have to do it again sometime.
Mike Hayes: I enjoyed it. Thank you.