When the hustle trumps substance – or welcome to the bullshit economy…

Over the past week I came across two blogs that seem to dovetail the same issue even though at first blush, they are seemingly unrelated.  On the phenomenon of bullshit jobs, and Too tired to hustle. The first blog came to my attention because from Mike, the mad biologist’s although I have lost the exact link to his post.

Put bluntly, the light of American exceptionalism is dimming because we are being overrun by the hustle imperative.  You have all the substance and facts in the world behind you;  you can be as brilliant as Albert Einstein; you can have the finest education our best institutions have to offer,  but if you don’t have the gift for bullshit, all the substance in the world won’t help you. To matter you have to be visible and  It seems to take a mountain of  bullshit  (or hustle)  to make you visible.   This was always true to some extent.  But the trouble today is that the need to hustle is supplanting the need to actually know something – to the point where it virtually demands mediocrity supplanting substance.

The role of income inequality…..

Those under 30 can probably not remember a time when jobs in
marketing, sales, management and finance were on a par compensation wise with career tracks in science, medicine, engineering, and even teaching. Providing real services (gasp!) conducting R&D (Oh my God!) and actually producing a tangible product (People actually do that?) was not second rate to brokering deals, moving money around and shuffling papers.

What we have seen in the past 30 years is the rise of bullshit jobs many with salaries that have left career tracks that are nourishing for long term economic growth in the dust. Marketing, sales, brokering deals has squeezed out the meat and potatoes career tracks that actually produce goods and services.   As we mindlessly pursue the next quarter’s profits making bags of funny money, we fiddle why Rome burns.  all the while, the US loses its innovative edge to the expediency of the quick buck.

The real estate industry – the poster child of a dysfunctional business model…

Truth be told, I’m using the real estate industry as a model because first, I know a great deal about it since I have been a licensed agent since 2006 and because these days everyone loves to hate real estate agents.  So it is an apt example that most can easily identify with.

Realtors® and real estate agents (they aren’t the same) actually perform a valuable function…or at least they used to.  I know its hard to believe, but a real estate transaction is far more complex than most people think and having a skilled agent negotiating the mine fields and smoothing the path to closing can make all the difference in the world.  When I first got my license, I thought my ability to pay attention to detail and my interest in looking out after my clients would smooth the path to success.  But what I found was an industry, which like so many others, broken beyond repair.

How was it broken? Like other industries where “real money” was still  to be made for the success stories, the industry became flooded with people hoping to get that oh-so elusive boost to their stagnating incomes.  With barriers to entry very  low, the field is beyond saturated.  The saying “Throw a rock  and you’ll hit a real estate agent!” is too close to the truth for comfort.  Brokerages were not helping.  The same forces that push people into real estate are pushing brokerages to pack their offices with agents regardless of demand.  “If you have a license and an are breathing, any brokerage will take you.”

The results are all too predictable.  More and more people chasing fewer and fewer transactions.  I would even suggest that some of the desperation to close deals may have contributed to the bubble as agents and lenders ran faster and faster in the hamster wheel just to keep up.  “Goosing” up home values during the appraisal process, kept the money flowing but also contributed to the inflation of the housing bubble.

By the time I was in the industry in 2006, most agents secretly admitted that 80% of their time and energy was devoted to prospecting for clients not servicing them.  Think about that for a minute.  80% of  a real estate agents time is spent doing something self-serving and not service oriented.  In other words, by necessity, our business had become 80% bullshit and 20% substance.

As Meritocracy Withers – Long Live Mediocrity!

This brings me back to the excellent blog  “Too tired to hustle”.  I recently posted some thoughts on this blog.  But let me add here that the salient issue is this:  As people scramble for the shrinking number  high-earning career paths  open to them, the competition become more and more fierce. In that type of competition competency takes the back seat to expediency.  The hustle is all.  The name at the top of the mind trumps true ability.  Those who have the connections (networking anyone?) those who are masters of the hustle will outshine those who devote more time to perfecting their craft.  In spite of all of the above, a day still contains only 24 hours.  If someone is spending 80% of their time on bullshit and 20% of their time on substance, mediocrity will reign unchallenged.

© 2013 – RGHicks – http://reinnovatingamerica.com – All rights reserved.







Tags: , ,