Help Wanted: Social Capital Uncontractors

Are you struggling to pay for your food/home/whatever, or do you know someone who is?

If you can convince someone you are a superstar, there’s a way out.  But if you are having trouble making that case, then maybe you’d consider becoming a Social Capital Uncontractor.  What’s that, you ask?  I’m not sure, I’m making this up as I write, you can help…

Here’s my life.  I have a large and growing number of projects that I am working on, and an even larger (and more accelerating) number of projects I’d like to begin.  The critical bottlneck for me is not money but time.  It’s getting so bad that I don’t have time to even think about the management of these projects, let alone manage them.  Plus I hate managing projects and it’s definitely not my biggest strength.  I’m much better advising and asking questions that make you think differently.

On the other hand I have many friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. who are underemployed, by their own definition.  I’ve thought about “clearing the market” by paying to get these projects done, but there are many issues involved.

Why I Won’t Pay You in Cash

  • I refuse to pay a salary (it undermines the intrinsic motivation that is needed)
  • I’m unwilling to have you in my life if you view me as a source of cash (if you need rent money, Starbucks is hiring, and there’s no time clock on my projects and any deadlines would be agreed upon upfront)
  • If you’re thinking to yourself (no doubt, while you read this at the one internet cafe in your village before you trek home five miles with daily drinking water you just collected for your entire family) that there are no jobs paying what you need to survive so that you can work on one of my projects for no pay, you’ve failed the first test.

For all those who’ve passed and are still intrigued, I’m interested in doing an experiment in social capital.  I’d like to see how far I can get on my projects without my having to pay any cash and while reducing the time I spend currently on “the management issue”.

Why You Might Want to Work With Me

Eventually, if you are successful, you will become an equity stakeholder in one or more for-profit ventures that you oversee.  Or you may find a project that you go off and run by yourself.  Or I might pull some strings and recommend you for your dream job.

Uncontractors Only

Here’s the deal: there is no deal.  You either want to work with me in this capacity or you don’t.  There’s no commitment on either side, and no contract (stated on implied).  If you let me down, there will be no legal, financial (or otherwise visible) recourse.  Your social capital account with me will be diminished though.  And as it does, I pay you less attention, I stop recommending you to people, etc.  I start everyone with a positive social capital balance, but once you deplete it, it’s really hard to replenish.

Your Ideal Traits

  • Emotionally self-sufficient
  • Think like I do, but eager to accomplish stuff (vs just catalyze it like me)
  • Can work well with others by generating, and using, your own social capital
  • Communicate well via writing
  • Communicate well visually (graphic design / video skillz are huge plusses)
  • Technologically very savvy/geeky
  • Only reinvent the wheel when it can’t be created with existing parts

Areas of Interest

Presentation Creation

  • creating standalones like this and like this for subjects like cancer, social ventures, Science 2.0, whatever I blog about, etc.
  • creating presentations on the same themes for live forums like TED, The Feast, Idea Project, etc.

Project Management

  • Managing anything you see on and many more like them in development

Software Development

  • e.g. email solution that sits on top of or Gmail that adds functionality I want
  • e.g. implementing crowdsourced rating system for my blog content (primary and comments)
  • e.g. seeding the application space for A World of Goodies
  • e.g. building out the vision on (and combine with Goodies for EPIC WIN!)

System Administration

  • Managing my domains, websites, blogs and integration thereof on an ongoing basis

How I’d Like to Work With You

Virtually, via a combination of skype video, email, and phone mostly.  Ideally, you just get shit done with as little interaction from me as possible, throw it on the web for the world to benefit, but do it in such a way that someone who knows me well could stumble upon it and “get it” in under two minutes and the first thing that would pop into their head would be: “OMG, Rafe would love this, I gotta call him and tell him about it!”

Time is Money

I love people who understand what this really means to me.  People who don’t understand it tend to write long emails and create work for me in having to read through stuff I don’t care about and expect me to respond appropriately.  People who do understand it, think really hard about how to get me interested in spending my limited time addressing what they’d like me to (and realize that it takes time away from my being with other people I care about too, helping other people with their also-important projects, etc).

Guilt works on me, but it very quickly depletes your social capital.  I take my obligations extremely seriously, which is why I hardly ever consciously create them for myself.

Money is Violence

I am not opposed to spending money to make things happen, I just view it — like violence — as a last resort.

I don’t want to pay you in cash because I don’t want to do violence to you.  My vision is that you make your money working hourly for someone else so you can meet your worldly needs, while at the same time, you work with me to get yourself to the Adjacent Possible where you can make increasing cash returns via the social value you add to the ecology.

I’m willing to pay cash for completed projects that meet my specification and exceed my vision.  I love crowdsourcing with cash prizes for this reason.  But I’m not going to pay you cash to complete the project because it’s a waste of your valuable time.

If you can figure out a model for a project that sustains itself financially and generates value (cash, social, some combo) then I’m willing to listen to your pitch as to why I should invest my money.  But realize that you start with two strikes against since I said at the outset this is about an experiment in pure social capital.

Want to Participate in the Experiment?

First and foremost I am looking for a single individual (a leader) who will oversee everything and not require oversight themselves.  If you fit into the big picture somehow but are not that leader, you can make your case below in the comments and prospective leaders will be able to evaluate whether they want to work with you.