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In this free information age, how can you get paid to be a speaker?

(Business News) Being a speaker on any topic can be tough in an age where all information is free – but is it really? Perhaps now with information overload, the timing is perfect.

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Speakers and knowledge workers in the new era

For many years, the primary bottleneck of business was information access. If I just knew more things I would make better decisions and those decisions would make me lots of money! Who would claim that today? No one. We are no longer living in the information economy. Information flooded the market much like the way baseball cards did in the early ‘90’s, completely removing the value of my extensive collection in the process. So what does this mean for us?

Nobel Prize Winning Economist Herbert Simon wrote in 1978, “A Wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”

Today, attention is the scarcest resource in the market: for your customers, your employees, your family, and for you. And like all scarce resources, we pay for it. We will pay for people to pay attention to the work we can’t get to (consultants). We pay for people to pay attention to us (counselors). Attention is a precious resource.

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I spend the vast majority of my time on the road speaking to companies and organizations. You want to know the dirty little secret? I say nothing that they can’t find elsewhere. It’s not just me. No one is speaking about anything that can’t be found somewhere online…for free. And yet, my job has never been more safe. That’s because I’m not being paid for information. Don’t get me wrong, people think that they are paying for information, but they are wrong. And people who think their information is what will get them paid will end up back in their parents’ house like the rest of my generation.

Want to get paid? If you are a knowledge worker, you will succeed or fail based on two simple principles:

1. How effectively did you filter the information?

The information your company needs is available. It’s free. And it will take a lot of time, money, and attention to find it. It’s like trying to find a seahorse when scuba diving. I’ve been scuba diving more than fifty times. I’ve never seen a seahorse. They are small, they are camouflaged, and those bastards hide well.

The internet has given us access to more ideas, concepts, facts (and lies), anecdotes, and funny cat memes.

Enter you: the successful knowledge worker. For a small fee, you can give them the 3 things that they can do today to improve their bottom line. Not only is this information particularly insightful, but you’ve distilled it into three easy-to- remember principles. The 3 F’s you call them.

Will they pay for that? They should, and sometimes they will. But they might not. And that leads us to your second key success determiner.

2. How well did you present the information?

Richard Lanham, a Professor of Rhetoric at UCLA, once asked how black and white text would ever hold the attention of a generation brought up by dancing and singing letters from Sesame Street.

I can speak as one of those kids. Sesame Street was the least entertaining TV show of my life. If only Sesame Street was the problem. You could be the most boring presenter of information in history and still have a shot.

But it’s not. And you don’t. The second reason companies will pay for a speaker is because that speaker can capture the attention of an ADD filled audience to ensure that information actually does something. If you want to be a successful knowledge worker, you have to learn to present your information well. Is your information structured well? Is it emotionally engaging? Do your non-verbals reveal excitement about the topic? Would you want to listen to you?

It’s that simple

Filter well. Present well. Then stop talking. And get paid.

Curt Steinhorst loves attention. More specifically, he loves understanding attention. How it works. Why it matters. How to get it. As someone who personally deals with ADD, he overcame the unique distractions that today’s technology creates to start a Communications Consultancy, The Promentum Group, and Speakers Bureau, Promentum Speakers, both of which he runs today. Curt’s expertise and communication style has led to more than 75 speaking engagements in the last year to organizations such as GM, Raytheon, Naval Academy, Cadillac, and World Presidents’ Organization.

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Business News

How employers should react to the new age discrimination court ruling

(BUSINESS NEWS) A court case that could likely land in the Supreme Court is one that all employers should react to and prepare for.

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In January, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that then 58-year-old Dale Kleber did not get protection against age discrimination from CareFusion as a job applicant.

For employers, there are some important takeaways. Namely, that Kleber v CareFusion does not give employers open season to only hire young workers.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects employees against age discrimination. There are also protections against disparate treatment under ADEA.

Basically, employers cannot intentionally discriminate against aged applicants. When posting a job, that means you should never advertise for someone under the age of 40 when posting job descriptions.

While Federal law may not apply to older applicants, the Texas Labor Code,  for example prohibits discrimination against people over 40 years of age. Employers should be very aware of inequity throughout the hiring process, whether you’re looking at internal or external candidates. You do not want to be a test case for age discrimination.

How can you avoid violating ADEA and other applicable laws?

First, you should work with your legal counsel and HR department to make sure you are following the law. If you are accused of age discrimination, you should talk to your lawyer before responding. It’s a serious complaint that you shouldn’t try to answer on your own.

Next, go through your job postings to make them age-neutral unless there is a reason for hiring someone under the age of 40. The legal term for this is Bona Fide Occupational Definition. The qualifications can’t be arbitrary. There must be industry standards that determine a definable group of employees cannot perform the job safely.  

Words in applications matter. Don’t ask for GPA or SAT scores. Avoid things like “digital native,” “high-energy,” or “overqualified.” These terms indicate that you’re looking for someone young.  

You should also update application forms that request birthdays or graduation dates. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, you should structure interviews around skill sets, not personal information.

Train those responsible for hiring about the current laws in your state.

Make your managers aware of bias, both conscious and unconscious. It’s not age discrimination that runs afoul of the law, and you must be prepared to confront any situation where it occurs.

Talk about age bias and discrimination in your workplace. Don’t assume that older workers aren’t tech savvy or that they don’t want to keep their skills current. Instead of putting generations against each other, have a multigeneration workplace.

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Cities are fighting back against the motorized scooter companies

(BUSINESS NEWS) The scooter wars are on, and major cities are filled with them – residents and government are finally fighting back.

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When the scooter-pocalypse began, it seemed to come out of nowhere. One day, the most annoying thing in downtown traffic was maybe a pedicab, and then the next: a swarm of zippy electric razor scooters.

This sudden arrival was by design: companies like Lime and Uber’s JUMP simply just began offering their services. There was no negotiation with the city, no opportunity even for residents to say whether or not the scooter pick-up stations could be located in front of their houses—just a sudden horde of scooters (for the record, this do-it-first and then ask permission approach was replicated in all major cities across the United States).

Was this illegal? Nope. There was nothing on the law books about the rental scooter technology so there was technically nothing wrong with the companies just assuming that they could do what they wanted. (Some scooterists have since come to think the same thing, committing crimes and breaking rules.)

Now, enough time has passed for cities to have the opportunity to fight back, as a new year of legislative sessions has begun. San Francisco is one such community, which determined that only permitted companies could operate within the city limits—and, surprise, many of the don’t-ask-permission companies were not given these permits.

Lime, blocked from operating, filed a suit against the city saying that they had been discriminated against based on their … rude … arrival.

A judge has since ruled that there was no bias in the city’s review of the permit applications that were later not awarded to Lime.

As the legislation and the lawsuits play out over the next year, it will be interesting to see if the scooter company’s attitudes toward the cities they operate in change.

If, as they have said all along, they desire to be the next major innovation in urban infrastructure, then they need to be prepared to work with and grow alongside the communities that they inhabit.

It would be a wise move, then, to partner with local governments to ensure that both organizations are working in the best interest of the populations that they serve. 

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Business News

One state could make it illegal to ask a job applicant’s age, graduation dates

(CAREER) A recent court ruling makes ageism against job applicants legal, but at least one state is taking action.

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In late 2018, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled 8-4 that Congress intended the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to only cover current employees, not job applicants during late 2018 with the case Kleber v. CareFusion Inc.

The verdict seemed to confirm what many older applicants have experienced: while they may have the necessary qualifications for a position they are often overlooked for younger candidates. The confirmed legality of such dishonorable bias is disheartening.

One state is stepping up to rectify this practice: Connecticut. Democratic Reps. Derek Slap of West Hartford and Robyn Porter of New Haven have proposed legislation that would fight ageism in hiring processes by making it illegal for employer to ask applicants for their dates of birth or school graduation dates.

According to the Hartford Courant, when asked about the legislation’s intention, Rep. Slap replied that such questions, “allow employers to vet our seniors before they even go in to their job interview.”

Candidates who may be older and entering the job market should keep their wits about them. While they are creating and reviewing their resumes and cover letters, they should reach out to other people in their field and make sure that they aren’t using dated conventions.

If they are pressed to provide information that indicate their ages during in-person interviews. Even if the questions are technically legal, applicants can try to assuage fears of being out-of-touch wit current market trends or technology by coming prepared to the discussion ready to highlight recent projects or experiences that illustrate on-the-pulse market fluency.  (For more tips on how to deal with these kind of awkward situations, check out this article.)

The initiative that Connecticut has taken in addressing this problem is likely to inspire more lawmakers across the country to follow suit.

But we don’t have to wait for it to be illegal for people to understand that this practice is unfair. If you are not an older candidate but an existing employee (and therefore covered by laws that say age discrimination is illegal), keep an eye out for how you, your colleagues, and your company speak about more experienced workers.  Sometimes the quickest way to change harmful practices is by having a direct conversation about an uncomfortable topic. 

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