Business Talent Group CEO Jody Greenstone Miller recently sat down with Ready. Set. Work. podcast host Chad Nitschke to discuss the evolution of the gig economy. In the first part of the two-part series, Jody reflects on the origins of the on-demand talent space and how the independent workforce is changing the face of employment.
Here are our three favorites moments:
“I call it the Jerry Maguire thing. You know, we have to help them help us help them.”
Miller co-founded BTG “to create the company you wished existed in the world,” but she remains surprised at how tough it is sometimes to get other major corporations on board with the idea of using independent talent.
“I think the naive belief that obviously since I needed this kind of talent and I knew that other people would need it, that that was all that mattered was inaccurate,” she says.
For most of its history, BTG focused on executives who had the power to operate outside of the traditional procurement and HR process until about two years ago, when Miller began noticing a shift in the HR landscape.
“About two years ago, we started to notice, probably as you all did, that organizations were becoming interested at a different level in what was going on in the independent talent market,” she says. “And that was a good thing, but it was also a hard thing because as they became interested, they still didn’t really understand how to get their arms around it and how to bring this capability into the organization. And so what BTG has had to do is develop the skill of helping these organizations actually bring us into their world.”
“Hollywood is one group of independent people coming together after another.”
When asked which industry benefits the most from using independent talent, Miller was quick to mention the bright lights of Hollywood.
After all, BTG was initially called the United Talent Group as an homage to United Artists, an entertainment studio that was founded in 1919 after some of the biggest stars of the era grew fed-up with restrictive studio contracts.
And the benefits of going independent are far more than just having more control over your career.
“Some economists have pointed out to me is that in every industry where the best talent become free agents, whether it’s Hollywood or whether it’s sports, what ends up happening is the most talented people actually have more leverage and earn more,” she says. “This is something you’re starting to see in technology. And I think you will start to see it in the broader talent world that BTG is pioneering as well.”
“The rigidity of the way we think about career progression is totally out of sync with how people want to spend their time.”
Miller has had a lifelong interest in the way work happens as a society and thinks there is a real opportunity to improve work flexibility for high performers.
“We’re leaving a lot of talent on the sidelines and also making things harder than we should for individuals,” she says. “If you aren’t progressing immediately and quickly through the ranks, you’re often not deemed to be top talent … But if you look at a lot of the consulting firms and law firms, they’re mandatory retirement sometimes as early as 60 so on one hand, your organizations are forcing people out at a certain age. And on the other hand, they’re forcing them to work in a certain way at an earlier point in their career. That may not be ideal because let’s face it, there’s pieces of people’s lives that happen in their thirties or forties.”
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