[EM] (2): UK 'post mortem', 2nd discussion between Steve and Fred Gohlke

Alexander Praetorius citizen at serapath.de
Wed Jul 1 05:01:05 PDT 2015

On Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 5:42 PM, Fred Gohlke <fredgohlke at verizon.net> wrote:

> Good Morning, Alexander Praetorius
> re: Becoming "Self Employed" is as easy as it was NEVER BEFORE.
> That's interesting.  I've had four businesses during my lifetime.  I guess
> you could say starting them was not real difficult, but keeping them going
> was a challenge.  I lost that challenge the first two times I tried.  The
> third business was stable enough that I gave it to our oldest daughter when
> the demands of the fourth started to require my full attention.  It's still
> functioning.  I shut the fourth one down when I was forced out by one of
> the executives in my only client (i.e., one of my bosses).  Ah, well, by
> then it was time to retire, anyway (although I didn't think so at the time).
> These businesses allowed me to maintain my independence, and, with the
> blessing of a wife who handled money much better than I - allowed me (us,
> actually) to provide for and raise a large family.  However, it wasn't
> without its problems.  I suppose I could list the difficulties, but that
> would be boring.

   1. What I mean by "Self Employed" is that you have many customers that
   pay you little and not a few that pay a lot. (Worst Case: Employed => One
   client who pays everything).
   2. The more people become self employed, the easier it is to make
   business with others, because with few people self employed, you need to
   talk to gate keepers all the time (they decide whether you get a chance to
   collaborate with any of the employees in their company)

> re: While self-reliance is possible as an employee, it's
>     totally passive.  You do as you have been told.  You
>     execute goals set by employers.
> When you have a business, you do what your customers tell you to do.  In
> my business, when a customer told me he wanted a truck to pick up this
> afternoon and deliver Thursday, that's what I had to do,  My goal was
> execute my customer's goals.  I doubt that a restaurant is much different.
> If a customer wants bacon and eggs, he probably won't accept pancakes.

Sorry - See Above. When I'm talking about being "self employed", I'm
thinking of being time and location independent and having a lot of
customers with micro payments instead of a few big ones. Because having a
lot of customers gives you a lot of independence, because no single
customer can put you under pressure.
I'm thinking of utilizing the internet heavily.

   1. I'm currently trying:
      - waveapps.com, quickfile.co.uk, smallinvoice.com (as free
      accounting/invoicing tools)
      - waffle.io (as a free project management board)
      - github.com (as a free online storage and collaboration platform [ a
      social network for professionals ])
      - gitter.im (to chat around projects)
      - twilio & sipgate (for free telephone number)
      - twitter, facebook, google+ & blog/website as my "marketing channels"
      - paypal & stripe for integrating payments
   2. I'm planning to utilize:
      - bitcoins or other blockchain based currencies
      - API's of lots of service providers that offer "delivery" or
      "email2letter" or basically everything i can imagine "as a Service"

I started out as a freelance programmer, switched to running my own agency
and now founded a school to teach kids and people programming.
Next to it I kickstart my own apps. My girlfriend studies political science
and slavic languages and is in her mid thirties.
She started to learn programming and after 2 years she is know also
building her first app (everything by herself - server hosting, design,
online & offline marketing, sales, accounting, .... all self thought)
=> www.zweidesign.co

She never had any contact with natural sciences or anything closer to
programming before - never the less, she made a successful switch that took
her two years - so that proves people do not need to start out as
programmers to becomes successful. We are now trying to explore the "UK
Limited", as it gives you more flexibility than the very bureaucratic
german legal forms of companies.

> re: You do not judge what you have been told to do, you
>     execute and use your skills and knowledge to do so to
>     the best of your ability and in return you get paid.
> I think that's true - both of employees and small businesses.  There are
> differences between having a small business and working for someone. The
> biggest is the amount of risk you have to accept.  We should note that the
> more people who depend on you for their existence, the more difficult it is
> to put their welfare at risk.

Once it works and you have a lot of small customers and a huge network of
partners - the risk decreases dramatically.
Actually all the companies out there that are in business for many decades
are owned by people and I wonder who's risk is higher?
The owners of loosing his business or an employee in his company? If you
are employed, you FOR SURE will be fired or go out of business BEFORE the
company will die.

It's just, if you are new to that mindset and you are "one of the few" who
want to be "on their own" - thus you try that in a culture where there are
not so many people trying that path, then that makes it difficult.
Especially if you come from a background where it's not common to be
"ADULT" (which for me means - actively deciding about what i'm going to do
with whom and where and when). Most successful entrepreneurs are surrounded
by people with similar mindsets or might even come from families and
background where that is common.
It's hard to get into those circles where they help each other out if you
do not have the same cultural or social background.

It will become super simple or at least way easier, if self employment
becomes a mega trend - which i feel it does :-) ...because you have way
more potential partners, that will help you out, because they face similar
problems - and you have way more potential partners that might outsource
part of their work to you - while traditional employees dont outsource
anything. They wait for their "employer parents" to tell them or allow them
to do anything.

> re: With regard to your comments about the difference between
>     employees and self-employed people shaping reality:
>    "Employees do not participate in shaping the world around
>     them based on their values/morals/philosophies/worldview/...
> and
>    "Self-Employed ... in the sense of being a small-scale
>     entrepreneur amongst many many other entrepreneurs have
>     to participate in shaping reality consciously.
> These ideas are a bit expansive.  To the extent that I understand them,
> they do not square with my experience.  It's true that I met with many
> other people because of my business; my customers, their employees, my
> competitors and their employees, and a multitude of others ranging from
> waitresses to salesmen.

As a highly skilled employee - if I don't decide for the most money (what
actually many do) - then at least i can choose my "employer parent". So I
might go around and check all the potential mommies and daddies and what
they at least promise they stand for or do (because they dont really
understand these things anyway) and work for them... ...maybe they build
cars or cellphones or bake cakes or cut peoples hair or act on a stage or
write a newspaper....
... but in their everyday work, they do not see the big picture. Thats not
their job as an "employee" (child). So under which conditions the suppliers
work or which materials are used or to whom service/produces are sold in
order to make happen what? .... its something they do not care about and
have no influence over.

As a self employed - i can choose what kind of impact i want to make, with
whom i want to collaborate, how i want to treat my clients and suppliers,
what values i stand for and many more things. YES... sometimes i might be
forced to serve a client, because i maneuvered myself into a difficult
situation (or i ended up their because of bad luck or coincidence), but at
least in the long run i can steer away from what i dont like.
As a child, i can only choose new parents from the parents that are willing
to accept me and that are available currently on the market. Still, I don't
know a lot about those potential "parents", because most information about
a company is not public and even if it was, who has time to make sense of
it all?

> Our discussions were dominated by the business that brought us together.
> Philosophy and morality might occasionally come up, but only as they
> affected some incident or aspect of our business.  The most common
> alternate topic was sports,  There was no discussion of democracy or
> politics.

But what kind of business do I engage in? Which market do I choose? Do I
try to help homeless or poor countries? Do I offer services to mansion
owners? Will i be a salesman for solar panels or weapons? Will I live on
the "bleeding edge" of technology and follow the trends and choose the
things and ways of doing stuff I like the most do inspire my clients and
change their ways of thinking or will I stick to traditional ways of doing
things telling my customers its proven and works making it harder for
others to innovate - maybe even protecting the market by lobbying for weird

Everything people do is political - even if they are not aware of it.
Even as a barber or baker i can innovate radically given all the technology
that pops up everywhere these days.

In the US - more and more people can easily work from remote - while in
europe there is a tendency to not support that trend of helping people to
work more from "remote"

> The reason we didn't discuss democracy or politics is because we could do
> nothing about them.  We could not change anything.  Our time was too
> precious to waste discussing things we couldn't change.

Or maybe you had the wrong business partners? Why not discussing the
philosophy/purpose of the business you were doing?
A "truck driver" has to deliver goods in a certain time under the
conditions he has been told by his boss - the same goes for all his
If those crew of "truck drivers" were all self employed and well connected
with technology, they could improvise in many ways and decide to do things

I know a truck driver who happens to work more independent and works for a
very alternative and self-aware company, which is actually a network of
many people working together (all of them self employed or forming a small
team of colleagues next to all the others) - they are around 2000 people
delivering 30 million bottles of different drinks a year.
They strongly take care, that no one in their network is underpaying their
suppliers. They give everyone (customers included) the right to vote. They
have all their finances transparent.
They decide their strategies in a consensus way.
The truck drivers - whenever they are on their way - look around and listen
to people and join in the discussion to "report from the front" whats going
on or sometimes suggest to pick up something that wasnt planned (like lots
of empty bottles and boxes that) just because he still had space in his
truck and saw them on his way)

> While I don't think self-employed people are in any better position to
> influence the development of democracy than anyone else,

I think those people work 40h+ a week and even though my personal business
network currently consists only of around 10-20 people (and we are
brainstorming a lot about how we can change the ways we work and deliver
services to improve the ways the world works), thats also because I only
started to be on my own around a year ago.
This network I was mentioning earlier started around 10 years ago and
because they are so big, they have way more people organized to change

Products & Services created by companies created by entrepreneurs are what
shapes everyday life and how we live. What kind of services we use, what
kind of productes we use - if we communicate with cellphones, drive with
cars, fly with airplanes, shoot with weapons, mount our solar panels, make
our own bread following some youtube video, buying it in a biomarket or
shopping it from a cheap supermarket, packed in some plastic back, made
durable for years.. and whatnot.

Many traditional companies are hated for how they lobby in politics, how
they spend money to corrupt, how they abuse people in third world countries
to work for cheap under horrible conditions, how they pollute the
environment, and the like... ...that are COMPANIES - and the employees -
but the employees just follow orders of their parents.
Parents having the power, because there are no alternatives - so we need to
invite politics in the first place to create all these rules, so that
parents dont do whatever they want.

Or we all try to grow up and just care more about the way we do things
instead of not caring and letting all few powerful company managers and
owners decide how to do stuff, but then we complain at home how horrible
the world is and that we need politicians to fix it.

> there is extensive work being done, by scholars and others, in the use of
> collaboration to achieve democratic results.

This work should be applied to networks of self employed people and how
they can collaborate. Once I experience all these awesome methods in my
work life (40h+ a week) I start forming an oppinion about them and if I
"pivoted" to try out different methods, I start liking some and disliking
others and I might actually start to understand, that I should push to have
them in politics.
If I dont use them at work to collaborate with my colleagues and solve some
issues we face, ...how the heck will I ever understand that those otherwise
very abstract methods would be something that could help to improve
politics - where all the options i can choose from seem to be crap anyway...

> Participedia (http://participedia.net), for example, is dedicated to
> strengthening democracy through shared knowledge and contains a multitude
> of examples of work being done around the world, by all kinds of people.

I'd love to have them put into tools customized for me and my partners to
actually use them in our business life. If I like them, I will even
advertise them for free amongst people I know and give feedback to the
"inventors". And if one of those tools & methods spreads, maybe chance
increase that they might actually enter traditional politics.

> If we are ever to achieve the kind of collaborative discourse you
> envision, the very first and most important feature must be to provide a
> way for the discussions to bear fruit, to change things.  Absent that, it
> will never be anything but talk.


> Do you have some experience in making this kind of thing work?  Can you
> explain the specifics?

The bigger network i was talking about is called premium cola" and even
though they have around 2000 people in their business network - they
basically do everything manually using just a mailing list where they talk.

I personally use github and "Pull Requests" that we agree on. So our
"manifesto" for the wizard school gets discussed in the chat and once we
have consensus about any changes to the "manifesto", we accept the "Pull
Requests" after which the new content automatically gets deployed to our
website visible to all our visitors.

> Fred Gohlke
> ----
> Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info


*Everything I have written above is my personal experience/opinion on
things, no matter what kinds of words i did use(e.g. "always", "never",
"impossible", "waste of time", ....).*

*Such extreme words only do indicate, that my experience/opinion on
something is very strong and i currently cannot imagine that there are
other possibilities until new arguments/insights/whatever open my eyes that
there are alternative perspectives too :-)Please do not feel discouraged to
challenge my opinion if you have a different one.*

*Best Regards / Mit freundlichen Grüßen*
Alexander Praetorius
Bornemannstrasse 17
D - 60599 Frankfurt am Main
*[skype] *alexander.praetorius
*[mail] *citizen at serapath.de <alexander.praetorius at serapath.de>
*[web] *http://wiki.piratenpartei.de/Benutzer:Serapath
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/attachments/20150701/c9fe1cd5/attachment-0001.htm>

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list