Technology will make all occupations more scalable. Fewer people will capture more of the rewards. But the impact will vary. How will it affect you? I am still figuring it out. So far, I can see eight relevant "levers" to look at.
The first one is Presence. Is it possible to do what you do remotely? To what extent is this possible on a scale of 1-10? Be honest with yourself here. Are any others in your line of work already "doing it" remotely?
We tend to underestimate technology's power to turn in-person work into scalable work. On the verge of the 20th Century, the world's leading economist thought that singers would never make too much money because their voices could not reach beyond a single room.
The second lever is Concurrence. Can you serve more than one paying customer at the same time? A masseuse can only deal with one person at a time (Score: 1). A news anchor can "serve" billions concurrently (Score: 10). A Peloton instructor can handle hundreds of customers in parallel (Score 6?). How does your job fit on this scale?
The third lever is Sociality. Are you selling a social good? Do people pay you because other people pay you? Some things are valuable because they enable one to participate in conversation/activity with other users. For example, students join a specific class or read a particular newsletter because they know their friends will be there (or will discuss it). This makes it difficult for comparable substitutes to woo them away. To what extent does this apply to your work?
The fourth lever is Savings. How much cheaper is it (or isn't) to deliver your work remotely? Some jobs cost more to deliver remotely, requiring special equipment or arrangements. Others are much cheaper to do remotely — sidestepping offices and other expensive stuff. The more savings that can be achieved, the higher the pressure to move that job to the cloud.
The fifth level is Productization. What percentage of your work can be productized? A teacher can teach live classes and package them as videos for people to watch later. A doctor can write a book. A programmer can create software or libraries that people consume in their sleep.
And, thanks to AI, many more "jobs" can be productized. Some celebrities are creating "synthetic" versions of themselves and charging people for private conversations. You can now build similar tools and draw on the insights and intellect of living and dead scientists and philosophers. AI enables experts to productize their knowledge in new ways. James Altucher recently created a rough "tool" that lets people "tap into" his way of thinking about new ideas. To what extent can this be done with your expertise?
The sixth lever is Leverage. Beyond remote delivery, to what extent does technology increase your leverage? By leverage, I mean the ability to generate more output with the same input. For example, GitHub Autopilot enables programmers to write and validate code faster. Leverage can also be much more straightforward: Seeing patients remotely allows a doctor to see 12 patients daily instead of 7.
The seventh lever is Non-Linearity. It refers to the relationship between input and output in your line of work. The less linear it is the more potential for scalability. For example, driving a truck is entirely linear: the more hours you put in, the farther you'll go — and the more you'll earn. TikToking is non-linear: Spending a minute to record something cool might generate billions of views and millions of dollars.
The eighth lever is Matching. How much more can you charge given a perfect match? For some tasks, customers (and employers) would pay 20% more for someone with specific expertise. For example, I'd spend 30% for a babysitter who can speak English and Hebrew because these are my kids' languages.
A perfect match could have a premium of 10,000% for other tasks. For example, if you have some rare disease and could speak to the number 1 expert, you'd pay... whatever you could afford even if it was only a 15-minute Zoom call and not an actual consultation. Such premia make sense. For example, America's best cancer hospital has a special program that provides international customers with a "remote second opinion."
The right person in the right place can solve in five minutes a problem that 20 people could not solve in a whole month. The internet makes it possible to locate and connect with such specialists across various fields. Hence, certain people can scale their income by matching with those who would pay the most for their services at any moment. Even if they serve the same number of customers, they can charge much more for their time.
The 8 Levers of Scalability show how even the most in-person jobs are more scalable than we think. And even trivial advantages in one lever can compound over time or get multiplied by other levers.
For example, a remote teacher can teach one extra class a day, accommodate 30% more students per class, save 25% of the time it requires to produce new material and reach the specific people on earth who are willing to pay 40% more for her particular style of teaching. These modest improvements can result in a 5X or 100X increase in one's income. In most professions, there are many opportunities for such improvements. We often ignore them because they seem trivial. You shouldn't.
I am still refining this formula. But the 8 Levers of Scalability can help you figure out where your career is headed and what tools and strategies you should explore. It's easy to assume these levers don't apply to your job. That's a dangerous assumption. A hundred years ago, musicians thought recorded music wouldn't replace them. Today, some of them are billionaires, and most of them are unemployed.
Most professions are as scalable as those in showbiz. Still, they're probably much more scalable than we assume. It's never too early to start figuring out how to leverage technology in your work. My upcoming course is a great place to start.
That was my article. Once it was done, I fed it to ChatGPT and asked it to come up with better a better name for each lever. After some back and forth, I asked it to rewrite the whole article based on its suggestions. Here it is:
From Linear to Limitless: Understanding the Eight Levers of Career Scalability
The role of technology in amplifying the impact of our work is undebatable. By making occupations more scalable, technology enables fewer people to seize larger rewards. However, the degree of this effect varies across different professions. In my research, I have identified eight primary "levers" that determine the scalability potential of an occupation.
1. Remote Viability
The first lever to consider is Remote Viability. This pertains to the ability to perform your job remotely. On a scale from 1 to 10, to what degree is this possible in your profession? It's essential to reflect on whether others in your line of work have successfully transitioned to remote operations. Historical evidence shows that we often underestimate the potential for technology to transform traditionally in-person work into scalable, remote roles.
2. Simultaneous Serviceability
The second lever is Simultaneous Serviceability. This refers to your capacity to serve multiple customers concurrently. A masseuse, serving one client at a time, scores low on this scale, while a news anchor or a digital fitness instructor, reaching millions or hundreds at once, respectively, scores much higher. How would your occupation score on this scale?
3. Network Effect
The third lever is the Network Effect. This lever indicates whether the value of your job or service increases with more users. Many services are valuable because they provide access to a larger network of users, making it challenging for substitutes to compete. Consider how the Network Effect might influence your occupation.
4. Remote Cost Efficiency
The fourth lever is Remote Cost Efficiency. This lever examines how cost-effective it is to deliver your services remotely. Some jobs might require special tools or equipment for remote work, thus increasing costs. Conversely, others could be cheaper to perform remotely, eliminating expenses related to physical infrastructure. The more cost savings achieved, the higher the motivation to transition to remote work.
5. Convertibility to Product
The fifth lever is Convertibility to Product. This considers how much of your service can be transformed into a product. AI has expanded the possibilities for this convertibility, enabling even complex and specialized knowledge to be packaged as products. Examine the extent to which your expertise could be productized.
6. Tech-Enhanced Productivity
The sixth lever is Tech-Enhanced Productivity. This measures how technology can augment your output without increasing input. This could be as complex as an AI tool assisting in coding or as straightforward as a doctor being able to see more patients remotely.
7. Exponential Reward Potential
The seventh lever is Exponential Reward Potential. This lever refers to the possibility of generating outsized rewards from relatively small inputs, marking the difference between linear and non-linear work. Non-linear work, like creating viral digital content, can yield enormous returns from minor inputs.
8. Expertise Premium
The final lever is the Expertise Premium. This addresses how much more you can charge when your expertise perfectly matches a client's needs. A better match equates to a higher premium, leading to significant potential earnings.
The Eight Levers of Scalability, although seemingly simple, are potent tools to analyze how even the most traditional professions can be more scalable than we perceive. Moreover, seemingly minor improvements across these levers can compound or multiply, leading to substantial overall growth.
Take, for instance, a remote teacher. If they manage to teach an extra class daily, accommodate more students, reduce the time to produce new material, and cater to a specific audience willing to pay more for their style of teaching, they can significantly increase their income.
As I continue refining this model, the Eight Levers of Scalability can already serve as a beneficial tool for you to analyze and strategize the trajectory of your career. Remember, these levers are not exclusive to Silicon Valley or showbiz; they apply to virtually all professions, and harnessing their potential could set you apart. Like musicians of the past who seized the opportunities of recorded music, embracing these levers could make you the star of your field, while ignoring them might leave you behind. In the grand concert of career advancement, don't just play an instrument, be the maestro. Start orchestrating your symphony of success today!
That's it. Who's version is better? Mine, or ChatGPT? I like the robo-version. But ChatGPT could not have done it without my input!
Have a great weekend. And, if you have the time and the budget, join me later this month for a deeper dive into AI's impact on industries and careers. Learn more at HypeFreeAI.com.
Oh, and if you don't have the budget but really want to join — I'm giving away 3 "scholarship seats". Drop me a line with your story and why you deserve a free pass.
Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful weekend.