Skate across America Day 9: Crowdsourcing

Oct. 12, 2010


Total Distance for Trip: approx. 123 miles
Current Location: Philadelphia


Est. read time: 5 minutes


I’m still hanging out here in Philly until Friday, to let the calendar catchup with me! 😉 I had a few moments of extreme clarity today, and I thought I would share them with you. If you’re an entrepreneur, you need to pay really close attention to this post, because it could save you tons of time and money.

Too Much to Do

Since I’m going to be in Philadelphia for a few days, I thought it would be worth my while to start planning/arranging ahead for speaking engagements. I made some phone calls and made moderate progress, but when I looked at all of things I ought to be doing at the moment, I felt like I was still not being very effective. I needed to find a more efficient way to accomplish tasks. That’s when I thought about using crowdsourcing.


Have you ever read an article on Wikipedia and thought about just how much information must be stored on the Wikipedia servers? It’s an absurd amount of information, and it has been collected, organized, and refined almost entirely using crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is a fancy way of saying that you take a task that you would normally give to one person or employee and toss it out into a large community to see who can do it cheap, quick, and efficiently. It’s kind of like tossing a football in the air and yelling, “500!” Someone is going to catch the ball! If you didn’t get that little joke, you probably haven’t played enough backyard games with kids and need to get off your computer right now! 😉


Now as an entrepreneur, I have a natural interest in anything that allows me to achieve the same or better results for less money or effort. I consider time to be more valuable than money, as it is the only truly non-renewable resource. All other resource shortages can be addressed creatively! Up until now, I don’t think I’ve ever really given serious thought to how I might use a crowdsourcing solution to a business problem, but I think I found the perfect opportunity, today.

Stop Working so Hard and Get Something Done!

When I think about the task of scheduling speaking engagements, one thing becomes readily apparent: it’s a simple enough task that any moderately proactive person could do it with a very short learning curve. Traditionally, speakers use anywhere from one to just a few agents to book speaking opportunities. While they leverage a myriad of contacts, they don’t typically hire 10-20 booking agents. That would just be crazy… Or would it?


If a big company were to plan a production as ambitious as this skating and speaking tour across the country, they would have scheduled the entire thing in advance. They would have hired a whole team of people to handle the process, complete with managers, lackees, and a project coordinator. I don’t have the resources nor the lunacy to do something like that. I’m aware that there are too many variables, and this must be planned as I go. Anything less will stunt the success of the tour. What I really need is a large group of people working on this task and adapting the plan daily, but I can’t afford to pay or manage 20 traditional employees or speaking agents. My solution: crowdsource it! What I plan to do is independently contract 10-20 non-exclusive agents who will each be paid on commission. This will be easier than you think, as the work can be performed from anywhere, and I can utilize services like Elance.com to find agents. Up front, I will provide each agent with the information and resources he or she needs to schedule speaking gigs. I will also give each agent access to a common calendar so he or she can know where I will be and when. All I have to do is approve speaking gigs and send a check or PayPal funds transfer to pay them after I speak. Maybe I’ll hire a manager to approve speaking opportunities and make payments, also on a commission basis!


The benefits are obvious enough: This is a self-motivating and self-organizing system that allows me to pay people for the clear and measurable results they produce. When they are successful at arranging gigs, they win, and I win too! What’s the best part about all of this? I get my time back and can focus on what I need to be doing: skating, speaking, connecting, and inspiring. What could be better? BTW: Anyone interested in serving as an agent should mention it in the comment section below!


I anticipate that crowdsourcing will become a much bigger piece of the whole “labor pie” as we continue to develop new ways to find the people we need when we need them. More than this: The jobs of the future will be possible to perform from any location, remotely. Don’t miss this trend.


Since I will be using actual contracted workers, this isn’t technically crowdsourcing as much as intelligent allocation of and efficient payment for work. It’s a “results only” system.

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