Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Might Seem Counterintuitive, But It’s Not

Yes magazines are closing down right and left, but here’s an idea for a new one. The working title is “The Unemployed.” The working tagline is “Harnessing Their Untapped Power and Wealth”

It will explore and publicize what an untapped and extremely valuable resource the unemployed are. Rather than defining someone’s worth, “being currently unemployed” could be shown as equivalent to a respected profession at which you can work at becoming better at.

Contributing reporters, copy editors, artwork submitters, and technical support would generally be those who are unemployed. There would be included extensive bios on these individuals. Each issue would have three or four features, departments, and commentaries.

Here are three possible features for the first issue:
“Tales of Charitable Giving” detailing individuals who increase their charitable efforts. E.J., who while searching for his next career opportunity, is delivering Meals On Wheels to the elderly; helping out at Cancer Action, and leading a weekly walking group of seniors.
“Seller’s Guide to Selling Gold” explains that most gold is purchased to be melted down so gem worth isn’t generally considered and offers vary greatly, easily as much as 75% to 100%. When selling, it advises to check with a number of vendors and ask that offer stay open for a stated period of time. It points out items should be grouped and weighted together by their carat type to get best value and applicable state law should be checked.
“Overcoming the Stigmas: Yours and Theirs” deals with the psychological and stereotypical aspects of unemployment from the viewpoints of the unemployed, family friends, former colleagues, etc. There would be a number of personal experience boxes where individuals such as Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and an out-of- work 58 year old former steelworker describe how they or people they love dealt and deal with unemployment.

Departments could feature reporting on state programs that allow employers to combine reduced work hours for employees with partial unemployment benefits and how industries are combating unemployment such as contractors, landscapers and interior decorators turning to staging and rehabilitation of personal residences. There would be a books to consider section showcasing such books as “No More Mondays: Fire Yourself-and Other Revolutionary Ways to Discover your True Calling At Work” by Dan Miller

The magazine would be print and online and be a paid subscription model with a code of responsibilities and conduct for subscribers, advertisers, and contributors. The annual subscription rate would be from $10 to $250 as determined by the subscriber with a deferral, if desired, by those currently unemployed.

For the purpose of transparency and full disclosure, I am suggesting this publication in part so that I would be considered for the position of editor-in-chief. I was previously editor-in-chief of Practical Accountant, and what particularly qualifies me for consideration was my last column there, which in a sense of poetic justice, was automatically published on the day after I was told it was my last day.

Excerpted Text of WebCPA column
“’New’ Alternatives to Layoffs
(January 13, 2009)
“In these tough economic times, as in others, there are many news items on companies declaring bankruptcies and announcing substantial staff cuts. What is different this time is that I am also reading about a number of cost-cutting strategies that are gaining in popularity and aimed at reducing expenses without disrupting business operations or laying off staff.
“Fortune 500 companies, as well as smaller ones, have stopped their employer matching of employee 401(k) contributions. Factories are being closed down for a specified period of time with the unpaid furloughing of employees. Unpaid holidays are being given. Then there are those businesses that indicated there will be no salary increases in 2009. And I just came across a report that one of the largest accounting firms in Israel is reported to have made across-the-board pay cuts of 5 to 10 percent, except for certain lower-paid staff. We are also seeing the introduction of four-day weeks.
“These creative cost-cutting strategies indicate the economic downturn is impacting more, and they also reflect an expectation that it will continue for some time. On the plus side, in general, they also indicate that companies are developing an arsenal of intermediate moves short of layoffs or a declaration of bankruptcy.
“This aversion to staff reductions can be attributed to a number of factors, including that often operations would be impaired if cuts were made, skilled employees are difficult to replace, and once the economic times get better the company doesn’t want to be understaffed.
“Interestingly, there seems to be understanding and acceptance by many in the workforce who are affected by the end of employer 401(k) contributions, unpaid leaves, etc. It appears to be based on the belief that, ’At least I have my job.’


  1. I love this idea, Howard. How can I help?

  2. I am intending this as a broader push to change some perceptions. Beyond the blog entry, I added a shortened version on various Linkedin discussion groups. I also wrote to a prominent government official on how various levels of governments can help to foster a change in perception.
    Currently, I think the best thing is getting the word out through various avenues that we need to substantially change how we view and utilize the unemployed. I chose possible magazine because if done right and if publicized properly it could provide example after example. If you can help in getting the concept out there to be seem then we can see if the underlying concept has legs.
    Thanks for your offer of support. It is sincerely appreciated.