This weekend, I got the chance to meet a longtime online friend face-to-face following his trip to a local Google conference. Alan Pruitt
, who I met a few years back on a LinkedIn group for private investigators, is a licensed PI out of Yuma, AZ, doing due diligence backgrounds for major employers, and he also has two lines of business helping rural businesses figure out economic development. Pruitt, a former Marine and digital immigrant, is an evangelist of knowledge work as the answer to lost manufacturing jobs and he heavily promotes cloud solutions. But what struck me about talking with Alan is that he not only understands the potential of low-cost online business solutions, he’s built his own life and work on top of them.
Relaxed yet enthusiastic, with rolled up shirtsleeves, coffee in hand and iPad and new Android Evo 4G at his side, Alan explained how he’s buying a new home in Yuma with his wife, and traveling the west and the greater U.S. to spread his enthusiasm for a paperless, officeless work life.
He uses Evernote, ScanSnap and extra Gmail storage to keep two copies of all the documents he needs for his work, shredding each piece of paper as it comes in. He controls his work, he says, like a Lazy Susan. “I wheel it around, bite of a few hours of a project, them I’m back to what I’m doing.” Repeat. All his billing goes through a third-party, which takes 5 percent of his income to handle benefits and compliance. At the end of the year, he gets a W-2, not a sheaf of 1099s. “A nickle is nothing for that,” he says.
I’m a big fan of the 2004 book The Future of Work, by Thomas Malone
, and its premise of how low-cost communications is returning individuals to the center of their working life, but, until talking with Alan, I’d not seen someone so clearly living the promise of the present.
In the latest copy of Wired, author Daniel Pink talks about the intrinsic motivation that we’ve ignored in how we work in contemporary America: “But what we’ve forgotten – and what science shows – is that we … do things because they are interesting, because they’re engaging, because they are the right things to do, because they contribute to the world.”
It’s this kind of drive that has Alan happy and well, and it’s this kind of drive that has transformed Manor, TX, from a cotton town to a hub of applied technology innovation (Manor CIO Dustin Haisler’s latest project is integrating education into the Gov 2.0 movement
). It’s what the federal government is looking at in an amazing pilot project for a “results-only work environment” at the Federal Office of Personnel Management (GovLoop group here
). It’s the kind of lesson that Alan is taking to rural America, and it’s where were going.
I’m interested in more stories. How is the cloud and low-cost communications changing your work and life? Have you made it as far as Alan in living your dream of a control of your work? What’s holding you back?