The new service sector jobs

by on September 21, 2013 at 4:45 pm in Economics, Religion | Permalink

Motivation and inspiration will become more important jobs, and this time the story is from China:

Life coaching is big business the world over, perhaps nowhere more so than in the US. China is still a newcomer, with self-help books and motivational talks beginning to gain traction just 15 years ago. But as in so many other areas of the Chinese economy, the gap is closing quickly. The “success studies” industry, as it is known in China, is dominating bestseller lists, filling conference halls and generating phenomenal wealth for star speakers…

On this occasion, though, Chen [a major motivational coach] needs no extra help. The audience is raring to go. Bursting on to the stage, he asks: “Who wants to be number one?” All 1,500 hands fly up in the air. Then a dose of realism: “You’re dreaming. Only 3 per cent of you will succeed. And to get there, you need the right coach. You need to be in a circle of winners.” A slideshow follows, pictures of Chen posing next to or somehow squeezing himself into the frame with Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher, basketball star Michael Jordan and more. He replays a phone message from Huang Xiaoming, a Chinese actor, thanking Chen for his coaching.

The message – that Chen is a winner and that his tutelage is a prerequisite to success – proves startlingly effective. At the end of his speech, he gives the audience a two-minute countdown to sign up for a special deal to join his circle of winners: Rmb29,800 [TC: 6.12 Rm to one U.S. dollar] for a year’s access to his Shanghai club and more self-improvement courses. About 150 people seize the opportunity, dashing up to the front of the room. Chen’s assistants form a ring around them with handheld bank card swiping machines, ready to collect their money on the spot.

The fascinating FT article, by Simon Rabinovitch, is here, possibly gated.  Of course the greater is income inequality, the easier it will be to market such services, because the promised gain from leaping the divide will be that much greater.

ibaien September 21, 2013 at 6:02 pm

the future is robots, robot wranglers, and life coaches?

dystopia is too mild a word.

Mark Thorson September 21, 2013 at 9:07 pm

No, no, no. There will be artisan pencil sharpeners, skipping stone pickers, and people who know how to tie shoelaces in the traditional way. It will be a truly golden age.

Stannis September 21, 2013 at 10:39 pm

LOL

Frederic Mari September 22, 2013 at 3:10 am

LOL. +1

With the exception of technological progress, I really struggle to see the difference with the 19C.

I guess mass unemployment/underemployment rather than slaving down the coal mines or on the factory floor might count as the one big difference. And I suspect that TC underplays the political consequences.

Brett September 21, 2013 at 7:31 pm

I’m not too thrilled about that, either. It’s supposed to be a good thing that we’ll have increasingly large numbers of “life coaches” trying to hustle us on products that will make us better, wealthier people? It makes me want to read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bait and Switch again.

That whole event quoted sounds like hustling. He only has to convince 150 people to fork over almost $5000 each (in a country much poorer than the US on average), and then give them some “help” now that he’s been paid in advance.

Alexei Sadeski September 21, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Don’t confuse description for prescription.

Brett September 22, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Yeah, my bad.

Stannis September 21, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Sounds like Trump University:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100985729

Everyone can benefit from a coach, therapist or mentor – but anyone who provides these services to a mass audience is usually a huckster.

Andrew_M_Garland September 21, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Not just Trump University. It sounds like all of higher education.

Schools make most of their money selling more and higher priced educations than could be supported by the individual finances of its students. They bask in the glow of government support. “We must be worth it, or the government would not be giving you a loan.”

Why College Is A Waste Of Money
Consider the waste and dispair imposed by a college system that discards about half of the students who try for a degree.

Sallie Mae (government education loans) makes money. Most students can pay off their debt with a struggle. Sallie Mae gets partial recoveries by claiming the assets of the unfortunate students and co-signers. (Hey, they can go on welfare.) Loans that can’t be repaid are reimbursed by the government. Sallie Mae is a fine place for politically connected managers to make large salaries in nice surroundings “doing good”.

Students and Taxpayers lose money. The students lose because they are tricked into buying an education which is valuable mostly because the certificate is required to get a good job. Government support hinders the development of competing models which could deliver at less cost the parts of education which are valuable for employment.

Many (maybe most) students buy an education which is worthless to them because it does not much improve their knowledge, thinking, or career prospects compared to what they spend. Many college students drop out with nothing but failure and debt.

The Great College-Degree Scam
(qqq chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/the-great-college-degree-scam/28067 )
The Great College-Degree Scam
== ==
[edited] This supports the notion that credential inflation arises from a perceived need by individuals to demonstrate potential employment competence through a college diploma, a piece of paper. Employers are using education as a screening and signaling device, at a low cost directly to them (the taxes they pay), but at a high cost to prospective employees and to society as a whole.
== ==

EasyOpinions

radical centrist blogger September 21, 2013 at 9:01 pm

This sort of story should be treated with disdain, plain and simple.

The best sort of jobs for any nation is high-end manufacturing.

prior_approval September 22, 2013 at 2:41 am

Successful huckster is successful – somehow, that seems like an extremely average observation. At least the age of tautology isn’t over yet.

The interesting thing here actually being the unanswered question of how people forking over a cool 5,000 dollars is a good thing for them – not for the huckster.

After all, in the coming seminal age of marketing, those doing the motivation and inspiration are doing it just for you, right?

‘Of course the greater is income inequality, the easier it will be to market such services’ – exploiting hopes and dreams is something that will always make a buck is another mundane observation – ‘because the promised gain from leaping the divide will be that much greater.’ Someone has seemingly forgotten why snake oil salesmen went out of business in the U.S., as there is nothing greater to promise than health and longer life. Or maybe, we all just didn’t recognize what a golden age it was, not that our own age isn’t full of even more refined intellectual selection from the nostrum remedium cabinet.

Frederic Mari September 22, 2013 at 3:14 am

No choice but to agree with Prior_Approval here.

What about re-authorising Ponzi/ pyramidal schemes? People love those schemes too!

commentariette September 22, 2013 at 7:46 am

Umm….

Snake oil sellers definitely haven’t gone out of business in the US… According to NIH, Americans spent $34 billion on “complementary and alternative” medicine in 2009, over 10% of all out-of-pocket medical spending.

Marie September 22, 2013 at 8:57 am

I’ll acknowledge that a bunch of alternative medicine is hooey, if you acknowledge Latisse for eyelash growth.

Gordon Gekko September 22, 2013 at 10:16 am

How do a fool and his money get together in the first place?

John B. September 22, 2013 at 6:08 am

Instead of going to this kind of training I would start with being a realist. This is probably the best way to realize what you are capable of doing. Then you should be humble. And finally, you should pay attention to all other earthlings. If you are able to cope with these free, you can become a successful man/woman. – it is the exact opposite of what is this “motivational coach” proposes. Spending money to meet people who spend as much as you do is not making the world or the society any better. You can be in China or in Colombia, and it will be the same.

Our capitalist culture is in desperate need in finding new heroes, who are not connected to the neverending money flows. My suggestions are Edward Snowden or Bradley Manning. They both stand up for all of us!

Dan S September 22, 2013 at 10:16 am

Sometimes I really don’t understand Tyler. I mean, he’s a libertarian and free-market economist in most respects, and yet he loves to put up posts that to me demonstrate that the US has reached a level of income where additional income growth is just funneled into these waste-of-money positional goods like artisanal pencils, life coaches, etc. To me the takeaway from all these stories is that maybe we could use a consumption tax a la Robert Frank. Either a) extra revenue can be raised and put towards something people actually want but currently can’t afford because they need to keep up with the Joneses, like medical research, or b) people will work fewer hours and just have to live without artisanal pencils (if you call that living).

Stannis September 22, 2013 at 10:52 am

Agreed. Where is this “better world” that is the title of the blog?

Maybe TC posts things to get more comments to get more ad revenue? A colleague suspects that is what online journalism is all about. Posting inflammatory things to drive traffic and comments.

Dan S September 22, 2013 at 12:18 pm

I think he also does it to bolster the case for the Great Stagnation thesis, but I’m not sure if he realizes that that undercuts the case for the unfettered free market. It would be one thing if our innovative energies were producing cures for diseases and faster/cheaper transportation, but instead we get cronuts (to be fair I hear those are delicious).

I would say that by and large we’re well past the point where the thing holding people back from achieving a more satisfying life is access to goods and services, and we’ve moved into the zone where free time is the constraint: people don’t have the time to consume the goods, services, and leisure they can now afford. Of course, it’s extremely difficult for most people to make that jump unilaterally. It has to be done by many people at once or not at all. Hence the rationale for the consumption tax.

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