Cool Jobs, Dream Work
By Carol Posthumus, Fri Mar 28 07:00:00 GMT 2003

We spoke to a matchmaker and an international consultant. They say never mind cool work - they're doing dream work.

In mobility, happiness and truth may be under-rated factors for success. For instance, while attractively cheap, SMS's incredible rise to popularity had a lot to do with happiness and honesty. That gem, 'user created content', not artistic or contrived but home made, tends to be honest expression - and often inspires happiness, or at least some real emotion. Even mainstream media is relying ever more on humble small screen content, like viewers' texts, for some salt to season stagey big screen experiences.

People who feel their work in the mobile industry is cool and "a dream job" speak, a lot, about creating happiness. And they assure us they mean the real stuff.

For instance, mobile matchmaking - not the "65-year-old man called school girl Sal" variety but the 'You Got Mail' fairy taleish genre - is reportedly a very, very good business to be in. That is, if you like to see some love and bliss as as a result of your labours. And, if you're a cynic, please do note: people of strong technical leanings are even finding this is a staunch sector to make a buck in.

Jeff Rudluff, based in Dallas, is proud to be dubbed a Mobile Matchmaker. On his business card, formally, he's a vice president of new product development for Mobile Match is a relatively new service the group - who has other executives named fantastic things like Directors of Romance - is hardly a struggler. It's a 125 million dollar a year business, partnering strategically with some heavyweight Internet, communication and technology enterprises. It showed a 154% rise in revenue from last year.

Triplets and Smileys

It's fun and a novelty to hear an executive like Rudluff quote examples of their company's success as being "many marriages, babies - one couple had triplets!" (he only gets on to numbers and the business partnerships much later in our conversation...). This is the second time in a week that someone has underlined the success of their business to me as bringing people together for "marriages and babies". On another, different story exactly the same thing happens. Are mobile executives, not just the heart and smiley covered 'soft skills' ones, starting to sound like Italian grandpapas?

Rudluff, who has just over a decade track record in technology and telecommunications, says without a doubt his work is "very rewarding". He admits when he joined Match some two years ago, he was slightly ponderous about his career shift . Popular kneejerk reaction to the words "adult services", frankly, tend, after all, to be "is that seedy?".

He laughs: "I mean, I had to tell my Mom what I do, you know.

"It was a change for me to join a personal business. Though, I saw so many good things in the enterprise from the start," he tells. Match is by no stretch of the imagination seedy. "We have a strict policy, we are for singles only."

Though using new technology, they seem traditional in values as age old match makers: with new tools in their kit like Internet, mobile and lively branches like a Match travel company. Mobile Match is a new line Rudluff says they have high hopes for. It's for the younger demographic. "It's about fun, flirting, friends," he says. Capabilities like sending real-time pictures on mobile look good for this Match offering, he predicts.

A person who's "strong on the technical side, with a feel for marketing", Rudluff is thrilled to be in the love game: "Hey, this is a great job, it's a dream job." Well-known international consultant and speaker in mobility and media Strand Consult's chief executive officer John Strand describes, with as much conviction, his work as a "dream job". Interestingly, one of Strand Consult's research reports predicts that adult services and dating services - Rudluff's area - will be a big seller for color devices by 2005. These along with games or entertainment; contests, competitions, lotteries; communities plus chat and news/sport.

"I've got the coolest work around, definitely!," Strand feels.

Bees and Beautiful Flowers

Strand's group consults, speaks, workshops, reports. Strand travels extensively as a speaker to mobile conferences around the world. His diary of appointments can seriously look like 'around the world in 80 days'. Recently, over two months Strand visited 11 centres in different countries in 60 days. Blessed, he never suffers jet lag or exhaustion. Speaking to him, he's moving around London as he speaks, eloquent on the move, with a speaking engagement at a mobile conference ahead. Strand's group is often called on for company workshops too. Strand bounces ideas around and engages, on the future of mobility, frequently, with mobile executives from around the world. "I really cannot think of work more fun and rewarding, than engaging about the future with the best of the best."

Well, to many this would sound like a great gig... to travel the world dishing pearls of wisdom to gatherings and to indulge in mental foreplay, information exchange and futuristic crystal gazing with top executives. It's a bit like being a traveling coach, psychic and at times a priest in a confessional. Or, becoming for work the character that a lot of people morph into as they sit watching the business channel on television.

While many would love to consult in this fashion as a profession, it is not that easy to do so consistently - or make a thriving enterprise, as Strand has, with his business, focusing on mobility, opening in 1994. For one thing, your predictions have to be on the nose and on the money, a lot of the time: you need instinct and you require a team. Knowledge has to be based on something: such as groups of people doing independent research or the ideas lab Strand Consult has in house.

There's a high demand in this market for honest objective dialogue. Going around saying exactly what you see and feel sounds as natural as breathing. But as with other things, for instance, privacy, ironically, truth speaking has become a high value feature as it's not that common and is, very sadly, rare. Truth is precious, and people want it. Says Strand: "I believe that you should not be afraid to say what you feel and see: this is something I've based my business on and is exactly what we do. Our group comes with no baggage, and that's important for a company if your mission is to call things as you see them, to engage in meaningful dialogue, to offer independent views."

A spot of truth, blatant honesty and verbal sparring is apparently described by a client of Strand Consult's thus: "John and his group come in here to give top management a spanking three times a year". (Strand jokes he doesn't dress up for these sessions!)

Strand, at school in Denmark, loved knowing how systems worked and how they are linked together. "I always liked to know how things worked - in the past, present and future. History, physics, biology and society all fascinated. Mobile is a lot about how things link and work together; it's a great sector for me. I do my hobby as my work: I love this. We're very lucky to be in this industry, in this time."

Basic happiness in clients goes without saying. "We make our products like beautiful flowers. If you do this, the bees will come by themselves, seeing for themselves the real value you offer," says Strand.

Carol Posthumus is a freelance author, analyzing how mobile technology impacts our lives. She lives in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.