Our careers as projecteers

The riskiest career choice of the future will be to have a single job. When we have a job, we not only have 100% of our cashflow linked to a single customer (employer), we see less of the changing world. For the best part of 200 years – craftspeople, artisans and farmers couldn’t compete against the industrialisation of pretty much anything. But we live in the generation, where all this is about to change. The best careers will become those of projecteers.

While no one really knows the exact technical skills we will need in the future, we do know that the world will be a very different place 10, 20 and 50 years from now. It might even be that for the first time in history we can’t specifically tell our children – that qualification XYZ, will hold them in good stead. The one thing that they, and we, will need for sure, is the ability to reinvent ourselves repeatedly through our working lives. This means that human based skills like emotional intelligence, anti-fragility, and adaptability will become increasingly important.

If we think about work, we have historically tied ourselves to titles. Often, the first question we get asked at a social gathering is what we do for a living. We psychologically link ourselves to that ‘thing’ we do to make money – and in some ways this makes it difficult for us to change direction. If traditionally we have built our economic identities like stone houses with very deep foundations, going forward it will make more sense to build economic identities like tents, that we can fold, pick up and move elsewhere. Even though we don’t know exactly where we will have to move, we know shifting constantly will be inevitable.

Then – Why has this person moved around so much? Are they unstable or incompetent?

NowWhy has this person been in the one place so long? Are they scared or incompetent?

By taking the ‘tent‘ approach, every move creates a new knowledge set. A new set of experiences created by the new environment itself. We’ll see new things and develop new ways to ‘set up the tent’. The mobility, invents the skill set. As a projecteer this is exactly what I do. Economically I change places almost everyday… it’s a weird and wonderful mix of different, yet related experiences. A keynote speech here, a c-suite strategy session there, a media interview the day after, startup mentoring and investing, a new book next year, and a hacker project or two on the side. Yet, I still maintain the single minded proposition of what I do: Experiment with emerging technology in business.

The breadth and variety of work we’ll do in the future, will be the thing that makes us more valuable to those who seek our services. The skill corporations, governments and communities will need in the future is flexibility of mind – not process efficiency.

If we’ve ever viewed our life as a movie we star in – then we all need to start thinking a lot more like big movie stars. People who will be in far more than a single blockbuster – but a large number of movies, some on the big screen, and some indy side projects. We’ll play a variety of different roles, in different movies, but each set we walk onto, we’ll bring with us what we learned on the previous gig.

If you liked this post – you’ll dig my latest book

Finding your future

We see what we look for. When it comes to our future, we choose whether or not we see opportunity or impending economic apocalypse. It’s a lot like an old investing maxim: The investment opportunity of a lifetime comes around about once a week, but only once you start looking for it.

This week I showed my children this video from many years ago – it’s a test:

You have to count how many time the players wearing white pass the basketball >

Watch it before you read on. Click here.

Very few people pass the test. (FYI – I didn’t and I even thought it was a trick video the first time I watched it!)

Which is the same problem most people and companies face during technological disruption. Our perception of what to look for is focused on the wrong thing. The future is right in front of us, the impending changes are mostly obvious – yet we don’t see them. It’s because we’ve been indoctrinated to see yesterday. To manage the way things were, rather than where they might go. But once you start looking for what’s next, positive opportunities are everywhere, and it becomes impossible to not see them.

Imagine you’re a professional driver of some sort. Understandably, you’d be worried about autonomous cars taking away your income. But this shift, will provide more opportunities for new income and industries than it removes. Firstly, what’s stopping an uber driver buying their own fleet of driverless cars to go out and earn money for them? But outside of driving many new industries will emerge;

  • On board logistics and customer service managers of trucks.
  • Rolling Commerce (r-commerce) now that our attention can be off the road.
  • Car fit outs to make them personalised and comfy with business class style beds ‘Pimp my driverless’.
  • Driverless delivery pick up bays in supermarkets and shopping centres.
  • Child minding for rich kids being transported in their own autonomous vehicle.
  • Night time car wash services in empty car parks overnight – the car dries itself over to get a clean – forget the coffee stop car wash – stay in bed instead.
  • Data and hacking insurance broking in case autonomous cars get unexpectedly commandeered.
  • Independent blockchain powered auto-courier services via your own autonomous car.

The list is really endless. Most of these ideas aren’t about technology either – they’re about organising the new factors of production. Creating new value from the opportunities the technology itself presents.

To invent a positive future for yourself – we just need to open our minds and our eyes. Start looking for the opportunities. The questions we should be asking ourselves might include:

Where might my industry go? What skill sets might I be able to pivot off? What new opportunities will emerge from the changes?

If you want to be the architect of your own future, it’s mostly about attitude and looking on purpose.

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If you liked this post, you’ll love my latest book – check it out. 

Why we need to stop using the word Job

With every single policy statement of our, and any democratic Government, I can tell you what the proposed objective of every single one of them will be:

Jobs & Growth.

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 12.27.31 PM

For me, it is heartbreaking to hear this mantra still being chanted as some kind of plan for the future, especially given the industrial age is officially over. We don’t need to provide people with jobs – we need to provide them with the tools and skills of adaptation, because increasingly, jobs will have shorter and shorter life cycles.

The era of lifelong jobs, lifelong careers or life long anything is over. Quite frankly, jobs are not the solution. We are very quickly evolving into an economy driven by independent actors, attracting revenue from multiple sources. In the future, everyone will become ‘Projecteers’. We are already starting to shift inside and outside of companies, providing skills for projects. The best way to de-risk anything financial is to have many sources of revenue – not just one, which is what a job is. Having a job is the riskiest financial strategy anyone can have. Anyone who wants to thrive in the new economy needs to be totally self-reliant.

The good news? It has never been a better time in history to get on the path to independence. To learn and to reinvent ourselves. The first thing we need to do in every industrialised economy is remove the word ‘job’ from our collective parlance. This word is responsible for limiting the possibilities of millions of people – it steals from the breadth of possibility. It says: be subservient to someone else. It says:

  • Let someone else provide opportunities for you.
  • Let someone else decide what you’re worth.
  • Let someone else decide if you’re qualified.
  • Let someone else decide if they need you.
  • Let someone else decide when to replace you with Artificial Intelligence.

The list is endless, but the point is that it outsources responsibility to an economic machine we have no control over. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the government came out and said, “We are going to make it easier than ever to start a business”?

A better approach to life is to think in terms of Revenue – how much do I need, where can I get it and what value can I create for others so I can get my fair share. Everyone’s economic future is not based on the job they have, but the revenue they create for themselves. And the government…well, they just want tax payers and centralised simplicity where they give large corporations what they want so long as they provide jobs for tax payers. We all deserve more than that. We deserve an independent future where the government provides resources for people to invent new industries and revenue streams for a modern economy. We deserve new systems that enable nimble skill providers to adapt to what the economy and businesses need. Jobs are something people had when Henry Ford ran the show, and the last time I looked… Ford wasn’t a company anyone revered.

If you like this kind of thinking about the future, then I’d highly recommend reading my new book – The Lessons School Forgot. You can download the first chapter here free. It’s out in June and is a manifesto on how to financially future-proof your life in a rapidly changing world.

Low tech jobs in a high tech world

look alike robot

The robots are taking over. Seriously, they are. They are taking a lot of the crappy and dangerous jobs we’ve done in the past. They’re taking a few of the good ones too. So here’s a thought, why not try and own some robots? Maybe save some money with your robot – oh, like your phone which saves you buying music…

Here’s another thought experiment: If a person has $100 in their wallet, and instead of spending 30 of those dollars on a CD, where does the money go? Does it just evaporate? Of course not. Money doesn’t evaporate, it just changes places. It is relatively easy to see where it will dry up and where it will get invested instead. The transition is obvious to people who pay attention to the world they live in. Good news, that new place where old new money gets spent also has new new jobs associated with it – most will be low tech. They always are.

Here’s another little known fact – the worlds most profile tech company ‘Google’ is not the nerd nest of techies you think it is. More than half of its global workforce are sales people. Yep, that same person who would normally have sold TV ads, cars, vacuums, real estate and health insurance is now a sales person at Google.

Humans invent jobs as new industries and technologies emerge. We surround the new thing with people – it’s like a force of gravity. People aggregate around money and commerce. And yes, some good paying jobs do disappear, but some other high paying ones arrive too.

If you want to be on the high paying end of things, here’s what to do, go out and learn some new skills few people have, there are enormous skill gaps in the market today. And these skills are free to learn on line. Here’s a website I love called the ‘No Excuses List’ – which is full of things you can learn for free. Skills companies and people need today!  If you make the effort to reinvent yourself in times of great change, the prize is big, I know I’ve done it myself.

But of course there’s a catch, I can’t do your push ups for you.

Yes, the robots will take your job, but…

Bison Hunter

…there are not that many bison hunters any more.

This is a very short way of saying that all jobs eventually get replaced by technology. Technology will take the role of many white collar jobs, just like machines have taken away many blue collar jobs, just like the plough took away many farming jobs. Technological Unemployment will always be a fixture in human existence – and always has been. It just so happens that it doesn’t sell newspapers (or provide click bait) to tell the truth that new jobs will be created. But it seems like a week doesn’t go past without a new report flagging the end of millions of jobs. So here’s a counter mind jam of some new jobs recently created that no one is writing economic reports on:

UX Designer, App developer, Drone Pilot, Crowd Funding Advisor, Smart Phone Game Developer, Blogger, Podcaster, Social Media Specialist, Wikipedia Moderator, Content Curator, Community Manager, Uber Driver, Airbnb Host, Web Videographer, Youtube Content Creator, Vine Artist, e-Book Publisher, Bitcoin Trader, Bitcoin Miner, E-Commerce Consultant, SEO Specialist, Genetics Counsellor, Sustainability Advisor, Citizen Journalist, MOOCs tutor, Big Data Analyst, Cloud Services Specialist…

And this list is just small sample set from my perspective. I’m sure your industry or worldview could make the list much larger. In fact, there are currently more than 500,000 app developers in the USA alone. A job that didn’t exist pre smart phone.

A simple economic fact is that if a person has $100 in their wallet, it still gets spent. In 1995 $10 of that $100 might have went into getting filmed developed. Now it goes elsewhere, maybe towards the cost of a smart phone monthly fee. The money always gets spent, saved or invested. The allocation just changes. And so do the jobs around those expenditure allocations. If you want to be future proof, I suggest you pay close attention to what your friends are spending their time and money on. It’s always where tomorrows jobs and startup opportunities lie.

The crazy thing about all those ‘new jobs’ above is this: They are all learnable, and mostly for free. All you need is these two assets: (1) The ability to read. (2) A connection to the internet (I’m guessing you have these). But yes, they all take effort. And no, the Government or your Boss won’t save you, or pay you to learn any of them. No one can do your push ups for you. But if you’ll make the effort, the rewards are there. The new jobs, and more importantly ‘business opportunities’ around them are ripe in these realms and they often pay more than job X did yesterday. Guess who earns more: A small screen UX Designer, or a Graphic Designer doing page layouts for a print magazine? Same realm, but a different iteration and attitude to learning. It’s really just a choice between taking advantage of the opportunities, or wishing the world was like yesterday.

Yes, the pace of change is scary. Yes, things are changing at a rapid pace, but it’s never been more possible to up-skill, re-skill or new-skill in the history of humanity. So next time you read a report on the impending doom of your industry, job or financial future, just remember that it is your decision on how it will affect you.

New Book – The Great Fragmentation – out now.

The evolution of employment

Hunter

Shepherd

Farmer

Craftsman

Employee

Projecteer

While the flow of jobs through history here clearly simplifies the reality, but there is no disputing the type and structure of work we do is in a constant state of flux.

Soon employers will realise they don’t actually need employees. They will work out the thing they actually need is tasks completed, projects managed and leadership provided. And in a connected world they won’t need to pay for people to do these things 5 days a week – especially when large amounts of that time paid for are unproductive.  What we need to remember is that companies pay people based on the value they deliver, not by the hours they are present. If a person cost X for 5 days work, but it really only takes 3 days to do, they the company would be happy to pay the equivalent of 4 days  for previous cost of the 5 days output. Especially when it reduces the overhead of carrying the employee. On average an employee costs twice their salary to carry. In a connected world roles for employees will fragment into pieces and projects purely because the balance sheet will demand it. When this does happen will happen and we will enter the age of the projecteer. And I truly believe this will be better for everyone. Projecteers we gain a greater revenue clip for their time given, and companies will save on cost for activities done.   In addition to this, neither party will be chained to each other mentally providing a more creative work life ecosystem.

So the question for all of us are:

How are we building our personal brand?

What are we developing our pinch hitting expertise in?

How can we create more value by being cross fertilised, nimble value merchants?

And how can companies connect with us?

We all about to become entrepreneurs whether we like it or not, best we get ready now. 

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The future is less

You’ve heard this:

If all you ever do, is all you’ve every done. Then you can only expect all you’ve ever got.

It’s changed slightly, actually it has changed radically:

If all you ever do, is all you’ve ever done. Then you can expect much much less than you used to get.

This is because there are a nearly 2 billion people in the BRIC nations who are prepared to do what you do for around 10% of your price. And in a ‘web everywhere’ world people can find them. Yes this includes nearly all of us – Architects, Engineers, Accountants, Lawyers, Graphic Designers, Coders, Developers, Journalists  – every single task that can be done remotely, and even some that can’t be.

For them 10% of your pay is a 50% pay rise. A pretty good deal from where they sit.

What to do – do more with the stuff that lives around the edges. Make meaning from the seemingly disparate. Add a creative edge by mashing things up in a new and interesting way.  And demand the people near you take notice of your ideas. If they don’t, then find a better place to share your creativity.

The trick to the future is to organise the factors of production, not be them.

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