We are living in the most technologically advanced time in the history of mankind. Technology has disrupted the traditional way of manufacturing & the way services are offered by companies. Rapid adoption of Artificial Intelligence technologies have & will put millions of jobs at risk. World Bank in its recent report has quoted that automation will threaten 69% of the jobs in India and 77% in China. That’s over a few million jobs in India & China alone! Even our top IT Services companies have declared to reduce hiring going forward as low-end jobs are getting increasingly automated. So what are we going to do to “protect” our jobs & “prosper” in this uncertain environment?
I just finished reading the book “The Start up of You” written by Reid Hoffman (co-founder of Linkedin) and Ben Casnocha and found it to be quite relevant to the above problem and how we can help ourselves as well as others to mitigate this crisis. I am sharing few critical points that I think could be helpful for working class & businesses like us in the future:
1. Develop Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is the activity of setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit. If you do not want to take the acute risk of an entrepreneur, you must develop entrepreneurship mindset i.e. the ability to think like an entrepreneur. You must work as if you are the owner of the organization and responsible for its P&L. Trust me less than 5% of employees think and work with this mindset and those who do almost always reaches the top! This itself will differentiate you remarkably in your organization.
Differentiate or Die. This is applicable as much to a corporate as to an individual. Ask any senior management in a company – whom do you consider your biggest liabilities? The standard reply would be middle management. Reason being the middle level managers get complacent with time and hardly invest in upgrading their skills and knowledge. It is easier and less expensive for companies to replace them with freshers or young professionals who have both latest skills and knowledge and come at fraction of their cost. It is especially applicable in technology and services sector.
The below table shows the ranking of top 10 Fortune 500 companies over the last 40 years. You can see almost 50% of companies in the list have fallen out of the list every decade. Why? These companies failed to differentiate or innovate themselves and hence they either closed shop or got acquired by their peers.
We are living in information age where things change every few years, may be every year. Five years back we haven’t heard of Whatsapp, Snapchat or Uber. Now there have almost 1 Billion users each! Every five year a new technology is born and older ones are junked. How do you stay relevant in such a volatile world? When I started my career in technology in early 2000 we used to work on VB, .Net etc , which have become extinct now. Adapt and keep updating your skill sets. If not you will get replaced by others who know the latest skills.
4. Build Your Network
Never stop making friends and never limit your friend network only to your area of expertise or interest. A diverse group of friends broaden your knowledge, perspective and areas of influence while a large network increases your access to jobs / business opportunities, information and knowledge. Currently I have exposure in a real estate advisory firm, an IT services company and a financial education company. All happened through my network.
Remember you are the average of five guys you hang out with!! So make sure you hang out with people who are better, smarter and technically diverse than you.
5. Take Risks
Life is a risk vs reward game. We take risks when we switch to a different company or to a different industry or quit our jobs to start our own business. I shifted from technology industry to real estate almost ten years back. Everybody thought I have gone nuts. But I persisted and successfully executed few large capital transactions in Bangalore. When I quit my job and started working as a real estate advisor (B2B), I went home without any earning for straight 12 months. Absolutely zero earning. My family thought I have gone nuts 🙂
However, my mentor said if you can survive for 1000 days you can survive forever. That’s how it works. However, I have learnt the hard way to take only “intelligent” risks.
Humans have the natural ability to differentiate, adapt and take calculated risks to survive and succeed in life. We should invest in ourselves to build & upgrade relevant skills to stay not only relevant but also well ahead of time. Wrapping up with a quote from the book – “For life in permanent beta, the trick is to never stop starting.” Good luck!
PS: I am a moderately successful man & just trying to share what I learnt. Also, I would like to clarify that nobody has paid me to promote this book 🙂