Essential Skills
 

 

This article was written by Thomas L. Friedman
NY Times

First published July 14, 2011 01:01AM

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"You can and should shape your own future; because if you don't someone else surely will."
--Joel Barker

 

"In the new world...whatever can be done, will be done. Will it be done by you?"
--Friedman, in an address at MIT

 

 

"Whatever you may be thinking when you apply for a job today, you can be sure the employer is asking this: Can this person add value every hour, every day — more than a worker in India, a robot or a computer?"

New Paradigm: Adapt or Die!

The rise in the unemployment rate last month to 9.2 percent has Democrats and Republicans reliably falling back on their respective cure-alls. It is evidence for liberals that we need more stimulus and for conservatives that we need more tax cuts to increase demand.

I am sure there is truth in both, but I do not believe they are the whole story.

I think something else, something new — something that will require our kids not so much to find their next job as to invent their next job — is also influencing today’s job market more than people realize.

The FaceBook logo...Look at the news these days from the most dynamic sector of the U.S. economy — Silicon Valley. Facebook is now valued near $100 billion, Twitter at $8 billion, Groupon at $30 billion, Zynga at $20 billion and LinkedIn at $8 billion. These are the fastest-growing Internet/social networking companies in the world, and here’s what’s scary: You could easily fit all their employees together into the 20,000 seats in Madison Square Garden, and still have room for grandma.

They just don’t employ a lot of people relative to their valuations, and while they’re all hiring today, they are largely looking for talented engineers.This is one of Friedman's books. It's oft referenced and may be worth your time reading...

Indeed, what is most striking when you talk to employers today is how many of them have used the pressure of the recession to become even more productive by deploying more automation technologies, software, outsourcing, robotics — anything they can use to make better products with reduced head count and health care and pension liabilities. That is not going to change.

Today’s college grads need to be aware that the rising trend in Silicon Valley is to evaluate employees every quarter, not annually. Because the merger of globalization and the IT revolution means new products are being phased in and out so fast that companies cannot afford to wait until the end of the year to figure out whether a team leader is doing a good job.

Whatever you may be thinking when you apply for a job today, you can be sure the employer is asking this: Can this person add value every hour, every day — more than a worker in India, a robot or a computer? Can he or she help my company adapt by not only doing the job today but also reinventing the job for tomorrow? And can he or she adapt with all the change, so my company can adapt and export more into the fastest-growing global markets?

In today’s hyperconnected world, more and more companies cannot and will not hire people who don’t fulfill those criteria.

But you would never know that from listening to the debate in Washington, where some Democrats still tend to talk about job creation as if it’s the 1960s and some Republicans as if it’s the 1980s. But this is not your parents’ job market.

A new global paradigm? (Not LITERALLY!)This is precisely why LinkedIn’s founder, Reid Garrett Hoffman, one of the premier starter-uppers in Silicon Valley — besides co-founding LinkedIn, he is on the board of Zynga, was an early investor in Facebook and sits on the board of Mozilla — has a book coming out after the new year called The Start-Up of You, co-written with Ben Casnocha.

Hoffman argues that professionals need an entirely new mindset and skill set to compete.

“The old paradigm of climb up a stable career ladder is dead and gone,” he said to me. “No career is a sure thing anymore. The uncertain, rapidly changing conditions in which entrepreneurs start companies is what it’s now like for all of us fashioning a career. Therefore you should approach career strategy the same way an entrepreneur approaches starting a business.”

To begin with, Hoffman says, that means ditching a grand life plan. Entrepreneurs don’t write a 100-page business plan and execute it one time; they’re always experimenting and adapting based on what they learn.

It also means using your network to pull in information and intelligence about where the growth opportunities are — and then investing in yourself to build skills that will allow you to take advantage of those opportunities.

Hoffman adds: “You can’t just say, ‘I have a college degree, I have a right to a job, now someone else should figure out how to hire and train me.’”

You have to know which industries are working and what is happening inside them and then “find a way to add value in a way no one else can.

For entrepreneurs it’s differentiate or die — that now goes for all of us.”

Online Comments to this article:

·         1. This editorial reminds me of a great quote:
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
Robert A. Heinlein

Based upon my experience most college graduates are pretty much worthless, with out the on the job training that is required to make them worth something, usually not much.

·         2. Memo to Thomas Friedman:

The problem with our society is that too many kids look at work as "demeaning" because guys like you keep bringing up the dearth on white collar jobs and telling these kids these are the jobs they want!

The reality is there is a big-time dearth coming in the land of skilled labor. Electricians, Carpenters, Boilermakers, Steelworkers, and the list goes on. All of these skilled jobs pay well. Yes, they are physically demanding; but building and rebuilding America can't be done without them.

But, because of guys like you who hold these careers in such low esteem, many kids consider these jobs to be "beneath their dignity" and they opt for fighting to get the low to no wage job in retail or playing phone monkey at a call center. The teenagers even refuse to work in the food stands like many of us did for our High School job.

Next time you decide to drop some of your Nobel Prize intellect on employment out there; maybe you ought to talk to the construction and building trades people about their employment challenges in finding skilled labor.

·         3. It's apparent the change is coming if we aren't already looking at it.  It's a version of survival of the fittest.  You learn to become one of the survivors or you take the Darwin award.

On another note the country should look at eliminating the bulk of representatives in government from the top down using the same criteria.  "Can these people add value every hour, everyday, more than a worker in India, a robot or a computer?"

·         4. It's apparent the change is coming if we aren't already looking at it.  It's a version of survival of the fittest.  You learn to become one of the survivors or you take the Darwin award.

On another note the country should look at eliminating the bulk of representatives in government from the top down using the same criteria.  "Can these people add value every hour, everyday, more than a worker in India, a robot or a computer?"

·         5. The world economy has changed to one of service and ideas. Conversation is digital and content is king. The ability to work with ideas has become crucial to having a place in society. Thinking outside of the box is no longer a weird personality trait, but something to be admired and valued. It’s a key trait necessary to modern-day strategic planning and process modeling.

Intellectual property–content–is an asset that not only gets produced, but reproduced, reconfigured, and re-purposed for variety of media. Those who produce intellectual property are builders of wealth. An original idea that solves a problem or presents an opportunity is worth more now than it ever has been. Those who develop and mold original ideas are the new “killer app.”

·         6. In the largest sense, American society is breaking into two classes:

The first class are people who know how to think. These people realize that most problems are open to examination and creative solution. If a problem appears in the lives of these people, their intellectual training will quickly lead them to a solution or an alternative statement of the problem. These people are the source of the most important product in today’s economy – ideas.

The second class, the vast majority of Americans, are people who cannot think for themselves. I call these people “idea consumers” — metaphorically speaking, they wander around in a gigantic open-air mall of facts and ideas. The content of their experience is provided by television, the Internet and other shallow data pools. These people believe collecting images and facts makes them educated and competent, and all their experiences reinforce this belief. The central, organizing principle of this class is that ideas come from somewhere else, from magical persons, geniuses, “them.”

Hey! An example of graphic notes...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 This might be a stretch--but it's a story about the paradsigm shift that has changed the way we think and communicate. Or not...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas Friedman, the author of the article reprinted here. Why don't you "Google" this guy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


According to Pulitzer Prize winner and The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, the technology you use every day -- from computers to cell phones to Internet browsers -- has changed not only how you work, but also how businesses compete.

It has certainly removed barriers to trade -- making it easier to sell digital cameras in India -- but it has also broken down the geographic and cultural barriers that previously kept countries like China and India from competing on the same level with western business.