Internet growth is exponential, over 90% of people on the planet have access to a mobile device, and we are close to a tipping point in the use of artificial intelligence for making and distributing products and services.
This is a phase of economic and social disruption as fundamental as that of the steam engine or internal combustion engine, but where incumbent business models are destroyed faster and easier than ever before, creating opportunity and challenges in great measure.
How to earn a living as a journalist when everyone is a blogger? Or as a musician when everyone can produce and sell their own or download yours incredibly cheaply. How to succeed as a graphic designer in a rich country when someone, somewhere will do the job 80% as well for 5% of the cost? This is the flip-side of the democratisation of the means of production and distribution.
20th century companies looked ahead 3 to 5 years. They competed through products, intellectual property and high entry barriers, whether tangible or regulatory. They were hierarchical and more or less exclusively shareholder focused.
Today 12 months seems over the horizon. Companies compete through creativity, connectivity and by serving something larger than themselves. Apple, Google and Facebook with many others, have created benefits for practically everyone that transcend their commercial imperatives. Collaboration and social responsibility are key success factors. In this business world, the customer / citizen rules.
People once chose a career early and expected it to be for life, with linear progress to retirement and reward for knowledge, experience and seniority. Mid-career study was a minority pursuit and job changes few and mostly within the same industry. Job competitors were others in the same firm or in the local market.
Today people can expect to have multiple “careers”, and lifelong learning is essential to staying relevant. Continuous contribution and recognised value are rewarded; you are only as good as your measurable contribution, whatever your job title or experience.
Successful professionals know they are in a global market place; a more uncertain one that offers greater opportunity for those who know how to position themselves well. Positioning yourself well is a matter of mindset that says you need to:
- Do the intellectual work. Think ahead of the curve by thoroughly understanding the external forces impacting your industry, business and role.
- Be the one who always looks for a better way and contribute meaningfully and visibly to the conversation.
- Figure out who you are and what you stand for - your personal brand values – and orient yourself towards work that aligns with these. If you can combine your unique attributes with creating value for others, you will have an anchor in a sea of change.
- Invest in yourself continuously; study, research, read, join groups and connect with your tribe across the world.
- Cultivate your ability to be resilient, adaptive and flexible. Expect continuous change and recognise there is much you can’t control. Focus instead on managing your own responses.