If you’re reading this post on YouTern, there’s a more than an even chance you’re ambitious. If you weren’t, you’d probably spend your time on YouSlacker.com instead.
Since you’re here, you’re eager for useful advice on building your career. First stop: awesome, resume-building internships. Next up: the coolest, resume-building job you can land.
Here’s the thing, though – and I hope this doesn’t freak you out too much…
You may want to rethink that whole plan. You may not want a real job after all; you may not even want to build your resume.
A caveat: I’m the last person whose career you want to emulate. People tend to focus on my high points, the companies I lead, and the books I write; they miss the lows, which have been many thus far. I’m a crash test dummy of employment. There should be a person following me around with a sign that says, “Don’t try this at home. Don’t do what I’ve done” with an arrow pointed directly at me like one of those “I’m with Stupid” t-shirts.
But please, learn what I’ve learned – and what I’m still learning – as I study the changes the Social Age is bringing to us. Think about the collective wisdom of our society, including our parents and higher education, tells our youth. And decide for yourself: is what they say really how the world works today?
The Myth of a One-Company Career
Every time I think this myth must surely be extinct, I meet a young, bright-eyed careerist who tells me how their Grandpa worked for the same company his whole life, and how eager they are to jump into the working world just like Grandpa. If that’s you… here’s food for thought: the average tenure with any given company is less than three years. Lifetime employment with the same company is unlikely, to put it kindly.
The Myth of Fulfilling Retirement
My adopted hometown of Naples, Florida, is a retirement mecca for C-level executives. The average age here is probably well over 70. Actual retirement is not only rare; for these one-percenters, it’s boring and stressful at the same time. Due to current economic conditions, many others consider the thought of retirement (in the “no more earning” sense) impossible. Why? Because it turns out that for many, 401ks are a weak replacement for the pensions the one-company generation expected.
The Myth of Employment
There’s something tacitly dishonest in this myth we tell our youth (I say “tacit” because I’m convinced no one is trying to pull a fast one). It’s just that we humans pass down wisdom learned from our elders, even when some of that “wisdom” stops being wise quite some time ago. And if there’s one thing I’m convinced of from studying the Social Age for five years now, it’s that this era will feature and embrace the self-employed. As this new age continues to unfold, you’re going to have to try very hard not to be your own boss.
I know this last myth is scary to many of you. After all, it’s likely not something your parents told you. Or your coaches and teachers. Our school systems have not adapted; they are designed to train Industrial Age workers like we did in the Forties and Fifties: get good grades and become a manager… everyone else, line up for a position on the assembly line floor.
But the Industrial Age has been over for a while now. We’ve been sending those factory jobs to developing nations for quite some time. Our educational system needs a radical overhaul. And you need better advice.
Today, more than any time other time in history, careerists can work for themselves and make a good living. They can work from home, when they like. They can build a company of one, or employ a few hundred others. There’s no “One Right Way” anymore. You are limited only by your imagination, your desire to serve your customers incredibly well, and your work ethic.
I’ve been meaning to share this insight with the YouTern community for a while now. Want to know what finally prodded me to get to it? I met a remarkable couple, Amber and Jason, who fired their bosses and now work from home: when they want, as much or as little as they want. How? One of them started her own online store selling baby clothes. Her one-woman business made her more than she had been making in her office job. It kept growing, till pretty quickly it also brought in more money than her boyfriend was earning in his corporate gig. He liked his job okay. But “okay” wasn’t good enough. So he quit, and now he’s working the business.
I’ve built a career interviewing fascinating people. They’re written books or led exciting companies, or both. But you know what? I’ll put Amber and Jason up against any of them in the “fascinating” category. They’re the modern face of business, tattoos and all.
Watch Amber’s six-minute interview, and ask yourself this question:
Do you really want a job?
Yes, you want pay – we all have bills to pay and passions to fund. But I hope you think long and hard about one thing: maybe working for yourself is doable. And whether you take it up as a side project for extra income, or a necessary stop-gap as you search for a traditional employer, you have options today that your teachers and parents didn’t have themselves, and have failed to tell you about.
It’s a brave new world out there. One the older generations often don’t fully grasp yet. Show them by doing. Blaze your own trail. Go get ’em!
About the Author: Ted Coiné is co-founder of Switchandshift.com, where he is host of Switch and Shift TV, weekly interviews with extraordinary thinkers focusing on The Human Side of Business. One of the most influential business experts on the Web, Ted has been top-ranked by Forbes, SAP Business Innovation, and Huffington Post for his leadership, customer experience, and social media influence.
An inspirational speaker and author, his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, co-authored with YouTern’s own Mark Babbitt, will hit bookstores in August 2014. Ted consults with owners, CEOs and boards of directors on making their companies more competitive by making them more human-focused. He and his family live in Naples, Florida, where Ted is active in the local tech startup community.
Image courtesy of blog.bayt.com. Thank you!