Reading time: 6 minutes
It was tough growing up in an African household. My parents would often tell stories of how they would have to walk 20 miles to school, sit in a class of 100 students that was designed to seat 30, have to study without electricity, fight evil ninjas… okay I made up that last part but I got the picture that it was a really tough gig for them to do well, come to the UK and have a decent life.
My mother would drill into me that life consisted of these 4 steps and I had to do them in a particular order: here is a picture I drew just for you guys! (Thank you Mama WebDev for copyright permission).
I got steps 1 and 2 in the bag and was heading to step 3 but then it happened…
The Armageddon of 2008-2009
In 2009, there had been rumblings of the “credit crunch” on the news for the last couple of weeks but I didn’t take any notice as I was more interested in how Michael Schofield would break out of Fox River Penitentiary in “Prison Break” (It’s a great show, catch it on Netflix).
But one day in late September, I went to account management job at a large telecoms company as usual and sat at my desk to start making calls. My boss urgently told me to finish my call and log into an emergency all-hands-teleconference with the Managing Director. I never saw my manager’s face so pale and my spider-sense was tingling… To cut a long story short, we are informed because of the financial crisis, our department was being closed.
Within a month, I found myself jobless and absolutely terrified. I was desperately trying to find a job but nothing appeared to work. This was not part of the plan. So after much thought I decided to retrain as a teacher and teach those ‘dangerous minds’.
But now with the Brexit vote, I’m seeing the same turmoil again. The Further Education sector where I work lost funding due to the result and this meant further job cuts.
But strangely I’m not afraid. The Armageddon of 2008 taught me some great lessons that allowed me simply to shrug my shoulders and pivot faster in my career than Lionel Messi at the Emirates.
If you don’t know already, we are now in the Information Age – which is the most exciting yet turbulent time in human history. The rules have changed for ever and nothing is safe anymore – but that is great! Here are 3 changes that mean you will have to channel your inner Richard Branson.
1) The Death Of The Lifelong Job
When my father landed in the UK in the 1970s, he had dreams of working for good company, with good benefits and a pension, for 30 years so that he could retire with a pat on the back and a gold watch. But with increased global competition, technological change and increasingly disruptive social and political changes in the world, change is now the norm not the exception. With zero our contracts is becoming increasingly popular for employers, workers have less job security than ever.
My parents always told me to find “a good, safe and stable job”. But the stats show that the chances that you will stay in the same company for 30 years are as remote as Arsene Wenger asking Jose Mourinho to be the godparent of his child. It’s not happening.
2) Technology Is Changing Everything
Education expert, Cathy N. Davidson stated “65% of children entering grade school (primary School) will work in careers that haven’t been invented yet.” In the past 10 years we have seen absolute giants of industry: Blackberry, Kodak, Blockbuster video et al being toppled by newer more innovative companies.
It’s hard to believe that Facebook was launched in 2004, YouTube in 2005, WhatsApp and Uber in 2010, but they have changed the way that we make friends, consume media, talk with each other and catch a ride home after heavy night. “Google’s Top rated Future Speaker” Thomas Frey, reckons that 2 billion jobs will disappear by 2030 and be replaced by smart machines – that’s half the jobs on the planet!
With the death of old industries and birth of new ones, workers whether employed or flying solo, must be prepared to ride the wave of these changes or be crushed underneath them.
3) More Pressure And Complexity In The Day Job
When was a lot younger, I’ve worked in jobs where I came in, sat at my desk, made 10 sales calls and spent the rest of the time talking about whether Superman would beat up the Son-Goku in a fight. (Shout out Death Battle). I was ‘coasting’ and I got decent pay. But pushing papers around and expected to be paid well is on the way out. Journalist Thomas Friedman wrote a great article saying “Average is Over” and stated:
In the past, workers with average skills, doing an average job, could earn an average lifestyle. But, today, average is officially over. Being average just won’t earn you what it used to. It can’t when so many more employers have so much more access to so much more above average cheap foreign labor, cheap robotics, cheap software, cheap automation and cheap genius.
So to all the racist speakers saying that “foreigners are taking our jobs” – I understand your frustration… But your job is more likely to be taken by an IBM server than Jamal, Amandeep or Pietrck. We all need that something special in today’s labour market.
The world of Mama WebDev and your parents are gone. And it’s not coming back.
I didn’t write this post to depress you or make you want to shout at your already stressed parents (okay, you can have 1 eyeroll only – that’s it!) But we are all entrepreneurs now.
The word “entrepreneur” is defined ‘as a person who organises and manages any enterprise usually with considerable initiative and risk’. The 40/40 plan (40 hours a week for 40 years in the same job) is over. We, more than ever, must take the risk organise and manage our careers.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. With the Internet and all the changes that are happening, we have the unique ability to design our careers and our lives in ways that not even our parents could imagine!
The smart phone in your pocket has 20 times the processing power than the computer that sent Man to the Moon. We have incredible access to tools and devices that will allow us to create films, reach new customers, take great exciting new job opportunities and brand yourself like a pro literally at your fingertips!
Rather than being frightened of all the changes that are happening, let us embrace them, take some risks & design the career & life that we dream of!
In the words of the wise:
Carpe Diem (Seize The Day!)- Horace, poet (23BC)
YOLO (You Only Live Once) – Drake, rapper (2011AD)
Thank you for reading! Are there any changes I forgot? Please comment & let me know what you think! Share it with all your friends and start a conversation! Let me know below or tweet at me @karlwebdev
See you next Thursday!