Technological advances over the past decade have introduced modern conveniences to our lives that previously existed only in science fiction. Today, we think nothing of booking a dinner reservation at our favorite restaurant, monitoring a home security system, our heating, air conditioning, and lighting all from the smartphone in the palms of our hands.
Although new technology can make our lives easier, it also introduces a new set of challenges – some of which keep us up at night. Around every corner, a job is being replaced by technology. In today’s hyper-connected world, even robots are milking cows. Last week I attended the Boston Chamber of Commerce annual meeting. At the meeting Thomas L. Friedman, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times, started his keynote with a question he often hears from parents these days: “How is my child going to get a job?”
During his keynote, Friedman offered five solid pieces of advice applicable not only to those seeking employment, but to all of us. There have been significant changes over the past decade and we all need to keep up in today’s global, hyper-competitive, and hyper-connected world. Here are his ideas for keeping up and getting ahead:
1) Think like an immigrant – Be full of hope and optimism, willingness to contribute, and don’t think opportunity is going to be handed to you.
2) Think like an artisan – Do your job everyday as if you carved your initials in it.
3) Always be in beta – Be open to continuous learning. “If you ever think you are finished, you are finished.”
4) PQ (persistence) + CQ (curiosity) will always trump IQ. This concept particularly resonated with me as I evolve and refine my own unique value. It doesn’t matter what you know – all things can be Googled. “It’s what you can do with what you know.” Be innovation ready.
5) Find your extra – Think entrepreneurial, identify your unique value contribution and use it.
Throughout his talk Friedman continued to reiterate a key message – average is absolutely over. Friedman states that just doing an average job in an average way will no longer return an average lifestyle.
Finally, creativity, communication and collaboration are sought-after skills, but motivation is a true differentiator. I have been thinking a lot about Friedman’s ideas and intend to act upon them to ensure I am not average.