"Change or die". "They don't want to change." "Change is hard to do." We've all heard those phrases before and we will keep hearing it over and over, probably over the next couple of decades. The next chapter in Making It In America is about change. He makes the case for change and, as usual, in the end provides some bullet points for change.
- "If the old way isn't working, doing things the old way will never produce new results." Or that's the definition of insanity as someone else once said.
- "Change or die is more than a slogan - it's a constant reality for everyone...Don't be a dinosaur. Change. The consequences of not changing are far more dire than you may believe."
- "Anticipate change while things are still going well." Making changes while things are going well gives you the best leverage to make the change. You are doing it from a position of strength.
- "Define the terms of your change. Don't let others do that for you." This is my favorite one because this is about taking control in your hands.
I agree that we need to change and I want to change, but change to what? Sometimes the change looks like a change for the worst and not moving in the right direction. Is this dip temporary or permanent? That's why change is so scary. We've been trained to go on an upward trajectory. Kind of like how recruiters and hiring managers, when they look at your resume, they expect upward motion, not sideways. So there is a resistance to change.
"It's Brutal Out There " Making It In America, p. 118, hardcover.
With everything slated to be automated, even in the knowledge industries such as finance and programming, to what do you change to? Thomas Friedman had an article where he interviewed somebody about where to go next. We first started out with making with our hands during the Industrial Age, then we moved into the head phase with the Knowledge Industry. And now the next stage is to go with the heart. Empathy, being human, being authentic.
Bill Gates also went looking for what skill sets hiring managers are looking for and he came up with the usual pabulum: science, engineering and economics. These sets of skills may be more for the near term than long term because with machine learning, it is not hard to imagine the day where machines take over the humans in these areas also. Already, some machines are making new findings in scientific fields much quicker using machine learning. These STEM type skills alone will not be enough; being human provides the most hope for providing value to society. And especially in the STEM, you are going to need heart. The relentless drive to automate everything strikes me as heartless.
The other aspect about the science and engineering: those fields are hard to change into in the middle of your life. These are skills requiring college level education. Right now I'm trying to learn about different aspects of programming as well as the human part of cultural arts. That's hard to do when working. And it's hard to figure out how to combine those two in a meaningful way. So again, change is very hard to do when you don't know in which direction you should go, you lack the time to do the hard stuff (which is what STEM is) and you may lack the innate talent.
"You have to stay ahead of your own decline. " Making It In America, p. 117, hardcover.
But in changing, you can't change in the same direction as everyone is changing. Say for example, you can't mimic the Chinese way which is low cost.
"American business will never win a race to the bottom on the wages we pay. Our wages will never be the strongest suit competitively. America is going to have higher wages than a lot of Asian and South American countries do. Instead our folks have to be smarter, faster and more productive." Making It In America, p. 122, hardcover.
So you have to figure out how to change that works best with your strengths.
So I'm still trying to figure out where to go next. In the meantime, I'll continue learning both the STEM type topics and the art/human touches.
"I want to blaze a trail. In America we have to think that way, now and forever. " Making It In America, p. 123, hardcover.
Other posts related to this book: