Hi, everybody and welcome back. In this blog post, I want to talk to you about seven ways you can future proof yourself. Now, there is a lot of changes that happen all the time in the market, in platforms, in technology and when those changes happen, I never really get scared because I’ve put a tremendous amount of time and energy into future proofing myself. A few of the skills that I’ve developed are having a great creative eye and being able to learn anything, having great salesmanship skills, having good communication skills. Those are just a few of the things, but I’m going to go into some others. What if plan A, plan B, plan C doesn’t work out for you? How are you going to make the shift? How are you going to pivot in order to make sure that your career stays viable and you stay successful?
It’s really dangerous to identify yourself with your job or with your career, or with your field in a really deep internal way. You have to stay to a certain extent, flexible, and be able to evolve with changes in the world as they happen. Now in many ways, the future is now. There is so much change going on in the world. Here are just a few of the things that have been changing that have caused people to have to evolve, to have to pivot, to have to learn new skills. The development of the internet, of course that was a long time ago, but now there’s a huge explosion in mobile and also in applications. The rise of artificial intelligence, the rise of a 3D and virtual reality, the death of retail. So, malls are disappearing and physical retail is going through huge shifts.
Populations are moving to the cities. So, populations in rural areas is declining. There’s this huge trend in the end of job security. So, long-term job security is one of the things that’s kind of become a thing of the past. There’s a massive explosion in entrepreneurship. There’s this huge rise in the number of independent contractors that there are in the world. There’s an amazing amount of change going on in the world all the time and being able to future proof yourself so you can stay relevant in your professional career and with your company is incredibly important. So, now I’m going to share a few of those things with you.
1: Focus on solving people’s problems, not on a job description.
It’s really easy to create a personal identity or a sense of self around a particular narrow job description, and that’s really dangerous because the world is changing so quickly. You want to be able to evolve. You want to be able to learn new things and be open to learning new things. So, focusing on solving people’s problems as the key focus of what you do is what’s going to really help you stay future-proof. You have to develop empathy, you have to get really good at listening. You have to understand and care about people’s problems because then you can focus on developing the solution and that’s how you’re going to get paid for what you do.
2: Developing great research skills and great communication skills.
Communication skills are probably the most important skill that you can have, period, both written and verbally because communication skills are the most important thing to have in just about every job description in the world. Also, research skills, and what I mean by research skills are the ability to gather insights, so that’s gather trend information, gather competitive data, sort through proof points because these are the sorts of things that are going to support your points of view and also support the decisions that you make for your own business and also for your client’s businesses.
3: Making sure that you embrace new technology and that you become an early adopter.
Technology changes so quickly and it affects just about every job description in the world. So, paying attention to what’s happening in technology and continually learning and continuing to be open to learning new things and new applications and new processes, and not resting on your laurels on one particular thing that you do is an incredibly important thing when it comes to future-proofing yourself. You want to be able to learn new skills and new apps and understand new industries, and new business languages because that kind of flexibility in that kind of growth and evolution in you is what’s going to help you in your career.
4: Developing an independent body of work.
It’s very easy if you work in a corporation and work in an agency to rely on that external company that you work for to kind of establish your sense of self and your personal presence. You have to pay really close attention to establishing your own beachhead, to owning your own land, so to speak. You have to develop your own website, your own writing, your own content development and your own social media presence. Even if you work for other companies or agencies, you want to make sure that you’re continuing to work on developing an independent presence and an independent body of work outside of the job that you have.
5: Never romanticize your industry.
Categories of industry change all the time. Things come and go. There’s probably someone out there who thought they were going to be selling CDs their whole life or doing video rentals and retail their whole life. Things change. The steel industry, gone. The retail toy industry, getting totally changed. Website design even has gone incredibly quickly to template design. Social media advertising has also become automated in a lot of regards. So, you can’t rust on your laurels. You have to have your eyes wide open and pay very close attention because the industry that you are working on or working in could very well be changing over time. So, don’t romanticize the fact that you think your industry is going to last forever because chances are it might not. So, keep your eyes open.
6: You have to assume that one day you’re going to get fired or you’re going to get laid off.
No job lasts forever. People these days generally have six to eight jobs in their life and they sometimes in many cases work in three to four different industries in their life. So, you may have a job that’s very secure and you really like it right now, but you have to assume that one day the company you’re in, or the agency you’re in is going to be acquired by another company and they’re going to do a huge reorganization and you’re going to get laid off. That’s one of the reasons why I said you have to make sure you’re building an independent presence all the time, but in order to future-proof yourself, you just have to be cognizant and internalize and understand the fact that someday you may get laid off.
That way if it eventually does happen, you’re not going to get caught by surprise. You’re going to have the pieces in place. You’re going to have the foundation in place to move to the next thing and you’re going to have your eyes open about your industry and what’s changing. So, you’re going to be able to pay attention to where it is you need to go. You’re going to have great trend gathering and research skills to be able to have a good view of what the competitive landscape is and where the business world is gaining speed and where it might be slowing down so you can make the right choices for your career, for the next step of your career or the next step of your business, that’s informed.
7: Overarching one.
You have to learn to pivot. You have to understand that you may have to shift directions when disruption occurs. You have to be prepared to move when the market moves. You have to watch the market. You have to pay attention to trends and new emerging industries. Now, motion and video, and AI and drones, and virtual reality and smart appliances, all of these things have come up in the last five to eight years. There are brand new markets. There are brand new things happening that you may be able to move into or leverage into or learn about in order to future proof yourself for the longevity of your career. You want to continually nurture alternate skills. So, if you’re a graphic designer, you may want to learn about photography or animation or you finances, or sales, or music, or software development.
By continuing push your skill set boundaries, you are going to future proof yourself. So, that’s it. I hope you enjoyed this blog post on seven ways you can future proof yourself.