As the New Year approaches, let’s start planning ahead. Look around you, what do you see? I’ll say that time and again. Now is the time to start preparing for the future, because it’s already here! Are you ready?
The other day in New York I took a ride in an Uber (by now you already know what that is, so I won't explain) and struck up a conversation with the driver.
"So how long have you driven for Uber?"
"About three years."
"What did you do before you went to Uber?"
"I had another career"
"What, may I ask?"
"I drove a Yellow Cab."
We continued to talk, as I pumped him for information about Uber and its business model, from the perspective of a driver who is himself an entrepreneur.
"So, do you make more money now?"
"In the beginning we made a lot of money. Now it's more competitive. There are more Uber drivers and more competitors to Uber itself."
"So, what happens now?"
"In a few years, drivers like me will be replaced by driverless cars,” he said. “You know about the race to get driverless cars on the road, sir?"
"Yes, I'm following it closely."
"Do you think it is a good thing to replace humans with driverless cars?"
I didn’t answer him, but instead posed a question. (I estimated he was about 30 years old).
"So, what will you do?"
"Me? I will change my career again; I'm already preparing because I want to be ready."
"You are a wise man. Thanks for the ride." And with that I went my way.
Something he said really got me thinking: "I will change my career again."
What particularly impressed me was his attitude towards it all: He accepted this change as normal. He was positive even. It's not always so when I meet people and discuss something like this. Often I hear fear, bitterness and anger towards something or somebody!
Each one of us (myself included) must now change our careers at least every five years. That’s the new normal… but how many of us realize this?
Changing your career does not necessarily mean changing your job or employer, but the job you do and how it’s done will change constantly or it might disappear completely!
If you’ve been feeling that you’re not moving forward, or that you’re sliding backwards in your career, it may well be because you didn’t see this change happening around you. Perhaps you don’t "see" the new normal, where change is the only constant.
Does that make you feel uncomfortable? I'm not here to help you feel comfortable with yourself. I want you to make adjustments that will help make you a winner. If that doesn’t happen, you could end up feeling confused, angry and frustrated by things mostly outside your control.
_How well prepared are you for the changes occurring around you?
Almost 25 years ago now, our company imagined a world of African telecommunications beyond telephone landlines. Back then, most people everywhere (not just in Africa) still thought having “a phone in your handbag” sounded quite absurd! Now look where we are!
What do YOU see and imagine when you look at the horizon ahead? Might you have the vision to look even BEYOND that first horizon to something as yet unimagined?
Wherever you are, get ready for the future. It is coming, and it’s coming fast, and you better get ready.
It’s not just about technology or globalization; it’s much more profound than that, and I'll talk about it as part of this series.
What is it you do for a living?
Spend some time this year thinking through, and researching changes to that job that are happening around the world. There is no job that is unaffected!
Ask yourself, "how current is my understanding of the changes that are happening?"
The more you think about it, the more you will see the changes taking place, and also the more opportunities you will begin to see for yourself.
Experience alone is not enough.
Accordingly, STRIVE MASIYIWA said in a few weeks, he will be 56 years (young).
HIS WORDS: I have been working for more than 33 years (old). By all measures, you might say I'm experienced. But what does this mean in the age of constant change, in which I must change my career (the way I do my job) every five years? Either I change the way I do my job, or my job changes, or it might disappear altogether!
# Experience is important but it is not enough.
In fact, when you get to my age or older and all you can talk about is your experience, it’s nothing more than vanity!
What’s one definition of experience? “The process of getting knowledge or skill from doing, seeing or feeling things.”
"I don't read any books," the veteran began proudly. "Really, I could write most of those books myself because I know it all. I have been doing this job for 30 years."
__This guy needs to retire quickly because he will destroy the organization!
You can be old and young at the same time... You cannot afford to think old!
# Experience is important, but it is not enough.
You must complement it with a constant desire and hunger to learn new things and change your career, again and again and again.
Have you ever noticed how hard it is for a team to win back to back World Cup soccer titles?
# When you have a winning team, you don't want to make changes, but that’s when change must be uppermost in your mind.
Much of our older executive corps in Africa really battle with change, and wear their experience as a right of entitlement. This needs to change. Management and leadership roles are not immune to change.
# Experience is important but it is not enough.
Probably the best engineer I ever worked with was a South African guy called Les Cullen. He was already in his 60s when I first hired him, and he worked for me well into his 70s. In every way, Les was like a 26-year old!
His curiosity was insatiable. It always seemed that every day he was trying out a new idea or reading about a new idea.
So this is not an age thing. It's about a mindset. I have known 30-year old who, only 10 years out of college, cannot absorb a new idea! I have known 80-year olds who embrace new ideas and change their careers with extraordinary energy and gusto.
Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus (70+) wrote something interesting. (He’s a social entrepreneur that pioneered the ideas of microcredit and microfinance). He said his greatest challenge has been to change the mindset of people.
“Mindsets play strange tricks on us,” he wrote. “We see things the way our minds have instructed our eyes to see…”
Now don’t let the idea of change panic you. Get your mindset around the idea that in this rapidly changing world, we’ll ALL need to be prepared to change our career, again and again and again.
I saw a quote recently that made me smile: “A year from now you will wish you had started today!”