Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution, friends.
I’m Fran. I’m in my early 40s and despite having an accomplished career in digital media, my career has stalled. I’ve worked in digital agencies building e-commerce solutions, for large global online content portals like BBC.com and AOL, I’ve worked for creative advertising agencies launching huge branded content and social media campaigns, and currently now working for a large global B2B business in a leadership role, looking after their global website and digital marketing.
And despite all of this, I find my career stalling. That’s right. I’ve hit a career ceiling. But it didn’t happen overnight. And what does it mean for my career?
In the past 7 years, in particular, I’ve had this feeling that something is wrong. I couldn’t quite place it. I was busy designing digital solutions, leading campaigns and launching products that delighted, educated and entertained. My initiatives were highly profitable, my campaigns drove traffic to websites, brought in revenue from advertising, and captured leads. I prided myself on my creativity, hard work, positive work ethic and team collaboration. But despite all these “achievements”, I never once received a promotion, and I noticed that as I got older, my bosses got younger, and less experienced (in my view).
I began to get resentful. I thought that the marketplace just didn’t understand me. I had always been a loyal, committed, hard-working follower. My ethos at the time was “Tell me what you want and I’ll get it done!” I was super efficient, organized, a team player and would always deliver, on time, on budget.
Then years passed. It was confusing to me to thinking about why some (albeit few) of my peers were moving on to run their own businesses or assume highly paid leadership positions. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve achieved a certain status in my career; a Director position with a “decent’ salary – but hardly enough to live a life of true freedom and more importantly live a good life with dignity in my 25+ years of retirement.
Thing is, we seldom think about the future, and the reality of our incapacity to earn a living wage when we retire. Gone are the days of corporate benefits and final salary pension plans.
Was it me? Did I just not have the skills or intelligence to be successful in my mid-late career? How did I get to this place?
I decided to have a good hard look at my Self.
I was convinced that I’m just as smart as the next person, so what’s missing? The conclusion I came to was that whatever I’ve been and am currently doing, has a price, or average “going rate”, and that rate is just not good enough for me. So what can I do to compete in this new landscape?
I had no desire to climb the corporate ladder (become a CMO). My goal was to increase my autonomy, independence an increase my capacity to design the future of my choosing. I wanted to work with great people, be valued for my input, make a difference in peoples lives, earn an income that enables me to live (and retire) with dignity.
How was I going to get there? I had to do something different. I had to learn new skills.
But I didn’t want to learn skills that would make me a better worker or “laborer” – I needed to think and act differently. I needed to face myself in the mirror and look at my gaps, my Self as a person, turn my weaknesses into strengths, better understand people, their concerns, psychology, biology and the nature of human transactions. I debated doing a Master in my specialism or an MBA but then I thought: “I don’t want to learn what everyone else is learning”. After all, 20+ years experience at the forefront of digital media should have taught me a thing or two. It wasn’t more “common” knowledge I needed, I needed “uncommon” knowledge – the key to developing a more competitive edge.
I understand now that I was collateral damage from the onset of the 4th Industrial Revolution. The transition from “completing tasks”, “doing” and using single-purpose machines and software to that of “thinking”, “being” and using complex, multiple purpose computers.
It’s no secret that computers, robots and AI are slowly but surely taking over many industry jobs, but it;’s not just your white collar jobs. Marketing professionals, lawyers, bankers, IT specialists, financial managers and many other specialized, educated roles are being or about to be disrupted by computers. You’d think that these roles could outsmart any of these innovations, but not quite.
Get this: There was a report in the New York Times that showed how computers are taking over up to 60% of research and discovery work from junior lawyers. What does that say about people in mid-career?
In the 4th Industrial Revolution, work is not about “doing”. It’s about value. And how do you become more valuable? This blog is dedicated to just that. I’m going to document my journey of discovery and transformation, sharing the knowledge, tips, and tricks that I’m learning on the way.
From online and face-face training courses, workshops, seminars I’m investing my money, time, passion and energy for the next couple of years into developing my competitive edge. And I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.
Together, as a community, we will help each other survive and thrive in the 4th Industrial revolution. The key is to replace “old” knowledge with “new” knowledge and practices that reflect the ways of working in a fast changing, technically advanced, global marketplace.
Further reading: The Secret to Lifelong Success is Lifelong Learning