Saturday, May 25, 2013

More Advice for this Year's Graduating Class

Don Peppers (founding member of Peppers & Rogers Group) has written a blog entry with some good advice for the Grad Class of 2013.  He predicts that in the coming years computers will take over many positions that people currently working (shock!).  He explicitly says that you should focus on two things:
1. Become an expert at dealing with interpersonal issues.
2. Become an expert at finding or discovering problems that need solving.  He calls this creativity.  I would argue that building the logic in software to automate the tasks he lists will also take a lot of creativity (and people working at jobs).

One of the things he alludes to in the article that I think is important is that there is a shift towards self-employment.  Young people are going to need to learn how to manage their finances - not just personally, but they are going to need to know how to run their own little company. 

Finally, the last point he makes in his article is a bit of a switch from the rest of his content, but very important.  He essentially predicts that because of technology advancing the way it is, everything will continue to evolve and change at a faster rate.  Young people need to be flexible and expect to learn knew things all the time.  The status quo is not the new norm - flux is.  And to get around that, Don suggests a soft skill - Always be trustworthy of others.  At first I though this statement was a bit ambiguous, but he clarifies it with: Live your life in such a way that others can trust you.  I couldn't agree more.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Thoughts on Career Advice for College Grads from Linkedin's Founder

Not everyone knows precisely what they want to do once they graduate.  Reid Hoffman spent 15 years trying to figure it out.  But when he did, it worked out well for him - he's the owner/founder of LinkedIn.  Here's a link to a slide show presentation he put together on some of the lessons he felt he learned through the whole process - click here to see the slide show.

In a nutshell, he says that  new graduates need to learn to manage three things to be successful:
1. Competition
2. Networks
3. Risk.

He feels that rather than magnifying the importance of finding the answers to questions like:
 - How do I bring my different interested together into a career?
 - What should I do if I don't know what I like?
 - How do I choose between so many different passions?
 - What should I do with my life?
 - How do I make a positive difference in the world?
he would be more concerned that everyone else is focusing on those same things, and suggests it might be better to focus on the Competitive Advantage you have over everyone else.

He believes networks are important (of course he would, being the founder of LinkedIn).  I do as well.  Opportunities come from people.  He makes this point very well in the slideshow.

The conventional education system doesn't focus much on risk.  However the real world is all about taking risks and learning from what happens.  Learn by doing.  ACTIONS, not plans, generate useful, unforgettable lessons.  Taking intelligent risks will give you a competitive advantage.

After going through the content of his presentation a couple of times, I still feel something is missing.  It feels too much like... a rat race.  To me, Neil's presentation seems geared towards being a successful businessman/entrepreneur.  People with those kind of aspirations will likely find this presentation perfect for them.

I believe you have to have your own definition of success.  Do you have an idea of what a successful 'life' for you would be?  Life beyond your career. Putting together a definition like this also takes time.  Is success a journey or a destination?  Does it include a family?  How much stress are you willing to put up with?  How will you balance financial stability with a career you dream of (that may not be as financially stable)?  What does success mean to you, really?  To me, that is the bottom line graduation question.