In 2012, a Georgetown University computer science assistant professor named Cal Newport published his third book, entitled So Good They Can’t Ignore You, which offered a unique perspective regarding career advice. Newport argued that “follow your passion” is the worst career advice you can ever subscribe to. And yet, it’s probably one of the most pervasive nuggets of job wisdom around. Even Steve Jobs was a believer:
In his book, Newport argues that passion comes after mastery, that love for the work happens after committing to learning all you can about it. He lays out how satisfying careers are only built by doing rare and valuable work, which can only be done if you have mastered rare and valuable skills — and these are acquired through deliberate practice of your craft. The best advice then, he summarizes, is to adopt a craftsman mentality: one where you deliberately put in Malcolm Gladwell’s theorized “10,000 hours” (though research argues it is less) to learn and master a skill. Only when you master your craft can you acquire the necessary “career capital,” which can then be exchanged for more autonomy (control over how you accomplish your work) or for a mission (finding a higher meaning in your daily tasks), both of which lead to a fulfilling career.
In just a little over a decade, the corporate office has transformed from being the de facto location where work is done into just one of several venues where one can choose to work. Anyone starting a new job today faces a very different set of work “rules” from someone who started work five or ten years ago. Change is swift. And technology has truly disrupted how we work.
At the risk of massive generalization, I’ve condensed the various ways work has changed and in the process stumbled upon 10 succinct work rules which should aid anyone trying to navigate the modern workplace. Welcome to the 21st century!
AKA: How Work Has Changed for Me in the Last Two Decades
AKA: You’re Not Really Working Remotely ‘Til You’re Skyping Your Team at Midnight on a Tropical Beach Resort with a Shotgun-Toting Security Guard By Your Side
It was midnight in the open-air dining hall — the only place in the beach resort that had wifi. No lights. No staff. Just the glorious sound of waves crashing on moonlit sands.
I had woken from a short sleep in order to attend the weekly team meeting via Skype. 8:00 AM Pacific meant midnight in the Philippines. But I needed internet. So I walked from the resort villa where my vacationing family slept soundly and crept like a villain to the empty dining area. Cracked open my laptop. No wifi. Uh-oh.
Unless you hired fresh grads with no experience and no opinions, your content team has something more to contribute to the table than merely executing your overall plan. So if you want them to play a more strategic role in your communications scheme, and if you want to avoid the negative backlash that happens when you view content as a commodity, then I suggest the following steps:
For content creators, execution is where we fly. A plan is in place and acting on each necessary step is a thrill unto itself. But here’s the thing: if you don’t bring anything more to the table than great writing/editing or brilliant audio-visual “outputtery,” then you’ll forever be relegated to the last step of the content process. Read More »
When content (which is defined broadly as text, videos, images, status updates) is viewed as a commodity, then guess what happens to the people providing the content? In the eyes of the parent organization, these producers become nothing more than copy shop employees cranking out 175 photocopies a minute. The focus is on speed of production (I need this tomorrow) and volume of output (I need 8 Tweets a day) rather than strategy and effectiveness (Will this help us sell our services to prospects? Will this increase our click-through rate?) Read More »