Monday, January 2, 2012

The World has A Long Tail

What I want to say when the interviewers ask “What makes you the best fit for the job?” is:

You’re asking the wrong question.

There is no fit for the job of leader. Unless, that is, you want to keep things going exactly the way they are. The world is changing, it has changed profoundly just in our lifetime and the pace of change is increasing exponentially. Sure, we can prepare our children for today’s world or even yesterday’s world and most of them will be fine. 70, 80, maybe even 90% will earn a decent living, raise a family, grow old and die without experiencing true hardship.

The long tail

What if hard times hit? Times like we are in now. Will our students be able to recover from being knocked down? It is said that most people who lose their jobs in a recession never recover. Sure, eventually they will get another job, but they may never reach the same pay scale again.

Do we want to set our future up for that crap shoot? Don’t worry kid, these cyclical downturns actually only affect 30% of the population, the odds are in your favor. (percentages pulled out of thin air, please don’t quote)

My father, my uncles, my older relatives decried the loss of a job for life. Some folks are still fighting that battle, but it has long been lost. People of my generation, people who are working now need to be ready to change adapt and seize the day. We can expect to change jobs often and even change careers on average about 5 times.

What about the next generation? Call it the entrepreneurial generation. They need to step up and create their own opportunities. People of my generation decry the loss of good solid jobs that allow us to earn a living wage. The fight continues, but it is a losing battle. As our parents were surprised that they couldn’t count on a job for life at a major company we can no longer count on making enough money just by working for someone else.

What will happen to our children? What will happen for the generation growing up today?

See, I don’t want to fit in to what you are doing today. I don’t want to be the best fit for the job. I want to prepare our children for the world as it will be when they grow up. I’m not sure exactly what that will be, but I am pretty sure success will hinge on the ability to create, adapt, and recognize both opportunity and quality.
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