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    Entries in career (166)


    In which I admit to my robot obsession...

    Just a quick one today, and yes just like yesterday's post the subject is robots, and their slow, steady, inexorable march to world domination. And quite frankly I don't have a problem with all the robot posts, since my favorite source of inspiration and content, the National Basketball Association, seems intent on remaining in a labor impasse for who knows how long, and I have to write about something.How are you feeling? That will be a $50 co-pay.

    So for a busy Friday, the day before getaway day to Las Vegas and HRevolution (tickets still available), and the HR Technology Conference, another dispatch from the Robots vs. Humans front lines, this time from Slate.com:

    Will Robots Steal Your Job? - Why the highest-paid doctors are the most vulnerable to automation

    Yep, another take on the upcoming, heck already started process of further automation and supplementation of traditional careers and functions by complex and dedicated robot technology. But like yesterday's post where I featured robot technology beginning to make inroads into farming, the piece from Slate shows us even highly specialized, highly paid, and highly complex tasks like the evaluation of medical samples for signs of cancer can and are beginning to be encroached by robot labor.

    I don't keep reading and posting about these 'robot stories' here because I find them to be surprising, or that most readers might not be aware that automation in all facets of industry, from low-tech to high-tech is an unstoppable boulder rolling down hill. It can't and won't be stopped.

    But why I like to read these pieces, and think about them, is more about our reaction and response to these developments.  And on that note, I'd like to end this post with the most compelling point from the Slate.com piece:

    By definition, specialists focus on narrow slices of medicine. They spend their days worrying over a single region of the body, and the most specialized doctors will dedicate themselves to just one or two types of procedures. Robots, too, are great specialists. They excel at doing one thing repeatedly, and when they focus, they can achieve near perfection. At some point—and probably faster than we expect—they won't need any human supervision at all.

    There's a message here for people far beyond medicine: If you do a single thing—and especially if there's a lot of money in that single thing—you should put a Welcome, Robots!doormat outside your office. They're coming for you.

    Boom. Specialization, even high-touch, highly complex, valuable specialization that requires spending years training, developing, and perfecting, still that is no guarantee or security against a robot that van do it better, cheaper, and faster. Even if those skills are ones that society needs and highly values, that's no protection in the long term.

    The message? Invent something new, stay one step ahead of the robot masters? You'd better be prepared to keep inventing.

    Or possibly the message is to continuously explore, challenge, and differentiate yourself as being more than a highly trained, highly skilled one-trick pony. Because if all you are only bringing one thing to the table, no matter how wonderful and complex that one thing is, chances are, eventually, someone else, maybe ever a robot, can do it better.

    I promise no more posts about robots for a while, unless the NBA season gets canceled!

    Have a great weeekend and if you are heading out to HRevolution or the HR Technology Conference be sure to find me and say hello.


    What is the Future of Work? Good Question...

    Tonight on the HR Happy Hour Show, I will be joined by Human Resources Technology legend Naomi Bloom to talk about work, the future of work, and have an open and participatory conversation about how the massive changes in the nature and notion of work will affect us in our careers, and certainly our children and grandchildren in the coming years.

    You can listen to the show live tonight at 8:00 PM ET on the show page here, or by calling in to the listener/guest line - 646-378-1086

    There has been no shortage of attention and energy spent in the last few years by various experts, authors, corporate leaders, and lowly bloggers attempting to make sense of the massive changes in work and industry brought on by worldwide recession, the emergence of high-speed internet connectivity, the prevalence of super-powered smartphones, and rise of social networks. While there might not be consensus among the experts and pundits about what the true 'future of work' will look like; one thing seems certain - it won't look or feel like anything we have known before.

    No, with technology and robotics capable of automating and improving even more higher value functions and processes, with the rise of what is for many industries and professions a truly global competition for capital and opportunity, and the continuing 're-thinking' of the modern organization; it seems a given that work, the nature of 'employment', and the skills and capabilities required to remain relevant and successful simply have to change to meet these new challenges.

    But while it is easy to say that work is changing,and the old 'employer contract' is long dead, it is quite a bit more challenging to determine what strategies and actions should be pursued by workers today, and the ones to follow, to best prepare and brace themselves for these changing conditions.

    Is it the pursuit of entrepreneurship?

    The willingness to embrace a series of consecutive or even simultaneous short-term gigs?

    Acceptance of the fact that where you are now in your career is not at all likely to be a good predictor of where you will end up?

    Or realization that in today's do-more-with-less-always-connected-smartphone-enabled world that you had better be prepared to work ridiculous hours, be always available, and give up what passes for your pathetic social life in order to not just get ahead, but to fend off the robot that wants your job?

    Or something else entirely?

    Tonight on the HR Happy Hour Show we plan to have an open and honest discussion about work, and what work might look like in the future, and talk about some ideas around how best to prepare for and survive.

    Sure, we don't profess to have all the answers, but maybe you do, and I hope you will listen in and even consider offering some of your insight and advice as well.

    It should be a fun and lively show, and I hope you can join us tonight!


    HR Happy Hour Show Tonight: Work and what it means to you

    Tonight on the HR Happy Hour Show (8PM ET/5PM PT), we are going to change it up a bit from the more formal, guest-driven interview style shows we have been doing, and open up the phones (and the Twitter backchannel on #HRHappyHour), to simply talk about work.

    Yep, it is that simple. Just an hour of open and loosely structured conversation, in honor of the upcoming Labor Day holiday in the USA, to share observations, stories, critiques, and congratulations about our experiences with work and in our careers.

    What was your first 'real' job? 

    What was the best job you ever had? The worst one?

    What were some of the early experiences in your career that have shaped and helped determine what you are today? 

    Who was influential to you as you got your start and deserves a thank you? Who influences you now?

    And finally, if you are currently looking for work, or are just looking for a change - what is it you'd really like to do? What's your dream job?

    We hope many of the loyal HR Happy Hour Show listeners will call in tonight to share their stories, experiences, and insights about work.

    But wait - there's more!

    As an added bonus longtime HR Happy Hour Show co-host Shauna Moerke, the HR Minion will make a special guest appearance on the show to climb back in the co-pilot seat tonight. And you know she will have some great stories.

    Here's how to listen and participate tonight:

    The show starts at 8:00PM ET tonight, Sept. 1, 2011.

    Listen live from the show page here - HR Happy Hour - Episode 116- 'The Labor Day Show'

    Or using the widget player embedded here:

    Listen to internet radio with Steve Boese on Blog Talk Radio


    Call in to get on the air using - 646-378-1086 and Press '1' once you are connected and you will be on!

    And finally, follow the backchannel conversation on Twitter - hashtag #HRHappyHour

    It should be a really fun show and I hope you can join us!


    Hate your Job? Maybe being a little foolish is the best advice to take

    I was simply going to 'retweet' this piece from Matt Stillman on the consistently outstanding Stillman Says blog, but I want to link to it from here in hopes maybe a few more folks might take a few minutes and check it out.

    Matt recently talked with a lawyer, one who expressed disenchantment with her chosen field, and the conversation and eventual advice Matt offered to the unhappy lawyer is in equal parts fascinating and fantastic.

    Go check out the entire piece here, but if you can't spare the five or ten minutes it will take you to read the story, I will share the money line here:

    Having the itchy feeling of dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs is standard. But to truly have an open door to following your bliss there is a requisite level of fearlessness that must be taken on. The fearlessness to disappoint or to be foolish are two of many that can be featured.

    If you read the piece you will see that Matt doesn't advise the lawyer to simply quit her good and probably high-paying job to crazily chase some wild dream, but rather to simply think about the situation in a slightly new and creative way, and that by taking a small, non-dangerous, but still positive step in the exploration of something new and exciting, the lawyer could start to see what might actually be possible.

    I think that is super advice, we tend to not want to believe something could be real or even possible when it seems so big, or represents such a massive shift or change in what we think of as safe or normal that we can simply get intimidated or frightened into inactivity. Permitting ourselves to make the first step in a new direction is possibly the hardest part. Matt offered the lawyer a way to make the scary step seem very safe.

    Nice one Mr. Stillman.

    Postscript - Matt was a recent guest on the HR Happy Hour Show, and it was absolutely one of our most interesting shows of 2011. You can listen to the replay of that show here.




    Yesterday on his Blog Maverick blog, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban re-posted a piece he had orginally written in 2008 titled 'How to Get Rich'. While there isn't much in the way of specific or tactical advice in the piece - and as Cuban states in the article  - "This is not a short-term project. We aren’t talking days. We aren’t talking months. We are talking years. Lots of years and maybe decades. I didn’t say this was a get rich quick scheme. This is a get rich path." - the post does offer some solid advice not so much in the way of actually getting rich, but rather in positioning yourself to take advantage of opportunities by virtue of hard work and preparation. You should definitely pop over to Blog Maverick and check out the post.Patrick burning it late on a Friday night

    For me, the money line was Cuban's take on how the commitment to outwork the other guy, and to grind away at night and on the weekends if need be to gain that critical edge that comes from better preparation, more complete study, and from simply knowing more about the industry, market, players - whatever than the competition. Again from the Cuban piece:

    "Before or after work and on weekends, every single day, read everything there is to read about the business. Go to trade shows, read the trade magazines, spend a lot of time talking to the people you do business with about their business and the people they buy from."

    Look, no one needs this blog to remind them of the obvious, that hard work and a real commitment to digging in, to putting in the long hours needed to achieve the kind of deep, and differentiating knowledge about whatever subject or line of work you're interested in truly is a prerequisite for sustained success these days. I think we all know it. But I also think sometimes we forget what it looks like, what it feels like to read white papers at 11PM on a Friday, or to cycle through thousands of unread posts in Google Reader on Saturday morning before the kids wake up, or to participate in industry events and online forums with energy and enthusiasm.

    It's a grind to do those things for sure.

    The picture on the right of this piece is my son Patrick, age 10. In what can possibly be seen as a testament to shoddy parenting, it was taken at about 11PM on a recent Friday night, as he was diligently battling away to get a post written for his 'Patrick's Investigations' blog, (stop by and drop him a comment if you like). Eleven at night, in the dark, grinding over a post because he wants his blog to succeed, he wants to be a good writer, and he has figured out (on his own), that those things are not at all easy.  Achieving those goals will be lots of hard work. 

    Cuban re-ran his 'How to Get Rich' piece in response to the recent economic news in the US as a reminder that no matter how bad conditions get, that buckling in and simply out-working the competition still gives anyone the chance to perhaps not get rich, but to at least get ahead. I ran this piece today to share a small image of what the grind looks like, played out late on a Friday night, by a little kid.

    Have a Great Weekend!