Sunday, January 25, 2009

Are You Becoming Obsolete?

I mean it. Are you? Think about it. In today’s information economy, most of us are knowledge workers, who use our brains as our means of producing goods and services. It is through the knowledge we have acquired and its application that we can be paid for what we do. Whether it is writing articles for a magazine, setting up a computer network or helping someone invest their money, it is our minds through which we create value.

Do you think a computer programmer who knew BASIC in 1986 would have a valuable skill in 1998? Unless this person learned HTML or Java or Perl, they would be out of business.

Sony owned the portable music market for years. They practically invented it. If you are younger than 30, you probably have no idea what a Sony Walkman is. People of my generation used to carry around their Walkmans every where. Like you do with your iPod. I know. Hard to imagine anything came before the iPod, but like the Walkman, people can become just as obsolete.

Here are four ways you can avoid becoming obsolete.

Read. It is not much more simply than that. Set a goal to read at least a book a month. Notice I said, “at least.” By reading books, you can learn anything. How to use Microsoft Excel. How to be a better manager. How to analyze financial statements. How to writing winning sales copy. Anything. And if you use a local library, you can do it for free.

Go Back to School. Peter Drucker recommended that knowledge workers go back to school every 3-4 years. Imagine that. Every 3-4 years. Sounds impractical. Well, you don’t have to enroll in a full graduate degree program every 3-4 years. There are plenty of self-study programs or continuing education programs that are much shorter in length. Often times, you can get your company to pay for it. If you can show it will make you a more valuable employee and a more loyal one, most company will pay.

Volunteer for additional assignments at work. If you take a little extra time at work, you can volunteer to help out on a project outside of your area of expertise. Not too many teams will turn down extra help. Call up the manager of a company project that

Volunteer at a local charity or club in your town. You’d be surprised how much you can learn about leadership or sales or teambuilding, if you are on a committee to raise money for a charity function. Plus, you will meet new people, expand your horizons and help those less fortunate. Win-Win.

My point is this…keep renewing, rebuilding and reinventing yourself, if you want to survive and thrive in your career. You other choice is to continue to refine your knowledge of the BASIC computer language and hope someone will want that skill tomorrow.

Will Rogers once said, “Even if you are on the right track, if you are standing still, you are going to get run over.” Nicely put, Roy.

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