Choose wisely, grasshopper: in the workaday world, jobs and needs are changing, and everything rides on whether you forecast those changes correctly—and whether you listen.
At some point or another, writes venture capitalist and business professor Cast (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern Univ.), more than half of all workers will be fired, demoted, or sidelined. There are many reasons: some workers are abrasive, some feckless, some overspecialized, some disorganized, some incapable of learning new skills. Organizing such failings into office archetypes such as “Captain Fantastic” and “The Whirling Dervish,” Cast counsels that traits such as learning agility and active listening are more valuable than ever. “So try hard to stay flexible,” he writes, “try not to be too judgmental, and don’t become locked into your positions.” By his account, some of that flexibility includes the recognition that professional skills require overhaul every five years or so, meaning that workers who are not on top of refreshing what they know how to do may find themselves part of that dispensable half. Some of Cast’s recommendations seem obvious and a little squishy (“the best way I know to capture knowledge is by journaling”), and he seems to be a fan of the dreaded 360-degree review, but there’s plenty of hard-nosed and useful advice, too—e.g., “never miss a good chance to shut up, watch, listen, and learn.” The best of the author’s counsel is quite specific, coming from industry leaders in various sectors: when the head of LinkedIn gives advice on job-skill refreshment and the former CEO of Twitter recommends that you dabble in new technology relevant to your work, pay attention. Cast closes with the thought that what motivates us most in work is not primarily money but meaning: “achievement, affiliation, power, autonomy, and purpose.”
Solid, positively delivered advice for job seekers and job holders everywhere.