Learn to Embrace Creative Destruction #123


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Creative destruction occurs when a disruptive industry supplants a legacy industry, causing the loss of some jobs and the creation of others. Marc explains the need to get ahead of the disruptions in your industry, using examples from industrial giants who quickly became insignificant or who vanished as a result of unexpected market or social movements. Marc shares current technological changes and views of more drastic changes soon to come.

Listen in for a sample of the helpful advice in the new edition of Repurpose Your Career.

Key Takeaways:

[1:14] Marc welcomes you to Episode 123 of the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Career Pivot brings you this podcast. CareerPivot.com is one of the very few websites dedicated to those of us in the second half of life and our careers. Take a moment to check out the blog and the other resources delivered to you, free of charge.

[1:44] If you are enjoying this podcast, please share it with other like-minded souls. Subscribe on CareerPivot.com, iTunes, or any of the other apps that supply podcasts. Share it on social media or just tell your neighbors, and colleagues. The more people they reach, the more people they can help.[2:06] Next week, Marc will be interviewing Patti Temple Rocks, author of I’m Not Done: It's Time to Talk About Ageism in the Workplace, a great book on ageism. Marc thinks you will like this great interview.

[2:20] If you are a regular listener to this show, you probably noticed that Marc has stopped talking about the next edition of his book, Repurpose Your Career. Susan Lahey and Marc are back on track and a draft of the third edition just got sent to the copy editor.

[2:35] Marc’s plan is to release the third edition of the book in September of this year.

[2:41] This week, Marc will read the pre-release chapter, “Learn to Embrace Creative Destruction.” He plans to release this chapter in PDF form to the review team within a week.

[2:54] If you are interested in being on the release team and get early access to chapters in the new edition, go to careerpivot.com/rycteam. Marc hopes you enjoy this episode.[3:12] The pre-release chapter of “Learn to Embrace Creative Destruction.” In his book, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb explains the problem of turkeys. A butcher feeds a turkey for 1,000 days. Every day that that turkey’s life remains constant confirms the surety of his current existence.

[3:40] “This is the way it goes. This is the way it has always gone. This is the way it always will go.” All of the data confirms that butchers love turkeys. The turkey can rest confident in this idea because he has 999 days of benevolent treatment to back it up.

[4:01] Then, a few days before Thanksgiving, everything in his worldview is upturned. This is what Taleb calls a ‘black swan event.’ All of the evidence proves it can’t happen, until it does.

[4:16] The truth is that this is the normal course of things in human existence. A sudden rain shower hits the picnic. A car accident ruins travel plans. A financial windfall or unexpected romance changes your trajectory. Death comes unexpectedly. This is how life is.

[4:36] In the world of work, the force behind these changes is often the power of creative destruction. One thing is destroyed and another is created. The turkey’s life is over. Dinner is served.

[4:52] If the change is in our favor, we think it’s a good change. If the change is not in our favor, we think it’s a bad change. Regardless of how we feel about it, though, it’s going to happen. We need not be taken by surprise, like the turkey.

[5:10] I was listening to a rebroadcast of a Freakonomics Radio podcast called “How Safe Is Your Job?” The hosts were talking about pianos. In 1905, they said, 400,000 pianos were made in America. If you wanted music in your house, you learned to play the piano.

[5:31] The phonograph had been created 30 years before, in 1877 but phonograph sales didn’t take off until 1915. A decade later, the radio became popular. Then, eventually, the tape player, the eight-track, the CD player, and streaming and…

[5:49] Today only about 30,000 pianos are made each year, about eight percent of the number made in 1905.

[5:58] Each new iteration of musical enjoyment was a form of creative destruction. Each caused people in the previous industry to lose jobs or pivot.

[6:09] In 1975, an employee of the Kodak company created a digital camera. But instead of developing it, Kodak concluded it was a non-starter because they didn’t think people wanted to look at their pictures on their TVs. So the company continued on focusing on chemical film until it became clear that they had bet on the wrong horse.

[6:31] In 2001, Kodak had the second-most-popular digital camera on the market but lost $60 on every sale. A decade later, Kodak declared bankruptcy.

[6:47] In these cases, creative destruction took 20, 30, or 40 years to bring down one giant and birth another. Now, that pace is accelerating.

[6:58] Amazon.com was founded in 1994 and, initially, just sold books. They were credited with the demise of several brick-and-mortar bookselling chains. Over the next 11 years, Amazon moved into retailing pretty much everything and by 2015, it passed Walmart to be the most valuable retailer in the world, by market capitalization.

[7:24] It took them and their online retail competitors only a few years to bring down what had been a staple of the world economy, the brick-and-mortar store.

[7:36] In 2018, Amazon started buying surviving brick-and-mortar retailers, including Whole Foods, presumably to collect data on people who still shop there and further strengthen their market presence.

[7:50] Now, Amazon is opening brick-and-mortar stores around the country, including convenience and book stores. They’re remaking retail, Amazon-style.

[8:00] The iPhone was created only 11 years ago, in 2007, but at that time, I used my phone for talking to people.

[8:10] Today, this is what I use my phone for: the weather report from the Weather Channel app; manage my social media with LinkedIn and Twitter. I removed the Facebook app after the last presidential elections.

[8:23] I take and view pictures, edit files in Google Drive or Dropbox, communicate with clients over Skype, check scores on the ESPN app, find my keys, using the Tile app, listen to podcasts and audiobooks (as I no longer listen to the radio), find the new coffee shop via Google Maps or Apple Maps, …

[8:45] … enter the YMCA by swiping the barcode in the YMCA app, manage multiple credit cards and bank accounts, show the police officer my proof of insurance via the State Farm app, check airline schedules to see if my son’s flight home is on time, …

[9:04] … search Google to answer the question my wife just asked me, and watch House Hunters International on HGTV via the Sling TV app. Oh, and a lot of people use them to listen to music.

[9:17] Because of the technology we have now, everything is being reimagined, reconfigured, reinvented, at a pace our parents never could have conceived of. One way to say it is the world is being ‘SMACed.’

[9:38] S = Social media: LinkedIn Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat. Today, people go to social media for everything. It’s the U.S. Mail, the telephone, the photo album, the gossip chain, the opinion column, the news, the entertainment, education, and job board, all rolled in one.

[10:02] It’s also one place employers go to find you and find out whether you are the kind of candidate they want.

[10:10] M = Mobile. Roughly 60% of adults get their news on a mobile device. According to the research by the Pew Research Foundation, mobile apps track our behavior and our preferences as well as give us a means to pay for things. People use mobile devices to shop, to bank, and to date.

[10:32] If your career isn’t mobile-friendly, you will be left in the dust.

[10:39] A = Analytics. More data has been collected in the last few years than was collected in the previous century. A lot of it is coming voluntarily from our activities via social media and mobile.

[10:55] How we shop, where we shop, what we pay with, where we go online, and even how long it takes to get somewhere are some of the things that inform this data. Do you remember the movie, Minority Report, where Tom Cruise walks through the mall and hyper-customized ads display everywhere?

[11:15] Analytics will affect how you are hired.

[11:19] C = Cloud. Cloud is changing everything in the technology world. Most of the major technology hardware vendors are seeing portions of their business collapse because data isn’t being stored on their hardware. It’s being stored in the Cloud.

[11:39] A classic example is IBM, who missed the shift and is seeing massive changes in their business. Their hardware business is collapsing. Cloud computing is sometimes referred to as SaaS or Software as a Service.

[11:55] With SaaS, you don’t have to buy a disc. You don’t have to save data on your computer. You don’t have to have a photo album or a filing cabinet. You can keep everything in the Cloud.

[12:10] Also, you can get services in the Cloud, rather than hiring someone to do them, like bookkeeping, record keeping, customer relationship management, and marketing.

[12:19] You can book travel on the Cloud, make appointments in the Cloud, even hold conversations in the Cloud. SMAC is a representation of what we’ve long called the Robot Invasion. Articles have said for decades that robots are going to take our jobs. And SMAC is robots doing just that.

[12:40] Some people assume the jobs robots can do are severely limited. I’m here to say, “Nope.”

[12:48] Surprising jobs a robot can do: journalism.

[12:52] An article in Wired called, “What News-Writing Bots Mean to the Future of Journalism,” leads with “When Republican Steve King beat back Democratic challenger Kim Weaver in the race for Iowa’s 4th District seat in November, the Washington Post snapped into action, covering both the win and the wider electoral trend.”

[13:15] “‘Republicans retain the control of the House and lost only a handful of seats from their commanding majority,’ the article read, ‘a stunning reversal of fortune after many GOP leaders feared double-digit losses.’”

[13:30] “The dispatch came with the clarity and verve for which Post reporters are known, with one key difference: It was generated by Heliograf, a bot that made its debut on the Post’s website last year and marked the most sophisticated use of artificial intelligence in journalism to date.”

[13:52] Any type of writing that is based on data can be replaced with automation and robots. In fact, artificial intelligence is working to take over creative writing, too. Another piece, in the Observer, is called “Will Robots That Can Write Steal Your Creative Job?”

[14:12] The author writes, “So, could the machines eventually begin to analyze popular fiction and start to come up with all new narratives that fit our tastes? Indeed, to ever more narrow tastes? We have already seen greater individuation in fiction as the e-book market has made shelf space infinite.”

[14:36] “Before e-books took off, novels about werewolves were already a healthy little Fantasy and Science Fiction sub-genre. Since e-books, though, billionaire werewolf romance novels are now a thing.”

[14:52] Automation robots will have an incredible impact on medical professions. If a doctor wants an EKG, he can record it on your smartphone app. All of your medical data will be digitized, including X-ray images, CT Scans, and MRIs.

[15:12] The Economist produced a special report called “Automation and Anxiety,” which discussed the impact on medicine of deep learning. A product from Enlitic can outperform doctors in reading diagnostic images.

[15:27] It’s not just the images are sent to places like India or China to be evaluated by doctors who are paid less but automation and robots are actually doing the work that doctors have always done.

[15:40] Jobs are being eliminated in retail at an alarming rate. Retail giants like Sears have shed legacy brands such as Craftsman and Lands End in an effort to survive. Many specialty chains are failing, like Tailored Brands (TLRD), owner of stores like Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank.

[16:05] Amazon is opening up stores like Amazon Go, where people can do their whole shopping trip without interacting with a single person. As the “Fight for Fifteen” movement works to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, one of the unintended consequences will be the deployment of automation and robots.

[16:25] I’m already seeing fast food chains rolling out mobile apps and kiosks where you can order your food and never have to speak to a person.

[16:35] I’m seeing lots of requests for career middle managers in the retail segment looking for assistance in getting out of the industry. A 2018 study by PWC predicts that nearly 40% of jobs in the U.S. may be vulnerable to replacement by robots in the next 15 years.

[16:54] Hopefully, I’ve demonstrated to you that professions that one would have thought would be immune to automation and robots are at risk. Similarly, if the industry where you are working is at risk, you must be on the lookout.

[17:10] If you think you are safe from automation and robots sabotaging your career, you must be smoking something! And yes, you are inhaling.

[17:22] It is devastating to realize that the career you built — the skills you’ve honed, the seniority you’ve acquired — have all been wiped out because someone built a robot that can do what you do faster and cheaper if not better.

[17:38] For many people, these changes have hit like an earthquake or hurricane. They are living in a career disaster area. They will recover but they’re not moving back into the old house.

[17:52] Sally was 65 and was a consummate marketing professional. She had worked in a variety of different industries over the span of her career. At different times in her career, she worked freelance and she worked for some major agencies.

[18:06] Like many of her peers, she took a hit in the great recession. Then her spouse passed away suddenly and Sally decided to move across the country to be closer to her children.

[18:16] Now, she’s trying to re-establish herself in a new city where the culture and job market are very young and vibrant. Sally is taking courses in social media and digital marketing but the skills required to be productive marketing professional have made tectonic shifts in the direction of technology.

[18:37] In the 1990s, when I was working in a marketing and sales support function in IBM marketing or in the executive briefing center, we produced presentations and marketing collateral; web content that supported the sale of IBM hardware and software. That world no longer exists.

[18:56] The world that does exist today, as I launch the Career Pivot Online Community, requires a completely new set of skills. I’m learning about Facebook marketing, Google Adwords, re-marketing, re-targeting, pixeling strategies, ad networks, and other digital marketing approaches.

[19:14] When I made the decision to leave the world of technology marketing, more than 15 years ago, I left a place that looks nothing like it does today. Can Sally shift into this new technological marketing world that’s populated with a very young workforce, at the age of 65? It’s possible but not probable.

[19:37] Larry is also 65. He is an engineer who has worked for some of the top companies that designed and manufactured leading computer hardware through his career. He was a program and project manager for huge multinational, multi-company development projects with huge scope and complexity. That world is disappearing, fast.

[19:59] Companies like HP, IBM and others have seen their hardware business almost completely disappear. Companies like Sun and DEC have been wiped off the map in a very short period of time.

[20:14] There are many like Larry, who built their careers around designing large and ever-growing complex hardware systems. But in the last 10 years, the hardware market has been commoditized. The iPhone sitting next to me has more computing power and function than huge computers of just a few years ago.

[20:35] Larry interviewed for a program management job with one of the leading Cloud infrastructure companies. And the first thing they asked him to do was to take a coding test. What?! A coding test? For a program management job?

[20:51] Like Larry, I haven’t written a line of code in over 15 years. Could I pass a coding test? Probably not. Does it make sense that they want to see if he can code? Probably not. But that’s not the world we live in, now.

[21:06] They moved my cheese. The complex world that Larry excelled and thrived in moved from hardware to software, at Warp speed. They moved Larry’s cheese — referencing the book Who Moved My Cheese, an amazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life by Dr. Spencer Johnson — and he didn’t even realize it.

[21:31] The career space that Larry and his peers lived in for so many years now looks like a career disaster area. Like Sally, he could retool but can he do it fast enough and be accepted in a very young, fast-moving market? It’s possible but not probable.

[21:52] It’s now time to shift expectations and direction. People can and do rebuild after a disaster. Sometimes people have to walk away from the disaster scene because it’s just too risky to stay. This is the destruction part. But after a period of grieving all that, it’s time to move away from destruction and get on with creation.

[22:15] From here out, there is no safe haven where you can just tuck yourself in and work as long as you want to work. Creative destruction is happening every day and you have to be constantly learning, evolving, and pivoting. How you do that is the subject of the next chapter.

[22:35] Action steps: Is your industry in the process of being SMACed? Evaluate where you’re keeping up with changes. Research what skills you need to keep up with your current industry and how much of a challenge will that be? Does it mean going back to school or merely taking online classes?

[22:55] Write down how your current skills might be useful in other emerging business types or industries.

[23:04] Marc hopes you enjoyed this episode. It is imperative that you learn to embrace creative destruction, as it’s not going away. If anything, it’s going to accelerate.

[23:15] The Career Pivot Community website has become a valuable resource for about 50 members who are participating in the Beta phase of this project. Marc is currently recruiting new members for the next cohort.

[23:27] If you are interested in the endeavor and would like to be put on the waiting list, please go to CareerPivot.com/Community. When you sign up you’ll receive information about the community as it evolves.

[23:43] Those who are in these initial cohorts set the direction of this endeavor. This is a paid membership community with group coaching and special content. More importantly, it’s a community where you can seek help. Go to CareerPivot.com/Community to learn more.

[24:07] Marc invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.com/in/mrmiller. Just include in the connection request that you heard Marc on this podcast. You can look for Career Pivot on Facebook, LinkedIn, or @CareerPivot on Twitter.

[24:28] Please come back next week, when Marc will interview Patti Temple Rocks, author of I’m Not Done: It's Time to Talk About Ageism in the Workplace, a great book on ageism.

[24:38] Marc thanks you for listening to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.

[24:43] You will find the show notes for this episode at CareerPivot.com/episode-123.

[24:57] Please hop over to CareerPivot.com and subscribe to get updates on this podcast and all the other happenings at Career Pivot. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, the Google Podcasts app, Podbean, the Overcast app, or the Spotify app.

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