I hate it when an article title present a question and then draws out the answer until you are over half-way through the material. So I started with the answer on this post.
Of course you could have guessed that answer pretty easily. But as I have been thinking about this issue lately, another dimension to this question came to mind.
Turning the way-back machine to 1999 – I was involved in a start-up as part of the Dot.Com boom (and bust). We had a technology that provided Enforceable Online Transactions. We calculated that there were 50 billion transactions every hour, or something like that, on the planet. And we only had to capture a fraction of that to get rich. Sadly – that was not the result. But at the time many people would ask me if I was afraid to take the risk of having a job like that. Start ups are a risky place to be. I could lose my job at any time.
My answer to the less-risky people in my life was that I thought they should be more afraid for their jobs. I was developing new and valuable skills and knowledge while theirs were going stale. At some point, technology and innovation would automate or displace their jobs – which has happened, although not to everyone – yet.
So this same thought occurred to me recently but in a different context. My Dot.Com experience lead me in to a constantly innovating career path. For example, I was a pioneer in the legal pricing space. And I continue to embrace and lead new ideas and approaches. So I have considered my job positions to be relatively safe, since I am leading the change and not being eaten by it. But then I realized even with that approach, I still have risk. With all of the chaos right now in the legal market (merger mania, etc.), who knows what the future holds for any of us. Positions can be eliminated or dramatically altered or firms can implode or merge into other firms.
But then I thought back to my Dot.Com thinking. It’s not that any job I have will necessarily be sustaining. It’s that I am always reaching for new and exciting skills and experiences. Stay nimble and stay adaptive. That’s the best strategy for staying “safe” in this new, fast-changing job market. Adding another layer to this – it’s not just about staying up on tech. Understanding blockchain will have some value. Understanding how to turn that knowledge into revenue and profit has a much higher value.
Which brings me back to my prior point – if you are in an old-school “safe” job, you should be worried. And in an ironic twist, if you are risk averse and want to be safe in your career, you better take some risks.