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Archive for the ‘Human capital’ Category

Looking for talents, create it yourself.

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Educate TrainI was reading recently an excellent article about youth unemployment. Youth unemployment is one of the biggest present challenges of our society. The author of the article mentions that companies are often more entitled to hire people having experience. For students just finishing their studies, it is difficult to have a first job. Companies, most of the time, want to hire people fully operational starting the first day. Is it the only and the best way solution? How many times will it take to find the rare talent?

This article makes me think about a story Luc de Brabandere, a Belgian consultant in creativity, is often telling in his speeches. An insurance company was looking to hire people having experience in the insurance industry for the sales department. As they could not find the number of qualified people needed, they hired also people having no experience in that field. After few time, the company made the statement that people who have no experience in insurance industry provided better results than the others.  How could explain we such paradox? One explanation is probably that the unqualified people were more motivated to learn, more creative as they have to proof or to reveal a talent, to take up the challenge.

Such statement has to make think business owners and managers about the following. Today, in organizations, people are an asset and the collective intelligence is a reality. With the complexity of the processes, each people are a key within the process chain. By developing competences and talents, and being aware that it is a necessity, people wants to be implicated in the processes of the organization activity. The wish to learn and to be implicate in the business, are the key of motivation. Companies that spend time to train employee have to see this time as an investment and will get more return on investment with motivated and dedicated people. By creating a process of collective intelligence, these companies can create a more sustainable and long term collaboration with the employees.

Faster changes are a trend, and people have to move with these changes, by acquiring competences, by following permanent training. Change is a constant and companies have to integrate such constant in their activities plans. We know today that diploma is not a sufficient element to have a job. Changes mean also the obsolescence of knowledge. Companies have to invest in this competences evolution and renewal. To create and sustain such dynamic, people need to have clear objectives, and should be encourage to make solutions proposals, to be creative, and to be considered as a real stakeholder, a player taking responsibilities within the organization.

Education is important, but self-made man can also develop talents and skills, they can also have brilliant professional careers. The quality of the diploma is not always a guarantee to have the best people for a job. As Darwin said, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” Changes implies different steps with new goals, new challenges. People who embrace changes have the desire to face new challenge, and to learn is an ongoing challenge.

If talents are lacking, try to develop them yourself by giving opportunities to motivated people. Today, the future resides in knowledge sharing, and if you can transmit also passion, the return on investment will certainly be higher.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 8, 2014 at 21:53

Predict the future or make it possible.

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StudentsRecently, I was part of a BarCamp with some entrepreneurs. The topic of the session was the passion of entrepreneurship. During a discussion, one of the members asked me the following question: “What kind of studies would you recommend to your children?” This question was a very good one, in this particular difficult time where in one hand, the level of unemployed people is high, and on the other hand, some countries are facing lacks of talents, as consequences that some jobs opportunities remain vacant.

Nevertheless, what should I tell to a teenager who has to choose studies?  My advice would be that he has to choose studies he is motivated by, independently from the fact that there are job opportunities in that field or not. My answer seems to be a bit unrealistic, but let me explain why I think so. I think and am convinced that it will be more useful and enjoyable to study something you like. One of the obvious advantages to make studies is that it contributes to open your mind, to discover new matters, to acquire knowledge. Each of us remember some matters we discovered during our studies, matters we found very interesting and that probably led us to new fields of interests and opportunities. In such movement of motivation, we can increase our chance to find our place in the society and in the professional world. Think about studies only in terms of job opportunities doesn’t make sense. If you advice somebody who hate figures to study accounting, you will make an incompetent and unhappy accountant, and his chance to convince an employer will be thin, as he will not be convinced himself.

To answer to that question is not so easy, as we are facing a strange paradox. On one hand, we try to predict the future and to organize our career, and on the other hand, we have no idea what will be our world in five years. I remember when I finished my studies, end of the eighties, we never heard about a webmaster, as the world wide web was just invented in 1989. When I finished my college in 1985, nobody could advice to do webmaster studies as it did not exist.  As said Alexandre de Saint-Exupéry with this nice quote, “Your task is not to foresee the future, but to enable it”. What we can only do is to maximize our chance to get a future job by acquiring a good basic knowledge thru studies. But does it mean that each type of studies enables us to get a job?

We know that today, a diploma is not a guarantee anymore to get a job, but the way we will make the difference by is innovation. If you remember Steve Jobs speech at Stanford University, speaking about “connecting the dots”, he was saying that you never know forward what you can do with something you learn. It is only backward when you discover new things, new interests that you see the value, the application of matters you studied, the opportunities you can catch with what you learned. To do studies can be an serendipity accelerator. Let me give you an example. I knew somebody who studies musicology in Berckley, and had a P.h.d. You are wondering what job opportunities are for such a qualification.  Music was his passion, and he was a fantastic bass player, but he had also another passion, software development. A few years later, he decided to create his own software company and start to develop software to learn music. The combination of two passions can open the doors to opportunities, and here, we are clearly in an innovation process.

Innovation is a key to invent the jobs of tomorrow. I saw around me many examples of people who made a kind of studies, taking interesting professional ways by combining what they studied with other skillsets. Often, they reinvent existing things by having another perception of the world. It is obvious today that in a fast moving environment, we are led to learn during all our live. It is a necessity but also an opportunity to find new opportunities or to build successful professional projects. But such ongoing process cannot be run without passion. Passion is the energy to build a successful life, passion is the key to convince people to subscribe to your project and to make it work. Passion is the only renewable energy.

The answer to the question of studies choice, is to listen to your inner voice, but also to be aware that you will have to manage your career in terms of knowledge development. Most of us will probably have different professional careers, or to do what we do on another way. It is only curiosity, interest and passion that will enable us to build a successful career in accordance with our expectations and our values. Passion is the key ingredient, not to predict the future, but to make it possible.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

June 23, 2014 at 17:42

Reinvent ourselves.

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Confiance et douteRecently, I was listening to the news on the radio, about the employment market. My country like probably others has to face with a lack of talents. Indeed, despite the fact that the unemployment level amounted around 12%, there are available jobs that can be filled due to a mismatching between the requested skills and competences, and the available talent on the market. Mismatching, but also lack of talents on the market. These last decades, the market and the related needs is changing faster, and the talents need to follow the same evolution. But this in theory, but practically, the gap remains.

The economical environment has a huge impact on the work market and on the career evolution.  It was not unusual to have people having the same position during a big part of their career, with an indexed salary each year.  And it was not impossible to see young people starting their career, earning a lower salary to do the same job.  Such situation today is not sustainable anymore for companies.  The competition is always harder and each invested penny has to provide a good return, not only in term of financial return, but also in term of quality, productivity and growth.

Does it mean that for seniors, the chances to find a job are low, because they are too old? I don’t believe so, but it is obvious that today, you cannot just do the same job all your life. There are always possibilities, and the acquired experience is an asset you have to use for future challenges. Such evolution implies an appropriate evolution in your career. Such evolution is an asset for companies and organizations, but is also positive for people.  This career evolution implies a permanent education, a permanent acquisition process of new competences and skills. The combination of new skills and your experience is a useful innovation tool, and innovation is an essential key to develop successful and sustainable organizations. Definitively, these are people who make the organizations.

The development of the organizations and the technologies create specific needs, niches of specific competences. To fill these needs, we need talent. Talent means people with specific and added value skills, but also with strong experiences.  Here is a major point, the specificity of what you can deliver to the organization. What will be your difference criteria, and what will be the factor making that people will work with you and not with another?  To be able to answer to that need, you need to see a matching between the needs and trends of the market, and your acquired skills, but also with complementary skills you could acquire.  For instance, people working in finance and accounting departments offers financial services, but combining this with strong IT skills, they can build powerful tools and deliver added valued solutions for the organization. This combination of skills will make you as unique.  The added value provided by such combination of skills is higher than the sum of each skill.

By growing your skills and capacities, you give you the chance to open new doors to new opportunities.  And each opportunity gives you the chance to learn new things, to live new experiences.  Such process is successful if it is initiated and driven by passion. Passion and talent will make that you will offer the best of yourself, and in the mean time you will convince people to contract your services, your talent.  By subscribing to such process, you will certainly meet success, but it will impact positively your wellness and self confidence. The feeling to be useful and to still have an active place in the society has a positive impact on your physical and psychological health.  All this things will make that you will fill yourself as a creative actor of the society and not to be a slave.

Do what you are passionate by, reinvent yourself each day. It’s good for you, it’s good for your future, it’s good for the community.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

July 26, 2013 at 07:29

Age is a question of mind

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There is no age to have an active life.

There is no age to have an active life.

Some of you know the famous quote from Mark Twain “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter”. I remembered this quote during a meeting with some entrepreneur friends. One of them is a retired lady who made a career as teacher. When she was retired, she decided to stay active, and developed interest for new technologies. During our discussions, we were talking about the advertising world and the consumer society, where advertising is addressed to a target public, where each person is categorized. She was telling us that when she is hearing or seeing these advertisings, she did not feel concerned by this, because she was not the target of such advertising trying to promote our wellness by acquiring products and services. I can easily understand her feeling, as we are often more considered in our society as consumers before human beings.

By jumping into the world of new technologies and precisely in the internet world, she was telling us that it was a wonderful discovery for her, a wonderful tool allowing us to share knowledge and information by participating to forums on several topics, an unlimited way to expand our knowledge, to conquer our freedom. She did not stay only a user as many of us, but became a real actor by creating a blog, and a militant promoting the accessibility to the web for people suffering of poor eyesight. She attends conferences about web on a regular basis in different countries, brainstorming sessions in co-working spaces, and built a strong network of contacts in different countries. A network of IT guys, entrepreneurs that she had the opportunity to meet, people she could not imagine to meet when she was teaching at school. The teacher became a real connected geek, and is clearly a important member of a community. And what about our discussions about several topics? It is very inspiring and an example of cross-generation relationship.

Such person makes me think about different things about life and self-confidence. We are the owner of our life, and only us, we can decide the way we want to take. A negative point of our society is to make us believe that we cannot access anymore to knowledge or leisure because we are too old, that our life is programmed to do this and not that. The consequences are that we are stuck in limiting thoughts, leading us in a way without goal, in a passive way of life. I remember also this quote from Confucius: “We have two lives and the second begins when we realize that we have only one of it.” There is no age to be aware of this, but one of the messages is that we can discover a passion, of start a project at every moment of our life. The fact to have goals making that you will build a structured life has a positive impact in term of wellness and self-confidence. Our friend realized such goal, such dream because she listened to her inner voice. The age is not a criteria that defines what you can do or not do. It is just a question of mind, and the mind is specific to each of us. We can have the power to follow our own desire and not to be formatted to what others say we should do.

We need to have the courage to pursue our dreams, to transform them into reality. There is no age for dreams, no age to realize them.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

February 24, 2013 at 00:20

Education and entrepreneurship

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Education is the foundation of enterprising mind

Recently, I was chatting with people talking about the fact that entrepreneurship should be taught to youth. In our present fast moving environment, jobs security become an utopia, compared to the past, and where diploma is still useful but not necessarily a guarantee of employment. Change is a constant, and people have to change also, to move with the change. Nothing is definitively acquired.

Such circumstances make that some people are pushed to find alternatives by starting they own activity, or decide to look for new opportunities in order to move their skills and experiences forward. Such evolution, where people are driven to become more dynamic and not static, implies a dynamic mind, where you need to determine personal objectives and a related strategy. Life become a serial of projects, and the development of these projects is the result of an entrepreneurial process.

In such circumstances, it is obvious that youth has to be sensitize to the entrepreneurship, and the opportunities entrepreneurship can bring, but there are in my mind first important steps. Before to become an entrepreneur, we have to become free human being. The most important element to conquer our freedom is education. Education is the foundation of our life. The more our education will be broad, the more we will have opportunities to choose our own way, our own objectives. But education is not only the accumulation of knowledge and skills, it is also the capacity to make judgements, to develop curiosity, to develop the wish to learn, to develop an open mind. A lot of people remember the famous Steve Jobs speech at the Stanford university, where he was encouraging students to be curious, and to learn a lot of things, even we can’t know beforehand if it will be useful, but that afterwards, you can make a link between different things you learned, you can connect the “dots”. All these ingredients, combined with the wish to realize project, to reach objectives, are the basics of an enterprising mind. This is probably the most essential step before to encourage youth to entrepreneurship. The objective of an enterprising mind is not only the wish to build a business, but to build projects and to shape achievements. This achievements can be a Ph.D. Thesis, the writing of a book, or to follow theater courses and become an actor.

By developing an enterprising mind, you become the actor of your own life, where you can make your own choices, defining your objectives. The most important is to get the possibility to make choices. And this step is essential if you want to become an entrepreneur. As you know, an entrepreneur can meet failure. Experienced entrepreneurs will advice you to get alternative plans in case of failure. Education is the tool that will bring you alternative plans. The more your education will be broad, the more you will have alternative plans, not only in your business, but in your life too.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

November 10, 2012 at 22:43

How to find inspiration ?

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Thinking out of the box.

Some of great ideas are coming on an unexpected way, and we want to get absolutely an idea for a new project, for a new book or article we want to write, the inspiration is not there. As we are used to say, an idea is not coming alone. Sometimes, ideas are coming because we noticed something around us, or we heard about something. And from this event, we start to think about it and suddenly an idea is coming.

It is now around two years that I am publishing articles on this blog, and the ongoing concern and challenge is to know if I will be able to publish an article with an acceptable quality level within the deadline I fixed. The ideas finally are coming, but as mentioned earlier not alone. There are coming easier, if we have an intensive activity. I would like to share some useful tips and conditions in my mind helping us to find inspiration.

  • Break the routine. Each of us, we have repetitive activities and duties. We are doing this tasks as we had been programed to do it. This repetition of the same activities become a routine, routine that is the opposite of thinking out of the box. By changing some habits, you will probably discover new things or you will do them on another way.
  • Develop your inspiring network. We can be inspired by inspiring people. Inspiring people are people who build their own life, their own experience, and who thought about what the way of life they chose, brought to them. By sharing their experience and ideas with you, you can feed your own ideas or project. We are closed to the mind mapping process, where words or ideas can make you think about closed ideas or things, and help you to build or move forward your own project, your own life.
  • Move time to time to another environment. As freelance, I am used to work to the customer office, or at home. Recently, I spent few day in a co-working space. By working there, you break the routine, you move to another working environment where the configuration of the room or the design will inspire you, will bring some positive energy to you. It is also an opportunity to meet other people having different jobs, with who you can talk about your projects, share ideas, and maybe build a new project with them.
  • Be curious, eager to learn and start new activities: the most experience you will have and the most curious you will be, the most opportunities of new ideas you will gain. The curiosity will bring you to discover new things, to learn, and to expand your knowledge. Each things you can learn can be the raw material of a future project, or idea, or a new activity.
  • Take the time for leisures and sports. By doing a sport, or watching a movie, reading a book,  you move your spirit to another horizon. By being too much focused on something, you are loosing visibility and do not see the things on a global way. When for instance, you try to solve a problem and you are stuck, then, move your brain to something else, or do a break. Take the opportunity to do sports, to decrease your stress, or just make a walk in a park or in the woods. By taking distance from the problem, you will see it on another way and find the solution you was looking for.

Inspiration and ideas are something we can work on it. Inspiration is something implying a movement, we are inspired by something. It means that we have to maximize the source of inspiration, and you only can organize this process. It is a long and ongoing process, but sometimes, it can bring interesting results.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

June 28, 2011 at 20:16

What is success ?

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Success and perseverance.

Everybody wants to reach success. The question is to know what is precisely success. Have we each of us the same definition, the same view of success? This question needs to be answered in order to know what success is, but also where success is. We reach success when we are realizing a dream. We have dreams we want to realize in our personal life. There are different kind of dreams, and the ways to reach them will probably be different. We can dream to have a family, to have children succeeding in their studies, to travel around the world. We would like also to succeed in our professional life, to have an enjoyable work and to earn enough money to cover our daily needs. This is an overview of what could be success, but does it mean that these things we are dreaming are successful on themselves ?

The success is a question of values. What are the value we are sharing? In our society, most of the time, success is associated to wealth. Bill Gates, for instance, is seen as a successful man by founding one of the most large software companies, Microsoft. But does it mean that the creation of a company is a dream shared by everybody? This is a question of value, of interest. To meet the success, is to meet the goal you are dreaming. Your goal will be function of the value you are believe in and the activities leaded by your values. There is no success, there is only your success, and your success will not be necessarily the success of somebody else. I already talked in another post, about this Belgian theater founder and actor, Michel Kacenelenbogen, who was first owner and founder of a company. His initial goal was to create a theater, and he founded first a company in order to earn money, to be able to create this theater, to realize his dream. He realized his dream, by founding “Le Public”, a theater with an innovative concept, financed by his own revenue and a part of public subsidies, and where you can find a restaurant after or before the spectacle. This was his dream, and this is his success, but his dream is not probably yours and your success neither. The question of values and goals is important, because what you are considering, or what is the society considering as a success, could be only an illusion. I want to mention here an article I read recently in a magazine, about a business man who was dreaming to drive a Porsche. He made a bet that he will have a Porsche when he will be 30 years old. On way, he bought the Porsche, but he realized after that, that he put a lot of pressure on his shoulder and on the shoulders of his collaborator to maximize profits and to reach his personal goal, and that finally, the car he bought was an illusion of success. The success was more in the business he developed and in all the things he learned by building it every day.

By definition, success is something positive, and because success looks like positive, people are dreaming of success, but are often considering the positive side of success. Regarding the two case I explained before, we have not to underestimate the challenges and issues people had to face to reach their goal. To build a company, or to found a theater remains a challenge and a risk. As Peter Drucker quote says: “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” Some entrepreneurs failed in their projects, learned about that failure and restarted new projects in another way and reached the success. The failure you can meet could be part of a success, if you learn from your failure.

And let us talk about your talent. You can reach a goal or a success by expressing and developing talent. Your talent is one of the key components of success. There are some people saying that everybody can do everything if we want. Personally, I do not totally agree with this statement. We can only succeed by doing things we are motivated by. We have also to reach a level of talent which depends of our capabilities and abilities to acquire the knowledge. There is a huge difference between to be able to play piano, and to play as Mozart was playing. Let us remember also another Peter Drucker quote saying that “It is better to work on your strong points to pass from competence to excellence, than to work on your weaknesses to pass from incompetence to mediocrity.”

But finally, what is success ? Success is the realization of projects you are dreaming. It is only you who can decide and determine what will be a successful life. Maybe you will not see it immediately, maybe you will note that things you were believed as success are just illusions. But each goal we are fixing is function of our passed experiences and of an anticipation of the future, based on new values we discovered and acquired. It is only you who can see yourself as a successful person and not the others.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

June 2, 2011 at 21:11