Idea's space

This blog is dedicaded to share ideas about personal and professional development.

Posts Tagged ‘opportunities

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.

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

June 23, 2014 at 17:42

Does uncertainty boost talent and creativity?

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If something is growing since I started my professional career 23 years ago, it is uncertainty. As each of us can see around, the world is fast moving. By looking how the world moved, we just can note that it doesn’t move on a linear way. A fundamental question we have to think about, is how can we drive our own way, our own career, if predictions become impossible?

This question, we thought about it for the first time when we are at school. At a certain time, we have to choice the studies we want to make at the university or high school. By the past, such choice was driven a bit by passion, but also by the opportunities such studies can offer. Today, how can we answer to such question when your future job probably doesn’t exist yet. For instance, did you heard from webmaster or social media 20 years ago? What answer can we give to such question today?

Fundamentally, before to be workers, we are first human being, and a strong education is the basic to develop citizenship, but also to become…the person we are. By learning languages, mathematics, philosophy, we are acquiring matters feeding our brain, developing our intelligence, and maybe making appear some talent and passion. Knowledge and talents are the key component to catch opportunities, and to build a wealthy career. This is a first step. As some of us can think, there are people who have strong education, but who are facing professional difficulties, due to difficult economical circumstances, or because there are doing a too specific job for which the demand is low. Does it mean that people are definitively lost in such circumstance, that there are front of a dark horizon?

Today, education is not something we only acquired when we were at school, but it is something we have to feed and acquire on an ongoing way, for the simple reason that in a fast moving environment, we have to move fast also. Learning has to be a natural exercise. Our brain is a muscle we have to make work too. As I mention above, all what we can learn can drive us to new opportunities, but the combination of skills can make us creative and develop new ideas in order to provide answers to new demands, to create new opportunities too. I would mention Steve Jobs who doesn’t invent the graphical interface (it was first a Xerox invention), but he was the first who perceived the potential of such technical process. The combination of skills is what Steve Jobs mention in his famous speech at the Standford University ( * ): connecting the dots. You never know all what you can do with some skill forward. You can only note it backward.

Talent and skills are certainly the most appropriate answer to face uncertainty. But what is also even most important is experiences. Each of us, we developed skills and talents by studying at school or by reading books, but also by working on several projects during our career. Each project is probably an important source of knowledge, leading to make some statements, pushing us to find solutions, to innovate and to get constant feedback of the stakeholders of the project. With such feedback, we are feeding our own knowledge base, and building a strong reference system, allowing us to create and develop more efficient solutions, to face much bigger challenges. By acquiring and developing talents, by acquiring experience, we empower our self-confidence, and we are much more prepared to face uncertainty.

Uncertainty has not to be seen in a negative way, but as a potential of opportunities. I remember few years ago when I went on holiday in France to make a bicycle trip during 10 days. Each day we started, we had no idea what we will do or see during the day. On the evening, we had wonderful images of landscape, of interesting visits and conversations with local people. This is probably one of the most beautiful holidays I had. By thinking to much in advance to scenarios, you are often disappointed by the reality.

Uncertainty is not something we can’t face. It is something that can bring us energy and motivate us to develop talents. It implies we need to have objectives and passion to reach them, to be self-confident. It is something we can be prepared, if we work on our capacity of adaptation, if we are flexible, if we decide to expand our horizon. But as mention Lynda Gratton, in her book “The shift”, we need to be “active creators” and not passive consumers. It is not forbidden to think that uncertainty is something contributing to boost talent and creativity.

Blog references: (*) http://www.ted.com/talks/steve_jobs_how_to_live_before_you_die.html , (**) http://www.lyndagratton.com/

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

May 1, 2012 at 16:48

Those who created their job.

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Luc de Brabandere, enterprise philosopher.

Most of you already heard about that quote from Abraham Lincoln saying that “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” This quote have more and more sense in a fast moving environment where we don’t know what will be our future. Today, job security is an oxymoron. As already written in a previous posting on this blog, the only existing job security is to expand our knowledge and capabilities. All what you can learn will probably be helpful for you in order to find and to get new opportunities. More than this, when something seems to begin obsolete, it is time to invent something, to find other solutions, to be creative. It is true for business, for product and services, but also for our career.

Each of us, we hope to meet success in our professional and private life. Some years ago, the success was to join a known company or group, and to make a whole career, joining a stable environment where you were benefiting from a good salary with a range of benefits. Today, such career perspectives are more improbable, in a fast moving economical environment where restructuring processes in companies imply jobs cutting as negative effects. Does it mean that success became also something improbable? It depends how we are defining success.

In our society, work is often considered as a constraint. By seeing work in such point of view, people will choose a job for bad reasons. Is it forbidden to believe that job could be something very enjoyable? It is up to us to decide it. Some people decided to do their job enjoyable, and some of them came to invent, to create their own job.

I will take the example of Luc De Branbandere, a Belgian consultant in creativity. This man has a diploma in mathematic sciences and started his career in a bank. He was quickly interested by all what is related to creativity. In order to move further in that subject, he made studies in philosophy. He wrote several books about ideas and creativity, books that I highly recommend. Luc De Brabandere is defining himself as an enterprise philosopher, coaching and helping companies in creativity processes.

 

Marc Ysaye, director of Classic 21

Let us take another example. Marc Ysaye, who is the drummer of the Belgian rock group Machiavel, made several small jobs during his youth, from taxi driver to trucks driver. He is passionate by rock’n roll music, and his knowledge of the rock’n roll is impressive. He joined the Belgian radio (RTBF) in 1982. In 1988, he created a radio broadcast, “Les Classiques”, presenting a rock’n roll group every Sunday morning on Classic 21, a chain of the RTBF. This radio broadcast is still a success today, and Marc Ysaye is the director of Classic 21 since 2004. Classic 21 is one of the most successful Belgian radio station dedicated to rock’n roll music.

We can find numerous example of self-made man, people meeting success by creating their own job, their own project. There are several reason why they meet such success, and some of them are the following:

  • The passion. Somebody who creates his own job is moved by a passion. Of course, he has to work hardly to build his project, but this work driven by passion make that he is considering his job as a hobby, as a game and not as a binding job.

  • The curiosity and the passion to learn. A self-made man wants to discover, to learn every day. His passion is a never-ending story, and by knowing that he can learn everyday, he has a feeling of happiness and is conquering his freedom day-after-day. All what he can learn and discover will be a strong row material to develop new projects and ideas.

  • Be the original instead of the copy. Oliviero Tuscani said that “We have not only to be the best, we have to be unique”. It is when you build your project based on your own experiences and passions that you build something unique and original. Of course, we are often inspired by other people, but this inspiration has to be only the needed energy to build our own project, our own legend as Paolo Coelho says.

  • Goal and conviction: Building your own project means that you have a goal, your own goal, and that you are convinced by what you are doing. Conviction is close to passion. It is only when you are convinced yourself that you will convince the other people. It is also when you are convinced by what you are doing that you maximize the chance to reach your goal.

  • Pay attention to opportunities: we are used to say that an opportunity is coming one time to you, not twice. It is important to pay attention to each opportunity. Meeting the right people at the right time and in the right place is not something that happen everyday. You cannot miss such chance. We are responsible of our successes and of our failures.

  • Work and perseverance: The most important and main project we have is our own life. It is something we have to build everyday in order to get long term results. By facing challenges and issues, and by working hard in order to find solutions and to reach your goal, you will learn about yourself, you will be more self -confident. It is by learning everyday, by increasing your skills and capabilities that you will be able to move your limits and face bigger challenges.

Is it possible to create our own future, our own job? Yes, it is, but a major point is to know how we define the success. Our definition will be related to our value. Is the success related to the money we are earning, to the projects we are winning, to the satisfaction level we are gaining from our activities? Success will be defined differently by each of us. But success will have to be integrated and found in our moving environment. It will be related to our value, but also linked to our capacity of change, of adaptability. As entrepreneurs of our own life, we need to have always a project in advance, to have always different interests, and to make them growth everyday. Is it impossible to create our future. Some people will answer they did not know it was impossible, so they did it !

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

April 3, 2011 at 22:34