Reinventing Your Career in the Smart Machines Age

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My third new book will be about something I have been thinking about since the mid-80s but is especially relevant today. When I entered college, my focus was on finding a good job when I graduated. Many of my friends were going into computer programming, law, and business. However, I started as a physics major, then switched to speech communication while taking as many philosophy classes as I could.

Around my fourth semester, panic set in, and I was convinced by well-meaning relatives I should go to law school. So, I double-majored in speech communication and paralegal science. I was graduated in the winter of 1990 and, after two gap years, I entered night law school in the fall of 1993. After a year of law school, I realized I made a big mistake. A mistake I could have avoided if I had paid closer attention to a book I read in 1991.

Beverly A. Potter published The Way of the Ronin: A Guide to Career Strategy in 1984. I came across it just after college. I had some instruction in college about how to job hunt, including how to handle a lunch interview. My job hunt after college graduation landed me a part-time job at the local convenience store. My bachelor’s degree did gain me an extra five cents on the hourly wage. See, education does pay.

college graduate silhouetted by the sun.

During the summer of 1991, I checked out every job hunting, resume writing, and interviewing skills book that the Lexington (Kentucky) Public Library had. My efforts paid off with an entry-level paralegal job in the Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Agency. I still had to keep the convenience store job because my paralegal job barely paid my rent and expenses. The traditional job hunt of resumes and cover letters was not working that well for me.

Dr. Potter’s advice for job hunters was to drop the linear model of career development. Instead of finding the perfect well-trod path of specialization, Dr. Potter recommends developing a wide range of skills to navigate the dynamically changing world of work better. She wrote about career ronins who “[g]uided by a personally defined code of adaptability, autonomy, and excellence” (p. xi).

“Ronins are employing career strategies grounded in a premise of rapid change. By making lateral moves that follow their interests, they become generalists with specialties.” (p. xi)

Dr. Potter was writing about the rapid changes in the workplace during the late 70s and early 80s. But her strategies worked just as well in the early 90s as the rise of the commercial Internet revolutionized careers. Reinvigorated by her advice, I dropped out of law school, turned my hobby of computer programming into a deep skill, and took a big career leap by going to Washington D.C. and becoming a political consultant.

From 1995 to now, I followed the career ronin strategy. I’ve had many jobs and have taken a nonlinear path to where I am today. And, I feel more content and fulfilled in my career journey.

In the age of smart machines, the gig economy, and digital disruption, how do you find a job and build a career? My forthcoming book will give you the skills to reinvent yourself and navigate the new world of work. To prepare for the future job market, you need skills like:

  • Scenario Thinking
  • Mapping the Career Landscape
  • Searching for the Fulfilling Job – Or Creating the Fulfilling Job
  • Beyond the Resume: The Career Portfolio
  • Creating the Business Model that is You
  • Building Your Own Personal Career University
  • Understanding What Motivates You and Establishing Your Unique Value
  • Developing Resilience and Empowering Yourself

Unique to other career planning books, I will show you how to use the Observe-Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) Loop to refine your career planning skills continually. The OODA Loop was created by a brilliant Air Force colonel who revolutionized military strategy. The OODA Loop is perfect for building your career strategy – especially in the new volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous job marketplace.

Thus, my reason for writing my third book. Of the hundreds of career books I checked out in the summer of 1991, only one helped inspire me. I hope my book will have the same impact on today’s job hunters.