I was at Starbucks the other day. Starbucks is the official office of the New Normal. It is filled by people who are working all day long without paying rent. There’s free Wi-Fi as well. I walked by a fellow who was talking to some colleagues. The words that came out of his mouth amplified for me in the air. “We survived,” he said. You could see his journey in the crevices of his brow.
I could imagine his conversation: “We survived, but we came out different. We had to make some major changes. Many of our competitors didn’t come out of it.” All true. I have heard it many times. I am often at Starbucks. The great recession changed everybody, everything and most values.
Do you trust your bank? Your mortgage company? Your employer? Your boss? Politicians? Oil companies? Your athletic heroes? Where do you shop now? Do people who drive $150,000 cars look successful to you? Do you buy your kids hoodies at a surf shop or Target? What companies do your children admire? Do you worry less or more? Has what’s important to you changed during the great recession?
Many companies didn’t survive the great recession. Where is New Century? Where is Mervyns? Many logos on office towers have changed many times where I live. I worked at JWT Chicago for 4 years, on the 27th floor of the John Hancock building. It was the show. JWT Chicago opened in 1891, and closed during the great recession. “The times they are a changing,” a prophet sang.
A whole class of people has been marginalized. They reach out to me. They lost good jobs during the great recession that they can’t replace. Generally, they are 50 plus years of age. They are not in a position to retire. There are probably millions of them out there who have tried everything to get picked, but are continually overlooked. Feeling like the last kid picked in the game of Red Rover - The New Normal’s Lost Generation.
Some can create a job by starting a consulting career, but others don’t know how to productize their knowledge and turn it into a business. One of the jobs that I had in the past with an agency probably doesn’t exist anymore, or there are much fewer of them.
Look into the future. Do you think that they position that you are in will be around in 5 years? If not, then today is the first day of your life. You can become marginalized because of your cost which often increases with age. You can become marginalized because of your skills. If you let that happen, that is your choice. You have to change as fast as technology. That’s today’s bench mark.
When kids were young, we sometimes told them to act their age. When you are older you have to reflect the age of relevance. Doesn’t make you bullet proof, but it does provide a vest.
You see in the New Normal many things don’t align with the Old Normal. Companies are cash rich, the stock market sings, but hiring lags. Some months the news is all happy and the next month not so much.
In the New Normal you have to be ready for the next change and it will happen. Hopefully not for a long time but I still remember the dotcom bust of a decade ago. Some don’t because they weren’t alive in the workforce or maybe because the pain was short lived.
So, where are you today?
Are you ready to be fired?
When is the late time you reinvented yourself?
How have you made yourself smarter today?
How large is your network?
How have you made yourself more marketable today?
There is a train coming down the track. It hasn’t hit us yet, but sometime in the distant future it will. It always has in the past.
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