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Skill #6 Information Management

Skill #6 Information Management


Do you feel like you’re drowning?

I do. Look at all the stuff that is coming at us. Cable news channels, blogs, podcasts, emails, text messages, Instagram, and on, and on. Thomas Frey in the post on future skills you will need ( ) cites a study done by UC San Diego. That study showed in 2008 the average American spent 11.8 hours a day gathering information. The study also stated that number was increasing at approximately 2.6% each year. Fast forward to 2018. If those numbers are accurate, we now spend 15.25 hours per day gathering information.
Really? 15 hours a day? That hardly leaves time to eat, sleep, or work. It sure doesn’t leave any time for play. Worse yet, a Temple University study ( ) shows once your brain gets overloaded with incoming information, your pre-frontal cortex shuts down. When that happens, you are robbed of the ability to make rational decisions.

This is important because…?

In that same post ( ), Frey also states, “Our ability to manage our personal information inputs and outputs will greatly determine our ability to compete in the global marketplace of the future.

You can’t ignore this

This isn’t going to get better. Current estimates are the entire body of human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. IBM estimates that in a few years, thanks to Artificial Intelligence, human knowledge will double every 12 minutes. There is simply no way any of us can keep up.
This means you must actively decide what areas you want to be informed about. What do you need to know? You are going to have to choose. Once you pick those areas, what sources do you trust? How deep do you want to go? Don’t forget to pick some sources that will allow you to see some differing opinions. Like it or not, every information source will have some bias built in. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you recognize it. Build in some balance.

Your Biggest challenge

In the very near future, gathering information is going to be like trying to drink from a 3-inch firehose. You are going to be forced to decide how much time you are going to allow for this activity. You will also need to be very selective in what sources you use. The current estimate is that by 2020, a short 2 years from now, 50% of the US Labor Force will be Freelancers. That number will go much higher as robots and software technology continue destroying existing jobs. What will you do when your job goes away?
Start today to build superior knowledge in your area of expertise. Decide how much time you will devote each day to gathering and disseminating information in your particular niche. Cut out the crap. We all have the same 86,400 seconds in each day. It’s how you decide to spend them that counts.
Skill #5 Privacy Management

Skill #5 Privacy Management

Is Privacy Management Even Possible?


In my last post ( ) I talked about what you need to do to manage your reputation. Reputation management by its very definition involves a lot of transparency. Putting yourself out there for all to see to further your career. Privacy Management is at the opposite end of that same spectrum.
You may wonder in this day of social media if it’s even possible to have any privacy. Businesses today are investing in sophisticated technologies collecting as much information as they can about customers and prospects in order to market their products and services to them. Have you ever searched for a product online and then noticed pop-up ads for that same product showing up on websites you visit? And there is a dark side to this as well. Online scammers can use this information to attempt to exploit you and put you at financial risk.
Thomas Frey, in his post on 12 skills needed for the future ( ) argues “The free flow of personal information that respects privacy will do just the opposite, fuel and cultivate innovation.” Yet currently, this legal framework for determining what is private and what isn’t does not exist.

Isn’t Privacy Our Right?

We do have a right to privacy in this country. We used to assume everything was private unless we chose to reveal it. Today that assumption has been turned around. Now, you must decide in advance what you want to keep private, and then take steps to do so.
Unfortunately, most of us never even give this a thought. We just go ahead and merrily tweet away, or post things on Facebook without ever thinking about the consequences. Think those Facebook posts don’t matter? Guess where divorce lawyers go to dig up dirt for their clients? Guess where employers go to check out people they are thinking about hiring? Guess where colleges go to check out prospective students.
I teach classes on blogging at our local community college. One thing I try to impress on my students is to never, ever, put anything online you are not prepared to see on the front page, above the fold, of the New York Times tomorrow morning. And once you post it, it’s out there. Even if you try to delete it, it can be found by someone. This includes emails. Once you hit “send” you have no control over where that message will wind up. How many crises have started when someone made a derogatory or untrue comment and then hit “reply to all” by mistake.

Not to be paranoid, but…?

Whom do you confide in? Do you trust them? Before the days of social media, confidences could only be betrayed by word of mouth. Now, they can be spread across the internet tomorrow. Remember the old saying, “The only way two people can keep a secret is if one of them is dead.” I’m not advocating murder here. We all need friends and confidants with whom we can talk things over and get advice we can trust. What I am saying is be careful. Those relationships are built over long periods of time, not overnight or over a few extra drinks. The old World War II saying was “Loose lips sink ships.” All you have to do is read the headlines to know it’s still true today.

In Conclusion

In these days of social media, you must be aware of how and what you communicate with others. Whether you know it or not, you have an online persona. You must guard it with your life and treasure. Tomorrow you will be hired or fired, followed or unfollowed, adored or disparaged by what is found about you online. Be careful what you post. One of my favorite sayings comes from Abraham Lincoln. “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.”
Skill #4 Reputation Management

Skill #4 Reputation Management


Why should you be interested in something like reputation management? Well, like it or not, you already have an online reputation. Don’t believe me? Jump online and Google your name and see what comes up.

This is important because?

In this digital age, how you appear to the rest of the world can have a huge impact on your ability to make a living.
Current estimates are by the year 2020, 50% of the US workforce will be Freelancers or independent contractors ( ). Further, futurist Thomas Frey, predicts 47% of existing jobs will disappear by 2030 ( ). This means there is a 1 out of 2 chance you will be changing careers in the next 12 years. Where do you think employers go to check out people they are going to hire
Consider these statistics from one of Frey’s recent posts ( )
  •  “80% of divorce lawyers use Facebook to find evidence.
  • 65% of recruiters frown on job seekers who frequently use profanity in social media.
  • 68% of hiring managers have decided to hire a candidate because of something they saw on social media.”

My point is simple. If you know people are going to check you out online, shouldn’t you try to put your best foot forward?


Personal Branding

Reputation management can also be called personal branding. It began to rise in popularity among corporate executives in the early 2000’s. As more and more people become Freelancers, they are discovering the importance of promoting themselves as a brand. In the new gig economy, you are responsible for directing your own career. Social media gives you the opportunity to do just that.

So, How do I do it?

If you are a Freelancer (or are thinking about becoming one), the first thing you have to realize is you are the product. So, ask yourself, “What do I want to be known for?”
Consider the following:
  • What is your area of expertise?
  • Who do you want to work for? (Your target audience)
  • What type of projects are you interested in?

Once you have answered those questions, you can begin to tell your story. Yes, you have a story. When you go to work for your clients as a Freelancer, you have a unique promise of value you’re going to deliver. That’s what you need to communicate.


The Story of You

There many channels available to tell your story. Here’s a list of the most popular:
  • FaceBook
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Blog Posting
Depending on which one (or more) of these you choose will depend on your target audience.
If you intend to become a recognized expert in your chosen field, blog posting is an excellent way to promote yourself. Blogs come in many varieties and range from free to relatively inexpensive. You can also publish blog posts in a range of other social media platforms using a media manager such as HootSuite.
Facebook is another way for you to reach your target audience. FaceBook started out as a way for people to stay in touch with one another. Now it has morphed into a platform you can use to inform and entertain your target audience. A word of caution here. There is a lot of trash on Facebook. You will need to monitor your account daily to remove any questionable posts that may pop up.
In my opinion, LinkedIn is the best channel for connecting with other professionals. LinkedIn is based on the idea that by connecting with friends (1st Level) you also have access to friends of friends (2nd Level). You can also join groups with subscribers of similar interests. For instance, I belong to a group called the Personal Branding Network that has over 19,000 members. Now there’s a great target audience.
Twitter is also a great way to connect with a target audience. You can also use it to send links to your blog posts, Facebook and LinkedIn posts.

In Conclusion

Telling the “Story of You” is growing in importance and will continue to grow over the years. Positive management of the way you appear in the online world will be critical to your success. One more thing you need to do is to be consistent. Keep your communications and posts on message for your area of expertise. For instance, if you are an accountant, stick to articles about accounting. Don’t wander off with articles about growing orchids.
Above all, start today to manage your personal brand online. Choose how you are going to tell your story. Do it well, and you will reap huge rewards in the future.
P.S. I am starting a new website that will teach people about personal branding. If this is a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let me know by posting a comment on this post.
Skill #3 Communication Management.

Skill #3 Communication Management.

Did you know how you manage your communications can affect your mental health?


Once long ago, in a land far, far, away, people lived in a simpler world.  There were only 3 TV networks, one or two daily newspapers in your city, and there was only one telephone on a little table in the entrance hall to your home. News broadcasts were two or three times a day, only lasting about 30 minutes including weather, sports, and financial markets.  Who needed something like Communication Management?


Fast forward to 2018.


Today there is an almost endless list of ways to learn what’s going on and to stay in touch.

  1. 24 hour Cable News channels
  2. Newspapers, both print and online.
  3. Cell phones
  4. Text Messages
  5. Email
  6. Facebook
  7. LinkedIn
  8. Google +
  9. Twitter
  10. Blogs
  11. Podcasts
  12. Instagram
  13. Reddit
  14. Skype
  15. You Tube

And on, and on.

Communication is a necessary part of all our lives and, it’s a highly valued skill.   But, you can have too much or too little.  A 2013 Yankelovich study found the average consumer is bombarded with 5,000 messages a day.  5,000!  On average, the human brain is only able to process 5 to 7 bits of information at one time. Trying to stay up with all the sources available to you can cause stress and feelings of being overwhelmed.

So what happens when your brain receives too much information? Well, a recent Temple University study cited in an article in Entrepreneur Magazine ( ), says when your input reaches the overload level, your prefrontal cortex simply shuts down. In essence, you are unable to make rational decisions past that point.  Keep that up over time, and your mental health suffers as your anxiety levels go through the roof.

Yet the reverse, cutting yourself off from the outside world causes anxiety and stress as well.


So, What’s the Answer?


Unfortunately, this is something you have to figure out for yourself.   This is a recent phenomenon and one that is not being addressed in our education system.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Only review emails once or twice a day. Pick times in the morning or afternoon that suit your schedule.  Then shut down your email services outside of those times.  This is what I do.
  2. To the extent you can, do the same with phone calls and text messages.  Let incoming calls go to voicemail, then bunch your return calls around the same time each day.  As long as you answer calls and texts the same day they are received, most customers and clients are OK with this.
  3. Limit your news input.  Pick two or three TV news shows and online/print newspapers and let that be it. Review those sources once or twice a day. You won’t miss anything.  In the current news climate, there is a constant, microscopic, never-ending, examination of every event down to who got a parking ticket. It’s almost never one and done.

The point here is for you to put yourself in control of your life by managing how and with whom you communicate. Narrow your focus to those topics that are important to you.  I doubt if you really care if the Volga River floods the town of Astrakhan.  The big plus here too is the amount of time you free up to be doing more productive things.

So pick your sources, limit your exposure, and let the rest of the world go by.


Skill #2 Emerging Skills Management

Skill #2 Emerging Skills Management


Here is an interesting question. How can you learn the skills for a job that hasn’t been invented?


Why would I need to do that?


Here’s why. Futurist Thomas Frey estimates 47% of today’s existing jobs will disappear by the year 2030 ( ). What that means for you is there is a roughly 50-50 chance the job you’re in today will be gone.

When it happens you will face 2 choices:
1. Be pushed aside into a lower paying job well below your skill level.
2. Become expert at skills required in this new economy, and hire yourself out as a Freelancer.

Your challenge today is you can’t afford to wait until your job disappears. When your job goes, it won’t just disappear from the company you work for; it will be gone from the economy. Without a developed skill needed in the new economy, you will fall into category one. And, there you will stay until you acquire those new skills.


Won’t there be new jobs coming along?


Yes, but…right now, no one knows what they are. Here’s what we do know now.

Robots and improved software technology are replacing people at an ever increasing pace. Robots and software can do predictable, repetitive tasks very quickly, 24 hours a day. What robots can’t do is think. The new jobs coming along will be those that require human judgment.


Your Challenge Today.


Start thinking today about what you want to do when your present job disappears. Do you want to stay in the same industry? Do you want to do something entirely new? Do you want to be a Freelancer in some area you’ve always been passionate about?

Start thinking about jobs in that field that need some of the following skills:
1. People management
2. Complex Problem Solving
3. Creativity
4. Coordinating with others.
5. Emotional Intelligence.
6. Service Orientation

Get wild here. Use your imagination. Perhaps you can repair robots or find hiccups in software programs. Maybe you could be someone who helps decide what functions could be automated.

It doesn’t have to be that technical. You could become a Freelance journalist, or a copywriter, or an author.

My point here is that whatever you choose, you need to start your education today. Read books. Take courses online. Go to college at night. Do whatever it takes to be ready when the pink slip comes.

The New Reality


Here is an inconvenient truth about the economy of the 4th Industrial Revolution. We all must become lifelong learners. Human knowledge is doubling every 13 months and that time frame is getting shorter and shorter. Our education system can’t keep up. So, we are going to have to do it on our own. Here is the good news. Learning new stuff is a lot of fun.

Choose something to learn about. Start now. Then, you’ll be ready to move up and on when the big day comes.

12 Skills You Need to Succeed

12 Skills You Need to Succeed

The 4th Industrial Revolution is upon us!

Traditional jobs are disappearing. Futurist Thomas Frey predicts 47% of current jobs will disappear by 2030 ( ). The workforce is shifting toward the predominance of the Entrepreneur and Freelancer.
Forbes Magazine has recently predicted 50% of the U.S. Labor force will be Freelancers by the year 2020. That shift won’t stop there.
I recently created a series of posts on the 10 critical skills employers will be looking for as these disruptive trends continue ( ). If we are truly headed toward a workforce consisting of Freelancers, (full disclosure, I am already there) then most of us, myself included, have a lot of studying to do to acquire these skills.
Being a Freelancer is a lot of fun. I have found it’s not really a job, it’s a calling. The body of human knowledge continues to grow at an ever-increasing rate. Current estimates are that it now doubles every 13 months. IBM predicts before long knowledge will double every 12 minutes. As Freelancers, we will be challenged to absorb new information at an ever-increasing rate. To accomplish this, we must learn how to manage ourselves better.

How are we going to do that?

It turns out our old friend, Thomas Frey, has just released a new post ( ). In it, he details the 12 self-management skills we all need to develop to be successful in this brave new world.
Here they are:
1. Distraction Management – How many times a day do you check your phone? Social Media? Email?
2. Emerging Skills Management – What new skills will you need to acquire to do your job?
3. Communication Management – What sources do you use to collect information?
4. Reputation Management – As Freelancing becomes the predominant profession, how will you promote yourself
5. Privacy Management – How transparent can you afford to be in the future
6. Information Management – How will you manage your personal information inputs and outputs.
7. Opportunity Management – What will your specialty be? Highly specialized Freelancers can charge higher fees.
8. Technology Management – New tools are coming into existence every day. Which ones will be the most valuable to you?
9. Relationship Management – Social media has changed the very nature of personal relationships. How will you handle this?
10. Legacy Management – This life is so dangerous; no one gets out alive. How do you want to be remembered?
11. Money Management – As we become Freelancers, management of our finances becomes more critical than ever.
12. Time Management – We only get so much. How will you spend it?
Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing each of these topics in depth. I will also explore why they are important, and how you can improve your mastery of each skill.
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