One of my resolutions for last year was to read a non-fiction book every month. This turned out to be a wonderful challenge, and something I thoroughly enjoyed doing.
Highlights included Leaving Microsoft to Change the World and The Heart of Success. Both of these are excellent books, not focused upon the over-discussed notions of productivity and efficiency, but on real stories and ideas for creating change and becoming a better colleague.
The final book I read in 2009 was A Whole New Mind. Written by an editor of Wired, Daniel Pink, the book explores the importance of right-brain thinking within a wider context of the world’s changing economic power.
I often have doubts about the work that I do. Although I hugely enjoy working from home, exploring new online trends, and editing for Envato, there’s a niggling doubt that maybe, just maybe, I would have been better off in a traditional management graduate job. A Whole New Mind is a fascinating argument towards why a self-directed, creative career path is likely to be more successful in the long-term than starting out from the bottom in an accountancy firm.
The demand for writing and design is huge, and growing fast. Pink highlights that, since 1970, the USA has 30% more people earning a living as a writer. The figures are similar for design and music production. Equally, the relative security of traditional service sector jobs is declining.
When considering your job, ask yourself three questions:
- Can someone overseas do it cheaper (to the same standard)?
- Can a computer do it faster?
- Is what I’m offering in demand in an age of abundance?
I suspect that, for many of you reading this, the answers to all three will fall in your favour. Design and writing cannot reliably be outsourced, computers cannot do it faster, and both skills are increasingly important in an age where design and emotion are the key selling factors for organizations.
When I approach these questions from the perspective of a “traditional” management graduate job, the outcome isn’t so rosy. Previously respected and secure careers such as accountancy, auditing, and corporate IT services are all under threat in this new global economy.
The bottom line is this: the world is changing, and right-brain, creative thinking will be one of the most sought after skills in the next decade. If you work for yourself or are employed in a creative sector, A Whole New Mind will be a fascinating and encouraging read.