I was in an airline lounge in San Francisco when I realized that the employment market—and the world—had changed forever. And it all happened because a puppy licked my face.
But not just any puppy. This puppy was a clone.
Human cloning is not far behind. You may hate that and think it’s immoral, unnatural and should be outlawed. We’ll likely be debating the ethical and moral dilemmas of cloning for years. But this genie isn’t going back in the bottle.
Why would Jones & Sons Hardware on Main Street need to hire any outside employees if they can just keep cloning more sons? Why would a company keep paying average employees if they can clone six more of their best one?
Cloning is a startling factor that will one day change the job market and society as we know it.
How does cloning relate to the work world?
On that same trip, I visited a program in Thailand where they’re training monkeys to harvest coconuts—to replace human laborers.
We all know the typesetter, travel agent and neighborhood video store clerk jobs aren’t coming back. But there are millions of other jobs currently in existence that will also be eliminated by technology, replaced by animals or clones or will require complete retraining to stay employed.
If you work in the corporate world today, you have a target on your back. And the longer you’ve worked for a company, the bigger that target is. Long gone are the days when an employee’s longevity at a job was a guarantee for security and a company’s loyalty.
Companies today often see long-term employees as a liability. They want to figure out whether they can turn an employee into a contractor or replace them with someone younger who works cheaper, has less accrued vacation time and receives fewer benefits. Maybe they can even outsource that job overseas. Or better yet, replace them with one of those monkeys from Thailand.
So how do you prepare yourself and actually remain relevant and sought-after in the employment world?
1. Be dispensable
Conventional wisdom says you want to be indispensable. But if you’re indispensable, you’ll always be stuck in the same job at the same level, always be working toward another level up in terms of skill sets. If you reach a spot in your current company where you can’t go higher, someone else will always find a spot for you.
There are always openings for people who get things done. And if there isn’t, they are created.
2. Think like an entrepreneur
Even as an employee in the corporate world, to succeed at a high level, you must think like an entrepreneur. Make decisions as if it were your business and your money.
That doesn’t mean playing it safe. It means being bold and looking for opportunities. Think like Facebook and other tech startups. Move fast.
3. Become a lifelong student
The most sought-after currency in the new economy will be ideas—and the people who create them. The education system and even most company training tracks are hastening their own irrelevance. Why? Because they don’t develop critical thinking skills.
Take personal responsibility for your own learning. Develop your own abilities for lateral, creative and critical thinking, and you’ll never want for a job.