29 June 2011

The history of free men is never really written by chance but by choice; their choice!

Dwight D. Eisenhower


Whenever there is change in the world, it causes some people a lot of pain, and makes others a lot of money.

This has been the truth for a very long time. Before the industrial revolution, a skilled pin maker could make 10 pins a day. After the industrial revolution, five bozos could make 10,000 pins in a day. Pin makers all over the world were in a lot of pain, and the owners of the pin machines made a lot of money. As personal computers invaded the market, typewriter companies and typewriter repair shops all around the world were in a lot of pain, and people in the computer industry made a huge amount of money.

We’re currently in an era of unprecedented change, and it is quite easy to look around and see the carnage. Millions of US jobs have been lost, and a lot of those jobs are never coming back. Entire industries are imploding. At the same time, the change has made many incredibly rich. Look at the growth in China. Look at the wealth creation of Apple, Facebook and Google.

This change is likely to keep going for a while, so what should we do?

Firstly, know what side you’re on, pain or money. There are some professions where it is obvious you are on the side of pain. US manufacturing is on this list, but there are many other professions you might not expect, from accountants who are being outsourced to doctors whose salaries have been falling for 15 years. If your job can either be automated or outsourced to another country, you are on the side of pain. If you are taking advantage of technological or social shifts in the world to do something new and different, you are on the side of money.

We have a choice, to choose the pain or the money. This choice is not whether to make money or experience pain, it is choosing to work in a way where you are taking advantage of our changing world in order to make money, versus working in the same way you always did hoping you can retire before the pain catches up to you. If you’re reading this, I think you should choose the money.

Choosing the money does not guarantee that you will end up making a lot of money. However, even if you fail while trying to get the money, you will gain very marketable skills that are in high demand from your contemporaries, who choose the money and succeed. As an example, back in the late 1990’s there were a bunch of companies working on internet search engines. Most of them failed, but were they people who built them failures? Most certainly not, because when Google succeeded and needed to hire a bunch of people who knew about search engines, who do you think they hired?

The people who choose pain are playing a dangerous lottery. They don’t know how bad the damage is going to be, and they all hope and pray that the damage happens to their neighbors, not them. Surviving is mostly a matter of luck, and judging by the speed with which new technology spreads nowadays; the odds are not very good.

This choice may not be easy. In fact you may have already come up with many reasons why choosing the money is impossible. Those excuses are legitimate for the short term only. There is no possible reason why it’s impossible for anyone to be choosing the money in five years. If you’re at a loss for how to start choosing the money, start a blog about your current industry and you’ll already be on your way.