Susan Arledge: Are You ‘Just the Right Amount of Crazy?’

Susan Arledge
Susan Arledge

Are you scrappy, full of grit, and just the right amount of crazy? If so, you might be an entrepreneur—and you might not have a choice.

It sobering to learn that in 10 years, about 65 percent of jobs that will exist at that time have not even been thought of yet, according to the Department of Labor. So with smarter computers taking on more of the work that people currently do, what jobs will be left, and what impact will that have on our future workforce?

Some of the top workplace trend predictions, as noted by Dan Schawabel of Forbes, indicate that:

• The continuous job search will pick up. Companies are going to have to deal with even more retention issues as employees hop from job to job. This is happening because technology has enabled people to easily find new jobs and for recruiters to steal talent in numbers. More than 85 percent of employees are already looking for work outside their current occupations, and nearly one third of employers expert workers to job-hop. One of the few things companies can do to increase retention rates is to create a superior work culture where employees have friends and are engaged in their work.

• Social media posts will be used to attract and retain talent. We will see more social media updates, and blog posts, from employers in 2015. People want to work for interesting companies; they are tired of reading press releases and corporate websites and want something that’s more “real.”

So, with jobs of the future not yet invented, we can’t be certain about what they’ll actually look like. But experts are predicting what skills will be in demand. Harvard professor Howard Gardner makes the case for these :

• Studying to cultivate a disciplined mind: Bringing attention to a laser-like focus and drilling down to the essence of a subject, perceiving the simple truth of it. (That’s sounds a lot like philosophy to me. Liberal Arts majors unite!)

• Being able to critically assess detail and then communicate it. Communication skills have always been important and will remain so. (See philosophy skill above, which allows one to respond cryptically with phrases like: “Well, your entire point hinges on the false assumption that a physical reality actually exists.”)

• Understanding and communicating data. Knowing how to deal with large data sets will be critical, as well as finding ways to make sense of the data and turn it into useful information. (For example, somebody had to be able to explain the “Body Mass Index” which is calculated, really, by dividing body weight in kilograms by height in meters squared. It is also predicted that future generations will actually know what a “meter” or a “kilogram” is.)

• Procedural architecture or gamification designer—some of the cool jobs. These are people who can design virtual environments and experiences that allow people to get things done and have some fun. The output is called procedural content, which can be used in computer games, films or be uploaded to the internet. (Little known fact: Austin is the largest gaming hub in Texas. Dallas is second, with companies such as Barking Lizards and SpiderMonk Entertainment.)

• The IT sector will really need information security analysts, big data analysts, artificial intelligence and robotics specialists, applications developers for mobile devices, web developers, database administrators, business intelligence analysts, business/systems analysts and ethicists. (Ethicists? Is that a job? How much would everyone hate that person in the company?)

• You can never go wrong as an engineer, accountant, lawyer, financial adviser, project manager, doctor, nurse, pharmacist, physical therapist, veterinarian, psychologist, health services manager, schoolteacher, market research analyst, sales rep, or construction worker.

• On the downside, occupations on the decline include agricultural workers, postal service workers, sewing machine operators, switchboard operators, data entry clerks, word processors/typists and art history majors. (Although one could always specialize in art history and then become an art thief. Art thievery should not be considered a crime because it’s just so classy and most good art thieves are required to have graduate degrees.)

When Your Career Picks You

If it doesn’t pay to be a sewing machine operator or postal worker and you don’t have a passion for procedural architecture or art thievery, you just might want to consider becoming an entrepreneur—like many in commercial real estate. Here are some of the warning signs that you were born for such a career, according to Jeff Haden of Inc. magazine:

• Do people accuse you of being “scrappy”?

• Are you an “outsider,” and never liked the group projects at school?

• Will you argue to the point that you frustrate every teacher, boss or parent you have ever had? Do you believe that you can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent and that people know this and steer clear of you at parties? More often, do you think as a sign of their great respect, they don’t even invite you?

• Are you annoyingly and doggedly determined (sometimes called “gritty”)?

• Are you just the “right amount of crazy?” Did you or would you walk away from security and a steady paycheck because the real estate world beckoned?

If you are looking for an easy job, don’t invest time in pursuing entrepreneurship. It’s both physically and emotionally exhausting, full of doubt, anxiety, and despair. So, why are entrepreneurs willing to face the vulnerability, the emotional ups and downs, and the risk of public and private failure?

The answer to that is easy: They have no choice.

• The voice in their heads is louder than every other voice they hear. You see all those other opinions for what they are: not right, not wrong, just data.

• They believe that how they play the game truly is more important than whether they win or lose. If you’re an entrepreneur, you want to change the rules, create your own playing field, and win the game you want to play—because winning a game in a way you’re forced to play would still feel like losing.

• They don’t make choices; they create choices. Most people simply choose from Column A or Column B. Entrepreneurs glance at A and B and then often create their own Column C.

• They don’t need to be disciplined, because they can’t wait to do all the things that bring them closer to achieving their goals.

• They’re fans of other entrepreneurs. Working for a corporation is often a zero-sum game, because personal success often comes at the expense of others. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, love when others succeed. They know the pie is big enough for everyone.

• They think, Why not me? Entrepreneurs don’t assume successful people possess special talents or a gift from the startup gods. They see successful people and think, That’s awesome, and if he or she can do that, why not me?

Consider this:

If you hang around five confident people, you will be the sixth.

If you hang around five intelligent people, you will be the sixth.

If you hang around five millionaires, you will be the sixth.

If you hang around five idiots, you will be the sixth.

If you hang around five broke people, you will be the sixth.

It’s inevitable.

Susan Arledge, managing principal of Cresa Dallas, has long been accused of hearing voices in her head that others do not hear. She understands those with “just the right amount of crazy,” as many are her friends and peers in commercial real estate. We just didn’t have a choice. Contact her at [email protected]


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