Evolution

November 19th, 2009

Three and a half years ago I had a business plan, and I had a vision statement for my business.

I thought I would have a gazillion signups on JibberJobber, and that a percentage (high or low, didn’t matter – because even a low percentage of a gazillion is a lot) would have upgraded.

I had no idea that in my future I would write a book or two, or become a professional speaker, or have a product to sell, or become an executive editor, or that I would have different profit centers I would work on.

My business evolved… my business plan was for one discrete thing, but because of various factors, things changed.

Just like your “career plan.”  I put that in quotes because if you are like me, I did not have anything close to formal with my career plan.

At one point in my life the plan was to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.  I figured it would be a decades-long process of working my way up the ladder.

When I landed my first significant job as the first IT manager to a medium sized company, I started to think that that was pretty sweet and I could do away with the huge company dream, and stay at a company that had a rich culture and was managed differently (private company vs. public company).

Six years later, when I got the ax, I had a ton of emotions, but figured it was all a part of my story, and I’d laugh about it in years to come.

It wasn’t part of the plan (who has getting laid off as part of their career plan?), but it seemed to be a common thing, so perhaps I was paying my dues.

Fast forward almost four years, and my career has taken a different path.

How has your career evolved?

Think back to when you were in school…

  • What did you think you would be doing now?
  • What did you think you’d be doing for a career in the first few years of your first real job?
  • How about now – did you ever imagine you’d be where you are at?
  • And perhaps the big question – understanding career management better, what do you think you’ll be doing in the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years?

Will it be a traditional corporate job?  Will it be freelancing?  Will it be investments?

Will you have one, or two streams of income?  Could you have five or ten?

Will you trade money for quality-of-life, or might you trade quality-of-life for money?

Could you, would you move from Expensive City, USA to Podunk Farms, USA?  Or should you go from Podunk to Expensive?

What I thought five and ten years ago is different… it has evolved.

I wonder what I’ll think five or ten years from now.

What do you think?

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8 responses to “Evolution”

  1. Really interesting thoughts about your career journey Jason. Given the ever-escalating pace of change in the world, I think it has become more difficult than ever to think about how a career might manifest itself more than 5 years into the future. Ten years ahead is practically a whole new world!

    Perhaps the better approach is to clearly identify your existing “career assets”, such as motivated skills, natural abilities, industry knowledge, work experience, education and training, passions and interests, personality type, values, avocational knowledge and experience, personal branding, and personal development goals so they can be aligned with whatever new career fields or industries that might emerge.

    In other words, career development 2.0 starts with knowing yourself well and parlaying your career assets into the best situation possible for YOU. Does that require in-depth self-assessment? Yes, as well as feedback from others who know you well (they will likely bring a different perspective about you to the table).

    Most of all, it requires keeping up with the world of work, new careers and industries, and where the pulse of the nation is going so you can be on the leading edge of change rather than bringing up the rear. Jobs on the leading edge will be easier to land if you are qualified, deeply interested, proactive in your search, and can express your unique value proposition convincingly.

  2. Jason, that’s a perfect example of “planned happenstance,” I’d say!

    I talk to my students about this all the time, and it’s especially difficult for type-a/gen-y folks. People who are naturally planners and who like to have their ducks in a row are uncomfortable with the idea that things change. Not only must they change, it’s actually good to be open to that change. Otherwise, you might miss some really great opportunities.

    I’m intrigued by the “chaos theory of careers.” http://vocationalpsychology.com/term_chaos.htm I think there are some real kernels of truth in there.

  3. Scot Herrick says:

    This is why I hate this interview question: What do you see yourself doing five years from now? The only honest answer to that is “I have no clue, but I will evolve.” But that isn’t the answer the hiring manager wants to hear.

    So, Jason, if someone five years ago would have told you that you would do what you have in your blog post, wouldn’t you have laughed in their face?

    All we can do is continue to work on our skills, perform well, be open to opportunities and be willing to take a risk. All the rest is an illusion.

  4. Funny, Jason, when I woke up this morning I was thinking the same thing. My life has changed dramatically and the tools I use daily have changed completely from a year ago. I was at a Chamber luncheon this noon where the topic was “Embracing the Digital Marketing Age” and as I was listening, I was very familiar with the tools, the usage, and the potential. But a year ago, I’d of said “what?”

    I think every person has to be ready to evolve and change in order to be effective in the future. If we think that we are done, we will be. If I could teach my clients anything, it would be to continue to evolve and be open to change.

  5. Jason Alba says:

    Hey, great conversation – thanks for taking a few minutes to share your thoughts :)

    @Scot, you ask: “if someone five years ago would have told you that you would do what you have in your blog post, wouldn’t you have laughed in their face?”

    I would have replied that I was too focused on my core business, which was JJ signups, upgrades, etc. But as I’ve seen the market move and change, and as I’ve found excess capacity in my own time, I realized there are other opportunities…

    I do think that if someone would have said that I wouldn’t have believed it (even if I would have wanted it to be true :))

  6. Jason – The best thing about interesting career paths is that they are not linear. What they are is a combination of all the experiences you have had coupled with the needs and wants you have developed. It’s great that you had the opportunity (although not necessarily by choice) to explore options that you would not have otherwise tried. Our greatest growth occurs when we take chances, but they have to be calculated ones. And obviously in your case they were. Congratulations and keep on changing.

  7. You know the saying, “the best laid plans of mice and men…”

    In business school and academics, planning is put on a pedestal. In the real world, out in the field so to speak, it is not always going to match an academic plan.

    And yet I do believe there is value in planning. It is a matter of balance, which is difficult to find and also planning is an ongoing process.

  8. […] blog posts seemed to generate the most comments – people saying they felt the same way! In "Evolution" Jason relates how his career has taken a different path than he had imagined or planned for. He […]



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