Times have changed. We’re almost two decades into the new millennium and it’s clear that the labour-intensive, industrial, hands-on work we grew up watching our elders do has morphed into a highly automated, digitally driven activity and a whole new style of business.
Ideas are changing and with them our workplaces and roles. As we continue to live and work alongside each other in a collective of many generations, even putting a title on the complex jobs that some of us now do can be a challenge – as well as an indicator of how far the world has come.
Many small businesses are kick started with a simple concept. They’re built on a foundation of entrepreneurialism. Much of the personal time and cash resources sunk into them initially often go into branding – that most mysterious and yet essential requirement.
Very often those taking the leap do so without the comfort of a salary, at least in the start-up phase. They might work from a home office, conduct virtual meetings and taking extended work calls during what should be family time. Such is the new norm. In these circumstances our work can be all around us and woven through our personal life. The olden days when your parents went off to work and you knew what they did there and then they came home again – are on the wane for many of us.
Instead of a simple job title, many of us now offer a thirty second elevator pitch when asked what we do for a living. Being part of this changing collective isn’t a simple matter! We brace ourselves to weather the judgements made by other people who can’t quite fathom what it is we do. Because there are those who still hold true that real work can only be the laborious industrial type.
The elephant in the room? This type of venturing into the unknown is not actually new. Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey built their careers on uninformed optimism, weathering opinions and complexity, at a time when their thinking was quite unique and progressive. Little did they know that their endurance would become a game changer for how our future-selves viewed work and conducted business.
We are moving through this technological revolution with considerable momentum - the horse has well and truly bolted and we must stay in the saddle and hang on. We must reinvent and digitalise, upgrade and adapt. We must better understand that exploring, trying new things and learning from our mistakes will eventually create a new balance and predictability. But rather than having the stable and linear career of old, we may have a handful of responsibilities we oversee throughout the day.
This cultural transition is a visceral experience for business owners, colleagues, parents and peers alike.
It’s a good time for the curious, who ask the right questions of those at the forefront of contemporary thinking. Those questions, and their answers, lead to better understanding and our own growth, as people and as leaders. We must draw intelligent conclusions on how the future economic world will look and how we can progress within it, leveraging all its opportunities and greatness.
As we morph into this new age, it’s clear that some will continue to be at the forefront taking risks - just like Branson and Winfrey did. They may not have a job title that makes sense – other than ‘Pioneer’ - or have a role that even generates a regular income for a time. Some may lead a subsistence lifestyle to get by while growing their big idea. Others may have to push through negative critiques on their creative endeavours.
Let’s salute their braveness! Because collectively we can all take direct benefit and make good of their pioneering in the new emerging world they are helping to build.