Featured on CNBC – Work from Anywhere

CNBC

This week was fun, I got featured in a CNBC article online. Check it out here or here on my LinkedIn if you want to follow the discussion.

CNBC Article
CNBC Article

The silver lining in this pandemic is that working from anywhere is a real possibility and allows us to explore new places, spend time with families and get out of the big cities and closer to nature.

I absolutely appreciate the hardship many are going through and see myself in a very lucky and privileged position compared to many others.

Making the most of what is a catastrophic 2020.

Work from anywhere

This pandemic is making it possible for workers in tech to work from anywhere. Big cities have lost their appeal. Since I moved to London, there was so much I learned, people I met and things I’ve experienced that now are not possible any longer. Musicals, concerts and even meeting friends is an endeavour.

As my wife and I both have office-type jobs where a stable internet connection and a laptop are the only hard requirements, we can pretty much work from anywhere. So we made some plans. After spending a few weeks at home with families in Switzerland during the summer we thought we should do this again.

Our plan is to visit our families again but this time we will leave our flat. We want to move to a bigger place anyways. So, in between flats in London, we will just spend a few months saving on rent and live with our in-laws in Switzerland.

If the situation in 2021 improves and we can travel again we might even get ourselves into a nice AirBnB in Spain and spend a few weeks there before returning to London to hunt for a new and bigger flat.

Why move flats?

Two people on Zoom calls all the time is hard if you’re bound to a 1-bedroom flat. A centrally located flat in London is a great thing if you can take advantage of the city. Sadly, that’s not been the case in the last six months and probably won’t for the foreseeable future.

We’ll move to a bigger place to be able to work alongside each other much better. Also, we’ll get ourselves closer to a large park just outside the very center.

Using the gap of a few months will be perfect to save some money too and get our finances on track for future projects. Hint: buying real estate.

“Work from anywhere” here to stay?

I changed jobs in January. I joined a startup, Clari, a team of five in Europe building the international expansion. No office. Few perks. Massive personal and professional growth opportunity.

When I was in the fancy Salesforce Tower in London, people would often ask but will you not miss the office?

Salesforce Tower London - Top Floor
Salesforce Tower London – Top Floor

Probably I will miss it a bit, is what I would say but I would not base a career decision on the office. What happened later in that year is something I could have not imagined. Most of my former colleagues would not enter the Salesforce Tower either for 6 months and counting.

Work from anywhere has made people appreciate simpler things, access to nature and shown that the important bit for productive work is not necessarily an office. A great culture outshines the great office and lives on remotely, in Zoom background, Slack channels and how you treat people.

Many companies and employees see the benefits of work from anywhere. Commuting to an office will become much less frequent in the coming months and years I believe.

 

Top 4 CIO Priorities for 2020 – Gartner Symposium

Top 4 CIO Priorities for 2020 – Gartner Symposium

This year’s Gartner CIO Symposium featured top experts in IT who shared their points of view. Here I summarise the top 4 CIO priorities for 2020.

Let’s start with some context first. In November, when it’s cold in most places in Europe 9000 CIOs flocked to Barcelona to enjoy the sun and learn about the latest trends in the IT market. I joined the conference and had the unique opportunity to talk to so many CIOs, vendors and experts in the field to understand what is shaking up the world of IT.

Read on to learn about what the top 4 priorities for CIOs are that I have observed at this year’s Gartner CIO Symposium.

Having talked to dozens of vendors (including Zoom, Slack, AWS and Google Cloud), CIOs and tech professionals at the conference I’ve identified the top priorities that emerged from all the discussions. Here we go, the top 4 CIO priorities for 2020.

Gartner CIO Symposium 2019
Gartner CIO Symposium 2019

#1 Everything is a Platform

Here’s one that definitely belongs to the buzz word category. Every vendor calls themselves a platform these days. Software doesn’t seem to be a thing anymore. Companies like Zoom and Slack are communication platforms. Then you get data platforms, security platforms, engagement platforms and so on and so forth. 

Platforms are the new software it seems. The original definition of the word might help to clarify that many of the platforms today are not platforms but good old fashioned software. But hey, if marketing brands it that way, who am I to judge?

Having said that, I must note that there is obviously some truly great platforms on top of which a customer can build and run things on. This includes vendors like Google Cloud, AWS and MS Azure. These are the modern utility providers of IT infrastructure on top of which many of the vendors at the conference have in turn built their software – apologies – platforms. 😉

#2 No-Code Development

This has been a movement for decades now. Salesforce pioneered low and no-code platforms in the early 2000s for B2B. Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress and Drupal have flourished as well and moved people away from HTML, CSS, JavaScript to drag-and-drop, point-and-click development. This is only the beginning. Let’s examine those trends a bit more.

The trends have emerged for two reasons. 

How has no-code emerged?

One, there is a massive shortage of talent to develop custom applications that serve the business needs of companies. The old “Software is eating the world” mantra is progressing at a pace that didn’t allow for talent to catchup.

Universities and schools are moving slow to rotate their curricula to the digital world and a massive community of self-educated learners has emerged thanks to YouTube, Coursera and other self-directed learning platforms. 

Nonetheless, it is not enough for companies still. The number of people required who understand IT systems simply outstrips the supply. 

Gartner published a survey earlier this year about this exact issue posing a big risk for companies. “Organizations face huge challenges from the pace of business change, accelerating privacy regulations and the digitalization of their industries,” said Matt Shinkman, managing vice president and risk practice leader at Gartner.

Top Risks by Gartner
Top Risks by Gartner Source: https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2019-01-17-gartner-survey-shows-global-talent-shortage-is-now-the-top-emerging-risk-facing-organizations

Second, with the fast-paced evolution of IT tools, it is possible today to build software with a lot less effort. Accessibility is a key criterion, thanks to the ubiquitous cloud, cheap computing power even on our phones and simple programming languages we can create software a lot easier. Developers have started making their own lives easier too by developing software on top of software that works with simple drag-and-drop.

Pre-built templates, standard operations and workflows are used to enable them to automate things. Taking that even to the next level where developers create tools that only use simple building blocks which can create some fantastic software already.

Win-Win with No-Code and Low-Code

That is in essence how the low-code or no-code platforms have emerged and can be used by everyone with a basic understanding of processes and technology. With such capabilities, a company doesn’t need developers as much any more but can put the power of owning and shaping business processes in the hands of businesspeople. IT is only required at this point for governance and low-touch support in that case which creates a win-win situation for the business.

The use of low-code will free up IT capacity to engineer more sophisticated tools that can’t be addressed with low-code and in turn, also provide more interesting work for developers.

#3 Single Platform vs Best of Breed

One key priority that has emerged from talking to many CIOs and vendors at Gartner’s conference this year is the need for a seamless experience. That could be with for customers, employees, partners, suppliers. It doesn’t matter. Business is complex and software tools are prevalent across all parts of the business.

Now, there are two schools of thought that I have observed. There’s the single platform approach with which a company opts for a mega vendor like Microsoft, Salesforce, Google as strategic platforms and would only get another vendor in the mix if they can’t address the need.

On the other hand, a new kind of tools is emerging. These are cloud-native, built with open APIs from the start and integrate seamlessly with other tools. A combination of that might be how seamless it is to use Google Suite, Zoom and Slack. Three vendors with unique value propositions that work in perfect harmony thanks to native APIs or even pre-built connectors.

From a customer’s perspective, CIOs are looking to achieve a seamless experience for their key stakeholders. Today, that can be done with more than just one approach. CIOs choose the single platform or best of breed. In 2020 both deliver great experiences if implemented right. 

Additionally, whilst it’s easier for procurement to only get the software from one vendor it’s important to note that one vendor doesn’t mean seamless experience or seamless integration. All of the mega-vendors have gone through large acquisitions sprees to bolster their portfolio and as with all acquisitions, the integration of new products in a portfolio takes time and effort. Not every company manages that successfully.

Examples include the Yammer and Microsoft acquisition or SAP’s acquisition of Qualtrics both great tools on their own but it’s questionable if they provide more value together with their new owners as opposed to integrating with other cloud-native tools.

#4 AI is becoming a commodity

This is for the readers who are way ahead of the curve of many CIOs already. While some discussions centred around cloud vs. on-prem, should I have a CRM or can I trust the encryption of AWS others has gone past that? Many CIOs are looking beyond that to retain a competitive advantage for their companies.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) – I really shouldn’t have to write it out any more – has seen an unprecedented hype cycle. And we’re only now starting to see more clearly what is real value that can be generated and what’s just hype.

Most use cases of AI today revolve around some basic statistical analyses and machine learning i.e. a machine learning from examples and making judgements about new information. It’s simple but effective if you want to look at customers who have churned and predict what you can do to prevent it. It helps you identify employees at risk of leaving based on attrition patterns and much more. These are fantastic use cases and to date, you would have had to get a developer to create data models using algorithms. 

But the world is moving on and similarly to the low-code platform trend, I see the commoditization of AI emerging. Many vendors want to put AI in the hands of non-data scientists for the simple reason of massive talent shortage. Also, if you’re lucky to have your data scientist, ML ops engineer and all the rest you will want to make them as productive as possible. 

Forrester, another research firm has placed some top vendors in their waves. I guess quadrants were taken by Gartner.

Forrester New Wave
Forrester New Wave Auto ML Source : Forrester New Wave AutoML https://www.datanami.com/2019/08/28/automl-tools-emerge-as-data-science-difference-makers/

There are different tiers however.

Infrastructure support.

AWS, Google and Microsoft Azure provide platforms with built-in capabilities to develop applications and AI capabilities. That is on the most technical side of things but can greatly enhance developer productivity. They’re all competing heavily to get students and startups sucked in their ecosystem with free credits.

Data Science / ML Productivity 

The next set of vendors is tackling the space of point-and-click AI. These tools provide fairly in-depth configuration and setup capabilities which can be intimidatingly scientific which is perfect for a data scientist who is too tired of coding up models in R or Python all day long. Some of these are Dataiku, Tableau, Alteryx, Datarobot and Tenzi which make data scientists and ML engineers a lot more productive.  

Complete AutoML

Lastly, a set of vendors is emerging that truly wants to skip the data scientist and allow every business analyst to use AI thus truly commoditizing AI. This would include tools such as Salesforce Einstein and some of the above that was mentioned provide this type of capability too. It’s a fast-moving space and further movement towards making AI/ML more accessible to the masses is inevitable. That will allow organisations to harness the insights in their data and make better decisions faster. 

Ready for 2020

Lastly, before you leave I wanted to share with you what Gartner is saying. The symposium runs annually and the research firm uses it to communicate what they see as the top priorities for CIOs. Here’s Gartner’s point of view.

Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020.

Top 10 Technology Trends for 2020 by Gartner
Top 10 Technology Trends for 2020 by Gartner Source: https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/gartner-top-10-strategic-technology-trends-for-2020/

With that, you have a clear view of what is moving the market for CIOs in IT. If you’re a CIO or tech professional, reach out. I would appreciate hearing your point of view. Find me on Twitter (@realSemir) or on LinkedIn.

Thanks for reading!

Python for Everybody – Boost Your Career Today – A 5 Minute Review

Coursera Course

Did you know you can learn basic Python in only a few weeks without being a programming geek already? Probably not. Neither did I. In my job, I don’t need to program, but it helps to understand the technology and how the technical stuff works on a high level. So, I should learn something about it.

My search led me to Python. Some basic research revealed that Python is one of the most popular programming languages today. In fact, according to GitHub, it’s the second most popular language in the world after JavaScript. 

It’s also very versatile and used in many use cases. In most jobs, you’ll come across some basic programming, and that will likely be Python or JavaScript. Knowing a bit about either will undoubtedly be helpful in your career if you need to analyse data, do monotonous tasks or get data from the web.

Python Github
Image Source: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/python-bests-java-for-number-2-spot-on-githubs-list-of-most-popular-languages/

The big question is, where to start? 

If you randomly google “learn python” then you’ll find 206 million results. Some very technical, some super basic. I needed something that helped me. I don’t like reading about technical details. I much prefer to have a teacher teach me. 

Google Python

So, naturally, I started looking at MOOCs (massive open online courses) and found the absolute best course. With that course, I managed to learn the basics of Python in just a few weeks.

Legendary Chuck 

The one course I recommend is “Python for Everybody”. There is no better starting point to learn Python. This specialisation consists of 5 courses and is provided by the University of Michigan. 

The specialisation gets fantastic ratings between 4.6-4.9 stars out of 5 with thousands of reviews on the various courses.

Course

Chuck Severance is the instructor and starts at the very basics as he slowly progresses to more advanced topics. He shows how you can work with data in Python, access a database and even visualise data using external tools.

Charles Severance
Chuck Severance Source: https://www.coursera.org/instructor/drchuck

He is the best instructor out there. He’s leading the entire specialisation and will give you a great grounding of Python even if you have never used it before. Chuck is legendary and super enthusiastic about Python and teaching. That makes it easy for anyone following the course to learn the fundamental concepts. Not every course on Coursera has great teachers, and sometimes there are gaps in the content that make it hard for students to follow. Not here. Chuck is legendary.

What will you be able to do?

As you’re not a geek, just like myself, you probably won’t create the next Facebook using Python. One thing you will achieve is a high-level understanding of all the concepts. Learning the basics is crucial, so when you talk to a software engineer, you can speak the same language. You’ll be able to write basic Python scripts to manipulate data and visualise it using libraries like D3.

From Hello World to Awesome Data Visualisations

This course will take you a few weeks to up to a few months to complete. It’s all self-paced and suitable for beginners. That also shows in the fact that the course has over 250,000 people enrolled. Let’s have a look at the curriculum.

Course 1 – Programming for Everybody

The course starts with the basics highlighting the importance of programming. You will code a famous ‘Hello World’. The course continues onwards with helping you install the right tools that you’ll need throughout the specialisation. It concludes with you being able to set values, run basics if/else statements and loops. Which is pretty cool, considering you only just started. Also, all material is available online: https://www.py4e.com/

Course 2 – Python Data Structures

After you learnt the basics of navigating data, we’re going deeper into the different structures. You will see how easily you can pull data from a file, process it, manipulate it and store it back into a file. This part of the course is still quite simple but sets you up for success in course 3.

Course 3 – Using Python to Access Web Data

This course goes into the detail of how the web works and how you can get external data to play around with. It’s a fantastic starting point to get your programming skills to the next level. Because here, you will use the basics you have learnt to take data not just from your input or a file on your desktop. You will go onto a website and use that data in your program. Until this point, you’ve played around a lot, but all will be forgotten unless you store it somewhere. That’s when databases come into play.

Network
Example of networking in Python course

Above is a screenshot of what the course video looks like when explaining networking. Professor Severance explains everything in great detail and will use an interactive drawing technology to draw up concepts so you can follow along easily.

Course 4 – Using Databases with Python

Now you need to think about data for the long term. That’s when databases come into play. You use the standard SQL language in Python to write data into a database where it can be stored for future uses. This is great as it’s the first time you’re work lives on beyond the black terminal window.

Course 5 – Capstone: Retrieving, Processing, and Visualizing Data with Python

The capstone ties all knowledge you have gained throughout the course together. You will deal with some ambiguity too as there is a lot of code that is reused to save the effort of getting everything ready from scratch. It lets you focus on the core part of this which is to retrieve, process and visualise data. 

Word Cloud Visualisation
Word Cloud Visualisation

Above is my visualisation from a large text file of emails. I created a word cloud using a third-party library, and that’s the result.

Each course features a quiz with real-life exercises that will get you some hands-on experience with Python. Assignments are also part of the specialisation. You’ll help review other students’ code as well.  

That’s it. An amazing 5-course specialisation on Coursera which get you up to speed on the basics of Python. How to boost your career with Python now? Read on.

How to Get Started

It’s super simple. I used Coursera to complete this course. Coursera is a fantastic platform, as it provides free courses. Some you can try for a whole week to see if you like them before going for a paid version which includes a certificate. If you want to start the course on Python, follow this link and get immersed.

Once you complete the courses, you’ll be awarded a certificate which you can share on LinkedIn. 

Certificate
Certificate

More importantly, you’ll have a good basic understanding of how applications are built in one of the most popular languages out there. Here’s my certificate which I shared on LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn post with my certificate
LinkedIn post with my certificate

Then, I started to gain some recognition for it on my LinkedIn profile and even more Coursera themselves liked my post. This led to a significant increase in profile views. There were over 36,000 views of my post and over 350 people liked it. That’s by far more than anything else I’ve ever posted. 

Coursera comments
Coursera comments

Many of you will do this course to learn something new. The certificate is a nice to have as well. Now, I’m sure that also some of you will use this to get a new job, a better job, a job that requires you to know Python.

Well, this is great evidence to show you that people on LinkedIn will notice you. If you’re looking for a new challenge in your career, this could be a great way to let others know. The world is small. Someone might reach out if you use LinkedIn the right way.

I hope this review was helpful, leave a comment, follow me on Twitter @realSemir

 

Good luck!

How to Start a Podcast in 2020 And 3 Reasons Why You Should Do It

Listening to podcasts is great while commuting, working out or cooking at home.

The question we’ll answer today is how to start a podcast in 2020 and 3 reasons why you should do it. I want to give you a few clear steps on how to start a podcast with some great resources I’ve put together and also explain why it’s such a great way to promote your business, your project or your own brand.

Podcasting has been around for years. You probably listen to many of the short or long-form audio on your commute, while you’re pumping at the gym or when you’re cooking dinner. You’re not the only one 51% of the US population listen to podcasts regularly to some of the 550,000 active podcasts on the internet.

There are podcasts on pretty much every topic you can imagine from science updates to cooking lessons, even how to negotiate in business or what you need to know when investing. They’re the perfect complement to our dull commutes and help us stay on top of the news, technology trends or they just entertain us. Whatever, you want.

It’s flexible to use, the podcasts just arrive in your app, often their short, bite-size ranging from 5-30 minutes and the good ones are really engaging and fun.

A quick look at Google Trends shows that podcasting has been around since the mid-2000s but recently it picked up again and this is an opportunity for you.

Why? Read on.

Podcasting in Google Trends
Podcasting in Google Trends

For any aspiring entrepreneur, established professional or even student, it’s a way to have a voice and be literally in the ear of your audience. It’s a growing medium to reach your audience in a very direct way.

Listen to some of my favourite podcasts which include Reid Hoffmann’s, Masters of Scale and the Planet Money Indicator by NPR.

Entrepreneurs, journalists and companies can reach their audience and build a community very easily and I get to learn from the most respected voices about entrepreneurship, economics and many other topics.

By now you’ve probably got a good idea of how this could help you but let me spit it out for you exactly.

So, why should you start your own little podcast business?

3 Reasons For Starting Your Podcast

Here are 3 reasons why you should start a podcast and not just listen to them.

Start a Podcast for Networking

Starting a podcast means you’re starting a platform. This platform will allow you to invite people who need a platform. It’s little effort for your guest to spare 30-45 minutes and appear on a podcast to talk about their business, passion, project or whatever the case might be.

You’ll be able to invite whoever you like to network with and you’ll already have something to offer to them, a platform for promotion. It’s a win-win situation. You get to learn from your interviewee whilst your interviewee gets a promotional platform too.

If you don’t start a podcast think about this the other way, try to be featured on a podcast to promote your business. It’s a great way to reach your audience especially as there are podcasts for every niche.

Start a Podcast for Marketing

It’s not just networking that you’ll get out of meeting new people you’re interviewing but there is much more than that on top. So many people listen to podcasts and just like with any content, if it’s valuable people will listen to you too.

You get to share your expertise which you’ll have anyway as your running a business, starting a project or fighting for a cause. Add little bits where you promote your business. Think about the call to action that you want to position.

Start a Podcast for Branding

This is an important one, regardless if you’re a single consultant aiming to acquire new clients or a business already which aims to build a strong brand to find new customers and employees.

A podcast adds a whole new flavour to your brand. It’s audio. It literally gives you a tone, a voice which is a much richer channel emotionally.

This is so important today as podcasting is growing and it is an untapped opportunity. You can be  recognised as a great business or great employer. Imagine a podcast where the founders of a company talk about how they focus on building a strong culture, working to achieve customer success and innovating a product. That gives you a much better insight to the company than a website or Glassdoor ranking.

How to Start a Podcast

Here’s a clear, quick, step-by-step guide on creating a podcast.

  1. Choose what you’re objective for the podcast is (marketing, branding, networking, …)
  2. Write a clear mission statement, just a paragraph of what your show is about
  3. Create a nice looking artwork cover
  4. Define a plan for the episodes you want to create
  5. Define a clear structure for each episode that you can use consistently (e.g. intro, interview, fire round, outro)
  6. Make sure you have the right equipment and test it
  7. Start inviting people to create a pipeline for interviewees
  8. Record the first few episodes and edit them, so they’re launch-ready
  9. Launch your podcast to your audience and publish episodes regularly

As we’ve established the why. I hope the above gives you some ideas on the how. But this post isn’t focused too much on the logistics. Here are a few good examples of resources on how to start a podcast.

 

Good Mic – Make or Break Your Podcasting Success

There is a massive list of equipment you could buy for good podcasting but nothing is more important than a good microphone. Invest in this and you’re already succeeding in half the battle.

Here are a few commonly used mics that are great.

Audio-Technica AT2020USB PLUS USB Microphone

Rode Microphones RØDE NT1-A Vocal Pack

Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone – Blackout Edition

You can also go overboard if you want to but for now if you have a computer already, then all you need is a mic. Later on you can think about adding

A complete resource guide is here for example.

How to Publish Your Podcast

There are a ton a few popular publishing options that do most of the heavy-lifting for you.

And of course, you can always Google for more great podcast publishing platforms. Before I leave you to get started with podcasting, here are some great podcasts short and long-form.

Some Great Podcasts to Learn From

Check out Masters of Scale for amazing editing. The show is engaging, keeps you interested and is also easy to follow.

The next one is a short-form podcast by Chris Guillebeau about others who start a side hustle. He’s basically built his hustle on talking with other people about their hustles. Great, right?

Then, you’re not so smart, a great podcast, very informational and good editing.

Lastly, Inside Intercom, a great example of how a company can promote thought leadership add a personal tone to their brand and provide real value to their listeners. They regularly interview amazing people from around the industry and I always finsih it with something that I learnt.

    

It’s up to you now

I hope that was useful for you and that you see how the digital world is constantly changing and podcasting is becoming an increasingly interesting channel to strengthen your brand, drive your marketing and build your network.

Leave me a comment and share how you’re getting on!

More Resources

There are many great blogs out there that focus even more in-depth on this topic. One to call out is fellow blogger Andrew on myaudioplanet and his epic “How to start a podcast in 2020” post.

Jobs of the Future – Important Skills AI Won’t Replace

Jobs of the future

Jobs of the future will look different than today. AI – or artificial intelligence – is a hyped term that’s been thrown around a lot in the past few years. Many say it will change the jobs of the future radically. The fast progress on algorithms, data capture and processing power has led to a swarm of startups trying to disrupt industries from auditing to shipping and everything in between.

With that, a big fear has emerged that AI, machines and AI-powered robots will replace humans. That’s likely true. To some extent at least. But you can prepare yourself for a job of the future and set yourself up for a successful career by developing a few important skills.

Always remember, jobs won’t just be replaced, it’s also true that new jobs will be created. History serves as a good guide as the same happened in previous disruptions. A good example is what happened when the first ATMs were introduced in the US in the 1960s. Many people were afraid that machines would replace humans.

What happened when the ATM was introduced?

In reality, the number of bank tellers in the years following the introduction up to the 2000s increased as James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute points out in an article from 2016. (The cited research is from a book by James Bessen, if you’re interested you can find it here.)

Tellers increase after introduction of ATM
“Learning by Doing: The Real Connection between Innovation, Wages, and Wealth” by James Bessen

Career Opportunities Despite AI

It’s crucial for the future workforce – that’s you! – to understand what opportunities will be created during the digital revolution. AI will replace jobs but not all, I hope this post gives you a good idea of what you can do to pursue a great career.

One of the true thought leaders in AI Andrew Ng who teaches at Stanford said to Forbes:

“If a typical person can do a mental task with less than one second of thought, we can probably automate it using AI either now or in the near future”.

That gives us some idea already.

Creativity is often mentioned as a skill that won’t be replaced by AI any time soon. Along with critical thinking, communication skills and imagination these are the things that can set you apart in your career regardless if you’re a recent graduate, a low-skilled worker, somewhere in middle-management or anywhere else.

But how can you develop these skills?

How to Be More Creative in Your Job?

You might wonder how can you be creative in your work and that’s a valid question. Many career brochures in universities are absolutely outdated and the image of a successful graduate is portrayed in a big four account firm, as a financial analyst or something else that is very clearly structured and defined and needs someone with attention to detail, rigour and stamina.

Guess what, a machine can be all of that, 24/7, all year round, for much less money.

The tasks that can be automated by AI are typically mundane, clearly-defined, repetitive, simple tasks. If that sounds like your job, then it might be replaced soon.

So, the big question is, how do you stand out? How do you bring creativity to your job? How do you elevate your position above the mundane, repetitive work and think outside the box?

Wooden Box

An Important Skill – Being Entrepreneurial

Being entrepreneurial is one of the most creative traits a person can have and combines all the above skills that I’ve mentioned like critical thinking, communication and imagination. Being entrepreneurial doesn’t require you to be an entrepreneur, you can be an intrapreneur in your company or just someone who takes initiative.

You have to know that “mundane, repetitive, clearly-defined” are very comfortable and if a job is like that and probably pays well then you won’t like change. But it’s the only way to long-term success.

Being entrepreneurial, being a challenger, being someone who is creating something new – creative – requires initiative, courage and optimism. The skills you train are invaluable for a future in which AI will become interweaved with all jobs.

How To Start Being Entrepreneurial?

There’s no set recipe on how to be entrepreneurial but there are great resources, people and opportunities to train your thinking. Today, I want to share to very practical ways of how you can stimulate your creative juices in ways no AI can.

Use Ideation Techniques

There are countless ideation methods. We often revert the same old such as brainstorming but there’s more. I won’t list all of them here as you’re smart enough to use Google. Google for “ideation techniques” or “creativity techniques”.

You’ll be surprised to find things like the Disney method. The story goes that Disney would go through ideas from three perspectives in the order of the dreamer, the realist, and the spoiler/critic.

Another one, I personally like to use is to listen to customers or client when they say: we want to improve X by 10%. And I think, wow that’s a lot, that could be millions for some customers. But then I challenge myself on that and ask myself what if my customer just said 10x of what they’ve said. In my example it would mean, how do I improve X by 100% or go even more crazy by a 1000%?

Imagine, if a customer, boss, client, whoever approaches you to improve a process.

Let’s say, improve the speed at which coffee is served for Starbucks baristas. The CEO might ask if we can take away 10 seconds of the preparation process that would save millions. You get right to it but you’re thinking is slightly restricted as it’s a very incremental, traditional, non-creative thinking that you’ll likely fall into.

Now, imagine the Starbucks CEO told you 10x that. What if he said that he wants the coffee preparation time to be improved by 100 seconds.

Sounds impossible, right? Well, the CEO pays you to come up with something and suddenly you’ll notice how creative you’ll get.

Today, I can order my Starbucks coffee on an app and collect it without even waiting a single second. Maybe that came out of a 10x ideation session.

The last one, I often use is the opposite-method, the goal is to brainstorm what your customers, your boss, your clients, whoever would never say about you. For example, if you ask a citizen to renew their passport/driver’s license they would probably never say “wow, you have really great opening times and I don’t even need to take a day off”. That will highlight gaps and opportunities for new ideas.

Develop Mental Models

Mental models help you see the complex world in simplified ways and allow you to make better decisions along the way. I strongly recommend that you check out the #1 resource on this – the Farnam Street blog by Shane Parrish.

Farnam Blog https://fs.blog/mental-models/
Farnam Blog https://fs.blog/mental-models/

So, what’s an example of a mental model and how does it help you to get ready for jobs of the future?

Second-order Thinking

Howard Marks explains in his book “The Most Important Thing” the concept:

“First-level thinking is simplistic and superficial, and just about everyone can do it.  Second-level thinking is deep, complex and convoluted.”

It basically means that if A happens then B follows is simple and everyone can see that. But what happens with B and how does it impact C? D? E?

It’s a great way to develop critical thinking skills about actions and unintended consequences. The cobra-effect is a great example. Back in the days of the British empire, the imperial government was concerned about the number of venomous cobra snakes in the capital of Delhi. In the true spirit of first-order thinking, they’ve decided to offer bounties to people for every dead cobra. On the surface, this seems like a fantastic idea. The strategy worked initially and many snakes were killed. The British were happy.

The second-order impact, which they could have thought of had they employed the second-order thinking mental model came to them as a surprise. Entrepreneurial people started to breed cobras. That, of course, is very creative and would supply them with extra income. Unsurprisingly, the new business idea spread and the government got wind of it. The rules scrapped the program and cobras became worthless. The entrepreneurs realised that and set all the snakes free into the wild. This had the very opposite effect of what they initially wanted to achieve. It backfired and made everything worse than it was.

Time To Get Creative for the Jobs of the Future

Creative Colors

AI is reshaping the world we live in and the digital revolution is only accelerating. As an innovator, entrepreneur, intrapreneur or anyone else who’s willing to go beyond simple, repetitive, clearly-defined tasks will succeed. You must challenge the status quo and show creativity. It’s not easy, it’s hard. But it’s worth it. It sets you up for a long, successful career that’s safe from automation.

My recommendation if you want to be ready for the jobs of the future is to brace yourself for the digital revolution that’s happening and you need to reinvent yourself to stay ahead of the curve. That will lead to a sustainable successful career that won’t be replaced by an AI. Time to get creative.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below…

What Data Does Facebook Collect? – What Big Tech Companies Really Know About Us and What To Do About It

Zuckerberg Facebook

Facebook, Google and other big tech companies have been under scrutiny more than ever in the past months. The tech giants have become so big and powerful that it’s reasonable to review their business practices in more detail. Everything that big tech companies know about their users could be used in harmful ways very easily.

A first step is to understand what Facebook and Google are doing and in light of the Cambridge Analytica, Brexit and Russian election-meddling scandals.

People had an opportunity to peek behind the scenes of big tech companies such as Facebook.

However, this unique opportunity was somewhat wasted. Listening to the elected representatives in the US and I have no doubt it’s similar in other countries, it’s incredible how tech un-savvy many are who are shaping our laws and regulations. Today, I want to focus and help every reader understand what it is that Facebook, Google and all tech big companies really know about us.

Data Is The New Oil

It’s an almost dusty catchphrase but it is true that data is the new oil. The metaphor is very accurate. If you take it one step further. Why is oil so valuable? Why do we value this black liquid that’s pumped out from the lower layers of the earth so much?

The answer to this is fairly simple. It’s what you can do with oil that makes it valuable.

Nobody cares about the black liquid, but people care about being able to stick a nozzle in the rear of their car, pump in some gas and ride to whatever place they please. That is freedom and that’s one thing that makes oil so valuable.

How about plastics, all the little toys, medical equipment and countless other things that we rely on. Plastics are in-part produced using oil. That’s what we need oil for. It delivers an outcome for us.

Now, how does that relate to data?

Why Data Is So Much Better Than Oil?

Data on its own is not really useful but it forms the basis of so many extremely useful things. Have you heard Mark Zuckerberg speak at the Senate meeting a few months ago? Have a look at this video and let that sink in exactly.

What I want to point out is how Zuckerberg very clearly frames the question about what data Facebook users can delete. It’s the data that they put on Facebook. It’s the pictures, check-ins, likes, shares and all of that. But there is so much more to it.

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Are Smart Replies Taking Away Our Freedom?

Keyboard

Have you sent a message recently using a smart phone? I have. I’m sure you have too. When you use any social network or app chances are that one of the big Silicon Valley giants already thinks they know what you want to send. It’s incredible how the many tools like Gmail, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram become much more than just tools but prescriptive automation machines.

Smart-Replies Everywhere

Google and LinkedIn recently updated their messengers to become more suggestive. You see smart replies everywhere. Here are just a few examples.

Smart Reply 1
Smart Reply 1

Smart Reply Gmail
Smart Reply Gmail

A few months ago Google took this to the next level by releasing Smart Compose. The Silicon Valley giant now predicts the body of your email step by step. Google says “Compose, a new feature powered by artificial intelligence, to help you draft emails from scratch, faster.”

New Smart Compose Gmail
New Smart Compose Gmail

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Course Review – AI: Implications for Business Strategy – MIT Sloan School of Management

Course Review – AI: Implications for Business Strategy – MIT Sloan School of Management

It’s been a few years since I’ve completed a course in which I’ve had to hand in weekly assignments and wait for teachers to grade it. Wow, I also for some reason don’t miss those times. Anyway. Now, it was time to learn about a topic that is top of mind for so many at the moment. It’s on everyone’s mind regardless if your the highest paid CEO or an everyday 9-5 worker somewhere. AI a.k.a. artificial intelligence which relates to other things you might have heard such as machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing and many more. It’s a term being thrown around like big data, web 2.0, the internets and whatnot back in the day which held massive promises and lived up to some. People want to understand what the hype is and if robots are going to take away jobs and take over humanity overall.

Humans and Robots - What will AI do?
Humans and Robots – What is AI and what will its impact be?

We all know that it’s hard to wrap our heads around something that’s hyped, where do you start? McKinsey is also trying to help executives to understand because it is so important. They state “The potential for AI to infuse business and value chains across various industries is greater than ever before—but where should executives start?”. I think this MIT course is the right place to start.

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