Podcast Feature: Being a Swiss Army Knife in Tech w/Semir Jahic on the Presales Collective

Presales Podcast

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of joining James Kakais on the Presales Collective podcast to talk about what it means to be a pre-sales engineer in a high-growth startup. We touched on how I see the role of Sales Engineers being a multi-purpose Swiss Army Knife and what recommendations I have for others who want to explore the career path.

First things first – What is presales?

Presales, Solutions Engineering, or Sales Engineering (SE) is the crucial function that supports sales cycles together with salespeople. It is often found in B2B SaaS companies like Adobe, Salesforce, and Zoom. Some people look at sales engineers as the technical salespeople, others think of  SEs as the technical backbone of the go-to-market motion. Wherever a complex product has to be sold and assessed to be fit for purpose, chances are likely that you will not just find a salesperson selling to you but also a sales engineer acting as a wing-man/wing-woman.

What role does presales play in a tech company?

The function exists because selling is a lot of effort and often involves a lot of technical selling too. This is done through product demonstrations, security reviews, product capability qualification, and competitive market positioning. The SE in a sales cycle makes sure what is promised will work and ensures to sell the value of the solution, so that the prospect in convinced your solution is best.

In contrast, the salesperson will focus on the sales process overall from the start, finding a qualified lead, and following through including pricing negotiations, organizing all the stakeholders, ensuring contracts are fine.

Many SEs argue that being an SE is the best of both worlds. One world being knowing the product, working at the forefront of the company’s innovation, and being an expert. The other world being that you are always customer-facing, talking to prospects, and not somewhere stuck in a back office all the while you have much less pressure than the sales rep.

Why do I call presales engineers Swiss Army Knives…

You probably can already imagine that supporting the sale of a product will vary hugely depending on the product that you’re selling. This also means that SEs can come from a variety of backgrounds. From my time as a Sales Engineer, I can say I’ve seen successful SEs come from all walks of life like:

  • Florists
  • Teachers
  • Dancers
  • Consultants
  • Photographers
  • Bankers
  • Programmers
  • Salespeople
  • Product Marketers
  • …and many more

One thing all Sales Engineers have in common is the unstoppable eagerness to learn new things and be helpful. In that, SEs support their organisations as internal competitive experts, product marketers presenting the demos at roadshows, enablement supporters helping new hires ramp, and many other things. SEs are technical and non-technical. They have a set of skills – beyond being the technical expert – they can do really well. Unlike the jack of all trades who is a master of none.

Personally, as an SE I’ve done a variety of things: presenting at conferences, building better internal processes using tools we had, and doing charity pro-bono projects. It’s rewarding, especially as the role in many organisations is what you make of it.

Sales Engineers Presenting Products at a Conference

How did I get into presales? – Career Principles

My career principles are very simple, do more of what you like and always be growing. It’s as simple as that, I enjoyed working with customers while bringing innovation to them as a CRM consultant. Then, I joined a tech company to just do that as a pre-sales engineer. Now, at a startup, I can bring all my previous skills to the table whilst wearing a strategic hat and planning an overall business expansion.

How can you get into presales?

Talk to Sales Engineers. We’re a great bunch. Learn about the role, the various paths in different companies and go from there. A sales engineer at Salesforce selling CRM is very different from a sales engineer at MongoDB who sells a database solution. It gets more technical if you want to be a sales engineer at AWS or Google Cloud where you need a solid understanding of the technology to be able to prove the value. Some SE roles will require you to be more technical, others are a lot less technical and require more creativity or project management skills.

One way to learn more is by visiting the presalescollective.com, a community of pre-sales engineers worldwide.

It’s a diverse, satisfying, and very exciting career path for driven people who like to learn new things and talk to customers every day.

Conclusion

Now you know what a Sales Engineer is and why it’s such an exciting career path open to people from so many backgrounds. If you want to know more about my path and how I see the presales role fitting into a technology company, check out the full podcast below:

Presales Collective 

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2CwKZTy 

Apple: https://apple.co/30yRvBq 

Google: https://bit.ly/3hk9YbB 

Presales Podcast
Presales Podcast

How to pick the right startup to join?

How to pick the right startup to join?

You want to change your career and the big corporate job is just not what you want to do anymore. Well, let me first discourage you a bit from joining a startup in the first place.

 

A) You will have to work really hard

B) Your current company benefits are probably better

C) Most startups fail

 

I could go on. There are a lot of reasons not to join a startup but if you’re still reading you came to the right post.

 

When I was at Accenture and later at Salesforce I always had an urge to do more than what was prescribed in my role. There was always an inherent entrepreneurial spirit in me and finally, after 5 years in big companies, I felt it was time to join a startup.

As you want to evolve in your career and grow there are a few things to consider and look for when you join a startup.

Not every startup is created equal and you can definitely make mistakes joining the wrong startup. 

 

The 5 things to identify the right startup for you 

 

These are my 5 things and I would say they apply to everyone considering joining a startup. There will inevitably be more factors but these are a good starting point. 

 

1. Founders & Exec Team

The founders and executive team are crucial. Check each one of them out on LinkedIn and see how long they’ve known each other. You want them to be pros at what they’re doing. They need a track record of success. Ask yourself:

  • Are they a tightly-knit team that trusts each other?

  • Have they been successful in the past?

  • What are the values and the culture they’re building?

     

Don’t underestimate the values. The company’s values matter a lot in how they will navigate good and bad times. There will be both, trust me. In my interview I asked everyone very directly, how are you living the values in your company? Which is the top value? What value do you think exemplifies the CEO the most?

Check: LinkedIn, find videos, tweets,… to get a taste.

 

2. VC Backing

Startups most of the time will need some kind of funding to the started. They will get this from so-called Venture Capitalists (VCs). A great VC will bring great board members to the company that can help and ensure success.

Some of the top tier 1 VC firms are Sequoia Capital, Benchmark, and Andreessen Horowitz. You can always visit Crunchbase or PitchBook data to see who has invested in the startup you think of joining. If it’s a list of no-names, then think twice. If you see a Tier 1 VC firm, that is generally a good sign.

Check out VC firms on CB Insights.

 

Once you know who the VC is, check out how much the startup has raised. Ideally, they will have enough cash in the bank for another 12 or so months when you join. Typically, a startup is funded by VC for 18-24 months and then the expectation is to get more funding. 

 

If your startup hasn’t raised money in 24+ months, then ask them, how are things financially? How are they making money? These are questions you should not be scared to ask.

 

Here’s an example of Gong, a B2B SaaS startup with great investors and a big recent round. This will mean they are in growth-mode, have a lot of capital ready and probably an amazing team of board members that can advise the company on their scaling journey.

Gong Crunchbase
Gong Crunchbase Source: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/gong-io/company_financials

 

 

3. Product-Market-Fit

Most likely you want to pick a company that knows what they’re doing. If you’re in a stable job now then you want a startup that works. In a nutshell that means it has to pay customers. The startup will only have to pay customers if it’s solving a real problem and that’s what people call Product-Market-Fit. 

In your prospective startup, check who are current customers, can you find testimonials? If yes that’s great. Read up on reviews on portals like G2

That will give you an idea if it’s just a college drop-out’s pipe dream or something that could become a company of consequence.

Sometimes a good sign is competitors. If there are competitors, then you know there’s a market to be won.

Here’s an excerpt from G2 and customer reviews. A great resource to identify what is happening in that market and what horse you want to bet your career on.

G2
G2 Grid Comparison Project Management Source: https://www.g2.com/categories/project-collaboration#grid

 

 

4. Trajectory

This is a hard one. What are good indicators if the company is growing? There are a few things that you can find out while doing your research but then always use the interview as an opportunity to find out how much growth there is. Are they signing more deals, increasing revenue, hiring people?

A few things you can look at:

  • How many employees do they have and what functions?

  • What do Glassdoor reviews say?

  • Are they hiring many people currently on their careers page?

 

For example, on Glassdoor, you will get a great idea of the culture, how the company is doing and what people are saying about the prospects of the business.

The example here is by Seismic. 

 

Glassdoor Seismic
Glassdoor Seismic Source: https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Reviews/Seismic-Reviews-E1151159.htm

 

5. Personal Opportunity

Lastly, the key question is, what does this mean for you personally? Let think back to the start of this post. You want to escape the 9-5 grind and do something more exciting.

Ask yourself, what is it that you are expecting to do in the startup and are you sharing this with them? Of course, you will fill a box on the org chart but if you talk to the hiring manager he or she should know what you want to truly achieve in that company. Do you want to become the foremost expert in a field? Do you want to build a new office in a new location? Do you want to become a leader?

Always ask yourself:

  • Will you get a position that fits your personal ambitions?

  • What is the role you will have in the company?

  • How are they developing, coaching, leading people?

One more time, I suggest you read up on Glassdoor what it says about the company and ask in the interview. Ask the hard questions, how do you ensure a great culture of learning and development? Many startups don’t think about this early and well enough. These will struggle to attract and retain great talent in the future. You want to bet on the right opportunity for your personal career. 

 

My final words

That’s it. These are the five things I looked for when joining Clari. You might have more factors than those. I would suggest researching these as a bare minimum and then in the interview ASK all the hard questions.

You should interview a startup just as much as they interview YOU.

What have I missed and what are you looking for? Join the conversation on LinkedIn.

 

 

6 Essential Essays on Resilience by Harvard Business Review Summarised

6 Essential Essays on Resilience by Harvard Business Review Summarised

Over the Easter break, I took some time to read a Harvard Business Review (HBR) classic on resilience. The book contains key essays by thought leaders such as Daniel Goleman on the subject and is more timely than ever as the world is facing an unprecedented crisis.

Right now, leaders in business and government are facing the hardest task of their careers. It’s literally about life and death. But also everyday people are struggling, many are self-isolating and craving for human interaction. Others work in the health services and need to fight at the front-lines against this virus.

It’s not just now, life is full of challenges and in the face of adversity, building resilience is crucial. So, what is resilience?

The traditional definition of resilience leads us to a mix of flexibility and ability to recharge or recover from difficulty.

That difficulty doesn’t have to be a Herculean task. We all face challenges in our everyday lives. 

  • How to recover from a lost eBay auction? 
  • How long does negative feedback by a co-worker haunt you? 
  • Have you won that project bid you worked months for, if not, how long until you’re back up? 

When I think about resilience, the classic Frank Sinatra song starts playing in my head. 

I read this little book without expecting too much but now, having read each essay I have to admit, it’s eye-opening.

Here are my number #1 learnings from each of the essays.

1. How Resilience Works by Diana Coutu

People with strong resilience do 3 things. They would often attribute the success stories to luck but are in fact strong signs of a resilient personality and the following three abilities.

A) Face reality as it is or what I like to call be a pragmatic optimist

B) Find meaning in a challenge to build a bridge from hardship to a better future

C) Improvise for new solutions seemingly out of thin air

Takeaway: This is descriptive and doesn’t necessarily help you develop resilience but it can help you avoid traps in your thinking such as being overly optimistic in the face of adversity which leads to getting your hopes up and crushed repeatedly. That will drain your energy. As it says in the book:

“The fact is, when we truly stare down reality, we prepare ourselves to act in ways that allow us to endure and survive extraordinary hardship.”

2. Resilience for the Rest of Us by Daniel Goleman

This essay’s key point is: Meditate. That’s it. The practise of meditation helps reduce stress, that feeling of unease and restlessness. Resilience is built through meditation as it builds our ability to snap back from stressful situations. Picture yourself in the situation of having small things go wrong throughout the day from your alarm not going off, to having run out of your favourite cereal and missing the train by 1 second.

You get annoyed and become somewhat snappy and easily irritated. That’s usually a sign of our brain’s amygdala taking over. It’s that part of the brain that controls fight or flight emergencies situations. By practising meditation you can keep the amygdala from hijacking your brain for too long. You’ll recover more quickly and thus build resilience.

Takeaway: Meditate. This is extremely easy with apps such as Headspace and Calm.

3. How to Evaluate, Manage and Strengthen Your Resilience by David Kopans

Happiness can’t be bought. What you can do is remember all the great things to be appreciative for and happy about. This essay emphasises the importance of building a habit to reflect things to be happy and positive about. For instance, every evening when you brush your teeth or when you make your morning coffee instead of checking your phone and get stressed about something, leave it and think about the things you are grateful for. 

Takeaway: Building a habit of reflecting on positives will lead to you being more positive which is also contagious for the people you interact within your network and that will create a virtuous cycle of positivity of building resilience.   

4. Finding the Coaching in Criticism by Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone

Feedback. Nobody likes to get feedback. It can be earth-shattering for some. But it’s so important for personal development and this essay frames receiving feed in a great way. 

Your personal growth and ability to build resilience depends on your ability to pull value from feedback rather than getting frustrated, triggered or defensive. The key strategies outlined in this essay are useful in that journey.

The centrepiece of the essay is the reframing of feedback as something that’s not just given but as something that the recipient needs to pull. Pulling feedback out from comments to improve while managing your triggers can be done through a few strategies. Disentangle the who from the what and filter the feedback that’s relevant for you and put it in relativity to other points of feedback you get. It’s incredible how we overstate the negative comments and almost always completely forget the positive stuff. We only remember the little thing someone did not like. Put things on a relative scale will help create balance.

To become better at pulling feedback or giving feedback in a way that can be pulled go for coaching rather than evaluation. What this means is, don’t say “You’re at 7/10”, say “Here’s how you can improve to get to a 10.”

Don’t overcomplicate things either, if there’s one question to ask: “What’s the one thing you see me doing that holds me back?”

Takeaway: Ask a specific question and pull out what’s useful for you from that feedback to improve.

5. Firing Back: How Great Leaders Rebound After Career Disasters by Jeffery A. Sonnenfeld and Andrew J. Ward

Everyone faces challenges on their your career journey and there are failures along the way. Recovering from failures can be a big challenge and this essay suggests two essential points. First, use your network beyond your close friends. The power of weak ties in your network is oftentimes where the best opportunities surface. That’s because acquaintances are more likely to introduce you to new people that you don’t already know.

The second point in the book is that you should always take the way out so you can tell your own story. Don’t sign NDAs for a payment when you’re being kicked out somewhere. Reject it and tell your story, frame the narrative. That’s the only way to recover from a setback.

Takeaway: Leverage the power of weak ties and never agree to something that wouldn’t allow you to tell your side of the story.

6. Resilience Is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure by Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan

The final essay reiterates what every fitness enthusiast knows. Recovery is just as important as training. It’s very similar to resilience. The key is to try really hard and take time to stop to recover properly before trying again. It’s not about grinding yourself to the point of exhaustion. That’s what leads to burnout. Meditation was already mentioned above and another key factor is sleep. A resilient body is a well-rested one.

Takeaway: You have to strategically stop to recharge before trying again.

Not Productive During Covid-19? – 3 Tips to Change That

YouGotThis

We live in strange times as the novel Coronavirus or Covid-19 is spreading through the world. The Covid-19 crisis forces us into isolation and gives us so much time to do all the stuff we don’t have time for. But how much have you really done? I live in London now and it’s Easter weekend. It’s sunny, quiet and the air is fresher than ever. This is an incredible contrast to what is happening in other places not far from here. Doctors across London and beyond are in hospitals busy fighting the virus. 

Meanwhile, most of us can’t do much about it except follow the government guidelines such as staying indoors, washing our hands and socially distancing. With that extra time on our hands, I had so many plans, I am sure you did too.

Who else did think that they’ll do all the stuff they normally don’t have time for? 

I could use it to pursue some of my passions that I never have enough time for pre-covid. Or just get some stuff done that’s been on my to-do list for ages.

I’m sure many readers will agree and share the sentiment and probably had similar ambitions.

I had so many things in my mind that I would finally do while in doing self-isolation in quarantine. But this entire situation taught me one thing. It’s not that easy.

You Will Always Find Excuses

With all that extra time at home now, I could do everything but ended up doing half as much as I wanted. It’s true, there’s more time as there is no more socialising, no more parties, no more brunches. Not even travel or anything. 

You would think you can pursue your hobby at home such as learning the piano, cooking or refurbishing a piece of furniture. You could finally finish reading Sapiens. You could finally do that course on Coursera. Hmm… 

  • And how many books have you read?
  • How many hours have you practised that piano?
  • Have you finally started that side hustle you wanted?
  • Is that personal finance spreadsheet you wanted to start at the beginning of the year done?

If you’re anything like me, you probably did not get far.

It’s really funny that humans bring the most perseverance to the table when it comes to procrastinating. I’ve not read as many books as I wanted, haven’t played the piano as much as I needed to get better and only started revamping my finance spreadsheet.

The only apology I need to make is to my ambitious self. I’m too weak.

How to Overcome Procrastination even during Quarantine?

via GIPHY

Determined to win, I started finding ways to overcome procrastination. I keep it simple and follow three tricks to up my productivity even while in quarantine. Here are the three strategies that help me.

1. Use the Power of Lists

The first one is the Power of lists. It’s extremely gratifying to write lists and even more to tick things off a list.

If you’re an achievement-oriented person then making lists will help you massively. Rewarding yourself with small treats for small wins is the key to overcoming excuses and procrastination. 

How to go about it? 

Every morning day, make a list of 3 things you want to definitely achieve on that day. Alternatively, you can do it the evening before which is even better I find. Pick a reward for each of the 3 completed tasks. 

My example, coffee (2x mid-morning and after lunch) and a snack in the afternoon. Making sure that I get my 3 to-dos off the list now has structure and incentives. 

For instance, one to-do is to finish the presentation and another to respond to open emails. On the weekend it’s more like go for a run, a practice piano for 1h or complete a blog post.

Lists are extremely powerful. Don’t know how to create a good list? Here’s how: How to Make a To Do List That’s tip #1.  

2. Make it Easy to Fight Your Inner Procrastinator

As a human, I prefer the path of least resistance oftentimes. If something is hard to do, I like to simplify it. If it takes too much time, I look for alternatives. The same goes for your goals. If they’re too hard to achieve – or even just get going – you’re setting yourself up for failure.

If your goal is to run every day or read a few pages every day in a book. Then make it easy to do. 

If it takes you more than 5 min to get ready for a run you’re doing something wrong. It means your running gear is hiding out of sight. There is a big threshold to execute on your goal. The resistance builds up and you’re likely to skip the run. 

The same goes for other things. Make it easy to complete your task by putting the running gear in place the night before, so you can hit the ground running (pun intended). The same goes for all other things.

Pro Tip 1: It also works in the opposite way, if there’s something you really don’t want to do, make it hard. Hide snacks if you can’t resist junk food during the day, don’t take your phone to your bedroom to avoid checking it first thing and so on. That friction will make it easier to follow your goal. This is not just me saying it, it’s science-backed

Pro Tip 2: The absolute best book on this topic is Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit”.

3. Start Small and Super-Achievable

Final tip. If you want to change everything, you’re not going to change anything. It’s as simple as that. So, keep it simple. Start small. 

How about running for 20 min every day? That means you’ll be all done in less than 40 min if you take a shower considering putting your clothes on and showering afterwards. That’s simple. You can do that during lunch and eat a bit after your run. 

How about reading? Reading 5 pages a day is better than reading no book in a month, right?

You see, there are two ways to “box” your small to-do, either in a time box, reading for 10 min every night before bed or running for 20 min every day. The other way to go about it is to count box (I’m sure there’s a better naming, suggestions welcome)This can be choosing to read 10 pages every night or running a 5k every week. 

Make it simple, start small and pick one. Once that habit has established, go on to the next one.

These are my three super simple tips you can take on board to overcome quarantine procrastination. 

Follow or message me your thoughts on Twitter or LinkedIn. Let me know what you think and always stay safe!

Semir

 

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.

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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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