The World of Work and How We Earn a Living is About to Change

5 Things You Should be Doing to Compete in the 4th Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution - Best Business Book Club

Recently, I’ve been writing a lot about robots and computers, and how they’re taking over jobs at a crazy rate, but I’m not trying to make the point that the future of work is a tale of Man vs. Machine. Instead, I think it may be a story of great scarcity and hardship, amidst remarkable abundance and opportunity. More importantly, I’m arguing that how that story unfolds is up to us. We have a choice in the matter.

I think that in the future, abundance will live where it always has, at the very top, but it will also be found in the frontier and border towns of innovation, where gifted and creative risk-takers feel at home.

The great middle—once a lush and welcoming paradise of opportunity for those who played by the rules—will become a no-man’s land, a vast desert of broken dreams and broken promises.

More and more, we see that the rules change so quickly that there might as well be no rules. In such an environment, excessive waiting, trying to fit in, or dancing to someone else’s drumbeat, is a mistake. Not taking (calculated) risks is no longer safe—that’s actually the riskiest bet in town!

Those who choose to stay in the middle, because that’s what they’ve always done, or because that’s what they’ve always been told to do, will be caught in a vicious race to the bottom.

I don’t want that to happen to you.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is about to change everything you think you know about work and how to earn a living. And the revolution has already begun, though lots of people still don’t see it.

But we do, and it’s time to start thinking and doing things differently.

Here are the 5 critical things we should be doing to get ready and stay competitive:

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is Underway, Are You Ready?

5 Key Insights from Klaus Schwab's Book You Can't Afford to Ignore

photo courtesy of Web Tomorrow

The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab is a book that everyone should take some time to review because it lays out a comprehensively sober assessment of the momentous changes already underway—changes that will forever alter the way we live and work.

As you look through the catalogue of evidence presented in the book, you’ll notice that there are reasons to be both highly optimistic and deeply pessimistic about what’s about to happen.

Like a Polaroid instant print, an image of the implications is emerging but that image is not perfectly clear, at least not yet.

We need to pay attention.

And whatever your own interpretation of the known facts may be, it is clear to Schwab, as it is to most economists who are peering further down the road than most, that humanity needs to buckle its collective seat belt. We’re in for a massive dose of unprecedented change.

Millions of people in the U.S. and around the world will be affected and, according to informed estimates, as many as half of all current jobs will be automated in the next 10 to 15 years. And as with all the technological tsunamis of the past, there will be winners and losers.

The winners, of course, will be those who understand that great change is coming and get ready, not just to tolerate the transition, but to help drive it! Not to survive, but to thrive! The losers will be those who ignore the warning signs, fail to understand the drivers of change, and do little more than bemoan the unfairness and injustice of the upheaval once it finally arrives at their doorstep.

In times of powerful change, the last thing you need to do is fight to hang on to the status quo. Instead, focus on your own sphere of influence—what can YOU do, where you stand, with what you’ve got, right now?

To quote Mr. Schwab: “There has never been a time of greater promise or greater peril.”

The question is, what are you going to do about it?

But before we can answer that, we need to further understand what’s happening:

Key Aspects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Success Depends on What You Do, Not Talent

Here are 9 Things Successful People Do Differently

Runners

Whether you choose to define success in broad terms (i.e. “success in life”) or in more specific contextual terms (e.g. success in completing a project or achieving a goal) it is helpful to understand what behaviors or course of action can improve your chances of reaching the level of success you desire.

Endless volumes have been written about this ever-pressing question—How can I achieve success? But few manage to be as straightforward, accessible and concise as Heidi Halvorson’s, 9 Things Successful People Do Differently.

In only 112 short pages, Halvorson, a motivational psychologist, manages to lay out 9 actionable ideas gleaned from the scientific literature of success. After having scoured decades of research, she gives us the strategies that successful people use to catapult their performance far above the average. “In the end,” she states, “not only will you have gained some insight into all the things you have been doing right all along, but you’ll be able to identify the mistakes that have derailed you. More importantly, you’ll be able to use that knowledge to your advantage from now on.”

This book is a fantastic little manual, which I encourage you to read.

Personally, I’ve taken Halvorson’s framework and arranged it into 3 essential prescriptions: (1) “Be a Realistic Optmist” (2) Get Super-Specific and (3) Focus on Continuous Improvement

Here’s a brief description of each:

What Wildly Important Goal Are You Trying to Achieve?

The 4 Disciplines of Execution Keep You Focused On What Matters

The 4 Disciplines of Execution—Best business books

I read a lot of books each year and I usually learn something from all of them, but only a select few make it into what I call my Success Library—books so powerful that they deeply inform my ideas about how to be successful in work and in life. The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling is one such book.

Do you have a personal or professional goal (or two) that you would desperately like to achieve? Something that you’re done talking about; done dreaming about; done making excuses about; something that you’re committed to turning into reality as quickly as possible?

Maybe you want to take that trip to Europe, lose 20 lbs, make the President’s Club, start a business or write that book?!

Or maybe you’re the manager or leader of a team that’s underperforming and it’s your job to help them get back on track?

If so, this book has many of the answers you’re looking for.

Of course, if you want to really master the 4 disciplines, you’ll have to buy the book, read it and practice it. It’s full of real world examples of how organizations have applied this methodology and achieved great results.

Today, I just want to briefly review what each of these disciplines entails, along with some key takeaways…

To Achieve Better Results—Ask A More Beautiful Question

As answers become commoditized, curiosity and inquiry are vital

Ask More Questions

Not too long ago, the people who had all the answers had all the power, but in a connected world awash in petabytes of data, answers are becoming commodities, and the people who know how to ask more beautiful questions will carry the day.

Warren Berger’s 2014 book, A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, is a good place to start if you want to understand why questioning has become so critical in today’s economy. This book is a primer on how to get started crafting questions that can help you get ahead in your career, and in life.

After all, as Case Western professor of Social Entrepreneurship, David Cooperrider states in the book:

How to be Smarter Faster Better at Work and Life

Genuine Productivity Hinges on Improving Your Decision-making Ability

Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg Best Business Books 2

When I first read the subtitle of Charles Duhigg’s new book, Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, I was pretty skeptical—do we really need another productivity book? Hasn’t everything about productivity already been said or written about a thousand times before? What new insights could this gifted storyteller possibly bring to the table?

Plenty, it turns out.

From startling neurological discoveries about what motivates us, to how the Marine Corps prepares its recruits for the uncertainty of war; from how Google and Saturday Night Live create effective teams, to the implications of the tragic demise of Air France Flight 447; there are productivity insights galore in Duhigg’s carefully woven tapestry of riveting stories.

The Power of Habit

What you absolutely need to know in order to create powerful and lasting change in your life

The Power of Habits—Best Business Books by Charles Duhigg

We like to think that the things we do every day (in actions big and small) are the result of our conscious choices and the exercise of our free will, but scientists who study the human brain are questioning that assumption. Based on abundant research data, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we rely on subconscious habits more than we realize (or care to admit).

Are we then creatures of habit, rather than creatures of choice?

If we even suspect that the answer to that question might be “yes”, then it behooves us to understand what habits are. How do they work? How can we change bad habits and install new and better ones—habits that pull us closer to what we really want?

Answering those questions was Charles Duhigg’s precise purpose for writing, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.

Explained in Duhigg’s highly entertaining and rich story-telling style, habits are thoroughly demystified allowing readers to visualize how they might apply the ideas in their own life.

In fact, using the insights I picked up in this book, I was able to finally lose 40 lbs and get back into shape. It had a real impact on the quality of my life and I can’t think of a higher tribute that anyone can pay to an author’s work.

For this reason, I’m very confident that you too can apply the ideas presented in this book, to improve the quality of your personal and professional life.

Here are 5 powerful ideas that I took away from the book (among many, many others):

Join My Outsight Business Book Club

Get Smarter, Faster and Better Every Day by Learning with Others

Outsight Business Book Club—Learning from the world's best business books

Are you a forward-looking executive who wants to stay on the cutting-edge of current thinking about business, productivity, and how to create better results?

Are you a manager seeking to take your team to a higher level of achievement and performance?

Are you an ambitious individual who wants to continue learning and growing,  in order to stay competitive in today’s fierce job market?

If you answered yes to any of the above, my new Outsight Business Book Club may interest you. And the best news is that this unique opportunity is FREE for all my readers.

Give it a try!

Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t

Key takeaways from one of the best business books you'll ever read

Power photo

There’s a game of thrones afoot in every organization, whether we like it or not.

And we’re either in the game, exercising some degree of agency and control over what happens to us, or we’re on the sidelines, powerless to impact the course of events, and at the mercy of those with the power to call the shots.

Based on those hard facts, every person has a choice to make.

In, Power: Why Some People Have it and Others Don’t, Stanford University Professor, Jeffrey Pfeffer, mounts a vigorous case for why, and how, we should choose to forge a path to power.

Power is a must-read for anyone who labors in an organization.

And though it’s not perfect, it’s one of the best business books you’ll ever read.

To inspire you to explore further, here are some key takeaways from the book:

Is Everything We Hear About Leadersip Wrong?

Leadership BS Seeks to Debunk these 6 Fanciful Myths About Leadership

Leadership BS

Take a look at the U.S. Presidential race, the naked graft and corruption of the Brazilian government (among many others), or the state of leadership in corporate America—there seems to be a huge disconnect between our idealized notions of the “servant leader” and the cold, harsh facts of leadership in the real world.

Basically, you should question everything gurus tell you about leadership; you should take a look at the data-based evidence and make your own judgments, and you should take care of yourself (because no one else is going to).

That, in a nutshell, is the thesis of Leadership BS: Saving Workplaces and Careers One Truth at A Time by Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer.

Prof. Pfeffer studies and teaches power and organizational behavior at Stanford Business School and in his latest book he doesn’t pull any punches in attacking the burgeoning “leadership industry” for what he calls its “failure” to produce better leaders and improve the often “horrible” environments at many workplaces.

Leadership BS is insightful and provocative, but it’s also more than a little discomfiting for those poor souls in the “leadership industry” whom he takes to the woodshed for their alleged ignorance, excessive idealism, and fallacious advice.

Leadership Quackery is what Pfeffer might call it in a moment of modesty.

Leadership Bullsh*t is what he actually calls it on the cover of his new book.

Ouch.

The heavy-handed and perhaps unfair critique of the leadership industry not withstanding, the result is a thought-provoking and engaging book that anyone who works, leaders and non-leaders alike, needs to read.

Urgently.

But be forewarned, Prof. Pfeffer’s work is not always cheery nor palatable, and some have even called it cynical and Machiavellian. He calls it data-driven and sober—a clear-eyed description of reality. This is leadership as it exists, he claims, not as we would idealistically wish it could be.

Whether you agree or disagree with his analysis, the book contains many insights that you can use in your own career and in your every day dealings at work, or as you develop your own theories about how leadership works in the real world and how you can be an effective leader inside your organization.

Here are the 6 leadership myths that Prof. Pfeffer seeks to disabuse us of through his latest book: