Generation Flux

January 17 2012

Fast Company’s cover piece this month, Generation Flux, is perfect background for why The Start-Up of You matters now. The subtitle of the article: “The future of business is pure chaos. Here’s how you can survive–and perhaps even thrive.” Robert Safian profiles several professionals who are building unique careers by thinking and acting entrepreneurially. In their embrace of change and uncertainty, he gives them a collective psychographic label: “Generation Flux.”

Safian writes:

What defines GenFlux is a mind-set that embraces instability, that tolerates–and even enjoys–recalibrating careers, business models, and assumptions. Not everyone will join Generation Flux, but to be successful, businesses and individuals will have to work at it. This is no simple task. The vast bulk of our institutions–educational, corporate, political–are not built for flux. Few traditional career tactics train us for an era where the most important skill is the ability to acquire new skills.

Anya Kamenetz, in a separate piece in the magazine titled The Four-Year Career, adds perspective on the constant job-hopper:

For the job seeker, then, telling an appealing story about your career’s twists and turns is now an essential aspect of self-marketing. But it’s also true that recruiters and managers at large companies are seeking out employees who like to move around. These are the very people who can lead companies toward new markets and ideas. “We’re seeing more and more jobs that simply didn’t exist five years ago but were created as a result of employees driving toward new goals and objectives,” says Chris Hoyt, a recruiting strategist at PepsiCo. Even at a corporate monolith like IBM, “career vitality” is a watchword. There, managers regularly encourage employees to broaden their capabilities, says Jim Spohrer, the director of services research at IBM’s Almaden Services Center. “We have a thousand job openings all over the world at a given time,” he adds. “We don’t want you to go down a corridor where you have limited opportunities down the road.”

Both articles are terrific, and you’re left feeling convinced that the old model of a solid career escalator no longer applies. (Something we’ll elaborate on ourselves in the weeks ahead.) But what’s the precise solution set for the new world? What specific strategies do each of us need to grasp and deploy in order to survive and thrive? Those are the questions we tackle in the book.