Cal Newport: “Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It.”

This article by Cal Newport perfectly illustrates why we should spend less time on social media and more time doing meaningful work (emphasis mine).

Professional success is hard, but it’s not complicated. The foundation to achievement and fulfillment, almost without exception, requires that you hone a useful craft and then apply it to things that people care about. This is a philosophy perhaps best summarized by the advice Steve Martin used to give aspiring entertainers: “Be so good they can’t ignore you.If you do that, the rest will work itself out, regardless of the size of your Instagram following.

…interesting opportunities and useful connections are not as scarce as social media proponents claim. In my own professional life, for example, as I improved my standing as an academic and a writer, I began receiving more interesting opportunities than I could handle. I currently have filters on my website aimed at reducing, not increasing, the number of offers and introductions I receive.

My research on successful professionals underscores that this experience is common: As you become more valuable to the marketplace, good things will find you. To be clear, I’m not arguing that new opportunities and connections are unimportant. I’m instead arguing that you don’t need social media’s help to attract them.

 

How much of your time is spent consuming things other people made versus making your own?

…and how are you going to stop the bleeding?

Let’s say that the person you love the most has just been shot. He or she is lying in the street, bleeding and screaming. A guy rushes up and says, “Step aside.” He looks over your loved one’s bullet wound and pulls out a pocket knife — he’s going to operate right there in the street. “OK, which one is the injured one?”

You ask, “Are you a doctor?”

The guy says, “No.”

You say, “But you know what you’re doing, right? You’re an old Army medic, or …”

At this point the guy becomes annoyed. He tells you that he is a nice guy, he is honest, he is always on time. He tells you that he is a great son to his mother and has a rich life full of fulfilling hobbies, and he boasts that he never uses foul language.

Confused, you say, “How does any of that fucking matter when my [wife/husband/best friend/parent] is lying here bleeding! I need somebody who knows how to operate on bullet wounds! Can you do that or not?!?”

Now the man becomes agitated — why are you being shallow and selfish? Do you not care about any of his other good qualities? Didn’t you just hear him say that he always remembers his girlfriend’s birthday? In light of all of the good things he does, does it really matter if he knows how to perform surgery?

In that panicked moment, you will take your bloody hands and shake him by the shoulders, screaming, “Yes, I’m saying that none of that other shit matters, because in this specific situation, I just need somebody who can stop the bleeding, you crazy f*cking *sshole.”

So here is my terrible truth about the adult world: You are in that very situation every single day. Only you are the confused guy with the pocket knife. All of society is the bleeding gunshot victim.

If you want to know why society seems to shun you, or why you seem to get no respect, it’s because society is full of people who need things.

They need houses built, they need food to eat, they need entertainment, they need fulfilling sexual relationships. You arrived at the scene of that emergency, holding your pocket knife, by virtue of your birth — the moment you came into the world, you became part of a system designed purely to see to people’s needs

Either you will go about the task of seeing to those needs by learning a unique set of skills, or the world will reject you, no matter how kind, giving, and polite you are.

6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person | Cracked.com

“We have more freedom now to choose our careers than at any point in history”

Why following your passion isn’t the best advice and why you’re better off finding working that’s engaging:

What we’ve found is that the best predictors of job satisfaction are features of the job itself, rather than matters of pre-existing passion. Research shows that what you should be looking for is work that is engaging: find that, and you’re likely to develop long-lasting passion for that work.

Engaging work can be broken down into five factors:

  1. Independence: How much control do you have over how you go about your work?
  2. Sense of completion: How much does the job involve completing whole pieces of work so that your contribution to the end product is easily visible?
  3. Variety: How far does the job require you to perform a range of different activities, using different skills and talents?
  4. Feedback from the job: How easy is it to know whether you’re performing well or poorly?
  5. Contribution: How much does your work “make a difference,” improving the well-being of other people?

Each of these factors also contributes to motivation, productivity, and commitment to your employer. Other factors that also contribute to job satisfaction include whether you get a sense of achievement from the work, how much support you get from your colleagues, and “hygiene” factors, such as not having unfair pay or a very long commute. You’ll notice, none of these have much to do with whether the work involves one of your “passions.”

Source: The Many, Many Problems With “Follow Your Passion” – 99U

#WhatILearned: The Hustle Economy

The Hustle Economy, edited by Jason Oberholtzer and illustrated by Jessica Hagy, is an anthology of insights and advice for creative entrepreneurs by creative entrepreneurs, representing a wide spectrum of artists and makers.

If you believe, as I do, that we’re entering a new era of work, freed from the factory, yet even more connected by the internet, and you do creative work of any kind, then it’s helpful to have a guide…and this is a good start.

The whole book is great, but here are a few of my favorite insights:

Nick Douglas

  • Just make good work and put it out there
  • Over time, a creator convinces people that their work is consistently good, enough so that their next piece of work will be worth betting on
  • It’s really rewarding when you can help people who are a little behind you in their career. Not selfishly, not to “earn points,” but because you genuinely feel they deserve more opportunities than they have right now”
  • Pick your collaborators by their talent, creative ambition, and ability to work with others

Jason Oberholtzer

  • The typical journey is part willingness to get by with less at times, part luck, and part grace – in different proportions for different people
  • Being involved in the hustle isn’t about arriving anywhere – it’s about being “in the mix”
  • When you aren’t focused in one area, building specific, marketable experience and skill, you are cultivating another broader skill: getting good at getting good at things
  • …embrace that which motivates you to action rather than that which taxes your energy so much that its toxic energy reaches into other areas
  • Invest in yourself in concrete ways…learn new tangible skills

Jessica Hagy

  • You’re always still learning
  • Make room for the next bigger, better thing
  • Surrender is not an option
  • Every chore can be a creative exercise
  • Just. Keep. Going

A few tips:

  • Spend at least 15 minutes making something new today
  • Figure out a natural first starting point. Want to write a book? Write a chapter.
  • Now is the time to articulate what you want
  • Reach out to others, and reply with generosity when others reach out to you
  • Start working on something that is worth working on

It’s a collection intended to inspire. And it’s filled with Jessica Hagy’s illustrations, which are great for opening your mind to a different way of thinking about work. I hope you check it out and it gives you a kick in the ass to bring something new into the world.

“The connection economy values the bridges between the nodes as much as the nodes themselves”

If you’re looking for as good an explanation as I’ve found about the shift from factory work to the connection economy, read Seth Godin’s post linked below.

No, the good jobs aren’t coming back. But yes, there’s a whole host of a new kind of good job, one that feels fundamentally different from the old days. It doesn’t look like a job used to look, but it’s the chance of lifetime if we can shift gears fast enough.

You don’t have to like this shift, but ignoring it, yelling about it, cutting ourselves off from it is a recipe for a downward spiral. It’s an opportunity if we let it be one.

Source: Seth’s Blog: The computer, the network and the economy

“The optimistic view is that it’s still morning in America, and if we fix what’s wrong, the best is yet to come”

Where did our optimism go? This piece by Gregg Easterbrook (emphasis mine) attempts to explain:

Social media and cable news, which highlight scare stories and overstate anger, bear part of the blame. So does the long-running decline in respect for the clergy, the news media, the courts and other institutions. The Republican Party’s strange insistence on disparaging the United States doesn’t help, either.

But the core reason for the disconnect between the nation’s pretty-good condition and the gloomy conventional wisdom is that optimism itself has stopped being respectable. Pessimism is now the mainstream, with optimists viewed as Pollyannas. If you don’t think everything is awful, you don’t understand the situation!

Objectively, the glass looks significantly more than half full.

Job growth has been strong for five years, with unemployment now below where it was for most of the 1990s, a period some extol as the “good old days.” The American economy is No. 1 by a huge margin, larger than Nos. 2 and 3 (China and Japan) combined. Americans are seven times as productive, per capita, as Chinese citizens. The dollar is the currency the world craves — which means other countries perceive America’s long-term prospects as very good.

Pollution, discrimination, crime and most diseases are in an extended decline; living standards, longevity and education levels continue to rise. The American military is not only the world’s strongest, it is the strongest ever. The United States leads the world in science and engineering, in business innovation, in every aspect of creativity, including the arts. Terrorism is a serious concern, but in the last 15 years, even taking into account Sept. 11, an American is five times more likely to be hit by lightning than to be killed by a terrorist.

Is the middle class in dire straits, as Mr. Sanders contends? Yes, inflation-adjusted middle-class household income peaked in 1998 and has dropped slightly since. But during the same period, federal income taxes on the middle class went down, while benefits went up. Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution has shown that when lower taxes and higher benefits are factored in, middle-class buying power has risen 36 percent in the current generation.

Is American manufacturing in free fall, as Mr. Sanders and Mr. Trump assert? Figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis show industrial output a tad below an all-time record level, while nearly double the output of the Reagan presidency, another supposed golden age. It’s just that advancing technology allows more manufacturing with fewer workers — a change unrelated to foreign competition.

Manufacturing jobs described by Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders as “lost” to China cannot be found there, or anywhere. As Charles Kenny of the nonpartisan Center for Global Development has shown, technology is causing factory-floor employment to diminish worldwide, even as loading docks hum with activity. This transition is jarring to say the least — but it was always inevitable. The evolution of the heavy-manufacturing sector away from workers and toward machines will not stop, even if international trade is cut off completely.

A century ago, most Americans worked in agriculture: Today hardly any do, and we’re all better off, including farmers. That manual labor, farm or factory, has given way to 60 percent of Americans employed in white-collar circumstances is the important story in the long term. But nothing is achieved by moaning about the past. The challenge is to create even more white-collar opportunities.


Source: When Did Optimism Become Uncool?

 

“while closing the gate can ensure stability and the status quo (for now), it rarely leads to growth”

Some great questions to ponder for your organization or business:

  • Do outsiders get the benefit of the doubt?
  • Do we make it easy for outsiders to become insiders?
  • Is there a clear and well-lit path to do so?
  • When we tell someone new, “that not how we do things around here,” do we also encourage them to learn the other way and to try again?
  • Are we even capable of explaining the status quo, or is the way we do things set merely because we forgot that we could do it better?
  • Is a day without emotional or organizational growth a good day?

Source: Seth’s Blog: Closing the gate

“Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency”

In what is a brave and important piece of writing, Neal Gabler detailed what it’s like to live with financial insecurity. Want to how complicated this issue is? Try reading the comments.

I know what it is like to have to juggle creditors to make it through a week. I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others. I know what it is like to have liens slapped on me and to have my bank account levied by creditors. I know what it is like to be down to my last $5—literally—while I wait for a paycheck to arrive, and I know what it is like to subsist for days on a diet of eggs. I know what it is like to dread going to the mailbox, because there will always be new bills to pay but seldom a check with which to pay them. I know what it is like to have to tell my daughter that I didn’t know if I would be able to pay for her wedding; it all depended on whether something good happened. And I know what it is like to have to borrow money from my adult daughters because my wife and I ran out of heating oil.

You wouldn’t know any of that to look at me. I like to think I appear reasonably prosperous. Nor would you know it to look at my résumé. I have had a passably good career as a writer—five books, hundreds of articles published, a number of awards and fellowships, and a small (very small) but respectable reputation. You wouldn’t even know it to look at my tax return. I am nowhere near rich, but I have typically made a solid middle- or even, at times, upper-middle-class income, which is about all a writer can expect, even a writer who also teaches and lectures and writes television scripts, as I do. And you certainly wouldn’t know it to talk to me, because the last thing I would ever do—until now—is admit to financial insecurity or, as I think of it, “financial impotence,” because it has many of the characteristics of sexual impotence, not least of which is the desperate need to mask it and pretend everything is going swimmingly. In truth, it may be more embarrassing than sexual impotence. “You are more likely to hear from your buddy that he is on Viagra than that he has credit-card problems,” says Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist who teaches at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and ministers to individuals with financial issues. “Much more likely.” America is a country, as Donald Trump has reminded us, of winners and losers, alphas and weaklings. To struggle financially is a source of shame, a daily humiliation—even a form of social suicide. Silence is the only protection.


Source: Many Middle-Class Americans Are Living Paycheck to Paycheck – The Atlantic

“The pleasure lies partly in flow, in the process of losing oneself in a puzzle with a solution on which other people depend”

Thought-provoking meditation on work (linked below):

…a circularity threatens to overtake my point: to build my career is to make myself indispensable, demonstrating indispensability means burying myself in the work, and the upshot of successfully demonstrating my indispensability is the need to continue working tirelessly. Not only can I not do all that elsewhere; outside London, the obvious brilliance of a commitment to this course of action is underappreciated. It looks pointless – daft, even.And I begin to understand the nature of the trouble I’m having communicating to my parents precisely why what I’m doing appeals to me. They are asking about a job. I am thinking about identity, community, purpose – the things that provide meaning and motivation. I am talking about my life.

Source: Why do we work so hard? | 1843

Don’t Get a Job. Get Work…

…Stop punching the clock. And get to work!


In the past 25 years, real income has gone from $36,000 to $33,000 for people ages 18 to 35.

Why? Who knows. Because nobody cares.

Then the talking blobs on TV tell you you have to start saving during those years.

Meanwhile, the cost of living has gone up.

How do you save, when it costs more to LIVE, while the money coming in the bank is going down.

Society is being strangled. I don’t blame anyone. It’s not the government’s fault. It’s not Wall Street’s fault. Or Main Street’s fault.

Jobs were a myth from the beginning.

The Industrial Revolution standardized society so that factory workers would show up at the same time, have the same education, hit the same bolt on the same nut at the same time, and get paid every two weeks.

The[n] the Internet economy came which globalized the idea of a job. Now we live in the Idea economy where the wealth is moved from the people who do the work to the people who have the ideas.

It’s not evil. It’s just the course of human history and how change is always inevitable.


Source: 10 Reasons You Have To Quit Your Job in 2016 – Altucher Confidential