Are you a Consultant? Are you a Marketer? Are you an Investor? When I get asked questions like these, I find myself struggling to know what to respond. I tend to say “yes” to some roles, “kind of” to others and some times I try to explain what I do, and find myself struggling most of the time.
The truth is that I don´t really define what I do based on one professional direction. I combine my experiences with things I am passionate about – and take on many different roles along the way. I believe I have a portfolio of careers in the past, present and future.
So, what I am passionate about shapes my career. And, when you are passionate about several different things, it becomes complex to embrace one title or profession. However, it helps shape the path along the way.
Being a “Gig Worker” (don´t know what Gig Worker is? Read this blog post “What is the Gig Economy and Why Should You Care”) has its pluses and minuses, as any other “job”. It is easy to adapt to constant changes (which is what really defines the business landscape and all industries these days), but it can be hard to define and limit what you do. My elevator pitch becomes fuzzy every time. And believe me, as I have worked with trying to explain and commercialize “hard-to-grasp” tech concepts most of my career, I understand the importance of a short and sweet elevator pitch that you can easily convey in a few seconds.
Gig Workers often combine a lot of different roles throughout their career.
Randi Zuckerberg (yes, she is Mark´s sister) was interviewed by Vogue magazine earlier this year. She has moved from Silicon Valley (where she had an executive job at Facebook), to New York City. She experienced that in Silicon Valley, most people talk about the same things – as most people work in tech and at startups. The conversations people were having at coffee shops were often around questions like: How do you get funded? Who exited to whom? Who is starting up again?
She finds that the tech startup scene in NYC constitutes of people who lead much more diverse lives. They are entrepreneurs, but they also do other things. She has, since moving to NYC, starred in a Broadway musical, and believes this enriches who she is and what she contributes professionally. Silicon Valley´s development is, by all means, impressive. However, creativity does not flourish when things become one-dimensional.
Creativity flourishes when people get input from diverse sources.
During these times of change – we should look at how we build careers with new eyes. Everyone´s intellectual capital is based on the entirety of their experiences. Let´s not focus on placing people based on “old-school” brackets.
Diversity in the workplace has so far been focused towards elements such as gender, race, age and other “personal” traits. This is all good – however, next gen diversity in the workplace should see even beyond this. If you are a leader – ensure you build teams based on diversity. Not only in personal demographics, but in backgrounds, jobs and expertise. And, support people who would like to switch careers. They will see things with new eyes.
New combinations drive innovation.
Having my own professional passions, which have followed me for most of my career, has really helped me along the way. It has helped me identify which companies, roles and projects I should pursue, as well as when I am off course. My professional passions can be defined as:
- Hunt down and commercialize early stage technology – where there is high uncertainty towards how the market will be shaped
- Combine analytical and creative capabilities – both in myself and when working with others
- Internationalize technology from smaller countries (like Norway) – ensuring products and services don´t originate from only one big market (the US)
- Create visually appealing things – by painting, designing and making clothes, ++
Some of these go together in an obvious way, and some don´t. But they are all part of shaping who I am and what I “bring to the table” in my work and to my professional network, clients and partners.
I believe, even though you might not be a Gig Worker yourself, that this approach can help you adapt more easily and stay relevant in times of change. Here are 3 tips for establishing a new approach towards your career:
- Diversify your CV by spreading your competence to new areas – try out new “jobs” and other roles than what you otherwise tend to take on
- Next time you put together a team, try out new combinations
- Make a list of your own “professional passions” that can help guide you
Want to read more on the topic? The Financial Times had a good article a few days ago: “The gig economy spells end to lifetime careers”