I once had a legendary Pennsylvania football coach say to me… "Mr. Mead, DON’T THINK, JUST DO". Of course at the time he was referencing my excuse for not executing his coaching instructions, which had consequently allowed the competition to score.
As I take a good hard look at my career and the professional environment that exists in 2016, I find his simple yet poignant phrase often infiltrating my daily thoughts.
As I think we are now all beginning to realize, the tech world is permeating into almost every aspect of our professional and personal lives. This can be intimidating-especially for those of us who don’t qualify for “millennial status.”
In fact, probably more than a few of us have children who can call themselves millennials!
Things are moving so fast as the art of technology is further embraced-with developers continually recreating products to be better/faster/more efficient.
These changes are not only intimidating, they can be downright frustrating. However, I have learned that with a little open mindedness and willingness to change, I can compete.
Technology and creativity is needed from everyone in all generations. I believe that if you are unable or rather unwilling to change, you will find yourself quickly outdated professionally.
Sallie Krawcheck did a great job of explaining this situation in her recent LinkedIn article "The Career Risk You Don't Know You’re Taking" (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/career-risk-you-dont-know-youre-taking-sallie-krawcheck)
So the question remains, what are you going to do?
Furthering the items mentioned in the pre-referenced article, MOVE QUICKLY!
Personally-I realized that I had to educate myself on the current digital marketing movement. Having worked in financial services, as well as coming from a newspaper family background, I knew well about the oncoming tech/digital revolution. I also knew it was moving at lightning speed.
I immediately began researching educational platforms. I am fortunate to live in NYC where in-class education is readily accessible. I chose General Assembly as I believed they had sincere, enthusiastic and most importantly PATIENT educators in the tech movement. (Depending on your situation-on line courses are readily available). So far, I have taken three courses and I am thinking about taking more.
How many times have you thought "well I am thinking about taking a class...blah....blah..blah..."
Today’s business tech environment is NOT that forgiving for you to take your time. I know many talented 40 somethings and above who have all the tools.... but have somewhat lost the ambition (or are a little intimidated by it) to further educate themselves in tech.
How many stay-at -home moms from great schools are empty nesters now? Go for it! Opportunities are there if you make the effort to reinvent yourself.
Ultimately, I joined a digital media company which focuses on women and business. Before my digital courses at General Assembly, I could not tell you what SEO; UX and e-mail campaigns were all about (trust me there were others terms as well!).
The experience was humbling but honestly; it was also fun, rewarding and relevant. Understanding, learning and working with a younger generation is invigorating and motivating.
One thing to keep in mind-check your ego at the door. You will probably be learning and often reporting to someone younger-and frankly much more highly skilled in the digital tech space.
Embrace the new styles-anything from ping-pong tables in the lobby to a jeans and t-shirt dress code.
I have also found it helpful to resist over-sharing my strong, ingrained generational business opinions. I now know that just because “my way” of doing things has worked in the past doesn’t mean it is going to work well in the future.
And when the fear creeps up and I think I can’t learn anything more, I hear Coach in my head “Mr. Mead, Don’t think Just Do" ...And with those simple words, I am back in the game.