Twenty-five years can make a huge difference. I recently saw an old Radio Shack advertisement from February 16, 1991 (see the link below). The advertisement shows 15 technology-type items on sale for their big President’s Birthday Sale for that year. Of the 15 items, we now carry 13 of those items in our pocket in one single device (the items include: phone, computer, still camera, video camera, clock/radio, phone answering machine, all-weather radio, calculator, CB radio, speed dial, CD player, desktop scanner, and voice recorder). In just 25 years, technology has advanced to the point that instead of spending around $6000 in today’s dollars for these 13 items, we now have them all together in our smart phones that cost around 10% of that. It makes you wonder what of today’s top technology will be obsolete within the next few years.
You will also notice that Radio Shack is no longer considered “America’s Technology Store” as they tout in that advertisement. In fact, depending upon who you listen to, Radio Shack may not even survive as a company. Even their name has not really kept up with today’s technology.
So, what does this have to do with us? Technology, or skills, in the workplace must be kept current, as well. The skills we used 5, 10, or 20 years ago may no longer be those needed by the company. If we have not advanced our skills, today’s company may not even need us. A couple examples, one old and one new…
- When I first started in the business world, there was a “secretary” to support every few individuals. Because management individuals did not have computers, the secretary was required to type all letters, schedule meetings, retain paper copies of all documents, etc., etc. Many of these same activities can be done today through Outlook e-mail or Microsoft Word programs. The “secretary” role has evolved to focus more on projects, organizational activities, and helping those they support to be more productive. The skills are completely different and more advanced.
- You have probably read that some fast food firms are planning to exchange people with machines for order-taking, order-prep, etc. Again, if your only skills are fast-food order-taking, your job may be obsolete soon.
So, the questions for today are, “Have your own skills continued to evolve and advance in ways that keep you ahead of the competition? Are you continuing to make yourself more valuable to the company and more marketable globally by continually advancing your skills? What are you doing now to be ready for the significant technology changes that will occur in the next 5 or 10 years?”
There are many ways to keep advancing your skills:
- Education – coursework, advanced degrees, seminars, conferences, industry organizations, etc.
- New positions – taking risks by moving to positions outside your comfort zone
- Volunteering for challenging tasks – often times, taking on a new challenge is the best way to learn new skills or make yourself more prepared for expanded roles
- Working with or serving as a mentor – by interacting with others on a regular basis, you keep your skills sharp and learn new ones
We do not want to find ourselves someday trying to use our old technology skills in a new technology world. Think about where you are today… are you a multi-skilled individual that can do many things or are you the individual devices featured in the old Radio Shack advertisement. Now, what will I do to be ready for the next transformational change that is probably already starting to occur?
Today could be a “top ten” day — there is still a chance! Have a wonderful, productive, and delightful day!