Position Yourself for Career & Business Success
As we see headlines of layoffs and recession, I want to highlight how much opportunity exists right now.
I see so many small operations now looking to bring on team members for exciting, growing businesses making a positive impact on people's lives. These are mission-driven micro-companies. Freelancing and starting businesses is also a wide-open field if one wants to build from scratch, and the market for purchasing small businesses holds a wide range of options.
It's largely Silicon Valley tech-sector companies hitting the wall after years of easy capital, extravagant valuations, and questionable business models — while media content, online education, and direct-to-consumer e-commerce companies are accelerating.
I’d like to share a brief guide to navigating career and business opportunities in challenging times.
One thing I've learned the hard way is the importance of the market momentum and timing. Working in growth sector helps immensely, this is a business space at the core of a shift in how we live and work. They have solid fundamentals that will remain for many years regardless of the overall economic climate.
As an advertising photographer then running a commercial production company (making tv commercials), I was in these industries when they shifted from stable to declining. No matter what we did, the market collapse was taking all of us in the space down with it. We were swimming against a downstream current.
When I worked in Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality and now in software for system design, the market has been growing around us and lifting us all up with it. It’s much more fun, exciting, and profitable.
Trend hopping is different — it offers a nice boost while it lasts, but don't become dependent on it. Growth markets last for many years or decades, trends are fleeting. By the time everyone is jumping on the hype and it seems obvious, the opportunity is already diluted and played out.
When seeking a boost from trends, look for early developing ones or a more narrow specialized subset within a larger more established one. A surfer must catch the wave early in its rising formation, not after it peaks.
Use trends for positioning a launch or shaping language for a pitch at any given moment, but don't build a business model or brand reputation or career around it.
Distinguishing growth market fundamentals from trends is not always easy. Be aware of the distinction and always challenge whichever initial assumption you make about a given change you see evolving.
- Does this represent a foundational shift in how we live and work, or is this a fashionable phase?
- Is there fundamental utility in this or is it a matter of taste and hype?
Most important of all, seek a strong personal fit with market opportunities. People are not interchangeable units in the economy.
Skill development plays an essential part in finding the right fit with economic opportunity — always be building your knowledge and capabilities. The first step to move in a desired direction is educating yourself.
But at least as important is psychological and emotional fit. Without it one cannot maintain the necessary consistency for the years and years it takes to succeed. Without it you will not have fresh ideas and insights on a regular basis — it won’t excite your imagination, and therefore your work output will be generic and unoriginal. And without it you will find this significant part of life unfulfilling, pointless, and empty.
Make the work you do meaningful. With such a large portion of your life dedicated to professional pursuits, it must have a purpose that matters to you. Your work cannot be something you need to escape from, it should fulfill you in some way.
How to Find Personal Fit
Psychological and emotional fit comes from alignment between your daily actions and your higher Guiding Principles — what you value and what gives your life meaning.
To create this alignment, you must first know and understand what you value and what gives life meaning. Few people have this self-awareness.
On a practical level, my Alignment Zone video demonstrates an actionable way to put this into practice (demonstrated in a Notion workspace, though the principles can be applied anywhere).
Beyond that overview, I will be presenting a more clearly directed path to developing Guiding Principles. This full process is currently a central part of the Notion Life Design course and I intend to introduce aspects of this training in future videos and newsletters.