Friday, June 17, 2016

Please, google, may I work for you? Thank you

Charming May Ashworth and her grandson Ben are basking in the glow of internet stardom this week, for Nan's polite google query,

Time magazine noted this viral news, and google UK was tickled pink. Here's their warm reply.

Which got me to thinking today, in my fourth month of unemployment, that it might not hurt to cast my sights wider. If I asked politely, might my application float it's way past thousands, and get google's attention?

Not that I'm beneath casting my net lower. The morning paper route is invigorating.

Casting higher again, google is a great place to dream for. What I would bring to google, I believe, is my ability to understand large systems and how they interact. I find new connections that leads to unique solutions. These may be buzzwords to some, but this is honestly how I put things together. I see a great shift in society in the next thirty years or so, and sharp companies will ride the wave of change.

This is why I think the change is inescapable:

World Population Trend

  • World population will peak
  • Our consumer economy is dependent on a steadily growing population 
How can an economy continue to prosper in the face of an aging or declining population? The consumer based model must be replaced with something else. I believe an efficiency based economic model would be ideal. Since we are dealing with fixed resources and a fixed population, the only way to get more with less is to get smarter about it. Our current throwaway generation will fade in to an annotation in history.

Our society has experienced great leaps in efficiency before with such innovations as crop rotation, mass production, and the Green revolution (fertilizer and improved seed).

Here's two leaps I've been pondering. I've got more ideas but I'll hang on to them for now.
  1. Global automated job matching
  2. Car for life
Automated Job Matching
Regional unemployment and shortage of skilled workers leads to missed potential. Efficient matching of worker to opportunity - globally - would increase world efficiency (prosperity) many times over. Search engines/algorithms are becoming increasingly skilled at reading our tastes and interests. But this potential has been barely utilized by either employer or employee. 

Advertising, interviewing, and selection is slow, and there is uncertainty whether the best matches are selected. Many great matches are missed simply because the selection process is so cumbersome, and the filtering process brutal. 

I think cooperation of some of our great search engines with the top employment sites would be a great first step to make job matching so much more efficient. 

Another required skill-set for this imagined future is the experience to set up a turnkey work camp with all the amenities, anywhere in the world. Some jobs, especially in labor, must be mobile in order to adapt to shifting world demands. Imagine if workers in these fields could know if an operation is closing in this part of the world, there's a home and a job for them even half a world away. A great deal of disruption and lost income (both for the employer and the worker) could be eliminated if these mobile work camps were quickly set up at location of the new demand.

Car for Life 
The disruptive technology of autonomous cars and the market forces I mentioned above means transportation and vehicle ownership in the next few years will be transformed. Futurist Tony Seba speaks of these coming changes. He is highly persuasive. I would add that in a limited-resource, limited-population economy based on efficiency, we will no longer "throw away" or exchange our vehicles every ten years. 

I envision a future where the small percentage of the population who would own their vehicles, will own them "for life". The intelligent car would stay busy during the day, earning it's keep so to speak, by picking up and dropping off rides. It picks up the owner to take her home at the end of the day of course. That owner would get pretty attached to her ride, I would imagine, over time. I don't know about you, but if I knew if I had one car for life, I'd customize my ride. 3-D printing will facilitate this. Parts on demand.

I won't be driving my ride either. I see all sorts of car fun emerging. 

Eyes on the road, James Corden!

Anyways, those are two ways I envision a radically different future. There's all sorts of innovation opportunities in the periphery of both ideas. I'd love also to coach the upcoming generation on how to see the big picture, how to find the new connections and opportunities, and present their ideas in a coherent form. The kids these days are poised to take over, and I wish them all success. It's a radically different world they are making.

Even ideas can be a dime a dozen. But I've got maturity, too. Just in case google is listening, here's my resume.

Thank you greatly for your time,



Thursday, June 2, 2016

Self-Made Books

Some days I wonder if I have read past my contemporaries - certainly well past the young folks these days, my head so stuffed full of sage advice and wonders from a lifetime of reading, if I'm ready for roasting.

Books change one. Call them the flavor enhancers of a life well worn.

Books open up new worlds and fresh perspectives in a compact and private discourse that cannot be matched in a hundred lectures. So what is a woman like me to do, when there are few who have traveled as far or as broad?

Have you ever wondered how Marco Polo fared when he returned to his home town? Would his mother's cooking ever match the exotic fare that had passed his lips? Who of his friends could match his stories, never mind understand them?

One thing a world traveler can do is write. Those thirsty for adventure can drink deep from his experience.

A modern Marco Polo is Louis L'Amour who traveled the world as a merchant seaman, making up his own education as he went along. His memoir, "Education of A Wandering Man" includes a condensed list of must-read books. I've added his list to my own.

Here's a list of self-help books that have done the most to improve my life, in order of impact, with a short note on why they made my list.

  1. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Covey. A tough book because it demanded a tough look at my life. I got stuck on habit three and I had to put the book down a few months. What is the one thing I'm not doing would have the greatest impact on my life? I knew what it was, and indeed it made the biggest difference. Why did I wait so long?
  2. On Writing Well by Zinsser.  I put the principles in this book in to practice, specifically crafting all my writing succinctly. Clear writing demands clear thought. Clear thought leads to purposeful action and eliminates confusion. This book changed the way I think. 
  3. The Time Paradox by Zimbardo. By simple examples, the author convinced me I'd be happier reframing my miserable past in warm nostalgia, discarding the crippling bits. The happiest people have warm memories of the past, enjoy a hedonistic present, and prudently future oriented. 
  4. The Power of Habit by Duhigg. The author offers a simple but powerful message. I now redirect my habits instead of fighting them. It's way less tiring that way. 
  5. Catch! A Fishmonger's Guide to Greatness by Crother. I used the principles in here to insert fun and energy in to a large records office. Our group and the Ministry won a recognition award for this. 
  6. Leave the Office Earlier by Laura Stack. I picked up this book when I was in a very, very busy position. Indeed I stopped all overtime by applying these principles while meeting all my deadlines. I use this book as a foundation for my time management course. 
  7. Getting Things Done by David Allen. This is a time management advanced primer. This book let me relax in the midst of a hundred tasks. Have a system; trust the system.
  8. Flow by Csikszentmihalyi. This researcher's compelling studies convinced me to find moments of flow and high creativity in everything I do from peeling a carrot to completing a painting. 
  9. Iconoclast by Berns. A validation for my out-of-the box thinking. 
There's another book on Change Management, that provides over a hundred strategies on "recipe cards" that outline when and how the strategy would be used.  But I can't find it right now.