3 Founder’s Secrets to robot-proof your career

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Chris Zook and his colleagues at Bain took 5-years to uncover the secret of companies that maintain high growth rates over a 10-year period. These companies share the same attitude – The Founder’s Mentality – that direct them to be energetic and innovative over the long term.

I want “sustainable growth” in my life too! How to apply the secrets behind “Founder’s Mentality” to our career? I took the liberty of translating Chris’s points to a personal context. I hope he doesn’t mind!

Research: Only 10% of the companies sustained growth over a 10-year period.

Translation: If we don’t define what growth means in our lives, we will fail.

In 2010, I was in a lecture hall with Professor Clayton Christensen. Professional Christensen was famous for the coining the terms “Disruptive innovation.” He went on stage, and asked this question:

How do you measure your life?

I was stunned. I never thought about it.

As much as I pride myself on maintaining a good work/life balance in my career, there were moments I have doubts. A few years ago, I was looking out at the gorgeous view of Manhattan from the 34th floor of a luxurious condo in Williamsburg, the home of my Wall Street friends.

But I was not happy. I felt a pull in my heart. What have I done? Why can’t I afford a house like this?

I realized my ego was making me unhappy for things that I do not even want.

I realized I will always feel like a failure I measure my success with my mental default – money.

I realized articulating my life goal correctly will bring me half way to success.

 

Research: Failure to grow is due to internal, controllable factors.

Translation: We are the one who inflicted harm to our career. Don’t blame others.

Chris and his team found out that a stunning 85% of a company’s failure to maintain sustainable growth was due to internal problems. Not competitions or technological disruptions.

Kodak is a great example. They patented digital photography technology in 1978, but internal forces suppressed it because the profit from film sales was great. Until it was not.

Lately, I’m surprised by how many of my friends are unhappy with their well-paid jobs. They told me, “I have to take a deep breath just to step out of the house each morning.” “I’m just doing it for the money.”

I realized our fear and complacency is the main obstacle in moving us towards the robot-proof career path of learning and taking risks.

 

Research: Companies that maintain Frontline’s Obsession generate 3x return.

Translation: In touch with people and their daily reality helps us adapt to new career realities.

I was a buyer early on in my career. At that time, suppliers were real people who endured triumphs and tribulations in the daily supply chain life. As I moved up the organization, suppliers became abstract categories like “strategic suppliers”.

One day, I was sitting through one of those “How to capture millennial consumers” presentations and saw this stock-photo.

I realized: seriously, do our millennial customers really look like this? Have I talked to them and really get to know who they are and what they want?

Have you?

I realized we are all very in tune with our customers, suppliers, partners and team members early on in their career. Our ability to keep doing that instead of solely rely on data and presentations will give us an edge.

Robots cannot empathize with people yet. Maybe an opportunity for us human?

 

Lesson 2: Adopting Founder’s Mentality can help us keep our career evergreen.

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