In a couple of weeks I am talking to 100+ 5th and 6th formers at a local school on The World of Work Has Change Forever or and more specifically what this means for teenagers. I have asked a whole bunch of folks for advice they wished they had been given – and if any of you reading this out there on the interweb have any advice please send it in.

I lose control of the audience at my talk

I lose control of the audience at my talk

Now superficially this has little to do with business development. But the interesting thing is that the first two folks that spring to mind as sources are both 21stC business experts I really respect – Seth Godin and James Altucher. And the second thing that springs to mind is how relevant much of Seth’s advice is to folks already in the workforce.

Seth has written a great couple free e-books on the subject – “Stop Stealing Dreams” and “Brainwashed”. James takes his usually contrarian view that (certainly in the US) for the majority of folks university is a bad investment (I recall recently over half the unemployed had degrees – which of course cost a fortune over there). Sir Ken Robinson’s YouTubes of his RSA talks on education are great viewing. It hadn’t really struck home to me that school is designed to produce labour for factories – partly I guess as my school was founded in 1552 – long before factories.

What are you taught from a kid upwards? Sit still. Shut up. Follow orders.

Now that may have worked in the past but even when I started work folks wanted RESULTS. And RESULTS (in capitals anyway lol) come from thinking OUTSIDE boxes, from not just doing things as they were always done.

But we all went through this system. We were all “brainwashed” to use Seth’s phrase. If you are one of those working in an increasingly standardised, process-driven, bureaucratic, white-collar factory right now who lusts after the free-range life you can do no better than starting with the free short e-book Brainwashed – Seven Ways to Reinvent Yourself  which starts:

Years ago, when you were about four years old, the system set out to persuade
you of something that isn’t true.

Not just persuade, but drill, practice, reinforce and, yes, brainwash.

The mission: to teach you that you’re average; That compliant work is the best way to a reliable living; That creating average stuff for average people, again and again, is a safe and easy way to get what you want.

Step out of line and the system would nudge (or push) you back to the center. Show signs
of real creativity, originality or even genius, and well-meaning parents, teachers and authority figures would eagerly line up to get you back in line.

Our culture needed compliant workers, people who would contribute without complaint,
and we set out to create as many of them as we could.

And so generations of students turned into generations of cogs—factory workers in search
of a sinecure. We were brainwashed into fitting in, and then discovered that the economy wanted people who stood out instead.

When exactly were we brainwashed into believing that the best way to earn a living is to have a job?

I think each one of us needs to start with that.


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