As those who work and live with me will gladly tell you, I lack skills in many areas.
But when it comes to getting great, timely, and opportune fortunes from Chinese restaurants, there is no one in my league. As my wife will tell you, I used to save the very best ones in my wallet. In fact, on our very first date, I shared many of my favorites with her. So, when I got the fortune you see above the other night, I knew it was a message from someone – General Tso? – that a blog post just had to be written.
And as it turns out, the topic of embracing change is one that’s been on my mind in recent days and weeks. Many of you know Walter Mossberg who made his name writing a tech column – “Personal Technology” in The Wall Street Journal – he created an entirely new brand of journalism – a column about gadgets for the average person.
Walt’s career path is well chronicled in a great Stratechery post by Ben Thompson: “The Walt Mossberg Brand.” The crazy part of the story is that Mossberg pitched the job to his bosses long before it became obvious that technology would eat the world way back in early ’90s when his column debuted.
Mossberg, who is hanging it up this June, explained in a post on The Verge, a platform he went onto invent that he was a lot like other journalists of his day. His first job was for The Wall Street Journal’s Detroit bureau, but he would go on to continue to reinvent his career, time and time again.
“In the best professional decision of my life, I converted myself into a tech columnist in 1991. As a result, I got to bear witness to a historic parade of exciting, revolutionary innovation — from slow, clumsy, ancient PCs to sleek, speedy smartphones; from CompuServe and early AOL to the mobile web, apps, and social media.”
Mossberg’s timing was impeccable as the Internet was just lifting off, an indicator that part of a successful career shift is due to vision, but a little luck is usually involved, too.
As Thompson points out, however, Mossberg’s editor might not have greenlighted the idea has it not been for his stellar track record. It took nearly two years of strong journalism for Mossberg to earn his chops, giving him the cred to convince his boss and the WSJ owners to take a shot at a tech column.
So, sometimes the vision to change comes from a creative, visionary employee like Mossberg. But at other times, it’s a manager or the boss who sees something special in a staffer.
In our tribute to Tim Davis last week, that was how his career trajectory rolled. Paul and I sensed a different career path in digital media for Tim, who at the time was consulting Alternative stations. Recognizing talents and giving employees permission to try something else is also part of what strong managers do.
At the end of Mossberg’s good-bye post for The Verge, he talks about retirement as his next reinvention, as he seeks to create “a new version of myself.”
All of us have that ability to recreate our careers, either by our self-recognition or by following the lead of a manager, boss, or mentor. In these disruptive times, a rapidly changing landscape can be your best friend. New ways to skin the cat and reimagine a new career path are being created every minute of every day. Just because you’re a P.D. or sales rep or social media manager now doesn’t mean that’s your destiny for the next many decades.
I can think of many people who I’ve run across over the years who have brilliantly executed the career shift. It can be gratifying, exhilarating, and even profitable if you pull it off. And if it doesn’t work out, you can very likely return to scheduling music, selling time, producing a morning show, or however you’re earning a paycheck now.
That “new version of you” takes brains, planning, timing, and an open mind (especially if it’s someone else’s idea). But looking around at what else is out there at whatever crossroads you’re at right now is usually a healthy endeavor, even if you decide to stay put.
My little fortune may not be yours. But it the ability to embrace change in this environment can make the disruption work for you – not against you.
“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”
What’s “the new version of yourself?”
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.