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Creating A Portfolio Of Skills To De-risk Your Career
You ask “what career should I choose”. Anyone who is an entrepreneur, or with more than 7-10 years of experience will invariably tell you “Follow your passion and the money will follow.”
The logic here is that you should enjoy what you do or do what you believe in.
Both are sometimes not practical due to financial and social pressure.
For example, when I left corporate life to teach, I heard a lot of comments. Preachy ones – “Men should not stay at home”; concerned ones – “How will you survive?” and sarcastic ones – “”Could not cut it in corporate life, eh?” or “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach!”
However there is one more logical reason that you should encourage your passion.
Your job is at risk if you can be replaced by technology, a cheaper person or your work can be consolidated under someone else. Your rank does not matter. You may be a fresher or a vice president.
I just received a mail from a friend with 22 years of experience who has been downsized. His skill set is so specific and special that there are not more than 20-30 jobs available in this country.
Most of you are at risk unless you are the employer. There is always someone willing to take your job for less pay. Technology is replacing intuition, experience and brain power. Outsourcing is accepted as a better way of managing by numbers and better operation efficiency.
How do you de-risk this? The same way as financial planners de-risk. By having a portfolio of products that you vary based on market conditions. So we invest in debt, equity, commodities and their derivatives; monitor the overall value and move investments around to maximize returns.
You need to do the same with your portfolio of skills and traits. Let me give you an example:
I know software, around 16 programming languages and have a background in electrical engineering and computer science. I am also an MBA, and have experience in a variety of jobs. So I can utilize any of these to get a job or teach subjects in an MBA or engineering college. As a matter of fact I am currently teaching in one of the top MBA colleges in Bangalore, India.
I can be a corporate citizen or a freelancer.
I keep updating my knowledge and skills. I am a certified counselor and can capitalize on that. I am a certified NLP practitioner and again use that during counseling.
I am a woodworker and I make gifts to give to people or if I want, sell them.
I have 13 years experience in campus infrastructure management and can start a company to provide this service to educational and residential campuses.
The point is, sacrificing corporate life allowed me to invest my time in other skills which allows me to have a cash flow the way I choose.
A friend of mine is a programmer by day and a guitar player and teacher by evening. He monetized his passion. He has decided not to take a promotion or a salary hike. He mentors other programmers in the office and he can, later, monetise those skills.
I have students who have done the same. I see potential in some of the recent batches. Two current students are passionate about Hindustani and Carnatic music and they can create a fusion school. An ex-student is passionate about dance and he can do both sales in the day and monetise his dance ability at night. I see another ex-student in FB participating in a dance competition and I am very happy that she has a monetizable skill.
To summarise, corporate jobs have become riskier. Specialisation makes you an expert but creates a risk similar to investing in only one stock. You need to have a portfolio of services that you can monetise. Your passion is a monetizable skill.
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