BUSINESS AT LIGHT SPEED: TECHNOLOGY EVOLVES AT AN ALARMING RATE AND DEMANDS THAT EVERYTHING – AND EVERYONE - EVOLVE WITH IT.

Advances in digital technology and communication have rapidly changed the marketing landscape in the last decade – forcing both professional and personal evolutions.

Few knew the Internet’s potential when it was introduced, back in the days of dial-up. But then came high-speed connections, social media platforms and smartphones – and suddenly, the Internet was no longer a “digital highway.” It had evolved into a world where virtually anything would be possible. Not only would anything be possible, but things were also constantly changing at alarming rates. We’re subject to more stimuli than ever. Planned obsolescence has gone into overdrive. 

But it’s not just tablets and gadgets that are constantly at risk for becoming out-of-date and discarded. Some days, it feels like our skills and education will soon be sent to the trash cans – virtually or otherwise. Our children have opportunities we never could have imagined, and it’s going to take some creativity to make sure they can maximize them.

 

My personal evolution

When I was in high school, I heard the statistic that the average person would change jobs at least three times throughout their working life. Now, I’ve heard that number’s jumped to eight, or even 15. This makes sense given how rapidly professional and social interactions are changing. Every single day a new app or social platform is being introduced. Staggering numbers of new sites go online daily. (Although, it must be noted not all websites, or social media feeds are active.) This information matters, especially if you work in digital marketing, like I do. You see the entire “networked” landscape change at lightning speed – continuously – and your livelihood, in part, depends on understanding how to best work in this environment.

This makes me wonder how to make education useful. A lot changes in the time it takes a student to complete a degree, let alone during the time it can take to enter the workforce after graduation!!

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I started working in marketing in 2006, and in this one decade I’ve reinvented myself multiple times. I began in “traditional” media – print, radio, TV, Outdoor. I hoped to take my marketing experience anywhere, because I figured it would be transferable. In some ways, it was. But it felt like everyone worked in marketing, that there was an endless supply of experienced – or more experienced - people. By 2010, I knew I needed some more relevant experience – and that I was coming to this game a little late. I was working with a web developer on a website for a side business. I realized how important organic and paid search marketing are. I began reading about SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Not long after, I landed my first digital marketing position at a boutique digital agency. I’ve been working in digital marketing ever since. But I still feel the need to constantly improve. When I entered the digital sphere, I felt I’d missed the peak of SEO – by a long shot. Now, I’m more focused on digital and social advertising. I’m considering learning UX Design or coding soon.

When I decided to start my own business, I was surprised at how unhelpful and outdated my education was. It did a great job of teaching me theories at a macro level. But I had to learn all the micro details of small business and freelance work on my own. Some of my most valuable lessons came through articles on authoritative websites, business-related podcasts and Dummies Books ... so many For Dummies books!  It was like a crash course in everything from logos to business plans.

These experiences have taught me to always plan for the next move – not just for me, but also for my children.

 

A case for professional evolution

Sometimes, it seems there are endless ways my children could make money. Forget pre-Internet minimum wage jobs of putting burgers into fast-food wrappers. Now, kids get paid to unwrap boxes and have it broadcast on YouTube channels (although the jury is still out on the ethics of some of these practices). The myriad of new social platforms give them seemingly endless opportunities to become digital influencers – and earn tens of thousands of dollars. And it’s not just youth  cashing in on this trend – I recently heard of a New England couple that was selling fall leaves through mail orders! These new revenue streams may be a good thing.  The economic landscape sometimes makes me fearful for my children’s future. The cost of living is rising and the middle class is disappearing. Salaries for CEOs have increased 300 per cent in the last 20 years. The income gap continues to widen. Now, it seems household survival on just two incomes is impossible. The only way to shield ourselves in a time of economic recession may be having multiple income streams. Youth will have to learn to be creative and entrepreneurial if they want to stay competitive in this changing economy.

These days, there’s a strong case for any business person to stay up-to-date with all technology developments, regardless of their industry. With all the different communication, automation, and project management tools, you could be missing out on ways to make technology work for you – whether by helping you increase workplace efficiency, or, as the YouTube stars show, introducing new avenues for work altogether. Economic times are challenging, precarious and competitive. Adults and youth alike need to stay informed about the latest trends, and above all, be creative and willing to experiment.

I hope to challenge my kids to be as tech and business savvy as possible.

I think it’s extremely important for young people today to have an entrepreneurial mindset and to constantly look at different ways to make a living and plan their next steps. Maybe they can teach me some new things, too.