Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Most advice is based on past results. It may not be a true reflection of what the future holds.
Advice. It's free you know. It is well packaged to look genuine and important. As a young student - school teachers to parents, relatives to friends, social media to experts - everyone has some advice to give you. Stop clicking on the top image if you were. If you clicked it means you feel somewhere in your mind that there is a quick short cut to success. Tell yourself clearly - there is no shortcut to success. Stop looking for it NOW!
There is nothing simple and quick about success. Success is about making learned choices and making them right for yourself, not once but again and again. In the words of the great Charlie Munger the path to success lies in understanding that ( he is a partner of billionaire Warren Buffet and one of the most intellectual people you will come across) -
“You don't have to be brilliant, only a little bit wiser than the other guys, on average, for a long, long time.”
Career is one such important choice you will have to make in your immediate future. And you have to be careful because there is an absolute mine-field of bad advice out there which might send you in the wrong direction. In this article I'll help you with a framework to think and make a learned choice. Read on if you want that.
But first let's understand something very important about Potatoes. Yes.
Important Stuff about Potatoes
Potatoes sometimes suffer from a disease called Late Blight, which spreads in a week and rots thousands of tonnes of Potato every year. Sometimes too much rains before harvest can lead to destruction of entire crops in some areas. When this happens there is much less potato in the country, not enough supply for all of us. But people want to eat potato so they keep demanding more potato. So demand of potato becomes more than available supply of potato. In such a situation potato becomes expensive, it becomes more valuable. If potatoes are cheap, it means there is a lot of supply in the market, more than the demand. Ask your Mom and Dad, they will know.
Actually, this is true for everything. Onions, apples, bananas, mangoes, wheat, rice, petrol, diesel, gas, houses, rent etc. These are called the Laws of Supply and Demand in Economics.
Okay. Enough about potatoes. We will come back to the learning from Potatoes later. For now, let's get back to career choice.
How long in future is my career?
Career choice you make will be relevant for the next 40 years in future. Therefore, past is not the best place to look from when you are looking for results so so far ahead in the future. The learning you can take from the past is that people who solved problems which nobody else wanted to solve, by creating a new future, became leaders that we know and revere today.
Example - In the year 1950, Dr. Verghese Kurien was working with small dairy farmers in Anand when India was struggling for milk & nourishment for its children. A Mechanical Engineer from a wealthy family chose to do this because he realised nobody else was solving that problem. In his journey he ended up creating Amul which is a marvel of Indian innovation and success. A company earning 40,000 crores every year and owned by small farmers in the form of a co-operative - 36 lakh farmers own Amul together and work together to create this brand we all know.
So more important that the past is that you need to be immersed in the trends of future to be able to make a decision. What problem will you solve in future? The world is changing fast and a lot of the past trends become obsolete very quickly. For example -
- typing is now replaced with speech to text engines like Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant
- classroom teaching has quickly been replaced with online teaching
- eating at restaurants replaced with home delivery
- currency notes with PayTM wallets and Google Pay
- shopping malls with e-commerce websites
By the time you are in the driver's seat of your life and career, the world would be changing much faster and it will look completely different. The old maps will be useless for navigating the future, much the same way old survey maps and globes are only showpieces today.
So how to navigate the future?
Read and follow news from around the world. Don't look for easier alternatives because there are none. Some good places which you should bookmark and start with -
Y Combinator News (also known as Hacker News)
Mark a time in your calendar daily and read a little everyday. Put a reminder in your calendar. Call it your "Board Meeting" with the "Future Me" and treat it importantly like that. Do not let anything or anyone disturb you for those 30 minutes and just read about the future and think about what you could do about it. Make it a habit.
How does this help me in choosing a career?
For this we go back to the learning from potatoes. Shorter supply of potato & higher demand means more money to buy the same potato, right?
Choice of profession follows the same rule. So professions that are in shorter supply or expected to be in higher demand will have higher value in future. So the reason to immerse yourself in the trends of the future is to know where supply is expected to be shorter than demand. That's when your work will be valued - not just with money - but with respect, importance and recognition. Money is a consequence of those things. Simple. Doing things which nobody else wants to do might make you nervous but that is the first step - otherwise everyone would do it.
Most of the times these trends are easily visible if you remain updated because such areas have lots of unsolved problems which create lot of noise. Take a few examples from India itself -
60% of population does not have access to medical facilities like testing & diagnosis (clearly visible in the lack of Covid testing)
less than 1 doctor per 1000 people compared to 3 doctors in developed countries (clearly visible in the tragedies of Covid pandemic)
22% schools only have internet in India (clearly visible from the impact of Covid on school and college education & exams)
Only 3 lakh accountants for more than 1 crore businesses in India (clearly visible from the number and size of frauds that happen in India)
Lack of manufacturing of technology products (clearly visible in the advertisement campaigns like Make in India)
Poor use of technology in Agriculture (clearly visible from condition of farmers and noise around farm laws)
These are a few examples of how you can look at problems in the present world which will be solved in future. These are the examples of areas in which students should look at building their careers and professions. There will never be a better time to be an engineer or agriculture scientist or a doctor or accountant or medical professional than today to solve these problems - problems which everyone is talking about but nobody wants to solve. This is the time when students must look at finding solutions to such problems and build careers of their choice.
Don't become just a part of the rat race. Don't leave these decisions for the future. Act now, take the lead and start becoming a part of the future success today. Before you leave, a beautiful video of Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, advising young people like you. Hope you like it.
PS: This is a series of blog posts every weekend - Saturday and Sunday - for my students to learn and benefit from. A way for us to remain connected beyond school and tuition classes. I welcome suggestions from my students about the topics they would like me to research and write about. If your suggestion is selected, I will mention your name in credits of the blog. Please like, share and subscribe to the blog for more grown-up advice. Stay safe and stay connected always :).