In the mid 1950s the career success resulted from the following:

  1. Getting a “good” university education
  2. Going to work for a large company with a solid career track
  3. Staying there for 40 years or so, climbing the corporate ladder
  4. Retiring in comfort in the stability of a company paid pension

By the mid-1970s the career success had changed considerably:

  1. Getting a college education in a “good” major
  2. Going to work for a “good” company that aligns with your general goals
  3. Staying there for 3 – 5 years; then move to another company to get a good raise
  4. Retiring, if possible, supported by IRA investments you have paid generously into

Now career success is very different from earlier periods:

  1. Getting a college education, preferably a Master's degree, at college(s) you can afford
  2. Work at various jobs until you can get a good job aligned with your interests and passions
  3. Working very hard to “add value” for your employer, taking on extra assignments others don't want so you are less likely to be laid off. Working to pay off college loans.
  4. Realizing you may never retire, doing your best to have progressively better paying jobs and investing as much as you can afford

In spite of the changes in the career landscape, some key components haven't changed much:  getting a good education; and working hard to highlight and differentiate your skills.

Whereas the career environment of the 1950s was structured and stable, today's high-tech Internet-enabled career track is volatile and chaotic. What is true today, definitely will not be true in two years. In this environment, it is challenging to just survive and “stay above water.”

So, how can you thrive in an environment of chaos?

Below are actions that have benefited me and are consistent with missives from thought leaders like Richard Branson:

  1. Consider your education as nothing more than a foundation that you will continually update, change and build upon.
  2. Read, read and read some more. Become a sponge continually soaking up learning and experiences.
  3. Travel as much as you can to experience diverse cultures. Seek pearls of wisdom to enrich your everyday living and career environment.
  4. Sift through and synthesize all of the above – to distill out trends you can exploit to advance your career or found a new business.

Finally, as an inventor reading this post you may ask, what does this have to do with inventing? The simple answer is: everything!

Great inventions most often come to us when our (conscious) minds are focused upon other things (reading, traveling, sifting through experiences) so our creative subconscious minds may roam freely and unconstrained.

Stay tuned!