Daily Endeavor Blog

This blog is about leading a work life worth living.

This blog is about leading a work life worth living.

You are what you learn

Scott Adams has a great post up, consistent with what we teach every day at Endeavor Prep and baked into the tools at Daily Endeavor:

You are what you learn. If all you know is how to be a gang member, that’s what you’ll be, at least until you learn something else. If you go to law school, you’ll see the world as a competition. If you study engineering, you’ll start to see the world as a complicated machine that needs tweaking. A person changes at a fundamental level as he or she merges with a particular field of knowledge. If you don’t like who you are, you have the option of learning until you become someone else. There’s almost nothing you can’t learn your way out of. Life is like a jail with an unlocked, heavy door. You’re free the minute you realize the door will open if you simply lean into it.

If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking

‎Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do…If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.

steve_jobs

A Parent Ponders Her Child Discovering What She Loves To Do

Google+ Sparks

Over at her blog, Princess Polymath, software engineer extraordinaire Kirsten Jones thinks aloud about her work life and the one her daughter will discover. Kirsten has built some amazing software magic (I had the pleasure I working alongside her at Socialtext), and now helps engineers extend the Linkedin platform. Early on she learned, by happenstance, that she likes to make information more clear and unnecessary manual tasks go away. But will her daughter like the same?

I’ve been having a lot of discussions with my daughter about what she wants to do for her “job” when she “grows up”. She’s 14 now, at that age where she needs to start putting some focus and attention on how she’ll feed herself once she’s no longer a kid. She’s an amazing person, who loves to do many things at a time (marching band, professional Shakespeare, venture scouts, role playing games, art…) and I know there are lots of jobs she’d just love – and many that she would really detest. I, of course, think she would love my job because it is perfect for me in every way and she shares my genetic code, but really… no.

As an awesome parent, Kirsten already shows she doesn’t get trapped where many do — believing there’s just one thing a person might love doing. There are so many each of us will fall for. Fortunately for her daughter, she’s also not holding out for the offspring to be replicas. Go Mom.

She currently thinks she really wants to be an animator at Pixar. The girl is an amazing artist, don’t get me wrong, but she gets frustrated by the indirectness of computer art – and I’m not sure she’d really enjoy the demanding precision of such an endeavor.

Everyone starts with an inkling. Some spark. Usually many sparks. Then they’re faced with the challenge of learning more about each, and deciding which ones to pursue more (this is where Daily Endeavor is working to help).

But really, I don’t care what she does. I just don’t want her to do a job she hates. I’ve done that, even things I was particular fantastic at (typing title policies at an insurance company) and the entirety of your life is really dragged down when you do a job you dislike.

Amen, sister.

So, how to help my daughter? I’m glad she doesn’t have the mindset I had in high school where you were supposed to breathlessly rush through all 16 years of el-hi-university and then off you go to work without stopping to consider where you were going. I’d love her to take a year or a few after high school to wander around and just be young. She’s studying Japanese, and while I know that at just-about-6-feet she’ll stick out there, I would love her to spend a year in Japan learning about their culture. I envy her this freedom, but can’t wait to see what she does with it.

From where I’m sitting, this is one fortunate daughter. Here’s a Mom who understands there’s no more direct path to discovering what her daughter wants from her work life than iterating. In getting started, her daughter could use inputs on the kinds of jobs that exist and social proof around what to believe, so that’s one of the places we hope to help out.

Are you alive? Prove it.

Hugh MacLeod doesn’t pull punches. He’s not shy about getting straight to the point. I find it amazingly refreshing.

I believe there’s a huge cost in settling. I believe that the people who take the risk to seek out something that truly fires them up live out different and better lives.

Hugh says it succinctly today over at Gapingvoid:

Linkedin/Daily Endeavor Mashup: A whole new way to browse through your professional network

Since December you’ve been able to sign up on Daily Endeavor using your Linkedin account, but I’m excited to share a new feature that takes the integration even deeper — Related People I Know.

Now when you connect with Linkedin on Daily Endeavor you can see who in your network is into what you’re into. dailyendeavor See Related PeopleWhen you pull up a Daily Endeavor job profile, first and second degree contacts in your network instantly appear.

When would this be useful? To start, it’s a whole new way to browse your professional network. Now you can leaf through jobs you may be interested in, and the related people you know automatically display inside the job guide.

If you’re doing informational interviews, it just got a whole lot easier. Let’s say you have a dream job in mind — or any type of job you happen to want to learn about — but the hard part is compiling the list of who you could meet. All you need to do is lookup a Daily Endeavor job profile, and instantly find contacts, and friends of friends, who can tell you more about the job you’re eyeing.

This is just the first of many applications in pairing up the social graph with the job graph. We’re really excited to be continue creating more. If there’s ones you want to see, let us know!

By the way, to make this mashup goodness happen our team worked closely with the team at Linkedin, using both their Profile Widget and the hot-out-of-the-oven JSAPI. The developer relations and api teams are great. Thank you gals and guys!

Why build a job graph?

We all have a home on the web. Whether it’s a Linkedin profile, Twitter feed or Facebook page, there’s a definitive place people can go to find you. When there’s a definitive profile, it’s easier to learn about and connect with you.

So everyone who wants to be found has a user profile. Similarly, every company has an About Us page. But what about every job? There’s no single place to learn about every type of job.

Wikipedia does a really good job providing an objective description of many of the industries that exist, but not every job in, say, investment banking is the same, and ongoing conversation about how to get or thrive in an investment banking job is not part of its mission.

There are millions of job listings that narrowly describe the needs of a certain company at a certain time, but any given type of job can have 20 or more different titles, so researching or tracking even one job is a huge hassle.

The idea to build a job graph is a simple one: we believe that every job should have a home page on the web — a definitive job profile. Each profile should be a place where you can learn about the job and join the conversation that’s happening around it. It’s a place where you can show what you know, or share what you want to learn. Business Development in Microinsurance at Daily Endeavor

While the idea was simple to start, building it has been anything but. Our initial research four years ago found that the largest classification system was the US Department of Labor’s. But there was a problem. Their coverage for the entire US economy added up to about 3,500 types of jobs. That’s less than 2% of our estimate of the 250,000 non-hourly jobs. We needed something much more comprehensive. So we decided to build one from scratch.

For three years we’ve been working with niche experts to develop a graph that’s representative of the types of jobs that exist today. While we’ve made a lot progress (15,000 and counting), we’ve only begun to scratch the surface. Nevertheless, we’re really excited about how a profile for every job can help job seekers better find personal matches, and hiring managers better find the needles in the haystack. If there’s job profile coverage you’d like to see, please let us know!

The Future of Talent is Already Here

I was in a conversation this Fall with a friend who was looking to hire someone to do some hairy statistical analysis. They were in a quandry on where to find them. I suggested Quora. Look up one of the questions you want answered, and in the answers, see who’s good. Quora’s not the only place you can see what people are into today, but it’s one of the good ones. Much like when Doug Crets says the new full-fledged education system is already here, it’s just still operating in the shadows, so it goes for recruiting. The future of recruiting talent is already here, it’s just not yet televised.

We’re in the very early stages of a major upheaval (as major as what Monster did to the newspapers, and what Linkedin did to Monster) in how people find jobs and jobs find people. Most of the companies re-creating this space are still quite young, working their way to the proverbial product-market fit. While the picture of how this new world will work for job seekers is much more clear today, there’s still some more sorting to do for how it will work for recruiters. This will come.

unleashed-talent

One of the places this conversation will be unfolding is at Unleashed Talent next week in SF, care of Jon Bischke & co. I’m heading to it and very much looking forward. One of the reasons I like Jon, and the main reason I’m going, is that he’s a convener – he seems to be continually bringing people together for interesting conversations. Looking at the attendees, this day looks no different.

My thesis is we’re about to see a step change in how jobs find people. I’m looking forward to hearing what others have on their mind.

The Most Important Curve

Politicians in the US have begun the annual budget debate, and by extension chatter on the staggering national deficit. All of this of course is measured in economic terms — how many dollars the economy generates, are we spending more than we’re generating, how much we need to borrow to pay the bills, etc. Even though the US deficit is mind-bogglingly alarming, it’s not the biggest crisis we face. There’s another more fundamental deficit that holds every country, and every individual back — how much we learn every day while we’re alive.

In a TEDx talk about this time last year, I raised the idea of a curve that describes how much people are growing. Instead of GDP, it plotted daily individual growth. As a shorthand I defined growth as the percentage of waking hours where we’re learning, or more specifically, trying something new. The claim I made at the time, and still stand by, is that this curve is the best underlying predictor of almost everything we care about.

If you show me a buzzword someone wants to increase (income, skills, profit, relationships, domain expertise, scale, leveling up, innovation, national competitiveness…), this curve would be the best predictor of achieving it.

How would we build such a curve, and what would it look like? In lieu of actual data on the 300MM people in this country, I estimated the curve based on a few assumptions. On the X-axis is age. The Y-axis is percentage of waking hours we’re trying something new. My back of the napkin would look something like this:

dailyendeavor_daily growth curve

In the earliest days and years, learning is off the charts. Everything is new, everything is interesting, we’re trying new things almost every second, as my son’s wiggling limbs can attest. As we enter formal schooling, it drops. This is in part due to the fact that we’ve thankfully learned some stuff (tie shoe? check), in part due to efficiencies of play and the inefficiencies of school, and in part due to introducing the notion of negligible-learning time (e.g. watching TV). The school years are still quite high as predominantly we learn to negotiate our social environment.

Notice the exit from the college years, based on my experience with advising tons of people during this transition, there’s a huge drop. At first, the new job brings trying a lot of new things, but it’s quickly replaced by autopilot. This is in part due to individuals’ acclimation (close the monthly accounting books? check), the low pace of new responsibilities or challenges, the inefficiencies of learning at most places of work, and overwhelmingly, staying in the same type of job and doing it the same way for years and years. There are a few upticks along the way for negotiating new social environments, parenting, new leisure activities (I wonder if I can paint that? I wonder if I can hack that together?). But given the amount of time we spend at work (8 to 12 hours/day), our work life is a huge influencer.

This curve isn’t an estimate for everyone. In fact I’d argue for all of the outliers, for everyone you know that’s crushing it, their curve looks different. But I suspect this curve may be the mode.

Why does it matter?

The area underneath the curve is responsible globally for generating what’s new and making sense of it. It’s where we find new ideas, novel approaches to problems, new words and new ways to participate in relationships. It’s where every scientific experiment is located. It’s even behind all of comedy. It’s where we’ll find all the human tinkering that’s going on globally.

When we’re not trying new things, we tend to keep not trying new things. Said differently, if we’re not growing, we’re stagnating.

My experience is that when people are experimenting on a daily and weekly basis, they’re more flexible and adaptive, they have more ways to respond to good and bad situations, they participate more and they’re more in the mix, so they tend to stumble across more opportunities, all of which leads to more opportunity for growth (GDP included).

I want to see this curve pushed up! If the area underneath the curve represents all individual growth globally right now, can you imagine what could be unleashed if it moved up, even a little bit?

Even without country-level data, each of us can estimate our own daily growth curve. How many hours are you awake every day on average? How many of those are spent on things that are so well known they’re on autopilot? How many are spent on trying something new, or trying the same thing in a different way?

Maybe percentage of time isn’t the way to go. It’s a handy constraint for estimating big blocks of time, like pitching a client in a slightly different way, but it’s not so great at picking up smaller moments, like looking the cashier in the eye the next time you buy something.

Maybe things are much better than this chart depicts. Maybe they’re much worse. Either way, I want to help push the curve up and here’s an estimate to work with.

State of the Union Career Search Roundup for 2011-1-25

Obama Photo by Marco Grob

On the eve of the State of the Union address for a bellwether in the global economy, we know the big picture headlines by now: Corporate profits have returned. Jobs for many have not yet. Is this the “new normal” or what transitions in a reshuffling labor market and economy look like?

It’s the latter. Both individuals and organizations in this country are too ambitious to leave 17% of the country untapped. Structurally, major poles in the economy — energy, technology and education — are being re-made. With them, nearly imaginable type of work life will change.

The trick is to remember they’re not re-made and handed to you. They’re re-made by your hand. As the waters change, there is century-making opportunity ahead. Your personal education, whether first-time or “re-training”, is more accessible than any time before. Sometimes the macro conditions today and over the next two years can be the tea leaves to read. Here’s a snapshot.

  • American Jobs, Gained And Lost by Jacob Goldstein and Jess Jiang — The jobs story summed up (though because based on government data, excludes most entrpreneurial innovation at the edges). (Planet Money)

  • Home From Nowhere by James Howard Kunstler — There is structural, not just cyclical, angst both in place and workplace. @newsycombinator summed it up well: Americans sense that something is wrong with the places where we live and work. (The Atlantic)

  • Tom Friedman’s Warning on American Competitiveness by Tom Ashbrook — The refrain is energy and education, research and infrastructure. (OnPoint)

  • Where the Smart People Are Going by Richard Florida — Opportunity hubs are not evenly distributed. Face to face still matters. Right now cities are winning the ‘marked increase in human capital density”. (The Atlantic)

  • The West Wing, Season II by John Heilemann — The remaking of a president and maybe the country, “Almost overnight, Barack Obama overhauled his White House and rewrote much of the script. Now all he needs is a happy ending.” (New York Magazine)

  • CNN Poll: Americans more optimistic on state of nation — While a majority continue to think that things are going badly in the country, 43 percent “feel that things are going well”, a rebound to April 2007 levels. Lawrence Summers once said confidence is the most cost-efficient stimulus solution. Opportunity calls. (CNN).

Internships Don’t Have to Suck

While we’re hard at work making descriptions and insights available for 100,000 types of jobs so you can learn about them without first needing to know 100,000 people…when it comes to identifying actual job opportunities, there’s still no substitute for the people you know.

facebook - social map of the world

Contrary to job board claims, the simple fact is most job opportunities travel through word of mouth, which means they travel along professional and personal relationships. Your social networks determine more than anything else whether you’ll hear about an opportunity.

This week Paul Butler, an intern on Facebook’s data infrastructure engineering team, posted a graph that shows the ties that bind. It’s a data visualization of the friendship relationships between cities. Paul photographed a sampling of our social networks. Righteous.

Why should we care?

Paul’s infographic reminds us of a few things. Opportunities are everywhere, and fortunately it’s as easy as ever to make and maintain relationships everywhere. Weak ties improve your reach. Strong ties improve your references.

Internships don’t have to suck. In fact there are real benefits. Internships are opportunities to show what you can do, to build something or help solve a need. They’re a way for you to try a company out (people, culture, types of work) and a way for a company to try you out. Even though “internship” has a connotation of unpaid and entry-level, it pays to think more broadly about them as lightweight, short-term contract roles for any age and any stage. Perhaps it’s time for a new term.

To learn we need experience and the data from it. Paul not only built something based on skills he had, he built something discoverable which has led to a lot of feedback — data points he can use. Right on Paul.

Don't settle. Do what you love.

Lead a work life worth living