By David Gould
Interesting discussions on minimum wage in Burien in recent City Council meetings. While we all want to earn more, the minimum wage is just that, the minimum wage. To earn more, we may need to learn more and do more.
A template I have used as a professor in mentoring hundreds of students working towards their advanced degrees and their professional advancement is presented below. Even without an advanced degree, some of these concepts may well be helpful as I know many successful people without a degree or an advanced degree making well above minimum wage who have followed some of these concepts.
• Start with a personal vision. What do you want to do in life? What is important to you? Where do you want to live? What are you prepared to do? Where do you see yourself in 3 years, 5 years, 10 years?
• What are your values? Education? Free time? Travel? Teaching? Creating? Problem solving?
• What are your strengths? Are you good at math, robotics, working with people, or like to sell things? Or are you more mechanical and like to work on cars, or other mechanical things? Or are you more creative?
• What are your weaknesses? What do you not like to do? What are you not good at?
• What threats do you see in your near to mid-term future? Job loss? Divorce? What can you do to avoid them or reduce them?
• What opportunities do you see in your near to mid-term future? Can you leverage your strengths to exploit these opportunities? For example, you like to help people and are good at caring for others. Job opportunities exist in health care and with some additional training, becoming a nurse or administrative assistant may be possible.
• Set some goals, maybe 3 or 4, SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bounded. For example, I will complete an Associate Degree in health care over the next three years. I will complete my RN studies by 2027. Or, I will complete an internship in automotive maintenance in 12 months.
• Goals should be rationalized. For example, the pace of change in our society is accelerating and technology is driving it. If I don’t start something now or soon, and complete it, I will be left behind.
• Some implications of starting school or an internship will include giving up some free time, investing in yourself, perhaps working longer hours, and so on. What are you prepared to do?
• Continue to learn new skills and improve current skills if they are still important. Drop or reduce non-productive activities.
• Key skills in today’s environment include subject matter knowledge, collaboration and teamwork, oral and written communications, research, abstract thinking, critical thinking, and problem solving.
• In round numbers, about 10% of success is competence; 30% is image; and 60% is visibility. Image includes how you look as well as how you dress and are groomed. A positive attitude is important as well. Give and share credit. You have to be seen as someone people want to be around. Visibility is critical. People may want to and be able to help you, but they have to know you exist. Be visible, meet other people, build relationships, and network. Learn to solve problems for people and organizations.
Remember: Once a job can be well-defined or scripted, it can become self-service, automated, outsourced, or some combination of the above. That is, the job itself may disappear. So, keep on learning, life-long learning, and it doesn’t have to be formal or advanced education. A final tip from my friend and colleague, Dr. Thomas Shepard: The world has changed.
The new business environment needs fewer people trained to do things repetitively in a specific way, and demands more people who are educated to find new ways of doing things.