Monday, December 31, 2018








Truism - Dog Food

Truism - Menu

Truism - Attack

Truism - Experience

Truism - Panic

Truism - Picture

Truism - Farmers

Truism - Lens

Truism - Battle

New Inc Magazine Blog Post by Kaplan Institute Exec Director Howard Tullman

Happy New Year. Now Stop Trying to Make Everyone Happy.
This is the time for you to allocate more resources to your winners and kick the losers to the curb. Good leaders learn to use the word "No" and to stop propping up mediocre products—or people.

Executive director, Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship, Illinois Institute of Technology

As you wrap up 2018, and start thinking about your business's budget for the next year, the toughest single task is always the allocation of inevitably scarce resources among competing ideas, opportunities and commitments. The hardest single word to say is "No" -- and also the most important. Because smart strategy in times like these is all about what you don't do.

 Saying "Yes" is so much easier and a relatively painless way, at least in the short run, to keep poor projects alive or to try to do things cheaply. Things that you shouldn't do at all. And saying "Maybe" when you should just say "No" isn't doing anyone a service; it merely postpones the inevitable.
Get used to the idea that there's never enough to go around and you can never make everyone happy or please all of the people even some of the time.  Don't even start down that path. Absolutely the most important thing not to do is to try to treat everyone "fairly" - by which I mean equally - because nothing about business is fair.

 Business is all about frankness, not fairness. Telling your people the truth is the greatest favor you can do for them. Splitting the baby or trying to give everyone a little something dilutes the overall enterprise and diminishes everything you're trying to accomplish. It's a proven formula for stagnation, mediocrity and eventual demise.

 This kind of equitable treatment, where every department gets a similar budget, or every department head gets the same raise and bonus, feels good in the moment. But it's a stupid plan to try to placate everyone instead of making the hard choices to assure the survival of your firm. And it's a lazy and cowardly way out. I understand that no one wants to be the bad guy in someone else's day and that these messages are always difficult to deliver, but not only is it a part of every leader's job, if you're not personally up to the task, then you shouldn't be in the position in the first place. The buck really does stop with you.

 And believe me, survival isn't too strong a term these days; it's exactly the level of significance and severity that these choices and decisions deserve. I see businesses every day where the management is treading water, waiting to retire, and/or afraid to bite the bullet, shoulder their responsibilities, and take the necessary actions. As a result, time quickly passes, momentum and opportunities are lost, investors, donors and partners lose interest, funding disappears, and one day they turn around and there's nothing left to pursue.

 The market for talent, as just one example, is fierce and unforgiving. If you aren't smart enough to understand that you've got to pay your best people better than the rest of the team and, if you still think that it makes sense to be equitable based simply on longevity or titles or job descriptions, you're living in the past. Those peak performers, who are the only ones that matter to your future, will soon be hired away. Not because they're ungrateful or disloyal; because they're not stupid.

 It's the same with (1) businesses you're in that are going sideways, (2) products you're producing that are getting tired and losing market share, or (3) departments where there's no longer the same demand for or the value attributed to the services that they're providing.

 Spending money or other resources to prop these losers up, to keep failing operations afloat until they become someone else's problems, or because you're afraid to shrink them, sell them or shut them down means you're not doing your job, that you're kidding yourself and a lot of other people as well. Things only move all by themselves in one direction: downhill. Face the facts and fix the problems so that you have the funds to invest and bolster the businesses that are healthy and growing. Facts are stubborn things. They don't go away or change because you ignore them - they fester.

 You've got to have a strict set of metrics (rank 'em or yank 'em), a clear view of where the future of the firm is likely to be (winners and losers), and some idea of the path(s) that will get you there. Every good venture investor will tell you the same thing: you starve your losers and feed or double down on your winners. This isn't rocket science. Most of the time, an outsider with even a fraction of the information you have can tell you which of your people are winners and what parts of the business are destined to grow dramatically and which ones are already the walking dead. Of course, if you were being honest with yourself, you'd admit that you also know who and what has to go. You just need to screw up your courage and get the job down.

 And it's at budget time that things really come to a boil because the choices couldn't be clearer or more immediate. Are you really going to fund a flailing business for another year when every metric is headed in the wrong direction because things might get better? Are you really gonna lose a couple of your superstars just because you were afraid to pay them what the market made clear they're worth in order to keep the rest of the team happy? And, worst of all, are the people who once bet on you tiring of the same sad stories and mediocre results and getting ready to put their money and their attention to better and more productive uses elsewhere?


Sunday, December 30, 2018

Truism - Build One

Truism - Bloom

Truism - Future

Truism - Right Time

Truism - Ducks

Truism - Optimism

Truism - Get Away With

Truism - Experts

Truism - Enemies

Truism - Rules

Truism - Democracy

Throwback Video: JDRF Tribute to Glen

Throwback Video: How I Did It - Wells Fargo Series

Throwback Video: Trep Life Series

Throwback Video: 8 Things

Howard Tullman on Entrepreneurs from James Carlson on Vimeo.

Throwback Video - Porsche - Excellence

Porsche - There Is No Substitute - Howard Tullman from MWP on Vimeo.

Throwback Videos: Design - Bretford

Sosnoff Doodles?

Friday, December 28, 2018

Illinois Tech Magazine: Howard Tullman Interview

he phrase “rock-star hire” seems tailor-made for Howard Tullman’s arrival at Illinois Tech, where he serves as executive director of the university’s new Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship. Tullman, 73, has the credentials: he’s a veteran entrepreneur, investor, and academic administrator who spent the last five years leading Chicago tech hub 1871, which in February was named the world’s top business incubator. He also brings plenty of rock-star vibe, gliding around campus in a black Mercedes with a “Howie T” vanity plate and casting a bold vision for the Kaplan Institute’s future. We asked him what drew him to Illinois Tech and about his plans for the Kaplan Institute.

Illinois Tech Magazine: Why did this opportunity appeal to you?
Howard Tullman: There were a couple of things that converged. One, I was constantly having conversations at 1871 with people saying, “If we could only get more diverse technical talent,” and I’m like, “Well, do you know that there’s a tech school 10 minutes south of here on the Red Line that has thousands of engineers and 30 percent of the incoming class are the first in their families to attend college?” Honestly, as a major tech school, it’s been largely invisible to the Chicago business community to a staggering extent.
Two, this particular learning environment is a lot different than 1871 in terms of the focus and the stakes. At 1871, I felt like, if you were a kid from a northern suburb and your parents didn’t have anything better to do with you, they’d send you down to fool around for a year trying to invent a pet-dating site. At Illinois Tech you’re here to get a real set of skills that will turn into a real job. The idea behind the Kaplan Institute is to bolt entrepreneurship training and innovation-technology skills onto a set of technical skills, to really make you a more complete and valuable employee.
Illinois Tech Magazine: It’s interesting that you stress employability, considering that the Kaplan Institute is focused on innovation and entrepreneurship.
Howard Tullman: Well, you’re starting to see more conversations about who is the real customer [of a university]. The truth is, we serve the students, but our customer to an increasing extent is also the employer. You best serve the students by preparing them and helping them get great jobs.
From day one, I said that the Kaplan Institute can’t just be the student union for techies. There are plenty of those. And I think that’s a risk; most universities that have incubators are not sufficiently focused on turning out talented and qualified students who can hit the ground running and immediately help their employers. We don’t do [our students] much long-term good if we give them this wonderful education in a vacuum. If I can’t give you the skills you need for tomorrow and if I can’t get you a serious job upon graduation so that you can support yourself and repay your student debt, then we haven’t prepared you and fully equipped you with the skills you’re going to require not simply for graduation but to go on and build a successful future.
Illinois Tech Magazine: How does entrepreneurial training fit the needs of employers?
Howard Tullman: The big companies just don’t have a clue how to address innovation and rapid change. They just don't have the time, the resources, or the methodology to do six alternative versions of a project and see which one wins. They’re scared to death because if they hire people and launch a bunch of new projects (most of which will fail), then 90 days from now their CFO is going to say, “How’d we do? Did we discover oil? No? Okay, well, fire those people.” When you’re building a space and a program and an interdisciplinary environment like Kaplan, you’re building it to turn out people for jobs that haven’t been invented yet, to use technologies that we’re just now working on, and to address problems that we don’t yet know are going to be problems.
Illinois Tech Magazine: The Kaplan Institute isn’t the first time you’ve been in charge of a sparkling, new, high-tech facility; you had a similar opportunity at 1871 and also when you were leading Kendall College and Tribeca Flashpoint College. How do you approach breaking in a new program in a new space?
Howard Tullman: You have to build a culture and a rigorous discipline that you explain, promote, and enforce consistently. We know that you can explain things to people all day long, but you can’t understand things for them. They have to see it and live it and adopt it and believe it. You can’t talk a culture into changing. It only changes when you take the actions necessary to bring about those critical changes. If you aren’t rigorous and aggressive, the necessary changes won’t happen by themselves. Change isn’t easy and it’s always easier to keep doing things the same old way.
Over time, businesses become the behaviors they tolerate. If we start out at Kaplan and say, “Everybody can do whatever they please and you can have piles of scraps and material spread out everywhere,” then you’ll end up with a mess that sends the wrong message to everyone—students, faculty, supporters and donors, and especially employers. That’s not going to be how it is at KI. Order, organization, control, and discipline are all components of being proud of what you’re doing and paying attention to the details, and it’s absolutely contagious. Our entire team will model the behaviors that drive success and lead by example.
Illinois Tech Magazine: You’re 73. Have you given any thought to the length of your tenure here?
Howard Tullman: If I’m here three to five years, that’s essentially the timeframe that I do almost everything in. That’s enough time to point things in the right direction. 1871 went from zero to number one in the world in five years. I think the Kaplan Institute can be as powerful in its own way as what’s going on at Carnegie Mellon or MIT. We have a window and a unique and special opportunity to really build our story and get on the map.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Tell Your Kids the Truth about Work.

Tell Your Kids the Truth about Work.
You May Work Hard for the Money, but It’s Not Really About the Benjamins.

Executive director, Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship, Illinois Institute of Technology

I’m sure one of your most fervent New Year’s resolutions which you duly and promptly shared on social media was the annual "work less and spend more time with the family" promise - maybe with a kicker this year (thanks to Arianna Huffington’s incessant whining) that you’ll also get more sleep and thereby become a far more effective and infinitely better person overall.  

Every entrepreneur (and anyone else building a business) knows how these things go, especially today when we're all working longer and harder, spending less time with our families and loved ones, and feeling guilty about it. The fact that there are often good reasons for the extra time away or because the jobs we're doing are important, not just to ourselves, but to others as well, doesn't make that discussion any easier or less emotional. The truth is that there's always more work, but you've only got one family.

Very often in our familial conversations about work, we find ourselves explaining and trying to justify our efforts and our absences, especially to our kids. And, unfortunately, for lack of a better or more straightforward explanation, we often seize upon a particularly unfortunate turn of a phrase and a pretty lousy excuse.  We say, in so many different ways and words, that:
            I work to make money to buy you (fill in the blank); or
            I work to make money to provide you with (insert here); or
            I work to make money so we can do or go (destination please).

Sound familiar? Maybe it's a spouse, but most often it's our kids. And just what are we telling them?

We're telling our kids that we work for money -- that money is what matters-- and that money is to buy things, places, people, etc.  That "getting" is really the be-all and the end-all for our work.  And that's too bad. Because it's a lame explanation, a dishonest excuse, and an awful message -- probably the worst message possible. This explanation is quick and easy, and we all fall into this trap from time to time. But we can do better and, frankly, we need to do better because our kids are already drowning in media messages that say -- a million times a day -- that life is all about the bucks.

So, I have a modest suggestion for the next time you find yourself in this particular fix.   Change the context -- change the conversation -- and tell your loved ones the truth (or maybe what we hope the truth should be) whenever we're asked about why we work.  I’d suggest spending a little time thinking about your own answer before the fat's in the fire.

What is the truth?  What's an honest answer? It starts with being honest with yourself. When you're dragging, feeling a little sorry for yourself, can't take another day of work (and it's only Wednesday), and you find yourself mumbling and grumbling to yourself that "we need the money" or "I have no choice" or "I've got bills to pay", you're just kidding yourself just like we've all been kidding our kids for years.

If you don't know why you're working and what you're working for, or you can't think of a good reason to come to work, then do yourself and everyone else a favor and find something else to do. If you’re not interested and at least a little bit excited about what you’re doing -- most of the time -- leave it.

O.K. you say, but what is the right answer when the kids ask, as you're sneaking out the door on Saturday morning to spend the day at the office: "Hey Dad, how come you never come home?"  Or maybe: "Why is work so important all the time, don't we come first?"

The truth and the best answer is that we work for two basic reasons: (A) to make ourselves proud and (B) to help other people. We don't really work for money. We work to be productive and creative. We work to make a difference in our lives and the lives of others. We work because we secure real satisfaction from what we achieve with our hands, our hearts and our minds.

There's no price tag on this stuff. Money isn't even a good way to keep score. Does anyone really think that a rock star's contribution is millions of times more valuable than a teacher's?  That's just more media bullshit. We work to accomplish things that move our lives forward, that matter in meaningful ways, and that we can feel honestly and sincerely good about it.  There's no shame or false pride in that. There's nothing to be embarrassed to tell your kids about. If you love what you do, let them know and pray that someday they'll have a similar experience and privilege.

Is it foolish, or do we sound selfish, if we admit that we work because it makes us feel good and fulfilled?  I don't think so and I think it's a much more constructive, effective, and appropriate answer for everyone -- kids and grownups too. Don't tell your kids you work because you have to, or worse, that you work to buy them Christmas toys or other goodies. We work because work is important and that's what grown-ups do. Your career is something to be unashamedly proud of and to share with your kids and others. We're building things to make the world a better place.

And that's where Part B comes in.  We're not isolated islands and in this thing all by ourselves.  Everything we do or don't do impacts many others -- especially those of us who teach. So, it's just as important to understand, acknowledge and have our kids appreciate that, apart from the selfish motivation of making us feel good, we all work as well for a greater good and to help others by making their lives better and fuller as well as our own. Hard work and commitment is how life moves forward and how the world gets better. A lot of tiny steps by millions of people, a little bit at a time, and mountains move.

And that just leaves the matter of money. What should we say about money? I hope that the message I've shared with my kids is pretty simple. Money, beyond life's necessities, is for charity and for giving back. Money is not an end in itself or a game of running up the score. Money is not a worthwhile goal because there's no finish line and there's always someone with more. At best, it's an enabling and an ennobling tool to make valuable, important, and charitable things happen.

The bottom line: work hard and be proud of the work you do; love what you do or do something else; try to make a difference in this world every day in large and small ways; and use all of your talents, energy and resources to help others to better their lives. And lastly, hug your kids much too much, far too often, and until they squeal.

Have a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018











New INC Blog Post: Family Holidays Can Be Fraught. Here's One Way to Make Them Productive

Family Holidays Can Be Fraught. Here's One Way to Make Them Productive
Rather than settling scores with your siblings, or overeating, use this time to get serious about how you're going to take care of your aging parents, a problem made more difficult by our broken-down healthcare system.

Executive director, Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship, Illinois Institute of Technology

   The holidays are always a very complicated time for families. Most of us look forward to the annual gatherings and grudgingly try to forget the imagined affronts, drunken insults, petty squabbles and painful debacles of the past. I realize that this sounds a lot like most of the office parties we've all recently suffered through. The big difference, though,  is that you can't really bail early when you're stuck at your parents' home for the evening, trying to hide out in your old bedroom and staring at decades-old debate trophies gathering dust on shelves you ineptly installed sometime in the 60s or 70s.

This wave of mass selective memory that carefully edits unfortunate prior episodes blankets the country at this time of year as we try to be of good cheer. It's one of the greatest examples of how fantasy and fiction, along with abundant optimism, continue to triumph over memory and bitter experience. That doesn't include politics, where everything remains a bitter experience.

So, we soldier on each year and hope for the best. Certain delights and dilemmas are recurring. Seeing distant, but not distant enough, relatives once a year is as much a regular December ritual as avoiding Uncle Arnold's questionable creme brûlée, which he serves in an old Folger's coffee can. And don't get me started on Frieda's fruit cake which, if inadvertently dropped, would easily crack concrete never mind the dentures of anyone foolhardy enough to bite the beast.

But these trials and tribulations pale in comparison to the newest and toughest Christmas conversation, which is no fun for anyone. This happens when the brothers and sisters of a certain age who are lucky enough to have living parents gather to have "the talk" about Mom and/or Dad's health, happiness, financial condition, and, most of all, their future care. This is tough because the subject is so difficult to address (with or without your parents in the room) and very timely because we are the very first generation that is discovering in mass that we're going to have to become our parents' parents. Millions of us are going to be required to unexpectedly comfort and care for our parents for many years at the very same time when we're facing the financial challenges of getting our kids into and out of college/grad school and launched into the working world-- so we can keep them from moving back home. Others, a little older, may have thought they were on the cusp of a blissful and stress-free retirement, only to realize that they're about to confront a bundle of new responsibilities.

Caring for our folks for a decade or so may not have been foreseen or properly prepared for and, in some respects, this responsibility is far from fair. But it's a fact today and one which more and more families will need to deal with. And truthfully, most of us aren't prepared for the prospect that our parents are living one misstep away from misery and the near certainty that their care, problems and concerns will then become ours as well.

If this dawning realization wasn't frightening and painful enough, it's compounded by the fact that their trials and tribulations are merely a glimpse into the futures that we too can all expect. All the more reason, by the way, to begin right now being exceedingly nice to your own kids. And to consider three very disturbing lessons that our parents never bothered to share with us; lessons you will learn quickly as you attempt to assist them in navigating their golden, if somewhat tarnished, days.

(1) Hospitals aren't places you go to get well. Get out ASAP.
Hospitals don't make you feel better. They're insensitive and unfeeling factories focused on figuring out how quickly they can get you out the door. The sooner, the better. And actually, that's the only real favor they do for you because the whole process is a game of Russian roulette, where limited, overworked and under-trained staffs try to keep you from getting the newest staph infection before they send you home with a pile of papers, incomprehensible discharge instructions, and a hearty slap on the back.

 Leaving your loved ones at the mercy (hopefully not MRSA) of one of these medical bureaucracies is heartbreaking for all concerned. But there's not much choice, unless you move into their room  and try to act as their advocate.  Needless to say, no one in the hospital likes that notion, in part because you might quickly see that the call buttons are placebos-- no one really comes when you call-- and that, because of severe personnel shortages, there's a new duty nurse almost every day who knows practically nothing about your Mom or Dad. It's not that they don't care -- the good ones clearly do. The problem is that they're just prisoners along with their patients in a system that optimizes everything but caring and curing.

 (2) Insurance "benefits" benefit the insurers, not the insureds.
The "can't-be-bothered" clerks and sloth-like cretins who work for the nation's insurers are similarly mis-incented.  They get paid to first say "No" all day long and hope that (after waiting an hour to speak to an alleged human) you'll take their word for it, so they can get you off the phone.  When you squeal and appeal, you often get paid, but they still make it as slow and painful as possible because they know  time is on their side and that you're probably tired, in pain, and on drugs.  

 And, by the way, they do the same scummy things to your doctors. Some useless creep in Omaha decides what tests and procedures your insurer will pay for and dictates the acceptable diagnoses to the doctor-- not the other way around. Even the best physicians face barriers to helping you get well when these people won't pay for the proper tests to determine what's wrong with you in the first place.  This is the kind of support and these are the "benefits" for which you paid premiums religiously for most of your life. You've become lost in the land of loopholes, shabby excuses, clever clauses, and everything short of the simple truth.  If there's an industry with more scumbags per capita than health insurance, I can't imagine what it would be.

 (3) Social Security is neither social nor secure, but it's unsettling for sure.
 Parents planning to rely on Social Security for much of anything will be shocked to find what a pittance they'll be paid after a lifetime of work and contributions.  Don't think of it so much as a question of imminent insolvency--that will be our kids' concern. Instead, with Social Security the greater insult is to be offered peanuts with a straight face by a bureaucracy and a bunch of useless politicians still set on squandering our financial future while lining their own pockets at the same time.  They don't need to depend on Social Security, so what do they really care?

 Trying to understand what you and your spouse should be paid each month is an invitation to recurring torment, jumbled jargon, and double-talk by people who can't even seem to read the mechanical scripts set in front of them. This mess is made even worse (if that were possible) by an immediate and unstoppable deluge of written notices, indecipherable calculations, after-the-fact adjustments and everything but a simple explanation or an answered phone call. This seems to be a plan to further punish you for the audacity you initially exhibited by being so brash as to ask a question. And the Social Security swamp is only a poor cousin to the utter morass of Medicare or "Mini-care" as we like to call it, since anything of importance to your health and every material cost seems to be mysteriously uncovered.

 So, be forewarned.  This is not a journey to be lightly undertaken or traversed by the faint-of-heart. Nevertheless, it's a journey we will all need to navigate for our parents and thereafter for ourselves and there's no better time than now to get the conversations started.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Attitude adjustment needed by your demanding, miseducated workers

Loop North News

Howard Tullman
Attitude adjustment needed by your demanding, miseducated workers

We are creating a generation of highly-demanding if largely miseducated workers. Taking on this crew means you’ll have to change their attitudes about work before anything else. Or you could let someone else do that first.

23-Dec-18 – By and large, we’re doing a pretty lousy job of preparing our college graduates for the hard knocks and harsh realities that they’re going to face as they leave school.

Unfortunately, too much time and money are being spent by employers remediating the fundamental deficiencies in basic reading, writing, and communication skills of many of these kids when they walk through the doorway for their first grown-up job.
Nor are we teaching them the new collar skills and strategies that they’re going to need to survive and succeed in the future. They’re going to require an entrepreneurial mindset, critical curiosity, team-building talents, design and innovation skills, a commitment to change, and a bias toward action.

These shortcomings are a much bigger problem for startups than they are for established companies because, in a new venture, it’s critical that the newbies hit the ground running. No one else really has the time to hold their hand. In a big business, it can take quite a while before anyone figures out that you suck. That’s one of the reasons that I tell my portfolio companies to focus on hiring well-trained people with a few years of actual experience – especially for technical positions – rather than freshly-minted grads.

And if you steal them from one of the tech giants, that’s even better because they will have a pretty impressive base of knowledge and an appreciation for documentation and process rather than seat-of-the-pants spaghetti code.

But I’m even more worried about the attitudinal problems of the upcomers than about their skills and aptitude.

PxhereAfter all, you can teach a willing student just about anything, but you can’t rewire their heads if they’re starting out from the wrong place.

We must blame their parents just as much as their professors for these problems. Nothing’s tougher today than the rocky transition from the cloistered and comfortable world of college and helicopter parents to the real world and its increasingly unforgiving working environment, where absolutely everything we used to take for granted is going away or already gone. When everyone and everything is under pressure and in a hurry, there’s less and less time to demonstrate what you can do – or could do if you were given the opportunity and some realistic runway.

But these days you rarely get a second chance – or sometimes even half a chance – to make a first impression. It isn’t fair; it is a fact. There may be a shortage of terrific tech talent in some areas but there are also plenty of well-qualified people running right behind you and competing for the best jobs.

Smart employers, especially in rapidly-growing companies, aren’t interested in reasons, rhetoric, or rationalizations. They’re simply looking for swift and sustainable results. You get paid for what you can do, not what you allegedly know.
All this talk about warm and wonderful work environments with the awesome perks is great PR and a decent recruitment tool, but it doesn’t mean a thing when the rubber meets the road. There’s no time to worry about “privilege and politics” when you’re being pounded by problems every day and management is praying for a path to profitability.

No one’s telling these kids the facts of life. Instead, the media insists on painting a rosy picture of how the world just can’t wait to suit their preferences and predilections and to happily attend to their every need to be coddled and cajoled into doing us the great favor of working for us. But that’s only if the work is an exciting experience, a worthwhile adventure, and chock full of plants, pizzas, and other pleasantries. And then only for a while.

No job safe from automation

As a result of this misinformation blitz, there’s a growing gap in the attitudes, abilities, and aspirations of our graduates as they set out to try to make their way in a world of radical and constant change, accelerating automation, and dramatically altered expectations. They’re being primed for a world where automation and new technologies are supposed to enable them to leapfrog over all the dumb and boring jobs right into all the fun stuff.

Since automation is going to eliminate millions of entry-level jobs, we all seem to think that this is a good thing overall because those jobs are supposed to be menial, mindless, and redundant. Let the machines, bots, and robots do those repetitive and rote tasks – which they’re better at than we are – so we can all be free to do interesting, creative, and stimulating new jobs. Sounds great. Sign me up.

But the math doesn’t work. To buy into this BS, you must try your best to ignore the clear numbers, which suggest that the overall reduction in jobs in some industries – retail, call centers, warehousing, manufacturing, trucking – is going to be in the millions.Assembly line robots

We have no idea what all these people, with very few transferable skills, are going to do for the remaining decades of their working lives. Believe me, the gig economy isn’t going to save them. People working for peanuts isn’t a solution to anything.

And don’t take any comfort from the fact that the first jobs to go are blue collar, because the automation, A.I., and machine learning trends will eventually extend into higher and higher skill levels and into the very areas where the new grads aspire to work. We already have robo-financial advisors, tele-medicine bots, and machines that do a better, faster, and more accurate job reading x-rays than any radiologist.

I keep hearing this talk about how the jobs may go away but the work remains and still needs to get done, but I don’t even understand what this means. The truth is that the few relatively low-level jobs that remain ten years from now will be those that need to be done by humans because they’re too menial to waste expensive and intelligent robots on.

Fewer life lessons with loss of entry-level positions

As we eliminate all these entry-level positions, the most critical loss is our ability to quickly graft onto our graduates all the life lessons, social skills, and values that you learn from doing all these crappy jobs in the first place. There’s still a great deal to be said for paying your dues. It’s not about what you’re doing in these early days, it’s all about how you go about doing it that tells everyone else the story.

You discover that every job is important and that each can be done with professionalism and dignity. Filing and sorting isn’t fun, but it teaches you the importance of paying attention to the details and sweating the small stuff. You meet and develop friendships and connections with “friends in low places” and they will be assets and helpful to you for many years after. You quickly learn that the doorman knows a lot more important information about what really goes on in the place than many of the dorks who ignore him every day or treat him like a doormat.

Photo by Steven DahlmanAnd, maybe most of all, when you enter a culture with a serious work ethic and a commitment to quality and caring, these strengths can quickly become your own as well.

You understand and appreciate that you’re not entitled to anything that you don’t work for. That there are no shortcuts worth taking or tricks of the trade to speed your journey to the top.

And that, over time and with a lot of practice and preparation – and after you’ve mastered the preferred way to do things – if you’re lucky, you’ll earn the right to do things your own way.

You can’t learn this stuff by parachuting into the fifth floor and embarking on some make-believe job like head evangelist, chief storyteller, culture curator, or head of heart. You learn it in the trenches along with the behavior boundaries, the surmountable barriers, and the guard rails which will help you to eventually belong, believe, and prosper.

Because, at the end of the day, if you don’t put the time and work into something, you’ll never appreciate what it’s worth.

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