Identity Beacon

Illuminating Possibilities

Identity Beacon - Illuminating Possibilities

What is a person for (anymore)?

… Maybe that’s an over-statement, but it holds some truth. In the words of one CEO, The Times article continues: “You don’t have to train machines.”
In many ways, the seismic shift we’re seeing in the jobs economy towards more highly skilled workers calls for people—especially, the  unemployed and underemployed—to clarify, and promote, how they can make a contribution that will be distinctive and relevant to an employer.

This is a challenge of personal differentiation.

Personal differentiation may include more training in one’s current trade or profession, or even training in new fields. But it also depends heavily on something closer to home: Getting a clear handle on one’s identity as the source of their value-creating potential—and then determining where these powerful capacities can be best applied, to everyone’s benefit.

Promoting who you are, not just what you can do isn’t a conventional resume item. Yet, blending identity information into one’s work history and goals can transform the impact of a resume, in ways that help you stand out from the proverbial crowd.This may be cold comfort for people who have been blinded by chronic unemployment, and who are slowly melting into the background, but it is nonetheless true.

So… Is our new jobs economy killing people in the name of productivity? Such inexcusable irony.

You don’t have to take a life to kill a soul.

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Flickr photo courtesy of H. Kopp Delaney 

Post By Larry Ackerman (69 Posts)

I’m the author of two groundbreaking books on identity. The first is Identity Is Destiny: Leadership and the Roots of Value Creation. It’s for leaders – and those aspiring to lead – who want new and innovative insights into what accounts for success over the long term. The other book is The Identity Code: The 8 Essential Questions for Finding Your Purpose and Place in the World. This work is for individuals who want to live more fulfilling, meaningful, productive lives. Bottom line: I help companies and individuals realize that they’ll be much more successful being themselves than acting like somebody else. In short, I help my clients find their true identity. When you find it, you have no competition. NOBODY can beat you at being you – especially if you consistently reinterpret your identity in ways that keep you fresh and relevant to the world around you.

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  • Lynn Moore says:

    I think what disturbs me most is that I consider myself a lifelong activist but unfortunately the unemployed and underemployed have no real representation and are bound by depression and shame.

    Consider even more auspicious news from the NY Times opt-ed article The Start-Up of You by THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN:

    “Look at the news these days from the most dynamic sector of the U.S. economy — Silicon Valley. Facebook is now valued near $100 billion, Twitter at $8 billion, Groupon at $30 billion, Zynga at $20 billion and LinkedIn at $8 billion. These are the fastest-growing Internet/social networking companies in the world, and here’s what’s scary: You could easily fit all their employees together into the 20,000 seats in Madison Square Garden, and still have room for grandma. They just don’t employ a lot of people, relative to their valuations, and while they’re all hiring today, they are largely looking for talented engineers.”

    And, according to Friedman, now we’ll need to revolutionize ourselves every quarter:

    “Today’s college grads need to be aware that the rising trend in Silicon Valley is to evaluate employees every quarter, not annually. Because the merger of globalization and the I.T. revolution means new products are being phased in and out so fast that companies cannot afford to wait until the end of the year to figure out whether a team leader is doing a good job.”

    Link:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/13/opinion/13friedman.html?_r=1

    July 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm
  • Mary Key says:

    Larry – great thoughts – the need to feel that one’s live is purposeful is directly tied to what you are observing. Around the world there are millions that want to feel valued and part of something larger, only to be told they aren’t needed. Excellent writing and clarity!

    November 3, 2011 at 7:55 pm
  • Neil Gluckin says:

    It’s a good insight, Larry, and a troubling one. Just because something (or someone) can be mechanized doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, but the “capital” economy you describe offers apparent rewards to those who eliminate the variable cost of human capital (awful term) with the reliable cost of machine capital. The soaring popularity of farmers’s markets, local food and agrotourism, to name a few, offer some hope that sooner or later, either consumers will start to demand products and services made and delivered by humans, or the rising costs of our petroleum-based economy will.

    November 3, 2011 at 7:56 pm
  • Gerald Sindell says:

    I think you’ve nailed it in a number of ways. There has always been a danger that America (the rich America) would prevail in this notion that it just didn’t need the bottom 10 or 15%, or that it could tolerate 60 million people without health insurance. If you’re running a trans national firm you tend to pay less attention to local problems. All of the US car companies will soon be selling more in China than they do here.

    I’m afraid that we’re living in a failed state — that the promise of America has been fulfilled about as far as it’s going to go.

    Parts of it, though, are still nice to visit. Just wouldn’t want to live there…

    November 3, 2011 at 7:57 pm
  • Mark Avery says:

    Good question: why do we need people?
    I think when the job is highly structured, stable and predictable… buy a machine. Frankly, I would rather buy a washing machine than hire someone to hand wash my clothes.
    However,the rest is a human-dependent effort. People innovate, they notice what is happening in the marketplace and respond strategically. It is a knowledge economy, and employees who are engaged in a position that allows them to live out who they are in what they do will always outpace a machine-dependent company. To me, machines are a way of extending my own capacity, reaching past my own limitations… and I regularly replace them.

    Re: Mr. Sindell’s comment, I acknowledge the problems of America today– its a nightmare. I also consciously choose not to give up my aspirations for America. America is essentially an idea, a thought pattern about how the world could work. I think what we’ve lost is our value base, not the promise. that is a part of our identity as a nation that founds our promise.
    To integrate Larry’s question here, What is an American for?

    November 3, 2011 at 7:58 pm
  • Kenneth Cooke says:

    The key here is loss of empathy (not that corporate world had much to begin with). How else can you explain the massive wealth accumulation while at the same time also saying there should be no safety net. Having been in Tanzania and observed the Hadza people, you must know that in their culture everything is shared equally, regardless of the significance of contribution. Many will say this is communism—but sharing benefits the whole tribe as the tribe is only as strong as the communal whole.

    Corporations say one thing and yet continually do another. Out sourcing, off shoring, low wages, less than safe working conditions and blatant disregard for environmental safeguards are the order of the day—and we are the less for it—in the short run and definitely in the long run.

    Time and again we both have seen corporations who we worked hard to inform about how identity can drive success throw out our findings and programs because of: a change of management, a failure to grasp the significance of our work in the first place, jumping on a new campaign because it’s “new”, just plain opportunism or worse.

    As you pointed out, this lack of reverence for the worker has been going on for a long time as evidenced by Ford’s comment. But over the years it has been held in relative check and even seemed to be changing. Corporations found that it was more difficult to “hide” and mask their intensions as the internet gained power. But, as we see all around us, this has not turned out to be the case. Virtually every institution we have depended on for “doing the right thing” is simply not doing the right thing and seems indifferent to the plight of others—be it lopping off the top of mountains, the improper foreclosure of homes or not addressing the moral outrage and morale of the average American.

    i have always championed your approach to identity. It makes sense, on both a corporate and personal level. But it requires a level of empathy and insight that seems to be rapidly fading or is simply non-existent. I hope for the best but fear for the worst.

    November 3, 2011 at 7:58 pm
  • Lynn Moore says:

    I think what disturbs me most is that I consider myself a lifelong activist but unfortunately the unemployed and underemployed have no real representation and are bound by depression and shame.
    Consider even more auspicious news from the NY Times opt-ed article The Start-Up of You by THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN:
    “Look at the news these days from the most dynamic sector of the U.S. economy — Silicon Valley. Facebook is now valued near $100 billion, Twitter at $8 billion, Groupon at $30 billion, Zynga at $20 billion and LinkedIn at $8 billion. These are the fastest-growing Internet/social networking companies in the world, and here’s what’s scary: You could easily fit all their employees together into the 20,000 seats in Madison Square Garden, and still have room for grandma. They just don’t employ a lot of people, relative to their valuations, and while they’re all hiring today, they are largely looking for talented engineers.”
    And, according to Friedman, now we all need to revolutionize ourselves every quarter:
    “Today’s college grads need to be aware that the rising trend in Silicon Valley is to evaluate employees every quarter, not annually. Because the merger of globalization and the I.T. revolution means new products are being phased in and out so fast that companies cannot afford to wait until the end of the year to figure out whether a team leader is doing a good job.”

    November 3, 2011 at 7:59 pm
  • Lynn Moore says:

    Meant to include link to article:

    The Start-Up of You
    By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/13/opinion/13friedman.html?_r=1

    November 3, 2011 at 8:00 pm
  • Gregory Stromberg says:

    Lets face it, that the 2 most important assets in any organization are your customers and your employees. If treated fairly by creating net value and wow experiences for both you have a winning formula. “value given for value received” Exploit or treat either one unfairly and you lose. You lose in so many ways it isn’t funny. Today, we are all interconnected realtime and with social networks no one escapes bad deeds or poor choices. What does your story look like in todays social network news?

    November 3, 2011 at 8:04 pm
  • Morty says:

    The whole man vs. machine dates back quite a while. The fable of John Henry etc. If society were equitable then this would not be much of an issue. These days some like 3% of the population produce the food for all the rest. We have more than enough housing – enough that foreclosed homes sit vacant in the shadow inventory of the banks and they halt construction or even torn down new construction to avoid taxes. It isn’t about getting jobs – people should have to work less we have houses, we have food – the rest is mostly luxury. However we have a system doesn’t share these basic things equitably.

    But it also isn’t about machines – most things manufactured are still hand assembled and still made by people because it cheapest to do that way. The problem is that normal people have to compete with what is in essence slave labor. We make thing by hand in China because the people there get paid pennies. The government and large corporations have now even figured out how to outsource job that can’t be sent overseas. Go to Burger King, the employees are working on J1 visa and being paid a fraction of minimum wage. Not just fast food, but many large hotel chains and factories (see recent articles about protests at Hersey’s). American workers can’t even get that McJob.

    November 3, 2011 at 8:04 pm

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