In the final part of the ‘live your life in beta’ series, Conrad looks at how the new evolving you can prosper in business.
So, yesterday we talked all about how the tools we use changed the way we think and how we interact with the world. We also talked about how these tools were constantly changing and how important it to keep up with and innovate using these devices. I also gave a clear example of how we can audit these tools and use them to our best advantage.
In doing so we can continue to change with the rest of the world. We can treat ourselves as exciting unfinished products.
One thing I hinted at was that the world of work was equally affected by these tools. As a result – like us – it too lives in beta whether it wants to or not.
Now it is time to bring the two things – people and work – together.
The world of work in beta
The world of work is affected by technology in two ways, and that gives us two clear opportunities as prospective employees or entrepreneurs. Especially when you live your life in beta.
- Some workplaces are ever-changing and need to update its roster of employees and collaborators with keen up-to-date beta-thinkers.
- Other workplaces are not keeping up with these changes, and will not recognise these changes until it is too late.
If you are a prospective employee or entrepreneur, then number one is simple. You use the techniques I outlined to be as good as you can be. To shine in interviews – or over the phone if you are looking to work with a company as a separate business. You will be able to speak their language, use the latest tools and suggest innovations. They will be open to seeking out gaps in the market, and you will be one of their many strategists. As an entrepreneur, the company will be able to co-direct their strategy in a way that benefits you both. You will bring ideas to the table, and they will call you with suggestions as well. I’ve done this myself in the world of marketing.
Number two is more problematic for the workplace in question, but nevertheless can yield some possibilities for an employee or entrepreneur. First up, if you are forward thinking in a backward-facing company then you may have the chance to really stand out. You will be able to suggest ideas and direction that could save the business. With that comes an elevated standing and a debt of gratitude. As an entrepreneur, you can offer services the business never knew it needed – or maybe had a suspicion it did, but the bosses buried their heads ostrich-style.
Equally, there is the more callous opportunity if you are an entrepreneur – spot the gap a business is not exploiting, exploit it and cut out the business completely. Sometimes a business’s obvious lack of vision is almost a research tool or an inspiration for a project of your own.
Other methods for the beta mindset
Plan, but plan to adapt. Just as you have learned to appreciate, the world changes fast – which is why you have to live your life in beta in the first place. It is still right to have a plan, but you should be ready to adapt it to something else at a moment’s notice. Life has always involved improvisation, but the more interconnected the players become – and the faster technology triggers innovative ideas – the more we have to be ready to play a different piece when the drummer alters the rhythm.
But pepper on some risk. Keep testing out ideas, shaking things up. The great thing about this is that the brain has always craved novelty – so use technology as an excuse to change your work. Become an agent of chaos, a rebel, an outlaw. The alternative is to become slow and stagnant. It’s to lose your creativity in a world where ideas are the new currency.
You and your network
Reid Hoffman is perhaps one of the first people who coined the phrase “live life in beta”, so it’s appropriate to finish with him in order to tie everything up. For Hoffman, the network is a major tool in your growth. And he would know – he is a co-founder of LinkedIn, after all. He talks about looking to help people. It’s not about schmoozing, but being a genuine and valuable part of something, and about making a contribution.
And so we come back to what I asked you to do yesterday. Look at all your social media apps and audit them. Then look at your contacts. If you’re old like me, these will be people you actually know on things like LinkedIn and Facebook. On Twitter they will be people you find interesting. Think about those related to fields you genuinely care about and want to get involved with. How can you help them? How could you get them involved in your own projects? Is there a mutual enterprise the two of you could build?
Now look at the ways in which you communicate with them. What is the best path? Is it a simple phone call? A friendly or funny meme to break the ice or bring back old memories?
Use the technology for what it is worth to you and that person. Don’t manipulate. Help, be honest and be upfront. Bring or offer them something and tell them what it is you are interested in doing.
Final thoughts on the live your life in beta series
That brings my ‘live your life in beta’ series to an end. It feels like I’ve barely scratched the surface. A lot of what I have written about took me well away from the basic innovate/network paradigm, and I think that’s because there is much more to it than that.
I’ll come back to this one no doubt, when I have had some more ideas.
I’ll catch up with you in the next post.