Jacksonville, Florida is a microcosm of a world that’s changing around us. Empty buildings stand as ghostly reminders of a busy past. In a few cases, these structures were built as far back as the dawn of the 20th Century. For years, they’ve stood as hollow shells of businesses that once bustled with activity and life. A few years ago, I looked inside one of these architectural relics and the only thing I saw was a nest of pigeons. In other cases, however, businesses recently closed due to the latest recession.
One cause of our economic misery is technological innovation. Automation has enabled companies to cut down tremendous amounts of backlog while significantly reducing overhead. Of course, that means they laid off workers by the thousands never to rehire them. As with all things, technology is a two-edged sword. We can either let it hack us to death, or we can wield it to carve new roles and groundbreaking opportunities for ourselves.
Today, I’ll discuss two opportunities. One of them is self publication. This opportunity doesn’t just apply to writing books. It applies to almost any creative or technical thing you do. It is no longer necessary to submit your work to a publisher. This is one of many ways the Internet and digitization have leveled the playing field. Seem too simple? Lots of people are doing it.
For example, people are publishing music on their own and keeping the profits. They’re also writing every genre of literature, and adding to their bottom line. A lot of it is drivel, but that’s not a new development. Moreover, it represents an additional opportunity for freelance editors and writing consultants to assist with tools that make them more productive and profitable.
Similarly, it’s getting easier to program applications. In fact, it’s so much easier that it’s quickly becoming accessible to the public with inexpensive tools. This used to be the exclusive domain of highly trained specialists. No longer! All you need is the idea, and these tools will do most of the work for you. In a few more years, we’ll see many more tools that will transform our ideas into profitable applications without hiring teams of developers.
On the other hand, developers can enhance their careers by transforming their knowledge, skills and experience into marketable services. For example, they can become consultants for those who need quick advice in developing their ground-breaking applications and businesses or they can create code for specialized functions not covered by the standard functions of these new applications.
Progress is unavoidable, but you don’t have to let it destroy your future. As long as you can imagine the possibilities, you can reinvent yourself in a multitude of ways. As I look at those empty buildings in Jacksonville, I don’t see rubble. I see new opportunities to rejuvenate and transform them into future hubs of innovation. That’s what I hope you’ll see as a result of reading this note: an opportunity to reinvent yourself for the future.