How to Get to the Future
Recently, I have been asked to give a lecture about the skills that will be demanded in the future. The lecture was for the general audience, mostly students. The idea was to provide some direction for what students should study today in order to be competitive and successful ten-twenty years from now.
Over the last several years, I have given a number of similar lectures. Usually, I would talk about automatization, digitalization, artificial intelligence, formal modelling, and data science. I would talk about extreme global competition and specialization. I would talk about the future potential cooperation and conflicts between humans and robots. All of these issues will require new skills. But acquiring these skills does not guarantee success. Just the last week, a hiring committee of Kyiv School of Economics removed a candidate from a shortlist for a top management position because of a rumor about an ethics violation 13 years ago. Or I know of case of a staff member getting fired from an Ivy League university for a careless post on Facebook.
So, here I will list top 5 types of behaviors that in my opinion can help you get to the future.
1. Do not be afraid
In my experience, Ukrainians are often afraid to think freely, outside of the box. They do not believe that they can become successful, invent a new top world product, or build a new mega corporation. Of course, if a person does not believe that he will succeed, he has already lost in the race called “competition of humans in the 21st century”. However, new inventions, new business practices, successful startup are created by people like you and me. They are essentially genetically identical to us. Perhaps, they have had better education or have more resources. But success requires just one idea. Just one idea during the entire life. The key to success is how you implement this idea. It has to be done very well. If you don’t have a good idea, copy someone else’s and implement it better. There will be failures. But eventually, you will succeed.
2. Be ethical
Integrity and values are critical. In an attempt to becomes successful do not become unethical. Success requires support and resources provided by others. But without trust, there will be no help. In Ukraine, trust is in short supply. Over time, if you establish yourself as a trustworthy person, who keeps her promises, you will gain an advantage over competition.
3. Be patient
Success is a marathon. Yes, you need just one idea and its superb implementation, but one does not become Steve Jobs or Elon Musk overnight. It is a series of small steps that bring you ahead of competition. Many of these steps will be failures. But this is normal.
4. Specialize and become the best
You have to establish yourself to be the best at something. It doesn’t matter what you are best at, as long as you have an audience that would care. Becoming the best at something small is easier, faster. Getting there would require hard work. You should become a workaholic. Ambition and passion would help, but not required. Passion will follow as you become better. Once you prove yourself in something small, you can broaden your reach and venture into new, bigger areas.
5. Build a public profile
Today, perception is reality. Your public profile is your reputation. You have to establish yourself publicly, and so do not delay starting building profiles on modern media. Public reputation will discipline and protect you. It will also you acquire support and resources for implementing your ideas in an efficient way. The early attempts at building public profiles will be painful, at times embarrassing. But remember points 1 and 3 above — don’t be afraid and be patient. You will be judged by how far you go, not by how many times you fell on the way.
Of course, you have to continue to learn and develop yourself throughout your entire life. You cannot afford to stop as the competition will overtake you immediately. In essence, you have to stay intellectually young all your life. In the modern world, we have the luxury of being able to do this.