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Future Proof Your Career - John Fitzgerald
Review by Amanda Scott
Future Proof Your Career by John Fitzgerald, is aimed at professional people working for organisations that are going through change. The author describes his audience as those who feel uncertain about their future – he asks, have you plateaued? Are you too busy to look up? Too stressed in your role? Too afraid to let go? Is it time for you to change direction, be more ambitious for your career, and succeed on your own terms?
This book is also a wake-up call for long-serving professionals – particularly those in their 40s and 50s, who, if they just keep doing what they are doing, think that they will make it to 60. Don’t get caught in "the gap between when you expect to finish working for your employer and when they decide it’s time for you to go, however talented you are."
John Fitzgerald is a high-profile career coach who founded the career consultancy Harmonics in Ireland. Together with Liam Croke, a Personal Financial Advisor, John and his team of associates have been helping professional clients future proof their careers by adopting a model of career innovation called 'My Career – My Business'. His method is based on techniques successful business owners, and serial entrepreneurs are familiar with.
This book will help you to apply the model, but the author is keen to point out that this is not 'a beach body in three weeks' quick fix. It is a process, he says, a proven system that requires time. You will need intention, a growth mindset and most importantly others, for success.
The book is written in three parts.
1. Why change is so hard
In John’s own words “I had become imprisoned by my inability to act (…). My work satisfaction had plummeted, and I had become increasingly reactive to my surroundings, just accepting my lot”. In this section the author introduces the three core functions in his model. They are Research and Development, Operations and Sales, and Marketing, and each perform a role in forging new career paths. Being pro-active in these areas will be antidote to the inertia.
2. What to change to
This headlines how technology is already changing our work and our organisations and who the winners and losers, in the competition for employment will be, in the future. At the end of this section, the book turns the question back on the reader to evaluate their personal current work situation. To stay in control of your career, the author asks, where should you be investing your time?
3. How to change
The final section is about how to explore new possibilities and craft a new direction. The author shares nine future work skills – memorably called ‘C’ skills. Critical thinking and creativity for example, are right at the top and rubber stamped by research from the World Economic forum on future competencies. Added to this are fresh insights about alternative career pathways for organisations with flatter structures. As well as how to get comfortable looking ahead, and with particular reference to the work of career thought leaders such as Lynda Gratton and Carol Dweck. In the final part the author offers specific ideas for people in the ‘second half’ of their careers: "It is not your current job title, salary grade or length of service that will make you valuable in the future. It will be the value of your current skillset in the open marketplace and having a growth mindset that sees change as a natural cycle." For those who are older, he suggested it will be more profitable to focus on three-year projects - to keep current - rather than a single job.
Despite the seriousness of the title, this book is a highly engaging read. The author shares stories of clients he has worked with as well as his own, refreshingly personal career journey. And it is written with the kind of urgency that makes us ask – if businesses can keep re-inventing themselves, why can’t we?
About the reviewer
Amanda Scott is a co-founder of Personal Boardroom, and she is on a mission to help people build the network they need to succeed. She lives in Ireland and works with companies to encourage their people to take responsibility for their careers, to surround themselves with diverse thinking and have impact on their world.
To order Future Proof Your Career, by John Fitzgerald, click here.
A Brain For Business - A Brain for Life
By Shane O'Mara
Behaviour change is hard, but O’Mara shows that by adopting strategies that are well-founded in the science of brain and behaviour individuals and organisations can adapt to the demands of the modern world.
The brain matters in business. The problem is that our brains have many biases, heuristics and predilections that can distort behaviour and decision making. The good news is that we know more about how these work than ever before.
O’Mara’s starting point is that, as our behaviour arises from the structure and function of our brains, careful examination of a series of brain–based (‘neurocognitive’) analyses of common aspects of human behaviour relevant to business and management practice reveals lessons that can be used at work.
He begins by looking at neuroplasticity and how it is enables a shift from a restrictive ‘fixed mindset’ to an enabling ‘growth mindset’. He shows how this changing mindset approach – where the focus is on task and improvements based on effort – is scalable within organisations.
Next, as the brain is a living organ like the heart and lungs, O’Mara shows how to keep it physically in the best possible shape before examining how we exercise control over our behaviour, build resilience and create positive brain states. He also considers the implications for business of our brains wiring for status and illustrates how research shows that it is possible to de-bias assumptions about gender and race – and the impact that this has on performance.
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