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Book Review: Knowledge Nomads and the Nervously Employed by Rich Feller

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Knowledge Nomads and the Nervously Employed: Workplace Change & Courageous Career Choices

by Rich Feller

I had the pleasure to be in a class taught by Rich Feller, a distinguished professor of counseling and career development at Colorado State University.  He’s one of those profs of which people will say, “Oh, did you get to have Feller?” because he is so great at teaching, is passionate, shares so much of himself, has a huge impact on the lives of his students, and is no longer teaching.

I was in a class during his last semester of teaching (lucky me) about career concepts in organizations as part of my masters program focusing on organizational performance and change.  This was one of the books he assigned for our reading.  He wrote it in something like 17 days (granted, it is a relatively small book, but still!) in prep for a presentation he was giving.

This book is a fast and enjoyable read. So enjoyable and “right on” in fact, that I bought an extra copy to have on hand to share with others (“no, you can’t borrow mine, but I do have an extra”).   It provides insight into the changing nature of the employee due to globalization and technology impacts with insights into how schools will need to adapt to better prepare people to survive and thrive in this new global knowledge-focused and technology-driven environment. I recommend this to people who have responsibility for talent pipelines and for individuals who are thoughtful about future employability and viability.

…education must revamp its subject matter and teaching methods so that rigor and relevance are not competing goals. (p 32)

Further, this work offers organizational change agents 12 questions to tangibly measure the organization and it’s employees’ mutual effectiveness. (p 85)

The true democracy, living and growing and inspiriting…will not condemn those whose devotion to principle leads them to unpopular courses, but will reward courage, respect honor, and ultimately recognize right.” – JFK (p 131)

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Are You Wired To Be An Entrepreneur?

May 27, 2010 2 comments

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We’ve all heard “get rich quick” stories of some entrepreneurs and many people have a skewed perspective of what it really means to serve in this capacity.  Can you wear the “Entrepreneur” label?  What type of person makes for a good entrepreneur?  Are there certain aspects of how successful entrepreneurs are wired that could provide insight and provide guidance to potential entrepreneurs?  Following is just a start – it merely scratches the surface:

  • Vision – provides a line of sight for what it is you want to create – you may be capable of tweaking, adjusting, adding to that vision via the influence of others, but you have a clear line of sight.
  • Passion – you must have passion for the product or service that you wish to produce or provide.
  • Persistence – you have to do the work that it takes to move the idea forward past the roadblocks, “no’s”, and struggles.
  • Talent – you must have an understanding of your fundamental talents – what are you good at and what are you not?  This will help you know what you can do and when to recruit some help.

In a Harvard Business Review blog post, Seth Kravitz discusses this topic and presents questions to help determine if you really are ready to be an entrepreneur.  He also talks about the importance for a budding entrepreneur to be able to handle considerable stress – do you have good practices already in place as habits in your life today?  Thanks for the following thought-provoking reality check questions, Seth!

  1. am willing to lose everything.
  2. I embrace failure.
  3. I am always willing to do tedious work.
  4. I can handle watching my dreams fall apart.
  5. Even if I am puking my guts out with the flu and my mother passed away last week, there is nothing that will keep me from being ready to work.
  6. My relationship/marriage is so strong, nothing work-related could ever damage it.
  7. My family doesn’t need an income.
  8. This is a connected world and I don’t need alone time. I want to be reachable 24/7 by my employees, customers, and business partners.
  9. I like instability and I live for uncertainty.
  10. I don’t need a vacation for years at a time.
  11. I accept that not everyone likes my ideas and that it’s quite likely that many of my ideas are garbage.
  12. If I go into business with friends or family, I am okay with losing that relationship forever if things end badly.
  13. I don’t have existing anxiety issues and I handle stress with ease.
  14. I am willing to fire or lay off anyone no matter what — how good of a friend they are, if they are my own sibling, if they just had a baby, if they have worked with me for 20 years, if their spouse also just lost their job, if I know they might end up homeless, if they have cancer but no outside medical insurance, or any other horrible scenario millions of bosses and HR people have faced countless times.
  15. I am okay with being socially cut–off and walking away from my friends when work beckons.
  16. I love naysayers and I won’t explode or give up when a family member, friend, customer, business associate, partner, or anyone for that matter tells me my idea, product, or service is a terrible idea, a waste of time, will never work, or that I must be a moron.
  17. I accept the fact that I can do everything right, can work 70 hours a week for years, can hire all the right people, can arrange amazing business deals, and still lose everything in a flash because of something out of my control.
  18. I accept that I may hire people that are much better at my job than I am and I will get out of their way.
  19. I realize and accept that I am wrong ten times more than I am right.
  20. I am willing to walk away if it doesn’t work out.