August 4, 2016 fm

Are You A Survivor?


In 2001, Destiny’s Child smashed the billboard charts with their smash hit Survivor. I was 28 years old and Survivor was one of the club hits that year. I can still smell the disco smoke when I think of all those young souls jumping around, all of them wanting to survive.

The chorus of the song says,

I’m a survivor 
I’m not gon’ give up 
I’m not gon’ stop
I’m gon’ work harder 
I’m a survivor 
I’m gonna make it 
I will survive 
Keep on survivin’.

The question is, are you a survivor?

Will you survive as part of the human workforce in the age of automation? Do you think your job profile can fight back the tsunami of automation? Are you convinced that your skills can never be replaced by a machine?

Read this article from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Apparently, this time, the current work-related revolution we’re facing is different from other revolutions before. Take the industrial revolution. Afterwards, there were more jobs than before. The industrial revolution gave birth to many new job profiles. But this time? With internet of things? With almost everything being automated in the future?

Wait a minute… Is it really everything? Yes, I can turn a car into a self driving car. Yes, I can replace warehousemen by androids. And yes, my friends from FinLeap can even automate the work of an insurance guy – with an app.  In the end, we can automate anything that can be translated into an algorithm.

But – what about human communication? Is there an algorithm for human communication? Not even the super android Data from Star Track – The Next Generation could cope with the complexity of feelings and emotions combined with a maze of paradoxical logic. My friend Michael Kalkowski, serial online entrepreneur and digital nomad, once said to me, The star of the 21st century will be the communicator.

So – what about communication?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a unit of the United States Department of Labor, has defined five growth areas for jobs till the year 2025:

  • Technology and Computational Thinking (e.g. software developers, market research analysts, marketing specialist jobs)
  • Caregiving (e.g. medical technicians, physical therapists, workplace ergonomics experts)
  • Social Intelligence and New Media Literacy (e.g. retail and other sales representatives, marketing specialists, customer service representatives)
  • Lifelong Learning (e.g. teachers and trainers)
  • Adaptability and Business Acumen (e.g. management analysts, accountants and auditors)

What do all these growth areas have in common? You need excellent communication skills. Not even software developers can live without communication skills in an agile world.

The logical conclusion: Whatever your skill set looks like today, whatever your job description says today, whatever salary you’re paid today – you better become an excellent communicator tomorrow!

An excellent communicator knows how to inform, entertain, persuade and inspire others. Here are three platforms you can use to become such a communicator:

Play a game

Gamification is a huge trend in corporate trainings around the world. We learn through playing. We did it when we were young, our children do it, McKinsey management consultants… Well, OK, not everyone wants to learn.

My friend and business partner John Zimmer and I developed a game for public speaking (available as both classic board game version and app). Playing Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game™  you’ll boost your communication skills in a fun and entertaining way. I play it with strangers on planes; I play it with friends at dinner parties, I even play it with my 9-year-old son.

Screenshot of the RHETORIC game app

Attend trainings

The most obvious way to improve a skill is through trainings. The tricky part is to find that needle in the haystack. The trainer is that needle.

Throughout the years, I’ve made friends and collaborated with a series of fantastic communication coaches. All these people are passionate about powerful public speaking and communication in general. Call me and we find that needle for you.

Join Toastmasters

In my own trainings I always say the same thing. A two-day training is like a big pizza of learning. It’s delicious, it’s luscious and you love every single bite of it. And then… it’s gone. After six hours you’re hungry again. But… no pizza left. Frustration.

Toastmasters International is like small, little tapas. Every other week you enjoy a new tapa. You never get too full, you always stay hungry, and… boring? No way!

Trainings have a big, but short-term impact. With Toastmaster meetings it’s the other way round. Trainings and Toastmaster meetings are complementary like chili and carne.

Now what?

You can play games to improve your communication skills. You can attend trainings to improve your communication skills. You can join a Toastmasters club to improve your communication skills.

What you cannot do is do nothing. Automation is a tsunami. The water is gone already. Now we’re waiting for the wave. Do you want to ride that wave? Do you want to be a survivor?

You know what to do.

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