7 Techniques to Future-Proof Your Career in the Age of AI
Increase Your Income Potential
Future-Proof Your Career and Increase Your Income
Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly becoming integral to modern work and is here to stay. ChatGPT4, Dali, and other cutting-edge AI engines are leading significant advancements in diverse fields, from transportation to healthcare to finance.
Powerful new AI-based tools and increasingly rapid progress will only speed up the necessity to adopt emergent tools and technologies if one is to remain relevant and able to demand a premium price for services.
On the podcast "The AI Breakdown" (June 26, 2023), Emerson Spartz compares ChatGPT4 to a human that has read every book ever published AND absorbed all the information available on the internet. Consider that ChatGPT4 is built upon the knowledge of every book written on persuasion, all of Machiavelli's works, and has read millions of conversations where people were trying to persuade each other.
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The element left to human innovation is real-time problem-solving on the fly with random variables, including those influenced by emotion and free will.
In light of the human element, in this post, we discuss seven strategies to future-proof your career in the age of AI and increase your income.
Strategy 1: Be the Chief Operating Officer of Your Destiny
The world has sped up. The 'googleization' of information has put encyclopedic knowledge at our fingertips and concurrently commoditized the price of previously proprietary information. This phenomenon is now almost passe as artificial intelligence and machine learning expand the logic stack of simple, one-dimensional information.
Think of it this way, consider a dictionary and the result of looking up the definition of a word. Add to that definition an example, such as using the word in a sentence in context. Then use a thesaurus and examine substitutes and additional levels of context. Review the root of the original word and reexamine the context and usage. This exercise is akin to moving from googleization1 to AI-driven work and research.
The downside to ease of access to information and the addition of logic is the degradation in the price paid for generic data. The corollary is the commoditization of work and services performed.
Downward pressure on wages and rates for areas of labor and work product is the price of progress. Therefore, to differentiate oneself and the value of your output, I suggest incorporating these seven strategies to become the COO of your career and gain control over the price of your labor.
Strategy 2: Become a Generalist and A Specialist
Go broad and deep; this is not contradictory advice.
As AI becomes ubiquitous, becoming a generalist AND a specialist is crucial.
Strive to learn a little about multiple functional areas while constantly honing your core functional knowledge base.
If you have traditionally been a finance person, develop a top-down understanding of multiple new areas, such as marketing, data analysis, and project management, as well as the qualitative skills of interpersonal relations, management of people, and team-based, remote work.
If you have traditionally worked in marketing, do the reverse and add finance and data analysis elements. You get the idea!
This is future-proofing and will increase the relative value of your skills in an ever-increasing competitive environment for labor, services, and intellectual capital.
Strategy 3: Embrace Remote Work
Remote work has taken hold and, just like AI, has changed the landscape of work and is here to stay. Embracing the change is a necessary step in future-proofing your career. Untethering from the office to create the possibility of working from anywhere in the world presents new opportunities and options to increase your income.
However, it's essential to recognize that remote work requires different skills, habits, and expectations than traditional office-based work.
Forbes Advisor (June 12, 2023) states that nearly 13% of the U.S. workforce now engages from home and 28% work within a hybrid model. The postulate that by 2025, 32.6 million Americans (22% of the workforce) will be working from home.
Strategy 4: Focus on Creativity
AI can automate many tasks, but it cannot replace human creativity. Focusing on creativity can help you stand out in a crowded job market and increase your income. Develop skills in areas such as graphic design, content creation, video and podcast production. In essence, develop expertise in areas difficult for a machine to master.
Become generally familiar with, and establish a working knowledge of tools such as Canva, Zoom, Zapier, HubSpot, Slack, DocuSign, ChatGPT, DropBox, Google Drive, RiversideFM, and Descript. Again, you get the picture!
Strategy 5: Develop your Personal Brand
This is not meant in the context of becoming an Instagram influencer. Think of developing your personal brand as the 2023 version of a resume. A sometimes live, almost always digital representation of you. It's a multi-dimensional look at you and a combination of LinkedIn, perhaps a personal and professional website, Zoom interactions, and any other elements that display your many facets.
Strategy 6: Integrate Continuous Learning
An essential strategy to future-proof your career is to embrace continuous learning. With AI changing how we labor, it is crucial to have a working knowledge of the latest developments and be aware of emerging trends in your field. Enhance your skills and be prepared to demonstrate your expertise and value add to potential customers and employers.
Remember, the googleization of information and the commoditization of ever more skills has decreased the prices paid. Therefore, continuing to add to your knowledge base increases your value. Think of yourself as a diamond with many properly sized and placed facets; more is better.
Strategy 7: Allocate time to Critical Thinking and Don't Neglect the Soft Skills
Dedicate time to hone your critical thinking prowess. This skill, more than any other, when combined with qualitative skills, is the cornerstone differentiator between human thought and machine-based, algorithmic output.
While AI can automate many tasks, it cannot replace the soft skills of communication, collaboration, and critical thinking.
Developing these skills will help you stand out in a crowded job market and increase your long-term income potential. It's a combination of defense of the value of your core knowledge and offense in the addition of new skills.
With AI changing how we labor, it is crucial to have a working knowledge of the latest developments and be aware of emerging trends in your field. Enhance your skills and be prepared to demonstrate your expertise and value add to potential clients and employers. Remember, the googleization of information and the commoditization of ever more skills has decreased the prices paid. Therefore, continuing to add to your knowledge base increases your value.
Artificial intelligence tools and technology are here and will continue to improve at perhaps exponential rates. A fear-based attitude to progress will not aid in the future-proofing of your career nor increase your future income potential.
A proactive approach to change, which includes the 7 strategies outlined above provide a sustainable, value-adding path to career longevity and reinvention even as ChatGPT-4 and other AI technologies advance.
I leave you with these references as food for thought:
Cade Metz, NYTimes technology reporter and author of Genius Makers - The Mavericks Who Brought AI to Google, Facebook, and the World (2021) told Terry Gross of the program Fresh Air (July 8, 2023), "ChatGpt can not destroy the world. Full Stop. These fears are hypothetical".
John McCarthy, whom many cite as the father of AI, warned in 1979, "We need to be careful because if we don't, we might end up with an AI that is smarter than us." He continued, "AI is not a panacea. It can be a tool for good or ill, and we need to make sure we are using it in a responsible way."
In 2011, Mark Andreessen said, "Software is eating the world," and it is up to us to adapt to this change.
This article first appeared on LinkedIn.
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Googleized: Googleization (to googleize) is the process of data addition to the Google database; transparency and access to information increase as data acquisition costs approach zero. The term's first use is credited (2003) to John Battelle and Alex Salkever. I modify the definition only slightly to add: When private or proprietary information becomes readily available without friction, such information and data sets are "cheap," i.e., inexpensive to acquire.