You are the Future

Countries are threatening to default; world stock markets are tumbling and every single company is looking to cut costs. At the moment, no-one’s job is safe – unless, of course, you possess the skills that employers are increasingly looking for, even as the threat of a double-dip recession looms.

The University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School have identified two key traits that employees will need if they are to ‘recession proof’ themselves – to become what Dr Jonathan Trevor from the Business School describes as the “one-in-a-million talent.”

The first of these is “the ability to collaborate horizontally, forming coalitions of interest with employees from different departments across the organisation.” Deciphering the jargon, that sounds to me like the ability to work with everyone in the company – focusing on getting the job done as opposed to playing office politics.

And the second key trait? To be innovative. To find new solutions to old problems: to take the company in new directions. To react quickly to changes in technology and the prevailing economy.

These are the qualities that make you a “one-in-a-million” employee. One in a million? Hang on a minute. I know plenty of people who have exactly these qualities. I could make you a list of a dozen – no, two dozen – Board members and potential Board members in and around North Yorkshire who have exactly those two key traits: because they’re precisely the skills you need to run a small business.

So is the purpose of this blog to advise you to give up running your own business? To join the ranks of the safely-employed – where your talents will be appreciated and suitably rewarded?

No. Absolutely not. Besides, as Angela Baron, engagement adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development said, “There’s no such thing as a truly secure position.”

Is that right? I beg to differ. I think there is a ‘truly secure position.’ I think it’s running an expanding small company.

Yes, there may have been times in the past when you’ve wrestled with the cash flow and wondered if it was all worth it: when you enviously looked at your friends in steady, secure jobs with their pensions and mapped-out career paths. Not any more. The boot is on the other foot – or quite possibly, the P45 is in the other hand. This morning there are millions of people – public and private sector – commuting to work and wondering if they’ll start 2012 as an employee or as another depressing statistic. They would change places with you in an instant.

As the old saying goes, the best way to predict the future is to create it. And the way to create it is to be in charge of your own destiny.

Back to Dr. Trevor, who says that anyone who has his two key skills will “have a job for life.” Really? We’ve all seen companies restructure – and get rid of perfectly competent people while the ones who caused the problems magically survive.

No, the way to have a ‘job for life’ is to run a successful small business – and there is a multitude in North Yorkshire. So as it’s party political season, let me finish by saying what the politicians should be saying to small business owners, instead of pretending that the only sector of the economy which matters is the City and/or dreaming up new ways to tax you.

You should be proud. You’re creating your own future and given the chance, you could create the country’s future. In fact, your country needs you now more than it has ever done. So yes, there will be difficult days – but there are millions of people who’d give anything to change places with you. I salute you.



  1. Mat Lazenby · September 30, 2011

    Great post Ed, although I think that if we can create the right environments we can make that 1 in a million talent can be more evenly distributed amongst this new generation of business start ups, sure – some are born with it, and we know it can’t be taught. But set up the right conditions, water, feed and light those minds and we can ‘grow’ ourselves brighter entrepreneurial employees and employers.

    • edreidyork · September 30, 2011

      You’re spot on Mat – there’s so much great young talent out there, and there are plenty of people willing and able to help. Thank for your thoughts!

  2. Andy Gambles · September 30, 2011

    I always laughed at the banks when they try to sell you Payment Protection Insurance.

    Bank: “You could lose your job tomorrow”
    Me: “I think my job is a lot more secure than yours!”

    • edreidyork · September 30, 2011

      Indeed Andy – there’s a certain irony there sometimes!

  3. Lorraine Ives · September 30, 2011

    This is great Ed and reminds us of what we all know deep down, but sometimes the ‘pressures’ of running your own business help to wipe out the positive benefits of being in charge of your own destiny – more calls to arms like this welcome!

  4. nickeggleton · September 30, 2011

    Great piece you’ve put your name on.

    Always was true. Always will be.

    Better to have 10 ‘bosses’ than 1.

    I said the same to a bunch of 16/17 year olds considering the future of work.
    If you want security
    If you want control
    If you want to be in charge of your work / life balance
    If you want more than 28 days holiday a year
    If you want to dress as you want to
    If you want to earn a fair amount for the work and talent you have…

    don’t get a job. make a job.

  5. Pingback: What shall we tell the children « EdReidYork's Blog

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