Episode 68 – Marc interviews Marcia LaReau and Neil Patrick, co-authors of Careermageddon: Cracking the 21st Century Career Code.
Marcia Lareau’s career has included five career changes, including college music professor, software QA analyst, project manager, learning technologist, and corporate trainer. Throughout, she studied employee selection, integration, and evaluation. Her research on hiring practices includes up-to-date trends throughout U.S. industries. After three lay-off experiences, Marcia started Forward Motion with a mission to increase job seeker success, reduce time-to-employment, teach principles of career management. Marcia holds a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University, A Master’s degree from Northwestern University, and a Ph.d. from Ohio State University.
After graduating in business at university, Neil Patrick initially worked for Wilkinson Sword. He then joined Standard Chartered Bank, where he spent the next ten years. From international corporations, Neil just moved to the world of startups. In 1997, he was head-hunted to be marketing director for a U.S. financial business expanding into the UK, FirstPlus from Dallas Texas. The U.S. parent went into Chapter 11 in 1998 but Neil and his Co-Directors saved the company by selling it to Woolwich Building Society, which, within two years, was itself bought by Barclays Bank. By 2005, the picture had become like Groundhog Day. Neil agreed to leave and become a sleeping partner in the firm. He desired a fresh challenge although he had no idea what this would be. This was the start of the third phase of his career. This coincided with the social media revolution. Neil looked at how businesses were using social media, and thought, more often than not, making a mess of it. One of the first things he did was set up a blog, 40PlusCareerGuru. This blog now has over a half-a-million hits. His online profile brought him into contact with small business owners all over the world. These new relationships formed were the basis of his diverse client base.
This is how he and Marcia met and led to joining forces to write the book, Careermageddon: Cracking the 21st Century Career Code. Neil lives in a forest in Wales, which is no sensible place for a marketing consultant to live, but the internet pretty much solves that problem.
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[1:13] Marc gives an overview of the podcast series. The first in the series is an interview with an expert. In this episode, Marc interviews Marcia LaReau and Neil Patrick, co-authors of Careermageddon: Cracking the 21st Century Career Code.
[1:31] Next will be a special interview with Kelsey and Matt Moore, owners of Coolworks, the Mecca of seasonal jobs at places like the U.S. National Park Service and other cool places. Marc is working on interviews with travel bloggers and other exciting guests. If you know any who have repurposed their career, please tell Marc.
[2:03] March episodes may vary a bit, as Marc and his wife leave for Mexico on March 14, for four weeks as they are exploring the possibilities and working on all of the uncertainties. Marc will record four episodes in Ajijic, Mexico.
[2:29] The third in the series is a topic Marc chooses. The last in the series is a Q&A episode.
[2:34] Marc reads the bios for Marcia LaReau and Neil Patrick.
[5:23] Marc welcomes Neil Patrick and Marcia LaReau. Neil spent 15 years in large corporates, then became director of a financial firm that wants to come into Europe, beginning his involvement with business startups. He finally recognized he wanted to work for himself, which he has done for the last 10 years.
[6:30] Marcia is a career bouncer. She started as a professor of music, orchestra conductor and composer. That industry has ‘closed down.” and Marcia had to find a new role. She moved into corporate training, which she calls ‘rehearsal.’ She promoted herself as a project manager based on her experience managing concerts.
[7:18] Marcia found a job as a project manager in the corporate world. Every few years she got laid off, and after a while she got tired of it. In a period of so many layoffs, executives she had worked with came to her asking for help finding a good job. So, she started Forward Motion, 11 years ago.
[7:44] Marcia says, like Neil, she is grateful for all the places she has been and all the people that have helped her learn.
[7:52] Neil and Marcia started thinking about writing a book together based on the quickening pace of change in the world and the lack of mainstream information about managing careers in a changing environment.
[8:43] Neil notes two groups who are affected by changed conditions: Millennials and Boomers. Boomers, due to losses in 2008, are looking to work longer than expected.
[9:11] People between the Boomers and the Millennials are also looking at changes due to the shifting nature of employment contracts and the move to the gig economy.
[9:30] Neil says the book is for everybody who really wants to try and sustain a career and income in a world that is changing incredibly quickly.
[9:52] Marcia explains her reason for writing the book. Her background was in the nonprofit musical performance arts. In 2001, the reinsurance industry died, and with it, support for arts programs. She also recognized that Millennials have low wages, on average. As they will own the workforce for decades, what happens to the tax base?
[10:47] Knowing she couldn’t get to everybody as a consultant to help them plan ahead and even sustain the U.S. economy, she went to writing a book about it. She felt the urgency of helping all demographics prepare for a changing future of limited options.
[11:44] The book is not just to help people today, but to be evergreen, to show how to manage the change, and adapt that change to have continual revenue.
[12:12] Unemployment numbers hide some facts. Some people have three jobs and still can’t make ends meet. Unemployment is down, but so is household income. The book teaches how to understand the revenue stream. Many people are not included in the official 4.1% unemployment figure.
[13:37] In Austin, TX, where the advertised unemployment rate is under 4%, the unemployment rate for over age 50 is actually over 12%. The Atlantic rated Austin as one of the worst places to be old and unemployed.
[14:00] Neil notes that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is much more transparent than the data controlled by the UK Office for National Statistics. In the UK, everyone self-employed is considered employed, even with little or no real income. Levels of income growth in the UK and in the U.S. are incredibly sluggish.
[15:51] Marcia comments on zero-hour contracts. She has a friend who will work from 14 hours in a week to zero hours in a week, and she is counted as employed. This skews the numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
[16:25] Marc talks about Austin’s very bifurcated job market, with a lot of low-end service jobs, and high-end jobs, but not a lot in-between.
[16:53] Automation technology and Artificial Intelligence are eliminating some jobs and generating others. Some people are not aware of skills they have that are applicable. People have to adapt and manage their skill sets and their networks to access the jobs that are and will be available. That is part of the reason for the book.
[18:04] Marcia cites a study that says three out of four jobs today are at risk, in the U.S., from technology that already exists. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other jobs coming through.
[18:20] Neil talks about the gig economy, or the fluid workforce. This is a transition from permanent employment to a large number of relatively short-term engagements. How do people sustain a decent living? Not as an Uber driver. One trend is intermediation, with a middleman between the employer and the worker. It is brokering of work.
[20:10] One of the essential things is for people to figure out how they can engage in the fluid workforce but keep the middleman out so they can negotiate terms and prices and choose what to do and what not to do.
[20:40] The future of jobs is people are going to have to be managers of their own careers and gigs even if they are employed. People are changing jobs every 2.5 to 3.5 years. Above 55 the time at a job is even shorter.
[22:13] Firms used to sustain a domestic workforce. That is rarely true today, as far as manufacturing is concerned.
[23:19] Boomers grew up believing they would stay at a company for their career. Job requirements change so quickly that a five-year plan doesn’t work. People are responsible to update their own skills for the workforce of the future.
[24:19] The company is no longer responsible for your career. Be on the lookout for ways to develop. Keep yourself trained and skilled. It is at your cost to become trained in skills that will not immediately become obsolete.
[25:12] The six engines of change show which jobs are coming up and which are going away. The first three are choices firms are making: globalization/offshoring, technology, and disruptive business models. The second set are changes outside the firms: educational/institutional change, aging demographics, and financial and fiscal policy.
[26:23] Some offshoring is returning to domestic production in both the U.S. and the UK. Some globalization occurs from companies outside the U.S. starting project management groups in the U.S. to help bridge gaps for clients they have in the U.S.
[27:06] At any job you have, make good friends with someone in the IT unit to understand what projects are coming, and what kinds of opportunities will come with them.
[28:16] Disruptive business models replace job-heavy business sectors with job-light organizations. This feeds the shift to the fluid workforce. For example, Uber has completely disrupted the taxi industry but employs just 12,000 globally. Marc notes that Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb are platform companies, not employers.
[30:01] The sooner people stop thinking of themselves as employees, and start thinking about earning a living, the more successful they will be. Marcia finds in her focus groups and Millennial clients that they still want a secure job, not a flexible gig.
[30:51] Some disruption comes from startups replacing other startups. Company A learned to grow your skin in the lab, over three weeks, to graft onto your burns. Company B learned to grow to grow your T-cells that could be sprayed onto your third-degree burns and replace your skin in three days. Company A becomes obsolete.
[32:00] Marc talks about uncertainty that causes lots of stress. Most of us want to know what’s coming. It took Marc 18 months to stop worrying about a paycheck when he started his own business.
[33:25] Millennials were taught they would have a career or job waiting after college. That has disintegrated. They are angry and disenfranchised. Marc says Millennials who graduated before the Great Recession are in better shape than those who graduated after (2009-2013).
[34:29] What are the most important things to understand and do after reading the book? Marcia says, 1. Don’t abandon hope or fear change. 2. Do have a plan and put it into action. Change and manage it as you go each year. 3. Do have a backup plan even if you have a job.
[35:22] Neil says, careers used to be relatively straight-lined and predictable. Everyone now is on a twisting road. Going around corners is easier and less frightening if you know where they are taking you. Neil, Marcia, and Marc are all in the gig economy and make their own way in the world without an employer. Neil will not return to a “job.”
[37:06] Marcia wants every reader not just to have a plan and manage what’s coming ahead but to know how to read the jobs market, understand where jobs are disappearing and where jobs are coming through and that they need to prepare and they know how to prepare and save for their retirement as well.
[37:50] Neil says the subtitle of the book is about cracking the code to career. The code is opaque, and the book provides transparency.
[39:10] Marc highly recommends everyone pick up a copy of Careermageddon: Cracking the 21st Century Career Code. Marc adds that everyone from his online community tells him they want freedom to work when, where, and how they want.
[41:46] Check back next week when Marc interviews Kelsey and Matt Moore, owners of CoolWorks.com.
Mentioned in This Episode:
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