Monday, July 12, 2010

First, Become very good. Amass Career Capital

Just one last post about Cal Newport's article.

Until I started thinking about Newport's post, I really believed that anyone could opt for early retirement. That everyone could do it if they chose to make a few sacrifices.

Sure, they would have to give up some luxuries and lower their standard of living, but they could do it. (I still feel that those who give up ancillary creature comforts, in order to buy themselves time get the better end of the bargain.)

But Cal Newport's post made me change my mind about everyone qualifying. He says that the prerequisite is that "you become so good at something that [the hiring market] can't ignore you." Newport calls it amassing 'career capital.'
"Mastering something rare and valuable remains the necessary first step."
So why did I not see this before? I think there are two reasons for my blind spot. One, I happen to have educational degrees and a technical background that I feel I can fall back on. Two, all the people I interact with have MBA's or graduate degrees in technical fields and are highly marketable. This safety net is so pervasive in my circles that I was simply taking it for granted.

Lesson: So here's the lesson for those who are planning on taking a break, a sabbatical, or wishing to try other things. Be sure that you are trained in something that will be valued 3 to 5 years from the time you quit. Get some hard skill or vocational certification. Typically, most employers will agree to pay for training classes if it will help your immediate work, make you more productive. Don't skip going to these training sessions, and don’t opt for soft and easy courses. Good planners think about the safety net even as they are preparing for the jump.

One thing is very clear. The marketplace doesn’t seem to value generalists much. Those who claim that they can do everything are viewed as those who excel at nothing.

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