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Friday, January 8, 2010

Gen X: Branching Out

To celebrate the launch of this New Year, 2010, this week I will review What’s Next, Gen X? (Tamara Erickson, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2010). This is the SEVENTH Post:

Branching Out. The author explores alternative workplaces and portfolio careers. She describes three alternative work setting for X’ers who by their nature want more control over their own destiny as well as express their creativity, while tending to family demands:

1. The Alternative Workplace: X’ers can move down to a smaller company and take on a larger role—from a manager of a large company to the COO of a smaller one. This also can offer an equity position for the X’er. Another alternative is for X’ers to work on an independent contractor basis that also provides, “autonomy, flexibility, and freedom from corporation lockstep.”

2. The Entrepreneurial Path: the author quotes Thomas Malone, a professor at MIT who predicts a golden age for the entrepreneur, while offering a cautionary note that only 1 in 10 succeed. To mitigate this statistic, the author recommends: a good idea, a good plan, tangible resources (right skills and the money to back them up), and intangible support (a great network and advisors).

3. Portfolio Careers: Keeping several back up options, like taking on a side job in addition to your day job! This approach can provide the groundwork for a future career change…a hedge against the entrepreneur failure rate, as it were. The author warns in this arena: Don’t take on more than you can be very successful at, make sure your day job and the outside work have complementary “crunch” periods so you’re not doing too much crunching at the same time, build in contingency time…in case, and as in the entrepreneurial endeavor—plan well, do market research, enlist advisers and the like.

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