Don’t Become A Career Zombie: How To Survive the Apocalypse

For my last post, I drew on some Halloween inspiration to help you avoid the fate of The Invisible Man in managing your online presence. I promised a second installment to share how a career lesson from the zombie apocalypse of World War Z applies to you. So, read and learn.

Apocalyptic retro poster. Sunset. Grunge background.I love it when I gain perspective from unlikely places! This is probably not so surprising. I’ll bet it’s the same for you.  Yet, for me, the more unlikely the source of insight, the bigger the impact. So, stick with me, and I’ll show you what I mean.

Lately, I’ve been reading, Max Brooks’ World War Z. What’s amazing is that it has offered what I think is a central lesson for career management, today. Yeah, I know. Zombie war? Career management? You’re probably thinking, “Give me a break!” [Tweet This]

Not A Zombie Crisis But An Economic One

Frankly, needing to survive a zombie crisis is highly unlikely. Yet, we have, for several years, been living through economic crisis – with clear impacts on careers. This is not news. Yet, what may surprise you is that this jobs crisis has deep roots. [Tweet This] In fact, writers like Charles Handy and William Bridges, long ago predicted the demise corporate positions. And despite the fact that people continue to pursue full-time spots, Dan Pink has correctly characterized our nation as a free agent one – and it continues to evolve.

So, what does this have in common with surviving a zombie war?

World War Z character Arthur Sinclair, Junior, in describing an effort known as the National Reeducation Act, talks about how careers like executive, analyst, consultant which were viable in the prewar world became totally inadequate in the time of crisis. The world no longer needed people to talk on the phone to broker deals or to review contracts. He then makes an astute observation:

“That’s the way the world works. But one day it doesn’t. No one needs a contract reviewed or a deal brokered. … For some, this was scarier than the living dead.”

By contrast, the people who did well were

“… people who knew how to take care of themselves, how to survive on very little and work with what they had.”

This is as true in our real crisis as it is in Brooks’ fictional one.

Choosing Yourself

While it’s important to have specific strategies, I think this suggests a fundamental capacity for self-direction. Over the years, I’ve tended to think of that as making choices that allow you to own your life. Yet, there is another slant on autonomy that’s offered up by James Altucher who calls characterizes it as choosing yourself.

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Hiding In Plain Sight

The Invisible ManAh, it’s that time of year! You know, beer fests and Halloween. I don’t know about you, but it’s actually Halloween that most fires me up!  Not only is it good fun, but it also offers rich symbolism and abundant metaphor. So much so, it inspired me to write a couple of posts that apply eerie – and even ghoulish – themes to career success.

This first post focuses on avoiding the fate of The Invisible Man in managing your online presence.

Meet Griffin

In the classic novella by H.G. Wells, the main character, Griffin, is a man consumed with his greed for power and fame. As a scientist, he believes that “…if a person’s refractive index is changed to exactly that of air and his body does not absorb or reflect light, then he will be invisible.” Of course, he decides to carry out this procedure on himself. And voilà! He becomes invisible. But there’s one small problem. He can’t reverse the process. This, of course, leads to mental instability and his ultimate death!

Avoid Using Camouflage

Being able to hide oneself does not, of course, require becoming invisible. Actually, the ability to hide in plain sight is built into nature. It’s called camouflage. It’s a protective adaptation that allows organisms to blend in with their surroundings.

Camouflage may provide survival advantages in the wild. Yet, blending in is a huge disadvantage in the world of work. [Tweet This] In fact, if you’re a consumer of career and business advice, you know the emphasis is not on fitting in but on standing out. In today’s competitive world, the thinking goes, you need to discern and leverage your personal brand across a range of media – and especially on line.

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