Are you agile enough to reinvent yourself?

The death of newspaper reporters (and other irrelevant careers)


I prided myself in high school for being one of the few teens who knew exactly what I wanted to do—be a newspaper reporter. I was very set on this direction and was positive this is what I would do until I retired.

I prepared myself by writing articles for my school newspaper, working as a copy editor on the school yearbook and even getting to be a guest writer in the Star Tribune newspaper. I was well on my way to success and nothing could stop me now!

After high school, I graduated from the University of Minnesota’s “J-School”, one of the most popular Journalism programs in the Midwest and the Alma Mater to many of the local celebrity TV anchors and newspaper reporters.

I believed that with “J-School” on my resume and passing typing class, I was set for life. After all, my parents always told me, “Get a college degree, get a good job and you will be set for life.”

I don’t think my parents were misguiding me in any way, it’s just that that advice was for their generation of Baby Boomers, not mine of Generation X.

What I didn’t know and the world didn’t know when I graduated high school in 1992 is that just a few short years away we would learn of this thing called the Internet. And this tiny little invention, or fad as some thought it was a the time, changed everything.

Fast forward 25 years and how many of you would advise your kid to go to school to be a newspaper reporter? Sh*t, that career is dead. 

After I graduated college, in 1996, I never really became a newspaper reporter (although I did briefly as a freelancer years later). Not because I didn’t want to, but because there was always another opportunity in front of me. Instead, I became many, many other things.

“Later in life as an agilist, I realized that being agile (not knowing agile processes) gave me the skills to reinvent myself, and how valuable these skills are to my career existence.”

Later in life as an agilist, I realized that being agile (not knowing agile processes) gave me the skills to reinvent myself, and how valuable these skills are to my career existence.

Here are a few ways that you too can use your agile mindset to reinvent yourself:

Plan to have many careers
Acknowledge and accept that it’s okay to have more than one career (or two or three or 20).

Keep learning
Thrive on trying and learning new things. When you stop learning, you stop living. Just because you’ve graduated college doesn’t mean your done learning – in fact, your journey is just beginning.

Take risks
Take opportunities just outside your comfort zone. Staying only with what you know is actually a bigger risk; being well-rounded in your skill set allows you to position yourself based on market demands.

Have T-shaped skills
We talk about having T-shaped skills to be on an agile team, meaning you have your core strength and two other skills you can contribute to the team. Why not use that mindset outside of the team? Think about your top three skills. Are they in demand? If not, which similar skills can you learn to stay relevant?

As the world changes, you must be agile and adapt. Inspect and adapt your world, yourself and everything around you. Only then will you survive in this crazy, unpredictable and fast-paced world.



Learn 4 easy ways to live your life with agility (and bounce back from life’s lemons)

lemon-eyes (1)This article is not about how to do agile – it’s about how to be agile. Not just how to be agile at work, but how to be agile in life.

While understanding the many methods and processes around agile is needed to work on an agile team, if you only understand this part of agility, you’re missing the big picture and you’re really doing your clients a disservice.

In other words, you can understand by the book how to hold a retrospective, but if you don’t actually do any inspecting and adapting in your own life, you’re not fully embracing the concept (or the benefit) around agile.

Agile by definition is about being flexible, being quick to adapt and responding to a changing world. The meaning often gets lost and we get too focused on story points, user stories, sprint planning and the other processes and tools that go with agile. While those are all very important, sometimes they take us away from the core of what agile is all about.

Living life with agility is about learning to thrive in an ever-changing world. Its about adapting quickly when you lose a job, a business deal, a friendship or a marriage. It’s knowing where you are going on your journey in life (like a road-map), but being able to react quickly when things change (and they always do).

My husband recently shared this quote that keeps sticking in my mind, “I have a five year plan that changes daily.” 

“I have a five year plan that changes daily.”

This really resonated with me. I am definitely a planner, but the more that I learned that life doesn’t go by a plan and that I need to have the necessary skills to change gears by whatever life throws at me the more agile I became. And the more agile I became, the quicker I have been able to get up when I get knocked down. And trust me, I have been knocked down a lot.

Here are 4 easy ways that you can incorporate agility into your life:

  1. Create a personal road-map
    Write down your goals in life (or for the next 6 months to five years). Put sticky notes up with some things you will do each month to reach your goals. Every day, re-assess your plan.
  2. Understand your core competencies
    Jobs come and go. Even careers come and go. I went to school to be a newspaper reporter. Who would have known in 1992 that the Internet would take over? What doesn’t usually change, however, is your core skill-set. Always understand what that is and look for future opportunities where your skills may be applicable.
  3. Study market trends
    While no one can predict the future, we can get a pretty good idea by following trends in business, the economy and in our own profession. Read articles and stay informed. Only when you know what may come, can you figure out which direction to go next. You are your own product, and you are the product owner of your brand. Only when you understand your marketplace, can you make informed decisions.
  4. Know where you are in your life and what you value
    In my 20s, I valued my creativity. I wanted to be in tune with my creative side through writing or marketing. I had a lot of energy to work hard, but thought I knew everything.

    In my 30s, I valued my time at home with my young children. Everything else was secondary. I made conscious decisions to put my career on the back burner in order to be home with my kids as much as possible.

    In my 40s, I value my time, but in a different way than when I was younger. I want to maximize my time doing things that help me grow as a person, can help lead others and get me closer to retirement. I value learning and realize learning is a lifelong process.Think about what stage you are in your life, and realize that it will change many, many times. Make sure you are thinking not only about your current stage, but your future life stages as well.

Now, you have some tools in your toolkit to bounce back with agility when life throws you lemons! And, you can relate better to your clients because not only are you showing them how to do agile, but how to be agile.