Archive for October, 2015

Employability Advice

Through a somewhat circuitous route (via an Evernote promotional email), I happenstanced to read this blog entry ( by Chris O’Neill, who is currently the CEO of Evernote (hence the link from the email to the blog entry via LinkedIn). It was a speech he gave to students at Western University (in Canada I presume). Most of it is the standard fluff that “captains of industry” tell young people, but a few points stood out for me:

  • “What about “following your passion?” how many of you have heard that advice …pursue your passion and everything with take care of itself? I just don’t buy it because it simply isn’t that practical.” “When I was sitting where you are right now, I was passionate about my family, the Toronto Maple Leafs, playing sports, drinking beer and hanging out with friends, economics, China, and traveling.” “I tried to combine my passions. For my Senior thesis I built an econometric model to predict demand of China’s growing beer industry, and titled my paper The Great Gulp Forward.” – Yeah, you heard right – The Great Gulp Forward. I wish I had written that paper – the things you do when you are young.
  • “So the lesson I learned: Instead of “following my passion”, I figured out what kind of value I might offer the world and slowly, but surely, organized my career around developing that.” – Totally excellent advice. I have always been wary of the blithe three-word slogan. Goodness, if everyone was blindly following their passion, we would end up with an ill-defined blancmange of anarchy. The advice – value and organisation. Good advice indeed.
  • “Ironically the best career advice I have ever come across is from comedian Steve Martin. … His advice: “Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You.” “. Once again, leave it to the smart smart hard worker to come up with an excellent piece of wisdom. “Over time you should figure out what you want that to be, and thoughtfully build your skills and personal brand to “Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You.” “.
  • Chris calls this Strategic Serendipity – a term coined by Scott Bonham, according to Chris. Not a bad term – a bit “consultant speak” but OK.


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