Last week a video popped into my Twitter feed. It was a Periscope of a live Digital Gaggle conference. I'd crushed through a load of editing & thought "why not?". I was due a quick refresh, always want to go to more of these things...
I caught the end of a pretty so-so talk, was about to quit out when the host announced that a 24-year-old digital entrepreneur was about to talk to stage...intrigued I kept listening, and boy am I glad I did.
The speaker was someone I'd never heard of. Steve Bartlett. CEO and Founder of Social Chain who probably might be best (if not directly) known for the Rex Secco affair...
He said a lot of great and interesting things through his talk (hunt it, or any of his others down if you can), but the biggest nugget of truth came from the VLOG he released this morning post-event.
"Seek advice from people that have arrived at the destination, not necessarily people around you, or that might have come from a slightly different time."
So simple. Yet so obvious.
Steve Bartlett referenced parents before dropping this quote. True, and I still see this from my friends today - a slight over reliance on asking for job advice from your elders...despite them maybe not even really understanding what it is you really do.
But with this he hit on something that's been niggling away at me from other conferences I've been to...& once the inevitable "how did you get where you are question" is asked to someone who got their break 5+ years ago...
That advice is almost never going to be useful to you.
The people you need to be asking that to are the people who have freshly stepped into a role you'd have wanted. Badger them for what they think was the reason they got the job you covert. Not the people giving big talks at big conferences. Those people grew into their role in an industry that moves so fast it's barely recognisable today.
I'm big into asking people their job routes. Digital or not. Almost anyone to be honest. I'm curious with how people shift roles, the motivations, & what hindsight they have a few years after...so of course I feel theres insight to be gained from asking - but take it all with a pinch of salt. Never be afraid to ask your parents for help, I use mine for grammar shamelessly, but reject what they say if you don't think it fits with the current state of the world around you.
That's not to say these people aren't useful to talk to...this whole blog is based around the words of such a person who got their break when Facebook pages were on the rise and social influencers and micro-influences didn't charge the thousands plus they charge today. Steve Bartlett found his niche when the coals were hot, and trying to follow Steve's route into the industry letter by letter probably isn't going to work today.
But, maybe change the question you ask...still ask the route, but ask what's changed? What are you looking for in future employees? What do you think the next big thing to invest my time into learning or doing is?
Here's the full VLOG if you're interested. At 20 minutes, it's a little on the long side...but it's quite interesting at points even if you have to dive and jump through it a little 👇
A quick bonus fun fact - in case you don't quite get just how fast the digital space moves with some history for context;
It took about 75 years for the telephone to connect 50 million users. The radio hit this goal in 38. It wasn’t until 13 years till 50 million people were sitting in front of their television screens in their homes. The Internet reached this milestone in four years, Facebook in two. It took the iPhone three months to get into 50 million pockets. Angry Birds Space 35 days. And Pokemon Go? Two days...to get to 100 million users...