The future of you: Projectpreneurship

The future of you: Projectpreneurship

incubateI’ve written quite a bit on this site about the synergies between project management and entrepreneurship with what I like to call “projectpreneurship“.  With the new year and fresh start, it is fitting that one of the first articles to catch my eye is a post on Harvard Business School’s blog titled “The Future of You” by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.  The opening paragraph outlines where were at with regard to our full time jobs as project managers, for as he states:

Economic and technological changes are reshaping the nature of work. Having a great job does not guarantee your career success; your competence no longer depends on what you know; and being an affluent consumer matters less than becoming a sought-after product. Welcome to a new era of work, where your future depends on being a signal in the noisy universe of human capital. In order to achieve this, you will need to master three things: self-branding, entrepreneurship, and hyperconnectivity.

Each of the three entrepreneurial skill sets that Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic outlines  are not only applicable to anyone out there working a typical 9 to 5 job (and who out there really works these “typical” hours these days anyway!), but even more relevant to the project manager who managers their career as a entrepreneur or  is actively a projectpreneur.  Let’s look at each of these areas and how they apply to the career project manager.

  1. Self-Branding – There are still a great number of people out there who find the idea of self branding and promotion to be distasteful.  This idea conjures up visions of the shady used car salesman shamelessly promoting the quality of their cars when in fact they are lemons or the narcissistic celebrity constantly seeking publicity to stroke their over inflated egos.  In fact, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic uses two celebrities as examples of branding done right when he states, that “this is why David Beckham and Lady Gaga are much more successful than their more talented competitors — they understood that being a marketing phenomenon is more important than displaying outstanding soccer skills or musical talent, and focused more on self-branding than their counterparts did.”  But no amount of skill or competency in your job as a project manager matters if it is not visible and this requires shrewd and consistent branding and marketing of your skills, successes and image both within and outside your workplace.
  2. Entrepreneurship – As a former business owner and now full time corporate project manager, I can tell you from real world experience that the skills you acquire as a project manager are directly attributable to entrepreneurship.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that most highly successful entrepreneurs are highly skilled project managers whether it was done consciously or not.  As Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic states, “whether you are self-employed or employed by others, whether you work in a big business or own a small business, your career success depends on your ability to offer something new: new solutions for existing problems; new services and products; new ideas; etc. Everything that isn’t new is old, and if you are doing old you are stuck in the past.”
  3. Hyperconnectivity – Whether we like it or not, we are all pretty much connected 24/7, but as Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic emphasizes, “the ability to find stuff is now almost as important as the ability to create stuff.  Hyperconnectors are the creative of the digital era because in the age of information overload, where everybody creates online content, effectively curating content is what really matters.”  As a project manager, you are in essence a communication conduit between the team who is completing the tasks on your project, to serving clear and digestible status to your stakeholders, project sponsors and executive staff.  You have spent years honing your skills to communicate up and down and left to right and in a hyperconnected 24/7 digitized world, you are best positioned to take advantage of this upcoming skill the author outlines.

If we buy into the arguments above as being the skills necessary to thrive in the future, which I strongly do, then as a professional project managers, your ability to thrive in your career will depend on “your ability to be a brand, a change agent, and a link to useful information.”  In short, use 2013 as a launching point to becoming  a projectpreneur!

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