Adding in the responses received through EMail - this is definitely the newsletter that wins the 'most responses award'! More to come - just a thankyou to all of you.

Expand full comment
Jul 2, 2020Liked by John Philpin


Once again, the Skills <-> Characteristics discussion suffers from inadequate vocabulary. Characteristics (I’m short, I talk too much, I have perfect pitch, I have a photographic memory) have little pertinence in any discussion about employment.

The more appropriate dynamic, it seems to me, is the Skills <-> Values balance, where both categories have a direct impact upon one’s “potential” in any job market.

Example: I am great with numbers, and I have no integrity. The skill is marketable, but my inclination to bend rules could easily become a compliance issue for the company.


My first full-time (i.e., permanent, with benefits) job was a Senior Technical Writer for Valid Logic Systems (Installation Guides, User Guides), hired by a respected manager who told me “I can teach you Boolean Logic, but I can’t teach how to write a decent sentence – that’s a skill that makes you valuable...”

The writing skill was evident from previously published articles. The Value Math: I was a quick learner who joined a team that valued Learning above Experience.


Speaking of Compliance: The muddle (Characteristics vs. Values) reminds me of a similar confusion that plagues many mid-size companies. Many confuse Policy with Procedure; a company may have documented policies but if they do not have clear procedures that enact those policies, the policies become empty statements. Such is the concern re: Skills and Values – every hiring manager must understand the complimentary interaction between a potential employee’s skill set and that candidate’s capacity to flourish in the existing company value system.

And here's a semi-related observation :

Beware, the Dead Cat Bounce. For those readers understandably encouraged by today’s economic numbers, I relay this cautionary note once told to my team during a previous recession: even a dead cat will bounce if dropped from a very tall building. Today's numbers reflect a point-in-time; a competent analyst has an ability to understand point-in-time data within the larger historical context.

Expand full comment
Jul 1, 2020Liked by John Philpin

right on John ... much needed thoughts for present and future = ALOHA

Expand full comment
Jul 1, 2020Liked by John Philpin

Start with being improved now. What skills could we inspect and practice to do that? Respect is one,

Expand full comment

Reference in the newsletter to farming :

"no mention of urban farmers, aquaponic or hydroponic farming, underground farming, even farming cooperatives … nothing!"

Here's another farming idea being born out of the COVID crisis ...

.. In Mexico City, the Coronavirus Is Bringing Back Aztec-Era ‘Floating Gardens’ - more : https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/mexico-city-chinampas-coronavirus

Expand full comment
Jun 24, 2020Liked by John Philpin

Let's give Joe Biden a break - he, more than likely, knows more coal miners than all of the readers of this newsletter/blog combined, and he's not entirely incorrect - they *could* learn how to code. (They won't, of course, though perhaps their children and grand-children will...)

As for the careers of those who brand themselves as "futurists," there ought to be a certification process, and only those who demonstrate a minimum of 51% accuracy with previous predictions would be allowed to use the word in their branding.

But I think we're missing the point with our easy blaming of automation, something not new to this generation. When I was a boy, I remember a family meeting to help my great Aunt Becky who had been a hotel telephone operator. She lost her job, along with 20 other women, because the hotel had purchased a new system (think PBX, circa 1960) that could route calls without all of the plugging and unplugging of additional wires. That was sixty years ago, everyone.

As for the post-present state of jobs, I'll concur that predictions are almost useless. I'd like to suggest, however, that we may be missing this point, too: it is the very existence of a "job" that is being re-defined (by technology, recessionary economics, etc.) and that thing we once called a "job" may no longer be the prevalent means of gainful employment. We've all become independent contractors - some with obvious skill sets, some with murky skills that were once called hobbies - and, on any given day, an independent contractor may have multiple "jobs" while on others, he/she may have no job at all.

As you've previously noted, we need a new vocabulary.

Expand full comment
Jun 23, 2020Liked by John Philpin

Predictions of future. Yawn. How about doing in the now. People who predict automation and the resulting loss of jobs forget that these predictions are made by people who have a vested interest in the automation or underlying tech and the value of people to people interactions and relationships. People need people whether we like it or not. I predict a future where this post has no sustained value. Or maybe I predict that it will?

Expand full comment