Tag Archives: employability

Episode 94 — Relevance

usefulartsThis epiosde of The Engineering Commons finds Adam, Brian, and Jeff discussing what it means to be relevant, and how engineers can increase their relevance on the job.

  • Brian is not entirely sure what a thought leader is, but he’s pretty certain he doesn’t want to be one.
  • However, Brian invents the perfect term for someone who’s the opposite of a thought leader; they must be a thought-hole! (You heard it here first…)
  • Jeff opines that one’s relevance is largely dependent on others; seeing yourself as relevant is not nearly as important as having others perceive you as relevant.
  • Malcolm Gladwell has written a magazine article for The New Yorker about the difficulty of matching candidates with jobs, which he calls the “quarterback problem.”
  • Brian notes that engineers often get hired based on the skill set needed to complete a behind-schedule project, rather than their abilities in getting a fresh project off to a good start.
  • Lewin’s change management model (unfreeze, change, refreeze) is referenced by Jeff.
  • We talked with Kathryn Jablokow about creative diversity in Episode 76; it’s possible to be creative through both adaption and innovation.
  • Jeff makes the point that it’s possible to be relevant in many different ways, ranging from abstract observations to specific implementations.
  • Daniel Pink authored the 2012 book “To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.”
  • Jeff inquires if Daniel Pink has a valid hypothesis; is it true that “we’re all in sales now?”
  • We envision a class in self-promotion. Or as Brian terms it, learning the proper amount of humble-bragging. (Apparently, the proper amount is little, as humble-bragging isn’t the best form of self-promotion.)
  • The ABC mantra of sales, according to author Pink, is no longer “always be closing,” but is now “attunement, buoyancy, and clarity.”
  • Brian references Occam’s razor in describing the difficulty one encounters in pursuing clarity of meaning and intent.
  • Robert Greene’s book “Mastery” has been on Brian’s reading list for a while.
  • A 2013 article by Jason Nazar, in Forbes magazine, discusses “The 21 Principles of Persuasion.”
  • Jeff makes the case that one can be relevant as a leader, follower, or rabble-rouser. His mental image? The “marching band” scene from the movie Animal House.
  • A 2014 book, “The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies,” is tangentially mentioned by Brian.
  • Brian doesn’t think our future is as distopian as predicted by the YouTube video, “Humans Need Not Apply.”
  • Jeff suggests building an emotional bond between humans and artificially created art is difficult (apparently forgetting about Japanese singing sensation Hatsune Miku).
  • Adam puts out a request for a few engineering robots, if any of our listeners can access advanced AI technology.

Thanks to Richard Adams for the photo titled “Useful arts?” Podcast theme music by Paul Stevenson.