The only mistake is not attending

Instead of being intimidated by the idea of ​​the new economy, we should take action and get involved. Acquire the necessary skills and thrive! Contrary to most expectations, the New Economy is not so much about new technologies. It is about knowledge, and hence it is sometimes referred to as the knowledge economy. Someone who can learn, organize and apply knowledge faster than others can easily thrive in the new economy.

The late American inventor and philosopher R. Buckminster Fuller once said, “The only failure is failure to participate.” He may have been referring to the New Economy because in the New Economy many things are happening at once, so there is no one to keep track of everything can what happened. Also, things move so fast that by the time you get them, certain pieces of information have already expired.

The only way to keep up with the times is to participate in what is happening around you. There are three areas a person needs to work on if they really want to participate in the new economy – technology and its applications, networking and interpersonal skills, and mindsets, beliefs and attitudes.

technology and its applications

The common misconception is that everyone needs an Information Technology (IT) or Life Sciences degree to secure a job in the future. Luckily, we need to figure out the nature of any new technology that emerges and its applications.

For example, the nature of the Internet is such that it is the most efficient way to communicate, distribute, and do business anywhere in the world. It eliminates most geographical distance and time zone limitations and can be integrated with a computer system to store all online activity in a database for later analysis and action.

Email is a great way to save on long distance calls. You can also use software to sort groups of people you know, like your classmates, pen pals, close friends, and acquaintances, and tailor your email to each group. In business, you can use the built-in capabilities of the web to let you know who your best customers are, what they buy, how much they buy, etc. You can then customize emails and faxes targeting different customer groups at a very low cost .

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The 19th-century sociologist Max Weber pointed out that new technologies are created because there are certain things that current technology cannot do. It may be a long road, but participating in the race for knowledge is essential for survival. While this new technology may produce some breakthroughs that lead to newer technologies, only if we can understand their nature and find applications for such breakthroughs will give us value.

A case in point is Du Pont’s invention of a synthetic fiber called Kevlar in the early 1970’s. It wasn’t until the late 1980’s that some people finally understood the nature of Kevlar – strong, light and flexible – and used it to make bulletproof vests and helmets.

Others understood its waterproof property and used it to make canoes, snowboards, motorcycle bodies, etc. Du Pont knew all about Kevlar, but it took a few other people to find applications for it. So you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what you can do with rockets. The same applies to IT and the life sciences.

Networking and interpersonal skills

Connecting people can be the surest way to find business partners, investors, suppliers and customers and even help you get that job you’ve always dreamed of. Networking is not a new concept. Traders and merchants from countries and regions as diverse as India, China, Arabia and Europe have relied on personal networks to trade and build businesses for hundreds of years. Since the legal institutions of the time were not very advanced, merchants only traded with people they knew well to avoid fraud.

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Part of networking is building human relationships, and this will take time. It should start before you even see the need for it. As best-selling author Harvey MacKay puts it, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.” But why connect when we can access all kinds of information from anywhere in the world, including checking someone’s reliability, via the Internet? The fact is, most venture capitalists won’t even look at a business plan unless it’s been submitted by someone they know personally or was recommended by their friends.

Strong networks can help you access information that even the Internet cannot. You have access to collective wisdom, meaning the combined knowledge of everyone in the network. Now, when you’re looking to find an application for a new technology, knowledge, or idea, your network may just provide you with the answer you’ve been looking for. Networking can take place in clubs, associations, at lectures, seminars, events, schools and in the workplace.

mindsets, beliefs and attitudes

We used to be taught that we had to study hard to get a degree in order to get a well-paying job. Although the salary gap between academics and non-academics was enormous in the past, today the gap has narrowed. A degree doesn’t guarantee success in life, but going to university will teach you about the nature of technology (among other things) and give you a chance to network and test ideas.

Businesses are getting flatter these days which means there are fewer opportunities for advancement, so it might not be a bad idea to think about becoming an entrepreneur, starting your own shop and being your own boss. It doesn’t take a lot of money, experience or expertise to be an entrepreneur. While some experience in this field is required, the key ingredients are your understanding of the technology, proper insight into the market, and the strength of your network. You get access to capital, customers, suppliers, credit and pretty much everything you need to start your business.

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I have a friend who sells supermarket plastic bags to France. My girlfriend lived in France for a few years and has a network there. Her company’s average annual revenue for the last five years is US$2 million (S$3.61 million) to US$3 million. Your costs? The bags are outsourced to be manufactured in Malaysia, where labor is relatively cheap. And she only has two employees in the office: her husband and herself.

My point is that it really doesn’t take a lot of money, experience, expertise or even risk to start a profitable business. Which brings me to the beliefs we have about money. While it’s true that money doesn’t grow on trees, it’s not as hard to make as people say.

How much money we can make depends on the value we offer to others.

If you are able to offer more value and teach your customers that you offer much more value compared to others, you are likely to make more money than others, whether you are a businessman or an employee. Isn’t that the main reason you get promoted and rewarded in your job too?

I believe that there is neither the new nor the old economy. In both terms of economics, the same principles of effort, diligence, frugality, supply and demand, etc. apply. What is new is that things are moving faster and knowledge is growing exponentially. We need to change certain aspects of our lives because we can build certain skills that will help us thrive in an ever-changing world. The most important thing is to dig your well before you get thirsty, so join before it’s too late. When you do, a whole new world awaits you.

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