Staying relevant in a changing world

Many designers I know started their design practice by first practicing on Photoshop. Almost all marketers I know entered the field by reading articles on content marketing, Adwords, or Facebook Ads (SEO is long gone). Engineers in my day started learning web programming with PHP (apparently these days it’s Javascript / NodeJS).

Most self-made professionals get attracted to the methods and tools because they get immediate results. Want to do content marketing? Sign up on Medium, write an article and spread it. Want to write your first app? Use Bootstrap in the frontend and Mongo/NodeJS on the backend, and you’re up and ready in a couple of hours. Tools enable immediate gratification and that’s what makes them so attractive.

However, this over-reliance on immediate gratification comes in the way of actually understanding what they are really doing. You ask any self-made marketer, programmer or designer what they do, they’re likely to respond with a tautology. Marketers market, programmers program, and designers design. It’ll be hard for them to answer what they really do because their knowledge of the profession is limited by what their respective tools allow them to do. Most have not exposed themselves to understanding the why of their professions. To really understand a job, you have to strip away all the tools, methodologies, frameworks and best practices and then look at the core of what’s remaining.

Not understanding the why of a job limits how well you’re able to do it. Why do marketers exist? They exist because consumers are happy leading their lives, with or without your products. Why do designers exist? They exist because finding what arrangement of things is desirable is not trivial. Why do programmers exist? They exist to reduce human effort.

This understanding of the core of a job gives lasting power to professionals. Marketing channels, design styles, programming languages, all these come on go. But what remains relevant for a long time is the reason such professions are needed.

So when it comes to your job, focus on what will remain constant more than focusing on what’s changing.

What is outdated for YOU?

Now that you’ve read the article, I have a question for you.

For you, what professional or personal skills from previous 2-3 years are outdated now? Tweet your response to me as a reply to this thread and I’ll retweet the most interesting examples. In the same thread, you can also check out and comment on what others proposed.

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