Todd Connor: As you acknowledge, there is a lot in this data and these labels, so we don’t want to over-simplify. But trends are fascinating, and the trend towards shorter terms is real. Another pattern serves as the backdrop: we’ve been in this land of entrepreneurship for nearly 50 years in a decline in what is something of a national crisis, although this is surprising given the celebrity culture that surrounds entrepreneurs and the explosion. of entrepreneurship support over the past 20 years. Last year, and that’s a bright spot, we saw 1 million people start businesses.
ED: So full-time employment has been declining and entrepreneurship has increased, at least in the past year. And we also previously shared that one in four people over 45 is considering changing careers once the pandemic is over – which, as some would argue, is ahead of us. The future of work is in the balance. I’ve always appreciated your theory of what’s next, especially from experience. Tell me what is a “Third Shift Entrepreneur”?
TC: The Third Shift Entrepreneur, now a framework and book, argues that people are increasingly having multiple jobs and curating a portfolio of job responsibilities that doesn’t just look like a finite time division, but more like a contractual loan of our talent for various efforts in which our contribution is measured against this, our contribution, and not exclusively against our time. This will not be universal, of course, but there will be a subgroup of professionals who will opt for this type of arrangement: having a job while pursuing alternative interests as entrepreneurs and maybe supporting other teams and organizations as well.
ED: You speak my language. This is how my career was shaped: running a company that designs and implements executive development programs for corporate clients, launching a social justice initiative that has evolved into a kind of volunteer work, seeing individual clients as therapists and then deciding to stop that work and stream now . It was a little fluid, but also fulfilling. If this is the future for more people, how are individuals and companies preparing for it?
TC: Well, that’s the million dollar question and why I wrote the book. For individuals I am offering a manifesto that you can start something new today and that you should not and should not give up your job for it. We should embrace our creative interests and have some grace for ourselves when it doesn’t work out. Therefore, as we are going to see far fewer 15 year careers, the immutable and indispensable skill is to do things well, to meet current challenges and to learn what it takes to do them. People who can be self-activated this way are fine. Those who are waiting for a direction may wait too long. I put the question back for you: assuming this trend towards more third-tier entrepreneurs, what would you advise them to do?
ED: I think a company’s definition of loyalty needs to be redefined. Corporations must not assume disloyalty to people who pursue and celebrate sideline efforts and initiatives. In fact, innovation might best be curated by the employees or contractors who have the most interests outside of work. The hopeful version of me thinks we could create a seat at the table for artists, musicians, academics, clients, and others who are traditionally not invited. I think it opens up the way we work, collaborate and think and break the boundaries of what a company and an employee relationship have traditionally been.
TC: Loyalty needs to be redesigned. As well as skills and the traditional HR function. This is already happening, and I think it is the third tier entrepreneurs who will benefit from innovation from the companies they operate in – building businesses without ever leaving their jobs and solving the problems, that they see coming before others have that forward-looking view. For educators and educational institutions, we are becoming less knowledge-based, which is what fleeting capacities need, and more importantly that we teach this ability across all generations to recognize a problem and try to find a solution. This thinking and behavior will never be out of date.