Be prepared to change your career (Part 2)

__Experience alone is not enough.

In a few weeks, I will be 56 years (young). I have been working for more than 33 years (old). By all measures, you might say I’m experienced. But what does this mean in the age of constant change, in which I must change my career (the way I do my job) every five years? Either I change the way I do my job, or my job changes, or it might disappear altogether!

# Experience is important but it is not enough.

In fact, when you get to my age or older and all you can talk about is your experience, it’s nothing more than vanity!

What’s one definition of experience? “The process of getting knowledge or skill from doing, seeing or feeling things.”

“I don’t read any books,” the veteran began proudly. “Really, I could write most of those books myself because I know it all. I have been doing this job for 30 years.”

__This guy needs to retire quickly because he will destroy the organization!

You can be old and young at the same time… You cannot afford to think old!

# Experience is important, but it is not enough.

You must complement it with a constant desire and hunger to learn new things and change your career, again and again and again.

Have you ever noticed how hard it is for a team to win back to back World Cup soccer titles?

# When you have a winning team, you don’t want to make changes, but that’s when change must be uppermost in your mind.

Much of our older executive corps in Africa really battle with change, and wear their experience as a right of entitlement. This needs to change. Management and leadership roles are not immune to change.

# Experience is important but it is not enough.

Probably the best engineer I ever worked with was a South African guy called Les Cullen. He was already in his 60s when I first hired him, and he worked for me well into his 70s. In every way, Les was like a 26-year old!

His curiosity was insatiable. It always seemed that every day he was trying out a new idea or reading about a new idea.

So this is not an age thing. It’s about a mindset. I have known 30-year old who, only 10 years out of college, cannot absorb a new idea! I have known 80-year olds who embrace new ideas and change their careers with extraordinary energy and gusto.

Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus (70+) wrote something interesting. (He’s a social entrepreneur that pioneered the ideas of microcredit and microfinance). He said his greatest challenge has been to change the mindset of people.

“Mindsets play strange tricks on us,” he wrote. “We see things the way our minds have instructed our eyes to see…”

Now don’t let the idea of change panic you. Get your mindset around the idea that in this rapidly changing world, we’ll ALL need to be prepared to change our career, again and again and again.

I saw a quote recently that made me smile: “A year from now you will wish you had started today!”

To be continued. . .

by 16 Replies

About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

16 thoughts on “Be prepared to change your career (Part 2)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    What is it you do for a living?
    Spend some time this year thinking through, and researching changes to that job that are happening around the world. There is no job that is unaffected!
    Ask yourself, “how current is my understanding of the changes that are happening?”
    The more you think about it, the more you will see the changes taking place, and also the more opportunities you will begin to see for yourself.

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1. The answers to my questions in last week’s quiz: # Host of Kwesé Sports Ball’n Africa: Ms Silalei Owuor (former team captain of Kenya’s National basketball team!) # English Premier League Clubs with a regular weekly show on Kwesé Sports TV channels: Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool – and now Chelsea. # The five players Kwesé Sports expects to lead the scoring: 1. Riyad Mahrez; 2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; 3. Sadio Mané; 4. Andre Ayew; 5. Wilfred Bony. (This list refers to the upcoming African Cup of Nations, and is provided on the Kwesé Sports website). No one provided the correct answer to #3!

    Congratulations to our iPad winner, Edwin Ouma, who was first to answer Question #1 correctly, and the very first contestant to submit a correct answer to any one of the three questions.

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2. My friend Richard Branson shared some good advice: “Take a chance. It’s the best way to test yourself. Have fun and push boundaries.” Whatever you do, don’t just wait around and worry about career change. Decide what you need to do (maybe you need to brush up on your skills, or get new ones) then make it happen!

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Competition to choose 2x Interns.
    As I said in December we are working on a small competition to choose 2x people who will be invited (all expenses paid) to spend 1 week at one of our businesses, and also one week working with me.
    My team is working on this competition and the details will be released this month.
    To prepare yourself (if you are interested), you should download the Kwese App, and stay abreast with its roll out this month, also make sure you are following the developments on Kwese.Com, and KweseSports.Com, websites.
    [tip: the more you know those platforms, the better your chance; don’t say I did not warn you!]

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    David, writes:

    “Experience is not enough has been repeated 4 times in this article!!! i hope everyone is seeing something, it is not typing error!!

    My reply,
    This is a brilliant observation.

    You know David, although I have been running my company for nearly 30 years, I have had to re-invent my leadership and management style every few years, to cope with the changes in the business, and environment. If I try to manage this organization the way, I managed just 10 years ago, it would collapse immediately!
    “Experience is not enough!”

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Last year I visited companies like Twitter, Google, Netflix, to name a few. I met and worked with Jack Ma of Alibaba. Just imagine, if you work for any of these companies, the job you do did not exist 10 years ago, now they are amongst the biggest companies in the world!
    There are people who cannot cope with this type of change; I absolutely revel in it! I love change:
    “Bring it on!”

  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Alex, writes:

    Dr Masiyiwa thank you for mentoring us. Greetings from Tanzania. Last year you asked us to support the education of people we are not directly related. Well today I have paid school fees for an orphan girl! Be blessed.

    My reply,
    And all generations shall look on you, and say “come see a man that God has blessed”. Well done!

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Hello SIR, you KNOW we’re all not sports enthusiasts, why not level the playing ground for the competition by limiting it to entrepreneurship in general rather than kwese sports.
    Pls i hope this finds u in time and u change your mind because i was really eager for the opportunity. Thanks

    My reply,
    Don’t worry, the questions will not be based on sport. They will be based on things I have said on entrepreneurship. We will simply use our Kwese Tv, Kwese Sports, and Kwese App as platforms to ask the questions.
    By the way most of the channels on Kwese Tv have nothing to do with sport. There is even a special channel for entrepreneurs!…watch this space!

  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Muyiwa, writes,

    Thank you sir. Quite insightful. I think this Quote by Alvin Toffler best describes the world we live in now. ‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn’

    My reply,

    I couldn’t agree more!

    “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”

    There are times I almost weep when I observe people who were once top of their game now totally unable to cope because they did not develop the capacity during their careers “to learn, unlearn, and relearn”.
    What is the point of having experience in something that is obsolete?

  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    It is not just technology which is driving change. This is only half the story!
    It is actually the rapid diffusion of information which is the key driver. Just think about the impact of these simple statistics:
    1. 70% of the African population have a phone, compared to 0.7% just 20 years ago!
    2. 20% of the African population have access to the Internet compared to less than 1% five years ago. It will rise to 50% within 3 years!
    3. 40% of the world’s population get their news from Facebook…that includes Africans!!!
    [think about it; 10m people will probably read this FB post, that is more than all the newspapers in any African country!]
    4. There are more pictures taken in one day now, than were taken in the first 100 years of the camera!

    Hold tightly to your seat my friend.

  11. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    John writes,

    May I add that I think this page is turning out to be one of if not the greatest conversion going on in Africa, that is, judging by the reactions it attracts. The ideas canvassed here by you (admin) are well thought out, transformative and well presented. Thanks for creating this forum for us. God bless

    My reply,
    Thank you John. That is all I’m trying to do.
    Please take this conversation into your communities, colleges, and work places.
    We have to drive the transformation we want to see.

  12. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Anita, writes:

    Why would Dr Strive Masiyiwa visit other Companies?
    After all he is a BIG right?


    My reply,
    In 1991, whilst researching the cell phone industry in Africa, I learnt that the first cell phone company was established in the Congo DRC (then called Zaire) in 1987. I contacted the owner who lived at the time in the USA, an African guy from Rwanda. I asked him if I could travel to see it. “When I’m in Zaire next month, come and have a look.” I travelled there to see it, even though the country was so run down, and led by a crazy guy called Mobutu.
    That was not the only thing I did: I travelled to trade shows, and read every article and book I could find every single day. A guy at the American company Motorola called me at the time, “probably the most knowledgeable guy on cell phones I have ever met”, and yet there was no cell phone industry in Africa at the time, and I had no cell phone business. I was just a young guy with a big dream and lots of passion!
    I’m trying to pass on that passion to you, because this is how you give yourself the best opportunity to be successful at a new business venture.

  13. Gabriel Kwaramba

    Thanks so much Dr Strive Masiyiwa. Every time I read your articles, I get an energy boost. You are really inspired to change our world.

  14. Nabeelah

    Hi Sir
    Thank you so much for this inspiring article. I kept reading this over and over because it resonates deep within me. I find it moving due to the fact that at 29 years old I feel like I’ve been through so much and started from the very bottom within my company. I started at Old Mutual in 2007 in call centre, I was forced to work as my mom couldn’t afford to put me through college. Eventually after a few years I became a senior call centre agent and realized that there had to be more, I approached management to sponsor my studies and they refused with saying that its not in line with where I am and I can only study something within my field of work. Even though I couldn’t afford it at the time, I took out a loan and completed a diploma. Shortly after that the PA in the area went on maternity and they needed a replacement – I was seconded as the PA for 6months. Thereafter I asked if there were any administration positions and the manager said NO you need to go back to call centre. During the 6 months I applied for about 25 jobs and had no response. I organized a planning session for the team which was offsite and the Manager didn’t want me to go with, its as if she could feel that there is a fire within me and I think she was scared of it. I decided on that day that I will not continue putting my life in the hands of others. I booked a meeting room and collected a couple of magazines and just started creating my vision board. I remember looking in the YOU magazine and reading an article regarding up and coming careers. I pulled out the word “Project Administrator”, I emailed myself an invitation to a job interview, and printed a graduation picture and I put a picture of a house and running and a couple of other things and you wouldn’t believe it – IT ALL CAME TRUE!!! Within a span of a year I went for an interview as a Project Administrator and got the job, I studied and passed my National Diploma in Project Management, I started running, I lost some weight, , I bought a house. I listened to a lecture of Jim Rohn and he said the only way to become more valuable is to have many skills. That is my dream, I found my new passion project and my dream is to go ahead and do it. I do have some financial barriers in the way but I believe that somehow it is coming and God will open the doors for me. I want to make a difference in others lives, I want to share and motivate South Africa.

  15. Lombe Ng'andu

    So this is as good as saying what you learnt last week may not be relevant tomorrow… Learning never ends.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *