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Why your career shouldn’t fit inside a box

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SmartBrief is partnering with Big Think to create a weekly video spotlight in SmartBrief on Leadership called “VIP Corner: Video Insights Powered by Big Think.” This week, we’re featuring Baratunde Thurston, director of digital for The Onion.

Clinging to a specifically defined career path might not be feasible “in a world defined by constant change,” said Baratunde Thurston, reflecting on his work as director of digital for The Onion, as well as an author and a comedian. Instead, Thurston predicted that careers can stand to be on a higher level — a storyteller, rather than a reporter for a local newspaper — as the focus shifts from what specific skill sets you have to what your unique mindset brings to the table.

“The security of a job is kind of what you make it and how flexible you can be, and so what principles are you building your career on?” Thurston said.

To stay competitive and successful in today’s business world, it’s important to be able to adapt and evolve based on technological trends within the industry. Rather than focusing on specificity, Thurston suggested understanding exactly how trends affect the future. For example, it’s more important to appreciate the connectivity and real-time nature of Facebook rather than focusing all of your energy (and your company’s resources) on the specific platform.

“And so in a world of that much emotion and built-in volatility, clinging and calming down and saying, ‘This is what I do,’ it just doesn’t seem like the most wise way to approach the world,” Thurston said. “You kind of have to approach it with speed in mind and say, ‘OK, well, if motion is the constant, how can I remain in motion?’ ”

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