Becoming More Human Through Mass Automation

Earlier this week. Amazon announced their latest innovation, Go. Think of Go as a futuristic grocery store. Using sensors, artificial intelligence and computer vision, Amazon is reinventing the shopping experience that we’ve all grown accustomed to for the last seventy years. That’s right. No more check out lines, registers or cashiers. If you want to buy an item, just grab it from the shelf, and then Amazon will automatically add the item to your virtual shopping cart. When you walk out of the store, Amazon will magically charge you for that item. Amazing, right? Yup. It’s also potentially scary when you think of the implications that this, and other forms automation, could have on our society.

Many industries are facing unprecedented changes largely driven by increasing wages and advancements robotics / artificial intelligence. This trend isn’t just limited to retail in the Amazon example but also transportation, food service, manufacturing, and administrative to throw out some examples. The number of jobs on the line is potentially massive. There are 3.4M cashiers nationwide according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There are 3.5M professional truck drivers in the U.S. according to the American Trucking Association. There are 4.7M food service workers in the U.S. (BLS). These are just a few examples. I don’t even need dig up all the numbers to conclude tens of millions of American jobs are at risk due to rising labor costs and automation.

All that said, I’m not here to paint a doomsday picture like many before me have. Hundreds if not thousands of articles have been written about our robot overloads and how we’ll eventually become slaves to them. I’m also not here to look at what we stand to lose. Instead, I’m here to look at what we all stand to gain in a world of mass automation. I believe if managed properly this massive shift could unlock enormous long term opportunities for our society and increase our overall quality of life.

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Interviewing: Come Bearing Gifts

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while and Tristan Walker’s latest post on how he got his job at Foursquare inspired me to take the plunge this weekend.  Interviewing is a necessary evil in our society and we all need to go through the process at some point in our lives (unless we’re born entrepreneurs).  There are countless books written about the topic and thousands of self-proclaimed experts who try to prep us so we’re ready to handle any conceivable question.  There are even entire MBA courses devoted to the subject.  Those types of resources have certainly helped hundreds of thousands if not millions of job candidates around the world land the job of their dreams.  The reality is, however, that jobs are more competitive than ever before and the traditional interview is changing, especially in the startup world.  You’re not going to land the perfect job by just having a solid resume anymore, you need to find ways to differentiate yourself. 

Throughout my career, I’ve learned, first hand, that the best resumes don’t always win.  The people who win interviews, more often than not, are the ones who run through walls to demonstrate that they’re deeply passionate about the role and the company.  They go the extra mile.  The winners track down colleagues and acquaintances who are connected to the company and hiring managers.  They also send catchy and convincing emails like the one that Tristan sent to Dennis and Naveen.  Most importantly, they bring gifts to the interview and shower the hiring manager with confidence.  What do I mean by that?

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