I have an entrepreneur friend who is spending millions of dollars in hopes of replacing all marketing writers in the world with robots. She is not the only one. Between machine learning and artificial intelligence, University of Oxford researchers argue that as much as 45 % of jobs could disappear in the next 10 years using already demonstrated technology. MIT analysts believe this could include up to one-third of white-collar positions. And don't think you're safe because you focused on STEM and know how to code. Those are the jobs that will likely disappear first.

I recently had a "What if?" discussion on this topic with international entrepreneur Ravi Navlani. As CEO of Surya Group, Navlani specializes in adaptation. Surya has been successful in technology, fashion, retail and real estate working in fast-changing environments like Dubai and Russia. Navlani, who is a founding member of the YPO Chapter in Moscow, has stayed a consistent course in volatile environments, achieving success and even accolades such as the Ernst & Young "Entrepreneur of the Year" for Russia.

Here are Navlani's recommendations to remain a valuable human in a soon-to-be mechanized workforce.

1. Don't assume you are immune.

Navlani warns that white-collar positions are as vulnerable as manufacturing. "Automation is likely to change the vast majority of occupations -- at least to some degree -- which will necessitate significant job redefinition and a transformation of business processes." Even those who get to keep their jobs will have to change and adapt. About 60 percent of occupations could have 30 percent or more of their constituent activities automated. In other words, robots are likely to change the vast majority of occupations -- at least to some degree -- which will necessitate significant job redefinition and a transformation of business processes.

2. Continue educating yourself.

Navlani believes that old knowledge still has value:"Whether you earned your undergraduate degree 20 or two years ago, it's something nobody can ever take away from you." Even so,lifetime learning is key to staying relevant. This, he says, is "pivotal to staying sharp and opening new doors."

3. Build your right brain muscles.

While practical skills matter, he insists that "capabilities such as creativity and sensing emotions are core to the human experience and also difficult to automate." Employers want to hire and retain those with imagination and great people skills, too. "Other elements of your human capital matter as well - emotional intelligence, soft skills, tact and your ability to think critically and outside of the box," says Navani. He suggests seeking activities that stimulate creative and emotional intelligence. Of course, as someone with a strong background in theatre and media, I couldn't agree more.

4. Master mobility .

Flexibility, empowerment, development, and mobility all now play a big role in defining a company's culture," Navani insists. Employers know that A-players are likely to stay continuously connected to their work, leveraging mobile technology and moving fluidly from home to office and beyond.

5. Practice being "plug and play."

Fewer workers can shut themselves in a silo. As Navlani reminds us, "They work on demanding cross-functional teams that often bring new people together at a rapid rate." Those with a broad array of skill sets and a knack for collaboration will have an advantage over those who are withdrawn or too specialized.

6. Become a culture maker .

Managers and team leaders do more than anyone else to define the average employee's daily experience. Navlani believes that too few companies appreciate how this can affect their access to top talent. "The old adage 'culture eats strategy for breakfast' applies to every organization today. Organizations must begin holding leaders accountable for building a strong and enduring culture, listening to feedback, and engaging and retaining their teams."

7. Treat yourself like your best product.

Manage your career accordingly. The gig economy is gaining momentum. Previously unheard-of skills are becoming job requirements, too. You are the only person who can determine who and where your target market is . "You're in charge of the way you market yourself and can make upgrades to your resume that reflect industry changes at any time."

Each week Kevin explores exclusive stories inside YPO , the world's premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.

Published on: Aug 26, 2016
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