Extracted from a taped speech (c2000) by Dr Laree Kieley for a graduation ceremony some time earlier:
"SOMETHING DIED IN THE UNITED STATES a while back and we never noted its passing. We never even had a ceremony to grief its loss. It was what we called guaranteed employment. And it no longer exists.
"What has replaced it is what we call the new social contract. And a new social contract goes like this: you as the employee are responsibile for bringing value to the workplace. And you as the employee have to find what that value is. You even have to go out to find out where to get it. And I as the employer owe you nothing in return than possibly help you pay for this personal development. In the US, 40-60 percent of the companies downsized last year....
"...there is [a solution]. It means we have to take control back over our own lives. We have to do what Tom Peters call 'Me, Incorporated', building brand equity in ourselves as a product. The number one business you are in is the business of You. You are what you have to sell.
"... We have to market ourselves... We have to develop ourselves... benchmark ourselves against the competition and leapfrog over them by just knowing a little bit more... We have to learn not only the hard skills, but what i now call the really hard skills ... communication, group process, teamwork and building relationships. As you start selling yourself as a product, people will buy you not just because just because you are quality but because you have built relationships with them. And that's how you ensure your future."
DR KIELEY'S WORDS RESONATED in me while i listened to her words on tape a few weeks ago. Was preparing for a lesson on oral presentation for my part-time students.
The year 2000 marked the beginning of my career as a contractor with a US-based multi-national corporation. It was rather uncommon then for people in Singapore to work on contracts. Had tried in vain to persuade my boss to employ some staff on a contract basis since the workloads in the section are seasonal. But he had lots of misgivings.
Eventually left and moved into elearning. And here i am, part of a burgeoning contractual workforce in Singapore after two economic crises that have been 'anchored' by the September 11 event. Renewed a two-year contract. Now in the midst of an annual exercise to justify my raison d'etre ('reason for existing' in French) in a polytechnic.
Filled up a spreadsheet for Best Sourcing last week, listing details of my work under various function types. Let's see: what have i done and what will i be doing in the areas of Staff Training & Development, Development of Educational Courseware, Development of Educational Technologies, as well as System Support & Services for the institution? What percentage of time had been spent and will be spent in these areas?
This week, my heart has already winged to a holiday destination this weekend. Still have to conduct a series of training sessions, and finish a review of past year's work and start setting targets for the coming year. When an academic staff called for help, wondered whether to log that into a database created for that purpose. There's also this project timeline document that needed to be updated after a prototype discussion a few days ago.
Earlier, a petulant question came up, "Just how useful are these documentation? Do they all have good raison d'etre too?"
Now, a few pertinent questions also arise, "Just what is the essence of Me, Incorporated? Besides value propositions, what relationships have i built to ensure my future?"