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Taylor Pearson’s spent years studying how we can make better decisions and find fulfillment in our work. We’ve all heard how technology and globalization are changing how we work, but Pearson’s pointing to another trend as well: The nature of that work is becoming more entrepreneurial. 

He recently sat down with the Brew’s Pumpkin Spice Author Series to discuss that and his most recent book, The End of Jobs

    

What is the end of jobs? 

The book looks at how the nature of work is changing and becoming more entrepreneurial. I look at some big picture trends: What are the effects of technology? The effects of outsourcing—on how jobs are changing and how they’re moving around the world. And what does this imply for our careers and how we approach them? 

Are we at the end now, or still heading in that direction?

We’re heading in that direction. If you look at the types of work people do in most of the developed world, we’re shifting to complex work. 

Think of education and credentialism. You’re typically training someone for a discrete skill set like accounting, and they’re going to apply that for the rest of their lives. What you’re seeing now is that those skills sets aren’t that durable. There’s a lot of changes happening to update those skills. Now you can sit down and figure out a solution to more complex work that’s dynamic and emerging. So that’s that’s why I call it the end of jobs—that entrepreneurial work shift.

Is this entrepreneurial shift across blue-collar and white-collar work?

The outsourcing of the blue collar sector started to ramp up in the ’80s. The trend I started to see was happening to white collar work. Educational standards around the world have gotten better. And a lot of traditionally white collar, service sector stuff is moving to other places, so those roles are getting more competitive. 

What can readers learn from your book and start implementing in their lives today? 

The big things are how do you approach your work or career more entrepreneurially. One path I’ve seen a lot of people take successfully is apprenticeships. When you’re dealing with a complex job and things are evolving quickly, actual work experience is a lot more valuable than a traditional credential or education. A lot of people that go back for graduate degrees to move their career along might be better served by looking for ways to develop their skills in a practical way and have a track record they can show future employers.

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What does it mean in your eyes to be an entrepreneur? 

I think the word “entrepreneurship” is very loaded now. I think being an entrepreneur is not about having your own company, but the way you approach your work. I think there’s many people in quote unquote “jobs” that are working in a very entrepreneurial way and very valuable to their companies. So I think that notion of an institutional boundary—am I in the company or out of the company—isn’t that helpful.

Talk a little about the effects of trends in education, globalization, and technology on this trend you’re seeing. 

One is increased educational standards. If you look at the number of people internationally with college degrees, more people got degrees from 2000 to 2010 than from the beginning of civilization to 2000. 

This huge increase in people with service sector-type skills is paired with technology, particularly telecommunications and the internet. I worked for a company in the early 2000s that was doing manufacturing in China. We used to fax schematics back and forth trying to get products designed. When Skype showed up, that was crazy—you could conduct phone calls over the internet and share your screen and talk through schematics. All these remote work tools made collaboration easier.

I think we’ve also seen a lot of collaboration tools getting in the way of our productivity. 

Yeah, I think the challenge with messaging apps more broadly means you end up getting a lot of work pushed at you. I think we’re in the very early stages of understanding how that works. But if you’re not setting those priorities for yourself and you have all those inbound things coming in, it can be difficult to do something for yourself. The valuable work, it’s not getting to your email every day, but the key priorities you’re in charge of and pushing forward.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions young people have about being an entrepreneur?

I mentioned the idea of apprenticeships earlier. I think another thing is finding more meaning or purpose in your work. The people I see succeed tend to start from having some particular problem they thought was important to work on. 

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People I think of as very entrepreneurial, they just get really good at seeing these opportunities. I think a lot of this comes from experience, training yourself to see and look for expertise in the field. A lot of companies are not started by 22 year olds, they’re started by 45 year olds that have been in the industry for 20 years and seen all the things that don’t work.

      

Ready to read? 

Grab your copy of The End of Jobs today. Then check out some of Taylor’s top essays on marketing, investing, and crypto, or subscribe to his newsletter. 

He’s  working on a new book about blockchain, set to debut next year, breaking down why everyone’s talking about it, why you should care (or invest), and what it will mean for markets. 

       

Meet the author

Best recent trips? I just got back from a big backpacking trip with some college friends that we do every year. I went to Sequoia National Park in the Sierra. I also went to Mexico City last year with my wife, and it was amazing. A phenomenal anthropology museum if you’re into that kind of stuff.

What are you reading? The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander, a professor of architecture at Berkeley. It’s very short talks about the properties of why and what makes architecture beautiful and how it affects our lives. Also the sci-fi novel The Three Body Problem by Chinese author Li Cixin. The first book is set during Mao Zedong’s era. An alien civilization is coming to invade Earth and the book is about how Earth is preparing  

Podcasts? There’s a podcast called Hidden Forces by Demetri Kofinas on finance and tech topics. He has a really interesting perspective on the way he looks at the world, thinking more about interactions between parts and how stuff works.

First job? I was an English teacher in Brazil for about a year and then a search engine optimization specialist at a marketing agency. I got that job because I wasn’t happy with my teaching job so I went on Amazon and bought three books on SEO optimization and built three websites.





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