I read with profound interest the article on the DBW website by Tom Chalmers: Rich Pickings for the Small and Beautiful and wanted to use this blog post to convey some of my thoughts on his article.
Mr. Chalmers has given us a snippet glimpse into his point of view with initial comments about his Communist- leaning father’s mindset. I think it is an admirable quality to feel empathy for those who are displaced by corporate upheavals. The immediate impact of the layoff or job loss is disastrous and financially catastrophic as well as emotionally and physically draining. Having been through this series of events four times in my career I can speak from a point of experience on this issue: the latest event coming in February 2013. Eventually I will have to thank ABC-CLIO for taking the direction they decided to take!
Not being a free market thinker, Mr. Chalmers has missed the point that a layoff or job loss can also be the staging platform for a complete transformation and career reinvention. If you continually go from day-to-day with the mindset that you owe something to a corporate structure, then that corporate structure will always have you at a disadvantage in any rational thought process about finances and career goals. Being able to process and use your own intelligence and academic credentials is something that is challenging and rewarding to the person who steps out and plays the role of maverick. The people who do not “color within the lines” are usually the ones who innovate and expand the knowledge base of the field in which they are associated. Steve Jobs is a perfect example of someone who did not play by the rule-set of the corporate and business structure model that was in place at the time. Thomas Edison did not play by the rules of his time. And even in the arena of politics, although now we think of him as a great statesman, Winston Churchill was a reviled maverick for most of his political career. It is lucky for us, that the most important five years of his political career took place during World War II.
The book publishing industry right now is going through a convulsive period. I have been lucky enough to be in this industry for the past 30 years, and also advanced my skills by getting an MS Degree in Publishing Science. I did not go back to school because I wanted to continue to be laid off and work for other corporate entities that might lay me off again. I went back to school because I am a maverick in this industry and I want to see other people succeed and breakout of the mold that the publishing industry has created. You do not have to sit and work for a company and get laid off every three or five years to be successful in this industry. The way to get ahead is to continually advance your skills, move up the ladder within corporate enterprises and then strike out on your own to create a business model that is new and innovative. Also if you can brand yourself with a catchy moniker, that doesn’t hurt either.
To summarize the article: I think Mr. Chalmers has every good intention in feeling sympathy for the people who are laid off or displaced by corporate contractions, but I think that he has a mindset that does not look beyond the workstation cubicle to envision displaced workers striking out and forming business entities that will make them successful in the market without being part of a traditional corporate publishing structure.
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