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What We're Following Today September 16, 2019

What’s a Portfolio Career?

As we continue to evolve in a world where competition isn’t just from other people, but from other cultures, artificial intelligence, disruptive technologies, robotics, and new forms of automation people need to start thinking about their long term careers very differently. Caroline Castrillon a contributor for Forbes helps illustrate one approach towards job security, income protection and fulfillment by maintaining a Portfolio Career.

We can all do things to upset the status quo, but casting a wide net could help to protect one in the long run even if it is somewhat uncomfortable in the short run. Many Americans are choosing to take some more control over “how” they work, combining multiple streams of income (I.e., mixing part time, freelance, consulting, side gigs, etc.). This can provide people a chance to chase a passion more, see what income stream might be the most fruitful after trying multiple paths, etc.

You might fall into some of the psychological categories of people who pursue these multi-path approaches to their career. Take a look at the article and give it a read. As someone following HR trends, workforce dynamics, this term might help to understand employee mindsets and ways to keep some of your top performers or ways to find the right contractors to deliver on your projects when looking for Portfolio Career people!

Purdue Pharma Filing for Bankruptcy

Many of us are passionate about the issues facing our nation today [and the world]. One of those is the opioid crisis. One major happening now is the corporate responsibility with a financial penalty that will start with Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the OxyContin opioid. The Sackler family, owners of the company have agreed to pay $3 billion in cash and future sales to assist communities hardest hit by the opioid crisis.

The board of directors approved the settlement which represents 24 states and thousands of state and local governments which accused them of fueling the nationwide addiction crisis. However, while the drugmaker says that the value of the settlement will be around $10 billion, but 26 states have not accepted these terms and are considering going after the family’s fortunes separately. The fact is that the fight is long from over, but fortunately, financial penalties this stiff can’t be ignored, and while the drug may have had many benefits, when companies and the “people” that control them pursue financial gain over human benefit, the decisions will ultimately come back to hurt.

I am capitalistic and believe that innovation comes out of a desire to improve the lives of the people that new innovation attempts to help. I respect what Pharma companies do, and the people in those companies that do them. They are not “ALL” financially motivated and I believe most are trying to change the world and make the world a healthier place. The issues come in when we start looking at the numbers rather than the individuals - from an aggregate level, cavalier decisions that can be HUGELY impactful can be made with little moral consequence - even at the expense of one’s own conscience [as many times the person may not be evaluating from the level they need to - where does conscience come in when looking at a “balance sheet”]?

These penalties are stiff and will hurt many families who depend on the products for pain management and the thousands who rely on these companies for jobs that fund their lives. But if we look at our large systems that distance us from our customers, employees and culture, we have to listen better and react better / earlier. Could they have made a decision years ago that could have helped prevent this kind of penalty? I don’t know enough about this particular story, but I have seen enough board room meetings where decisions of conscience are made in ignorance because numbers are impersonal, equations on risk are impersonal, etc.

Sorry - this review went in a little different direction than intended - I’ll step down from a soap box soon, but just to be clear - I don’t think the industry Big Pharma is evil nor do I think the people that work in it are evil. The drugs and tools created most frequently make life better for millions or “billions”. But people use different tools to make decisions and some people make decisions based on the data they have at their fingers (which can often be financials) and motivations to succeed can corrupt our decisions at times. We are ALL capable of this. But I do hope that penalties like these that can break a large company in one fell swoop will remind everyone that we can acquire wealth, recognition, and reputation. There is nothing wrong with that when that outcome aligns with great intentions, but if we fear the loss of that wealth and fame, what will we be willing to ignore?

An Article from Nearly 20 Years Ago About Artificial Intelligence

OK - I’ve been too longwinded already and In know that this isn’t the right format for this, but I heard a Youtube video this AM that mentioned this article from 20 years ago and I had to read it. Many people wrestle with technology and what we are doing to manage how technology will evolve and who will “teach” it. The concept of Artificial Intelligence is still a hot topic for many reasons including its amazing potential benefits to the world and the humans that live on it, but also for its potential to move towards the negative.

This article talks about the upcoming battle of Deep Blue from IBM and Kasparov in an epic Man versus Machine battle of chess. I do remember the press leading up to the games and seeing the results. While over time, Kasparov has largely broken even against computers / programs. We wrestle with many of the same fears today that we did then. Advances have been made and the implications are immense. Sometimes I question whether we are innovating with purpose or simply because we want to prove we can. But in the end, I agree with a lot of what David Gelenter said in this Time article:

“Computers might one day be capable of expressing themselves in vivid prose or fluent poetry, but unfortunately they will still be computers and have nothing to say. The gap between human and surrogate is permanent and will never be closed. Machines will continue to make life easier, healthier, richer and more puzzling. And human beings will continue to care, ultimately, about the same things they always have: about themselves, about one another and, many of them, about God. On those terms, machines have never made a difference. And they never will.”

I don’t know if they never will - but the gap still exists today. It’s why Generation Bridge exists - we need to come together and care about each other more. Meeting in person and interacting with others who don’t always look like “us” is simply one of the best ways to do this.

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