Penelope Trunk: Kook or Futurist Extraordinaire?

Given the billions of bytes of fairly ho-hum content out there in the blogosphere, especially about career matters, I can’t help but give credit where credit is due — and salute Penelope Trunk of Brazen Careerist fame for continuing to “bring it” time and time again — and for boldly going where no business or career author has gone before.

Right or wrong, nobody moves your cheese like Penelope.  She’s opinionated.  She’s shameless.  She’ll blow your mind with riveting business insights in one paragraph, then move on to share details about her personal life that most of us wouldn’t even want our closest friends to know about — much less the world at large.  And yet, I have to confess, I can’t think of any other writer out there who so consistently challenges the notions of “conventional wisdom” in the business world and who turns out, more often than not, to be right on the money.  Even when she points out scary new realities that many of us might not want to hear.

So for those who don’t already follow Penelope’s writings, I can’t resist sharing links to three recent articles she’s written that have really gotten me to thinking.  If you take a few minutes to read through these pieces, I can virtually guarantee you’re going to experience an intellectual “fight or flight” reflex around a few of the points she raises…

Eight New Ways to Think About Financial Security

My top takeaway: The thought that “your ability to make money fast is your emergency fund” in the sense that for many professionals, having a survival skill (e.g. waiting tables, landscaping, customer service, working in office administration, etc.) has become an important part of being able to adapt and stay afloat in an increasingly fickle labor market.  What is the fallback skill you possess that can help you stay afloat when the market for professional/managerial positions (if you’re among those ranks) takes a steep dive?

How the Next Generation Will Surpass Gen Y

My top takeaway: Echoing some of my own unconventional thoughts on the role of passion in career planning, Penelope claims that in the coming years “the passion problem will be passe” and cites her belief that young adults will start making much more practical career decisions once they shed the “the impractical, dreamer career advice [passed on by Baby Boomer parents]” that has left them “unable to make decisions.”

15 Things Overachievers Do

My top takeaway:  Ha ha — I don’t even know where to start on this one, as the author suggests that the top performers in the workforce today tend to use pharmaceuticals, wantonly steal other’s ideas, don’t waste time writing books, and (get this) don’t typically get divorced since that would be a useless squandering of available resources.

So there you have it.  Three articles so full of “food for thought” that the unprepared professional might actually choke on them!  But a huge part of career success today involves adapting to the emerging realities out there, however unusual or ill-advised they may seem, so I’d encourage you to give them a read and see what you think.  And if you have any strong feelings for or against some of the points she raises, by all means weigh in with a comment!

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