Have you ever heard an alarm bell go off in a hotel? What did you do? You probably ignored it and assumed that in a matter of minutes the alarm would be turned off, the manager would apologize over the loudspeaker, and life would go on.
That s exactly what Garry Ridge, president and CEO of WD-40 Company, did a few years ago on a cold evening in London. But in his case the irritating alarm bell continued to sound, interfering with Garry s plan to relax that night and watch a British comedy in his room. What finally got Garry s attention was the security guard banging on the door and insisting that everyone evacuate. Not having time to dress warmly, Garry was directed down a flight of stairs and ushered to an open park near the hotel as it started to rain. He remained in the park for over an hour, cold and wet, as a bomb scare was checked out.
Knowing Garry as I do from coauthoring our book, Helping People Win at Work, I know he views everything as a learning opportunity and so do his tribe members at WD-40 Company. On his flight home to California a few days after the incident, Garry started to reflect on his trip and how stupid it had been to ignore the initial alarm bell. He quickly realized that alarm bells have a purpose especially if we choose to hear them and act on them.
Do you have any alarm bells going off in your life, either professionally or personally, that you are choosing to ignore or that the busyness of your life is drowning out? If so, you might want to think twice and take action before negative consequences sneak up on you and have a major impact on what you are doing.
Why did I spend so much time talking about alarm bells? Because this book, Closing America s Job Gap: How to Grow Companies and Land Good Jobs in the Age of Innovation, is all about a big alarm bell. While the economy is beginning to turn, the job market is lagging behind. In the past we have looked to large industrial companies for job creation, but today the real job opportunities are being created by smaller innovative entrepreneurial ventures. Yet today s workforce does not have the ready skills to fill these jobs. The concern is that policy makers in Washington, business leaders, and individuals trying to navigate this very difficult period of American history are not paying attention to the lack of alignment that exists between our innovation and business development sector and our workforce and talent development sector.
The authors Mary Walshok, a thought leader and subject matter expert on employability, career innovation, and the new innovation economy; Tapan Munroe, a recognized author, speaker, consultant, and advisor in economics; and Henry DeVries, a job and career expert suggest this is a fixable problem requiring a change in mindset among individual workers in terms of realizing what Peter Drucker told us years ago: All work is learning. It is fixable if employers will put a little more time and money into continuous learning in the workplace. It is fixable if the government reexamines its current workforce education and training strategies and reengineers them to fit the demands of the 21st century global economy. To do this, we have to stop falling asleep at the switch in America and take action in response to this alarm bell.
Thanks, Mary, Tapan, and Henry, for sounding the alarm. Let s hope that policy makers, business leaders, and individuals trying to survive in this tough economic time will listen. It s all about empowering our workforce. It cannot be done alone by any of these three groups together we must devote energy to solving this problem and closing America s job gap.
Coauthor of The One Minute Manager and Leading at a Higher Level --Ken Blanchard
About the Author
Mary Walshok, Ph.D. is an uthor, educator and job creation expert Mary L. Walshok, Ph.D. is the dean of University Extension and associate vice chancellor of public programs at the University of California San Diego. She is a thought leader and subject matter expert on employability, career reinvention and the new innovation economy.
Tapan Munroe, Ph.D. is a recognized author, speaker, consultant and advisor in economics. His expertise includes regional economics, environmental economics, and high-tech industry analysis. His current research and writings focus on the economics of innovation and economies of the Silicon Valley and Bay Area.
Henry DeVries is a job and career expert who speaks to thousands of business owners and executives each year, teaching them how to grow their business and advance their careers. As assistant dean he has helped the continuing education arm of University of California San Diego grow enrollments in certificate programs by 44% in three years. He is responsible for communications for 4,600 classes that annually attract 54,000 people interested in career advancement. In addition he is the Jobs and Career editor of the online news magazine San Diego News Network.