September 9, 2010
In the early eighties I had a neighbor who studied computer programming in college but didn’t pursue it as a career because he believed it had no future. His reasoning was that software coders were the future secretaries of the world, someday doing little more than rearranging the code written by those who came before. He figured the pay for programmers would approach minimum wage in 15 years or so.
We’re still waiting for that to happen, but I think of his prediction whenever I see young people making career choices. There’s a lot of guessing involved.
I think technical people, and engineers in particular, will always have good job prospects. But what if you don’t have the aptitude or personality to follow a technical path? How do you prepare for the future?
I’d like to see a college major focusing on the various skills of human persuasion. That’s the sort of skillset that the marketplace will always value and the Internet is unlikely to replace. The persuasion coursework might include…
Psychology of persuasion
Human Interface design
How to organize information for influence
Art (specifically design)
Appearance (hair, makeup, clothes)
Managing difficult personalities
How to entertain
Golf and tennis
You can imagine a few more classes that would be relevant. The idea is to create people who can enter any room and make it their bitch.
Colleges are unlikely to offer this sort of major because society is afraid and appalled by anything that can be labeled “manipulation,” which isn’t even a real thing.
Manipulation isn’t real because almost every human social or business activity has as its major or minor objective the influence of others. You can tell yourself that you dress the way you do because it makes you happy, but the real purpose of managing your appearance is to influence how others view you.
Humans actively sell themselves every minute they are interacting with anyone else. Selling yourself, which sounds almost noble, is little more than manipulating other people to do what is good for you but might not be so good for others. All I’m suggesting is that people could learn to be more effective at the things they are already trying to do all day long.