Strategic Insight Futurist Jody Turner explains for D/Construct how the concept of Xtrapreneurship is not only impacting culture today, but how it will impact our branding futures as well.
What is an “Xtrapreneur?
An Xtrapraneur is a professional who goes above and beyond to develop skills outside of their immediate focus. The demand for Xtrapreneurs is growing every day: as the marketplace evolves, new skills and perspectives are needed.
You may choose to work outside of a company as an entrepreneur, learning evolutionary skill sets on the spot, or you may work internally as an intrepreneur and take advantage of the start-up mentality and extra education companies offer today.
Whether working internal or external, you are an Xtrapreneur if you apply yourself in one trade or set of skills required for now, while growing yourself on the side to meet what the future will soon require.
Why do you think being an Xtrapreneur has become so widely adopted?
Being an Xtrapreneur can feed your creativity in your current role, prepare you for your next career move, or both. It also helps you contribute to your company in new ways, adding new ideas and voices that open up the conversation.
Ultimately Xtrapreneurship creates more flexibility, allowing people and companies to go back and forth with consultancy depending on who needs what, when within our flux economy.
I am drawn to the meaning of pro bono projects. For instance, with all of the interesting work going on in the world, I believe we are changing things one great idea at a time. Thusly, I enjoy working with Paksy Cheng and her platform impactmania.com, which helps us see the great work going on and find inspiration in each other. I am also currently moving forward a story platform for superstars in global ocean cleanup, helping create a marketing and social influence strategy for an important elephant documentary, and have even learned the banjolele as my dog and I volunteer as singers and musicians for a stroke survivor therapy choir. As I do this extra work, continually developing my skills and finding fulfillment, I feed this back in as inspirational energy for my career.
What do you think has driven this spirit?
In general, due to the influence of technology in our lives today, industries are shifting, the economy is in flux – new skills and working styles are required. Clients and companies will be looking for people who can morph and use their skills and/or technologies in ways that cover larger ground within evolving landscapes.
As a consultant I found that clients would ask me to extend my abilities into areas I was less familiar with, they wanted the type of spirit I bring to a project applied in other areas… asking, how would I apply my approach to this challenge or problem?
Xtrapreneurship gives you a pathway to create opportunities for yourself in new ways and ways to develop opportunities for your company within existing paradigms. I call this the startup mentality applied within our existing structures and worlds. This is what I am doing and teaching more and more of.
All industries, your family, you are in the midst of a change generation. How do you keep up? You become a lifelong learner, a member of the change generation, or as I say, a lifelong Xtrapreneur!
Today the Xtrapreneur is primarily driven by purpose and passion mixed with trends in human innovation. If you want to step outside of a company and work on a project more meaningful to you, that addresses a human need space, the time is today. From Kickstarter to start-ups, to pro bono or NGO engagement, the time is nigh.
What are the biggest obstacles facing Xtrapreneurs today?
An Xtrapreneur works above and beyond in learning new skills and applying them in new ways. Honestly, there are only so many hours in a day! The ebb and flow for an Xtrapreneur needs to support healthy living. I love learning, taking courses, working several projects at once. But, there has to be a balance.
The marketplace brings its own challenge, being willing to work inside and out is key. Companies benefit a great deal from the move back and forth, skill sets and fresh minds solve a mix needed today. But don’t stay outside too long and visa versa, keep the balance going so your future is bright!
What does the entrepreneurial, start-up way mean for brands today?
We are in an era in which brands influence how we live, and we influence how brands behave. As a result, people across a range of disciplines are engaging in vital conversations in the creation of products, services and marketplace experiences. These exchanges support product innovation, insightful branding, and relevant, engaged social media building. It’s a dynamic process that requires us to keep evolving along with it. This is the role of the start-up and the start-up influence.
This is why it is important to have diverse input, outside voices as well as internal experts driving company projects forward. How lucky companies are today to have a choice of fresh approaches, helping brands be relevant and applicable in such changing times!
What are your predictions for Xtrapreneurs in 2017 and beyond?
Today everyone has a glass ceiling, meaning you in your career but also the brand you are working for or within. Is it race, age, personality, gender? Do you have children at home, sick parents? Do you have older manufacturing plants? We all have challenges we face today and yet we want to make sure we care for ourselves in ways that promote our future work, our future sustenance for self, family and community.
In the past you had a career, perhaps a job or two for life. As a part of the industrial society of the West, we were cogs in wheels for the greater good. Developing one skill or craft was vital. Brands drove the conversation, companies had the power.
While speaking in Europe I heard an author present on how being “developed” here in the West meant the end for us. Later, while in Ghana, it was clear to see the developing entrepreneurial spirit alive and well and yet infastructure was lacking.
What needed to happen for us in the West is to bring the soul, craft and spirit back in, meanwhile Ghana seeks the structural support for their society to flow.
Luckily for us, the DIY culture, the start-up mind and the entrepreneurial spirit is “developing” us, changing how companies work across the board. This encourages us in our shift from an industrial to social tech society today.
But with this, research now shows that we typically hold a job for 2-5 years and that by 2020 50% of us may be a freelance workforce. True or not, we are seeing more co-working spaces emerge (WeWork is a fave of mine), and we are seeing more co-working start-up incubators (GreatSpace.se Sweden is another fave of mine). Certainly coffee shops are filling up with freelancers and this will only continue.
Speaking of startups or entrepreneurial ideas, next time you are working at home or in a busy office, try playing the new sound app Coffitivity, which is designed to increase your productivity.